Good Legislation mural in Main Reading Room Lobby by Elihu Vedder

The Law Library of Congress serves a wide range of functions, some better known than others.  The Law Library provides research and reference assistance, oversees the preeminent legal collection available, and houses an international staff of foreign law attorneys. Currently, the Law Library operates under three main areas of expertise:

Collection Services

The Law Library serves as the nation’s custodian of legal and legislative collections from all countries and legal systems of the world housed in the Library of Congress. As custodian, the Law Library maintains, retrieves, preserves, and secures the print and microform collections. Maintenance includes the shelving of all incoming volumes and serial pieces, filing of incoming loose-leaf updates, advance sheets and pocket parts, and the weeding of superseded volumes. Retrieval includes the servicing of any material requested. Preservation includes the preparation for binding of newly collated volumes, and the preparation of material to be digitized, microfilmed, or boxed. Security of the collection involves making sure all Library of Congress regulations on this topic are followed in the handling of the legal collection.

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Foreign Law Research

The Law Library of Congress provides foreign and comparative legal and legislative information services to national and global researchers through its Foreign Law Specialists. The Foreign Law Specialists are a diverse group of foreign trained attorneys whose primary jurisdictions include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, European Union, France, Germany, Greece, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, Mexico, Nicaragua, Russia, and the United Kingdom.  Other jurisdictions are attended to by additional foreign trained attorneys retained under special contract.  They provide research guidance and assistance using the Law Library's foreign, international, and comparative law collections, as well as information and analysis through the Global Legal Monitor and Legal Reports.

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Public Services

In addition to foreign and comparative legal information services, the Law Library also provides research assistance and reference services on United States federal and state legal issues to national and global constituents. Through its staff of skilled American trained attorneys and law librarians, the Law Library guides requesters to appropriate print and electronic resources and advises constituents on efficient and effective research techniques. They produce a variety of online products, including:

  • Congress.gov- research guidance in locating relevant documents and navigating contemporary legislative history matters found in this legislative database.
  • Guide to Law Online - an authoritative portal of legal and legislative information websites
  • Legal Research Guides - guides on legal research techniques

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Last Updated: 01/28/2021