The Balfour Halévy Special Collections are at the heart of the library’s mandate to preserve and record the print record of Canadian law. The centrepiece is a near-comprehensive collection of Canadian legal materials published through 1950, including material published in France and relevant to the civil law tradition of Quebec. This core collection of legal Canadiana – the most complete anywhere – is complemented by a significant collection of early English, Irish and American law reports, statutes and law books. The collections also include early trials published through 1900, as well as some Canadian and English manuscripts, broadsides and ephemera.
The Special Collections also include a collection of Osgoodiana, ie, publications by Osgoode faculty and material produced at or about Osgoode Hall Law School (eg, casebooks and theses).
The library’s Special Collections are named in honour of Balfour Halévy, founding law librarian of the Osgoode Hall Law School Library when the law school moved to York University from old Osgoode Hall on Queen Street in 1967. It is due to Halévy’s dedication and labour over 30 years as Chief Law Librarian and his vision to create at Osgoode Hall Law School a “national law library” for Canada that the special collections were conceived and developed.
The Balfour Halévy Special Collections are housed in the new, state-of-the-art Canada Law Book Rare Book Room, named in recognition of a gift of from Mr Ian Cartwright of Canada Law Book, founded in 1855, Canada’s oldest law publisher until its acquisition by Thomson Reuters in 2010. The Canada Law Book Rare Book Room is at the heart of the library both physically and spiritually.
All materials in the Balfour Halévy Special Collections are recorded in the Library’s online catalogue. Materials must be requested at the Circulation Desk one day in advance and may be used only under supervision in the Canada Law Book Rare Book between the hours 10:00 am and 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Photocopying or other types of reproduction by borrowers is not permitted; however, arrangements can be made through the library staff for any necessary copying. Guidelines for for using materials from the Balfour Halévy Special Collections are available here.