Library Hours and Access • Et. Seq: The Harvard Law School Library Blog

Law Library Adds the Mueller Report to the Collection

U.S. politics has been abuzz since the recent release of a report by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, which details findings of a two-year investigation into possible Russian interference with the 2016 U.S. presidential election.  Both the New York Times and the Washington Post have made the entire Mueller Report available online.  It can also be downloaded from the Special Counsel’s page on the Department of Justice’s website (archived at

The internet can be great for accessing documents, and terrible for reading and processing them.  Have you tried, and given up, reading the Mueller Report on your computer or, worse yet, on your phone?  Is your printing account credit too low to print the 400+ pages of the report yourself?  If you are a Harvard Law School affiliate, you’re in luck. You can check out a copy of the Mueller Report, printed and bound by the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, from the law library’s reserve collection

Further Research: Trump Administration

Perhaps, after perusing the Mueller Report, you would like to read more about Trump and his presidency?  If so, you may find this Harvard Library catalog (HOLLIS) search useful:

HOLLIS Search: Subject = “Trump, Donald, — 1946-“

There is also a helpful HOLLIS search for materials on the US government in general since Trump’s election:

HOLLIS Search: Subject = “United States — Politics and Government — 2017-“

Further Research: Investigations by the Justice Department’s Special Counsel’s Office

The office that issued the 2019 Mueller Report is the U.S. Justice Department’s Special Counsel’s Office. Its historical precursor, the Office of the Independent Counsel, was established under the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (Public Law 95-521). In the late 1990s, under the auspices of this office, Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr investigated potential misconduct by President Bill Clinton. That investigation led to Clinton’s impeachment, and ultimate acquittal.

In 1999, the law that governed the Office of the Independent Counsel expired. However, under Department of Justice regulations that went into effect on July 1, 1999 (64 Fed. Reg. 37038; codified at 28 C.F.R. §§ 600.1-600.10), the Attorney General gained the authorization to appoint a Special Counsel to conduct a similar type of investigation that the Independent Counsel used to perform. According to the regulations, the Special Counsel is required to “investigate and, when appropriate, to prosecute matters when the Attorney General concludes that extraordinary circumstances exist such that the public interested would be served by removing a large degree of responsibility for a matter from the Department of Justice.”

Important Note:
The Justice Department’s Special Counsel Office is not the same as the federal government’s
Office of the Special Counsel.  Under 5 U.S.C. §§ 1211-1219, the Office of the Special Counsel is part of a federal government oversight regime, which also includes the Merit Systems Protection Board, established under the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (Public Law 95-454).

For more information about the history of the special/independent counsel, there is an excellent description on the PBS Frontline website, A Brief History of the Independent Counsel Law. For a more in-depth treatment of the topic, the Congressional Research Service has published a thorough, well-annotated report that was updated in March 2019 — Special Counsel Investigations: History, Authority, Appointment, and Removal.

Interested in finding additional books and articles about the history of investigations into misconduct by U.S. politicians? Below are some HOLLIS searches to get you started.

Research at the Law Library

Right now, it is exam period at the law school, and the law library is filled to capacity with studying law students.  During this time, with very limited exceptions, the law library is only open to current HLS affiliates and an HLS ID card must be shown to gain admission.  For more information, inquire at the circulation desk.  The telephone number is (617) 495-3455.

I recently gave a library tour to a group of conference attendees here at the law school.  Like many visitors of this nature, they asked me about opportunities to come and research at the law library.  So I thought I’d do a quick blog post about it, with links to the relevant websites that provide more information.

For general information about the law library’s admission policy, visit the Admission to the Library page on our website.  This page includes a link to the form that anyone who is not a Harvard student or a member of the Harvard staff or faculty must fill out to be admitted to the library, including HLS alumni.  The form requires you to indicate your affiliation information, and provides information about admission fees, if they are applicable to your situation.

If you have an academic affiliation, and are wondering whether you can access our library for research and how much, if anything, it would cost, this form will likely answer that question for you.  However, if you would like more more information, you may send an email to

The HLS Graduate Program has a Visiting Scholar / Visiting Researcher Program, for which admission is competitive and which has admitted law professors and graduate students from all over the world to conduct research related to specified scholarly projects.  Participants in this program are in residence at the law school, which provides them admission to the law library, for either a semester or an academic year.

