2018 Collection Development Policy


The Lillian Goldman Law Library collects books, serials, databases, and other resources primarily to support research and instruction by current and future Yale Law School faculty and students. A secondary but important purpose of our collection is to support current and future law-related research and scholarship by members of the Yale University community and scholars from throughout the world. 

Collection policy reflects the Yale Law School’s theoretical orientation, its strong tradition of interdisciplinary studies involving the social sciences and the humanities, and its longstanding interest in law viewed from a global and historical perspective. We favor publications that take a scholarly or critical approach.  We favor items published by university presses and other publishers who produce scholarly or authoritative materials.  Works that are primarily oriented toward practicing attorneys or are produced by publishers with such an orientation are generally disfavored unless relevant to one of our clinical offerings or other clear need.

The above general principles guide some specific goals that we are committed to pursuing even in an information climate in which our budget is more constrained than in the past:

  • Collect electronic legal resources of significant value to our faculty and students, unless a resource is prohibitively expensive.
  • Comprehensively collect scholarly monographs for United States law and for public international law in the English language.
  • Collect foreign-law materials extensively in order to serve the current and future research needs of our faculty and students and to enhance nationwide access to such materials.
  • Maintain one of the premier collections of legal history materials in the world. This means we will collect rare law books extensively, retain and preserve older materials, collect reprints extensively, and collect current secondary sources on legal history extensively.
  • Collect the social science, humanities, and general monographs most in demand by our faculty and students, to the extent the budget permits.

Increasingly, library acquisitions will take the form of providing access to materials through licenses to electronic resources rather than ownership of print. Other forms of access to materials, such as reciprocal arrangements with other libraries for interlibrary lending and cooperative collection development, are becoming more important as print and online publishing continues to proliferate. 

We are strongly committed to supporting the research and instructional needs of Yale Law School faculty and students. Within reasonable limits imposed by budgets and our duties as stewards of University resources, we will purchase materials requested by law faculty, even though they may be expensive, duplicative of the University Library, or nonlegal in subject matter. Even for requests by law students, we will attempt to purchase needed materials that are not overly expensive and not too far afield from law-related subjects. 


Materials are collected chiefly in print or digital format. 


Digital format is preferred, as long as:

  • The resource exists in a stable, citable format (such as pdf with original pagination).
  • The resource is hosted by an established vendor or a governmental entity whose ability to archive and preserve is reliable.


Format is determined by a number of factors:

  • Print format is preferred for books that users will want to read cover-to-cover; or for books where no suitable e-version is reasonably available. 
  • Digital format is preferred for books that are of current interest but are unlikely to be of interest in the future; or books whose utility will derive from full-text searching of their contents; or books consisting of collected essays or articles, so that users will read only selected portions of the volume.
  • Both print and digital formats may be acquired for books that are significant both currently and in the future; or books for which we hold some archival responsibility; or rare materials that are unique or held by only a few libraries in the country.

By “suitable e-version” we mean e-books that meet standards relating to rights in the material, means of access, archiving, utility of the platform, stability and completeness of the content, pricing, privacy, discoverability, and usage statistics. These standards are set out in the Appendix to this Collection Development Policy.

E-book package subscriptions are also considered, based on relevance of subject matter, quality of publishers and authors, usefulness to Yale Law School faculty and students, and cost.  Our acquisition of such packages is expected to expand in the future.  Currently, we purchase e-book packages from Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Edward Elgar, and participate in or benefit from some Yale University Library packages. Individual e-books may also be acquired upon specific request by Yale Law School faculty or students.


Databases are acquired in a number of different ways, many through the NELLCO Law Library Consortium which negotiates pricing and use for member libraries. We occasionally collaborate with Yale University Library to purchase an expensive database that by its nature is of interest to Yale students and Yale scholars beyond the Law School. We negotiate for university-wide IP access whenever feasible, but when necessary, databases are acquired for Law School community use only. 

DVDs and Multimedia

The DVD and multimedia collection is purchased to serve general research/collection needs, and may include documentaries with a legal focus or items requested by Yale Law School faculty or students.  We also have a collection of popular law-related films and television series. Titles for this collection are selected by librarians, and are chosen according to their popularity and entertainment value.


Not routinely acquired. Purchased only when material of significant research value is not conveniently available in other formats or where there is a compelling processing or archival need.  We dispose of microforms when the material is available in a reliable database and we need to reallocate the space. Therefore, our microform collection has shrunk over the years as has our number of subscriptions to microform collections.


Strongly disfavored. Purchased only if the material is essential to a significant research or curricular need. CD-ROMs received along with print materials are stored in the back pocket of the print item and noted in the catalog record.

Future Trends

As new formats and new methods of accessing information become available and our patrons’ needs change, we will adjust our collection development accordingly. Some emerging categories include: documents, reports, and court filings in electronic and print formats; archival materials; streaming media; datasets; and software.

Policy on Duplication

For disciplines other than law, the Library relies heavily on other Yale libraries, unless faculty and student interests are strong enough in an area, and our budget sufficient, so that we need to duplicate University Library coverage in the area and can afford to do so.  The subjects in which such duplication is most likely are the following (see Nonlegal Subjects section below for more details):

  • criminal justice
  • economics
  • history
  • international relations
  • philosophy
  • political science
  • women’s, gender, and sexuality studies

Duplication of formats will be less feasible if budgets become tighter, but for now we will collect some materials in both electronic and print formats when patron needs or archival considerations require this. Multiple print copies may be acquired for high-use or important titles. See Monographs and Treatises and subsequent sections below for policies on multiple copies of Yale Law School faculty-authored books, Yale Law School publications, and casebooks.


Law Reviews and Legal Periodicals

The great majority of significant United States law journals are acquired, according to the criteria below (but periodicals that are very expensive or commercially published will often not be acquired even if they fit within the criteria). Over time the print categories are being gradually reduced.

