Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who can use the Alameda County Law Library?

All members of the public such as self-represented litigants, attorneys, paralegals, students, judges, government employees, elected officials, and persons engaged in legal research may use the law library.

2. What types of materials does the law library have?

The law library’s focus is on providing current, practice-oriented California and some federal legal information. Our collection includes codes, cases, citators, treatises, law reviews, self-help materials, practice guides, and manuals. These materials may be in print or accessed electronically through legal databases.

3. Can you help me find a form? Can you help me fill out a form?

The law librarians can show you self-help books, practice guides, and form books. We can show you how to use book indexes and legal databases to locate form templates. Judicial Council forms are available online at http://www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm. Alameda County Superior Court local forms are available online at http://www.alameda.courts.ca.gov/Pages.aspx/Forms-Filing-Overview. We are not authorized to select a form for you or to fill out a form for you. Library staff are prohibited from giving legal advice.

4. Can you give me legal advice?

No. Library staff are NOT attorneys and are prohibited from giving legal advice or engaging in any activity which might constitute the unauthorized practice of law (CA Business & Professions Code section 6125).

5. Can you recommend a good attorney?

Library staff cannot recommend specific attorneys or law firms. If you are looking to hire an attorney, we can refer you to the Alameda County Bar Association, Lawyer Referral Service(510) 302-2222 x4 or to the Bay Area Legal Incubator.

6. Where can I get free legal help?

Depending on your legal issue, you may be able to obtain free legal assistance from a Legal Aid Organization, a Lawyers in the Library session, or the monthly Saturday CLASP Clinic (at the Law Library).

​7. What legal databases are available to the public inside the law library?

The library pays for subscription access inside the library to Westlaw (state and federal codes and cases, Rutter Guides and other secondary sources), Lexis Advance/Shepard’s (state and federal codes and cases, California, secondary sources, trial court documents, and verdicts), CEB OnLaw (Continuing Education of the Bar books and forms), HeinOnline (law review articles), CCH IntelliConnect (tax materials), and Nolo EBSCO (Nolo Press legal self-help books). More information is available on the Legal Databases page.

8. How can I find a particular book or loose-leaf?

You may call the library at (510) 208-4832 or ask at the Reference Desk. You can also search the library’s Online Catalog by title, author, or keyword.

9. How do I get a law library card or a computer user card?

You must fill out a Registration Form in-person at the law library. Photo identification such as a California driver’s license or California identification card is required; neither can have a P.O. Box without providing additional identification. Additional identification would include a recent electric, gas, water or garbage bill that shows the street address, city, and state. An attorney must also provide his/her bar number.

10. I had a library card many years ago. Is it still valid?

You can visit the Library at 125 12th St, Oakland, CA 94607 or call the Circulation Desk at (510) 272-6491. A Library Assistant will check the library’s records to determine if you are still registered.

11. I lost or cannot find my library card. Can I get a replacement?

A replacement card can be purchased for $3.00 at the library. Photo identification such as a California driver’s license or a California identification card is required. See the information under “How do I get a law library card?” to find out what forms of identification are accepted.

12. What may be borrowed?

Items may be borrowed only for the personal use of the borrower, or for the use of professional associates or employees. Violation of this rule will constitute grounds for the revocation of borrowing privileges.

Only those materials which have been bar coded and processed may be checked out. There are no exceptions to this rule. Non-circulating items include but are not limited to loose-leaf sets, reference books, digests, citators and rare books. Books and materials ordinarily subject to borrowing may be withdrawn from circulation at the discretion of a librarian.

13. Are there materials I can check out for California MCLE credit? What is the cost?

The library has MCLE CDs that may be checked out by registered borrowers for California MCLE credit. The emphasis is on the required topics of elimination of bias, ethics, and competence issues. The checkout period is one week. The library charges a rental fee of $20.00 per credit hour for MCLE materials checked out from the library, and a fee of $15.00 per credit hour for materials used in the library. For a rental fee of $25.00 per credit hour, registered borrowers can obtain MCLE participatory credit for listening to MCLE CDs in the library and completing additional paperwork. For participatory credit, library staff will provide a “Certificate of Completion” for your records. CD players and headphones are available for use, or you may use your laptop.

Visit our MCLE CDs page for a list of available titles.

14. How many items can be checked out at once?

Attorneys may check out a maximum of eight items at a time. Alameda County Resident Borrowers may have a total maximum of two items checked out at any one time. No borrower may have more than two sets of MCLE CDs checked out at any one time.

