Last Books Being Hauled From Former Law Library

WHEELING – The former Ohio County law library is nearly empty after a two-year process of finding new homes for thousands of old books.

The materials, once owned by the West Virginia Supreme Court, either have been given away or sold at a state surplus auction for $1 per pallet. Ohio County Circuit Clerk Brenda Miller said the state Supreme Court also hired a company to haul away the remaining books. D&M Document Services of Glen White, W.Va., is loading up the books that no one wanted. The books eventually will be turned into paper pulp and recycled into new products, such as paper towels.

The state Supreme Court decided to do away with most of the law libraries across West Virginia because no one was using them. Access to the same information is available online. The Ohio County law library was located on the fourth floor of the City-County Building.

“They sent a company up that is driving back and forth from Beckley to collect these books,” Miller said during a recent Ohio County Commission meeting. “We also with those books helped West Virginia Northern Community College’s legal program, West Virginia Business College as well as West Virginia University’s law school.”

She said several local lawyers also took some books.

“It was a good service, and I helped the Supreme Court with the distribution of those books,” Miller said, estimating the library contained 75,000 books.

Judges in the 1st Judicial Circuit, which includes Brooke, Hancock and Ohio counties, had first pick of the volumes.

It took the court more than three years to decide whether to close the law libraries. After conducting a study on the Huntington law library, it was determined after a three-month period that not one person used that library. The main law library in Charleston will remain open.

Most law firms use Internet-based services to read case law online, in addition to using their personal law libraries.

Steven Canterbury, administrative director for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, previously estimated the total cost to run the regional libraries at about $110,000 a year. The other libraries were located in Parkersburg, Beckley, Clarksburg and Martinsburg. The Huntington library was closed after the initial study.

“This is the final step. So hopefully in two weeks you will have useable space there, and I would like to be the first to say I would like some of it,” Miller said.

In Ohio County, several department heads, including Miller, annually ask commissioners for extra space for recordkeeping.