(BIALL) Archives, 1969-2010

Administrative/Biographical history:

The British and Irish Association of Law Librarians arose from the Ad Hoc Committee which was convened at the First Workshop on Law Librarianship, Leeds, 1968. The purpose of the Ad Hoc Committee was to investigate the possibility of setting up a British equivalent to the International Association of Law Libraries. 

BIALL was formally established on 16 April 1969 at the Second Workshop on Law Librarianship, in Harrogate. The first AGM was held in September that year. Although affiliation to other groups such as the International Association of Law Librarians and The Library Association had been suggested, BIALL was set up as an independent body.


The original aims of the organisation were: to hold conferences and provide forums for people to meet and discuss questions relating to law libraries; to promote the better administration of law libraries; to promote the role of law librarian; to promote bibliographical study and research; to publish information of interest to the membership; to work with other bodies for the benefit of the Association. By 2010 these aims had been re-cast as:

  • To promote better administration and exploitation of law libraries and legal information units.      
  • To enhance the professionalism and status of the legal information profession.
  • To generally benefit members of BIALL in their work.      
  • To unite and co-ordinate the interests, opinions and activities of legal information professionals into a single influential voice.

Management and administration

BIALL is managed by Council (called the Executive Committee until 1984) and a variety of Standing Committees and Sub-Committees. The activities of the organization are governed by the Constitution, Regulations and Standing Orders 

The original officers were a President and Vice-President, Chairman, and the Honorary Secretary and Treasurer, and the Honorary Editor, whilst the Executive Committee comprised five members.

Until 1999 the Association's financial year ran 1 July to 30 June. From 1999 it ran 1 April to 31 March.

Administrative Chronology
1969 First Constitution produced
1972 Rules were amended regarding membership and limited the number of times the chairman could seek re-election
1976 Roles of Hon. Secretary and Treasurer were split
1978 Rules were amended to permit postal voting (Standing Order No.1); membership categories were clarified; the Editorial Board for The Law Librarian was formed
1983 Executive Committee was renamed Council; additional membership categories were introduced; six standing committees of Council were appointed (Cataloguing and Classification; Library Provision and Information Services; Education and Training; Publications; Official Publications; Editorial Board of the Journal), some continuing the work of previously-existing committees
1987 Amendment to a Regulation was passed at the 1987 AGM and the position of Membership Secretary was created, and the Honorary Secretary's work re membership was transferred to this post
1988 Three further standing orders were introduced regarding Joint Ventures and Membership
1989 Constitution amended to make the Membership Secretary became an Officer of BIALL
1994 A review of the structure of BIALL in 1992-1993 resulted in the 1994 Constitution: officers of Vice Chair and Immediate Past-Chair; Hon Secretary and Hon Treasurer were elected for 2 year terms and eligible for one re-election; Hon Editor and Membership Secretary were removed from Council
1995 Editorship of The Law Librarian became a paid post
2007 Constitution amended
2008 Regulations were amended and the offices of Chair, Vice-Chair and Immediate Past-Chair were renamed President, President Elect and Immediate Past President
Activities Chronology
1970 First issue of The Law Librarian issued; first Annual Conference organised.
1971 Report on Co-operation produced; Duplicates Exchange Scheme set up
1976  Manual of Law Librarianship published; Directory of Law Libraries in the British Isles published
1980  Leaflet on careers in law librarianship produced for the first time; survey of staffing levels in university law libraries
1981  Standards for Law Libraries published
1983  Newsletter launched; Recommended Holdings for Law Libraries, an appendix to the 1981 Standards for Law Libraries published
1984  First Salary Survey conducted, published in The Law Librarian in 1985.
1987  Manual of Law Librarianship 2nd ed published
1991  Award set up in Wallace Breem's memory
1996  BIALL website launched
1998  SIGs dissolved
1999  AGM and Annual Conference moved from September to June; Law and Order: trends in legal information provision published
2000  Publication of A History of the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians 1969-1999 by Mary Blake with the assistance of Derek Way
2001  The Law Librarian renamed Legal Information Management
2004  Award of first Betty Moys Bursary
2005  First Willi Steiner Memorial Lecture; BIALL Code of Good Practice for Legal Publishers launched

Sources: A History of the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians 1969-1999 by Mary Blake; Highlights from BIALL's History, accessed 9 Aug 2010.

Page last updated: 20th January 2016

IALS Library