A Guide to Using the Gallagher Law Library for Members of the Public:
The Basics

Updated Nov. 27, 2013.
Prepared by Mary Whisner and updated by Rachel Turpin (2009).

This guide answers some of your basic questions about using the Library.

Is It OK for Me to Use the Law Library?

Yes, the Gallagher Law Library is open to the public for use of the legal materials.

Please read and comply with the terms of our Code of Conduct. You may also:

Because the Library's primary mission is to support the research and curricular needs of the School of Law faculty and students, there are a few restrictions on members of the public (including faculty, students, and staff from other department of the University of Washington). Seating in several spaces is restricted to UW School of Law students only at all times:

  • tables on the south side of Floor L1
  • groups of study carrels on Floor L1
  • the Bogle & Gates Law Student Lounge
  • group study rooms on Floor L2
  • Student Commons on Floor L2

The law school versions of Bloomberg Law, LexisNexis, and Westlaw are available only to UW School of Law faculty, students, staff, and librarians.


How Can I Find My Way Around the Law Library?

Read the summary of how the collection is laid out and look at the library maps. And always feel free to ask for assistance in the Reference Office. Look for the Book Locators throughout the Library for maps.

You might also find our What & Where list useful.


What Is a Call Number?

The Law Library--like many libraries--organizes books using the Library of Congress classificiation scheme, an alphanumeric scheme that labels books based on subject. Each book in Gallagher's collection is labeled with its own unique call number, and that call number is like an address that tells you where in the library to find that book. Each of the library's stacks is labeled with the call number range that it includes.

Please refer to our collection maps for a better understanding of where in the library each call number range is located. Remember to note the location of the item you are looking for (reference, classified, or compact stacks).


How Do I Find a Book That I Am Looking for, or Books on a Particular Topic?

If you know the title of the book you are looking for, you can find its location in the Law Library's online catalog. You can search the catalog by title, author, keyword, and call number. You can also use the catalog to limit your search results to certain years or locations within the library.

A good way to begin looking for books on a particular topic is to use the "Keywords" search. For instance, if you search for "child custody and Washington state" as keywords, you'll find several books. When you look at the catalog entries, you'll see that the catalog uses the subject heading "Custody of children--Washington (State)." If you click on this subject heading, you'll find many more books.

You can also ask for help at the Circulation Desk and/or the Reference Office.


Where Can I Use a Computer?

You may use the Law Library's public computers to search the Internet and perform legal research. Note that these computers are not equipped with word processing software. For more information, see Access to Computers & Computing in the Law Library.


Are There Other Local Law Libraries That I Can Use?


The Public Law Library of King County is the fifth largest law library in Washington. It has two locations:

  • the sixth floor of the King County Courthouse, in downtown Seattle (516 Third Avenue, 206/296-0940)
  • the Regional Justice Center, in Kent (401 Fourth Ave. N., 206/205-2900)

The downtown library has a very large collection (over 85,000 volumes) including Washington State and federal cases, statutes, regulations, court rules, and practice materials. Several online resources are also available. The library at the Regional Justice Center is smaller, but has a good basic collection.

The U.S. Courts Library is located in the U.S. Courthouse in downtown Seattle (700 Stewart Street, 206/553-4475). The U.S. Courts Library is open to the public as a courtesy of the judges.

The downtown Seattle Public Library (1000 Fourth Avenue, 206/386-4636) has some Washington State legal materials (such as the Revised Code of Washington and the Washington Administrative Code) and a good collection of U.S. government documents, including the Congressional Record and Congressional hearings and committee reports. Many other public library branches have some basic legal materials for Washington and the U.S.

County law libraries are also open to the public. See the Gallagher guide to Law Libraries in Washington State and the U.S.


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