History of the Law Library

Franklin Pierce Law Center, New Hampshire's first law school, was founded in 1973. The school began in the inauspicious surroundings of a building in East Concord, which had originally housed an animal husbandry farm. The library occupied the south end of that building with the major portion of the collection shelved in small rooms which had been converted from space that once served as stalls.

The basic collection, which in the first year numbered 30,000 volumes, was developed by Philip Hazelton, a former New Hampshire State Law Librarian who came out of retirement for one year. He was succeeded by Louis von Gunten from the Los Angeles County Law Library, who directed the library for five years spanning the move from the Mountain Road location to the current building in December 1976. The collection, numbering approximately 60,000 volumes at that time, was moved to its new location by students in small vans during the winter's first heavy snow storm.

Thomas Steele came from Southern Methodist University to direct the library for the next three years. During his tenure, the library collection was heavily developed in specific subject areas, such as intellectual property. The book count exceeded 100,000 volumes in 1983 when the current Law Librarian, Judith Gire, who had served as the Assistant Law Librarian under both von Gunten and Steele and who came from the University of Akron Law School Library, assumed the Directorship. The library’s present collection is over 220,000 volumes in book and microform equivalent volumes.

The Kenison Room, located on the second floor of the library, was dedicated in the fall of 1987. This conference room was established to honor the memory of Frank R. Kenison who served as Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court from 1952 through 1977. After his retirement as Chief Justice, he joined the school's faculty, teaching Courts and Judicial Process. This room houses the Judge Harry E. Trapp Collection of Old English Law Books.

During the Spring of 1995, the Intellectual Property Library officially opened on the newly renovated third floor of the Library. This library houses the school’s print and CD-ROM collection of materials dealing with patents, trademarks, trade secrets, copyright, licensing, and technology transfer. The Intellectual Property Librarian’s office is also on this floor.

In 1996 the first and second floors of the library were extensively renovated to relocate the main entrance on the second floor. Compact shelving was added to the first floor in 1994 and in 2002.

In 2008 additional compact shelving was added to the library's first floor replacing areas of open shelving and providing space for collection growth.  At the same time, an Online Training Center was created for research instruction and areas housing the microform collection, copiers and printers were reconfigured.  The following year, the Intellectual Property Library on the third floor was extended to provide space for faculty offices, the expanding intellectual property collection and quiet study space.  And in 2009, the second floor received a face lift with a new circulation desk, entrance and carpeting.

In September 2010, the law school officially affiliated with the University of New Hampshire and the law library became the University of New Hampshire School of Law Library.