OMAHA -- You
will find 30 thousand books in the library of the Creighton University
School of Law, unquestionably one of THE libraries
of the country.
There are law libraries
in the United States with more volumes, but here for the purposes
required is being assembled an extraordinary collection, which
in a few years will be complete. The Creighton
law library today has 250 volumes for each student enrolled
in the school, a ratio which few law school libraries exceed.
The school of law, a handsome brick building,
faces the great stadium of the college and is located at Twenty-sixth
and California streets, one block west of the Administration building,
with entrance on the campus. Louis J. Te Poel, M. A., LL. B.,
is dean of the school of law. Hugh F. Gillespie, M. A., LL. M.,
is librarian. Both are professors of law, and officers of instruction.
The school of law was opened in 1904 in temporary
quarters provided by the college of medicine and removed the following
year to the Edward Creighton institute, now the Arthur building.
In September, 1921, classes were opened
in the new building now occupied. The school is a member of the
Association of American Law Schools and is on the approved list
of the American Bar Association. The teaching in the school is
mostly in the hands of full-time professors, of which Prof. Gillespie
At the west end of the school of law
is the library, including digests, encyclopedias, and every American
case since 1880, including federal, supreme and state court records.
The reading room is fitted with many comfortable chairs and tables,
with an entrance to the circulating department where Miss Marcella
Houlton, assistant to Prof. Gillespie, is ready to serve and issue
such books as are required.
Books may be taken home by the students
for perusal and study, while the service and use of the library
is open to members of the legal profession and others interested
in looking up material, free of charge
Off this central room where Miss Houlton
has her desk, and which is bordered by shelf on shelf of weighty
volumes full of meat, is Prof. Gillespies private office,
with a general reception room between his office and the one where
Dean Te Poel holds forth.
In the southwest corner of the building
extending from basement to gallery is the stack room.
Here is that portion of the library of
which Prof. Gillespie and others of the school are extremely proud.
For there is no stack room in the country embodying equipment
better suited to the protection and preservation of its treasure
than this stack room of the Creighton university school of law.
Tier above tier, five tiers in all, with
room for the addition of two more above, the stack room rises
with its shelves of books. Steel vaults and doors embedded in
concrete, the kind that banks use in safeguarding their gold and
securities, are used for the keeping of books, worth so much more
than their weight in gold, that a comparison would be futile.
Quarters even extend underground rivaling
the safety deposit vaults of banks and government mints.
Its the last word in protection.
And throughout the whole of this stack room there is not so much
as a single stick of wood. For all this steel, thick doors and
such was not placed to safeguard against thieves, but fire and
While there is nothing to burn in the
stack room, unless one would set fire to the leaves of the books,
water, should it by any chance be turned into this fireproof building,
would wreak terrific damage.
So those of the school of law library
are taking no chances, the congressional library at Washington
may be larger, but its physical equipment is no better.
There are just two entrances to the stack
room, one off the general library room, and one below at the foot
of the stacks. Stairs lead from stack to stack, but there is also
an automatic elevator in one corner, which will probably be used
a great deal more when the two additional stacks are added.
Steel walls, window sills, frames, inclosed
metal elevator shaft, iron stairway and steel bookshelves are
just a part of it. Great fireproof and shatterproof glass windows
admit light from the side, while the entire roof of the stack
room is of the same material. The floors of each tier are of translucent
glass, one inch thick.
Suchis the place in which the treasure
is kept, a room that Prof. Gillespie took his stand for in the
beginning, and in its completion is all that professor, college
or student could desire.
When Prof. Gillespie took his position
as librarian in June, 1917, there were about three thousand volumes
in the library. Since then a great many books have been donated
by individuals and more purchased.
Cornelius McGreevey gave several hundred
volumes and Ralph W. West contributed a box of volumes from the
library of his father, the late Joel W. West. What is the value
of the Creighton university school of law library?
Prof. Gillespie says there is really
no way of placing the value in actual dollars and cents. But many
thousands will cover it, you can be sure. Take for instance
the box of books donated by Mr. West. It was thought by some that
they were of little value. But it took Prof. Gillespie and others
but a short time to learn that many of the books are invaluable.
Like the wild pigeon once so common and
current, law books of antiquity fade away like other things until
there are but a few left. Sometimes a book may be found the last
of its kind in existence. This library of law has many books of
great value because of their rarity.
In addition the Creighton university
school of law library is being added to by purchased volumes at
the rate of an expenditure totalling five thousand dollars per
year. In 1917-1918 when the people of England were selling books
and other things for a song, a New York company bought thousands
of dollars worth of rare and odd English law tomes, which
you will find today on the shelves of the stack room at Creighton.
In this library you will find many old
English, and other reports, original year books and others containing
the records of cases back to 1300. There are at least four hundred
volumes several hundred years old.
If Prof. Gillespie is in the mood, he will go and fetch a small
pasteboard box, and pass it to you. If you are not wearing your
seeing glasses at the time.
Upon opening the box you will behold
a nice cluster of what appears to be large molasses candy squares.
These squares were made in ancient Babylon, say about the year
2350, B. C. They are the work of makers of the law, made of the
And now while the
Creighton Glee club plays upon the lute and croons an ancient
Babylonian theme song, we will roll back the centuries, and let
you in on the meaning of these tablets inscribed and stamped,
when Omaha was but a prairie and where the Creighton law school
stands today, a great wind blew.
