Finding Material

Your guide to accessing the Law Library’s collection.

The Law Library is open to Columbia Law School and Columbia University students, faculty, staff, and alumni. The Law Library participates in programs that allow for the sharing of resources with qualified researchers. Researchers not affiliated with the university may use titles from our Special Collections if they cannot be found in other rare book collections.

Access for non-affiliated individuals may also be purchased on a monthly basis (with some exceptions during restricted access periods) by visiting the Library Information Office in Butler Library on Columbia's main campus in Morningside Heights.

Law firms and other organizations can access the Law Library through our fee-based services.

The Law Library has a wide range of materials for use, ranging from books and periodicals to online databases. Seating for patrons to read and study is provided on all of the floors open for patron use. 

Find a Book

To find a book or other physical item in the Law Library, search Pegasus, the Law Library catalog. Pegasus contains book titles and journal titles. You can find journal articles by using the other online resources provided by the Law Library.

Special Law Library computers are designated as Pegasus terminals and may only be used to search our catalog. Pegasus terminals locations:

  • Cellar, left out of the elevator and around the corner.
  • Second floor, across from the elevator to the right.
  • Third-floor reference area.
  • Third-floor circulation lobby.
  • Third-floor reserve area.
  • Fourth floor, top of the stairs.
  • Fourth floor, copy/scan corridor.

See the floor maps section on this page for additional guidance.

Once you have found the item you want in Pegasus, you can use the location and call number to locate the book. Please note that certain items are not available in open stacks but must be requested for paging, including rare books, microforms, and most items published prior to 1990. The paging process may take more than 24 hours.

For research help, see our online research guides or visit the Law Library Reference Desk.

Course Reserves

The Course Reserves are located at the Circulation Desk on the third floor. With Course Reserves, Law School faculty members may select and set aside books and other materials for in-library use only. The Law Library puts material on Course Reserves only by a request from the course faculty member. 

Faculty members  who wish to place an item on Course Reserves should refer to our Course Reserves Request Service for Faculty. Students wishing for a book to be placed on Course Reserves should talk to the course instructor and have the latter make the request.

Call Number Systems

A call number is an identifier placed on the spine of each book that helps the Law Library arrange books by subject. Knowing a book's call number helps you find the book in the Law Library stacks once you know the location. Both the location and the call number can be found in the book’s record in Pegasus.

Knowing the call number of a book related to your research can also help you locate other books in the same subject area by browsing the shelf or searching Pegasus by call number.

The Law Library uses three classification systems to assign call numbers to books: Library of Congress, Hicks, and Schiller. All three systems use both letters and numbers. 

Library of Congress Classification System

The Library of Congress system is used in the Law Library for material on the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. For information about the arrangement of subjects, see the schedule at the Library of Congress website. Note that the majority of law is found in Class K and its subdivisions. For older primary source material for the United States and British law, see the Hicks Classification System below.

Schiller Classification System

The Schiller system is a locally developed system for classifying foreign, comparative, pre-literate, ancient, medieval, and religious law materials. A call number in the Schiller classification system is comprised of an abbreviation to designate a legal system, followed by a number indicating the specific subject area within the system. Please refer to our Quick Guide to Schiller Classification.

Hicks Classification System

The Hicks system is a locally developed classification system used for early primary source material—such as statutes and reports—in American and British law. Hicks is used for original material only; reprints of early material are classed using the Library of Congress system.

Floor Maps

The Law Library is housed in Jerome L. Greene Hall (cellar and floors one to four). See images below for maps of each floor or download our PDF floor map guide.

Due to ongoing Cellar reorganization, check the Law Library’s updated spreadsheet to see the updated locations for different call numbers, updated weekly as the reorganization continues.

Microform 

Microform materials, such as microfilm and microfiche, are not available in the open stacks and must be requested at the Reference Desk. It can take up to 72 hours for microform to be retrieved, not including weekends and holidays. Microform that is located in off-site storage follows the off-site storage retrieval schedule.

Reference Librarians will email the requester once the item is available at the Circulation Desk.

Unclaimed microform will be held for two weeks before being reshelved unless otherwise requested.

Two microform reader/scanners are located in the circulation lobby. To use microform, you must leave your ID at the Circulation Desk; your ID will be returned to you when you are finished and return the material.

Microform may not be physically removed from the Law Library.

Book and Paper Scanning

The Law Library has five professional grade scanners for use with books and papers. Two are located on the third floor of the Law Library in the Core Collection Reading Room and three are located in the fourth floor scanner hallway.

You can choose to have the information sent to you via email or saved to a USB device. When scanning, it is best to keep individual files to no more than 40 pages to keep the file size manageable.

Please limit your scanning session to 30 minutes so that other patrons may also use the scanners. 

Closed Stacks and Off-site Storage

Some Law Library items are rare and valuable, in poor condition, or seldom used. Due to the limited, fixed nature of our physical space, the Law Library does not keep them in the open stacks but makes them available by request.

Closed Stacks

Items shelved on-site in closed stack locations such as Treasure Storage and Cellar Storage may be requested at the Reference Desk. 

Items shelved in Cellar Storage are retrieved at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Items shelved in Treasure Storage are retrieved by the Special Collections Librarian.

Depending on the type or condition of the material, your use of these items may be limited to the Handler Rare Books Room.

Off-site Storage

Much of the material housed off-site was published prior to 1990. Items shelved in Offsite ReCAP or Offsite Clancy storage can be requested through a Reference Librarian during Law Library reference hours

Items requested from off-site storage before 3:30 p.m. should arrive the following business day. Items requested over the weekend should arrive on Tuesday. You will receive an email when your item is available at the Law Library Circulation Desk.

Depending on the type or condition of the material, your use of these items may be limited to the Handler Rare Books Room.

Core Collection Reading Room

The Core Collection Reading Room on the third floor of the Law Library houses the Core Collection

Use of the Core Collection Reading Room is limited to Law School affiliates and those who need to consult specific materials. The turnstile to this area is keyed to accept the identification cards of Columbia Law School-affiliated individuals; other readers who wish to use materials within this area should consult the Circulation Desk staff.