In 1983, fifteen New England law libraries established a cooperative network to enhance the research and educational opportunities at law libraries in New England through programs of cooperative collection development and resource sharing. That core group, convened at the suggestion of the Deans of the law schools represented, wasted no time in establishing NELLCO. The Consortium provides a mechanism for resource sharing and mutual benefit between law libraries. In the early days, this consisted primarily in reciprocal interlibrary loan and access agreements between the participating institutions.
Over the years, NELLCO has very deliberately and thoughtfully expanded both its membership and its scope, under the guidance of its Board of Directors. The first stages of membership expansion still retained the regional flavor of the consortium, welcoming a handful of law libraries in New York and Pennsylvania, as well as a handful of non-academic law libraries in New England. That brought the membership to 25.
The next phase of growth occured in the early 2000s, following a very focused planning effort that led to the addition of new membership categories as well as a geographic shift. NELLCO became national, opening Affiliate Membership to academic law libraries throughout the U.S. When that expansion was a success, the Board designed an International Affiliate pilot program to explore the opportunities for cross-border collaboration. At the end of that well-received 2-year program, the Board voted to establish the category permanently.
Today, the New England Law Library Consortium (NELLCO) has grown to include more than 120 law libraries, including Full and Affiliate Members from 33 states across the United States, and International Affiliate Members in Australia, Canada, and the U.K.
NELLCO, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization incorporated in Massachusetts, has its home office in the Albany Law School in Albany, NY.
For a detailed account of the first 10 years of NELLCO, see Martha Berglund Crane's article, The New England Law Library Consortium Experience, 85 Law Libr. J. 767 (1993).