The Law Library of Louisiana is located in the Louisiana Supreme Court building on 400 Royal Street in the New Orleans French Quarter. Our phone number is (504) 310-2400 or toll-free (Louisiana only) at (800) 820-3038. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The mission of the Law Library of Louisiana is to meet the legal information needs of Louisiana’s judiciary, state government agencies, attorneys, and the general public by providing access to legal and related materials, research assistance, and instruction in the use of legal information. Though the library’s priority is to provide legal assistance to the judiciary, especially the Louisiana Supreme Court, part of its mission is to provide public access to legal information, and the public is allowed to use the library’s resources. The wealth of information and resources offered by the Law Library of Louisiana will be explored in this article.
The historical roots of the Law Library go back to 1838, when Act No. 93 of the state legislature called for the creation of a State Library to be housed in the State House, located in New Orleans. The Secretary of State was appointed to be in charge of the library, which was open to all state residents, but books only circulated to legislators. One of the duties of the Secretary of State was to print and distribute Louisiana law materials, such as the Civil Code and state acts. Eventually the Law Library became associated with the Louisiana Supreme Court and was housed with the Court. The Law Library changed locations numerous times since 1838 and now has returned to a previous location at 400 Royal Street in New Orleans, where the library and the Louisiana Supreme Court were located from 1910-1958.
The Law Library is open Monday – Friday from 9:00-5:00, closed on holidays and weekends. Members of the Bar and public can visit at any time during normal business hours. Patrons may call the library for assistance locally or by using a toll-free number for callers from other parts of the state. Reference inquiries can also be sent by e-mail. Librarians provide legal assistance and are prohibited from giving legal advice, but will refer users to other organizations for assistance as necessary.
Library books and materials only circulate within the building. Outside users can make photocopies for a nominal fee. The library also owns a state-of-the-art scanner, available free of charge - patrons can email documents or download to a flash drive (available for purchase from the library if needed). The library will also fax, mail, or e-mail requested information according to its fee schedule. Six public terminals are available for patrons to access the Law Library’s online catalog and its databases. The library offers interlibrary loan service to patrons who need materials outside of the library’s collection.
The library’s particular strength is its comprehensive collection of current and historical Louisiana legal materials. The collection includes:
Together, the Law Library’s print and online resources provide in-depth coverage of Louisiana and United States law. Both the print and digital collections boast many up-to-date treatises and practice materials in most areas of United States law. The Law Library offers free Westlaw to the public, available on two of the six public terminals, as well as Lexis Advance on one terminal and FastCase on all terminals.
Other databases available for use at the library include: Hein Online, a growing database of national law reviews, historical legal treatises, and federal government information; Gale Legal Forms, an easily searchable collection of Louisiana forms on multiple topics; LegalTrac, a law periodical indexing database; Gale’s 19th Century Newspapers and Newsbank’s historical Louisiana newspaper collection for historical newspaper research; and ProQuest Congressional, which contains Congressional publications and the full text of key regulatory and statutory resources. The library’s online databases may only be accessed within the building.
The Library not only has the most current legal materials, but it also has a rich collection of historical and international law materials. Most of these treasures are stored in the library’s Rare Book Room, which is only open by appointment. Historical documents such as the Siete Partidas from 1587, the French Code Civil from 1804, a full set of the Diderot Encyclopedia from the 1760s, a first edition of Blackstone’s Commentaries, and early codes used by Louisiana lawyers are but a few highlights of the Rare Book Room and international law collections.
The Law Library is a popular stop during building tours given by the Court’s Community Relations Department. As part of its outreach to the public, the library prepares an annual Law Day exhibit, as well as occasional exhibits exploring Louisiana and U.S. legal history. Exhibits are located in the library itself and on the first floor of the building in the Louisiana Supreme Court Museum. The library also sponsors or co-sponsors free CLEs open to the Bar and the public, held at the Court.
Home page image courtesy Bobak Ha-Eri.