Library FAQ

COVID-19 Update: While Zief Law Library is open, some services have moved online in response to COVID-19. Further, access is limited to USF students, faculty and staff only. Please contact the law library director if you have questions about library operations and services during the 2021-2022 academic year.

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 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 and bar study periods (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
  3. Individuals who wish to view federal or state depository government documents.

For more information about access to Zief Library, please review our full 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. Contact us via live chat, Monday through Friday, 10 am to 5 pm (closed for lunch from noon to 1 pm).

How can I connect to online library research resources?

You may 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 on or off-campus on our database 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, Bloomberg Law, or Westlaw account is not working?

Librarian Suzanne Mawhinney oversees Lexis, Bloomberg Law, Westlaw, and TWEN accounts for the law school. You can contact Suzanne at or (415) 422-2252. 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. The bar code on your USF ID encodes information essential to the check-out process. 

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 current member of the USF law school community, you may submit an Interlibrary Loan Request (PDF), call our interlibrary loan staff at 415-422-5120, email Troy Cook , or visit 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 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. 

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

The law library has a large collection of exam preparation and 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. The "Understanding" and "Q & A" series are available online through the library's LexisNexis Digital Library subscription. We also keep additional copies of exam practice materials behind the Circulation Desk on 2-hour reserve. You can ask for copies of past California bar exam essay questions and sample answers at the Circulation Desk. You can also access past California bar exam essay questions on the ABES TWEN site or visit the State Bar of California website for online copies of past bar exams.

Where is the Lexis printer?

Lexis furnishes one printer for student use. Law students are not charged for printing to the Lexis printer, 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. If the printer is 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.  

How do I reserve a group study room?

You can sign up online for a group study room. For more information, see our policy on group study rooms.

Where are the copiers and scanners?

Xerox copiers/scanners are on all 3 levels of the library.  The Xerox machines have the ability to save scanned material to a USB drive. You can also email scanned material to yourself.  There is no charge for scanning.  The library has a book-edge scanner on the main floor, which you can use to scan to a USB drive or email a PDF to yourself.  The main floor copiers and free-standing scanner are in Zief 104 just outside of the computer lab in the same room as the Lexis printer.  On the upper floor, the Xerox machines are in the copy room just past the Terrace Room. On the lower floor the Xerox machine is located on the same hallway as the lower-level restrooms. 

Can I bring food and drink to the library?

We allow food and drink in the library. Patrons must consume food and drinks in a manner that keeps the library clean and minimizes the risk of rodent infestation or damage to library property. Our food and drinks policy contains additional details.