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On the Shelf – Library Treaties

As we’ve noted in the blog before, the Class K schedule was not completed until the 1960s.  Prior to that, law material was either classified under the old “LAW” scheme or in the JX class.

Our serials cataloger, Brian Kuhagen, is working hard to put everything in order under the K schedule.  His latest projects are the different treaty series (Treaty Series (“TS”) and Treaties and Other International Agreements (“TIAS”)).  Like me, he is hard-pressed not to peruse the titles he is working on.  In the TIAS series he noticed items under the heading “Exchange of Official Publications” and brought them to my attention.

Exchange of Official Publications, U.S.-Col., July 15, 1949, 63 Stat. 2799 (Photo by Betty Lupinacci)

These bilateral treaties form the foundation of part of our foreign legal collection of primary source materials.

I’d always wondered how these agreements were negotiated.  As it turns out, at least in the late 1940s and early 1950s, no matter the process, the final agreements are fairly formulaic documents.

After an introductory paragraph about the negotiations (or in this case “conversations”), the first paragraph lays out, in general terms, what will be exchanged.  Here they refer to lists of official government publications that each party selects.

Paragraph 2 gives the exchange offices for each country.  During this time period the United States used the Smithsonian Institution as its official designee for handling these exchanges.

Paragraph 3 establishes where the material will be sent – namely the Library of Congress.  [Though I did glance at later documents and found that paragraph 2 was frequently not included in favor of the Library acting in both capacities.]

The rest of these documents discuss what won’t be sent, who pays the costs, etc.  A few of them also contain translations, following the English text, in the 2nd party’s official language.

The specific language may vary a little, but most are practically identical, save for the name and designee of the 2nd jurisdiction.  Any differences seem slight.  For example, in Treaty no. 3141 (1953), Pakistan requests that they be sent the “Monthly Catalogue of the publications of the Government of the United States” for additional selections to the existing list from their 1951 treaty.

While it’s always fun leafing through the paper copies the Law Library maintains for archival purposes, we are making these treaty titles available online for your convenience.


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