Parking garage walkway at Akron Main Library

Legal Reference Policy

Staff members answer reference requests for legal information just as they answer requests for information in other subject areas. However, because these staff members are not attorneys, they will not offer legal advice or any interpretation of the law or legal terms. Interpretation is defined as the explanation of what is not immediately plain, explicit, or unmistakable. Although staff members will be as helpful as possible in locating and providing necessary legal materials, it is the responsibility of the patron to determine what the law "means".

Staff members will provide the following legal reference service:

  1. Read to patron a definition found in Black's Law Dictionary or equivalent source. No interpretation of the definition is made.
  2. Direct patron to special subject resources, such as Ohio Domestic Relations Law, Ohio Real Estate Law, Ohio Legal Forms, etc.
  3. Assist patron is using legal materials when:
    1. section of code is known (i.e. 3375.121)
    2. title or number of law is known (i.e. Ohio HB 235)
    3. popular name is known (Privacy Act of 1974)
    4. subject is broad enough to appear in index (i.e. privacy). This assistance should be accompanied by informing the patron that different terminology could lead to other sections of the code.
  4. Instruct the patron in the organization, format, and limitations of legal materials. This includes explaining:
    1. the difference between statutory law, case law, and rules/regulations.
    2. the meaning of citations (i.e. 376 US 169 = Vol. 376, page 169 of U.S. Supreme Court Reports)
    3. that indexed entries refer to code sections (i.e. 3375.121 refers to Chapter 33)
    4. that recent changes in the law may appear in the current service portion of the material
    5. that if the patron wants to research specific case law, he or she should go to the University of Akron Law Library.

Revised and Approved by the Board of Trustees - September 1987