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Buncombe Public Law Library – Pic of the Week

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Whenever I plan any travel stateside, I go online to search for interesting places to visit along the way. My choice usually winds up being the World’s Largest Ball of Twine or some such oddity. But when planning a recent trip to Asheville, North Carolina, I found that they had a public law library. Perhaps I have led a sheltered life, but most law libraries I have come across are either not open to the public or are a university or bar library that allows public access, but never a public law library.

So I decided to check it out.

Buncombe County Court House, Asheville, N.C. Photo by Betty Lupinacci

First and foremost, the library is located in this wonderful Art Deco building, otherwise known as the Buncombe County Court House.

Second, we were greeted by the Law Librarian, Philip Banks. Mr. Banks has worked for Buncombe County for 40-plus years, a good portion of it in the Law Library. He turned out to be just as interesting as our surroundings.

We had a long chat about law libraries, North Carolina law books, and the history of the Asheville area, after which he showed us around. During the tour I spied among the current materials some of the older North Carolina court reports volumes.  Like the Law Library of Congress, they still hold onto them if for no other reason than they can, which started a discussion on preservation and digitization.

It is not the largest library I have ever been in, but it had what the typical North Carolinian would need to research the laws of their state as well as ready-reference materials for members of the bar.

Mr. Banks told us that traffic wasn’t what it once was, but they still had enough patrons to keep them going.

The library also boasted several computer terminals where people could utilize online resources to search for material not contained within the collection at no cost to them. A feature, we were told, that was especially appealing to researchers.

All in all it was a great visit – even to my non-lawyer, non-librarian sister-in-law who learned more that afternoon about law books and legal publishing than she knew existed.

At the entrance to the Law Library. Photo by Betty Lupinacci
Part of the collection of, mainly, North Carolina titles. Photo by Betty Lupinacci.

Comments (2)

  1. I did the same thing when visiting my Sister and Mother who live in the D.C. Metroplex…I visited the Alexandria Public Law Library which is in the basement of the Courthouse in old Alexandria, they have all the regional reporters on the shelves. I also visited the Library of Congress Law Library.

    The Sacramento County Public Law Library has printed California official reporters and Federal reporters. They do have a lot of computers, I’ve built up a pretty big Law Library in PDF form on a USB flash drive.

  2. The Fairfax Public Law Library on the ground floor of the courthouse is an excellent public resource. The Virginia Association of Law Libraries (VALL) has worked hard for many years to ensure that all localities will have law libraries open to the public at hours convenient to the public, as stated in the Code of Virginia.

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