Acquire in print:

  • Yale Law School publications.
  • Significant journals that are only available in print.
  • Approximately 20 most-cited of the “flagship” law reviews of U.S. law schools and a similar number of the most-cited specialized U.S. legal periodicals. 
  • Periodicals that Yale Law School faculty wish us to acquire in print.

Access only in digital format:

  • Titles, not falling within the categories above, that are up to date and in a stable, citable format (such as pdf with original pagination) and are hosted by an established vendor or a governmental entity whose ability to archive and preserve is reliable. The primary source for such digital versions is the HeinOnline database.

Nonlegal Journals

Preferred format is digital. Library will provide access when needed by faculty or students for current research or to support the Law School’s research programs, unless the journal is prohibitively expensive.  Where possible, the Law Library relies on the holdings of other Yale libraries or interlibrary loan arrangements.  Nonlegal journals desired by Yale Law School faculty primarily for routing will be acquired in print but will generally not be bound or retained.


Newsletters, especially current-awareness digests of current cases, are generally not subscribed to. Exceptions may be made where the newsletter covers a subject or organization of specific interest to our faculty or students, or where a faculty member has explicitly requested that we subscribe. Newsletters will be retained and bound only when they are of long-term research value.

Looseleaf Services

Because of the expense and filing labor required by looseleaf services and the preference of most of our patrons for online sources, we collect only those print services that are basic tools in subjects of research interest to our faculty and students, are reasonably priced, and are not available online or are specifically requested in print. The recommendations of faculty members with an interest in the area of coverage will be given great weight. Online versions of looseleaf services are subscribed to when they are likely to be useful to patrons and are reasonably priced.

United States Government Documents

The Law Library is a selective depository (selecting 3% of items) in the U.S. government depository program. Yale’s Center for Science and Social Science Information collects federal documents more extensively (84% of items). 

We do not generally acquire U.S. state documents, only doing so for items requested by patrons or items of unusual importance. The New Haven Free Public Library is a Connecticut state depository.

Foreign and International Documents

Our preferred format is digital for foreign and international documents. For United Nations documents, we rely primarily on the United Nations website, AccessUN, and Yale’s Center for Science and Social Science Information (CSSSI), which is a partial U.N. depository. For European Union documents, we rely primarily on the European Union website, Justis, and the CSSSI (an EU depository) for access.  We also rely on the CSSSI for Food and Agricultural Organization (full depository) and Canadian (selective depository) documents.

Monographs and Treatises  

As indicated above, we favor monographs with a scholarly or critical approach, and books published by university presses and other publishers who produce scholarly or authoritative books.  Works that are primarily oriented toward practicing attorneys or are produced by publishers with such an orientation are generally disfavored for print acquisition. We do, however, attempt to collect in print the one or two leading practitioner-oriented treatises in each major area of United States law unless cost or low level of interest at Yale Law School make relying on Westlaw, Lexis, or another database preferable. Treatises that are in looseleaf format or have expensive supplementation are also disfavored. Books in disfavored categories may be acquired if they are requested by Law School faculty or authored by distinguished scholars.

Works by current Yale Law School full-time professorial faculty members are always collected. Nine copies of such books are obtained, one for the Faculty Collection, one for Permanent Reserve, and seven for the stacks. If the faculty work is an expensive item, casebook, or a serial, fewer than nine copies may be collected. If a faculty member contributes a chapter or essay or other small part to a compilation, far fewer than nine copies of the book may be collected and the book will generally not be included in the Faculty Collection.

Student Papers

We receive digital copies of Yale Law School dissertations from the Graduate Programs Office.  We print out three copies of these and have two of them bound (one of which is circulating and one of which is noncirculating).  The third copy is sent to the William S. Hein Co. for inclusion in Hein’s Legal Theses and Dissertations microfiche set; Hein eventually sends us two microfiche copies of each Yale dissertation. Exemplary J.D. student papers may be added to our collection if a faculty member requests this. Student papers receiving Yale Law School prizes will, with the author’s permission, also be added to our digital Legal Scholarship Repository.

Yale Law School Publications

We try to collect all significant Yale Law School publications, generally two or three copies of each. These are primarily classed in the YL collection in the Rare Annex cage, although some copies may be classed in the open Library of Congress collection. We also try to collect all books whose content is relevant to Yale Law School’s history. Yale Law School alumni-authored books that are donated to the Law School are added automatically, and we will generally purchase other alumni books if they have any relevance to our collection.

Reference Sources

Preferred form is digital unless print is required to maintain archival access or for ease of use.


We acquire all casebooks published by West Academic Publishing, Foundation Press, and Wolters Kluwer, and selectively purchase ones published by Carolina Academic Press and other publishers.  Criteria for selective purchase include books used as texts in Yale Law School courses (multiple copies may be purchased for those used in popular classes), books authored by Yale Law School faculty, books requested by faculty, books by distinguished scholars, and books covering an area in which there are few other secondary sources. 

Other Legal Education Materials

We acquire all print Nutshells published by West Academic Publishing. We also acquire all print West Hornbooks and selectively acquire their Concise Hornbooks. All print titles in the Understanding series by Carolina Academic Press are purchased. Other series for law students by West, LexisNexis, Wolters Kluwer, and other publishers are collected selectively. Outlines and exam preparation materials are not collected.

Law for the Layperson

Books about law directed at laypersons are purchased if they seem to be works of high quality in areas likely to benefit our patrons. We do not generally acquire undergraduate texts or books directed at graduate students or practitioners in professional fields other than law (for example, books directed at medical students or physicians, or directed at accounting students or accountants).

Casual Reading

The Law Library maintains a small, selective print collection of popular magazines and newspapers for student and faculty use.  These are retained for a limited time only.  There is also a Popular Reading area, part of the permanent library collection, of books about law and literature or law and film.

The Express Books collection is designed to provide our community with some light relief from the rigors of our daily work, and consists of recent bestselling fiction and nonfiction, with no necessary connection to the law. We select books based on their popularity, topicality, and literary merit. Sometimes, Express Books are recommended by students or faculty, but are more often selected by librarians. Because of their topicality, Express Books have a curtailed loan period (two weeks), with no option for renewals. We generally buy no more than ten Express titles per month, and, after roughly two months, we move them into the Popular Reading collection.

