Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Find details about general practices and Law Library policies below.

Click on a topic to jump to that section. Consult the Services page for an overview on our fee-based services before reading this FAQ.

What are the Law Library hours?
Law Library and Reference Office hours vary during holidays, exams, and between academic semesters.
Please note that all library services end 10 minutes before closing, including the Circulation Desk and scanners.

See hours for:
Law Library and Circulation Desk
Reference Desk

How do I obtain access to Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg?
Access to individual Westlaw, Lexis (a.k.a LexisNexis), and Bloomberg Law accounts is restricted to current law students, faculty, and staff. The Reference Office hosts Westlaw and Bloomberg Law desktop terminals for onsite access. These terminals are available on a first come, first served basis, and research should be limited to 30-minute sessions.

How can I access the Law Library?

Please consult our Guide to Columbia Law Library Services and Policies for the most up-to-do information about access to the Law Library.

The library primarily serves Columbia faculty, students, staff, alumni, and its affiliate institutions. We do, however, participate in programs that allow for the sharing of resources with qualified researchers. Please consult your home institution library or local public library and see our fee-based services for more information.

Researchers not affiliated with the university may use titles from our Special Collections if they cannot be found in any other library.

May I eat or drink in the library?
Covered beverages and small snacks are permitted in most areas of the Law Library. Please see our Code of Conduct for more information.


Code of Conduct

Covered beverages and small snacks are permitted in most areas of the Law Library.

No meals or hot food. Please be respectful of library spaces and fellow patrons by cleaning up after yourself, reporting spills, and disposing of trash in appropriate receptacles. Please do not eat or drink in the Computer Lab on the 2nd Floor or in the stacks next to books.

  • Please be quiet. Cell/mobile phones, portable radios, and similar devices that disturb other users are not allowed. Please restrict mobile phone use within the Law Library to the 4th floor scanner hallway.
  • Evacuate the building immediately at the sound of the fire alarm. Do not use the elevator.
  • Do not leave valuables unattended. Materials found should be turned in to the Lost and Found at the Circulation Desk.
  • Do not leave unattended belongings, Law Library books, or other items on desks and tables in the Law Library in order to reserve space. These “desk collections” may be removed by Law Library staff to make study space available to other patrons.

Use of Electronic Resources
By using the Law Library’s electronic resources, you are agreeing to comply with and be bound by its Electronic Resource Use Policy.

The Law Library provides access to many electronic resources in its collections. Some of these resources are available on-site only; some are available remotely to the Law School community via proxy, VPN, or individual login; some are made available to the wider Columbia University community.

Access to electronic resources through the Law Library is governed by the following:

  • University, Law School, and Law Library policies
  • Contractual license and terms of service agreements with publishers and vendors
  • Copyright law

The following actions constitute violations of appropriate use:

  • Systematic or substantial downloading or printing of content. Please be aware that downloading an entire issue of a journal or an entire book is often viewed as systematic downloading. The use of spider or crawler programs to capture content is prohibited. Research often involves textual analysis of collections of materials; please consult with the Law Library about clearing such activities with database providers.
  • Sharing content with unauthorized users. Sharing content or access to content outside the Columbia community may be seen as a violation.
  • Altering content or creating derivative content.
  • Use of content or access to content for commercial purposes.
  • Any activity that may infringe or obfuscate the copyright notice or statement associated with the content.

Violators may be contacted by a representative of the Columbia University Libraries, the director of the Law Library, the dean of students of the Law School, Law School Information Technology, or Columbia University Information Technology. Violators’ access to the resource in question or to all Law Library-provided licensed electronic resources may be terminated. Please be aware that, for some violations, the vendor or publisher of the resource may terminate access unilaterally and for all members of the university community until the Law Library responds to the complaint.

If you believe you have a legitimate need to use a Law Library resource in a fashion that may constitute a violation, or you are not sure if your need would constitute a violation, please contact the Reference Librarian on duty for assistance.

More information:
Computing, Network, and Information Policies 
Law School IT Policies
Copyright Advisory Office of Columbia University

Use of Damaged Items
See information on our Special Collections page.