The George Mason University Law Library is an academic research center which supports the information needs of the faculty and students of the George Mason University School of Law. This page introduces the resources and services available at the Law Library.
During the fall and spring academic semesters, the Law Library's hours are:
Monday -Thursday: 8 AM to 11 PM
Friday: 8 AM to 10 PM
Saturday: 10 AM to 10 PM
Sunday: 10 AM to 11 PM
Special hours for holidays, exams, summer semester, and intersession periods will be posted at the entrance to the library and on the web in advance. For a recording of the library hours, please call the Law Library Information Line at (703) 993-8100.
The Law Library is maintained primarily for use by George Mason University law students and law faculty. The library is also open to the general public. ALL visitors must sign in and may be asked to present a picture ID. Persons who are using the library for activities other than research or educational purposes will be asked to leave. Our Public Patron Access Policy is available on the website. In addition, the library provides a guide for Legal Assistance to the Public.
The Law Library participates in the Federal Government Documents Depository system, and material received through this program is available for public use within the library.
Members of the general public should note that throughout the academic year the Law Library's hours and staffing levels will vary depending on the needs of the students and faculty. Many other libraries in the area have legal research materials and are open to the general public. A list of area law libraries that are open to the public is available on this web site and at the Reference Desk.
The Law Library is first and foremost an academic research library, with a goal of having legal research materials available for use within the library. In order to provide full access to the collection and to prevent the loss of books, most library materials do not circulate outside of the library.
The following is a summary of the George Mason University Law Library circulation policy:
- George Mason students may borrow certain books from the treatise collection for a three week period. Materials that are in a looseleaf format or that are part of a multi-volume set (more than 2 volumes) do not circulate.
- Mason law faculty may borrow library materials indefinitely provided that the items are properly checked out at the Circulation Desk. Mason Adjunct Faculty and full-time faculty members from other GMU campuses may borrow treatises for a semester with a current ID or may request materials via interlibrary loan (ILL).
- All other patrons, including students from other schools, attorneys, and members of the general public may borrow treatises only through interlibrary loan. Patrons should check with ILL services located at their own library for information on borrowing procedures.
- See Patron Checkout Privileges & Fines for a complete list of patron categories, check-out policies, and loan periods.
- Late fees are imposed on all library items returned after the posted due date. For a complete list of late fees, see Patron Checkout Privileges & Fines.
The Law Library maintains an interlibrary loan service for the faculty and students of George Mason Law School. If material that is needed is not available in the library's collection, library staff will attempt to borrow it from another institution. Interlibrary loan forms may be obtained at the Circulation/Reserve Desk or online. George Mason graduate or undergraduate students should use the interlibrary loan service provided by the GMU University Libraries at Fairfax. For more information, see Borrowing Books from Other Libraries .
There is a small "lost and found" area behind the Circulation Desk. Valuable items and items left unclaimed will be turned over to the University Police, Arlington Campus Office, located in Founders Hall, Room 110.
Library staff cannot attempt to locate anyone using the library intercom except in cases of emergency. There is no paging system and patrons should not give out the library's telephone number for messages.
When a particular item is not on the shelves, patrons should ask for assistance at the Circulation Desk. If there is no record to indicate that the material is in use, a staff member will search for the missing item and notify the user of the results. If the item is not found, Mason students and faculty may request the item through interlibrary loan.
There are three Canon multifunction devices (printing/copying/scanning) for patron use. The devices are located in room 136 (Microforms) on the first floor, on the second floor near stairwell C ( Fairfax Drive side of the building), and across from Lab 351 on the third floor. The Canon devices are maintained by the university's Print Services department which is located in room 134 of the library. The mulitfuncton machines operate by using a Mason Money card which can be purchased from a teller located outside of Print Services or by putting money on a Mason ID. Money can be added to a card by going online to Mason Money. There is a computer outside of the Copy Center office that can be used to access Mason Money. The cost is $.10 cents per copy (b&w), $.25 cents for color, and scanning is free.
Any malfunctions should be reported to the Print Services staff member on duty. Although the copiers are physically within the library, the library staff has no control over their repair, nor does the library or Print Services provide change. Patrons should be aware that the Print Services office has different hours from the library's and is closed on the weekends.
For more information, see the Arlington Campus Copy Center.
Two microform reader/printers are available for patron use in the Microform Room and maintained by the Law Library.
Reference Librarians are available during the academic year at the following times:
Monday -Thursday 9 AM - 9 PM
Friday 9 AM - 5 PM
Sunday 2 PM - 9 PM
The Reference Desk is located on the first floor of the library in Room 141. Reference hours will vary during holidays, exams, summer semester, and intersession periods. Please note that although the reference librarians are happy to assist users who need information, a reference librarian will not research or interpret the law for any patron.