Faculty Office Copies

Because of limitations imposed by University policies and the structure of our online acquisitions system, we are unable to purchase materials for the personal or exclusive use of faculty members or students. Materials are often purchased at the request of Law School patrons and routed to them, but such materials are subject to recall by other patrons. More than one copy of an item may be purchased if multiple patrons are interested or likely to be interested in it.


Session Laws

We collect and retain one print copy of United States Statutes at Large and one print copy of United States Code Congressional and Administrative News. We collect and retain state session laws only for Connecticut and New York. Advance legislative services are collected only for Connecticut.


We collect one print copy of United States Code, one print copy of United States Code Annotated, and one print copy of United States Code Service, retaining superseded volumes for each of these. For state codes, we collect and retain a print annotated statutory code of every state and territory and the District of Columbia. For Connecticut, the official code is acquired in addition to the West edition.

Legislative Documents

Congressional publications are only rarely acquired in hard copy.  We subscribe to the ProQuest Congressional database. Compiled legislative histories are acquired for landmark legislation in subjects of interest. We do not generally collect state legislative documents. 

Municipal Codes and Ordinances

We rely on access through Westlaw, Lexis, and the Internet, except for New Haven and New York, which we continue to get in paper.

Administrative Materials

For the Federal Register, we rely solely on online sources. The only state administrative register we collect is for Connecticut; we rely on Westlaw, Lexis, and the Internet for all other states.  We collect and retain one print copy of Code of Federal Regulations. Connecticut is the only separately published state administrative code received in hard copy. For all other states, we rely on Westlaw, Lexis, and the Internet.

We obtain bound series of adjudications of federal administrative agencies that are clearly useful for the research needs of our patrons, primarily in privately published versions. We rely on Westlaw, Lexis, and the Internet for state administrative decisions.

 Judicial Materials

We collect and retain the following federal reporters in print:

  • Military Justice Reporter
  • Supreme Court Reporter
  • United States Reports

Official state court reporters are acquired for Connecticut and New York. We do not subscribe to any West state reporters in paper, relying instead on Westlaw PDFs with original pagination.

We collect and retain print copies of federal court rules as part of subscriptions to federal statutory sets. For state court rules, we collect and retain one print copy for each state. Federal judiciary agency reports are collected and retained in print if there is extensive patron interest in the title.

United States Supreme Court briefs are received by us in hard copy as a depository of the Court, and are also received on microform (published by ProQuest). Selected cases are included in the Landmark Briefs and Arguments of the Supreme Court of the United States subscription. We maintain a microform subscription to the set of Complete Oral Arguments of the Supreme Court of the United States. Connecticut Supreme Court and Appellate Court briefs are received on microform.

The only digests that we collect and retain are Connecticut Digest and United States Supreme Court Digest. We do not collect citators in print.

State Practice Materials

We do not collect state legal encyclopedias in print, relying instead on Westlaw and Lexis.  Formbooks are collected in print only for Connecticut. We rely on HeinOnline for state bar journals. Jury instructions are collected in print for Connecticut and a few of the largest states only.

We maintain a nearly comprehensive collection of print treatises on Connecticut law. An extremely limited number of general and specialized treatises are collected in print for other states, principally New York and California. Otherwise we rely on Westlaw and Lexis for state treatises. We do not generally collect continuing legal education publications in print.


Criminal Justice

The Law Library is the primary collecting unit at Yale for criminology, criminal justice administration, penology, police science, and forensic science. In particular, we purchase significant books of a scholarly or innovative nature, as well as significant books on “true crime” or famous trials. We collect only lightly on the psychology and sociology of crime, social work with delinquents and criminals, police science, penology, and juvenile delinquency, and also collect foreign-language materials only lightly.


We collect scholarly or otherwise important books relating to the economics of regulation, taxation, antitrust, contracts, corporations, securities, and intellectual property. We also purchase books specifically requested by Law School faculty.


In the area of United States history, we collect widely books pertaining to legal and constitutional history, including books on the history of legislation, regulation, civil and human rights, feminism, and LGBTQ+ rights. Papers and biographies of judges and lawyers are collected extensively, as well as those of political figures who had a major influence on legal history. British legal history is collected along similar lines, but the history of other nations is covered much less thoroughly. History books are collected more extensively when the historical interests of Law School faculty members require us to do so.

International Relations

To complement its comprehensive collection of international law, the Law Library collects a substantial number of monographs (principally in English) and a few print serials in the field of international relations. Major areas of interest include international relations theory, the history of international relations and American foreign policy, current American foreign policy, international organizations, regional organizations, disarmament and nuclear nonproliferation, international migration, genocide, and other conflicts and their peaceful resolution. For the most part, the Law Library does not collect monographs focusing on security, intelligence, development, or peacekeeping, but depends on the University Library for these subjects. Likewise, it draws heavily upon the University Library newspaper, serial, and digital resources in this area. 

Library and Information Science

We purchase United States books and journals directly relevant to law librarianship or to government documents unless they are unusually expensive or poor-quality. Books relating to cataloging are bought if the Catalog Librarian believes them to be useful. Some books and journals relating to general librarianship and information science are collected, but general journals are usually not bound or retained and for the most part we rely on the University Library to collect in the library/information science area.


The Law Library extensively collects nonfiction books relating to law-and-literature. We also purchase major works of law-related fiction, both those of high artistic merit and bestsellers.  Among books relating to literature, many of the more interesting ones are shelved in the Popular Reading collection. See section on Casual Reading above for description of Express Books collection.

Medicine and Science

We purchase significant books on health care policy, bioethics, and medical jurisprudence if they are likely to be of interest to law faculty or students. Significant books on science and technology and government policy in these areas are purchased if they are relevant to research interests of our faculty and students, such as environmental law or information policy. In addition, books on computer technology may be acquired if they are helpful to staff.

