Broward County Main Library's Reference Section
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The Reference Section, located on the fifth floor of the Broward County Main Library, provides Reference services and materials on all subjects, including education, the fine arts, architecture, genealogy, and health. It specializes in many areas of business, law, government, and e-government. It also houses documents from federal, state, county, municipal, and international agencies. The Reference Section is a designated Federal Depository Library, Florida State Documents Depository Library, and Patent and Trademark Depository Library. As a depository library, it receives publications from federal and state government agencies as well as from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Strengths of the Collection



Government and E-Government

  • Federal
  • State
  • Local

Intellectual Property


The Business area of the BLG Section includes a collection of business books, company directories (at the local, state, national, and international levels), investment newsletters, and computer databases.

Types of Information

Career and Employment Information
The Reference Section has a Career and Job Information area that includes publications that aid in choosing careers and finding job leads.  Materials offering information on working conditions, education and training requirements, starting salaries, employment trends, and resume writing are also available. One-hour appointments for assistance in using the materials may be scheduled with a librarian.

International Trade Materials
The Reference Section provides a variety of import and export material, including a subscription to Stat-USA, an online international trade database from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Stat-USA is available in its entirety only at the Reference Section of the Broward County Main Library. Ask a librarian to assist you in logging on.

Investment Services
A collection of current investment newsletters is available in the Reference Section. In addition to current copies of Value Line Investment Survey and Morningstar Mutual Funds, the Section has retrospective issues of these resources for historical research. Online investment information is available through a database called Business and Company Resource Center.

Small Business Start-up and Expansion
The Reference Section has information for entrepreneurs on starting small businesses and expanding existing businesses. Print resources include current titles in the areas of planning, accounting, finance, marketing, management, and personnel.

Free, one-on-one counseling services from volunteers of the Broward Service Corps of Retired Executives (Broward SCORE) as well as from certified business analysts of the Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Broward are available, by appointment, at locations close to the library. Click on the following websites to register for counseling sessions: or

In addition to all of this, a variety of seminars on special business topics are held each month. Topics include "1, 2, 3s of Starting a Business", "Skills to Operate a Profitable Business", "How to Market Your Business on the Internet", "Accelerating Your Sales Performance", "Business Law", and "Alternatives to Corporate Jobs…Recession Resistant Franchises".
Tax Information  
Tax information, from governmental and commercial sources, is located within the Reference Section. This information includes legal publications as well as "how-to" publications. Among the resources included are the code, regulations, forms, and publications of the Internal Revenue Service. Also included in the collection are U.S. Tax Court decisions and the Standard Federal Tax Reporter, from Commerce Clearinghouse.

Trained volunteers provide free, one-on-one tax assistance, with basic tax returns, at the Main Library between February and April of each year.

Business Journals

The Main Library subscribes to a variety of business journals, including Business Week and Fortune. These journals are located on the third floor of the Main Library in the Magazines and Newspapers Section.
Business Databases

Electronic business databases are available through remote access from the Broward County Library's web page. 

Business and Company Resource Center provides company profiles as well as access to full-text articles on a wide variety of business-related subjects from business journals throughout the country.

Reference USA provides directory information on approximately 14 million companies throughout the United States and allows customized searches by name of company, type of company, geographic area, size of company, and other special parameters.

Small Business Resource Center includes hundreds of business plans and how-to guides for entrepreneurs.

These databases are remotely accessible by following these steps:

  • Visit the Broward County Library website (
  • Click on "Find Materials" on left column
  • Click on "Free Online Resources"
  • Click on "Business and Investments"
  • Choose a database


The Reference Section maintains a print collection of primary legal sources that provide the official text of laws. These include statutes and codes, regulations, and court cases at the federal, state, and local levels. Secondary source materials, including legal encyclopedias and books of legal forms, are also available. In addition, a database called LoisLaw, which provides the text of statutory, regulatory, and case law for all federal and state jurisdictions, is available within the Reference Section.

Primary Law

Statutory Law
Statutory law is law passed by a legislative body. These laws are published first as individual "slip" laws and later in the form of a code.  Examples of statutory Law include the United States Statutes at Large and the United States Code and the Laws of Florida and the Florida Statutes.

Administrative Law
Administrative law takes the form of executive orders and proclamations as well as the rules and decisions of administrative agencies.

Executive Law
Executive orders and proclamations are issued by the President of the United States, state Governors, county administrators, and city managers. The Reference Section has a collection of orders and proclamations of the U.S. Presidents and has access to some of the executive orders and proclamations of the Governor of the State of Florida as well as the administrative orders of the Broward County Administrator.

Regulatory Law
Federal and State administrative agencies write rules and regulations to implement statutory law. The Federal Register provides daily notification of the proposed and final rules of each federal 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 at the state level. Broward County rules appear in the Broward County Administrative Code.

Federal and State administrative agencies also hear matters arising from violations of their regulations. They issue decisions which have the same authority as case law. The Reference Section has collections of decisions from several federal agencies.

