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Harvard University Library Notes / July 2006 / No. 1332
Law Library's Buckwalter Retires After 23 Years
After overseeing collection development in the Harvard Law School Library for 23 years, Robert L. Buckwalter retired on May 31 from his position as the Law School's associate librarian for collection services. Harry S. Martin III, the Law School's Henry N. Ess III Librarian and Professor of Law, offered the following remarks summarizing Buckwalter's accomplishments at Harvard.
When Bob joined our staff, our annual rate of acquisitions was 16,000 volumes per year, mainly paid for by tuition dollars, and new orders had to cease about this time of year because the money had run out. Books not on the open shelves were stored in ten separate areas around the School because the Harvard Depository had not even been proposed. Microform collecting was modest, our only electronic resource was one Lexis terminal, and the catalog was still in card form.
Today our annual rate of acquisitions has nearly doubled and two-thirds of those are paid for from endowed funds. Bob stabilized our collecting patterns and established policies to govern our selection practices. His careful stewardship has led to the development of a currency stabilization fund and we now continue to order new books throughout the year. Bob has overseen the addition of over 600,000 volumes to our collection, and the withdrawal of another 100,000.
Virtually all the books now on the open shelves were acquired on his watch. Nearly 700,000 more volumes are stored at the Harvard Depository. Bob established the procedures that move those books there and represents the Law School on the HD management group. He is also our representative on the University Library committee that oversees the licensing and implementation of the many electronic resources now available to the university community. He has been our point person in negotiating with vendors who have microfilmed or digitized large portions of our collection and has generated royalties amounting to one million dollars over the years.
In addition to serving on various committees of the Harvard University Library, Bob has been a major presence in the world of law librarianship. The knowledge he brought to Harvard from Columbia 23 years ago and the experience he has gained here have given him a unique perspective on the world of legal information. His retirement will be a loss felt beyond Harvard, but no one will miss him more keenly than will I. For two decades I have taken for granted that fact that researchers here would find what they needed because Bob and his staff had anticipated their demands. And for two decades I have relied on his judgment and support at every turn.
Bob's plan at this point, he says, is to find another cat and see what else the world of retirement has to offer. With his range of outside interests, I'm sure it will offer much. He has our gratitude and our good wishes.