Philosophy and Ethics

We collect significant books in the areas of political and moral philosophy. In general philosophy, we acquire some major books, including scholarly editions of important philosophers and commentaries on those philosophers’ thought.

Political Science

The Law Library collects actively in the area of political science. See Philosophy and Ethics (above) for our policies with regard to political theory. We acquire scholarly and other useful books of significance relating to the Constitution, the judiciary, legislation, and regulation, as well as some significant books relating to Congress and the Presidency. Specific policy issues on which we collect books include:

  • Animal rights
  • Biotechnology policy
  • Censorship
  • Children’s rights
  • Civil liberties
  • Civil rights
  • Climate policy
  • Democratic theory
  • Disabilities rights
  • Drug policy
  • Environmental policy
  • Feminism and women’s rights
  • Foreign relations of United States (constitutional issues)
  • Immigration
  • Information policy and e-government
  • Journalism (free speech or other law-related issues)
  • Labor relations
  • Native American rights
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Pensions
  • Sexual orientation (political or philosophical issues)
  • Social security
  • Taxation, federal budget, public finance
  • Welfare state

We also collect materials that cover the developing structure of the EU government.

Sociology, Psychology, and Anthropology

We generally rely on the University Library to collect books in the areas of sociology, psychology, and anthropology. We will purchase books if they are specifically requested by law faculty or if their subject matter intersects with law (such as housing policy, anthropology of law, or forensic psychology). In addition, there are some specific policy areas of particular interest to our patrons in which we purchase significant books, including children’s rights, drug policy, homosexuality, immigration, negotiation, and the welfare state. See Criminal Justice (above) for description of our collecting policies on criminology and penology.

Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

We collect books on women’s, gender, and sexuality studies that relate to legal issues or to the research interests of law faculty and students. Some of the topics of books we purchase include liberation, women and human rights, trafficking, suffrage, violence against women, sex crimes, participation and representation of women in politics, reproductive issues, history of women and the family, women and the professions, LGBTQ+ history, LGBTQ+ civil rights, marriage equality, LGBTQ+ families, AIDS, and transgender issues. Generally, our nonlegal collecting focuses more on political and philosophical topics than on sociological and psychological ones. 


The Law Library maintains a focused foreign law collection. Because of the proliferation and increasing cost of worldwide legal materials, we must emphasize certain countries in our collecting. In addition, the Internet has made available more primary sources from countries around the world. We rely heavily on the collection development efforts of our cooperative partners in the Northeast Foreign Law Librarians Cooperative Group (NEFLLCG), as well as the foreign legal materials in the University Library.

For the larger jurisdictions of Europe and Latin America, the Law Library has historically collected a wide range of legal treatises. Legal history, constitutional law, civil rights, and environmental law receive a special emphasis in the collection, but many other subjects are collected, including civil law and procedure, criminal law and procedure, commercial law, administrative law, family law, and other areas of public and private law. We have an agreement with the University of California, Berkeley Law Library that, between our two libraries, we will maintain print or online subscriptions to all the periodicals included in the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals. At this time, we subscribe to every IFLP journal available in print.

We emphasize the languages of English, Chinese, French, German, Spanish, and Italian in our collecting, and for many jurisdictions no materials are collected in the vernacular. We depend upon the University Library to acquire legal materials in difficult vernacular languages such as Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Turkish, Russian, and other Slavic languages.

United Kingdom

The Law Library has a comprehensive historical British law collection, with many of the older volumes in the rare book collection. The historical collection is also supplemented and supported by online databases (Early English Books Online, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Making of Modern Law: Treatises, etc.). Also, the Library regularly purchases reprints of historical law books.

The Library maintains extensive holdings of current treatises, including Scottish works, selected in conformity with the general criteria established for American treatises, emphasizing scholarly content, the reputations of authors and publishers, and subject needs. While we seek to have an outstanding collection of national-level materials from the United Kingdom, some areas will be treated more comprehensively than others. We place particular emphasis on legal history, legal philosophy and jurisprudence, constitutionalism, and corporation law, and try to have a strong selection of significant works on the other areas of the law.

We collect the most important student texts and casebooks from the graduate and higher undergraduate levels.  Practitioner-oriented materials and expensive multivolume looseleaf treatises are usually not acquired.  We collect a high percentage of editions of basic English law treatises, such as those in the Sweet & Maxwell Common Law Library, when funds are available.  We have historical collections of most academic law journals, as well as a less comprehensive collection of privately published law reviews and journals.

The Library collects the Statutes in Force (microfiche) and the annual session laws (HMSO edition and Law Reports edition), supported by Lexis. We collect Statutory Instruments in print.  For access to legislative materials, we rely on the University Library. With respect to law reports, the Library holds the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting court reports (four series), together with the Weekly Law Reports and the privately published All England Law Reports. We maintain the law-finders Halsbury’s Laws of England, Halsbury’s Statutes, and Halsbury’s Statutory Instruments in print, as well as subscribing to the online version of Halsbury’s Laws of England from Lexis.


The Law Library collects Canadian legal materials less extensively than it does British materials, but still strives to have an adequate collection. The Library also subscribes to the Quicklaw database, and Canadian law has a significant Web presence. We rely on online sources for the Statutes and Statutory Instruments. We collect Dominion Law Reports and Canada Supreme Court Reports in print. The Library has historical runs of provincial statutes, codes, and court reports, but no current subscriptions. For the Canada Treaty Series we rely on the Canadian depository copy at CSSSI.

For Canadian monographs, special attention has been given to the treatment of constitutional issues, but significant books are purchased on a wide range of topics.  Ontario is the only province for which monographs, albeit relatively few, are collected. Expensive looseleaf sets are rarely acquired.  We collect the most significant Canadian law reviews and journals, but not the practice-oriented ones. Government documents are rarely collected.