Case Law
Courts provide another facet of law by issuing decisions on cases presented before them. Court opinions and judgments are published in case reporters at the various levels of courts. The following are examples of case reporters:

  • United States Reports - U.S. Supreme Court
  • Federal Reporter - U.S. Courts of Appeals
  • Federal Supplement - U.S. District Courts
  • Southern Reporter - State Appellate Courts

Finding Case Law
A number of specialized publications provide additional assistance in locating the law. These include popular name tables for specific laws, indexes for tracing current and past legislation (including Congressional hearings), and citators for finding additional cases related to the topic being researched.

Treaties are agreements between two or more sovereign states or powers on any subject of mutual concern. Treaties may end wars, set fishing limits, arrange for international taxation, set boundaries, or arrange any number of other issues. The Reference Section has a collection of national and international treaties.

National Treaties  
Treaties between the U.S. and other parties are published in the following sets:

  • Treaties and other International Agreements of the United States of America, 1776-1949
  • United States Treaties and Other International Agreements, 1950-present, and
  • Unperfected Treaties of the United States of America 1776-1976

International Treaties
Treaties in which the U.S. may or may not be a party are published in these sets:

  • Consolidated Treaty Series, 1648-1918
  • League of Nations Treaty Series, and
  • United Nations Treaty Series

A collection of treaties between the United States Government and Native-American nations is also housed in the Reference Section.

Secondary Law
Secondary source materials provide additional information, interpretations, and explanations about legal subjects. Law encyclopedias (such as American Jurisprudence and Florida Jurisprudence), law dictionaries (such as Black's Law Dictionary), and books of law forms are located in the Reference Section.

Legal Databases
The Reference Section has a subscription to LoisLaw, which provides full-text access to federal statutory, regulatory, and case law as well as statutory, regulatory, and case law for all fifty states. Rules of court are also included for all jurisdictions. This database is available only by visiting the Reference Section of the Main Library.


The Government Documents area of the Main Library's Reference Section consists of a collection of materials serving the information needs of the general public, students, and individuals involved in business and government. From coloring books to consumer pamphlets to scholarly research, the Government Documents area makes available current and retrospective materials, produced by all levels of government, on a wide variety of topics. Formats include paper, microfiche, microfilm, CD-ROM, DVD, and online databases and websites. Librarians are also available, by appointment, to assist customers in applying online for selected government benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid, and unemployment compensation.

Types of Documents

Federal Documents
Many current federal government documents are available online through the websites of each of the federal government agencies. In addition, the Government Documents area, which has been part of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) since 1967, when the documents collection was housed at the Fort Lauderdale Branch Library, receives some of the printed publications of federal agencies that are made available to depository libraries. The collection also features historical sets such as the Papers of the Continental Congress and the Official Records of Union and Confederate Armies and Navies.   

Most titles can be found in the Broward County Library's online  Library Catalog. Some of the documents in the Library Catalog can be accessed, in full-text, simply by clicking on the link in the bibliographic record of the document. Bibliographic records of documents may also be found through  GPO Monthly Catalog. Many of the bibliographic records include PURLS (permanent URLs) which provide links to the full-text of the documents.

State Documents
As a Florida State Documents Depository Library since 1968, the Reference Section receives, from the State Library of Florida, many of the publications produced by Florida's government agencies.  Publications include reports, budgets, technical reports, projects studies and informational brochures. Listings for most of the Reference Section's state documents are in the Broward County Library's online  Library Catalog

Local Documents
The Reference Section also maintains a collection of publications from local government agencies, emphasizing documents from Broward County government agencies and from county and municipal governments within Broward County. Publications include budgets, comprehensive plans, and special studies. 

United Nations and Other International Documents
In addition to a microfiche collection of UN documents from 1982 through 2000, the Reference Section has a collection of statistical data and reports from other major international organizations. Most of these are available through the Index to International Statistics (IIS) Microfiche Library.

Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights
As a Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTDL) since 1984, the Reference Section of the Main Library disseminates information on behalf of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It has the resources needed to conduct patent and trademark searches. Patent and trademark information is also available through the website of the United States Patent and Trademark Office ( Information regarding copyright protection is also available in the Reference Section and on the website of the U.S. Copyright Office (


Microform Collections
A number of full-text microform sets are included in the Government Documents area of the Main Library's Reference Section. They contain research materials, both current and retrospective, in such diverse fields as the environment, law, science, sociology, and urban affairs. These sets include statistical Censuses of Population since 1790, colonial records, environmental impact statements, Indian Tribal Codes, and NASA Technical Reports.

Click here for additional microform collections.

A great deal of federal government information is now available on the web pages of the various government agencies. Websites such as ( and GPO Access ( provide access to much of this information.  GPO-Access ( is a searchable full-text database consisting of recent federal bills, the Congressional Record, United States Code, the Federal Register, and many additional titles. Bibliographic records of government documents, with links to full-text online documents (when available), may be found in  GPO Monthly Catalog.

Links to Websites

Librarians' Internet Index: Websites You Can Trust
This is a searchable and annotated subject directory of internet resources selected and evaluated by librarians for their usefulness to users of public libraries. Select " Government", from the list of broad categories, and then select a sub-topic or type a keyword in the search box.

For additional information on the resources and services of the Main Library's Reference Section, please visit the library or call 954-357-7439.