County law libraries in Washington State were established in 1919 by RCW 27.24 to provide access to legal information to the courts and the bar, and also to the public in counties that have the staff available to assist the public. It is our collective mission to provide the best possible service to our communities by connecting people to the information they need to participate effectively in the justice system. We do this by maximizing available resources through our in-house collections of legal materials, through resource sharing with other libraries, through Internet resources, and through referral to other agencies as needed. We strive to serve as a community access point for legal information.
Who We Are
Staff at county law libraries include librarians, library assistants, court personnel, and volunteers. Each law library is governed by a board of trustees comprised of volunteers from the courts and legal community. Some staff are members of the American Association of Law Libraries, division of State, Court, and County Law Libraries, and also the Special Libraries Association and SLA-Legal Division.
Who We Serve
In the typical Washington State county law library open to the public — there are at least 34 libraries open to the public various hours — 50-70% of the library patrons are county residents who are non-lawyers; the other 30-50% are legal professionals and County employees. Not all county law libraries are open to the public due to lack of sufficient funding to provide staff who can provide assistance in using legal research resources. Some law libraries are open to the public limited hours only when staff are available, and the larger law libraries generally have regular open hours. In those libraries open to the public, the public is welcome to use the library’s resources. Please contact your local county law library if you are interested in volunteer opportunities, particularly if you have experience in legal research.
How We Can Help You
Law library staff are knowledgeable in legal research and the court system. We can assist you in using legal research resources in print or electronic formats available in our respective libraries, and we can refer you to available Internet resources if you want to access information online from home or from the public library. Some law libraries will borrow materials from other libraries for you. Law library staff cannot give legal advice or interpret the text of laws for you. We can, however, refer you to appropriate agencies or other resources to help you solve your legal problems.
County law libraries in Washington State vary greatly in size of collection and in the range of hours open to the public. Most law libraries provide access to basic Washington legal research materials, such as the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), Washington Administrative Code (WAC), Washington case law, court rules, Superior Court civil procedure forms, local code books, legal dictionaries, etc. Call your local law library to find out if what you need is available or refer to the directory.