Australia and New Zealand

For Australia, we no longer collect session laws, but the Statutory Rules are kept current.  We subscribe to the Commonwealth Law Reports. The encyclopedia Laws of Australia is collectedThere is a fabulous open-access Internet source for Australian legislation and court reports, AustLII (Australasian Legal Information Institute).

We collect some significant Australian law reviews and journals, both academic and commercially published. The Library purchases legal treatises relevant to the research interests of our faculty and students. Many of our looseleaf subscriptions have been cancelled.

The collection of New Zealand statutes and statutory regulations is current, as are the New Zealand Law Reports. Treatises from New Zealand are collected in the standard collection foci: legal history, constitutional law, human rights, and environmental law.


The Law Library emphasizes Europe in its collection development, and within Europe focuses on a core number of countries: France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands (in English). Austria, Belgium, Portugal, and Switzerland are collected to a much lesser extent. Scandinavia, Albania, Kosovo, Greece, Russia, and the Slavic-speaking jurisdictions are scarcely collected at all and only in English. In general, materials are collected in English and other major Western European languages. While today we do not collect in Russian or other Slavic languages, there is a rich historical collection of monographs especially from Russia and the Soviet Union. As part of its NEFLLCG cooperative collecting responsibilities, the Law Library supports Vigorous Collecting Responsibilities (VCRs) for Italy, Spain, and Sweden (for the last, only in English), as well as Chile and Colombia. Monographs are collected from wide-ranging subjects for these VCR jurisdictions, as well as the other core jurisdictions, but are more limited in scope for the other countries. 

In addition to its extensive monographic collection, the Law Library subscribes to a limited number of foreign-language law journals, as well as some codes and court reports. Some of the primary sources are available online at no cost, and access is available through the Law Library’s online “Country by Country Guide to Foreign Legal Research” and GlobaLex, edited by our Head of Foreign and International Law. The Law Library does not subscribe to gazettes, many of which are available online.  The Slavic-language jurisdictions in particular, as well as other jurisdictions, are supported by the collections in the University Library.  English-language treatises about the political and legal systems of Russia and Eastern Europe are acquired in lieu of treatises in the Slavic vernacular, and this is true, perhaps to a lesser extent, for many other esoteric foreign-language jurisdictions.  

European Union

The Lillian Goldman Law Library has an extensive collection of European Union materials in English and to a lesser extent in French, German, and Italian, but we still collect only a fraction of what is published. The Law Library further relies on the online access to primary law and EU published reports and monographs provided by the EU itself. There are significant materials on both Lexis and Westlaw and we subscribe to Justis’s Celex database, which focuses on the EU. The Law Library currently collects the Official Journal on microfiche and has both official and unofficial reports in paper. The Law Library is supported by the depository of European Union documents at CSSSI and the very capable reference services provided by the Center.

We add several hundred monographs to the collection each year covering a broad spectrum of topics, but some topics such as banking, labor, and taxation are only minimally collected. Reflecting the focus of the Law School faculty and students, the Law Library concentrates the collecting of monographs on constitutionalism, especially structure, philosophy, jurisprudence, and federalism.  We also collect a small number of journals that specifically focus on the EU.


Perhaps the most significant difference in foreign law collection development since the drafting of the last Collection Development Policy of the Law Library (2010) is the growing collection of African monographs. With expanding globalization and an increase in legal publishing in Africa, more vendors are offering African law monographs, and the Law Library is taking advantage of these offers to grow its collection in both French and English, and to a lesser extent in Portuguese. The Law Library belongs to the Library of Congress Cooperative Acquisitions Program for East Africa, but participates only in the serials program. There is little jurisdictional focus other than South Africa and Nigeria. This growing indigenous African collection is complemented by the acquisition of a number of Western European and American treatises that treat African legal topics and relations among the African states and the major powers of the world.

East Asia

The Law Library comprehensively collects treatises on Chinese, Japanese, and Korean law published in English. Subject emphasis is placed on constitutional law and rule of law, legal history, administrative law, judicial reform and the legal profession, criminal law and procedure, civil law and procedure, and human rights. Antitrust and competition law, environmental law, commercial law, laws relating to corporations, taxation, insurance, and securities are selectively collected. 

For China and related jurisdictions, we collect print materials published in the vernacular based on collection guidelines suggested by the Paul Tsai China Center. Emphasis is placed on materials relating to the laws of the People’s Republic of China; treatises relating to laws of Taiwan and the Special Administration Regions of Hong Kong and Macau are selectively collected. To facilitate remote access to research resources from the offsite facility of the Paul Tsai China Center, electronic formats are favored.  Print primary sources and serial publications are selectively acquired. We collaborate with the East Asian Library in developing print historical materials, selected primary sources, and electronic resources.

For Japan and the Koreas, we collect treatises on Japanese and Korean laws published in English.  Some Japanese and Korean journals and primary sources are received through gifts and exchanges.

South Asia

For a number of decades, the Law Library has participated in the Library of Congress Cooperative Acquisitions Program for India and Pakistan. Today it participates only in the serials part of the Indian office, but continues both the monographic and serial parts of the Pakistan program. The Law Library now firm-orders a significant number of Indian monographs.  The Indian collection is supported by the SCC database. The Law Library has under consideration whether it should join the monographic program for Sri Lanka.

Southeast Asia

The Law Library collects treatises in English and other Western European languages about the legal history and systems of Southeast Asia. Otherwise, the only legal materials we collect from this area of the world come from Singapore or from occasional gifts.

Middle East

Despite the political importance of the Middle East, the Law Library is sharply limited in its ability to collect law from the region because of the difficult languages: Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish. The Law Library endeavors to do what it can to understand the legal systems and points of conflict among the various countries by collecting pertinent monographs in English and the Western European languages. We participate in the monographic portion (only in English and Western European languages) of the Library of Congress Cooperative Acquisitions Program for the Middle East and North Africa, but this provides very few titles. As stated previously, the Law Library relies on the University Library to collect the most important legal treatises in these languages.

