History of the Law Library

Taken from:  Annette Demers, A History of the Faculty of Law of the University of Windsor on the Occasion of its 40th Anniversary 1968-2008, (Windsor, University of Windsor PAC, 2008). Read it. To find a full list of faculty members throughout Windsor Law's history and their publications read this document.

The founding Law Librarian at the University of Windsor was Professor Roger F. Jacobs.  Professor Jacobs left at the end of the Winter Term 1973 to pursue his next endeavour as the founding Law Librarian at the University of Southern Illinois from 1973 to 1977.  In 1978 he became the librarian of the United States Supreme Court.

The second Law Librarian was Professor Gail Starr, who worked in that capacity from 1973 - 1975.  He later went on to become the founding Law Librarian at the University of Calgary.  Interestingly, Dean McLaren had also went on to the University of Calgary to become the founding Dean of their new lawschool.

The third Law Librarian, Professor Paul Murphy, who was attending the University of Windsor for his undergraduate education, was first hired as a student helper in the law library in January 1968. He later went on to become a member of the first graduating class of Windsor Law, and was Professor and Law Librarian from 1975 - 2011.

Annette Demers was appointed Law Librarian in September 2011 and lead the law library until her term ended June 30, 2022.

Mita Williams was named Acting Law Librarian effective September 1, 2022.

The first bequest to the Law Library was made in 1967 by the late Sydney Parker Waymouth, a retired Ford-Motor Co. employee.

The name for the library was chosen Paul Martin Law Library on February 6, 1970 by a motion at Faculty Council.  At the dedication ceremony, the Honourable Paul Martin gave a speech in which he noted the essential role of the law library:

            "I look to this library to help in maintaining the standards of our

            profession so that we may continue to train not only legal minds,

            but also to generate concern for the future of mankind in the minds

            of lawyers.  Today you do me great personal honor.  But it is much

            more important that you are advancing the cause of law, of scholarship

            and therefore of international understanding, for these are the qualities

            of civilized life which must endure if the human race is to endure.  And

            there can be no symbol more representative of these qualities than

            a Library of Law."

In 1970, when it was less than three years old, the law library of the Faculty of Law had already obtained 42,000 volumes.  At that time, the collection contained the statutes and case reports of Canada, England and the Commonwealth, as well as the primary United States materials.  As of 2006/2007, the collection has grown to almost 350,000 volumes and volume equivalents.

The library has moved quickly to embrace new technologies. The law school's first computer terminal was installed in the law library in September of 1971. In 1972, the library and the law school installed their first Xerox machines. In 1979, with funding from the Canadian Law Information Council, a new computer service centre was installed in the law library.  The terminal allowed access to Quicklaw, provided service to the local bar, and was used for demonstrations. In 1981/82, the Law Library began its subscription to Canada's first legal research database, QL.  Providing access to, and training for online legal databases is now an important part of the service provided by the Law Library.  In 1983, Professor Murphy made an application to IBM for support for personal computers in the library for use in computer assisted instruction.  The first training session for faculty on the new QL system was offered on February 16, 1983.

The law library has always had high-calibre professional librarians.   Over the years, most have had both law degrees and library science Masters degrees.  The Law Librarian directors have always been full faculty members who were also engaged in teaching and research. 

From 1969 to the early 1980s, the Professors Gail Starr and Craig Paterson worked to create a special collection of materials on Civil Liberties in Canada.  This collection included nearly 12 filing cabinets filled with factums from Canadian cases on civil liberties issues, as well as books, pamphlets and government documents.  They also created a filing system for the collection that included detailed subject headings.  After Professor Starr's departure, Professor Murphy continued to expand the collection by actively reviewing the Ontario Reports and sending letters to lawyers requesting their facta. However, with space being at a premium, the factum collection was eventually donated to the University of Ottawa's Human Rights Research and Education Centre located at the law school,  in about 1987.

Since 1975, the Law Library has benefited greatly from an annual grant from the Law Foundation of Ontario.

In the late 1970s, the Law Library also collected some historical and rare materials.  In 1977, the law library received a generous donation from Messrs. Wilson, Barnes, Walker, Montello, Beach and Perfect as a memorial to the late Robert H. Wilson, Q.C..

Over the years, Professor Paul Murphy also ensured that some of the history of the Faculty of Law was preserved, by maintaining an archive of some Faculty materials including the Law School Calendars, the student Yearbooks, the Nulli Secundus, Minutes of Faculty Council and more.

In January 1990, the law library introduced its state-of-the-art computer lab A, which was paid for, in part, by a grant from the Law Foundation of Ontario.

Later, the larger Lab B was built, paid for by the generous donation of the graduating class of 1995, law alumni and the Law Foundation of Ontario.

In the early 1990s, the Law Library Endowment Fund was established.  The interest from this fund supports the serials and book purchases of the Law Library. 

The Law library introduced several renovations to the space from 2011 to 2017, including two new group rooms on the second level, conversion of the reference office to group rooms on the main level; conversion of the reference office to a group meeting space and a full renovation of the circulation desk in 2015.  A whiteboard was added to Lab B in 2016.

In 2020, the Law Library packed 90,000 books into 5000+ boxes as part of the Transforming Windsor Law project. The books were housed in Essex Hall, third floor, for three years while the building was being renovated.

In July of 2023, the Law Library moved back into its new renovated home in the law building, and its name was changed to the Don & Gail Rodzik Law Library.

The Law library continues to innovate in the provision of services and spaces to students and staff.

Last Updated August 4, 2023 - AD.