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¶  Introduction to the John F. Holcomb Butler County Law Library

Founded in 1889, the Law Library is open to members of the Bench and Bar and members of the general public for the purpose of performing legal research. In 2000, the Law Library was named by the Butler County Board of Commissioners to honor John F. Holcomb for his dedicated public service to the county. Mr. Holcomb was the Butler County Prosecutor for 27 years. He was Ohio's longest-serving elected prosecutor when he passed away at the age of 62 in 2000.

Once operated by non-profit library associations, Ohio county law libraries are now administered by county entities called "county law library resources boards" and are generally funded from court fines. Unlike general public libraries in Ohio, county law libraries are not financed from taxpayer revenue unless funding is provided by county boards of commissioners.

The transfer of responsibility for the Law Library to the Butler County Law Library Resources Board began in July of 2009 with planning for the transition. Throughout the process, the objective has been to achieve as soft a landing as possible to minimize the number and extent of negative impacts this change will have on all who have benefited from the services provided by the Law Library. The reality is there have been changes because the enabling statute adds substantial new and unfunded expenses to the Law Library’s budget.

Butler County Law Library Resources Board. Information about the Butler County Law Library Resources Board may be found in the right sidebar of this page. Notice of public meetings of the Board shall be available on the Law Library's blog.

Library Services to Members of the Public. Public patrons ought not expect county law library staff members to answer their legal questions; they are prohibited by law from doing so because that would be an unauthorized practice of law. County law library staff members are available to provide directional assistance by showing members of the public which library materials may help patrons answer their legal questions and how those materials may be used, but staff members can go no further. Members of the general public may also be restricted to using certain legal materials in specific formats because of library policies and licensing agreements.

Except for statutory users and local attorneys who have library privileges, the Law Library's collection is for reference purposes only; materials do not circulate but public patrons can make photocopies for a reasonable fee. Additional information may be found under the "Collection & Services" tab in the navigation bar of the Law Library's website.

Law Library Resources. To meet costs now and in the coming years, cutbacks in library materials have been made and costs will continue to be monitered closely. There has been no alternative but to downsize the law library collection due to financial necessity. The Law Library's collection now more narrowly focus on Ohio-related legal materials, and the general treatise collection is now limited to those areas of law most commonly practiced by the local bar along with resources needed by county agencies and courts in the official conduct of business. The days of Ohio county law libraries developing and maintaining a relatively comprehensive collection containing essential titles across the entire spectrum of law to answer most any research need are coming to a close.

In addition to reducing the size of the print collection, reliance of electronic resources has and will continue to increase. Most every law library in this country is facing the “digital-only” decision for some titles they hold both in print and electronic formats. Many have no alternative but to eliminate some print titles while retaining digital versions of them because the choice of format drives different annual price increases. Generally speaking, print simply costs more money than electronic resources. Most law librarians are professionally uncomfortable with the fact that library finances are requiring libraries to go “digital-only” for some titles that are more user-friendly in print and that our patrons would prefer to use in print. We try to be conservative in making these sorts of decisions but they add up and will continue to add up as time marches on.

A number of print titles and research tools are disappearing from library shelves. Legal citators were the first to go because the information provided was just as easy to use online. Case reporters and digests are also rapidly disappearing from library shelves. Sometimes more controversial, annotated statutory codes, legal encyclopedias and comprehensive form book sets are being provided in “digital only” formats. Even more questionable, multi-volume regularly supplemented loose-leaf services and treatises, which are clearly the least usable online unless the vendor has designed adequate user interfaces for them, are being made available in electronic formats only, if made available at all to legal researchers. While some legal publishers have designed usable electronic interfaces for such materials, most have not yet done so.

Additional information about law library resources may be found under the "Collection & Services" tab in the navigation bar of the Law Library's website. Access and use restrictions are noted. A selection of fee-based and free online legal research services and websites are identified under the "Research Guides" tab but the guides are not intended to be comprehensive. Information about local courts and governments is provided under the "Local Courts & Governments" tab. The Law Library's print collection can be searched by using the library's online catalog. Go to the "Collection & Services" tab.

Information Use Disclaimer. Information made available in the Law Library or through the Internet from the Law Library's website is not warranted by the Butler County Law Library or by the Butler County Law Library Resources Board to be accurate, authoritative, factual, or complete. The availability of such information does not constitute any endorsement or ratification of that information. The Butler County Law Library and the Butler County Law Library Resources Board are not responsible for the content of resources provided to patrons.

All users of library resources and services agree to hold the Butler County Law Library and the Butler County Law Library Resources Board harmless from any and all claims, losses, damages, obligations, or liabilities directly or indirectly relating to the use of provided information caused thereby or arising therefrom. In no event shall the Butler County Law Library or the Butler County Law Library Resources Board have any liability for lost profits or for indirect, special, punitive, or consequential damages or any liability to any third party, even if the Butler County Law Library or the Butler County Law Library Resources Board is advised of the possibility of such damages.

Library Privileges for Statutory Users and Local Practitioners. On June 2, 2010, the Butler County Law Library Resources Board unanimously approved the creation of the Law Library Practitioners Program. Taking effect on July 1, 2010, the Program replaces the Board’s temporary and free extension of the Butler County Law Library Association’s membership benefits that expired on June 30, 2010. Details here.

Several licensed legal research services are available for use offsite by statutory users for the purpose of conducting official business either by assigned database user accounts administered by the Law Library or Butler County IP-authenticated addresses as part of the Butler County Law Library Resources Board's mandated program "to manage the coordination, acquisition and utilization of legal resources" for county offices under Am. Sub. H.B. 420 (127th General Assembly), codified at Ohio Rev. Code Sec. 307.51 et seq., as amended. Available legal databases are listed under the "Collection & Services" tab. Statutory users may contact the Law Library Director, Joe Hodnicki (513-887-3455 or e-mail), for additional information.

Coordination, Acquisition & Utilization of Legal Resources by Public Offices and Courts. The Butler County Law Library Resources Board shall consider requests to purchase legal resources and materials by public offices and courts located in Butler County for their in-house use with Board funds. To take advantage of this potentially cost-saving opportunity, contact the Law Library Director, Joe Hodnicki (513-887-3455 or e-mail), for details.

Law Library Staffing. The Butler County Law Library employs three full-time staff members: Joe Hodnicki, County Law Library Director and Chief Administrator for the Butler County Law Library Resources Board, Julie Sandlin, Public Services Associate, and Dan Sandlin, Technical Services Associate. Although we have undergone some significant changes, the entire staff is committed to continuing our high level of patron service under the Law Library’s new structure. For assistance, please call 513-887-3455.

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