Reserve materials are kept behind the Circulation Desk and must be requested from the desk attendant. Reserve items fall into two categories:
- Permanent Reserve
- Faculty Course Reserve
Permanent reserve material includes hornbooks, nutshells, and other high-use materials.
Reserve items may be checked out for use in the library for a two-hour period. Items may be renewed if not requested by others. Non-GMU patrons must leave a picture ID at the Circulation Desk when borrowing reserve materials.
Carrels and Tables
Library carrels with single seats are reserved for the use of Mason law students. Library tables located on the first, second, and third floors may be used by all. Carrels and tables located on the fourth floor are reserved for the use of Mason law students. Both carrels and tables are wired for power, and most have active data connections which are for the use of George Mason students, faculty, and staff only. Materials left in carrels or on tables after closing will be removed.
The library has fourteen group study rooms for Mason law students, staff, and faculty use only. Use of the twelve smaller rooms generally requires a minimum of two users, while the two large conference rooms requires at least four. A sign-up book is kept at the Circulation Desk, and these rooms may be reserved up to a week in advance. During non-peak study periods, two-person study rooms are available for individual walk-ins for one non-renewable four hour period and can be reserved up to one week in advance. Non-peak study periods end two weeks before exams begin.
Specially-marked parking spaces in Hazel Hall, garages B1 and B2, are reserved for those with disabilities. The Law Library is distributed among three floors, and there is an elevator behind the Circulation Desk. The elevator only allows access within the library and does not go to the parking garages. The law school building also has an elevator for patron use which does go to both parking garages. If the library elevator is out of order or if the patron needs other assistance, the library circulation staff will be glad to help. Assistive technology is available on the first floor of the library and in Lab 350. Please ask Circulation staff for assistance.
Materials in a law library's collection are divided into three major categories:
- Primary materials, such as statutes, codes, regulations, and court records (the library maintains a print collection for Federal materials, as well as Virginia, Maryland, and D.C.);
- Secondary materials, such as treatises, looseleafs, periodicals, encyclopedias, and restatements;
- Finding aids, such as indexes, digests, and citators (online-only).
The library's holdings are listed in the George Mason University Online Library Catalog. There are several computers with access to the online library catalog located across from the circulation desk. There are additional computers with access to the online library catalog on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the library near the Fairfax Drive stairwell. Internet access is not available from these stations. The Mason library catalog contains the holdings of the Law Library, indicated by the symbol LL, as well as holdings from the University Libraries.
Treatises and periodicals in the Law Library's collection are arranged according to the Library of Congress classification system. Most government publications are arranged by their special government documents number. Please ask for assistance at Circulation or Reference if an item cannot be located.
In order to make it easier to located frequently used primary and secondary materials, the library maintains a Subject and Title Location Guide.
Members of the law school community may recommend books and other materials for purchase by filling out an online Book Purchase Recommendation Form.
The current editions of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and the Federal Register are in the federal section on the second floor. A complete set of all prior years is available on HeinOnline.
The library has state administrative materials from Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, including the Virginia Administrative Code, the Virginia Register and the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations.
The Law Library maintains a small collection of print court reporters that includes Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., South Eastern Reporter, Supreme Court Reporter, and U.S. Reports.
The Law Library has been a selective depository for U.S. government publications since 1981. Administrative decisions, executive agency reports, and other documents are received regularly. These publications may be found in the federal section, the government publications section, and the Microforms Room. Many government documents are cataloged on the online library catalog. Please see the reference librarians for further assistance, or see the Law Library's Government Documents Guide.
The library maintains a small British and Canadian law section. International law treatises are also included in the classified collection. The library's collection includes such compilations as the League of Nations Treaty Series, the United States Treaties and other International Agreements, United Nations Treaty Series, and the Consolidated Treaty Series. Also available are selected documents from the International Court of Justice and United Nations. Please consult a reference librarian for assistance in locating international and foreign law materials.
The library has a small collection of popular DVDs and Fiction titles available in the first floor Reading Room. Law students and law school staff may borrow these items. DVD disks are held behind the Circulation Desk and will be provided at check out. For a current list of titles, see Legal Fiction and DVDs.
The library subscribes to most major legal periodicals, including law reviews and bar journals. Most of these titles are in print format, with the current year's unbound issues located on the second floor and the older bound editions on the third floor in compact shelving. Some titles, especially the bar journals, are available on microfiche in the Microforms Room.
The online retrospective version of Index to Periodicals and Books is available on the first floor across from the circulation desk. HeinOnline which has the full-text of hundreds of journals is also available on the first floor.
The library maintains a very small newspaper collection located on the east side of the library. Recent copies of the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times can be found there. Other papers, such as the National Law Journal, and Virginia Lawyers Weekly are kept behind the Circulation Desk. Back issues of newspapers are not retained.
