It might be said that little of great moment has changed in academic law libraries in the past five years. Although there has been no major upheaval there have still been important developments. The trend towards online access over print which was still developing in 2001 is now unquestionable and the amount of law-related material on the Web has expanded exponentially. In itself this is a major development even though it has happened incrementally and is now taken for granted. Because of the continued growth of law material on the Web and its widespread general acceptance, we are arguably now in a position to take some radical steps which would allow us to reap the ‘digital dividend’.

The ability to find, assess and retrieve relevant information is only one aspect that augurs well for the continued need for libraries and librarians. Another is the continued need which humans have to come together in a pleasant environment, to work, study and socialize. Law students are social creatures and use the law library not just because it has books. They use law libraries because they like to encounter each other, observe each other (yes, check out the talent), and work in a space that is comfortable and convenient for their other activities. Many of them live in situations which make it difficult to study. They may be parents, or live in shared accommodation. The library is a haven and refuge, and often the only place available; it must be a place to linger in, not rush through on the way to somewhere more comfortable.