Carrel Shelf Application

To apply for a carrel shelf, you must submit a completed Law Library Carrel Shelf Application Form.

Carrel Assignment Requirements and Procedures

Law Library carrel shelves are only available for the following patrons:

  • S.J.D. candidates without assigned office space
  • LL.M. students researching a thesis or written work requirement
  • J.D. candidates satisfying a third year written work requirement
  • Officially registered HLS Visiting Researchers and Visiting Scholars
  • Harvard University Fellows and Ph.D. candidates with Law Faculty sponsors

Applicants must be able to provide a Law Faculty or program sponsor or advisor to apply for a carrel shelf at the Law Library.

If there are too many applicants for carrel shelves, you may be asked to share a single carrel shelf with another person.

Carrel Space

Carrel shelves are only assigned to patrons who show a need to use a large amount of Law Library material. Books from other Harvard libraries cannot be checked out to Law Library carrels.

You are only reserving the upper hold shelf, not the desk or seating. Carrel seating remains open and available to all Law Library patrons at all times, even when the upper hold shelf is reserved. Other people are allowed to sit at your carrel.

Areas in and around the carrel are not reserved space. The desk area must be kept clear of books and research material. Plan your research accordingly to ensure that you do not use more books than your carrel hold shelf can house at one time. Carrels containing too many books may be reshelved by library staff to ensure access to work space for all Law Library patrons.


It is your responsibility to keep your assigned carrel shelf neat and tidy. Books must be shelved upright on the hold shelf with the spines visible and may not be left on their sides, open, or in any other disorderly fashion. For carrels near windows, books may not be left on window sills.

Do not attach adhesive notes, push pins, clip-on lamps, etc. or leave any personal material in your carrel. Personal material will be removed by library staff.

The Law Library cannot be held responsible for any personal belongings that are left on carrel shelves.

Food and Drink

Food is not allowed inside the Law Library. Any food found in or around a carrel will be removed immediately.

Beverages are allowed as long as they are in cups or bottles with attached covers. Cups without lids are not allowed in the Law Library.

Charging Law Library Materials To Your Carrel Shelf

A borrowing card is kept at the circulation desk that corresponds with your carrel shelf number.

To charge a book out to your carrel, bring it to the circulation desk and tell the staff member your carrel number. Circulation staff will then check the book out to your carrel and insert a colored strip with your carrel number into the book. This slip must remain in the book at all times to show that is properly checked out to your carrel. Law Library books left on carrels that do not have colored slips will be reshelved.

Books charged to a carrel shelf are not allowed to leave the building. If you want to take a book out of the library, you must check it out to your personal library account.

Law Library staff will check your carrel shelf regularly to make sure all books are charged out properly. Books that are not charged out properly will be reshelved.

It is best that you only leave properly checked out Law Library books on your carrel to ensure that you do not take up too much space. Books from other Harvard libraries left on carrel shelves are the responsibility of the carrel holder.

Materials That Cannot Be Checked Out To A Carrel Shelf

  • Reference and Reserve materials
  • Primary Law materials (statutes, codes, case reporters, etc.)
  • Pre-1900 materials
  • Looseleafs
  • Materials from other Harvard libraries
  • Items obtained through Interlibrary Loan or Borrow Direct

Carrel Recalls and Other Fair Use Policies

Occasionally, another library patron will want to use one of the books on your carrel shelf for a short time. They are allowed to do this but are required to return the book to your carrel shelf.

Materials charged to your carrel shelf are subject to recall for Reserves if they are needed for a Law School class.

Recalls are allowed on carrel books for Law School faculty only. If a book needs to be taken from your carrel for this purpose, you will be notified via e-mail.


Please direct questions about carrels to Alethea Jones,, 617-496-5510.