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U of M Law Library > Library Collections

Law Library Collections


See also:  Collection Development Policy 


The Law Library historically collected with a heavy focus on the law of the United States, Canada, Great Britain, British Commonwealth and former Commonwealth countries, and Western Europe. The international law collection, historically strong in public international law, has been expanded to include private international law and related topics. The scope of foreign jurisdictions represented in the collection with some depth is now much broader than those countries noted above. Materials are collected for Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, the Middle East, the countries and islands of the Pacific Rim, and Mexico. The library collects actively in Scandinavian law and has an especially strong collection of Swedish materials. The library prefers materials in the English language but purchases in several other languages.

The Law Library buys material on all traditional legal topics, but the collection of materials for non-lawyers is modest. The library collects Minnesota practice and continuing legal education materials; similar materials written exclusively for practicing attorneys in other states are seldom purchased. The Anglo-American collection contains both primary materials and a broad range of secondary materials, government documents, and legal treatises. Secondary materials on the law of individual states outside of Minnesota are seldom collected.

The library is a selective depository for U.S. federal documents and a full depository for Minnesota documents. The library collects comprehensively in international law, including documents from governmental, intergovernmental, and non-governmental organizations. The library has a strong historic collection of government documents from foreign jurisdictions. The Law Library also collects primary and secondary materials from foreign jurisdictions at levels commensurate with the importance of the jurisdiction to the overall collection and research needs and the importance of the topic of the material.

In addition to the collecting patterns noted above, the library’s collecting policies are responsive to contemporary legal developments and to emerging research and curricular interests. Increased acquisitions in materials on comparative law, human rights, international trade, corporate governance, national security, and rule of law issues reflect this responsiveness. Interdisciplinary topics such as women's studies, criminal justice, law and economics, and biotechnology, as well as resources to support skills-based instruction, are also receiving greater emphasis in the collection.

The library purchases monographs and multi-volume treatises, law journals, periodicals, looseleaf services, and a variety of serials and other continuing sets. The library does not actively purchase casebooks but will add them to the collection when they are received as gifts. The library purchases narrative study aids, such as those in the “Nutshell series” and the “Examples & Explanations” series, but only adds commercial outlines when they are received as gifts. The library does not acquire textbooks, reprints, and dissertations. Some general newspapers and periodicals are collected for current awareness and student use. Multiple copies are purchased selectively and only to satisfy high demand. Duplication of materials held in other University of Minnesota libraries is avoided whenever possible.

Approximately two-thirds of the collection is in paper and one-third in microform, but the library now prefers to acquire digital access rather than microform where such access is reliable and available at a reasonable cost.. The microform collection supplements the hard copy collection with periodical back files, major sets such as the American Bar Association archive publications and the CIS microfiche, archival collections of legal treatises, materials from the United Nations and the European Community, government documents, and superseded primary materials. The library is expanding its audiovisual collection to include continuing legal and library education programs, study aids, skills instruction, documentaries, and law-related films.

The Law Library owns or licenses access to materials in a variety of electronic formats, including online subscription-based electronic resources, digital collections, e-journals, and e-books. The Library provides catalog access to selected freely-available Internet resources. Due to user preference, space constraints, and growing availability of electronic resources, the library seeks to provide online access whenever appropriate and economically feasible.

Law, Literature & the Arts Collection




The creation of the Barbara Steffens Hedin Alcove on Law, Literature, and the Arts was made possible by a generous donation to the University of Minnesota Law Library by Douglas A. and Barbara S. Hedin. The nucleus of the Law, Literature and the Arts Collection is Mr. and Mrs. Hedin's extensive collection of legal fiction, including both classic and popular works of fiction. The collection includes plays featuring the bench and bar, poetry, legal humor, and artwork. It also includes secondary works that comment on the relationship of law to literature and art.

The Alcove Collection is located just inside the wooden doors on the 2nd floor of the law library.

Reserve Collection


Located behind the circulation desk, the Law Library's Reserve Collection includes frequently requested items, such as the U.S. Code, selected practice materials and study aid materials, as well as items placed on course reserve by the law school faculty. To check out items in the Reserve Collection, provide the circulation desk staff with the item's call number.

Due to their high demand, Reserve Collection materials circulate for two hours at a time.

Faculty members that wish to provide sample or past exams and model answers for their students can have these materials placed on reserve in hard copy and/or in electronic form.  The hard copies of exams are kept in binders near the circulation desk. These binders do not circulate, but may be used for photocopying. Electronic copies can be accessed via the Courses & Materials page. Note: not all past exams are available. Ask at the circulation desk if you need help locating an exam.

Leisure Reading - The Loft Collection


Located on the second floor of the law library, just at the top of the stairs, is a collection of leisure reading materials, games, and comfy chairs for using them. All of the materials have been donated to the law library. If you would like to use the materials, feel free! You can take the materials from the library without checking them out and return them whenever you want.

If you have materials to donate to the collection, just drop them off at the circ desk or put them in the book drop after hours.

Also in this area are the daily newspapers, popular news magazines, and other periodicals to enjoy.


Microform Collections


The Law Library has a significant amount of material available in microform format. This includes microfilm and microfiche. Some examples of Law Library materials in microform format include: recent UN documents, Human Rights documents, many legal periodicals, and Supreme Court records and briefs.

Many microforms are located in the Microforms Room, room 140, 1st floor of the Law Library. Some microforms are located in Storage and can be retrieved upon request. Reference Staff are available to assist in the location and use of Microforms materials during library hours.

Microform materials do not circulate.  A microform reader-scanner is located in room 140 on the plaza level for viewing and scanning microforms. A printer is not available to make copies, however, you can scan images and email or save them to your own flash drive/memory stick.  The Library does not supply flash drives.


STO (Storage) Collection


Certain library collections are located in the Basement Storage area of the law library. These items are indicated in the catalog by location STO and are generally available for check out upon retrieval. Other collections that are located in storage are indicated in the catalog by their collection code. Examples include the India-Pakistan Collection (IP), "X" books (unclassified), and portions of the microform collection (non-circulating), as well as certain obsolete materials and other documents.

To make a request for an item housed in the Storage Collection, submit your request to the circulation desk during library hours M-F. Library staff retrieve storage materials at least twice daily and will contact you when the item is available for pick up at the circulation desk.