Law School Libraries: 24-Hour Access

James Milles

Associate Dean for Legal Information Services

Director of the Law Library

University at Buffalo Law School

February 20, 2006


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University of Akron

No, except the Law Review can stay after hours.  Very rarely do the Law Review students stay after hours.  I have observed no problems.

American University

We at American don't anymore. We did when we were in the old building but not after the move to this one seven years back.  At the time we dropped the access, we were concerned about the safety of anyone in the library with no staff present.  Today we are still concerned about the safety of anyone in the library but, of course, today that concern is about a much expanded list of dangers.

Arizona State University

We allow two types of after hours access to students upon request.  In either case, they must sign up with Circulation and then we give them the keypad access number to one of two outside doors.  Some of them just want the late night study room, which is locked off from the rest of the library.  Others may request run of the library, and there is a different door/keypad for that access.  It's usually moot court, or special requests such as they need to use the computer room.  Law Journal used to be the primary users of this, but now they are within the library so they have their own staircase entrance.  It's not used all that much.

University of ArkansasLittle Rock


Boston College


Brigham Young University


California Western School of Law

Normally we do not have 24-hour access.  (We are open 6 a.m.-Midnight.)  We do have 24-hour access to a portion of the library (one reading room, study rooms and one computer lab) during reading days and finals, which works out to be about 4-5  weeks per year.  
During those times that we are open for twenty four hours, the only disadvantage seems to be financial since we have to hire an additional shift of guards.

Capitol University

We have had this policy for 11 or 12 years now, but it is not without its problems.  Because we have so many evening and part-time students, we decided that the benefits outweigh the detriments.  (Sometimes I question whether it was the right decision.)


A.     Clean and quite place to study always available for students on their schedules.

B.     Makes issues of access to network-based services and IP addressed services less problematic.

C.     Extremely popular with students as evidence of school's commitment to help them learn.

D.    Key-card access after-hours helps insure library security at night and on week-ends.

E.     Ability to close library if needed at night and on week-ends without hurting primary patrons.


A.     Invites theft of collection from sociopaths.

B.     Liability issues for school for potential after-hours assaults or injuries.

C.     Copiers and printers unprotected after-hours.

D.    Food and drink enforcement issues pro tanto more difficult.

University of Chicago


Chicago-Kent IIT



Yes.  Security is not as secure late at night, so it is possible to remove library items.  But we don't seem to have an abnormally high loss rate.  The benefit is that there is far less reason to horde or mutilate items.  Also there is far less pressure to provide staffing at unproductive hours.

University of Colorado




University of Denver

Nope - at least not yet.

DePaul University

No access when we are closed due to security restrictions.  We are open more than any other part of the university as it is.  We are open M-F 8am to 11pm, sat 9-6 &sun noon to 10pm

University of District Columbia

No, not at this time.  But after our renovation and "smart card" implementation this Summer, yes.  I see huge possible problems with theft, possibly assault of some kind, and trash.
The benefits are primarily that I would no longer be constantly bothered to stay open later or open earlier than we do now.  Of course we are open 8AM to Midnight M-F, and for 12 hours on both Saturday and Sunday.  It never
seems to be enough for a hardcore few.

Drake University


Emory University

We do not provide 24-hour access to law students.  Our university library does so and they are within two blocks of the law school.

Faulkner University


Florida International University


Florida State University

Yes, we've had 24-7 access since academic year 1997-98.  No real problems, but some of less significance.  No real problems, but some of less significance:
1) There are no campus or other security personnel stationed at the College of Law complex and that lack sometimes causes some concern but to date has caused no problems.
2) When the Law Library closes to users from outside the law school community, such persons are sometimes slow or reluctant to vacate the
premises.  On a relatively few occasions we have had to call campus police to have them evict the trespasser.
3) We do lock off the circulation/reserve areas when we close to the public.
4) We seem not to have suffered noticeable theft of library materials.
So far we've been fortunate and it has allowed us to reduce staffing costs because we are able to close at an earlier hour than was once the
case.  Here is our schedule during term time.
Sundays: 1 PM to 10 PM
Mondays-Thursdays: 7:30 AM to 11 PM
Fridays: 7:30 AM to 6 PM
Saturdays: 10 AM to 5 PM

Georgia State University

Not across the board, thank heaven.  We do provide key card access for the editorial boards of the three journals, since their offices are in the library, but even they can't enter the library between midnight and 7 a.m.  They are permitted to stay in the library between those hours if they are already here.  Also, during heavy moot court preparation periods, we issue temporary key cards to those participants, because they are often doing their heaviest work at times when library hours are shortened (e.g., between semesters).  We haven't had a lot of problems.  In at least one instance, doors were propped open and a lot of unauthorized people were permitted to enter.  We have very occasionally found evidence of pizza parties, but that hasn't happened in years.  Knowing how casual law students are about security, I do worry about them letting in dangerous strangers, but it hasn't happened so far.

