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Law Library User's Guide: Locating Materials

A guide to the services, collections, locations, policies and rules of the Law Library.

Arrangement of the Collection

The Law Library follows the Library of Congress (LC) classification system for assigning call numbers and shelf location. The LC call number consists of from one to three letters followed by a number. (E.g., KF 305 .A5 2005) Go to the "Call Number" Research Guide for an outline of the classification system along with the location of the various classifications. There are two exceptions to the LC classification system: Government Documents, and microform / non-print collections. Please ask a Reference Librarian for assistance with the non-LC call numbers.


Audiovisual and microform materials are located in Special Services (Room 130) on Level 1.

Federal Collection

Federal law materials are housed exclusively on Level 2; these materials include the Code of Federal Regulations, the United States Code, United States Code Annotated and Code Service, all of the federal courts’ reporters, the federal digests, and the various court of claims reporters.

InfoHawk & Other Library Catalogs

InfoHawk is the name of the integrated computerized library system at the University of Iowa. It is a web-based portal that all libraries on campus use for accessing information about materials in the libraries’ collections, including the Law Library collection. All titles within the Law Library collection, including U.S. Government Documents, are indexed via this computerized system. Information about books on order, current check-in and holdings information, and the circulation status of an item, including check-out to binding, is available online. InfoHawk also provides access to numerous periodical indexes and databases online.

There are thirteen computer terminals through which users can access InfoHawk within the Law Library; three on Level 3, six on Level 2, two on Level 1 and two on Level G.

Computer terminals for accessing InfoHawk are available whenever the library is open. Non-UI community users must obtain a guest ID to use any of the public computers. If you have any difficulties using InfoHawk, please ask for help at the Reference Desk or Circulation Desk.

Iowa Collection

The Iowa collection is shelved on Level 2 to provide a more convenient location for local users of Iowa law. It is as comprehensive as possible, with primary and secondary law materials, as well as government reports and continuing legal education materials.

Oversize materials

Oversize materials in all classifications, including U.S. Government Documents, are located on Level G on the north side of the building, two left turns off the elevator or the stairs.


Like most of the other materials, periodicals in this library are classified according to the Library of Congress classification system. Anglo-American periodicals – such as Iowa Law Review, JAMA, and Tax Lawyer – are classified K1-K30 and located on Level 2. Foreign, international, and comparative legal periodicals are classified JX1-JX18 and are located on Level G. Unbound issues of selected titles of the latter are displayed on special slanted shelves near the computers on Level G. Official state and city bar journals are classified KF200 and are located on Level 1.

Reference Assistance

While the needs of the University of Iowa law students, faculty, and staff are first priority, the Reference Librarians also assist students, faculty, and staff campus-wide, as well as attorneys and members of the general public, in person or via telephone, e-mail, U.S. mail, or fax.

The Reference Desk, located on Level 2, the main floor of the Law Library, is staffed by a team of professional law librarians who assist patrons with their research needs. A Reference Librarian is available most of the hours the Law Library is open. Reference Librarians:

  • help patrons locate resources,
  • instruct patrons in the use of library materials and electronic resources,
  • suggest appropriate resources and research strategies,
  • look up readily available information, such as legal citation verifications, addresses or telephone numbers,
  • assist patrons with locating resources not found in the Law Library collection,
  • encourage patrons to make interlibrary loan requests, and
  • refer patrons to other libraries or institutions for materials.

Patrons may request reference assistance by telephone; however, individuals requesting assistance in person receive priority. Telephone assistance is limited by the Policy on Legal Research and Legal Advice; and by the availability of staff. The Reference Librarians cannot:

  • conduct legal research on patron’s behalf,
  • interpret the law,
  • provide legal advice,
  • read statutes, cases, court rules, or definitions over the phone, or confirm that resources currently are on the shelf and available to use.

Reference Collection

A reference collection of almanacs, encyclopedias, directories, dictionaries, yearbooks, and so forth, is located on Level 2 near the elevator.

Reserve Collection

Reserve items are located behind the Circulation Desk. Student-oriented single volume horn-books, some multi-volume legal treatises, and other heavily used books may be found there. Materials on reserve may be identified using InfoHawk. Reserve items are generally available for use within the library for a period of four hours.

Faculty may place specific items on reserve for their courses. These “course reserve” items may be requested by the name of the professor or by the course. In addition, some law school examinations from prior semesters are held on reserve under the professor’s name, in addition to them being available via ICON, the university’s web-based course management system.

State Collection

The Law Library collects legal materials from the 50 states and the District of Columbia, along with United States Territories. These materials are housed on Level 3, with the exception of Iowa materials.

U.S. Government Documents / Iowa Documents / U.N. Documents

U.S. Government Documents are shelved on Level G. The Law Library is a selective member of the Federal Depository Library Program. These collections are available to anyone having need of them. Document call numbers and locations can be accessed on InfoHawk. Iowa documents can be accessed and/or located through InfoHawk. The Roy J. Carver United Nations

Documents Collection contains microforms of most available UN documents since the founding of that organization. All documents microfiche and other non-print materials are located in Special Services, Room 130 (see the tab for Special Services).