Latin America

The Lillian Goldman Law Library’s Latin American and Caribbean collection continues to expand along with the research needs of Law School faculty, students, and researchers. The largest collections are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. Chile and Colombia are our unique Vigorous Collecting Responsibilities (VCRs) within the NEFLLCG consortium. Bolivia, Peru, and Venezuela are emerging and popular jurisdictions (although the current economic problems in Venezuela have significantly reduced publishing in that country).  Although legal material from other nations is often scarce and difficult to obtain, we purchase selected items when available and pertinent to the collection, especially in the area of human rights and constitutional law. Naturally, the vast majority of legal material from the Americas is in the vernacular; we will purchase English-language material when available. 

We still rely heavily on print material in Latin America. We purchase treatises and monographs in the areas previously mentioned (primarily legal history, constitutional law, civil rights, and environmental law, and, secondarily, civil law and procedure, criminal law and procedure, commercial law, administrative law, family law, and other public and private law).  For the major jurisdictions, we also attempt to collect national legislation and high court decisions. We maintain where possible a current (within three to four years) selection of codes with commentary, especially the five primary codes: civil, civil procedure, criminal, criminal procedure, and commercial. We continue to receive law journals from a variety of jurisdictions, including the Latin American journals indexed in the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals.

We do not purchase the national gazettes of Latin America and the Caribbean, nor do we purchase practice materials and university text books unless they are the only available items on a particular important topic. Many jurisdictions produce a very small amount of legal material with a very limited number of copies, making it extremely difficult to obtain. We often receive gifts of books published by former Law School graduate students living and working in Latin America. 

The Library is increasingly turning to online databases for access to Latin American law.  We subscribe to the NatLaw World database of the National Law Center for Inter-American Free Trade, which contains significant national legislation focusing on business law.  There are also several open-access databases with a smattering of primary law and secondary material from the Americas.  As with print material, the vast majority of online resources are in the vernacular. 


Comparative Law

The Law Library maintains an extensive collection of comparative law in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. The collection reflects the strong interests of the Yale Law faculty in comparative law over the years. The historical collection is especially rich. Comparative constitutional law, comparative method, and the history of comparative legal study are collected comprehensively, and a large number of works comparing specific subjects of law of various jurisdictions in both public and private law, especially as they relate to the law of the United States, are acquired.

The International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law and other recently published reference books augment a collection of yearbooks, casebooks, and monographs. The Law Library also collects the major law journals in the field. Reprints of classic works are purchased as they become available.

Roman and Ancient Law and Legal History

The Law Library acquires a large number of treatises in the major Western languages on ancient (mostly Middle Eastern and Greek) and Roman law. We also have an interest in indigenous cultures and collect legal-anthropological works. The Law Library has a special interest in legal history and collects monographs from the medieval through the modern periods.

Canon Law and Other Religious Systems

The Law Library collects some monographs in both classical and modern canon law. In doing so, we especially collect Vatican publications. The Law Library also collects monographs in the major Western European languages on Judaism and Islam, considerably more for the latter. We rely heavily on the vernacular holdings in the University Library. We also collect a few journals relating to the Western religious legal systems. To a much lesser extent, almost on an incidental basis, the Law Library collects treatises on the legal systems emanating from the Eastern religions.

In 2013, the Law Library entered into a 25-year contract with the Stephan Kuttner Institute for Medieval Canon Law to hold and make accessible to researchers its library. Thus, for the moment, the Law Library holds the largest collection of medieval canon law in the world. This collection contains microform of major treatises from libraries and monasteries around the world, offprints of scholarly articles, and monographs.


The Law Library maintains one of the major academic international law collections in the world to support research and the Law School’s international law curriculum. Historically, there has been an emphasis on public international law, but recently there has been significant collection-building in international corporate, financial, and trade law. The Law Library collects international law in the major Western European languages. To enhance the collection there has been increasing reliance on subscription databases, particularly Oxford Public International Law with its component parts: Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Oxford Historical Treaties, Oxford Reports on International Law, Oxford International Organizations, and Oxford Scholarly Authorities on International Law.

Primary Sources

While the library has in its collection many historical print and microform sources, access to primary sources is now mostly through reliable digital resources, free or subscription. There is very little collecting of print primary sources, only a few compilations of documents.


Each year the Law Library adds a large number of treatises on international law, such as nearly all of the Oxford University Press and Cambridge University Press international law titles, to its comprehensive collection on international law. We purchase OUP and CUP titles both in print and online. Particular strengths include works on human rights, the history of international law, boundaries, humanitarian law and the law of war, international criminal law, international environmental law, immigration and refugee law, treaty law, and the law of the United Nations. The treatise collection is supplemented with reference books, commentaries, collections of essays, and festschriften.


The international law monographs collection is supported by a strong collection of international law journals and yearbooks. While there is increasing reliance on the online format, the most significant titles are currently retained in paper format.

The Law Library subscribes to a number of monographic serial titles on international legal topics.  We have cancelled many international law looseleafs, and that genre is disfavored.

International Organization Documentation

See Foreign and International Documents in the Guidelines for Specific Types of Material section above. 


The Rare Book Collection houses materials that require special handling because of their rarity, condition, monetary value, or special research value. It includes early and modern printed books as well as manuscripts.

The Rare Book Collection supports the legal history curriculum in the Yale Law School, and research in legal history and related fields by students and faculty of Yale Law School and Yale University and by researchers from the scholarly community worldwide. The collection also supports an active exhibition program, other outreach activities, and digital initiatives.

