Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Law Library

Law Library Guide to Research at ASU

Tips for Getting Started

Seek assistance from the Reference Librarians early and often. Stop by whenever the Reference librarians are in.
 See Ask a Librarian for detailed instructions on contacting a Reference Librarian.


Sources such as Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations (KF 246 B46 2001 Law Reserve), the World Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations (K89 K38 Law Reference), and the Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations can be very useful for deciphering abbreviations.

Research Guides

Consult the Research Guides on the library's website when you are researching an area you are not familiar with.

ASU Library Catalog

Use the ASU Library Catalog find out what books, journals, and government documents the Law Library and other ASU libraries own. Use your ASUrite ID and password to track the books that you have checked out, renew your items online, and access ASU databases from off campus.

Paper, microforms and image formats (PDF)

Microforms (microfilm and microfiche) and image formats (PDF) are exact copies of the original pages of a document or article with the same page numbers and graphics. For citing they are legitimate substitutions when the original cannot be located in paper. In the Law Library, be sure to check HeinOnline for PDF versions of articles. HTML databases like LexisNexis and Westlaw files not yet converted to PDF may lack page numbering and graphics. Many websites have articles in image formats.


How to Find Books in the Law Library

Step 1

Step 2

  • Copy the call number, the location (e.g., Law Treatises, Law State, etc.) and note the status of the book. Is it on the “shelf” or is it checked-out (indicated by a due date)?
  • Then check the Building Directory or ask at the Front Desk for directions to the appropriate collection.

Step 3

  • If the book you need is not on the shelf, check the carrels, tables and copy rooms nearby. Inquire at the circulation desk about a search or placing a hold if the material is checked out.  You may also place a hold online for materials that cannot be requested through the catalog.

How to Find Books in Other ASU Campus Libraries

Step 1

Step 2

If the Status is “shelf” or if there is a due date listed:

  • Click on the “Request” button, enter your ASUrite ID and password.
  • Select “Law” for the pick-up location and click “Submit.”
  • Select the preferred copy.  Note: Items with a "Shelf" status will usually be delivered in about 2 business days.  Items with a due date may take up to two weeks or longer. 
  • You will receive an email when your request is ready to be picked up.

Remember, these books are being checked out in your name. You are responsible for returning them on time and for any overdue fines.

How to Find Articles in the Law Library


Library Catalogs do not list individual articles in journals, law reviews, newspapers, and other periodicals. Use indexes to identify articles on a topic or by an author or to fill in missing information of a citation. Use indexes to complement Westlaw or LexisNexis.  Indexes may not have the full text of an article, but they may cover journals not included in Westlaw or LexisNexis. 

HeinOnline and Other Electronic Full-Text Sources

Full-text electronic journals generally exist in one of two formats. Image formats such as PDF are exact copies of the original with page numbering and graphics. PDF copies, like microforms, are accepted as legitimate substitutes for the original when cite-checking; HTML versions like Westlaw and LexisNexis provide the full-text with hyperlinks to cases, statutes, and other documents cited in the article, but may lack page numbering and graphics.


The HeinOnline database collection provides online, image-based access to law periodical titles previously only available in print, as well as other primary and secondary resources of historic significance. Its libraries contain numerous complete runs of titles from the first volume, predating coverage available on either LexisNexis or Westlaw for most titles. HeinOnline's most attractive feature for cite checkers is that it contains full-text exact page images of law reviews and journals, U.S. Reports, the Federal Register, and other primary and secondary legal sources. There is no difference between looking at a PDF version of a law review volume and looking at the actual print volume. See detailed instructions on Using HeinOnline.

Other Electronic Full-Text Resources

  • From the Law Library's website, search the ASU online catalog by clicking on ASU Library Catalog
  • Click on Journal Title search. Under Electronic Journals, type the name of the journal or the words that you know in the search box.
  • In the Wherebox type select the search option appropriate to your search (i.e. - Title Begins With if you know the very first two words of the journal title). You may also browse a list of titles that are available in full text. The Electronic Journal  search will lead you to databases that include the full text of the journal.
  • If the journal is not available in electronic format, you must then search for Print Journals to see if the ASU Libraries have a print version of the journal.

