Editors’ note: What follows is a mock interview with Jean M. Wenger regarding the current and prospective role of Illinois’ county law libraries with a special focus on Cook County. I hope the article will be of interest to members especially newer members not familiar with county law libraries.
1) What is the landscape for public county law libraries in Illinois?
County law libraries in Illinois are created by state statute, 55 ILCS 5/5-39001. Illinois has 102 counties but not all counties have a law library. However, CALL members benefit from having access to several law libraries in northeastern Illinois staffed by professional law librarians, notably, Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane, and Will.
The Cook County Law Library opened on September 6, 1966 and is the first free, public law library for the legal profession and citizens of Cook County. In 1961, the Illinois General Assembly enacted legislation enabling counties to establish a public law library at the county seat of government. The initial legislation excluded Cook County. The Board of Commissioners wanted a county law library open to the legal community and the public. The legislature amended the county law library legislation to include Cook County and in September 1963, the Board of Commissioners passed a resolution establishing the Cook County Law Library.