Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the law library?

Kalamazoo’s Raymond W. Fox Law Library models intergovernmental and private cooperation. Kalamazoo County funded the renovation of former storage space to house the law library at KPL and continues to assist with some material costs. KPL contributes library staff, technological expertise, and a state-of-the-art facility. The Kalamazoo County Bar Association collaborates with KPL on programming.

2. Is the law library open to the public?

Yes. The library is open to the public, serving Kalamazoo County’s legal community and all residents of the county.

3. Where is the law library located?

The law library is located on the Kalamazoo Public Library’s Central Library lower level at 315 S. Rose Street.

4. Do attorneys work at the law library?

No. The law library is made up of librarians and library personnel. Staff is prohibited by law from practicing law. We will not provide legal advice, interpret laws or court rules, or fill out a patron’s legal forms. Legal research is very complex and often requires a great deal of time to conduct. Patrons who are representing themselves in a legal matter are acting as their attorney and are solely responsible for adhering to applicable laws, court rules, filing requirements, and other actions associated with practicing law. We suggest that patrons with legal questions that cannot be adequately addressed or answered at the library discuss their situation with an attorney or attend a free legal clinic.

5. What can the law library staff do to help me with my legal question?

Staff will steer patrons to the most authoritative and helpful print and online resources currently available. Staff will provide patrons with full access to the legal collection, which is comprised of hundreds of legal self-help books, a computer, access to WestlawNext, case law reporters, state and federal laws, local ordinances, topical practice guides, legal forms, dictionaries, encyclopedias, a copy machine, and free brochures. We do not have staff to do legal research for you. Legal research is often time consuming and demanding to perform. We encourage patrons with difficult legal questions to plan for several hours of research.

6. Can the librarians give me definitions of legal terms?

No. We can assist you by giving you Black’s Law Dictionary and provide you with access to topic-based legal encyclopedias.

7. What self-help resources are available on the Internet?

The Michigan Courts website at: http://courts.michigan.gov/scao/selfhelp/selfhelphome.htm has self-help information on many legal and court subjects. Also check out Michigan Legal Aid's articles, michiganlegalhelp.org, and nolo.com.

8. Can I obtain legal forms from the law library?

Yes. We have the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) forms. These forms are online at: http://courts.michigan.gov/scao/courtforms/ and are the Michigan approved court forms. We can show you the legal form books and handbooks in our collection that contain thousands of sample legal forms. These forms are not locally approved, fill-in-the-blank forms with instructions. Quite often, legal forms must be drafted by you or an attorney. We may be able to show you samples of generic forms.

9. Will you help me fill out or draft my legal forms?

No. We are not attorneys and will not give you legal advice, tell you what form is needed, what word to use in a form, interpret the law or interpret a legal document. When you go to court and/or have any contact with court and legal proceedings, you are solely responsible for understanding how to fill out motions, briefs, subpoenas, divorce papers, and other legal documents.

10. Why won’t the law library or the courts answer my legal question?

Court clerks and law library staff are not attorneys and cannot answer specific questions regarding how your situation relates to the law or how your question can best be resolved. The law library provides patrons with the opportunity to access a full legal collection, perform legal research in a quiet environment and ask library staff for helpful research tips.

11. Does the law library have tax forms?

No. Reproducible tax forms and tax-related information are kept on the second floor of the Central Library. See also: Tax Topic Guide.

12. Are you affiliated with Legal Aid Services?

No. Legal Aid of Western Michigan provides free legal assistance to low income persons and seniors in non-criminal, non-fee generating matters. Contact their in-take phone line at 1-888-783-8190 for more information.

13. Does the law library have online legal research services?

Yes. The library has a subscription to WestlawNext

14. Does the law library have Internet access?

Yes. The law library has one computer to be used for legal research only. Patrons may use the computer for no more than two hours at a time.

15. Does the law library computer have word processing software on it?

Yes.  However, you must use the computer for legal research only.

16. How do I log on to the law library computer?

With your KPL library card and PIN number (usually the last 4 digits of your phone number). If you are not eligible for a library card, we can give you a Guest Pass. Bring in your current photo ID that shows where you live to the Circulation Desk.

17. Can I make photocopies of law library materials?

Yes.  Photocopies and computer print outs cost 10 cents per page.

18. Can I get change from the law library staff?

Yes.

19. Can you recommend an attorney for me?

The law library staff does not recommend or steer patrons to the services of specific attorneys or law firms. We encourage patrons to access information about attorneys from the Yellow Pages, the Martindale Hubbell Law Directory (online and in the law library), the Michigan Bar Journal Attorney Directory, or the Kalamazoo County Bar Association Attorney Directory.

20. Does the law library offer free legal clinics?

Yes. The law library with the help of the Kalamazoo County Bar Association and volunteer lawyers coordinates monthly, free clinics. These clinics are intended to help those who cannot afford the services of a lawyer. Your question or issue must be a civil legal matter.

21. What if the attorney at the clinic does not help me or does not understand my problem?

Because clinic lawyers counsel their clients on many different legal concerns, your attorney may not regularly help people with your particular need. The law library cannot guarantee that your lawyer will be able to help you resolve your legal problem. There are many legal topics that are better addressed by searching for an attorney that practices in the area of law that you are interested in.

22. How many legal clinics may I attend?

To make it fair for everyone, you may attend one clinic every four months/two times per year total.

23. May I check out books from the law library’s collection?

Law library materials are reference books and may not be checked out. However, we have duplicate copies of many of our legal self-help books available for check out. Please ask staff to help you locate a title and its availability in our catalog.