The governing board of the Thurgood Marshall State Law Library is the Library Committee. The Committee appoints the Director, develops rules for the Library, and may direct the Director to purchase new titles.

Appointed by the Court of Appeals, the Committee is composed of at least three members (Code Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, secs. 13-502, 13-503).


[photo, State Law Library, Murphy Courts of Appeal Building, 361 Rowe Blvd., Annapolis, Maryland] In 1827, the Thurgood Marshall State Law Library began as the State Library, an agency of the executive branch (Chapter 53, Acts of 1826, passed Feb. 2, 1827). It served the legal and general reference needs of the Legislature and Judiciary. Renamed the State Law Library, it came under the Judiciary in 1978 (Chapter 128, Laws of 1978; Code Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, secs. 13-501 through 13-504). In July 2019, it assumed its present name (Chapters 38 & 39, Acts of 2019).

State Law Library, Murphy Courts of Appeal Building, 361 Rowe Blvd., Annapolis, Maryland, April 2017. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

[photo, Reference works, State Law Library, 361 Rowe Blvd., Annapolis, Maryland] The Thurgood Marshall State Law Library provides legal information to the State's appellate courts and other branches of State government and serves as a resource center for Circuit Court libraries throughout the State. Open to the public, the Library encourages the use of its valuable resources, including laws, general reference materials, State and federal government documents, and State and local histories and genealogies.

Reference works, State Law Library, 361 Rowe Blvd., Annapolis, Maryland, April 2017. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

With a total collection of over 300,000 volumes, the Library offers the researcher access to unique information. The collection, basically composed of reference material, does not circulate, except to State agency personnel. Much of the collection, however, is available on interlibrary loan and photocopy and scanning facilities are available to patrons.

Legal Materials. Legal materials constitute most of the collection. They include reported court decisions from all appellate jurisdictions across the country and Great Britain. Statutory compilations are filed in the Library from every state, as are all federal statutes. Library holdings of legal periodicals include subscriptions from nearby law schools and bar associations. Legal texts and topical loose-leaf reporting services are collected with briefs and record extracts from the U.S. Supreme Court and Maryland appellate courts, and other legal reference sources.

State and Federal Government Documents. The Library has been a select U.S. government depository for federal agency and congressional publications for many years. The Library also is a depository for all Maryland State agency publications and contains one of the most complete retrospective collections of State government information in Maryland. In addition, all county governments must file copies of their codes with the Library.

Maryland History Collection. This resource, developed over two centuries, complements much of the original source material available for research at the Maryland Center for History and Culture (formerly Maryland Historical Society) in Baltimore. Holdings include Maryland census schedules, 1776-1920 (with name indexes through 1850); online access to the Baltimore Sun (1837 to date); and numerous county histories, family genealogies, and research guides.

[photo, State Law Library, 361 Rowe Blvd., Annapolis, Maryland] Special Collections. At the Thurgood Marshall State Law Library also are rare books and early Maryland maps and documents, including the subscription edition of James Audubon's four-volume elephant folio, Birds of America. On display in the Special Collections Room are high quality reproductions of the Collections' highlights, including a page from the History of the Indian Tribes of North America, by Thomas L. M'Kenney and James Hall, and the title page of the Library's oldest book, An Abstract of all the Penal Statutes..., by Ferdinando Pulton (1579).

State Law Library, 361 Rowe Blvd., Annapolis, Maryland, April 2017. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

Under the Thurgood Marshall State Law Library are Collection Management, the People's Law Library Website, Reference and Outreach, and Technical Services.

Collection Management originated as Electronic Services.

Collection Management manages the Library’s print and digital collections, including new additions to the collection, the prioritization of space allocation, and de-accessioning of materials. The unit assesses current holdings and recommends sources for consideration by the Library’s Collection Development Committee; facilitates the transition to integrated and complementary print and digital collections; and institutes innovative approaches to collection analysis. Moreover, this unit fosters the conservation of rare books and fine arts in the Library’s special collections; manages bookbinding and book repair; and provides leadership for the Library’s efforts to digitally preserve Maryland’s State agency publications.


[photo, State Law Library, Murphy Courts of Appeal Building, 361 Rowe Blvd., Annapolis, Maryland] The Maryland People's Law Library Website was initiated in 1996 as a special project by Maryland nonprofit legal services providers. Responsibility for managing the website was assumed by the State Law Library in November 2007.

A self-help resource, the People's Law Library Website provides free legal information to Marylanders, including those who represent themselves in court. Its subjects cover family law, consumer law, landlord and tenant law, and government benefits.

State Law Library, Murphy Courts of Appeal Building, 361 Rowe Blvd., Annapolis, Maryland, June 2015. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

Reference and Outreach began as Outreach Services.

Reference and Outreach administers all aspects of providing public access to the Library’s physical and digital information collections, including reference, outreach, and education services. The unit coordinates the provision of reference services, including scheduling coverage of the reference desk and the Library’s Maryland AskUsNow 24/7 chat service, and staff training. Reference and Outreach provides direct research assistance to Library patrons, serves as a liaison to professional library associations and other organizations, and advises public libraries and Maryland circuit court law libraries on the management and provision of legal information services.

Technical Services is responsible for the Library’s cataloging and classification systems that enable patrons and staff to easily locate and access Library’s holdings. The unit recommends the use of industry-wide standards for library cataloging and bibliographic records and proposes alternative classification systems for unique parts of the Library’s collections, such as State agency publications. Technical Services also manages the Library’s online catalog, recommends software or computer systems, and proposes and fosters staff use of various databases to streamline cataloging or add Library collection records in other databases. In addition, the unit ensures adherence to Judiciary procurement rules for Library purchases, participates in collection development planning, and may serve on the Library’s Collection Development Committee, which selects and deaccessions library material.

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