Questions? Ask a Librarian
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. To carry out our mission, we offer a wide array of services.
WSLL Reference Assistance
Whether you need a specific piece of information or some guidance in finding materials in the library or navigating a legal research website, our reference staff will do their best to help you. Anyone may use our general reference service, available in person as well as by email, phone, fax and mail. (Please note that library staff cannot give legal advice.) For judges and attorneys, we also offer case law and citator research services.
MLRC & DCLRC Services
Under contractual arrangements with both Milwaukee and Dane Counties, the State Law Library manages the Milwaukee and Dane County Legal Resource Centers (MLRC & DCLRC), conveniently located in each county's courthouse. These small but bustling centers provide a wide array of reference and information services to judges and court staff, county employees, attorneys, self-represented litigants, and the general public. Both centers maintain core print collections of library materials and have public computers with access to Westlaw, State Bar of Wisconsin Books Unbound, HeinOnline, and LegalTrac. DCLRC staff also assists the Dane County Bar Association and University of Wisconsin Law School with the operation of free walk-in legal clinics staffed by volunteer attorneys and supervised law students, and provides reference services to Dane County Jail inmates in cooperation with the Dane County Sheriff's Office. When you're at the Milwaukee or Dane County Courthouse, please stop in and learn more about how these resource centers can assist you.
The WSLL website is a virtual "one stop shop" for access to authoritative sources of legal and government information. The Legal Topics page alone contains thousands of links arranged into over 450 different topics, from Abortion to Zoning Law. The Wisconsin Law page provides access to free web-based sources of primary law, including the Wisconsin Statutes & Administrative Code, Wis. Supreme Court & Court of Appeals opinions, Wis. Attorney General opinions, Wis. local ordinances, and much more. Other pages provide similar access to primary sources of federal law, tribal law and laws of other U.S. states. You can also search the library catalog, databases of journal and newspaper articles, and much, much more.
Electronic Legal Research Tools
Legal research tools available on our public computers include Westlaw.com, WestlawNext, LegalTrac, HeinOnline, LLMC Digital, and League of Wisconsin Municipalities opinions and manuals.
Order a Document
Our staff can track down and deliver all types of legal information - whether it's a copy of a case, an article, a book, a government publication, or some other print or electronic document from our own collections or elsewhere. If it's published, printed, posted, recorded, or videotaped, we can probably locate it for you. Delivery options include email, fax, mail, UPS, and FedEx. Find out more by visiting our Order a Document webpage.
Circulation of Library Materials
The State Law Library extends borrowing privileges to Wisconsin judges and court staff, private attorneys and any authorized support staff, and government employees. To obtain a library card, simply stop in at any one of our three libraries. If visiting isn't convenient, register online and we'll mail your card. To borrow materials, start by searching our online catalog to find out whether the item you want is currently available. Wisconsin judges and attorneys who are unable to come to the library may borrow materials through our convenient Borrow By Mail service.
After Hours Service
Wisconsin-licensed attorneys who would like to use the Wisconsin State Law Library during evenings, weekends or holidays may subscribe to our After Hours Service. This convenient service allows subscribers to access the library from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. For complete details and subscription information, please visit our After Hours Service webpage. Wisconsin judges who wish to access WSLL outside regular hours may place a request directly with Tammy Keller, WSLL Program Assistant.
Legal Research Classes
WSLL offers free and fee-based classes covering basic legal research procedures as well as specialized tools and databases. Most classes are held in WSLL's computer training room, equipped with eight computers for hands-on learning, some are presented in demonstration or lecture format in our Rare Book Room, and we now offer some classes in webinar format. To view the current class schedule, visit our Classes webpage.
As reported elsewhere in this issue, MLRC now offers legal research classes in the training room of the nearby Milwaukee Public Library. For a list of upcoming classes, visit our Classes webpage.
Library Tours & Orientations
Interested in a firsthand look at one of our libraries for yourself, your law office staff, or an organization to which you belong? To schedule a tour of WSLL, please contact Tammy Keller, program assistant, at 608-261-7553 or Tammy.Keller@wicourts.gov. To schedule a visit to the Milwaukee or Dane County Legal Resource Center, please contact Lynne Gehrke, MLRC Librarian or Lisa Winkler, DCLRC Librarian.
Are you in need of a comfortable place in downtown Madison to meet with a client or hold a meeting or training session for your staff or legal professional organization? WSLL has a variety of rooms available for hourly rental. To see photos of each room and read the rental policy, please visit our Room Rental page.
Specialized Wisconsin Materials
In addition to its extensive collection of standard primary law sources and leading treatises in every practice area, WSLL houses the following specialized Wisconsin law materials.
WSLL provides public access to briefs and appendices for cases decided by the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Wisconsin Court of Appeals. Briefs filed electronically (July 2009 forward) are available through the Wisconsin Supreme Court & Court of Appeals Access (WSCCA) database. Briefs for cases from 1992 to the inception of e-filing are available in the UW Law Library's Wisconsin Briefs database. Briefs for earlier Wisconsin appellate cases - dating back to the mid-1850's - are available for use in the library, or copies may be requested by contacting the WSLL Reference Desk or submitting an Order a Document request. For more information, please visit our Wisconsin Briefs webpage.
Judicial Council Collection
If you're researching the history of a Wisconsin Supreme Court Rule or a Wisconsin statute relating to civil or criminal procedure, WSLL's Judicial Council Collection (JCC) will be of interest. The JCC contains Council minutes and Council committee documents dating back to the 1950's. Detailed information, including a finding aid that lists every committee document we have, is available on our Judicial Council Collection webpage. Full text documents are not available online. For assistance in doing on-site research or obtaining copies of JCC documents, please contact the WSLL Reference Desk.
Wisconsin Administrative Code "Replaced Pages" Collection
WSLL is one of very few libraries that maintain a collection of superseded chapters and sections of the Wisconsin Administrative Code. Dating back to the 1950's, this "Admin Code Replaced Pages Collection" is an invaluable resource for anyone researching state regulatory history or seeking prior language of a particular Administrative Code section. For research assistance or to obtain copies of materials in this collection, please contact the Reference Desk.