by David Batista, Public Services Coordinator, Rutgers-Camden School of Law Library Law Library Information:
This guide assumes that you already have a topic and that the topic is neither too broad nor too narrow for manageable research. You should be prepared to modify or change your topic if you are having problems with your research.
Law libraries are different from other libraries. The majority of law books do not circulate because they are intertwined with each other by several systems of citations and cross references. As you will soon see, if a volume you need is missing from the shelf your research cannot proceed (until you find it). Another difference is in the type of publications primarily used for research. Monographs (books/texts on a particular subject) are not the primary resource. Because monographs take so long to publish and distribute, the material is often obsolete or wrong by the time the book reaches the library shelves. Instead, periodicals (law reviews, law journals), looseleafs (weekly/monthly updated subject guides), reporters (compilations of court opinions), and online electronic databases (updated daily) are used in an attempt to keep up with the constant deluge of changes in the law.
Almost every book in this library was written to be read and understood only by other attorneys (not by non-attorneys (i.e. you)). The terminology (sometimes called legalese) is often difficult to understand. If you are unfamiliar with a term do not hesitate to look up the word in a legal dictionary. Blacks Law Dictionary is the best source for definitions and abbreviations (found in the back of Blacks).
Unless you begin your project with a list of legal citations and/or extensive legal knowledge of your chosen subject area, it is best to read some basic information on your topic. This basic information can be found by reading law review/law journal articles on your topic.
The Library's law review/law journal indexes are located on the fourth floor. The most commonly used and most comprehensive in its coverage (1980 to present and seven hundred plus journals) is Current Law Index (CLI; large red and black volumes). CLI indexes by subject terms, author, case names (just the most famous), and titles of books reviewed.
For older articles (pre-1980) use the Index to Legal Periodicals (ILP; tan colored volumes). ILP indexes articles back to colonial times. There are other specialized indexes shelved in the same section such as Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals. The citations in these indexes typically give the title of the article, the author, the journal volume number, the abbreviation of the journals title, the page the article begins on (or the range of pages), and the year/date of the journal. All of the library's periodicals are in alphabetical order on the fourth floor.
If the Law Library does not own the journal you are looking for, non-law Rutgers students may order copies of any article through intralibrary or interlibrary loan at the Robeson Library.
If the Law Library owns the journal but the volume is missing from the shelf, check with the staff at the Circulation/Reserve Desk to see if the volume may be charged out to a professor. Law review/law journal articles are available on a vast array of subjects and are good background sources for term paper research. You will notice that these articles contain a huge number of footnotes. The citations in these footnotes will direct you to the applicable statutes, codes, regulations, and court opinions. These footnotes will also cite you to related articles and monographs. Most legal citations consist of a number, an abbreviation, and another number.
You will notice as you become involved in your research that since everything is related to everything else there are no clear cut stopping points. You must decide when you have assembled enough information for your project.
Reference service is available during the school year from 9 AM - 9 PM Monday-Thursday, 9 AM - 5 PM Friday, and 9 AM - 5 PM Sunday.