Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Annotated Constitution Reborn for Constitution Day

If you want to dig into the United States Constitution and how it has been interpreted by the Supreme Court, take advantage of the annotated constitution prepared by the staff of the Library of Congress.

physical volume of Annotated Constiitution with bug-eyed readerThis has gone through many editions in print (as Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation). It's a huge book (the latest edition is 2,789 pages, plus a pocket part!). As you might guess from its heft, it's packed with information.

Greatly enhancing access (and sparing the backs of researchers), editions since 1992 have been available on GovInfo.gov. HeinOnline has all the editions since 1952

But now it's even better!

The Law Library of Congress has created Constitution Annotated, an attractive web interface that lets you search or browse, as well as linking to other resources. Check out  Beyond the Constitution Annotated: Table of Additional Resources, which links to Congressional Reference Service (CRS) reports on topics as diverse as loan sharking and copyright in music. The table of Laws Held Unconstitutional in Whole or in Part by the Supreme Court allows you to sort in different ways—e.g., by subject matter, by state versus federal, and by opinion author.

Exploring a new resource (or a redesigned old resource) is a great way to celebrate Constitution Day. Take a look!

Monday, September 9, 2019

Library closes early Monday, September 16th

The Library will close at noon on Monday, September 16th for a UW Law Orientation event.

The UW Law community is still allowed to use the library but the following areas will be closed off for the event from 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm.

  • L1 Law student area
  • Library entrance
  • Computer terminals 
  • L1 Law Student Lounge 
  • L2 Student Commons
  • L2 area with the large tables 

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Farewell to Justice Stevens

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has died. His latest memoir, The Making of  a Justice,  just came out this year:

book cover - photo of Justice Stevens

Before you dig into the 549-page book, you can read about him in the National Law Journal (thanks to our license for campus-wide access):

Marcia Coyle, Justice John Paul Stevens, Who 'Left Us a Better Nation,' Dies at 99, Nat'l L.J. (July 16, 2019, 9:16 PM)

Marcia Coyle, Former Stevens Clerks Tell Us Their Strongest Memories of 'One of a Kind' Mentor, Nat'l L.J. (July 17, 2019, 10:16 AM)

To see and hear Justice Stevens in interviews and lectures, visit this C-SPAN page.

In addition to the Court and the Constitution, Justice Stevens also loved baseball. As a boy, he saw Babe Ruth play and decades later he saw his favorite team, the Chicago Cubs, win the World Series.

Books by Justice Stevens:

The Making of  a Justice: Reflections on my First 94 Years (2019)

with William N. Eskridge Jr., Interpreting Law: A Primer on How to Read Statutes and the Constitution (2016)

Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution (2014)

Five Chiefs: A Supreme Court Memoir (2011)

The Bill of Rights: A Century of Progress (1992)

A 2012 symposium on the legacy of Justice Stevens in the Northwestern University Law Review includes a personal tribute by Professor Kathryn Watts, who was one of his clerks.

To see Justice Stevens's many law review articles (and forewords, tributes, lectures, and so on), go the Law Journal Library in HeinOnline and search for john paul stevens as author.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Summer #BookBingoNW2019 is here!

Many of us are enjoying Adult Book Bingo, from the Seattle Public Library and Seattle Arts & Lectures. You can pick up a bingo card from the display outside our library entrance or download one here.

You have easy access to all the books in Summit (Washington, Oregon, and Idaho college libraries) as well as Seattle Public Library, and your own personal collections. Reading in many subjects and genres is great, for lots of reasons. But if you wanted to, you could make a lot of Bingos with just books from the law library, and I have three examples for you.

Monday, July 1, 2019

International #JokeDay

Knock knock!
Who's there?
Cal who?
Calendar says it's International Joke Day!
To celebrate, check out our links to humor about law reviews or our Judicial Humor guide.