15. What is the circulation period for materials? Are there renewals?

Circulating books may be borrowed for a period of seven days by attorneys and Alameda County residents. There are no renewals. Once an item has been checked in, two business days must elapse before the last borrower can check it out again.

However, attorneys and Alameda county residents can receive additional benefits by becoming a Library Member.

16. What is the fine for an overdue item?

A fine of $1.00 per day per overdue item shall be charged (a volume and a supplement are treated as two separate items.) Overdue fines must be paid before additional materials may be checked out. No fine shall exceed the replacement cost of the item plus $50.00. If the overdue period exceeds sixty days, the item shall be deemed lost, and the borrower shall be charged a $50.00 service charge plus the replacement cost or the value of the lost item.

A substantially damaged or defaced item shall be deemed lost unless it can be suitably repaired. In that event, the repair cost shall be charged to the responsible borrower.

All fines and replacement charges must be paid as follows: Overdue book fines must be paid within thirty day after being billed for the amount due. Borrowers who lose an item or in whose custody an item is irreparably damaged shall pay the replacement cost plus a $50.00 service charge within fifteen days after being billed for the amount.

17. What is the library’s policy regarding access to public computers and/or the Internet?

The Alameda County Law Library provides public computer and Internet access for the purpose of researching the law and preparing legal documents. Patrons wishing to use a Research Computer must sign-up for a Library Card/Computer Use Card. A patron may use their Library Card/Computer Use Card to access Research Computers for up to 2 hours/day. Additional time on Research Computers can be purchased in 1 hour increments.

In order to preserve the security and integrity of its computers and to ensure equitable access to computer resources for all patrons, the Library may place limitations on the time and manner in which these resources are used.

Patrons may be asked to leave a computer:

  • If staff determines that the computer is not being used to conduct legal research or to draft legal documents.
  • In order to ensure equitable access to computer resources for all patrons.

18. Does the library offer free wireless Internet access using my own laptop computer?

Free wireless Internet access available at the library. The network is named law_library_wifi and there is no password.

19. Can I access legal databases in the library from my laptop?

From within the library, once connected to the law_library_wifi network, you can access some of the library’s databases (OnLaw, HeinOnline and Nolo EBSCO) from links on our Library Databases page.

20. Can I print from my laptop in the library?

At this time it is not possible to print from your laptop to the library’s printers. You can print from library computers at a cost of .20/page or save documents from your laptop to your USB drive, then print them from a library computer.

21. Do I need a username or password to connect to the library’s wireless network?

No, there is no username or password required. The network name is law_library_wifi.

22. Is my information protected while using the library’s wireless network?

No, your information is not protected while using the library’s wireless network. Keep this in mind if you are accessing sensitive business or personal information.

Protecting your computer is your responsibility. An up-to-date personal firewall and Antivirus/Antispam software may help protect your computer.

The Library assumes no responsibility for the safety of equipment or for laptop configurations, security, or data files resulting from connection to the Library’s wireless network.

23. Does the library guarantee an Internet connection? Will the library staff provide technical assistance?

Library staff is not able to provide technical assistance and no guarantee can be made that you will be able to connect to the Library’s wireless network. The Library assumes no responsibility for the safety of equipment or for laptop configurations, security, or data files resulting from connection to the Library’s network.

24. Are there restrictions on wireless access?

The Alameda County Law Library reserves the right to prohibit an individual from accessing the wireless network if that individual is violating any of the policies or guidelines of the Law Library. A warning will be issued if such a violation occurs. If after a warning, an individual is again found to be violating the Library’s policies or guidelines, he or she will be banned from accessing the wireless network at the Alameda County Law Library.

Use of the wireless network for criminal activity is prohibited. Efforts to damage the network are prohibited.

25. Is the Bay Area Legal Incubator (BALI) part of the Law Library?

No, BALI is a community of solo attorneys dedicated to providing affordable legal services, and a project of the Alameda County Bar Association, in collaboration with five local law schools.

For more information about BALI or to inquire about services, call (510) 475-5592 or visit BALI’s website: https://www.bayarealegalincubator.org/

Appointments are required to meet with BALI attorneys. No walk-in service provided.

26. Where is BALI/Suite 100 located?

The BALI Hub is located in the rear corner of the Library’s Mezzanine (2nd) Level. It is accessible from the Law Library’s elevator (located across from the Copy Center) or from the Law Library’s staircase.