The Reference Section staff members available to provide basic reference assistance. Please call 954-357-7439.
(Please note that librarians are not attorneys and are not qualified to interpret legal information or provide legal advice.)
The Law area of The Reference Section, located on the fifth floor of the Broward County Main Library, maintains a reference collection of primary and secondary law materials, both current and historical, at the federal, State of Florida, and local levels. Circulating copies of self-help law books are located on the fourth floor of the Broward County Main Library.
Note: While this section of the Broward County Main Library has some primary legal materials that are not available at most branch libraries, general law books for the layperson are available at many Broward County Library branches and are generally classified in the 340-349 Dewey Decimal area.
Types of Law
At the primary level, the BLG Section's print collection includes sources of statutory law, administrative law, and case law.
Click here for the titles of primary law that are available in print at The Reference Section or online on the internet:
Sources of Federal Law - Print and Electronic
Sources of State Law - Print and Electronic
Sources of Local Law - Print and Electronic
The BLG Section maintains collections of primary law, which provide the official text of laws enacted by a body legally authorized to create laws. Primary law may take the form of statutory law (statutes and codes), administrative law (executive orders and proclamations as well as regulations and decisions of administrative agencies), or case law (court cases).
Statutory law consists of the laws enacted by a legislative body, including the U.S. Congress, Florida Legislature, Broward County Board of County Commissioners, and city commissions. They are first published as individual laws, in "slip law" format. They are later bound in consecutive order. Subsequently, they are published in a codified version, by subject. Examples of statutory law are the U.S. Statutes at Large and United States Code as well as the Laws of Florida and Florida Statutes.
Administrative law consists of the orders and proclamations of the chief executive of a jurisdiction, as well as the rules and decisions of administrative agencies.
The chief executive of a jurisdiction (whether a U.S. President, state governor, county administrator, or city manager) has the authority to issue orders and proclamations. The U.S. President's orders and proclamations are published in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 3.
Administrative agencies are created by the legislative branch and staffed by the executive branch of a jurisdication. Examples of administrative agencies at the federal, state, and local levels include the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Florida Department of Corrections, and the Broward County Aviation Department.
Administrative agencies have two functions: rule-making and adjudication. They create rules and regulations to implement statutory law, and they also hold hearings on cases and make decisions.
The Federal Register provides daily notification of the proposed and final rules of each agency. These are later codified, by subject, in the annual Code of Federal Regulations. The Florida Administrative Weekly and the Florida Administrative Code provide the equivalent information on the state level.
The BLG Section also has a collection of the decisions of a number of administrative agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, among others.
Case law consists of the decisions of courts. Courts issue decisions on cases presented before them. Court opinions and judgments are published in case reporters. Examples of case reporters are:
o United States Reports (U.S. Supreme Court cases)
o Federal Reporter (U.S. Courts of Appeals cases)
o Federal Supplement (U.S. District Courts cases)
o Southern Reporter (U.S. State Appellate Courts)
The BLG Section maintains a collection of current secondary law resources that provide explanations and interpretations of the primary law. These include books of law forms as well as law dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, guides, and treatises. Among the holdings of the BLG section are Black's Law Dictionary, American Jurisprudence and Florida Jurisprudence law encyclopedias, the Self-Help Law Series (published by Nolo Press), the Self-Help Law Kits with Forms (published by Sourcebooks, a division of Sphinx), and the Ask a Lawyer Series (published by W. W. Norton Co.) These and other titles are listed in the Broward County Library's online Library Catalog (LINK).
Jurisdictions of Law
Federal Law Materials
The BLG Section's collection of federal law materials includes access to Congressional journals, hearings, committee prints, reports, and documents, as well as to bills, statutes, codes, and cases. The BLG Section has an extensive file of Congressional materials, dating back to the First Continental Congress of 1774.
Also included in the federal documents collection are the decisions of such agencies as the Court of Military Appeals, Department of the Interior, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Federal Communications Commission, Federal Labor Relations Authority, Federal Trade Commission, Interstate Commerce Commission, Merit Systems Protection Board, and the Tax Court of the U.S.
State of Florida Law Materials
The BLG Section collects legislative journals, bills and laws, as well as codes and cases for the State of Florida. An historical back-file is maintained. Session law includes the acts of the Legislative Council of the Territory of Florida (1822-1845) as well as the acts of the State of Florida. The BLG Section also maintains a collection of the opinions of the Attorney General dating back to 1941.
Local Law Materials
The BLG Section maintains print copies of the codes of ordinances of Broward County and the City of Fort Lauderdale. The codes of other counties and municipalities may be found on the websites of the Municipal Code Corporation and American Legal Publishing.
Historical Legal Sets
In addition to many hardcopy law sets, the BLG Section maintains additional law resources in microfiche format through LLMC (Law Library Microform Consortium). Many historical legal sets may be found through this microfiche collection. Click here to see a list of titles available through the LLMC microform collection.
Official and Unofficial Law Materials
Along with the official laws published by governmental sources, the BLG Section has unofficial annotated editions of laws published by commercial sources. These sources provide the official text of the laws, but add annotations, including notes about the history of the laws, cross-references to other laws, and summaries of related cases. Examples of unofficial, or annotated, editions of the law include United State Code Annotated and Florida Statutes Annotated.
Access to the Law Collections
The BLG Section provides a variety of specialized finding tools to assist users in locating the law. Official government indexes as well as commercially-produced indexes are available to aid in finding statutory laws and administrative regulations. These include popular name tables for specific laws and indexes for tracing current and past legislation, including Congressional hearings. Digests and citators are available to aid in finding case law related to the topic being researched.
Digests are very detailed subject indexes to case law, arranged by specific key points of law.
Citators are used to update case law. They research each decided court case and list all subsequent cases that cited the original case. They can be used to find out if a cited case has been appealed and, if so, whether the decision was upheld or overturned.
The BLG Section has a database of statutory, administrative, and case law, at the federal level and for all fifty states. The LoisLaw database is accessible by visiting the BLG Section at the Broward County Main Library. Ask a librarian to help you log on to this database.
Links to Websites on Law
Additional information on general law may be found on the following websites:
Librarians' Internet Index: Websites You Can Trust