Richard J. Spinelli, 1941 –

Hall of Fame Induction: 2013

Dick SpinelliIs there a better known or more well-liked individual in law librarianship than Dick Spinelli? Not likely. As Gallagher Award recipient Charles Dyer says of Spinelli, “I am sure than anyone who has dealt with him considers himself or herself to be [his] friend, but that hardly puts anyone in an exclusive club, although we always felt like it.”

Involved in law librarianship since he joined Fred B. Rothman & Co. in April 1968 as an order processor (handling the company’s famed “Green Slip” service), Spinelli eventually became “the chief outside sales representative of two companies”—Rothman and, since 1993, William S. Hein & Co., where he currently serves as executive vice president. According to former AALL President Pat Kehoe, “He became a trusted friend to each of us who had the privilege of dealing with him. More significantly, Spinelli became well known as a person of integrity…. He did not ‘bend the rules.’ We knew we could trust him.”

Spinelli worked for a time in Rothman’s publications department, where he oversaw warehouse and inventory control and had few responsibilities outside the office, but by the mid-1970s he was regularly conducting on-site library visits and attending AALL chapter meetings. As Spinelli said in an interview for George Washington Law Library’s Legal Miscellanea magazine, “I became more visible in the profession via these visits and meetings.” He explained that the approach he took to these interactions was not typical for reps. “I emphasized getting to know individuals as much as familiarizing myself with each collection…. I wanted to make it clear that communication was the most important factor in dealing with a vendor, and that the best relationships between library and vendor were based on satisfying interactions.” The many library collections he helped build over the years is testament to the wisdom of his approach.

Although involved in the development of many important legal information products over the years—HeinOnline, including the recently launched Spinelli’s Law Library Reference Shelf, is a prominent example—Spinelli is unlike most Hall of Fame members in that he does not have long lists of publications or AALL leadership positions on his résumé. What he does have, however, is a first-name relationship (and frequently a friendship, as well) with virtually every member of the profession from the past 40 years. No wonder he is a Hall-of-Famer.

Significant AALL Service

  • Member, Vendor Colloquium Planning Committee, 2010–11
  • Member, Colloquium Working Group on Shared Principles, 2011

Professional Honors and Awards

  • Southern California Association of Law Libraries Vendor Service Award, 2003
  • AALL Presidential Certificate of Appreciation, 2010
  • AALL Hall of Fame, Inductee, 2013

Selected Publications by the Inductee

  • “The Changing Role of Law Library Vendors: The William S. Hein and Company Perspective,” Legal Reference Services Quarterly 21 (Summer 2002): 301–06 (with Kevin M. Marmion). [reprinted in Law Library Collection Development in the Digital Age, Michael G. Chiorazzi & Gordon Russell, eds., 301–06. Binghamton, N.Y. : Haworth Information Press, 2002.]
  • “Legal Classics Library,” CRIV Sheet 28 (Feb. 2006): 12.
  • “Spinelli’s Law Library Reference Shelf,” HeinOnline, 2013–.

Selected Publications about the Inductee

  • [Jennie Meade], “A Life in Law Books: Dick Spinelli,” Legal Miscellanea 7 (Spring 2010): 6–11 [publication of Jacob Burns Law Library, George Washington University]
  • Frank G. Houdek, “Introducing the Hall of Fame Class of 2013: AALL Honors Brecht, Spinelli, Todd, and Wright,” AALL Spectrum 17 (June 2013): 28–29.
  • Richard J. Spinelli Interview. In An Oral History of Law Librarianship, interviewed by Frank G. Houdek, July 14, 2013, videorecording. Spinelli’s Law Library Reference Shelf, HeinOnline.

Professional Positions

  • Management Trainee, Johnson & Johnson, 1966–68
  • Various Positions, Fred B. Rothman & Co., 1968–88
  • Vice-President, Fred B. Rothman & Co., 1988–93
  • Vice-President of Sales & Marketing, William S. Hein & Co., 1993–2000
  • Senior Vice-President, William S. Hein & Co., 2001–08
  • Executive Vice-President, William S. Hein & Co., 2009–present


  • B.A., College of William and Mary, 1964

Selected Professional Activities and Achievements (outside AALL)

  • Member, Roy M. Mersky Spirit of Law Librarianship Award Selection Committee, 1992–present