Records and briefs for the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and the Fourth Circuit are available on microfiche in the Microforms Room. Records and briefs for Virginia Supreme Court cases from 1978 to 2008 are bound and filed by docket number in the Law Library's Archives which is located in the Arlington Campus Library in Founders Hall. Briefs of the Virginia Supreme Court from 1850 to 2010 are available electronically through HeinOnline.
Copies of the United States Code, United States Code Annotated, and Statutes at Large are in the federal section on the first floor. Official state codes are maintained for the following states: Maryland, District of Columbia, Virgnia, and West Virginia. There is an additional set of the Virginia Code is on the first floor. State session laws are available on HeinOnline.
The library maintains a list of Audiotape and CD Study Aids that are available for one week circulation to GMU law students. They are renewable for a second week if no one else requests the title. The audio study aids are on reserve at the Law Library's Circulation Desk. In addition, Mason law students have access to a large collection of online study aids through the library's Westlaw subscription.
The treatise collection contains both law and non-law books relevant to the law school curriculum. The library's collection is particularly strong in the areas of law and economics, business, economic theory and history, ethics and philosophy, tax, patents, and banking. Most of the treatises are located on the third floor of the library. Some of the more frequently used treatises and hornbooks are kept on permanent reserve at the Circulation Desk.
General legal and non-legal reference books can be found in the reference collection on the first floor. Included are encyclopedias, almanacs, directories, indexes, and dictionaries. The library also maintains a collection of legal encyclopedias, including American Jurisprudence (AmJur) and Words and Phrases (second floor).
The Virginia Collection is located on the second floor. It includes Michie's Jurisprudence of Virginia and West Virginia, Virginia Code, Virginia/West Virginia Digest, Virginia Reports, Acts of Assembly, House and Senate Documents, and current legislative information. In addition, Virginia treatises, practice, and CLE materials are housed in this section. Another quick reference collection of Virginia materials is located on the first floor. A collection of records and briefs of the Supreme Court of Virginia from 1978 to 2008 is available in the library's Archives which is located in the Arlington Campus Library in Founders Hall. Briefs of the Virginia Supreme Court beginning with 1850 are available electronically through HeinOnline.
There are two major full-text computer-assisted legal research systems: LEXIS and WESTLAW. They are both available to the law students and law faculty of George Mason University for educational research purposes. Although the systems differ in some respects, each includes the full-text of judicial opinions, statutory material, administrative regulations and decisions, and other legal and non-legal resource material.
Both Westlaw and Lexis offer individual passwords to Mason law students and law faculty members. The passwords allow users to access the systems on home computers as well as on the computers located in the library's labs. Formal training is offered by the law librarians as part of the first year legal research program.
Because these computer-assisted legal research services are provided to the law school through a special educational contract, use is limited to George Mason University law students and law faculty doing research for educational purposes. Attorneys and students from other schools who have their own passwords may not use George Mason University computers to access these services.
The Law Library provides access to a basic version of Lexis and Westlaw for public patrons.
The Law Library maintains a computer lab for Mason law students. A current Mason ID card must be presented at the Circulation Desk in order to gain access to the lab. There are no exceptions to this policy.
Special Notice: Patrons who violate any of the rules and regulations laid out in this guide will be asked to leave the library and may be restricted from future access.
The Law Library strictly enforces the following rules and regulations concerning the use of the library:
- Members of the public must sign in at the Circulation desk and present a current government-issued photo identification card.
- The Library is to be used only for legal research and government documents purposes.
- Patrons who engage in inappropriate conduct, including using a loud voice, rude or abusive behavior, behavior that adversely affects the staff's ability to provide service, or any interference with other patrons’ use will be asked to leave
- Carrels, study rooms, and the fourth floor are reserved for the use of George Mason Law students, faculty, and staff.
- Personal items left unattended anywhere in the library will be removed and turned over to the GMU Police
- Children under the age of eighteen must be supervised by a parent or other responsible adult while in the Law Library.
- Cell phones, pagers, and other electronic devices should be set to silent or vibrate mode. Cell phone use is only allowed in the building atrium and library stairwells.
- Food is strictly prohibited. Drinks are only allowed when in covered containers.
- The unauthorized removal, mutilation, or abuse of library equipment or materials is prohibited and subject to penalties under Virginia law.
- Groups not affiliated with George Mason University may not conduct classes, tours or business activities without permission from the Reference Office.
The following items/activities are prohibited:
- Sleeping or loitering
- Monopolizing any library space or obstructing the aisles
- Entering any areas or occupying any study spaces that are limited to GMU students, faculty and staff
- Bodily hygiene or condition of personal effects that is offensive so as to constitute a nuisance
- Using Library restroom facilities for inappropriate purposes (including bathing or washing clothing)
- Smoking, tobacco products or alcoholic beverages
- Pets (service animals are permitted)
- Inadequate attire (shoes and shirts required)