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Zief Library FAQ

Who is allowed to use Zief Library?

The University of San Francisco is a private institution. The Dorraine Zief Law Library is a private library for the University of San Francisco community and is not open to the general public.

If you are not currently enrolled in or employed by the University of San Francisco, you will be admitted to the library only if you belong to one of the following groups - note that special rules apply during exam periods and the bar study period (see our Access Policy for details):

  1. Law students, faculty, and staff from other ABA-accredited institutions, provided that they have a current student, faculty, or staff ID card. However, the law library reserves the right to change our policy regarding access for non-USF law students at any time in order to help ensure that USF law students have access to sufficient study space in the law library.
  2. USF School of Law alumni, with a USF School of Law alumni card.
  3. Practicing California attorneys, provided that they have their current California Bar card.  Beginning June 1, 2014 attorneys and non-alumni bar studiers will be able to purchase a Special Access Card.
  4. Individuals who wish to view federal or state depository documents.

For more information about access to Zief Library, please review our Access Policy.

Who can help me with my research?

Zief Library’s research librarians are available to assist members of the USF community with legal research questions. All of our full-time research librarians have law degrees and can advise members of the USF community on legal research strategies. We are happy to answer very simple questions or work with you one-on-one if you have more complex legal research questions.

If you have a simple research question, such as how to find a particular source, you can drop by the research center desk, text us at 415-992-6480, call us at 415-422-6773, or contact our IM service.

For more complex legal research questions, such as developing a legal research strategy for a research paper or work project or instruction on using online legal research tools, we recommend that you drop by the research center desk or make an appointment with a research librarian.  You can sign up for a research appointment by visiting our Research Help page and using the links on this page (see "Research Consultations" section with librarian names and contact information).

How can I connect to online library research resources from home?

If you’re working from home or from another non-USF network location, you can still access many of the online databases to which Zief and Gleeson Libraries subscribe (Gleeson is USF's undergraduate library). You can find instructions on how to connect from off-campus on our remote access web page.

How do I know if a journal or newspaper is available online from USF’s libraries?

Gleeson Library’s Journal Finder tool is particularly useful when you need to find out whether a non-legal journal, magazine, or newspaper is available in full-text in an online resource. Enter the title of the journal, magazine, or newspaper that you want to find. The Journal Finder will show you whether the title is available at USF in print or online. The Journal Finder does not contain information about whether a particular periodical is available on Lexis or Westlaw, but it will tell you if a journal is available in HeinOnline. If you are trying to find a periodical on Lexis or Westlaw, it’s best to use the library catalog or ask a research librarian.

You can also enter the title of the journal, magazine or newspaper in the USF library catalog, Ignacio. Remember that you will need to enter the journal or newspaper title rather than the title of the article that you are trying to find. If the periodical is available online, the USF library catalog will have a link to the online source that contains the periodical, including Lexis, HeinOnline, and Westlaw links.

Who do I contact if my Lexis or Westlaw account is not working?

Librarian Amy Wright oversees Lexis, Bloomberg Law, Westlaw, and TWEN accounts for the law school. You can contact Amy at ajwright@usfca.edu or (415) 422-5112. You can also contact our Bloomberg Law, Lexis and Westlaw campus representatives directly:

Who can borrow books from Zief Library?

Every USF student, faculty member, and staff member with a current ID card may borrow materials from the law library. Your USF ID card is your library card, and you must present it at the Circulation Desk in order to borrow materials. Law library circulation is automated, and the bar code on your ID encodes information essential to the check-out process. Patrons with new USF IDs need to have these IDs "activated" at the Circulation Desk before they may borrow materials.

Because the law library is a research library, some of the collection may be used only in the library. Ask at the Circulation Desk if you have a question about what you may borrow or the loan period for particular materials. For more information about borrowing privileges, review our borrowing policies.

Can I renew my library materials online?

Yes, you may renew your library materials online by signing in to your library record.

I am a member of the USF Law community. How can I obtain materials from other libraries through interlibrary loan?

Interlibrary loan service is available to all USF law faculty, law students, and law staff. If you are a member of the USF law school community, you may request an interlibrary loan by filling out this form, calling our interlibrary loan staff at 415-422-5120, or visiting the research center desk at the USF law library.

The Gleeson Library Interlibrary Loan Department (415-422-5385) offers interlibrary loan service to other members of the USF community.

I am not a part of the USF Law community. How can I borrow materials from Zief Library through interlibrary loan?

We will lend to the following institutions:

  • Other academic law libraries
  • General academic libraries
  • State, court, and county law libraries
  • Public libraries
  • Law firm libraries, with some restrictions.

For more information about our interlibrary loan policies for other libraries, visit our interlibrary loan policy page.

How can I find an article on a given topic?

Consult our research guide on finding articles. You can also drop by the research center desk or make an appointment with a research librarian for assistance with locating relevant articles on your research topic.

Are there research guides that can help me with my research project?

We have an extensive collection of research guides authored by Zief’s research librarians. To find research guides written by other law school librarians, use Cornell Law Library's research guide search engine.

Where can I find materials to help me prepare for class or for exams?

The law library has a large collection of treatises, hornbooks, nutshells, and exam practice materials. You will find the most current versions of study materials on the library’s main floor on the shelves marked with “Open Reserve" signs. We also keep additional copies of exam practice materials behind the Circulation Desk on 2-hour reserve. We retain copies of all past California bar exams in print, and you can ask for the most recent copies of past California bar exams at the Circulation Desk or visit the State Bar of California website for online copies of past bar exams.

How do I reserve a study room?

Zief Library has rooms for USF law student group study (a group must include at least two students). To reserve a group study room, visit the Circulation Desk or phone the desk at 415-422-6679. Because tables and carrels outside of group study rooms are for the use of all patrons, they may not be reserved. For more information, see our policy on group study rooms.

Where are the Lexis printers?

Lexis furnishes two printers for student use. Law students are not charged for printing to the Lexis printers, but we do ask that you keep your printing within reasonable limits. You’ll find a Lexis printer on the law library’s main floor just outside of the computer lab and on the library’s second floor in the copy room just past the Terrace Room. If the printers are not working, please inform the Circulation Desk staff so that they can notify the appropriate staff about the problem.  Westlaw and Bloomberg Law do not maintain printers for student use.  

Where are the copiers and scanners?

On the main floor, copiers and scanners are just outside of the computer lab in the same room as the Lexis printer. There is no charge for scanning materials, but you must have a USB drive so you can save your scanned material on this device.  Currently, you cannot email scanned material to yourself. On the upper floor, the copiers/scanners are in the copy room just past the Terrace Room. Members of the USF law community may use Dons Dollars to pay for photocopies.

Can I bring food and drink to the library?

We allow food and drink in the library, but patrons must consume food and drinks in a manner that keeps the library clean and minimizes the risk of damage to library books, equipment and other property. Our food and drinks policy contains additional details.

How do I access materials on course reserve?

Occasionally, professors may place course materials on reserve at the law library for students in their classes. You can ask for course reserve materials at the law library’s circulation desk. It is also possible to look up materials on Course Reserve using Ignacio, our online catalog. From the Ignacio homepage, click on “Course Reserves” in the box labeled “Other Searches.” You will need to enter your USFConnect username and password to search for course reserve materials. You may search by instructor or by course name. Instructors determine the check out period for the materials they place on reserve. Usually, these materials are only available for use for a fixed period of time within the library.