Of course, humor isn't always fun for everyone—or appropriate in a judicial setting. See, e.g., Lucas K. Hori, BonsMots, Buffonery, and the Bench: The Role of Humor in Judicial Opinions, 60 UCLA L. Rev. Discourse 16; Steven Lubet, Bullying from the Bench, 5 Green Bag 2d 11 (2001).

Lowering the Bar cover art
Surely you've heard a number of lawyer jokes. (Maybe your cranky uncle tells you a new one every time you mention law school.) To read about the history and sociology of lawyer jokes, check out Lowering the Bar: Lawyer Jokes and Legal Culture, by Marc Galanter; it's also available as an ebook from UW Libraries.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Too Many Results? There Are Hacks for That!

Have you ever run a search and been overwhelmed by the results you got back?

Me too. Here are a couple of my favorite hacks for focusing research to limit the results to more items that are more likely to be useful. Let's suppose we want to find law review articles and news stories about congressional oversight hearings (how do they work? what's the history? when do committees subpoena witnesses?).

Hack 1: Require Term in the Title

In Westlaw's Law Reviews & Journals database, the search "congressional oversight" turns up 4,904 documents. That's far too many to deal with. Searching for "oversight" to be in the title should help focus. And it does! "congressional oversight" & ti(oversight) gets us just 125 articles. And those articles seem highly relevant. E.g.,

  • Former Sen. Carl Levin & Elise J. Bean, Defining Congressional Oversight and Measuring Its Effectiveness, 64 Wayne L. Rev. 1 (2018)
  • Michael A. Livermore, Political Parties and Presidential Oversight, 67 Ala. L. Rev. 45 (2015)

You can do the same thing in Lexis's Law Reviews and Journals database,  "congressional oversight" yields 4,474 articles. But congressional oversight & title(oversight) yields just 116.

Note that in news databases you use "headline" instead of "title: In Major Newspapers in Lexis, "congressional oversight" turns up 7,957 stories. "congressional oversight" and headline(oversight) turns up 277.

Hack 2: Require Term to Appear a Lot

In Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law, you can require that a term appears a certain number of times with the "atleast" operator. For example, in Lexis (staying with law reviews), we can search for "congressional oversight" & atleast7(subpoena) turns up 224 articles.

In Westlaw's journals, "congressional oversight" & atleast20(hearing) brings us 569 articles. Changing it to atleast40(hearing) reduces the harvest to 204 articles. And atleast75(hearing) cuts the list to 64—articles that presumable discuss hearings a lot.

In Bloomberg Law News, "congressional oversight" turns up 408 stories. But when I add and atleast5(trump), the list is down to just 26.

Try out some searches of your own.

  • Find law review articles about "wrongful convictions" or "exonerations." How does it affect your search results if you require "exonerat!" to be in the title? How about if you require it to appear 10 times?
  • Find news stories about Columbia River dams and salmon. How many have "salmon" in the headline? 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Law Librarian Research Hack: Congressional Research Service Reports

Hack #11: Finding CRS Reports (the CRS might as well stand for “Crazy Reliable Sources”)

Within the Library of Congress lives an agency called the Congressional Research Service (CRS). The CRS exists for the sole purpose of providing members of Congress with "comprehensive and reliable legislative research and analysis that are timely, objective, authoritative and confidential." The idea is that in order to make informed decisions, legislators need accurate and unbiased information related to the topics on which they are proposing and passing laws.

CRS' research and analysis often comes in the form of reports, although the researchers also generate several other types of publications. The reports, which are on a wide range of topics, are well-researched and full of useful information. Given the thorough and nonpartisan nature of the CRS reports, they make an excellent starting point for any research project. Perhaps most helpfully, the reports are often heavily footnoted and can point you to other relevant sources (both primary and secondary). If you can find a CRS report (or really any CRS publication) on-point for your research topic, go out and buy a lottery ticket because it's your lucky day!

So where do you go to find these wonderfully useful resources? Well, there's a research guide for that! Specifically, the Gallagher Law Library's guide to Congressional Research Services Reports. The guide includes links to several resources, both free and UW licensed. Note that coverage and search capabilities for each resource varies.

