The Osgoode Hall Law School Library is the largest law library in Canada and one of the largest in the Commonwealth. It has near-comprehensive holdings in the legal literature of Canada (both the English common law and French civil law traditions) and extensive holdings for Great Britain, the United States, and other common law jurisdictions. The library has an especially strong collection of primary legal materials — i.e, law reports, statutes, regulatory and legislative materials — and bound law journals for common law jurisdictions, as well as international tribunals and the United Nations.
The extensive print collection is supplemented by an ever-growing range of online and digital resources, including Lexis Advance Quicklaw and WestlawNext Canada, to which all members of the Osgoode community have access. There are many country and topic-specific tools, providing researchers with in-depth access to the law of Australia, India, the Caribbean, international commercial arbitration and United Nations treaties and documents.
Omni: Academic Research Tool
Omni is York University Libraries’ and Osgoode Hall Law School Library’s online public access catalogue (OPAC). It provides an easy and mobile-friendly user experience, quick access to resources from 14 Ontario university libraries and high-quality academic research material. Composed of materials and support from 14 Ontario university libraries, Omni allows you to search and explore a vast, shared collection of scholarly resources that includes books, databases, journal articles, videos, music, and more. The ongoing collaboration and diverse expertise of the Omni community enables our collection of shared materials to grow with purpose every day. It’s your best place to look for quality, academic resources, first.
In addition to the regular collection (also known as Osgoode Stacks), the collection is also comprised of the following sections.
The Osgoode Law Library’s Reference Collection is located on the lower floor of the Library. The following Reference resources do not circulate and are for in-library use only:
- Law reports
- Encyclopedias and dictionaries
Items on reserve are identified as being in high-demand. They can include material that course instructors have requested the library make available to students in a particular course, or latest editions of popular titles. As such, they are available only on a short-term loan basis.
Reserve items can be retrieved from the circulation desk in the Upper Library. In the catalogue, they can be identified by their location “Osgoode Reserve Collection”. Reserve status is temporary, and items on reserve are reviewed and updated regularly each term.
These materials are available for 3 hours. They cannot be renewed and a hold cannot be placed on them. For further details, consult our loan periods.
Balfour Halévy Special Collections
The John R. Cartwright Rare Book Room is at the core of the library’s mandate to preserve and record the print record of Canadian law. The rare book room is home to the Balfour Halévy Special Collections, a near-comprehensive collection of Canadian legal materials published through 1950, including material published in France and relevant to the civil law tradition of Quebec. This essential collection of legal Canadiana – the largest and most complete anywhere – is complemented by significant collections of early English, Irish and American law reports, statutes and law books. These also include early trials published through 1900 and Canadian and English manuscripts, broadsides and ephemera. The Special Collections also include Osgoodiana, i.e., publications authored, co-authored or edited by Osgoode faculty, as well as program-related materials produced at or about Osgoode Hall Law School (e.g., casebooks and theses).
The library’s Special Collections are named in honour of Balfour Halévy, founding law librarian of the Osgoode Hall Law School Library when the law school moved to York University from “old” Osgoode Hall on Queen Street in downtown Toronto in 1967. It is due to Halévy’s dedication and labour over 30 years as Chief Law Librarian and his vision to create at Osgoode Hall Law School a “national law library” for Canada that the special collections were conceived and developed.
The Balfour Halévy Special Collections are housed in the new, state-of-the-art John R. Cartwright Rare Book Room, named in recognition of a gift of from Mr Ian Cartwright of Canada Law Book, founded in 1855, Canada’s oldest law publisher until its acquisition by Thomson Reuters in 2010. The John R. Cartwright Book Rare Book Room is at the heart of the library both physically and spiritually.
The Library maintains the Barbara C. Scott Fiction Collection, a modest collection of “legal fiction” (books written by or about lawyers, the process and the practice of law, etc.). It includes both crime novels, mysteries, police procedurals, true crime, and literary classics such as Dickens’s Bleak House. The collection was made possible through a generous donation of legal fiction by Osgoode Professor Craig Scott, and was named the Barbara C. Scott Legal Fiction Collection in honour of his mother. The collection is intended for students’ leisure time and not for serious academic analysis (though many titles are taken from various “law and literature” courses); consequently, only students and faculty of Osgoode Hall Law School may borrow items from the collection. The collection is located in the Harris-Taylor Family Reading Room in the Upper Library.
Items marked Storage in Omni are not available on the shelves; however, they can be requested by navigating to the record in Omni, clicking Request, and filling out the request form. Storage items include superseded editions of select titles, historical casebooks, digests, reports, statutes, and other legal material that supplements the circulating collection. Many of these titles are found on the shelves in their latest edition. Users must have a valid Passport York account or active library account to place requests in Omni. Your request will be made available within 24 hours, and the library will notify you when it is ready for pickup.
Osgoode Digital Commons
Open Access to Legal Scholarship and Free Access to Law
The Osgoode Hall Law School Library is committed to the principles of open access in scholarly publishing at our universities and of free access to legal information in our society. We subscribe to and promote the principles enumerated in the Calgary Statement on Free Access to Legal Information in the belief that general application of these principles will benefit legal education, improve the dissemination of legal scholarship, promote free access to legal information and enhance access to justice.
The Osgoode Library has built and maintains the Osgoode Digital Commons, the institutional repository of Osgoode Hall Law School of York University. The Digital Commons captures, preserves and makes available to the global public the intellectual output of the Law School, including faculty research, scholarship and publications; journals and research centres output; selected records and archives; and digital initiatives from the Osgoode Hall Law School Library.
The Osgoode Library and the Osgoode Digital Commons are participating members of the following open-access legal repositories:
Significant Open Access Policies
Following is a list of key documents relating to Open Access to Legal Scholarship and Free Access to Legal Information:
- Calgary Statement on Free Access to Legal Information (2011) / Déclaration de Calgary sur le libre accès à l’information juridique (2011)
- Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship (2009)
- IFLA Statement on Government Provision of Public Legal Information in the Digital Age (2016)
- Montreal Declaration on Free Access to La2 (2007) / Déclaration de Montréal sur l’Accès libre au droit (2007)
- Budapest Open Access Initiative (2002)
- Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities (2003)
- York University Open Acess Policy for Librarians and Archivists
- Harvard Library, Open Access Policies
Remote access to Osgoode and York University electronic resources (subscription databases) is available to members of the York/Osgoode community.
Access (Passport York)
Access to most electronic resources is restricted to current students of York University via Passport York due to licensing. If you have not created a Passport York account, visit York University Computing for more information. After creating your account, you will be able to access electronic resources from home.
Eduroam allows York University community members who are visiting other participating institutions to access wireless Internet service using their Passport York credentials and vice versa. If you are a York University community member, you must use the AirYork Wireless service while on campus.
Acceptable Use Guidelines for Electronic Resources
The use of York University electronic resources is governed by vendor license agreements and Canadian copyright law. Please read York University Libraries’ Acceptable Use Guide for eResources,
Please note that some law-specific electronic resources are restricted to the Osgoode community and/or within the Osgoode Hall Law School, such as Westlaw Canada and CCH Online. Law students and faculty, through the publishers’ educational program agreements, require individually-assigned passwords. Access restrictions, if any, are noted in the database entry of the library’s eResources page. No exceptions can be made to these restrictions. Contact the reference desk for assistance with access to these resources.