Visit to the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Library

A group of us from the law library recently visited the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies library.


The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) was established in 1947 as a national centre to promote academic legal research, and its library has one of the largest legal research collections in Europe. It is used by PhD researchers and academic staff, but it is part of the University of London’s School of Advanced Study, and therefore also provides a library service for the University’s postgraduate taught course students (although not those at City).

Library collection and services

The library collection (312,000 volumes in total) includes an extensive range of primary and secondary materials, and a large amount of materials from international jurisdictions, including Europe, the United States, Commonwealth countries, and South America, as well as UK legal materials.

The library also provides access to a large number of databases through its electronic law library, including to databases which are not available at City, such as foreign law databases like Beck-Online and Le Doctrinal.

Librarians at IALS deliver training on information skills and legal research, and the website contains many useful free to access guides and training resources on subjects including OSCOLA, foreign jurisdictions, and international law. IALS also has a collection of digital training resources called Law Port, which includes tutorials on OSCOLA and other topics.

The tour

IALS is located in a 1970s building on Russell Square, and the library is spread over five floors, attracting up to 700 visitors a day. Our tour began with a short presentation on IALS and the library services, before we were given a chance to look round the library itself. It is currently undergoing a two year transformation project, and the first floor that we visited has already been refurbished, which gave us an opportunity to see the new work spaces and desks, private study carrels, and group study spaces. The heating and ventilation system has also been upgraded, and the windows are triple glazed to prevent most traffic noise from outside. You can view a fly-through video of the transformation on YouTube. We then saw the next floor down, which has not yet been refurbished, before being taken to the basement store, which houses the library archive collection, where we were given the chance to see some unusual old books including an Encyclopaedia Britannica from the 1800s which contained some beautiful illustrations.

The tour was an interesting opportunity to get an insight into the services that IALS offers, and to look around a law library currently undergoing a transformation.

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