Reference librarians are available to help library users locate information, identify relevant resources, and develop search strategies. Our librarians are careful to avoid the unauthorized practice of law (see section 81.102 of the Texas Government Code and section 38.123 of the Texas Penal Code) and as such cannot give legal opinions, advice, or interpretation. We do not have attorneys on staff to advise you on how the law applies to a particular legal situation.
The Texas State Law Library is available to:
- Assist you in locating materials available to us relevant to your research
- Recommend law books and Web sites on a particular topic
- Provide assistance in how to use the library's resources
- Help locate broad definitions of legal words or phrases
- Locate areas in state and federal statutes, regulations, and rules to help you begin your research
- Refer you to other agencies or organizations for assistance
For some of the more common legal questions, we have compiled a list of frequently asked legal questions. For patrons who are interested in doing their own legal research, we also make available an introduction to legal research as well as research guides by topic (e.g., debt collection; landlord/tenant law; divorce and child support).
For more complex questions we will conduct a reference interview to determine what type of information you require. We will then search resources available to us that we can recommend to you. Some questions are best researched by the patron at a law library. Library staff may ask you to visit the Texas State Law Library or point you to a law library in your area as legal research is frequently complex even for what may seem like a simple yes or no question.
Library staff cannot give legal advice. We cannot:
- Interpret the meaning of sources or determine their relevance to your specific situation
- Advise you of your legal rights or recommend a course of action
- Determine whether an action or practice is legal
- Select specific statutes, regulations, rules, or forms for your fact situation
- Recommend a specific attorney
- Provide case law subject searching
- Complete forms or handle your personal data
We provide telephone reference to patrons who call our main number (512) 463-1722. At the discretion of the librarian taking the phone call, over the phone we can:
- Read brief portions of statutes, regulations, rules, and definitions
- Search our catalog to see if we have a particular item in our collection
- Guide you to pre-compiled legal information
Our staff strives to serve all library patrons. Due to the volume of reference requests, the time spent on individual telephone calls needs to be limited. When providing telephone reference we will spend approximately 5-10 minutes per call at the reference desk. For any calls requiring further assistance, the librarian will get contact information and provide follow up information afterwards to the patron. Reference librarians are restricted in the length of time spent assisting individuals. We are unable to provide in-depth research for patrons. Please note that the Texas State Law Library is unable to accommodate requests for assistance by a particular staff member.