For the most recent CRS materials, check out the relatively new Library of Congress repository available at crsreports.congress.gov. This site was created following passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, which directed the Librarian of Congress to make all non-confidential written CRS products freely available to the public online. It includes new publications and an ever-growing backfile of older publications (I was able to locate CRS reports from as far back as October 2008). It also has the added bonus of not only including CRS reports, but other types of publications generated by the CRS (Legal Sidebars, In Focus, and written testimony from CRS experts called before Congress). 

The site is keyword searchable, but you can also just browse through the latest publications on the site by clicking the “SEARCH” button without entering any terms in the search bar. Doing so gives you an idea of the variety of topics that members of Congress are interested in. For example, fourteen new publications were uploaded to the site yesterday (June 18, 2019). A sampling of the titles of those items include:
If you are looking for older CRS reports, you'll want to search one of the other available sources. EveryCRSReport.com in particular is easy to use and has extensive holdings (nearly 15,000 publications) dating back to the 1970s.

If you want to know more about what CRS does, there is (appropriately) a 2011 CRS report titled The Congressional Research Service and the American Legislative Process.


Imagine that a supervisor would like you to do a research project regarding the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) during your summer internship. You know nothing about the FDCPA. See if you can locate a helpful publication from the CRS on this topic. How about net neutrality? Or navy ship naming? Try using both crsreports.congress.gov and EveryCRSReport.com. Do you get the same results?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Railroads Need Law, Too

You hear a lot about the need for law to address issues raised by new technology like autonomous vehicles, drones, and robots. Folks in the Technology Law & Policy Clinic (UW Law) and the Tech Policy Lab (School of Law, Information School, Computer Science & Engineering, and other units on campus) are among those wrestling with those issues.

photo of steam locomotive in woods
Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash
But this isn't the first time the law has had to figure out how to respond to new technology. The coming of the railroads created huge challenges. You might remember from Torts class the cases about liability for fires caused by passing trains and rules about liability for injuries to railway workers. And of course, where would Civil Procedure be without Erie Railroad v. Tompkins? Beyond that one case of a man injured in Pennsylvania suing in New York federal court, think how diversity jurisdiction is shaped by the ease of transportation. If you never traveled further than you could ride a horse, you'd usually be in your home state, dealing with businesses based right there.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the completion of first transcontinental railroad. People noting the occasion include descendants of the Chinese workers who did a lot of the heavy lifting, as reported on NPR yesteerday. See the Chinese Railroad Workers Descendants Association Facebook page. For more on the Chinese immigrant experience during that era, see John R. Wunder, Gold Mountain Turned to Dust: Essays on the Legal History of the Chinese in the Nineteenth-Century American West (2018).

And for more (much more!) on railroads, see our Macfarlane Transportation Collection Guide. Robert S. Macfarlane (UW Law class of 1922) spent several decades as counsel to and then president and chairman of the Northern Pacific Railway and its successor company, Burlington Northern. (That was after serving as chief deputy prosecutor for the King County Prosecutor's Office and being a judge of the King County Superior Court. Busy guy!) In his memory, his family has created a fund that has enabled the law library to buy works in transportation law.  The Macfarlane Lounge on the fourth floor is also named in his honor.

If your summer reading tastes run to railroad history or transportation policy, there's plenty to choose from!

One last bit of railroad-and-the-law trivia: When young William O. Douglas left his family home in Yakima to go to Yale Law School, he saved money by traveling by boxcar, tending 1000 sheep for part of the way and just riding the rails the rest of the way. G. Edward White, The Anti-Judge: William O. Douglas and the Ambiguities of Individuality, 74 Va. L. Rev. 17, 22–24 (1988), HeinOnline.

