CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Online versions of Tennessee laws are replacing those large, heavy tomes found in public law libraries across the state.
On Jan. 1, the Tennessee Supreme Court will close its law libraries in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis.
Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee said in a recent visit to Cleveland that new technology is replacing those big books. The court decided those law libraries were an underused resource.
“We were not getting our money’s worth out of it at all,” Justice Lee said.
“Most of our research is online now,” she said. “The judiciary and lawyers have been ree-valuating the way they use legal libraries. The cost of storage and keeping books updated, are factors. It’s a different world now.
“Some lawyers are upset about it, but we do not have a lot of walk-in business,” she said.
The same circumstances do not apply to general public libraries, she said.
“I am a regular library user,” she said, often visiting the Knox County library near her office.
The Supreme Court closings do not affect local law libraries, like the one housed at the Cleveland/Bradley Public Library and maintained by the local bar association.
In 2007 the Bradley County Commission agreed to a request from the local bar association to move the county law library to the public library.
Some books found a temporary home in the courthouse. The rest were offered on the county Web site and eventually were sold to an interior decorator.
While state laws are now available online, including the library’s public computers, there are still about 300 volumes of law books to be shelved. They will be placed near the future reference desk, according to Library Director Andrew Hunt.
Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...