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Drake Law Library Basics: Library Books and Databases

Finding Books

SuperSearch indicates whether Law or Cowles owns an item, its location and call number, and if it is checked out or on the shelf.

Search the "In the Library" scope of SuperSearch, the Drake Libraries Catalog.

Online Legal Research

As a Drake law student, you have access to extensive online research sources. 

Book Types

Case Reporters (Primary Source)

Reporters are printed publications that contain court opinions categorized by state or federal jurisdiction. All current reporters are listed in the Locator Guide, along with their library locations.

State appellate court opinions are found in seven regional reporters, with each reporter containing opinions for a certain geographic arrangement of states:

regional reporter map

Federal court opinions can be found in the Federal Reporter (covering Court of Appeal opinions) and Federal Supplement (covering District Court opinions)

Opinions from the Supreme Court of the United States can be found in:

  • Supreme Court Reporter (abbreviated S.Ct)
  • United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyer’s Edition (abbreviated U.S.L.Ed.)
  • United States Reports (abbreviated U.S.)

Statutes (Primary Source)

State Statutes: Some statutes are annotated (include case citations and references to other materials, e.g., the Iowa Code Annotated) and others are not (e.g., Code of Iowa). Iowa materials are available in Ready Reference on the first floor and the Iowa Wing on the second floor.  Other state statutes are organized alphabetically by state (call numbers KFA-KFW) on the third floor of the Law Library.

Federal Statutes: Federal statutory law is found in the United States Code (U.S.C.). The Law Library carries both annotated and non-annotated versions. The sets are located on the first floor of the law library with call numbers starting KF 62.

Periodicals (Secondary Source)

Periodicals are considered “secondary sources” (meaning they explain the law but are not themselves considered "the law") used for legal research. They are comprised of law-related materials written by law faculty (articles) and law students (notes and comments). Law reviews and journals may be academic (when published by law schools) or professional (when published by bar associations or other organizations).

Periodicals are helpful for understanding a particular legal topic and can provide persuasive arguments regarding legal interpretations. Bound periodicals are available on the second floor of the law library, where they are organized alphabetically by title. 

Treatises (Secondary Source)

Treatises (a fancy word for “extensively researched books that typically discuss one topic of law”) are also considered secondary sources. These are located throughout the library, depending on the topic covered.

You can find treatises by subject, title, or author using the Law Library's catalog.   

American Law Reports (Secondary Source)

ALRs provide summaries for specific legal issues and include references to case law, statutes, periodical articles, and other helpful resources. They are divided into a federal set (KF 105.A54) and a non-federal set (KF 132.A5), both located on the first floor of the law library.

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