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Library Resources for Members of the Public

We welcome legal researchers to use the reference services and collections of the Gallagher Law Library. This guide will help you understand our policies and resources.

Research Services

The Gallagher Law Library physical space may be open for very limited hours to the general public starting in Fall, 2022. Please check our hours page for specific dates and times. In the meantime, we invite you to explore the library resources online. Additionally, King County Law Library remains open to in-person visitors at both their Seattle and Kent locations (M-F, 8-4:30). Access to KCLL is free, including the use of Westlaw terminals and the in-person print collection.

You may reach us by phone at (206) 543-6794, through our Gallagher Chat service, or by email via our Ask Us! service (please allow a 24-48 hour turnaround time for questions asked via Ask Us!)

Library staff 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. 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 library staff 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 library staff member 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 get a UW Libraries Borrower's card! Check out the Library Account Services page for more info. 

Checking out Library Materials

Bring your item to the Info Desk to check it out. 

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

Checkout Periods for UW Borrowers
Material from Library Locations Checkout Period (off-campus borrowers)
Classified Stacks 4 weeks
Compact Stacks 4 weeks
L2 Reporters 4 weeks
Good Reads 4 weeks
Briefs 4 weeks
Folio (Located in Special Collections)  4 weeks
Microfiche, Microfilm 4 weeks
Reference Area 2 weeks
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 Info Desk (206.543.4086) during business hours to renew over the phone. Note: if your item is overdue, 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.