San Francisco Bay Area Law Libraries
Each county in California has a law library that is open to the public. Click here for more information on what is available in county law libraries in the Bay Area.
The Bay Area is peppered with law schools, and the ability of non-students to access each library varies. Click here for a summary of information on law school libraries in the Bay Area.
San Francisco Public Library
The Government Information Center is a government document depository of United States, California, San Francisco, and Bay Area regional agency documents. It is one of several California libraries named a U.S. Patent and Trademark Depository Library, and contains complete patents from 1790 to the present.
The San Francisco History Center is the official archives for San Francisco, and its extensive collection provides an exhaustive documentation of the San Francisco experience. In addition to the usual suspects of books, newspaper clippings, photographs, and maps, its Print Collection includes biography files of prominent San Franciscans and architectural drawings, and its Archives and Manuscripts Collection covers everything from the anti-Vietnam war movement to the AIDS epidemic. Also noteworthy are the online resources on How to Research a San Francisco Building and the Pathfinder to Vital Records.
The Law Library of Congress was established in 1832 and is the world’s largest law library. Its print collection covers almost every jurisdiction in the world, and its website provides many useful legal research resources, including:
- Guide to Law Online: an indexed, annotated guide to where to find the law online, including laws of foreign countries and treaties.
- Current Legal Topics: legal commentary and recommended resources on numerous domestic and foreign legal issues.
- Research Guides, which are prepared by legal specialists at the Law Library of Congress and include topics such as researching Municipal Codes and Neighbor Law.
- Global Legal Monitor: an online publication of the Law Library of Congress covering worldwide legal news, which can be searched by topic, keyword, jurisdiction, author, and date.
- A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: part of the Library of Congress’ American Memory historical collection, this digital collection contains the records of the U.S. Congress from 1774 to 1875.
- Legal Blawg Archive: an archive of more than 100 legal blawgs from 2007 to the present, arranged by topic and searchable by keyword, subject, name, or title.
- Legal Research Institute: a series of legal research classes that includes upcoming webinars and past recordings on topics in American law and also foreign and comparative law.
The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world and serves as the research arm of the U.S. Congress. Selected content of its collection is available online and arranged by topic: Government, Politics & Law provides documents related to the branches of government, civil rights, the Constitution, and elections and voting. The Library of Congress’ American Memory historical collection is a digital record of the American experience; the Government and Law section includes Presidential papers, documents chronicling the struggle for women’s suffrage and workers’ rights, and the Frederick Douglass papers, among other treasures.
Law Library Associations
NOCALL California Resources is the Northern California chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries. This site provides links to legal resources, articles, law library employment listings & local law library activities.
California County Public Law Libraries
The California County Public Law Librarians website links to California county law libraries, courts, public libraries, legal services providers and government officials. It contains legal research information and tips, a self-help page, and mini-courses in key legal topics, such as finding forms, laws, and court rules. It links to the AskNow live online reference service.