Paper Copies/Microforms

All journals in the Law Library are shelved by call number. Most journals are shelved in either the Bound Periodical section on the 2nd floor of the tower or in Current Periodicals behind the Circulation desk. Microforms are located in cabinets on the west side of the first floor.

  • From the Law Library's website, search the ASU online catalog by clicking on ASU Library Catalog. Search by journal title or keyword if you do not know the exact title.
  • Copy the call number and the location for the journal or microform.
  • Retrieve the journal or microform from the shelf.

LexisNexis and Westlaw

The LexisNexis "US Law Reviews and Journals, Combined" and the Westlaw "Journals and Law Reviews (JLR)" database contain hundreds of full text law reviews and bar journals. These periodicals can be searched as a group, individually, by topic or jurisdiction. There are separate files for newspapers including some foreign newspapers.


How to Find Articles in Other ASU Campus Libraries

To Search indexes in other disciplines, go to the ASU Libraries Home Page. You can get to this page from the Law Library's website by clicking on ASU Library Catalog and then on the ASU Libraries logo in the top left corner of the page.

Then click on Find Articles. You can search for specific journals under Journal Title Lookup. You can also select Research Databases to search for a specific database by subject or name or to find a subject specific database. For more information on finding articles go to the library tutorial How to Find Articles.

If the article you want is not available in electronic format or at the Law Library, but is owned by another ASU library, you can fill out an Interlibrary Loan form.

Other Tools

To locate other government information and websites that contain documents go to the Law Library's website and use the search box to “Find Websites & Databases by Keyword,” or follow the link to “Browse Websites & Databases by Subject.” Also on the Law Library's website, check out the Research Guides that relate to government documents.

ProQuest Congressional

Searchable guide to Congressional hearings, reports, documents, prints and legislative history.


GPO's Federal Digital System providing free access to Federal Government Publications.  Archived material is available through the GPO Access web page. 

Catalog of U.S. Government Publications

1976 to date, indexes U.S. federal government publications.

For more information on government documents at the Law Library go to the Law Library's Government Documents page. For more information on government documents at the Hayden Library go to


How to Request Materials (Non-ASU) Through Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary Loan service is offered only to current Law Students, Law Faculty, and Law Staff.
Other ASU-affiliated users should check with their home library at ASU Tempe, ASU Polytechnic or ASU West for available services there. Standard Community Card holders are not eligible to use this service, although an Interlibrary Loan Community Card is available for purchase. If you are not affiliated with ASU, please check with your local library.

Tips for managing Interlibrary Loans

  • Place ILL requests as soon as possible. It can sometimes take up to 4 week for us to locate a library willing to fill the request and then for delivery time. PLAN AHEAD!
  • Pick up the materials promptly when they arrive. Most ILLs are loaned for only 3-4 weeks.
  • ILLs will be wrapped in a light blue book wrap so that they're easy to identify. Watch your due dates on these. It is very important that loaned material be returned to the lending institution by the due date. If you need the materials longer, be sure to request a renewal. Photocopies do not need to be returned.
  • The following types of materials are difficult to obtain through ILL:
    • Recently published books.
    • Entire volumes or issues of periodicals.
    • Single volumes of multi-volume sets.
    • Reference works or Reserve materials.
    • Rare books or original manuscripts.
    • Entire Newspapers.
    • Some doctoral dissertations and master's theses.

Requesting Interlibrary Loans

  • An Interlibrary Loan form must be completed for each item requested.
  • To complete the form:
    • Verify that no ASU Library owns the material. Please indicate if the item is in the ASU Library Catalog but is not obtainable (missing, checked out, non-circulating, etc.).
    • Provide your name and a phone number and email where you can be contacted quickly. We may have to call you for more information and we will notify you as soon as the materials arrive.
    • Check “loan” (book, original work) or “photocopy” (journal article).
    • Complete the bibliographic information with as much information as you have. (Book author, title, publisher, journal title, article author and title, volume, issue number, date, page numbers, etc.) Ask a reference librarian to help you verify the citation if you think it's incorrect or incomplete.
    • You may also obtain an Interlibrary Loan Form in person at the circulation desk.  Complete the form and attach a copy of the page that cites the item. Often, having the original citation can provide clues to help us obtain the item.
    • Turn the form in at the Circulation Desk.

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