Yale University Law School is an intense place, and its library is no joke: It has soaring vaulted ceilings, stained-glass windows and giant chandeliers that hang from chains. To help students unwind, the library is offering a rather unusual checkout option: Monty, a Jack Russell-border terrier mix.
Monty lives at home with Yale Law access librarian Julian Aiken, who has had Monty certified as a therapy dog. That means he's amenable to being handled by a lot of strangers, and can mind his manners while doing so.
According to Aiken, the idea for Monty to join the library came to him at home one night.
"Librarians should be allowed one potentially brilliant but spectacularly rummy idea every decade or so," he says, "and this was mine."
Aiken says that so far, the law students seem to like the idea of an in-house therapy dog — all of Monty's half-hour sessions have been fully booked for his three-day trial period.
Seth Wayne, a third-year law student, signed up for one of the sessions, which involve sitting on a couch for half an hour in a back office with a small wiry-haired brown dog. You can pet him, give him a biscuit, maybe give him a drink of water — and that's about it.
Wayne says Yale has a reputation for being pretty "chill" as far as law schools go, but there is still plenty of opportunity for tension.
Wayne helps public defenders in New Haven and sometimes works on death penalty cases. On top of that, he has classes on property and labor law, and he teaches constitutional law to high-schoolers.
Wayne says law students like hard data.
"I think there's hard data available that dogs lower your blood pressure and make you more relaxed, just being around them," Wayne says. "That experience just has a tendency to calm you down."
While it's working out for the students, there is still the question of how to catalog Monty.
"When the idea for this therapy dog was tossed around," says law librarian Blair Kauffman, "our head of cataloging said, 'I can catalog anything — I can catalog a dog.' "
And she did. An official-looking entry in the law library catalog soon appeared for Monty, along with a Library of Congress classification number. But when that entry went viral on the Internet, provoking all kinds of levity before the trial program was even approved, they took it down.
Still, if Monty comes back on a permanent basis, you might be able to look him up at SF428.2 .M66 2011. He circulates for half-hour periods. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
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