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Research Opportunities: Law Library of Congress

Scholarly Research - Internships - Other Opportunites

Scholarly Research

In welcoming jurists, professors, graduate students and others to take part in its scholarly research program, the Law Library at the Library of Congress strives to make participants' experiences mutually beneficial. The program seeks support for the Law Library in its mission to serve the foreign, international and comparative legal research needs of the United States Congress, as well as to advance the goals of scholarship in law and related fields generally, to foster the development of future scholars, potential legislators, and practitioners, and in addition, to make the Library's vast resources, including treasured items representative of the world's diverse legal heritage, more widely known to the public it serves.

The Law Library at the Library of Congress is the world's largest law collection. Although the Law Library primarily functions as a research arm for the U.S. Congress in foreign, international and comparative law, it also carries out legal research for all branches of the US Government. In addition, the Law Library is a de facto national law library serving the public, including scholars and interns, from the US and abroad. The Law Library especially wishes to increase the use of its collections by scholars in order to support various aspects of its mission to serve Congress and the nation.

The Law Library as a Site for Scholarship: The Law Library's collection of over two million legal volumes, including 25,000 rare law holdings, presents scholars interested in law and related fields with an extraordinary resource. Together with an estimated 300,000 works in constitutional history and international law located elsewhere in the Library of Congress, these holdings have no parallel. In some instances, the Law Library's foreign law collections even surpass those found in the countries of origin.

Scholars will find the location of the Law Library an ideal site for interdisciplinary research. Working in the Law Library, scholars have access to some 116 million items, in 470 languages, through the Library's 20 general and special purpose reading rooms. The Library's proximity to the Capitol, House and Senate office buildings, and the Supreme Court affords an opportunity for firsthand observation of US federal legislative and judicial processes.

Reference librarians, many of whom have advanced degrees in both US law and librarianship, give readers in-person assistance in using the 65,000-volume reference collection in the Law Library Reading Room. For more in-depth assistance, readers may be referred to the Law Library's research divisions (Eastern Law or Western Law), where help from the staff of multilingual, foreign-trained legal specialists or research and reference support staff is available (i.e., Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).

Using the Law Library: Scholars needing to consult the Law Library's collections are urged to contact the Law Library (202-707-5080) in advance of their visit to Washington to ensure that the items they need will be available from the closed stacks. This is especially important for rare items. Patrons will need photo identification to use the collection.

To hear a recorded message regarding hours of opening and book service and other information concerning Reading Room use, call: (202) 707-5079.

Those who cannot visit the Law Library or participate in one of the programs described below may avail themselves of the assistance of the Law Library's reference staff by telephone: (202) 707-5080; or by correspondence:

Law Library, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20540-3000.

For special group research orientation tours of the Law Library's resources, call (202) 707-9836.

Scholarly Programs: To foster projects that will be of mutual benefit to the mission of the Library and to create an environment conducive to in-depth research, the Law Library has established a scholarly program with three options. Residencies for scholars, scholarly exchange arrangements and graduate internships are available. The kinds of projects most likely to be approved by the Law Library include those which:

  • carry out a bibliographic survey of some previously untapped aspect of the Law Library's vast collection-especially of its rare holdings-or which bring a previous publication up-to-date;
  • evaluate one of the Law Library's collections and identify gaps in its holdings;
  • explore some aspect of current legal developments of interest to the US Congress-especially in a foreign jurisdiction for which staff resources are scarce-and deliver either a written or oral presentation on the topic;
  • carry out a mutually beneficial multi-disciplinary research, one facet of which includes law.

Scholars in Residence: Jurists, judges, government lawyers, law professors, and other legal scholars and practitioners are welcome to apply for resident scholar status at the Law Library. Applications should state specifically the topic of the proposed research project and the estimated time expected to complete it. As space is limited, the Law Library may need to restrict the number of participants in a program.

Scholars Abroad: Senior scholars living abroad who are unable to travel to Washington, but who wish to participate in supporting the Law Library's research mission should contact the Law Library to explore suitable projects.

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Graduate Internships: U.S. and foreign law students working towards advanced degrees may apply for an internship at the Law Library. Possibilities for mentoring are limited, and the most successful project proposals for graduate internships are those whose parameters are clearly defined and do not engage Law Library staff in time commitments that might conflict with congressional priorities.

GLIN Internships: The Law Library of Congress is interested in offering opportunities for interns to gain experience the performance of a variety of editing and quality review functions for its Internet-based legal information system, the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN). GLIN links legislatures of many nations in a network of legal information exchange. Interns would gain valuable experience assisting in the development of a multinational legal information system used by legislators and government officials around the world.

Interns should be currently enrolled in accredited law programs in law schools in the Washington, DC area or have law degrees from US or foreign law schools. In addition to English language competence, including knowledge of spelling, grammar, and punctuation rules, native competence in one of the following languages is required: Arabic, Korean, Lithuanian, Romanian, Spanish and Ukrainian.

Cover letters stating interest, including a resume, should be sent to:

Janice Hyde
Program Officer
Law Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave. SE
Washington, DC 20540-3000

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Other Opportunities

Opportunities for Attorneys: The Law Library of Congress would like to compile a list of qualified attorneys at law with law degrees from foreign countries and licenses or certificates to practice law in one or more foreign jurisdictions for the purpose of potential consideration for contract to perform specific research tasks on an ad hoc basis. Proficiency in written English is required, and experience in or knowledge of writing in-depth, analytical studies for policy makers and government officials is preferred. US citizenship or residence is not required.

Individuals who are qualified and interested in being considered for potential contract work should send a resume or curriculum vitae to:

Director of Legal Research
Law Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20540-3000

Application Process : Those interested in Scholars in Residence, Scholars Abroad, or Graduate Internships programs should complete an application and return it to the Law Library's Scholarly Program Coordinator (see address below). Notifications of decisions are made in one month from the receipt of the application.

Program Coordinator, Scholars' Program
Room LM 240, Law Library
Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20540-3000
Tel. (202) 707-9836
FAX: (202) 707-1820

Important Information for Program Participants:

  1. Scholars-in-residence, scholars abroad and interns in this program will not be reimbursed by the Law Library for work done in connection with the program or for transportation and room and board.
  2. Participation in the Law Library's scholarly program does not guarantee publication of a participant's work product. The Law Library maintains the right to edit scholarly work that it plans to publish.
  3. The Law Library requests the right of first publication of a work resulting from an author's participation in the program. This includes an entire work or significant portion of a work completed during a scholar's stay and may be the subject of a specific contract. After the first publication by the Library, the author may copyright and privately publish his/her work.
  4. Graduate students may receive credit for their work only upon the basis of the mutual agreement between the student's educational institution and the Law Library that the participant has satisfactorily completed the work expected.
  5. The Law Library may terminate a program at any time for breaches of security rules, infringement on the works of others, or conduct inconsistent with the Library's role as a national research institution.
  6. Facilities: Scholars in residence will be assigned workspace and limited use of Law Library facilities, e.g. photocopy privileges. They will receive orientations to the Law Library and the use of the Library's online bibliographic and legislative databases. To facilitate the scholar's orientation, a member of the Law Library's research staff may serve as a primary contact for individual scholars. Resources do not permit research assistance or secretarial services for resident scholars.

    The Law Library cannot provide stipends to any participants in its scholarly programs and cannot be responsible for transportation, housing or other personal needs. Lists of local housing are available for scholars' convenience, but these listings are not to be construed as endorsements by the Law Library.

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May 1, 2004
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