Effective Use of the Law Library: 6 Tips for Law Students


Using Law library

When you study a course like Law, you know – the workload is a lot. No semester ever seems long enough to accommodate classes, personal reading for up to six (or more) broad courses, and whatever out-of-school life you have. What this means is that every second counts. So, it is important to maximize any study time you get, especially when you’re in the Law library and surrounded by so many books. But how? These 6 tips will help you do much more but spend so little time when you go to the library.

6 Tips for Making the Most of Your Time in a Law Library

Make the most of law library
  1. Go prepared
  2. Use the catalogue
  3. Avoid distractions
  4. Use a timer 
  5. Apply the 80/20 rule
  6. Hinge on your strengths
  1. Go prepared

You save yourselves a good number of minutes – or even hours – when you go to the library prepared. Ask yourself:

  • What am I going to read? A topic in a course? A court’s judgment? An article in a journal?
  • How long do I intend to stay in the library?
  • How many minutes would I allocate to each task I have to accomplish in the library?
  • What materials would I be needing?

Defining the answers to these questions, such as in a study planner, would help you know what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it before you get into the Law library. That way, once you get through the library door and are allowed in after showing your library card, you’re ready to conquer.

  1. Use the catalogue

No, using the catalogue will not make you seem like a library novice. On the contrary, that’s how you’d look when you walk by every aisle in the Law library and go through every shelf looking for a book, journal, law report, or anything at all.

If you want to know where to find any resource or if the library even has what you’re looking for, use the catalogue. It’s a time-saving way to get started when you go to the library, especially if the book you need is not something you’ve used before so you don’t know where it’s kept.  

  1. Avoid distractions
Law library

Allowing people or even yourself to distract you is a sure way to waste valuable time in the Law library. So, if you’re one of those people who go into the library and spend the first thirty minutes viewing Instagram reels or WhatsApp statuses, you need to do better. The same applies if it’s your thing to discuss with a friend inside the library.

Not only does this distract others, it takes away from the time you could spend doing good work with your books. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have that discussion about how to tackle that Jurisprudence assignment or to discuss what was taught in the last Equity class. It just means there’s a time for everything. And library time, that’s study time.

  1. Use a timer

Timers have a way of keeping you on your toes. There are several ways you can use the Clock application on your phone to help you do so much but spend so little time when you go to the library. You can – 

  • set a timer for the period you want to spend reading a particular material or a course
  • set an alarm for the time you want to switch to the next course or for when you intend to leave the library (phone on vibration, please. Thank you.)
  • use a stopwatch to track how long you spent reading an article or studying a course (this would help you know your reading habits and help you plan your future library sessions better)
  1. Apply the 80/20 rule

Of course, how can we discuss time management without mentioning the Pareto principle? This principle (also the 80/20 rule) states that you can get 80% of results by doing just 20% of the work. So, to make sure you’re maximizing every minute you spend in the library, get the more important things done first.

Focus on getting the best results (80%) from doing the important things, irrespective of how few they are (20%). Following this, you can choose to spend time studying a topic you have a problem with or your lecturer usually emphasizes. The result from doing this would be greater in value than if you attempt to go through all your topics in one sitting.

  1. Hinge on your strengths 

It is important to follow the reading method that works for you. If you find that you only remember points when you take down notes, then you should take the extra time for notetaking into consideration when planning your library sessions. That way, you can allow yourself time to make notes.

Or else, if note taking is your strong point and you decide not to take notes simply to save time, you’d find yourself having to read the same thing over again, some other time. That’s one way to waste your time in the long run. Remember, it’s quality over quantity. 

Wrapping Up

You don’t have to spend six hours in the Law library for virtually every day of the week to have great grades. If you can, then do so (just be sure to take a few minutes breaks every few hours). But if you can’t because you just don’t have that much time to give, that’s okay too. By simply having a proper schedule and consistently making the most of whatever time you have, you’d be amazed at what you can achieve


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