Karen Quinn received the Edgar Award at the Spring 2015 LLNE meeting. LLNE is pleased to provide her remarks below.
“I am deeply touched and honored to accept the Edgar Bellefontaine Award today. It is truly fitting as today, April 24th, is the fifth anniversary of Edgar’s death.
“I know many of you here remember Mr. B personally. How could you forget him? He was larger than life in every sense of the phrase. He was the commander of the Social Law Library ship for 35 years and during those many years, he not only witnessed many innovations, he masterminded them.
“A technological guru before the phrase was coined – he was high tech and embraced automation with open arms. With his can-do attitude, he encouraged his creative staff to follow his lead and implement cutting edge projects. He foresaw the advent of computerization of legal materials as early as the 60’s, set up the Social Law Library as an internet service provider in the 90’s, and in 1989 created a searchable databases of Massachusetts primary and administrative law. Anyone old enough will remember how law librarians would shudder at the prospect of research in administrative law and are grateful to Edgar and the Social Law Library for this contribution to legal research.
“Oh, and did I mention that he worked tirelessly on committees, mentored new librarians and, as Regina Smith noted, put the Social in Social Law Library. Highly regarded as a preservationist, he gave new life to thousands of pages of court records which were found in the musty court house basement and brought them into the light for generations to come.
“I must say that I was a bit awestruck by Mr. B. and his many accomplishments. To receive this award and to have my name associated with Mr. B. is an honor indeed. But when you think about it, I don’t think we are that different. Whether it be technology, digitization, reference or preservation, I believe throughout our careers as librarians, we shared many of the same goals, with the main goal providing service to our users and greater access to justice. That is Service with a capital S — Service to our patrons, whether large law firms, other librarians, solo practitioners or Joe Q Public. Each constituency was to be treated equally and each was to be provided with the absolute best legal materials our individual budgets could buy. By providing this service, the playing field would be levelled and access to justice would be enhanced. Short and sweet, that is what we do, day in and day out and that is why law libraries remain and hopefully will remain, a cornerstone of democracy.
“Thank you to Raquel and Nicole for those lovely remarks, to the committee for this honor, to my staff at the Rhode island State Law Library, most especially Colleen Hanna, who was always there for me, and to all my friends at LLNE.
“It certainly has been a wonderful ride.”
Congratulations to Karen and thank you for all your work.