Cleveland-Marshall College of Law is the direct descendant of two proprietary night law schools, the Cleveland Law School, founded in 1897, and the John Marshall School of Law, founded in 1916. In 1946, the two schools merged to become Cleveland-Marshall Law School. In 1969, the law school joined Cleveland's new state university and was renamed the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law of Cleveland State University.

From their earliest days, the Cleveland Law School and John Marshall School of Law had law libraries. The 1905 Bulletin of the Cleveland Law School mentions a "large library" in its description of its facilities in the "commodious American Trust Building" near Public Square; by 1934, the school's law collection had grown to "many thousands of volumes." The 1919 Bulletin of the John Marshall School of Law proclaimed its "excellent law library"; by 1924, the school boasted 1,000 volumes, and, by 1937, its holdings contained most of the basic tools of general practice. The merged 1946 Cleveland-Marshall Law School library collection included 45,000 volumes.

In 1955, the Cleveland-Marshall Law School employed its first librarian, Winifred R. Higgins. A Cleveland-Marshall alumnus, Professor Jack F. Smith (LL.B., LL.M.), succeeded her the following year. Five years later, Rudolf H. Heimanson (LL.B., LL.M. University of Berlin; J.U.D. University of Wurzburg; M.S.L.S. Pratt Institute) was appointed Law Librarian. Assistant Professor Helen L. Garee, a 1933 alumna of the law school, held the position until 1969, when the school joined Cleveland State University. From 1969 until 1972, Professor J. Patrick Browne (J. D. University of Detroit; M.S.L.S. Case Western Reserve University) served as the school's Associate Librarian. Bardie C. Wolfe, Jr., (J.D., M.S.L.S. University of Kentucky) was the school's Law Library Director from 1973 until 1977.

By 1977, the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law had moved into a new $7,500,000 building on the corner of East 18th and Euclid. The bookshelves in the library's new home were only half filled, and the library's 130,000 volumes formed the smallest academic law collection in the state. In 1978, Anita J. Morse (J.D. Indiana University; LL.M. George Washington University; M.S.L.S. University of Kentucky; M.P.A. CSU) became the new Law Library Director, and initiated a period of rapid expansion and collection development. In 1979, attorney Melvin Arnold, Executive Vice President of the Eaton Corporation and a CSU trustee, was the driving force behind one of the law school's most successful fundraising campaigns. Under Mr. Arnold's leadership, the library raised approximately $750,000 from law firms, corporations, community foundations, alumni and friends. In 1979, the Law Library was named a selective federal depository. By 1981, when Ms. Morse left for the University of Wisconsin, the collection numbered close to 200,000 volumes. From 1985 until 1988, Robert J. Nissenbaum (M.S.L.S. Pratt Institute; J.D. Western New England) served the school as its Law Library Director.

In 1988, when Steven R. Smith was appointed the law school's Dean, the Law Library collection was the second largest academic law collection in the state, and had outgrown the building that in 1977 had seemed so spacious. Recognizing the need for a new facility to accommodate the ever-expanding holdings and increasingly necessary electronic resources, Dean Smith, assisted by the new Law Library Director Scott Finet (J.D., M.L.S University of Illinois), organized efforts to secure funding for a new law library building. When construction on the new building began in 1995, Michael J. Slinger (M.L.S. University of South Carolina, J.D. Duquesne University) succeeded to the post of Law Library Director. He supervised the completion of the building project and the move into the new Law Library. By the time Steven H. Steinglass was appointed Dean of the law school in 1997, the Law Library's collection had grown to 400,000 volumes.

The new Law Library building was dedicated on September 26, 1997. On February 4, 2004, during a ceremony in the College of Law's Joseph W. Bartunek III Moot Court Room, Dean Steinglass, Law Library Director Slinger, the law school community, and best-selling author Scott Turow added the landmark volumes 500,000 and 500,001 to the Ohio's second largest legal collection. The 500,000th volume placed into the collection was The History of Law School Libraries in the United States: From Laboratory to Cyberspace, by Glen-Peter Ahlers, Sr., Associate Dean for Information Services and Director of the Law Library at Barry University in Orlando, Florida. The 500,001st volume placed into the collection was author and attorney Scott Turow's latest work, Ultimate Punishment: A Lawyer's Reflections on Dealing with the Death Penalty. Following the ceremony, Mr. Turow delivered the law school's third Criminal Justice Forum lecture of 2003-2004, "Confessions of a Death Penalty Agnostic." In preparation for this event, Law Library staff created a multi-media presentation tracing the 100-year history of the Law Library, which won the 2005 American Association of Law Libraries Best Use of Technology award. Watch the video.

In August 2008, Dean Geoffrey S. Mearns appointed Kristina L. Niedringhaus (M.A. Information Science and Learning Technologies, University of Missouri - Columbus; J.D. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill) Director of the Law Library and Associate Professor of Law. During her tenure, the library accelerated the transition of the print collection to electronic formats to meet the changing priorities and patterns of modern legal research.

In June 2013, Dean Craig Boise announced the appointment of Lauren Michelle Collins (MSI University of Michigan; J.D. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) to succeed Kristina Niedringhaus as Director of the Law Library and Associate Professor of Law.


  • Carrington T. Marshall, ed., A History of the Courts and Lawyers of Ohio, American Historical Society, 1934.
  • Samuel P. Orth, A History of Cleveland Ohio, S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1910.
  • Elroy McKendree Avery, A History of Cleveland and Its Environs: the Heart of New Connecticut, Lewis Pub, Co., 1918.
  • Bulletins of the John Marshall School of Law, Cleveland Law School, and Cleveland-Marshall Law School.


Adapted from text prepared in celebration of the 500,000 volume celebration in 2004.

jrb 6/13; LER edited 4/15

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