As more students use the Internet to track down resources, you might think that college law libraries are a thing of the past. This libraries are actually just as useful as ever before. Though you can still find material online with your tablet or computer, there are some great benefits to using the law library at your college too.
Many students assume that they can find everything they need online. While many of the top legal and law journals do have websites and digital archives available, it costs money to access each one. When you work from home or your apartment, you will need to become a member of each site, which can add hundreds of dollars to your law school costs. College law libraries give students access to those same journal articles and archives for free. You can even print off references for use later.
Whether you live in an apartment, a dorm room or with your parents, you’ll likely have a hard time finding a quiet place to do your work. College law libraries often have study spaces available for students. You can sit down in a comfortable chair as you study for a test and feel confident in knowing that any extra study materials you need are somewhere in the library. Most libraries also have larger spaces available that are perfect for groups working together. Your group can find a time that fits your schedules to work on upcoming assignments.
One of the biggest benefits that your law library has over the Internet is the helpful staff working in the library. While you may know how to find useful and valid sources online, you may have some issues identifying the best sites or tracking down hard to find materials. The librarians and others working in the library have experience with legal cases. They can help you locate the best information. Librarians and other staff members can also show you how to use the digital or physical archives, search through any special collections and use any AV materials available.
Internet Has Limits
Despite what you might think, the Internet has its limits. Even Wikipedia doesn’t have entries available for all legal statues and federal or state laws. Doing a search for an obscure case you want to write a paper on may result in just a few sites turning up or no information at all. The law library on your college campus will likely have books dating back decades that cover even the rarest and most seldom mentioned laws and statues. Even if the library doesn’t have the research materials you need, the librarians can often borrow those materials from another facility.
Jeff Greer of U.S. News & World Report recommends that students look at libraries before picking a law school. One thing Greer suggests looking at is any type of digital resources available for students. Digital resources may include archives of photographs, letters or even case studies that alumni donated to the college. Other resources can include digital versions of the books that you use in your classes and access to digital journals. College law libraries let you access all those resources for free.
Though the Internet changed the way that students work on assignments and do research, it will never replace the libraries found on college campuses. Those libraries have a number of benefits over the Internet, including letting students get help with their research and providing them with access to digital resources. College law libraries also offer a quiet place for students to relax and work.