British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL) Archive at IALS

British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL) Archives, 1969-2010

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BIALL Secretary:


Reference: BIALL 
Title: British and Irish Association of Law Librarians Archives
Dates: 1969-2017
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent and medium: 66 archive boxes (12 linear metres)
Name of creator: British and Irish Association of Law Librarians
Catalogue last updated: June 2020 


Administrative History:

Foundation: The British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL) 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.  

Aims: 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; and 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 a Council (called the Executive Committee until 1983) and a variety of Standing Committees and Sub-Committees.  The activities of the organisation are governed by the Constitution, Regulations and Standing Orders.

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

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 an Officer of BIALL.
  • 1994  A review of the structure of BIALL in 1992-1993 resulted in the 1994 Constitution: offices 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.

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

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.


A History of the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians 1969-1999 by Mary Blake; Highlights from BIALL’s History,, accessed 23 March 2020.


Scope and content:  The collection comprises the working papers of BIALL, covering governance and management, administration, financial records, membership matters, conferences and publications.

Of the original deposit of material (BIALL 01 to BIALL 27), series BIALL 01 to BIALL 25 comprised the papers created, gathered and arranged by Mary Blake in her roles as BIALL’s Honorary Secretary, Vice President and President, its historian and its honorary archivist.  The files represent a working filing system which supported these five roles.

BIALL 01 to BIALL 08 were designated by Blake as primary records and comprise AGM papers, records of the Annual Conference and its administration, the constitutional records of BIALL, and Council Minutes and papers.

BIALL 09-BIALL 25 were designated as secondary files and are effectively a set of subject files arranged in alphabetical order.  In particular, Committees and Services (BIALL 14) contains minutes, annual reports and reports from the various Standing and Sub-Committees and Working Groups which have been convened by BIALL.  These files often contain photocopies of subject-relevant material from elsewhere in the collection, as well as Mary Blake’s own annotations regarding the history of a committee or indicating where minutes have not been transferred to the archive.

In addition to this filing structure, in the original deposit of material there were also:

  • Publications (BIALL 26)
  • Records of the Legal Information Management Editorial Board which had been transferred to Mary Blake but had not been integrated into the filing structure (BIALL 27)

Subsequent accruals of material (BIALL 28 onwards) were received as separate deposits from officers and former officers of BIALL.  These have been arranged into separate series and cross references made to material received in the original deposit.  These records fill in gaps, complement and continue the record sets originally received. New accruals of publications, however, are still added to BIALL 26.


Language/scripts of material: English and German.

System of arrangement

Series BIALL 01 to BIALL 27 inclusive form the first deposit of records.  BIALL 01 to BIALL 25 had been arranged by Mary Blake, Honorary Archivist, prior to the material being transferred to IALS.  The records had been consciously arranged and files deliberately constructed in order to present the history of BIALL. This structure was preserved during the first cataloguing project. In addition, there were two other sets of material which had not been integrated into this structure: the files of the Legal Information Management Editorial Board (BIALL 27) and publications (BIALL 26). 

Accruals received between 2010 and 2014 were catalogued in 2014 as new series (from BIALL 28 onwards) in order to preserve the integrity of the original structure.  It is anticipated that future accruals will be added to these later series. However, new accruals of publications are still added to BIALL 26.

A separate set of material, received from the Executors of the estate of Elizabeth Moys, has been catalogued as a separate collection as it relates to her publications rather than her work with BIALL and is, in effect, a separate collection which had been deposited with BIALL.

Conditions governing access

All published material open; other items open after 10 years, except for specified items containing personal or sensitive information, which are closed for 75 years under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998. All requests for access other than to published material must be first addressed to the President of BIALL (see

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies may be made for private use.  Requests for permission to publish any material copied or extracts thereof should be made to the copyright holder.  A Copyright Declaration – request for copies or a Copyright Declaration - self service photography form must be completed. 

Copyright: BIALL.  


Archival history

Material in BIALL 01 to BIALL 26 was in the custody of Mary Blake, Honorary Archivist.  It was accumulated by the following stages:

  • In 1976, Wallace Breem, Honorary Secretary, transferred the secretary’s files to the new Honorary Secretary, Mary Blake (his records relating to the role of Treasurer were transferred to Robert Logan and do not form part of the archive).
  • In 1987, when Mary Blake handed over the role of Honorary Secretary to Hilary Boucher, the current files were transferred to Hilary whilst Mary retained the older material for pragmatic reasons.
  • A system developed whereby Mary Blake became custodian for the Secretary’s files, with people transferring to her as and when necessary.
  • Mary Blake held the offices of Vice-President (1987-1993) and President (1993-1999) and continued to update the files.
  • In 1998, the History of BIALL was proposed and so the records were transferred to Mary Blake’s house.  At this point officers in general began depositing files.

Subsequent material has been transferred by officers and members of BIALL.
Immediate source of acquisition: the original deposit of material was transferred to the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in 2010 by the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians.  Subsequent accruals have been received from officers and former officers of BIALL.

Terms of deposit: Transferred to the IALS Archives by Deed of Deposit dated 2010.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information

The following was de-accessioned during cataloguing:

  • Loose duplicates of material.  
  • Original articles and corrected proofs for the Law Librarian: the final versions of these available in the journal.
  • Financial records with low informational value (petty cash slips; stamp books etc).
  • Third party material eg brochures for conference venues.

Accruals: Regular accruals are expected.


Related Material:

MOYS Collection: these papers have been catalogued separately (see note on arrangement above) and are also held at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Archive (MOYS 1–3).


Archivist's note

Rules or conventions: Compiled by Melanie Peart in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

The initial deposit of BIALL records was catalogued by Melanie Peart in 2010.  Accruals received between 2010 and 2014 were catalogued in 2014 by Melanie Peart. Small subsequent accruals have been added to the catalogue by Ruth Frendo, Sian Astill and Clare Cowling.

Page last updated: 5th July 2021

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