Public Law Libraries

What exactly are public law libraries?

A law library is usually a library intended to aid law students, legal professionals, judges, in addition to their law clerks and anybody else who sees it important to appropriately ascertain the condition of the law.

Most law institutions around the globe will also have a law library, or perhaps in some universities, at the very least a portion of the university library committed to legislation.

An average law library will incorporate in their selection a large number of works not found in other libraries, such as a complete set of United States Reports, one or both of the unofficial U.S. Supreme Court reporters, the West National Reporter System, the West American Digest System, official reporters from various states, the Federal Register, volumes of American Jurisprudence, bound volumes containing issues of prominent law reviews from around the country, federal and state statutes and regulations (such as the United States Code and Code of Federal Regulations), and several different treatises, encyclopedias, looseleaf products and services, and exercise manuals.

Large libraries might have numerous supplemental resources addressing subject areas like legal education, research, and writing; a brief history of the United states legal system and profession; a brief history regarding particular high-profile cases; tactics of oral debate; and also the legislative history of significant federal and state regulations. On the other hand, a smaller law library, at the very least, may contain just one single unofficial Supreme Court reporter, selected West national reporters and digests specific to the state in which the library can be found, the United States Code, a handful of state-specific reporters and statutory compilations (should they exist for a specific state), and many state-specific treatises and exercise guides.

In recent times, the arrival of online legal research outlets such as FindLaw, Westlaw, LexisNexis, and HeinOnline (or in Canada, CanLII) has decreased the requirement for some types of printed volumes like reporters and statutory compilations. A variety of law libraries have as a result decreased the availability of printed works that may be easily located on the Internet, and have increased their personal Internet availability. On the other hand, some university law libraries preserve comprehensive historical collections going back to the earliest English reports.

A public law library is simply a standard law library which is available to the general public without the need for someone doing research to pay a membership fee or to be a registered practitioner of the law in order to access the research material.

As with standard law libraries many law libraries now reside online and are much more easily accessible for anyone with an internet connection. With the advent of internet based law libraries it is now also easier to have access to a larger amount of information as you are no longer limited to waiting for someone to be finished using some information before you are able to access that book or record and begin doing your own research on whichever subject matter you are researching.

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