Early court records indicate that the Florida Supreme Court Library has been in existence since 1845. The oldest state-supported library in Florida, it was originally designed for the use by the Supreme Court and continues to have that as its primary purpose.
Until the 1885 Constitution was amended in 1956, the clerk of the Supreme Court also served as librarian. Since 1956, under section 25.341, Florida Statutes, the Supreme Court has had a librarian whose sole responsibility is administering the library.
The Florida Supreme Court Library exists to serve the research and information needs of the Florida Supreme Court, the Office of the State Courts Administrator, and lower Florida courts. Members of the general public are also allowed to use the resources of the law library to conduct legal research. Services to general-public patrons are provided to the extent that staff, time, and other resources permit.
The library contains more than 130,000 volumes, including an extensive selection of Florida legal materials, many going back to before statehood. The library also provides access to other state and federal legal resources, including court decisions, statutes, regulations, jury instructions, legal periodicals, and treatises, in both print and online format. The library has been designated a selective federal depository for legal materials published by the U.S. Government Publishing Office, and also has a collection of historical law of the United Kingdom. Patrons are welcome to search for resources using the library's online catalog of holdings. Library materials do not circulate.
The library staff welcomes the opportunity to assist the general public in legal research. Staff members are limited by law, under section 454.23, Florida Statutes, as to the help they can offer.
The law library staff are allowed to:
•Answer questions regarding the library and its collection
•Assist in locating law-related materials using specific citations
•Assist in locating relevant printed legal resources within the library such as statutes, cases, court rules, legal encyclopedias, form books, and treatises
•Instruct as to how to use these print resources effectively
•Demonstrate how to locate and use online legal resources, including Westlaw Patron Access and HeinOnline
•Refer patrons to appropriate agencies
•Suggest lawyer referral resources
•Photocopy and mail, fax, or e-mail limited print resources when requested by specific citation, for a nominal fee, restricted by copyright law
The law library staff are not allowed to:
•Perform research on behalf of a patron in response to a legal question or in response to a request for legal advice
•Advise any patron on legal rights or liabilities
•Advise any patron on the meaning of a statute, regulation, case, or other legal resource, or how it might impact a particular situation or case
•Choose or recommend a specific statute, case, regulation, or other legal resource which may apply to a particular situation or case
•Advise any patron on what the law is on a particular issue
•Advise any patron regarding legal procedure, court rules, or jurisdiction
•Recommend the use of any particular legal form for any particular purpose, or assist in filling out any legal form
•Review any document drafted by a patron
•Explain how to file a document, what document to file, or how to proceed with court actions
•Intervene with a judge or court on any party's behalf
•Mail, fax, or e-mail documents or information directly from Westlaw, as prohibited by the terms of our Westlaw contract
•Read textual material (including, but not limited to, definitions, laws, cases, or rules) over the phone
•Provide advice or instruction concerning the correct formatting of legal citations
•Recommend any particular attorney or law firm
•Perform any other action that could, in the opinion of the staff member, be construed as providing legal advice
Library staff cannot do anything which might, in the opinion of the staff member, constitute the unauthorized practice of law, under section 454.23, Florida Statutes. Because of the complicated nature of many legal problems, the services of a qualified attorney might be required. Information provided by the law library staff is not a substitute for legal advice.
Phone, e-mail, or fax reference services are limited to short, specific reference and information questions, referrals, and/or suggestions of sources.
These websites might be useful:
Florida Law Help at http://floridalawhelp.org/
Legal Services of North Florida at http://www.lsnf.org/
Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service at http://www.floridabar.org/lawyerreferral