Effective July 13, 2020

Admittance to the Library will be by appointment only.

Both security and Covid-19 health screenings are required for persons entering the courthouse.  Until further notice, Social Law Membership cards and/or bar cards will not suffice.

On June 24, the Supreme Judicial Court issued an order, effective July 1, regarding the operation of Massachusetts state courts and courthouses during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As the SJC explains, while court offices will continue “to conduct business virtually as much as possible” they will cautiously “reopen to the public for limited purposes” on July 13, 2020.  See press release.

Consistent with the SJC’s constrained standard of admittance, on July 13 the Social Law Library will also reopen on a curtailed basis.

Admittance to the Library will be restricted to a limited number of Library members and only by appointment after a determination that physical presence in the Library is the sole means of conducting research on a vitally important matter that cannot otherwise be satisfied virtually or by the Reference Attorneys.

Members should bear in mind that if they need an item from the collection, the Circulation staff (617-226-1500 or can retrieve it and fax or PDF it when permitted by copyright.  Further, by agreement with Courthouse Security, if  information cannot be electronically delivered, essential books and other items can be safely picked up and returned inside the main entrance to the John Adams Courthouse or can be mailed to your office or home.

The Library’s hours will be from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and staffing will continue to comprise only Reference Attorneys and other employees who must be on site.

Social Law staff will be scheduling patrons for 3 hour blocks of time only, one group in the morning from 9 am to 12 pm and the other group in the afternoon from 1 pm to 4 pm. In order to ensure proper social distancing, the Library will limit the number of patrons in each block to four in the morning and another four in the afternoon.

Request for Admittance to Library

A member who wishes to request admittance to the Library must do so by completing the Request for Admittance form which may be found and submitted for consideration at

Reference Attorneys will review each Request, and, if necessary, contact the member to discuss research options to determine whether the Request may be fulfilled without entering the Library. If the Request demonstrates a need for the member to visit the Library, via email the Library will schedule with the member a specific date and time.

Admission to the Courthouse

If the request to use the Library is approved, members will receive a confirmation email that must be presented to Courthouse Security at the entrance of the Courthouse. The Library will also alert the security officers to let approved members pass through to the Library after the building’s health and safety requirements are satisfied.

Court security will not allow anyone without an appointment to proceed to the Library. All members must follow the application procedure described above.

Both security and Covid-19 health screenings are required for persons entering the courthouse. (See SJC July 7 Order for details). Until further notice, Social Law Membership cards and/or bar cards will not suffice.

While at the Library

While at the Library, all members must adhere to the health and other safety protocols described below.

  • Before entering the Library, members will be screened at the service window and be given a simple and straightforward list of safety protocols to follow while using the facility such as to wear gloves when selecting materials from the shelves and where to leave the materials so that they can be properly sanitized.

  • At all times while in the Library, members are required to observe proper hygiene, including use of the Library-provided hand sanitizer, practice physical distancing and wear face masks (except when seated at a designated workstation or table).

  • So as to ensure proper physical distancing members must work at Library-approved, properly-spaced workstations and tables. Each work area will be sanitized by Library staff before and after each use.

  • So that Library materials may be sanitized after handling, if a member obtains materials from the shelving or elsewhere, they are to be taken to the workstation or table occupied by that member and not left elsewhere. Members are not to re-shelve materials, but are to leave them at their workstation or table or on one of the book carts designated for that purpose. When selecting materials from the shelves, members shall wear gloves.

  • It is strongly preferred, but not required, that members visiting the Library bring their own laptops rather than using those at the Library’s workstations.Should members wish to use Library computers, they will be issued sanitized keyboards and mice.

A maximum number of four members will be permitted in the Library at any one time, unless a lesser number is necessary to ensure that the number of persons within the Courthouse does not exceed the occupancy limits established to protect public health and permit physical distancing.

Updated August 7, 2020