Legal Research

Except for faculty research, our reference staff is not able to conduct legal research for library patrons. We are also unable to offer legal advice. While we make the library’s resources available to the general public, it is the responsibility of library users to conduct their own legal research, to read and interpret the law, and to reach their own conclusions about their legal situations.

Legal research is a complex skill. If you want to learn more about legal research, we can suggest materials that explain various tools and how to use them. You might want to start the with American Association of Law Libraries’ "How to Research a Legal Problem: A Guide for Non-Lawyers" (see below).

If you feel that you need an attorney to assist you, we can offer you phone numbers to various legal clinics and service agencies, as well as to attorney referral services. For more information, call the Reference Desk at (509) 313-3758.

Assistance with Legal Research

General public patrons are welcome to use legal materials during the hours found under General Public Hours. Professional research assistance is available Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Limited reference assistance is available at other times. Please note that the library staff cannot give legal advice.

  • Primo - Library’s catalog is available to everyone.
  • Nolo’s Legal Encyclopedia - Thousands of free legal articles and other materials.
  • People’s Law Dictionary - Search the dictionary by word, phrase or legal term.
  • WEX - Collaboratively-edited legal dictionary and encyclopedia from Cornell Law School. Intended for law novices, including law students and lawyers entering new areas of law.
  • Research Guides - Collection of guides developed by Chastek librarians to assist patrons in their legal research using our collection; includes links to other research guide sources.
  • Lexis+ - Sub-set of the full LexisNexis database. Limited public availability on computers in the library. U.S. federal & state case law, statutes, and regulations, Shepard’s Citations, and full-text coverage of over 6,000 titles in news, business, medical, and legal publications.
  • Other Legal Databases - Due to licensing agreements, subscription databases can only be accessed from inside the library. Some databases are not available to attorneys and the public. Documents or materials retrieved from computers inside the library can be printed or e-mailed.