Law Librarian Writing Hack: Setting Tabs in Microsoft Word

Hack # 10: Set Tabs Using Ruler to Control Formatting

Set Up -- it's best to work with tabs formatting with the ruler showing and the "Show/Hide" feature toggled to "Show." Here's how to do that:

Here’s what the blank page looks like with “Show Ruler” turned off:

Here’s what the blank page looks like with “Show Ruler” turned on. Notice the ruler above and to the left side of the document outlined in red below:
If you don't already have the ruler showing in Microsoft Word, go to the "Search" feature at the top of the ribbon and type "Show Ruler" without the quotes. When the "Show Ruler" prompt appears, click on it and the ruler will appear at the top of the document and along the left side of the document, as shown in the red outlining above.
Having the ruler visible allows you to quickly format paragraph indentations, hanging indents, change the margins, and set left, right, center, and decimal-point aligned tabs which are useful in a variety of ways, including columns, creating a table of contents, and providing other formatting to your document that makes it more reader friendly. Using the ruler allows you to do these tasks without time-consuming browsing through the Tabs to find the controls you need to accomplish these tasks.

If you don't usually work with "Show" of the "Show/Hide" feature on, you'll want to turn "Show" on while working with tabs because it allows you to see that you've only tabbed once between columns which is essential for the columns to align when you set the tabs using the ruler.

To toggle between "Show" and "Hide", go to the Home tab and look for the ¶ icon in the Paragraph section of the toolbar. Click on the ¶ icon to turn on "Show" and the icon will appear highlighted. To turn off show, just click on the ¶ icon again and "Hide" will be on.

Note: The Show/Hide feature is showing or hiding the non-printing formatting marks, such as returns at the end of paragraphs, tabs in tabular materials, manual page breaks, manual line breaks, etc. Being able to see those formatting marks hastens any troubleshooting you need to do while formatting your Word document. With "hide" on you don't see the formatting marks, and for instance, couldn't see that you had inadvertently hit the tab key twice between one row of your columnar material and that's why it's not aligning to the tab you set. With "show" on, you would quickly spot the errant extra tab.

Here, for instance is how tabs and returns appear when Show is turned on:
This is a tab formatting mark  √†  and this    is the return formatting mark.

Now that you have your Ruler showing and Show turned on, we're ready to set some tabs using the Ruler. Here is a description of some of the features in the tab/indent ruler box in the upper left above the left-side vertical ruler. For today's hack, were focusing on the tab features rather than the indent features:

Tab Types:
To set the tabs you click on the tab icon to pick your tab type (left, centered, right, decimal or bar) and then point your cursor on the ruler and click where you want to set that tab. The column for that tab will align in the manner you specify by the tab in the ruler. Below is a sample of columnar material before the tabs are set. There is one tab between each column but the tabs haven't been set yet.

Day        Time      Location

Monday               8:30 AM               Room 1422
Monday               9:45 AM               Room 124
Tuesday               10:00 AM            Room 755
Wednesday        8:30 AM               Room 1422
Thursday             12:30 PM             Room 444
Friday 2:30 PM  Room 297

Use your cursor to highlight the lines of the columns above, anchoring on "Day" and highlighting through "Room 297".  Then click on the tab block (the square at the left ruler edge) until the “Center Tab” icon appears to specify that you are setting a centered tab. Then click on the ruler to insert the center tab.
The centered tab is circled in the ruler above, and you notice that the times are all centered in the column after the tab symbol in the text.
With the columns still highlighted, now click on the tab block until the “Right Tab” icon appears. Then click on the ruler to insert the right tab. Now the Room numbers are right aligned to that tab.

I want to even out the spacing between columns two (Time) and three (Location), and I want to add a bar tab between the columns two and three.

The first step evens out the spacing between columns (sliding the centered tab over on the ruler); the second step inserts the line between columns as below:

Step 1, moving the centered tab over in the ruler:
Highlight the columns and using the cursor, drag the centered tab in the Ruler you'd previously set to the right until you are satisfied with the new location of the column. Note: If you don't highlight all columns you want to move, only the rows highlighted will move.
Step 2, adding the bar tab between the columns:
With the columns still highlighted, click on the tab block at the left edge of the ruler until the “Bar Tab” icon appears. Then click on the ruler to insert the bar tab, once between column one (Day) and column two (Time) and again to insert the bar tab between column 2 (Time) and column 3 (Location).

