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Speech: Chief Justice Rogers
Law Day Ceremony Honoring Law Librarians
May 1, 2007

I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak today. It is such an honor to be here, and to recognize such a deserving group of individuals – our law librarians.

Chief Justice Chase T. RogersYou know, these days it’s so easy to fall back on the fast track of the Internet, an information highway that lets us find everything from aardvark to zebra with the click of a few keys. We Google this, we Google that, my goodness, we’ve coined the word as an everyday verb. And in many ways, this real-time access has made our lives easier, especially when we need something quickly.

But I’m also reminded of the oftentimes impersonal nature of the Internet. It may be “user-friendly,” but in the left lane of this fast-moving freeway, it’s easy to miss the rest stop, and when we learn, it’s generally from a distance, without the physical presence of a human being. Someone once described technology as “the knack of so arranging the world that we need not experience it.” So while we all recognize the importance of words like “cutting edge” and “21st century know-how,” it’s also important to maintain a balance between mining technology for all of its benefits and holding on to our humanness.

Our law librarians, thankfully, have found that balance. On one hand, they are our living, breathing repositories of facts, cases and information we need, and they still get excited when they help us find what we’re looking for. You not only help us locate the information, however, you make us want to learn, to pursue, to keep following the scent. In a nutshell, these are the folks who light up when they see the light bulb go on over your head.

On the other hand, our law librarians have a firm grasp of how critical technology is to our lives and the role it plays in enhancing our ability to learn. These are, after all, the people who developed the award-winning Connecticut Judicial Branch Law Libraries’ website. This is an incredibly rich Justice Served 2006 Top 10 Court Website Awardresource that has easily accessible information, many links and the opportunity for users to “Ask a Librarian.” I don’t know how many of you know this, but this site was chosen from among 3,500 court websites worldwide for the Justice Served 2006 Web Award.

But again, you can’t have an award-winning website without dedicated and talented people behind it. And you certainly don’t beat out thousands of competitors without knowing or understanding what your constituencies need and want. Clearly, our law librarians were award-winners in this area long before 2006.

And now, in 2007, we honor our law librarians with this year’s Law Day Award. It’s even more meaningful when you consider the theme of this year’s Law Day ceremonies: Empowering Youth, Assuring Democracy.

I can think of no better way to empower youth than to provide them the opportunity to learn, to question, to get excited about going to bed smarter than they were when they got up in the morning. I can think of no better way to empower youth than to provide them with newspapers and magazines and news of our times, so that they can understand their government and the dynamics of our complicated world; so that they may learn from the successes and mistakes of the generations before them. I can think of no better way to empower youth than to teach them the value of reading a good book as well as the range of skills required to research not only what, where and when, but why and how. Finally, I can think of no better way to empower our youth than by providing them the arena to learn about a subject area so near and dear to our own hearts – our courts. If, as someone once said, libraries are the custodians of civilization, then I would submit to you that our law libraries are the custodians of our halls of justice. If, as someone else once said, a great library contains the diary of the human race, then I submit to you that our law libraries contain the diary of our common law, our case law, and all of the humanity, wisdom and democracy that our courts represent.

Who makes all of this happen? Our law librarians, who have one finger on the pulse of a keyboard and another on the pulse of how human beings assist, encourage and educate others to learn and push ahead. An editorial in the Denver Post several years ago put it this way: “Librarians are very special people. They are the caregivers of the world of the mind, the nurturers of dreams and the defenders of truth. Perhaps no other profession is so marked by the singular generosity of its practitioners.”

On behalf of the entire Judicial Branch, I couldn’t agree more. We are indeed fortunate that you have chosen to devote yourselves to the law libraries of the Judicial Branch, and most important, to the members of the public they serve. Thank you and congratulations.


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