"Law's Picture Books" Wins American Association of Law Libraries Award

- by Michael Stillman


The award winning book.

Law’s Picture Books: The Yale Law Library Collection, a book published to accompany an exhibition of illustrated legal texts, recently won the 2018 Joseph L. Andrews Legal Literature Award from the American Association of Law Libraries. This annual award is given in recognition of "a significant textual contribution to legal literature." The authors are Michael Widener, the rare book librarian at the Yale University Law School Library, and Mark S. Weiner, Professor of Law at Rutgers Law School. The publisher is Talbot Publishing, an imprint of The Lawbook Exchange.


The book was published as a companion to an exhibition last fall. Widener and Weiner hosted dual exhibitions, one at the Yale Law Library in New Haven, the other at the Grolier Club in New York. The exhibitions were designed to prove that law books aren't necessarily unappealing, boring compilations of text and fine print. Many are illustrated, and some of the best are collections of artwork as well as boring (to non-lawyers) text. From Lady Justice to complex allegorical illustrations such as were more commonly seen in books a few centuries ago, law books often featured images that required serious artistic input. Other times, cartoons or charts were used to make a point. Visuals can speak in ways words cannot, even in a field noted for being wordy.


This book breaks the illustrations down into various sorts. There are 166 of them, along with essays from Widener and Weiner, Jolande E. Goldberg of the Law Library of Congress and Erin C. Blake of the Folger Shakespeare Library. In announcing the award, American Association of Law Libraries President Greg Lambert said, "The winners of the 2018 Joseph L. Andrews Legal Literature Award have authored a unique and detailed assessment of the role of illustrations in legal literature. A reflection of innovative collection development by an academic law library, this book is important to our profession and the work of AALL. It defines the role of illustrations or images in increasing our understanding of legal literature."


The award recipients will be honored at the AALL annual meeting in July.


You can see a few images from the book by clicking here.


To purchase Law's Picture Books, click here.