And this is what the printed tabbed material will look like (or what it will look like if you toggle the Show/Hide icon to Hide):

Why does using set tabs matter? Setting tabs allows you easy control of what your columnar material looks like for the reader.  Word uses a default tab setting of five spaces between tabs, and people using Word who don’t know how to use tabs correctly often put multiple tabs in between columns to get the columns to line up, or they may use a combination of multiple tabs and spaces to get the alignment they want. This can lead to jumbled copy if the end-user has changed the default setting for tabs on their version of Word.

Setting the tabs with the Ruler controls the alignment despite any default settings a user might have in place and allows you to use just one tab and no spaces between columns of material. It’s faster for the writer and gives a guaranteed alignment of the tabbed material.

Practice Time:  Type three columns of material, with one tab between each column.  Include one column that has numbers with a decimal point. Use the Ruler to set tabs for each column, using the "Decimal Tab" for the column that has the numbers.

Do you have questions about features in Microsoft Word for future Law Library Writing Hacks? Send your questions to csfester@uw.edu. For more guidance with Microsoft Word, see the Gallagher Law Library Guide Word Tips for Legal Writers.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Proofreading Tip: Have your computer read your document to you

It’s hard to proofread your own writing because you read what you think you wrote instead of what you wrote.

One way to hear how the text sounds is to get someone to read it to you. But do you really want to bug your friends and colleagues to read all your memos back to you?

Instead, you can get a Microsoft voice to do it. This blog post explains how:
Sarah Gotschall, Harness the Melodic Robotic Voices of Our Eventual Overlords Now to Improve Your Proofreading!, RIPS Law Librarian Blog (June 6, 2019).

You can change the voice and the speed that it reads by going into Windows Settings.

Word document with superimposed cartoon of talking face

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Law Librarian Research Hack: Docket Tracking

Hack #9: Setting up alerts in Bloomberg to track new docket entries. 

Do you need to keep track of an ongoing case but don't want to waste your time looking it up every day just to discover that there have been no updates? Then consider setting up an alert with Bloomberg! By setting up an alert, the database will send you frequent updates when new docket entries have been added. You can customize your alert and track multiple cases at once! Using this "set it and forget it" technique you can take comfort in knowing that you will be notified when new entries are added. 

If you have a docket that you would like regular updates for, you first need to log into Bloomberg (subscription required) and locate that docket. Once in the docket, on the left side of "General Info" there is a "Track Docket" button. 

Pro tip: Note that there is also an "Update Docket" button. It is always wise to update any docket when you are viewing its contents. 

Picture of docket in Bloomberg with "Track Docket" highlighted

In the "Track Docket Options" box, customize how you would like to receive this alert. You can add your own personal tags*, description, search terms, pick your frequency (weekly, daily, custom), and what time in the day you would like the alert. Add your email in the "distribute to" box. You can add multiple emails so you can easily have alerts sent to your work and personal emails. You can even send them to your colleague or peers! Once you click "Accept" you are set up to receive alerts! 

Track docket box that allows users to customize their alerts.

If you need to modify or delete any of your alerts, go to the top of any Bloomberg page and click on the "My Work History" tab and select "Alerts" and click on "Manage Your Alerts." You will be able to view your alerts on the "Alerts Management" page. The edit feature is on the far right column, you can click on the pencil icon of any alert to update or change that alert. If you would like to delete an alert, select the alert and click "Delete". 

Alert management page with an alert. The edit feature is highlighted on the far right column.

*Personal tags can be added by going to the "Settings" tab on the "Alerts Management" page. 

Practice exercise! 
Log into Bloomberg and select the docket option. Type in "U.S. Supreme Court Dockets" in the "Courts" search bar. Then add docket number "17-778" (Jamar Alonzo Quarles vs. United States) and click "Search". Click into the case and follow the instructions above to create a docket tracking alert. Then go into the "Alerts Management" page to see how you can modify your alert. 