Finally, in each of the last several years, the law library’s Library Innovation Lab has sponsored a summer fellows program, during which fellows work on their own projects and on other projects in collaboration with Lab members.  The website does not have information yet about the 2019 summer fellows program, but stay tuned!

Work in the Main Reading Room, January 7, 2016

Work will take place in the main Reading Room on Thursday, January 7, 2016, between 8am and 5pm. We will try to keep disturbances to a minimum. However, there may be occasional noise disruption and staff will need access to many of the study carrels on the south side of the room. Signs will be posted on the corresponding carrels. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding.

Work in the Main Reading Room, December 21, 2015

Over winter break portions of the main Reading Room will be painted. Preparations for this project will take place Monday, December 21, 2015, from 8am to 5pm. We will work to keep disturbances to a minimum. However, there may be occasional noise disruption and staff will need access to several of the study carrels. Signs will be posted on the corresponding carrels. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding.

Library to close at 2 p.m. on January 2nd and reopen at 9 a.m. on Saturday, January 4th

Due to the current prediction of substantial snow accumulation and severe weather throughout Boston and Cambridge starting today and continuing through Friday, the Harvard Law School Library will close at two p.m. today (Thursday, January 2nd) and will remain closed all day Friday, January 3rd. While closed, the library will NOT be accessible via the 24 hour swipe card mechanism. WCC WILL remain accessible during this period. The library will reopen on Saturday, January 4th at 9am.

Library to Close February 8 at Noon & Reopen Sunday February 10 at 9am


Photo of snowy tree by Ryan Holst

Photo by Ryan Holst. CC BY 2.0.

Due to the current prediction of substantial snow accumulation and severe weather throughout Boston and Cambridge starting today and continuing through Saturday, the Harvard Law School Library will close at noon today (Friday, February 8th) and will remain closed all day Saturday, February 9th. While closed, the library will NOT be accessible via the 24 hour swipe card mechanism. WCC WILL remain accessible during this period. The library will reopen on Sunday, February 10th at 9am.

Library Closed Sunday August 28 Due to Storm

NOTICE: Harvard Law School Library will be closed on Sunday August 28th due to Hurricane Irene.

Everyone, stay safe.

A Guide for Visiting Researchers

If you are visiting the Harvard Law School Library to conduct research, we are here to help you!  And, to help you get started, we have created a guide to the library resources and services available to visiting researchers.  If you would rather have a one-on-one meeting with a librarian to discuss your research, you can also set up an appointment through our online form.

Restricted Access Dec. 5 – 20

Sunday, December 5th through Monday, December 20th, Harvard Law School Library will be in Restricted Access.

During this time only Law School students, staff and faculty will be able to use the Law Library for study hall purposes. To ensure adequate study space for Law School students during the Fall Exam period, the Harvard Law School Library restricts access.

Harvard University patrons who need to check out materials from the collection may obtain a thirty minute pass at the circulation desk to retrieve items from the stacks.

24 hour access to the 2nd floor of Langdell is restricted to Harvard Law School students, staff and faculty during the regular semester and during exams.

Library Closed on Monday, July 5

Harvard Law School Library will be closed Saturday, July 3rd through Monday, July 5th. We will reopen on Tuesday, July 6, at 8:30 a.m.

An Historical Anecdote of Independence Day and The Supreme Court

“Immediately after the close of this Court [1790] the Chief Justice [John Jay] commenced his first circuit through New England and was everywhere received with the most flattering marks of respect… Thus the citizens of New Haven and the citizens of Portsmouth honored him with a ‘public entry’ into these towns; even the staid people of Boston were moved from their propriety in a similar manner.”

Later, on a journey through New York, he was “attended for twelve miles on his journey by a body of cavalry, entering the village of Hudson on Independence Day amid the ringing of bells and roar of cannon.”

from George Van Santvoord’s, Sketches of the lives and judicial services of the chief-justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. New York, 1856.
Access through The Making of Modern Law: Legal Treatises 1800-1926. Gale. 2010.

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