Performing Legal Research at the Cook County Law Library

The Law Library offers on-site public access to electronic resources like Westlaw, Lexis and HeinOnline, which helps expand access to Illinois practice materials such as law reviews, journals and out-of-state primary law resources. The Daley Center location also has a wide variety of historical and international materials. Free public Wi-Fi is available at all locations.

Legal research guides on specific topics can be found on the right side of this page, under Additional Information and under Downloads. The guides are updated on a regular basis but are for information only and do not constitute an endorsement by the Cook County Law Library. Please independently verify the accuracy and currency of all information.

Reference Librarians

Reference law librarians can assist in locating materials to help with your legal problem or issue, help develop research strategies and explain how to use our print materials and the electronic legal databases available in the library. However, librarians cannot give legal advice or a legal opinion of any type, including opinions as to the applicability of a particular case or law to a particular problem or advice regarding the drafting of legal documents.

Library staff can:

  • Explain how to use legal research tools.
  • Explain how to update cases, laws and regulations.
  • Assist you in using the collection including how to find materials in the library.
  • Explain how to use the electronic resources available in the library.
  • Help you locate a particular statute or case with a specific reference or citation.
  • Direct you to sources of law, including statutes and cases.
  • Direct you to books containing forms and court rules.
  • Recommend sources to begin your research.

Library staff cannot:

  • Give legal advice or do legal research for you.
  • Select or interpret statutes, court rules, cases or regulations for your situation.
  • Choose specific forms or language to use in forms or explain how to proceed with your court actions.

Access Services

On-site use of materials in the Law Library is free to all residents. In addition to legal research assistance, the library provides the following services:

  • Computer terminals with internet access for legal research purposes.
  • Self-service copiers (black and white only) and scanners.
  • Wireless printing from personal devices.

Printing, copying and scanning costs 15¢ per page. Copies from digital microform readers are 20¢ per page.

Coin changing machines are available and Access Services staff can make change for bills of $20 or less.

Library Cards & Borrowing

Library resources are available to all visitors for on-site use. Borrowing privileges are subject to the Law Library Borrowing Rules as laid out in the Cook County Code of Ordinances, summarized below. 

Library Card Eligibility

Library cards are available to patrons who qualify under one of the following categories:

  • Attorneys who reside in or who have offices in Cook County.
  • Employees of attorney card holders, to a maximum of two employee cards per attorney card.
  • Elected or appointed federal, state, county or local government officials with offices in Cook County and their subordinates who do work of a legal nature as part of their official duties.
  • Residents of Cook County 18 years of age or older who pay a refundable $100 cash deposit.

Library card applications are available at the Daley Center Main Library Access Services desk.

Attorneys must present a copy of a current Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) card and current Illinois driver's license, state ID or Cook County Sheriff Attorney ID card with their application for an attorney card. Application for employee cards also require a copy of the attorney's ARDC card. Government officials must submit a current photo ID issued by their employer. Resident borrowers must present a current Illinois driver's license, state ID or Matricula Consular showing a Cook County address.

There is a $12 charge for replacing a lost library card.

Borrowing Rules

  • Resident borrowers may have up to two print items checked out at a time. Other borrowers may check out a maximum of five print items.
  • Circulating reference materials may be checked out for one day; most other items may be checked out for four days.
  • Overdue books and materials accrue fines at a rate of $3.00 per day, per item for reference materials and $2.00 per day, per item for other materials.
    • Fines do not accrue on Saturdays, Sundays or holidays.
    • After an item is 30 days overdue it will be deemed lost.
  • Patrons will be charged for lost materials at replacement cost plus a $50 non-refundable processing charge.
  • Borrowing privileges will be suspended for any patron with outstanding fines or charges totaling $30 or more.

Library Catalog

You can find out if the library has a specific resource or find out what we have on your subject by searching our catalog. You can access our catalog 24/7 from your computer, tablet or phone. Search by:

We are in the process of adding records to our catalog for law reviews and journals available through HeinOnline. To find out if we subscribe to a specific journal, check the list of HeinOnline Law Journal Library titles. Access to HeinOnline is only available on-site.

Electronic Research

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, off-site access to select subscription databases is available for library patrons.

The Law Library offers free public access to the following subscription databases at the main library and branch locations. All resources except for EBSCO Legal Information Reference Center are available only while in the library.

  • WestlawNext - Provides information on case law, statutes, administrative codes and court rules for the federal system in all 50 states and selected U.S. territories. Illinois treatises, jury instructions, jury verdicts and Public Employee Report-Illinois (PERI) are also available. Extensive collection of treatises on many topics. Selected administrative decisions plus jury verdicts and settlements from state and federal courts are also available.

  • Lexis - Provides information on case law, statutes, court rules, administrative codes and decisions for the federal system in all 50 states. Use Shepard’s to verify and check citations.
  • HeinOnline - Provides a collection of searchable, full-text images that includes over 2,000 law journals, ABA and state bar journals, CFR, Federal Register, U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, U.S. Supreme Court opinions, federal agency decisions, historical state statutes, all state session laws (Illinois: 1809 to present), federal legislative histories and U.S. treaties.
  • EBSCO Legal Information Reference Center - Provides free on-site and remote access to the EBSCO Legal Information Reference Center containing more than 320 full-text publications (including NOLO Press titles). Written in plain English with accompanying administrative and litigation related forms.
  • LegalTrac - Provides indexes for over 900 English-language legal periodicals, legal newspapers and bar association journals.
  • Foreign Law Guide (main library only) - Identifies sources of foreign law, including complete bibliographic citations to legislation, the existence of English translations and selected references to secondary sources.
  • LLMC Digital - Provides an image-based collection of legal materials from the 18th century forward. Collection consists of federal and state laws, legislative history, cases, treatises, government documents and foreign law.
  • National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) – Consumer Law on the Web - Includes full-text NCLC treatises including appendices, eReports (articles) plus extensive collections of pleadings, agency forms and discovery materials.