Friday, May 31, 2019

HeinOnline Introduces Venn Diagram Visualization

When you were introduced to searching, someone probably drew a couple of circles to show that searching for one term AND another term gives you the intersection of two sets. Now HeinOnline has introduced (in beta) a way to generate those circles (Venn diagrams) in actual searches in its databases.  Just go to Advanced Search and select Venn Diagram Search.

Suppose I'm interested in articles about potential Rule 11 sanctions for sloppy legal research. Searching for "rule 11" AND "legal research" AND shepard* AND keycite give me a list of articles (as always) but also shows me the comparative frequency of the terms in the database. "Legal research" and "rule 11" have big circles that intersect in a sliver. "Keycite" has just a little circle; "shepard*" has a bigger circle, both because Shepard's is a much older product and because "Shepard" is a fairly common name. The intersection is the result of the search.

intersecting colored circles labeled "legal research" etc. (as in text)

Just for fun I tried "star wars" AND "bob dylan" AND elvis (again, in the Law Journal  Library) and got this:

intersecting circles labeled "bob dylan" (small circle), "star wars", and "elvis"

You can use Venn Diagram Searching across all HeinOnline databases or within one. For instance, in U.S. Congressional Documents Library, I searched for obamacare and "pre-existing condition."

In the U.S. Supreme Court Library, I searched for "burger king" AND "international shoe" AND penoyer AND "personal jurisdiction" and got this nice diagram:

colored circles - largest is labeled "personal jurisdiction"

You can click any of the circles or intersections to see the documents that have those terms. 

Try this out: it's fun!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Law Librarian Research Hack: There's a research guide for that!

Hack #8: Using non-law research guides from other disciplines and other institutions

Photograph of assorted colored wooden road signs going in different directions.
Photo by Bit Cloud on Unsplash
The Gallagher Law Library has a list of research guides to help you navigate your way through researching a spectrum of legal topics and areas of law. Research guides are compiled by librarians or subject specialists who have done the work of finding relevant and authoritative resources for you. They're the perfect jump start to help direct your research process and make it more efficient and organized.

But what if there's not a legal research guide on your topic? Getting started can feel overwhelming. Most legal topics are inter-disciplinary, so you can look to non-law research guides for help. Fortunately, our friends at UW Libraries have 468 research guides in 56 subjects that are available to you!

Researching the history of animal rights or gender rights and can't find a legal research guide? Guess, what? UW Libraries has research guides on these subjects! If you're researching animal rights, start by looking at the guides alphabetically by subject and you'll find the Animal Studies guide. This guide includes a link to Michigan State University's Animal Legal & Historical Center where you can find information and resources on animal issues by legal topic, compare laws across 50 states, as well as find articles and other resources. It's a guide within a guide! If you're researching gender rights, consider consulting the Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies guide, also available to find by subject. In addition to traditional print and online resources, guides like this one include video and image resources, too.

You might be thinking that this is all really great, but what if the Law Library and UW Libraries do not have a research guide on a topic you're researching, like autonomous vehicles? You can look to research guides from other institutions! How do I do that, you ask? Here is a very scientific way: Go to Google, type research guide [enter your subject/topic] into the search bar, and press enter.

Photograph of Google with research guide autonomous vehicles typed into search bar.
Voila! There's a research guide for that! In fact, within the first page of results there are three great research guides for autonomous vehicles (consult your friendly librarian for help determining a reputable research guide): the NCSL Guide on Autonomous Vehicles, the AAMVA Autonomous Vehicle Information Library and Northwestern University Libraries guide on Motor Vehicles & Drivers: Autonomous Vehicles.

