Guided Tour in a Civil Law Library: Sources and Basic Legal Materials in French Civil and Commercial Law

Lawyers everywhere rely upon their books with eagerness and confidence. The larger their libraries, the better equipped they feel to answer the questions of their clients. The composition of an average library differs somewhat in France and in the United States. In this country the law reports, in their familiar, substantial and elegant bindings, are displayed on the prominent shelves, while in Europe, the law reports-often merely paper bound-are relegated to some corner. The front place is reserved for the leather bindings and the gilt letters of the treatises bearing the names of outstanding authors in the various fields of the law.

It could be said that a law library reflects the legal system of a given country. The patient labor required of a European lawyer to understand the American system of law is, in a sense, but a long journey during which he finds, step by step, an answer to the wonders which surrounded him when first visiting an American law library. The same is certainly true for the American lawyer who desires to learn something about another system of law. Extensive research on the meaning and the content of the books seen on the shelves of a foreign law library will be required.