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Who wants to use outdated law books for their research? Not as many as those who want to use up-to-date books, according to Montgomery County, Pa., Law Library Director Arthur S. Zanan. Membership in the law library is down this year, and Zanan attributes this decrease directly to the fact that many of its books were not current in 1999. Membership in the library dipped from 550 in 1999 to 440 this year, he said. “Who wants to spend $30 a year for a membership in a law library where the books are not current?” Zanan told the county commissioners last week. The problem is that the prior administration clipped the library’s financial wings in 1999, budgeting only $550,000 for the operation of the facility. This was approximately $40,000 less than it cost to operate the library in the preceding year. As a result, Zanan said, some services had to be cancelled in 1999, and one of those services involved updating some of the law books. The library this year is operating with a $642,200 budget, and Zanan said that the library has been able to update its books. “Now, we have to get the word out,” said Zanan. The county is required by state law to have a law library. Montgomery County’s law library, which is open to both lawyers and the general public, is located in the basement of the county courthouse in Norristown, Pa. At one time there was no membership fee. However, the county commissioners of a prior administration, looking for an additional revenue source, directed the library to institute a membership fee. Now, each person wanting to take out a book must have a membership fee. A law firm cannot have a single membership. The firm must pay for memberships for all of its lawyers, according to Zanan, to eliminate a single membership being passed from one lawyer to another lawyer in a firm.

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