Research guides outside of your institution may link to freely accessible resources, but they may also link to resources only available to patrons of that institution. For example, the Northwestern University guide lists a book titled Autonomous driving: technical, legal and social aspects that is hyperlinked to their library catalog. Of course you can't check this item out from their library, but you can copy the title of the book into the UW Libraries catalog to see if we have it, and we do!
Photograph of title search for "Autonomous driving: technical, legal and social aspects" in UW Libraries catalog.

Practice exercise!
See if you can find a research guide from UW libraries on a topic of your choice. Under Start Your Research, click on research guides and look By Subject, All Guides, or enter your subject or keyword(s) into the Search for Guides search bar. Did you find a research guide on your topic? Or related guide(s) with relevant information and resources?

Now see if you can find a research guide from another institution by searching in Google as described above. Did you find legal and non-legal research guides? See if you can find a book in one of the research guides that UW libraries has, too. Maybe you just found your next book to read!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Research Hack: Ways to Browse & Search for New Articles

Want to follow new scholarship in your area? Want to search for articles? Want to do it free? Check out the Digital Commons Network and SSRN.

Digital Commons Network

Hundreds of colleges and universities use Digital Commons, a platform for posting publications by faculty, students, departments, and so on. The institutions pay to use the platform, but finding papers and downloading them is free to users.

UW Law is among those hundreds of institutions: UW Law Digital Commons has a growing collection of papers by faculty, articles and comments from the Washington Law Review and the Washington International Law Journal, and more.

Of course it's fun to browse UW Law's pages, but for research it's much more powerful to browse or search whole Digital Commons Network. A colorful wheel gives you a graphical way to visualize the different fields that are covered.

Digital Commons subject wheel. The caption in the center is
"Explore 3,166,425 works from 586 institutions."
A pop-up over part of the orange ring says "Explore Judges."
At the upper left is data about what's in the collection under Judges—
Works: 5,463; Institutions: 144; Downloads: 1,874,756

Monday, May 20, 2019

Games in the library!

To anyone who thinks gamification is a 21st century phenomenon, West's Great American Case Race would beg to differ.

Published in 1984, this game leads 2-4 players through the peaks and pitfalls of legal research. Advancing around the board, the players can draw Westlaw and Lexis cards to earn points and purchase cases to win the game.

Image of the Case Race game board

Of course, the cards pretty clearly reflect who the game publisher is:
  • "Use West Key Numbers from your Reporter to locate latest cases on point in WESTLAW. Easy, Fast, Efficient. Score 3 points or advance up to 2 spaces" 
  • "LEXIS service is easy to learn and changes little over time, because it's rarely improved. Score 3 points or advance up to 2 spaces."
  • "Your LEXIS mug leaks, getting coffee on your keyboard. Lose 3 points."  
They're also pretty indicative of the era:
  • "The telephone company goes on strike, knocking out all data networks. Lose 3 points."
  • "Your IBM PC is compatible with WESTLAW. Score 5 points or advance up to 4 spaces."
  • "Your fingers are too big to type on the UBIQ terminal. Too many typing mistakes cost you time and money. Lose 2 points."

So if you ever want to take a break and be grateful for the ease of modern legal research platforms, you can always check out the Great American Case Race.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Norway Constitution Day in Ballard—and Any Constitution on @HeinOnline

Happy Syttende Mai! Celebrating the signing of the Norwegian constitution in 1814, the festivities were suppressed by the Swedish government for years: although the constitution said that Norway was an independent nation, it wasn't truly separated from Sweden until 1905.

Photo of 2017 Syttende Mail parade, from 17th of May Festival website
You can hop a bus to Ballard for a variety of events today, topped off by a parade at 6:00.

If you want to build your knowledge of the constitution of Norway or just about any other country, visit HeinOnline's World Constitutions Illustrated collection. It includes books, articles, an bibliographies. It even has a page of external links to quickly get you to some great websites about comparative constitutional law.

