Friday, April 16, 2010

Spending Summer Elsewhere? Let Us "Introduce" You!

Duke Law School is like a small town, where the doors are always unlocked (albeit with a DukeCard after 5 p.m.) and almost nobody needs an introduction. So it can be a culture shock to students who spend summer away from Durham that many law schools more closely resemble an exclusive nightclub, at least with regard to their access policies. In fact, some law school libraries are not even open to the undergraduates of their affiliated university!

What does this mean for Duke Law students who might need access to another law school library over the summer? Whether you’re hoping to research a journal note while spending the summer in NYC, or you just feel most comfortable studying for the California bar in a familiar-looking setting, it can still be possible to obtain guest access to private law libraries over the summer. However, advance planning will make the process much smoother.

First, identify the closest law library (or libraries). The American Bar Association offers a helpful map of ABA-approved law schools by state. Results from the ABA map link to each law school’s web site, which should be your next stop. Scan the law school and law library home pages for information about guest access; if you don’t find what you’re looking for, call the library’s service desk to inquire. Policies can vary widely, and preparation can save a major headache once you’ve arrived at your summer destination.
  • Many law school libraries offer guest access to law students who bring a letter of introduction from their “home” library. If this is required by your “summer” library, please contact the Reference Desk to obtain one.
  • In some cases, access may be available for a fee. For example, the NYU Law Library requests a letter of introduction for students with a research need, but also sells two-month “Bar Study Passes” for $50.
Other libraries may also be just around the corner from your summer home: check out for a directory of links to public, university, and state libraries across the United States.