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New Student Resource Guide: Using the Law Library

A guide for 1L, LL.M., and other students new to Penn Law.

About the Library



Welcome to Biddle Law Library!


The library’s collections serve the Law School’s faculty and students, the University community, and the regional legal community. Two-thirds of the one million volumes in our collection consist of American primary materials (cases, statutes, regulations, etc.) and secondary sources such as journals, scholarly monographs, loose-leaf services, and federal legislative histories.

Foreign, international and comparative law materials comprise a third of Biddle’s total collection. Biddle extensively collects treaties, decisions of international courts, and official documents of the European Union, United Nations, World Trade Organization, and other key international institutions. National laws and court decisions are also collected, with particularly strong holdings for the United Kingdom, Canada, India, Australia, France, Germany, and Poland. Historical strengths of the collection include 19th and early 20th century sources in English, French, German, Roman, Eastern European, Soviet/Russian, and Latin American law.

Biddle also subscribes to an array of databases, indexes, e-journals, online catalogs and recommended web sites. LexisNexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law provide online access to primary sources plus the standard citators, digests, journals and treatises, and to many additional electronic resources. Other electronic resources may be accessed by subject, through the A-Z list, or though Search Center, our online catalog. Electronic and print journals may be found in the full text electronic journal list. Biddle’s electronic also holdings include the Video/DVD Library, most of which are cataloged in Search Center as well.

The holdings of the Archives and Special Collections Department are divided into three main categories: rare books, archives, and manuscripts. The rare books collection spans the late 15th-mid 19th centuries and includes approximately 10,000 titles. The collection includes English reports, statutes, and treatises; early French legal sources; 16th and 17th century treatises on Roman and Canon law; and American colonial and early state materials. The archives preserves, promotes, and provides access to the papers and records of two major legal organizations: The American Law Institute (ALI) and the National Bankruptcy Archives. The archives also houses a number of smaller manuscript collections, including the personal papers of early Penn Law Dean and ALI co-founder William Draper Lewis, Penn Law graduate and Philadelphia lawyer Bernard G. Segal, and U.S. Court of Appeals Judge David L. Bazelon. Also within the special collections is the Raymond F. Trent Collection which consists of books, periodicals, articles, and audio tapes concerning the education and practice of black lawyers in America from the 19th century to the present.

Need Help?

View of the Biddle Reference Desk from above.Reference Desk

The Law Library Reference Desk, located on the second floor of the library, is our main point of contact for research and reference related questions.  The Reference Desk is staffed from 9:00 am through 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday, with some additional evening and weekend hours throughout the year.

The reference staff can also be reached using our chat reference service from 9:00 am through 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday.  You can also contact us by email at any time, and your question will be answered during the next scheduled reference shift.  Chat sessions initiated outside of regularly scheduled reference hours will automatically be forwarded to the reference staff via email.



Appointments with indiividual librarians are encouraged and can be scheduled here or by contacting the individual librarian directly.

Research Guides

The librarians at Biddle have created research guides to assist you in every step of your research process. When beginning a research project, it can be helpful to consult a relevant research guide to acquaint yourself with an area of law and the materials best suited for your topic.

A complete list of available research guides can be found on the Biddle website.

The following guides may be particularly useful to new Penn Carey Law students:

Stress Relief

Manage your stress with Biddle!

Law school can be a stressful time, but we like to think of the library as a place where you can relax and have fun as well as study! Please look for coloring books, games, and puzzles in the main entryway to the library and in the Bazelon Alcove outside of the Rare Book Room.

Library Basics

Setting Up Account Information

Penn Carey Law students can set up free New York Times and Wall St. Journal accounts through the Biddle Law Library.  Information on how to set up your accounts is available on the Biddle website.  The website also includes information on how to set up your Westlaw, Lexis, Bloomberg Law, and CALI accounts.

Information Technology Services (ITS)

Biddle Answers

Have a question?

Search our "Biddle Answers" database for answers to our most frequently asked questions!