About the Collections

The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Library is in its entirety a research collection in law. It is one of the world’s leading comparative research libraries, holding significant material not otherwise available in the United Kingdom.

The Library has over 304,395 volumes and over 2,800 current serial titles. (Collection statistics)

Most material is on open access with some older sets in the Basement Store (normally available within 10 minutes of application). Some little used material is held in an  Offsite Store. (Material held in store offsite is indicated on the library catalogue by the location statement "IALS OFFSITE STORE". It can be retrieved for use at IALS normally within 72 hours of a request being placed).

  • All jurisdictions of the United Kingdom and its dependencies
  • European Union
  • Europe: particularly strong for Austria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland. Limited collections for eastern Europe mainly in translation
  • Commonwealth countries including much early material. Pakistan and Bangladesh not collected; there is limited federal material for India
  • United States of America
  • Latin America particularly Argentina and Brazil
  • Comparative law
  • Private international law
  • Public international law: legal aspects of many international organisations and their publications; Major collections of treaties including the Consolidated Treaty Series, the Legaue of Nations Treaty Series, the United Nations Treaty Series, the United Kingdom Treaty Series, the European Treaty Series, and the Treaties and International Agreements Series
  • Jurisprudence
  • Legal reference and bibliographical works

The collections of the Library also incorporate materials associated with a name, or containing major unpublished elements. These include: the Commonwealth law Library of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a unique collection of legislation from countries of the Commonwealth from the earliest period of colonial history to the present; the Roman-Dutch law collection which includes early works and extensive collections from influenced jurisdictions such as South Africa, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe; the Huberich, Kahn-Freund and Bischoff collections which cover various subjects and jurisdictions (mainly comparative law, German and other European law, Roman law and Roman-Dutch law); material relating to Royal Commissions and Inquiries on legal matters, including the unpublished papers and minutes of evidence of various inquiries; war crimes material including a full set of the original papers of the Nuremberg Tribunal donated by Lord Birkett; records of the Legal Education Archives. For further background information see: Buried Treasure: some lesser-known items in the Institute of Advance Legal Studies.

Download IALS Library Collection and Retention Policy document (pdf)

University of London Colleges' Master of Laws Programmes

The Institute Library provides a comprehensive library and information service to each of the University of London colleges' LLM programmes. It aims to have all essential LLM course materials readily available for students.

Short Loan Collection

The Library's most heavily-used books, recommended by University of London LLM teachers, are kept in the Short Loan Collection behind the Enquiry Desk. To enable as many readers as possible to gain access to this material there is a time limit on all items issued from this collection.

Offprint Collection

Additional material deposited by LLM teachers for use in particular courses is kept in the Offprint Collection behind the Enquiry Desk.

Guides describing Library holdings and potential developments in key jurisdictions and international law can be found in our Research Guides section along with other useful library guides relating to the IALS collections.


The Institute has several collections of archives, held in the Library - administered by the IALS Archivist.

The IALS archives are records of the Institute itself and also various manuscripts held by the Institute.

The Records of Legal Education archives were created as part of a broader project funded by the Leverhulme Trust to investigate records of legal education. They are records of organisations and individuals connected with legal education which otherwise had no institutional home or were at risk.

You can browse collection descriptions and finding lists or search both these archives using the Senate House Libraries (SHLs) Archives Catalogue.

Digital Collections

The Institute is continuing work on digitisation initiatives to build selective collections of digital versions of rare and unusual items from its historic collections. As well as digital content creation and provision from its own collections, IALS is also involved in co-ordinated content-building with other law libraries and specialists online services.

Other Resources

  • Search the IALS Library online catalogue at http://ials.sas.ac.uk/catalogue.htm
  • Search the IALS New Acquisitions
  • Details of the Institute Library's holdings of primary foreign, international and comparative law are included in the FLAG Database.
  • Details of the Institute Library's holdings of European Official Gazettes are included in the FLARE Union List of holdings of European Legal Gazettes.
Page last updated: 20th July 2021