The Wisconsin State Law Library exists to serve the legal information needs of the officers and employees of this state, attorneys and the public by providing the highest quality of professional expertise in the selection, maintenance and use of materials, information and technology in order to facilitate equal access to the law.
"The Supreme Court shall maintain a state law library for the use of the officers and the employees of this state, attorneys and the public" Wisconsin Statutes sec. 758.01 SCR 82.01
The State Law Library’s collection, consisting of approximately 140,000 volumes in print, microfilm, microfiche, audio, video and CD-ROM formats, contains primary law for all federal and state jurisdictions as well as practice materials for all major areas of law. The Library also subscribes to a variety of electronic resources available via the Internet. Special collections include Appendices and Briefs for the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, and the Judicial Council collection.
Founded with the Wisconsin Territory by an Act of Congress in 1836, the Wisconsin State Library, as it was then known, is the oldest library in the state. It was created to serve the needs of the territorial legislature. In 1876 it became part of the judicial branch, and so remains today as an agency of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. By law the Wisconsin State Law Library serves officers of the court, government employees, attorneys and the public. (WI Statutes s. 758.01; Supreme Court Rule 82.01). A timeline is available.
The MLRC collection contains Wisconsin primary legal materials, as well as State Bar of Wisconsin CLE practice books and other secondary legal materials. The library also has federal materials, such as the United States Code Service, a core collection of treatises, Milwaukee City ordinances, general reference books, and some titles aimed at the non-lawyer.
The library has three public computers with access to free Westlaw, the Internet, the Wisconsin State Law Library catalog (including MLRC titles), and Microsoft Word.
DCLRC collects most current primary Wisconsin legal resources: statutes, administrative code, and Wisconsin Reports, as well as local Madison and Dane County Ordinances. In addition, DCLRC retains all old statutes and session laws, and collects Attorney General opinions, court rules, and selected Wisconsin legal periodicals. DCLRC also has a Wisconsin treatise collection containing State Bar of Wisconsin CLE practice books and other secondary resources.
Prior to 1999, Dane county and the City of Madison provided two public agencies in the courthouse for legal research: the Dane County Law Library and the Municipal Reference Service. In 1998, both agencies were in jeopardy of closure due to lack of funding. The Municipal Reference Service collection was relocated to the Madison Public Library. In January 1999, the Dane County Law Library (DCLL) became a branch of the Wisconsin State Law Library through a contractual agreement with the Dane County Clerk of Courts office. In 2003, DCLL changed its name to the Dane County Legal Resource Center (DCLRC) to better reflect its focus on providing a variety of legal information services to both the local legal community and the general public. The DCLRC moved into the new Dane County Courthouse in January 2006. DCLRC staff focuses on providing quality legal reference and research services to all library visitors, whether in person, by phone, or email. Comments and suggestions are welcome, and can be submitted to Lisa Winkler.