Skip to main content

Library Resources for Members of the Public

We welcome visitors and legal researchers to the Gallagher Law Library. This guide will help you understand our policies and resources.

Research Services

The Gallagher Law Library is open to the public and you are welcome to visit us in person to use our legal resources and materials.

If you need help identifying and finding legal resources, you can speak to a Research Services librarian in the Reference Office, located on floor L1 (the first lower level) of William H. Gates Hall. We are open Monday through Friday, closed on the weekends. You can find our hours here.

You may also reach us by phone at (206) 543-6794 or by email via our Ask Us! service. Please allow a 24-48 hour turnaround time for questions asked via this service. 

The Research Services librarians provide legal research assistance; that is, we can direct you to resources that you can use to find answers to your legal research questions. We cannot tell you what law applies to your situation or give you legal advice. For similar reasons, it is our policy not to read legal materials over the phone or email the text of legal resources via our Ask Us! service. If you cannot come into the law library, you might want to use our fee-based Copy & Send Service. Many Federal and Washington State laws, cases, and regulations are available for free online, as described in Researching a Legal Issue. Note that the law on many subjects (family law, inheritance and wills, real estate, etc. varies from state to state. We cannot answer questions dealing with states other than Washington or countries other than the United States. Visit for links to free or low-cost providers and information for U.S. states other than Washington. 

Common examples of questions librarians cannot answer:

What does this legal phrase/word mean?
What statute or law applies in my situation?
Could you find and explain this case to me?
Can you help me fill out this form or tell me if I have filled it in correctly?

How a librarian might help you instead:

Where would I learn what this legal term means?
How do I find which law applies in my situation?
Is there a book or article that talks about this case?
Do you have a sample of this form that I could look at or copy?

Legal Research Guides

We have created legal research guides on a number of common topics, such as researching case law, statutes, and secondary sources. Research guides are lists of librarian-recommended resources on your specific topic, and are an excellent starting point for any legal research project. See our research guides here.

Registering as a Borrower

Anyone can register as a law library borrower. For more information, see the state regulations governing the use of the Law Library (WAC 478-168-010 to -096).

To register, bring in recent photo ID and proof of current address. Registration will allow you to check out books and use legal research computers and our wireless internet.

Registrations are good for one year. Once your registration expires, you must come back in person to renew it.

Checking out Library Materials

Bring your item to the Circulation Desk to check it out. The Circulation Desk closes 15 minutes before the Library closes.

Loan periods vary depending on the status of the borrower and the type of materials checked out.

Checkout Periods for Non-UW Borrowers
Material from Library Locations Checkout Period (non-UW Borrowers)
Classified Stacks 4 weeks
Compact Stacks 4 weeks
L2 Reporters 4 weeks
Good Reads 4 weeks
Briefs 4 weeks
Microfiche, Microfilm 4 weeks
Reference Area Library Use Only
Special Collections (ask staff to retrieve) Library Use Only

Renewals, Recalls, and Fines

To renew your item, sign into your Library Account. You can also call the Circulation Desk (206.543.4086) during business hours to renew over the phone. Note: if your item is overdue or if your patron account has expired (1 year from the date of registration), you must renew in person.

Your item may be recalled because it is requested by another borrower. You will receive an email notification with a shortened (typically two weeks) loan period.

Fines & fees accrue when items are late, lost, or damaged. The UW Libraries Fines page has a full explanation of how fines are assessed and how to pay them.

Returning Books

Law Library books can be returned to any UW Libraries book returns on any of our three campuses (Seattle, Bothell, Tacoma). Do not return UW Libraries books to any other library (e.g., King County Library System, Seattle Public Library, etc.). Returning a UW Libraries book to a non-UW Library could result in late fines or a bill for replacement.