Special Collections

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Picture of the Rare Book Room

The John R. Cartwright Rare Book Room is at the core of the library’s mandate to preserve and record the print record of Canadian law. The rare book room is home to the Balfour Halévy Special Collections, 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 largest and most complete anywhere – is complemented by significant collections 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 authored, co-authored or edited by Osgoode faculty, as well as program-related materials produced at or about Osgoode Hall Law School (eg, casebooks and theses).

Requests for materials from the Special Collections can be submitted either online (using the link from the online catalogue record) or in person at the Library’s service desks. Items from the Special Collections may be used only under supervision in the John R. Cartwright Rare Book Reading Room. Please allow one business day for your request to be evaluated and processed. Library staff will contact you if there are any questions or when your request is ready.  The Library can be contacted at 416-736-5207 or library@osgoode.yorku.ca. Please consult the Guidelines for Using Special Collections Materials.

Photocopying or other types of reproduction by borrowers is not allowed; requests for copying will be considered on a case by case basis.

Balfour Halévy
Balfour Halévy

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 downtown Toronto 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 John R. Cartwright 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.