Collection Scope

The collection has particularly strong holdings in Anglo-American law, Roman law, canon law, and early modern Italian law.  Its most significant components include:

  • The William Blackstone Collection, the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of the published works of Sir William Blackstone (1723-1780), author of Commentaries on the Laws of England, the most influential book in the Anglo-American common law tradition.
  • The Founders Collection, books that were once owned by the founders of the Yale Law School (Seth Staples, Samuel Hitchcock, and David Daggett) and that formed the original nucleus of the Law Library.
  • The Faculty Collection, monographs published by Yale Law School faculty.
  • Legal manuscripts from the twelfth to the twentieth centuries, including medieval treatises, English case reports, early American lawyers’ account books, and nineteenth-century student notebooks from the law schools at Yale, Columbia, and Litchfield, Connecticut.
  • Approximately 4000 published trial accounts, with a special emphasis on American trials.
  • Italian municipal statutes from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries (800 printed volumes and 55 manuscripts), probably the largest such collection in the Western Hemisphere.
  • The Roman-Canon Law Collection of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, on deposit since 2006, totaling over 1600 volumes.
  • The German Law Collection of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, 826 volumes acquired in 2007.
  • The Walter L. Pforzheimer Collection of books and manuscripts on copyright.
  • The Juvenile Jurisprudence Collection, over 200 law-related children’s books, the gift of Morris L. Cohen, Professor Emeritus and Librarian Emeritus, Yale Law School.
  • The eighteenth-century law libraries of Lewis Morris, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and John Worthington, an attorney in Springfield, Mass.
  • The Law Library is the official archival repository for the Supreme Court bobblehead dolls produced by the journal The Green Bag.

Current Collecting Fields

The Rare Book Collection actively collects materials in the following fields:

  • The works of William Blackstone (including variant editions), reprint editions, autograph manuscripts by Blackstone, student notebooks on Blackstone’s Commentaries, works based on Blackstone, works about Blackstone, and ephemera relating to Blackstone. As funds permit, we also acquire second copies of Blackstone editions with contemporary bindings, significant annotations, or other copy-specific features that enhance the collection’s research value for legal history and bibliography.
  • American trials, including accounts prepared for the legal profession and popular accounts. We acquire individual manuscripts, small manuscript collections, and ephemera documenting individual trials. Excluded are large modern collections of litigation materials. Also excluded are appellate briefs, except those relating to historically significant events.
  • Illustrated law – law books with illustrations, or books with illustrations about the law. These include illustrations of legal concepts or illustrations of technical matters covered by the law (as found in books on mining law, water law, or patent and trademark litigation), as well as satirical images, illustrated trials, or collections of legal portraits. Law books with allegorical frontispieces or engraved title pages are of interest if the image has some legal content. Excluded are law books where the only illustration is a frontispiece portrait of the author.
  • Italian statutes – statutes and ordinances of Italian cities, towns, city-states, and kingdoms from before Italian unification, generally from northern Italy and the Papal States, and including both printed books and manuscripts. Of secondary interest are statutes of guilds and general treatises on Italian law. As the collection grows and funds permit, we will also acquire books and manuscripts on the law of southern Italy (Kingdom of Sicily and Kingdom of Naples).
  • Yale Law School – books, student notebooks, and ephemera with significant connections to the Yale Law School, and also all serials and pamphlets published by the Yale Law School.
  • Connecticut law – both printed books and manuscripts, including notebooks of students at the Litchfield Law School.
  • Important editions of the classic works in English, American, Roman, canon, and European law.
  • The history of the legal profession, including printed books, printed ephemera, and manuscripts.
  • Law-related children’s books.
  • Retrospective monographs authored by Yale Law School faculty (current monographs are routinely acquired for the Faculty Collection along with other copies for the circulating collection).

General Policies

  • We strongly prefer printed books with artifactual value, such as contemporary bindings, significant bindings, marginal annotations, and provenance markings.
  • We strongly prefer materials not already represented in digital collections, or with copy-specific features that set them apart from copies available online.
  • We typically do not acquire items already held by other Yale University Library collections, with the exception of materials for the William Blackstone Collection.
  • When acquiring materials from dealers outside the United States, we insist on obtaining all required export licenses and we scrupulously adhere to the letter and spirit of applicable cultural heritage laws.


The Law Library does not generally maintain archival or manuscript materials. However, the Law Library does work with other archival departments on campus to identify and acquire law-related archival materials of interest, fund processing efforts, and promote research.

The following are categories for possible collecting of papers in a future legal archives program:

  • Legal scholars    
  • Judges (prioritizing the 2nd Circuit)   
  • Political and governmental figures   
  • Activists   
  • Practicing lawyers and law firms
  • Litigants and criminals (and other collections related to notable cases)

In all of these categories, people with Yale Law School or Yale University connections will be favored, although not exclusively.  Because of limitations of funding, staffing, and space, even papers of Yale Law School faculty and alumni can only be collected very selectively.  Papers of political and governmental figures and judges will be considered with caution because these may be voluminous in size.  Papers of practicing lawyers will be considered with great caution because of issues of lawyer-client confidentiality.

Decisions as to which individual papers collections to accept need to give weight to a number of factors, including:

  • The intrinsic importance of the content, and relevance to the mission of Yale Law School and to legal scholarship or legal history in general.  Preference will be given to papers that shed light on the development of legal theory, legal doctrine, legal education, or issues of civil rights defined broadly.
  • Input from librarians, deans, and/or faculty.

Practical considerations include but are not limited to:

  • Time frame and resource capacity (staffing and space).
  • Technical issues of processing and access.
  • Preservation factors such as the condition of the material.

Archival collections being considered for acquisition in coordination with other departments will also be reviewed in consideration of that department’s collection development policies.

Within potential collections, materials of particular interest include case files, substantive correspondence, writings (especially unpublished), teaching files, and Yale Law School- and Yale University-related materials.

The following materials are generally not acquired:

  • Photocopied/printed court decisions or published articles.
  • For professional papers from lawyers, legal concerns may restrict the types of materials we will accept.  We do not acquire case files from attorneys, for example, absent an agreement from the client, due to attorney-client privilege regulations.  In general, we honor American Bar Association ethics rules in these situations.
  • Books and other materials of a type collected by the Law Library.  However, such materials, if included in a collection, may be considered for transfer to the Law Library general or rare book collection.