This taffy colored tablet was found at
Drehem near Nippur, where there was a receiving station for the
offerings for the temple of Bel at Nippur.
It is a temple receipt for four sheep,
one kid, one lamb and one ox. The date is early in the Ur dynasty
of kings who ruled Babylonia from 2400 to 2100 B. C. The years
were then named from notable individuals, and, though in the dates
upon the tablets from that dynasty the kings from which the years
were named are mentioned, it is difficult to say just which year
was named for any particular man. The date is not far from 2350
Here is one found at Jokka, the ancient
Umma in Central Babylonia. It is a sealed temple record. After
the tablet was written and while the clay was still soft, the
temple priest rolled over it his cylindrical stone seal which
was engraved, and the seal impression made it impossible to change
the record. The seal impression shows raised characters and contains
the name of the scribe and of his father, and the status of the
seated sun god. This date is also about 2350 B. C.
Another found at Jokka is a messenger
tablet with a list of provisions supplied the temple messenger
for his journey about the country. The tablets are rare, and highly
valued for the writing upon them is the finest and the best that
has yet appeared. They are always small. The date is about 2350
B. C. and the condition is perfect.
This one was found at Warka, the biblical
Erech mentioned in Genesis 10:10. And the beginning of his
kingdom was Ba-bel and E-rech and Ac-cad, and Cal-neh, in the
land of Shi-nar.
This is a votive cone made by the temple
priest, and sold to the visiting pilgrim who thrust it into the
mortar between the bricks of the temple wall of the goddess Ishtar,
for the welfare of the king. The inscription reads: For
Sin-ga-shid, the mighty hero, King of Erech, King of Amanu, in
the temple of the Goddess Ishtar which he built in the royal residence
of his kingdom. The date is 2100 B. C.
Look upon this one found at Babylon.
A typical late neo-Babyonian tablet from Nabonidus, the last Semitic
king of Babylon from 555 to 538 B. C. He was the father of Belshazzar,
who is said to have seen the writing of the hand on the wall.
And there are others, including one found
at Babylon, an unusually good contract tablet from the reign of
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon from 605 to 562 B. C. and bearing
his name. It is about the average in size. The date reads: The
month (?), the day 7th, the year 20th of Nebuchadnezzar, king
of Babylon. That was the year 585 B. C.
All of these are important as recorded
documents of the long ago, to show that the big red
seals of today spring from an ancient line. It was about the year
2350 B.C. that the Code of Hammurabi, the first complete
written code of law ever found, was fashioned. It was discovered
some 20 years ago. Sealed instruments of common law authenticated
by impression in the temple, is something for the student of the
law to observe and think about, and that is why they are there.
Parchments of early date, set with crude
but effective seals, are to be found in the library. For instance
there is a splendid original charter issued by King Charles II
and signed and sealed November 30, 1678. It is similar to the
Pennsylvania charter granted William Penn by the same monarch.
There are deeds, grants and original documents bearing dates from
1666 to 1782. Indentures not only in name, but in fact with the
edges cut unevenly, so that the proving of their originality and
authenticity could be accomplished by the fitting of these irregular
A document signed by Oliver Wendell Holmes,
one by Rufus Choate, and a history of the University of Paris
and its departments given to the library by Robert Craren, Bertillion
officer, Omaha police department, which he found in a German ambulance
after the signing of the armistice. Books in original bindings,
reinforced by straps and bearing dates as early as 1529, are there.
Commentations by Franci Dvareni, on paper as clean and white as
the day it was bound, Joseph MacCardi compilations of 1684, the
Auld Laws and Constitutions of Scotland, 1609.
Yearbooks of the reign of Edward II give
the reports of decision handed down in the kings courts
more than four hundred years before Blackstone was born, the Institutes
of Justinian, 1529; Brooks Abridgment, 1573, and a Registrum
Omnium Brevium, 1634; Littletonss Tenures, 1621; Coopers
Thesaurus, 1573; Cokes Institutes, 1738; Henry Bracton, 1569;
Glanvilles Treatise on Laws and Constitutions of the English
Kingdom, 1673; Winchs Entries, 1680; Justinian Code in the
original binding, 1664, and a great array of canon, civil and
feudal law illustrated with woodcuts that are a sight to see,
with digests, reports and current reviews, as complete an array,
as there is anywhere.
one entire floor in the stack room is devoted to the literature
of the law, comprising the leading law reviews and treatises.
In this library, it is said, may be found the largest collection
of legal periodicals in the west, and it is one of the few libraries
in this section with a real collection of English law.
There is also considerable miscellaneous
work. With common law as used by the English speaking peoples
making up one-fourth of the law of the world, it is the aim of
the Creighton university school of law library to get a copy of
every case in common law jurisdiction, every English, Australian,
Canadian and American case. This is well on the way to accomplishment
with Australian cases and some odd in England yet to be obtained.
The collection of briefs contains an
almost complete set of the briefs filed in the supreme court of
Nebraska, and some 35 editions of Blackstones Commentaries,
is well on the way to becoming one of the most complete
collections of the kind in the United States.
Note: This full text was published in the Omaha World Herald on
January 19, 1930 Author unknown.]