Golden Gate University

No, we're in downtown San Francisco.


Good God, no!

University of Hawaii

24/7 key privileges to the library are accorded to members of the moot court teams as long as needed for competition work, but not to others.

Hofstra University

No.  The University Library has a study room with computers, snack vending machines and an ATM that is open 24 hours and the law students can use it although I don't think many do.  The room is locked and students use their University ID cards for access.

University of Illinois

My library does not due to lack of staffing and building security issues.

University of IndianaBloomington

No.  We have lengthened our hours generally and have extended those hours during exams to avoid this.  In a building needs assessment, currently underway here, I have recommended a 24 hour general study and a computer area with doors that can be accessed by touch pad.  Hopefully this would deal with the majority of the needs without the significant issues that would arise with overall 24 hour access.  This is, however, for a future renovation that may or may not be funded, but hope springs eternal.

Louisiana State University


University of Louisville

No.  Faculty have it because they have keys.  Faculty can arrange for after-hours access for groups of students such as moot court teams by contacting [the director].  The sponsoring faculty member is required to remain in the library with the students, so this NEVER occurs.  But basically, students are not permitted to be in the library after hours.

Mercer University

Mercer law library provides 24 hour access.  Benefits:  lots of good will vis a vis our students, and less staff time just keeping the library open when real service is not required.  We do not have a theft problem (at least not one we've noticed!  The good stuff is behind a locked gate.)  Problems: students are not as vigilant as we'd like, and from time to time they permit "outsiders" to accompany them as they enter (through a card access system).  During exam periods, there is evidence of food, but overall, no serious problems.

University of Miami


University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota Law Library has had 24-hour-access for law students for many years.  It is now done via key cards.

University of Missouri

Yes.  Benefits-students really appreciate it.  Problems-not many.  Had to reconsider what was on reserve (not available after services cease), how we manage the computer lab, etc. In other words, we had to figure out how to make 24-hr access meaningful for our students--more than just a study hall.  We have not noticed any increase in thefts, etc.  And fortunately have had no security problems either to date.

University of Nevada

No; only to faculty.

University of New Mexico

We did at New Mexico where students were allowed to stay in the library at closing.  We would often find the doors propped open in the
morning or the remains of a pizza party etc. 

New York University


North Carolina Central University

We do not provide 24 hour access.  It has been discussed more times than I can count but security is always an issue.

University of North Carolina


University of North Dakota


Northern Kentucky University

Our library provides 24/7 access to our students and faculty and staff.  This is done via their school i.d./smart card.  We have video surveillance and each time a student swipes their card it is logged on a computer as to exactly who entered and when.  This is a huge selling point especially for our part time evening division students.  It also allowed us to cut back on the staffed hours we had on the weekends and evenings, since our students had access regardless of whether we had someone on the circulation or reference desk.
Drawbacks, potential security problems, so you have to be sure to drum it into the heads of the students not to let anyone into the library.  If the person does not have their student i.d. then they have to go home to get it in order to enter after hours.
Also we have had some (but very few) complaints from alumni and local attorneys wanting to have 24/7 access as well. To date we have refused all
such requests.
Surprisingly we have had little to no theft with this system in place for
over two years now.

University of Notre Dame

Yes.  Benefits:

A. Never any demand to extend hours
B. Research needs can largely be met no matter when the student desires them.
C. Undocumented belief that open access inculcates a sense of professional empowerment and loyalty among our students
D. Remote concern that if our space was vandalized or a student was assaulted we might, in retrospect, be deemed negligent.
E. Incremental increased energy expenses  (lights have not been turned out for 17 years).
F.  Unauthorized removal of books from the collection  (a potential concern of some) has proved negligible.
I would note that the environment of our campus (isolated from the town) and our community (small, cohesive and generally law abiding) supports this policy.  Other environments might not be so supportive.