You can research Armenia or Zimbabwe, but since it's May 17, let's look at Norway
  • Under Constitutions and Fundamental Laws, we find that 1814 constitution (but the only translations are into German and Danish. But we can also find an English translation from 2018, including amendments up to then. The translation is unofficial, since the Norwegians use the Norwegian text, but the translation is by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, so it's probably pretty good.
  •  Under Commentaries & Other Relevant Sources, we find various works, some comparative and some just on Norway (e.g., H. L. Braekstad, Constitution of the Kingdom of Norway: An Historical and Political Survey (1905)).
  • Another tab gives us articles curated by the HeinOnline editors.
  • Finally, we see a bibliography and links to other sites.
And remember, you can get this range of material for lots of countries! We can all drink to that! As they say in Ballard (and Norway too): Skol!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Law Librarian Research Hack: Survey Says!

Hack #6: Using 50-State or Multi-State Surveys

A little girl looks at a map of the United States
Photo credit: @loney_planet on Unsplash

50-State or Multi-State Surveys are compilations of state statutes or regulations on a particular topic. They can be incredibly valuable when you need to quickly track down laws from multiple jurisdictions.

As an illustration of just how useful they can be, imagine yourself in this scenario: It's 4:00 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. A partner in your firm just asked you to pull the law on adverse possession for each state in the Ninth and Tenth Circuits before you go home for the weekend. You were hoping to leave the office at 4:30 p.m. to beat traffic as you head out of town for your annual pilgrimage to Viking Fest in Poulsbo, Washington. Two alternate endings to this story are:

1. You Google each state and "adverse possession" and sort through the results hoping that one of them will lead you to the correct statutory citation. You compile the list, fret about whether or not it is accurate, submit it to the partner at 6:00 p.m., get in your car, and eventually make it to Poulsbo (after sitting in some brutal traffic). Throughout the weekend, you are worried about the quality of your work and, as a result, are too nervous to participate in the annual donut eating contest.

2. You pull up the 50-State survey on adverse possession in Westlaw's 50 State Statutory Surveys or through the National Survey of State Laws on HeinOnline. You quickly gather the information for the states in question, consolidate it into a memo to the partner, review the actual statutes to verify the information is accurate and up-to-date, send it off, and hit the road by 4:45 p.m. The partner is impressed with the quick turn-around and your relaxed mindset allows you to handily win the lutefisk eating contest.

Clearly we'd all prefer the latter scenario (perhaps minus the lutefisk), and you can see how 50-State or Multi-Jurisdiction surveys can make your research more efficient.

There are a number of places where you can track down these surveys and many of the available resources are outlined for you in the Gallagher Law Library's 50-State & Multi-Jurisdiction Surveys research guide. By far the most comprehensive listing of available state surveys is the Subject Compilations of State Laws by our very own Cheryl Nyberg. This publication outlines available topical surveys from a number of different sources, including Westlaw, Lexis, law review articles, court opinions or briefs, relevant organizations, and more! You can either browse by topic or (if using the electronic version available through HeinOnline) run a keyword search,

As a practical matter, always be sure to note the date the survey was created and verify that the citations listed are accurate by actually reviewing the statute.

Practice exercise!

Using the Subject Compilation of State Laws on HeinOnline, locate a survey containing state voter ID laws and identify the citation for your home state. Use Westlaw, Lexis, or your state legislature's website to confirm the citation is accurate.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Free Infographic Templates from Piktochart!

Looking for an easy way to create a snazzy infographic without paying a subscription fee?  Try Piktochart!

Many graphics apps have some features available for free, but fancy templates are mostly limited to subscribers who pay a monthly fee.  Earlier this month, Piktochart made all of its templates available to users for free!  This includes templates for infographics, presentations, reports, flyers and posters.  The only catch is that free users can only create up to 5 "visuals."  For a monthly fee, subscribers can create unlimited visuals and get access to additional functionalities.

If none of the Piktochart templates are right for your project, you can build your own visual from scratch!  For example, this timeline (featured on the Gallagher Law Library Employment and Labor Law Guide) was created using Piktochart:

U.S. Labor & Employment Law timeline

It couldn't be easier!  So get those creative juices flowing!