To: Teresa Miguel-Stearns

From: John B. Nann

Date: August 3, 2017

Re: Report of Licensed Content Committee

For the 2016-2017 year, the Licensed Content Committee was charged with:

Develop criteria that will guide decisions regarding platforms, formats, subscription, and acquisition models.  Develop policies that provide guidance in acquisition and retention decision about materials that the library expects to retain indefinitely as well as those with a shorter shelf-life.

The Committee met several times this year and developed the attached documents. They are: a document that lays out technological and format considerations for electronic resources, a suggested list of format considerations when purchasing books, and a suggested list of format considerations when purchasing serials.

The Committee has reached consensus on: guiding principles, technological and format considerations for the purchase of electronic “book” and “serial” packages, and a suggestion for the structure and ambit of the committee or similar body moving forward.

The Committee determined that the following principles should underlie the decisions: utility, popularity, cost, and permanence of the resource.

The attached documents lay out the various recommended considerations.


Electronic Resource Considerations: Technological/Format

This document describes one class of considerations to be used when examining an ebook, e-serial, or other electronic collection of texts for leasing or purchase. This document describes the technological/format considerations. Separate documents describe the collection-based considerations for ebooks and e-serials.

Principles underlying decisions: utility, popularity, cost, permanence of the resource.


  1. Resource considerations are those considerations that are important to the organization other than the judgement about the suitability of the content (these considerations only come into play if the package/material is suitable for purchase) and staffing.
  2. Principles are the values that we use as a touchstone when evaluating a resource.
  3. Considerations are factors other than the aforementioned “resource considerations” that may affect the decision to acquire.

Technological/Format Resource Considerations (in order):

  1. Rights in the materials.
  2. Means of access.
    1. IP/Shibboleth.
    2. Campus-wide access.
  3. Archive.
  4. Utility of the platform.
  5. Content.
    1. Stability.
    2. Limits.
    3. Usage limits.
    4. Completeness and Availability.
  6. Pricing Models.
  7. Privacy.
  8. Discoverability.
  9. Statistics.

Technological/Format Resource Considerations (with detail).

  1. Rights in the Material
    1. Similar to first sale rights, including: fair use, Section 108 preservation, and interlibrary loan, Section 121 disability access rights.
    2. Specifics.
      1. Patrons must be able to quote from books.
      2. Patrons must be able to collaborate with non-Yale scholars.
      3. We must be able to move books among platforms.
      4. Patrons with print disabilities must be able to access the content.
  1. Means of Access.
    1. IP or Shibboleth strongly preferred.
    2. Username/password only in extraordinary circumstances.
    3. Campus-wide access.
  2. Archive.
    1. The library requires that the license grants the library perpetual access rights.
    2. The library requires that the license allows and supports third-party preservation support.
  3. Utility of platform.
    1. Platforms must meet the reasonable expectations of accessibility by patrons and legal requirements (e.g. 508, ADA, at level of WCAG AA).
    2. The major desktop and mobile systems and formats should be supported.
    3. Allow access by other discovery systems, including any “home-grown” systems.
    4. The library strongly prefers multi user licensing.
    5. Platform must support mobile use.
    6. Platform must support robust Boolean full-text searching, at a minimum metadata must be searchable.
  4. Content.
    1. Stability of Content.
      1. Vendor shall not remove titles from package without notice (and recompense?).
      2. Vendor shall not alter or remove any part of any title without notice (and recompense?).
      3. When new editions are published, old edition shall not be removed.
      4. Vendor shall notify the library of all changes and updates to the content.
    2. Limits.
      1. No usage limits.
      2. No DRM.
      3. Allow use as course materials, in ereserves, and in course packs.
    3. Completeness and Availability of Content.
      1. The content of the ebook must include all of the content of the print book.
      2. The ebook should allow the user to obtain page images (images that reflect the print book, e.g. pdf).
      3. The electronic version must be available at the same time or earlier than the print.
  5. Pricing Models.
    1. Minimal or no maintenance fees.
    2. No variable charges or pay per use.
    3. We expect to primarily purchase packages of ebooks, the packages should be drawn so that we minimize the purchase of materials that is of lesser interest to our patrons.
    4. We must be able to select titles individually.
    5. Pricing should allow selectors as much flexibility in making selections (titles and numbers) as possible, recognizing that some minimum annual purchase may be required. The library’s preference is that such a minimum be as small as practicable.
  6. Privacy.
    1. The library requires that the platform allows anonymous use.
    2. The library requires that the platform supports the creation of individual accounts by patrons so that they can store their searches, saved items, reading location, etc.
  7. Discoverability
    1. The library requires that title and/or chapter level linking is available.
    2. The library requires that MARC records be made available for single title purchases and/or for each title in a package.
    3. A new edition of a title requires an additional MARC record for that edition.
    4. The library prefers platforms that are compatible with multiple link resolvers and discovery services.
    5. The library prefers platforms that include hypertext links from references within one item of the collection to other items in the collection.
    6. The library prefers platforms that include hypertext links from references within one item of the collection to publically available content.
  8. Statistics.
    1. The library requires that the vendor supplies usage statistics that adheres to common standards.
    2. The library prefers that the statistics are made available in COUNTER-compliant and SUSHI-harvestable formats.


Acquisition considerations regarding the format of: Books

Prefer print when:

  1. Meant to be read cover-to-cover.
  2. No suitable e-version is reasonably available.

Prefer electronic when:

  1. Strong current interest, but lesser interest in the title in the future (i.e. “practitioner-oriented”).
  2. Meant to be searched.
  3. Patrons will use portions of the title (e.g. essays, chapters meant to be read separately rather than a sustained argument across a book).

Prefer both when:

  1. Access is important to future patrons.
  2. We hold some archival responsibility.
  3. Material is rarer.


Acquisition considerations regarding the format of: Serials

Always prefer electronic, except:

Prefer both when:

  • Access is important to future patrons.
  • We hold some archival responsibility.

Prefer print when:

No suitable e-version is reasonably available.

Updated Date: 
Wednesday, September 19, 2018