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The Harvard Law School Library is a private research facility. We primarily support the educational and research needs of the Harvard Law School faculty, staff and students and, secondarily, the needs of the Harvard University community.  

Consistent with its primary purpose, Harvard Law School Library attempts to serve the legitimate needs of scholars and researchers from outside the Harvard community who require access to the Law Library’s unique collections. If you are a visitor, visit our Use the Library page.  

As a user of the Library you are responsible for adhering to Library, Law School, and University policies.


Use of Library Resources

We ask you to respect the restrictions placed on access to, and the use of, Library spaces and materials. To ensure that the Library is a welcoming and safe place for all users, Library staff are empowered to ensure the safety and security of the library spaces, resources, and users.  

Please report the theft, destruction or misuse of Library resources to the Circulation desk or Library administration. 

  • Prohibited: Use of Library Resources For Commercial or Exploitive Purposes

    The Library prohibits the use of Library resources for commercial purposes. The systematic exploitation of Library resources for profit or malfeasance, including its databases and electronic resources. It is a violation of our policy to: sell information obtained from library resources, act as an agent for those who sell such information or to otherwise use your library privileges for reasons beyond your own personal academic pursuits. If you are unsure if your use falls outside of an academic research project, contact the Research Services department.

    Failure to comply with this policy may result in revocation of library privileges, disciplinary action, and legal prosecution. 

  • Theft, Destruction, or Defacement of Library Resources

    The unauthorized removal from the library of any book, manuscript, microform, or other materials or property and the destruction, defacement, or abuse of any library materials or other resources is a violation of our policy. 

    If you violate this policy, you will be subject to the fines and penalties of Harvard Law School and of the University as well as the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts governing crimes against property. 

  • Misuse of Library Computers

    Harvard Law School Computer & Network Resources Usage Agreement governs the use of library computers and the law school’s computer system and network.  

    The library will revoke access privileges of any user who violates this policy and you will be subject to the fines and penalties of Harvard Law School and of the University as well as the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

Library Spaces

The Library aims to provide a safe, clean, and secure environment for all Library users. This includes food, drink, noise, and appropriate use of library spaces. 

Food & Drink

You may drink non-alcoholic beverages from covered containers and eat some foods in the library, except in the Caspersen & Root Rooms. Please read additional policies for Historical & Special Collections. 

Acceptable foods are sandwiches, packaged foods, and snacks such as fruit, candy, and chips. 

This policy may change in response to public health mandates.  

On rare occasions, Library administration may make exceptions to the food and drink policy for special events. Submit a request to the Library administration for consideration.  

Waste Disposal & Clean-up

Providing a clean and pest-free environment protects the collection and is an important part of the Library’s preservation program. 

Please leave your study area clean. Dispose of all trash, including drink containers in a designated waste bin when you leave. If you spill something, notify a Library staff member. 

No Smoking/Vaping

Smoking and vaping are prohibited on Harvard University property, including the Library. 


Service animals are welcome. Please leave your pets at home. 

Cell Phones & Video Calls 

Cell phone and video calls should be conducted in our Private Talking Spaces on the 2nd & 3rd floor or outside the Library. 

Respect Quiet Spaces

The Reading Room is our quiet floor. Please limit conversation in this area. Collaboration and conversation are encouraged on the 2nd and 3rd floor of the library. Audio/video players should be used with headphones set at a volume that does not disturb others.  Read more about sound zones in the library.

Earplugs are available at the circulation desk. 

Policy Enforcement

Library staff will ask you to relocate to an appropriate space or leave the library if you violate the Library’s policies.

Secure Your Personal Belongings

Please do not leave personal belongings in the Library to hold your spot when departing the building. The Library is not responsible for unattended personal belongings.  

When leaving your study area to use the bathroom or take a call, please take your valuables with you. 

Lost & Found Items

We deliver lost and found items to the Law School Lost & Found – Facilities Management, Holmes Hall, Room 4. If we can identify the owner, we will attempt to notify you. 

You may contact Facilities at 617-495-5521. During nights and weekends or any other time that Holmes Lost and Found is not open, call HUPD (617-495-1215) for assistance. 

If you find an item in the Library, you may drop it off at the Circulation Desk.  

Bulletin Boards

All bulletin boards and information kiosks are for Library posting only. All other postings will be removed.  

Photographing, Videotaping, & Filming

Professional photography, videotaping, and filming are prohibited in the library unless approved by the HLS Office of Communications.  

Requests for filming and photography during exam periods will not be approved. See the Academic Calendar for exam period dates. 

Collection Development Policy

The primary mission of the Harvard Law School Library is to support the research and curricular needs of its current faculty and students. The Library also supports the greater Harvard community and, to the extent possible, the community of scholars and researchers around the world who are interested in subjects of, or related to, the law.

The Library acquires, catalogs, preserves, and makes available materials required for the teaching, learning and scholarship of the Law School’s current faculty and students. It also acquires materials which may reasonably be required in the future and where it may be difficult to obtain copies on-demand at a future date.

In its collecting decisions, the Library strives to be equitable to preserve a plurality of scholarly perspectives. The Library is committed to selecting and acquiring materials in support of diversity, inclusion, and belonging across the world, and across the field of law, including acquiring and making widely available the work of historically underrepresented authors and viewpoints.

In many cases, the Library acquires materials and adds them to its permanent collection. The Library adds such materials based on a combination of needs of the current faculty and students and the areas of historical strength in the collection.

In addition to the print collection, the Library provides access to materials through licenses to electronic resources and through reciprocal arrangements, such as an interlibrary loan. The Library collaborates with other research libraries at Harvard, libraries at other law schools, and other institutions to work toward common goals of continued access and long-term preservation of legal materials. To this end, the Library participates in several local and national organizations committed to guaranteeing long-term access to legal materials, including the Boston Academic Law Library Collaborative (BALLCO), NELLCO, the Northeast Research Libraries Consortium (NERL), and the Northeast Foreign Law Libraries Cooperative Group (NEFLLCG). The Library also participates in digital preservation efforts independently and in collaboration with other libraries.