Nova Southeastern Law School

No, not yet.  We have investigated a “card access” system and probably eventually will.
We do have gates that close off 1st and 3rd floors and circulation so we have on occasions, allowed students to sign in - restricted to that floor.  Students, of course, will love it.  I know some schools do and like the goodwill, etc.
We extend hours during exams and less than 1% take advantage of it.  We do give access to students on all curricular related organizations, i.e law review, journal, atla, moot court, etc.  We give keys to the individual members with list to our public safety group.  Has its ups and downs - sometimes they leave doors open, etc.

Pace Law School


Pennsylvania State University

We have 24/7 access for students, faculty and staff to all of the library except the reserve area.  Our computer labs are open 24/7 as well.  Though I suspect we losesPa.  Benefits?  Most any time I come in and walk through the library someone is using it--even Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. a few things from time to time we have had no significant problems--then again we are in a small town in central

Pepperdine University School of Law

We're considering the 24-hour access model here. 

If you want to add our current policy, Pepperdine has overnight access for moot court participants, law review members, and faculty research assistants.  The student must be in the building at closing (students don't have any authorized keys----although there are some unauthorized keys rumored to exist)  and have obtained a permission slip in advance.  We give the list of overnight students to the Public Safety Office, which distributes the list to any officers who might be walking through the building during the night.  We've had some problems with this fairly tight policy----qualified students giving unqualified students overnight access, blocking doors open, etc., but we have never considered ending it.

Regent University


University of Richmond




St. John’s University

No.  Students have not raised this issue in years, and for security reasons, I do not see us doing it even if they do!

St. Thomas University (Florida)

We do have some modified "24 hour" access in that we have a reading room that we can separate from the rest of the law library by locked doors.  We allow our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) group access to that room, along with its attendant printers, to assist the general public with their income tax returns January 1 to April 15.  Because their student leader has a key to that area they have 24 hour access, though in general they are only there a few hours before we open on Saturdays and Sundays. 
Also, because of the late in the year deadlines, we allow some moot court teams access to that same area, by the same key method, during the Interterm period when we are officially closed (usually from Dec 20th or so until January 2nd or so, depending on how the weekends fall).  They can use their personal laptops and the printers to work on their briefs and oral arguments whenever, during that period, they want to do so.

Seattle University

During reading/final exam periods we are open on a 24 hr. basis; otherwise we are open every day from 7:00am to midnight.  Although we haven't had any problems related to these extended hours I am always very uncomfortable in that we do not have full-time in-house security.  The campus security patrols the campus but will not allocate a separate security guard for our building.  Additionally, we do not have a keycard or some other type system by which we could restrict access.

University of South Dakota

Yes, via swipe cards when the library is not staffed.  No known problems; one less thing for students to grumble about.

Suffolk University

NO!  I will be interested in seeing how many urban schools do this.  It's the security issue, as well as comfort levels about students wandering around the building when no staff are around. 

Thomas Jefferson School of Law


University of Southern California


Texas Southern University


Tulane University


Valparaiso University

No, we don't allow 24 hour access.  We used to allow it to the law review students, but they abused the privilege and now we stay open until 1 am instead.

Washington & Lee University

We still provide 24 hour access to students and faculty.  The down side is that the building is open and we don't have anyone on duty after 11.  We are considering installing card access readers.  With 24 or more doors to the building and no way to secure the library, we will have to
think about all those doors.  Of course, only in rural America could anyone contemplate having this kind of open access to everyone, every
day, all day.

Whittier Law School


Widener University


Willamette University College of Law Library

We provide 24 access to students, faculty and staff through a cardlock system. Our computer labs are in the library and all students are assigned carrels.  As a result, the library is heavily used and the 24 hour feature is appreciated.

College of William and Mary

Yes.  No problems (except for the occasional propping open of doors).  The obvious benefits.  Studs. and fac. can use the library any time they want, and we don't need to keep the circ. desk open.

University of Wisconsin


Yale Law School

When we offered 24 access throughout the entire academic year, it became a security risk, as very few people were in the library between the hours of 2-6 a.m. most nights and weird things would sometimes happen.  Now, we only offer 24 hour access during the end of each term, and the library remains busy enough all night long so that this is not as much of a concern.  The students love being able to access the library whenever they want.

Yeshiva University