The Law Library manages the libraries of the Supreme Court of Victoria, County Court, Magistrates’ Court, and Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). The Supreme Court Library is the primary access point for members of the legal community.

The Constitutional Court library is, naturally, an invaluable resource for the judges and their clerks.

Since its inception in 1995, however, it has developed into a major national repository. And it has even greater ambitions: to become the biggest human rights library in the southern hemisphere, to serve as a hub for the exchange of legal materials across Africa and to offer, through the virtual library, access to its resources beyond the physical confines of the Court.

When the Constitutional Court was inaugurated in 1995, the shelves of the new library were bare. But now the collection stands at more than 40 000 volumes – and is growing quickly. The library expects to hold as many as 400 000 items eventually.

The library from outsideChief Justice Arthur Chaskalson – in his tribute to Justice Laurie Ackermann, who retired in 2003 – said Ackermann, who became the chairperson of the Library Committee, adopted the project when the library was “a smallish storeroom, consisting of shelves with a few law reports and even fewer textbooks”.

Chaskalson, speaking about the office space the Court rented before it moved into its new building, said a government architect had presumably been “of the opinion that there would be little use for books, and if it was really necessary for a judge to look at one of them it could be taken to the judge’s chambers”.

Now the library occupies a spacious and imposing three-story complex in the northern wing of the Constitutional Court’s new building. The new library has an expandable public reading room with a separate entrance.

 

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