In 1990, Professor Roy M Mersky and Richard Leiter considered the idea of producing a reader in law librarianship that collected the classic articles of our profession. After a conversation about the fact that titles of law books are seldom colorful or creative, it was decided to call the book, “The Spirit of Law Librarianship.” Working with Dick Spinelli, the book was pubished by the Fred B Rothman & Co, Inc. in 1991. The second edition was published in the spring of 2004 by Alert Publications Inc.
While visiting Littleton, Colorado, headquarters of Rothman, the two decided that all royalties would be donated to fund an award to honor law librarians who engage in activities that serve society, meet a community need or participate in charitable activities.
The award recipient is chosen by the award committee which, until this year, was comprised of Professors Mersky and Leiter, their publisher and the previous year’s award winner. After the passing in 2008 of Professor Mersky, Dick Spinelli, the founding publisher of the book, was selected to join the committee in Mersky’s place.
The committee consists of Spinelli, Professor Barbara Bintliff, Director of Tarlton Law Library at The University of Texas School of Law, and Professor Richard Leiter, Director of the Law Library at the University of Nebraska College of Law. The recipient of the award from the previous year also participates in the selection.