Mar 09

The Law Library Reference Section

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The Law Library Reference Section Libtour QRCode

This LibTour on study aids commonly found in the law library, which you can download here, was written by Nicole Paccione Dyszlewski, a Reference Librarian at Roger Williams University School of Law.

LibTour Poster:

Librarians and legal writing professors:  Download the pre-made, letter-sized LibTour poster. Print the PDF, and post it close to your library’s collection. Students can scan the QR code to hear the audio file instantly on their smart phones.

What Else Can I Do With This?:

We offer LibTour materials to you under this Creative Commons license. It means those of you at schools and libraries – including law firm and public libraries – can use LibTour about however you want. Just give credit to CALI and don’t turn around and sell our work.

But, change it around completely, post it on your own site, work it into your library tours, paste all the QR codes onto one handout…whatever you want. Just have fun, be creative, share and let us know what you’re doing with them!


This CALI LibTour covers your library’s reference section. The Reference Section, sometimes referred to as the Ready Reference Section, is a collection of print resources complied by the library for the purposes of general and legal reference. It is not one collection of books by one publisher and it is not standardized across libraries. Each library’s reference section will look a little bit different and have different resources, but for the most part, they serve the same purpose and have similar materials. The Reference section exists to help patrons quickly access basic information. This information can be basic legal or non-legal information. The material is collected in one place to provide a broad range of resources to help a student, researcher, attorney or librarian find factual information quickly and consistently. You usually can’t borrow resources in the reference section, so that this information is available to all patrons when it is needed.

While the material in the reference section is compiled by each different library, there are many similarities across reference collections.

Legal reference sections often include a collection of dictionaries and thesauri. Chief among these are legal dictionaries and thesauri which explain legal words and phrases, such as Black’s Law Dictionary.

Besides dictionaries and thesauri, another type of resource available in many reference sections is legal research and writing material. Legal research and writing material assists patrons with simple grammar, proper citation of legal authorities, and legal research instruction. An example of a legal research and writing resource is The Bluebook.

Another commonly available resource in the reference section is business and medical reference material. In addition, some reference sections include resources on job searching and legal career opportunities. An example of an employment-related resource is the NALP Directory of Legal Employers.

Finally, many reference sections have legal and non-legal directories. These resources provide information about members of the bench and bar, judicial systems, and government entities. An example of a directory is the Federal Regulatory Directory. In addition, the reference section usually contains resources about Supreme Court history and important judicial decisions, such as the Supreme Court Compendium.

Overall, while the contents of reference sections may vary slightly, the purpose of the reference section remains the same across all law libraries: to collect print materials of primary importance to patrons and provide accessibility to those materials.