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Local and Municipal Law Research: Getting Started

This research guide contains resources to accompany Professor Dernbach's Sustainability Law and Practice Course.

Starting Your Research

As in all projects, unless you are already knowledgeable about the topic area, it is best to start with introductory resources and then to consult more focused works; moving from secondary to primary resources.

Articles, books and government documents can provide you with an overview of your topic and help you think of search terms that you might not have thought of otherwise. They will also cite primary authorities such as statutes and case law. You can then use the primary sources cited in the secondary sources as a jumping off point to find other primary sources.

Accessing Databases From Off Campus

Some of the databases linked to in this Guide are subscription databases. Access is available to these databases on the Widener campus and off.

Bloomberg Law & Lexis & Westlaw - all Widener students have an individual password to Bloomberg, Lexis & Westlaw. If you have trouble with your password please contact Ed Sonnenberg

IntelliConnect - Before using IntelliConnect you must register for a username and password. 

Other databases - When using other databases off campus you may be prompted for your name and library barcode number. The library barcode number is the 14 digit number printed on the back of your student ID.

Search the Library Catalog

Finding Books in the Library

Materials in the Widener University Libraries are classed according to the Library of Congress classification schedule.  You may perform a subject, author, or title search in the online library catalog ( to find materials in the Widener libraries.

You can also perform a keyword search.  A keyword search is a broader search and you will likely receive more hits than if you performed a subject specific search.


Free Library of Philadelphia

A Free Library card is available at no cost to anyone who lives, works, pays taxes, or goes to school in the City of Philadelphia. In addition, anyone who lives in the state of Pennsylvania can obtain a Free Library card without charge.


Finding Articles

Finding Articles 

To locate articles on legal topics, perform a search in one of the databases below.  Some databases provide full-text display of articles while others only provide citations to, or abstracts of, articles.  The following databases are listed on the library's webpage under the Research Tools feature or by going directly to:

These databases may be accessed off-campus. You will need the number printed above the barcode on the back of your Widener ID. 

Requires a username and password, which is supplied to Widener Law students and faculty.

Scholarly, business, health and other journals. Also includes newspapers and general magazines.

Includes ArticleFirstand ECO, indexes to general, non-legal periodicals. Indexes only, no full-text.

Fulltext Sources Online
An index that helps you locate online journals. See Reference Librarian for password.

Google Scholar

Full-text legal journals in PDF format. Usually covers each journal back to the first volume.
Also includes: European Center for Minority Issues, Federal Register Library, Code of Federal Regulations, Legal Classics, Philip C. Jessup Library, Session Laws, Treaties and Agreements Library, U.S. Attorney General Opinions, U.S. Federal Legislative History Library, U.S. Presidential Library, U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Supreme Court Library.

Index to Legal Periodicals and Books
Index to law reviews, journals and books. Some full text available.

JSTOR is an online collection of journals in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

Law Library Microform Consortium
Older federal executive, judicial and legislative documents available online.
Click "Choose" under Search to begin searching.

Index to legal journals and newspapers, includes selected full-text articles.
LegalTrac replaces Legal Resource Index.

Requires a username and password, which is supplied to Widener Law students and faculty.

Case law, statutes, court rules and treatises. 

General magazines and periodicals online. Including historical New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

Publications and information from the United States Congress. Includes bills, laws, reports, Congressional Record, legislative histories and news.
Requires a username and password, which is supplied to Widener Law students and faculty.

For a full list of every online journal, periodical, newspaper or other database available through the Widener libraries use our A to Z Electronic Title List.


* Illiad connection only works on campus.

Inter Library Loan

Obtaining Books and Articles through InterLibrary Loan

If none of the Widener libraries owns the book or article you need, you may request it through InterLibrary Loan.  ILLiad is the InterLibrary Loan service used by Widener.  Please note that you must first register for ILLiad before you can request materials through InterLibrary Loan.  To register, click here for instructions on registering and creating interlibrary loan requests.  

Most photocopies will be delivered electronically.  You will be notified via your Widener email account with a link to your article, which will be in pdf format.

All InterLibrary Loans, except copied articles, must be returned to the Information Desk by the due date.

Subject Guide

Google Scholar

Google Scholar Search