Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Blog

New to WMU-Cooley? Here's what you need to know about the law school library

The law library is going to be one of your best friends while you are in law school. Here are some important things to keep in mind as you look to the law library for resources and other support throughout your legal education.

law library FAQs

I need to borrow the casebook for my class from Course Reserve. How can I check if it’s available?
It’s quite easy to see if we have a casebook for a given class on Course Reserve through the CoolCat website. Simply go to the “Advanced Search” tab on the main page and select either “Course” or “Professor” for the search type (search types show up in a row above the search bars; the default is “Advanced Keyword”).

From there, you can enter the course name or professor’s last name. The results list will show you whether we have materials for the course on Reserve, and whether they’re currently available or checked out. Please note that absent a direct request from a professor, we won’t typically collect the required texts for elective courses.

What kinds of materials can I view online?
Oh boy, tons of stuff! To start with, we catalog electronic materials in CoolCat alongside the print ones, so if you run a search for a title or topic on the site you’ll come across stuff you can directly access by clicking a link in the entry. This can be a good way to quickly find something helpful without getting bogged down in the interface of a larger database.

For the adventurous, there is the Electronic Resources link on the CoolCat main page. This page provides links to major databases to which WMU-Cooley subscribes. Included are the big ones you’ve probably already heard about – Westlaw, LexisNexis, Bloomberg – as well as a range of more niche services like HeinOnline and RIA Checkpoint. There’s a lot to say about these specialty databases: too much for a blog post and we at the Library encourage hands-on experience anyway, so we encourage you to take a look for yourself. Your subscription is covered, of course, so there’s no cost to playing around with them!

What about non-reserve materials? Is there a general rule about what I can check out?
Generally speaking, materials outside of the Reserve collection can either be checked out by students for 30 days or can’t be checked out at all. There won’t be any notice on the labeling of a given book as to whether it circulates or not – you’ll have to either check its entry on CoolCat or bring it up to the circulation desk to be sure – but most of our circulating titles will be located in the Main Collection, excluding multi-volume titles and looseleafs. Ask your campus’s librarian for further assistance.

Can the library recommend some titles beyond what’s on my syllabus for class?
The librarians maintain a series of guides for library materials on various subjects, including all required classes. You can browse them by going to the “Research Guide” link on the CoolCat home page, or just clicking the link here.

Can I talk to a librarian for help directly?
Reference librarians are available at all campuses to assist you with whatever questions you might have. In-person reference hours vary by location (you can check your campus’s reference hours here), but you can reach us at 1-866-REF-DESK or reference@cooley.edu and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Looking for more information on WMU-Cooley's law library? Check out our YouTube Series, "The Library Minute."

Full Series: The Library Minute 

June 14