Friday, May 21, 2010

Librarian Publication: Subject Compilations of State Laws

What would you do if you had to find all the state laws on animal cruelty? Or foreclosure mediation programs? Or sex education in public schools?

You could start looking them up, one by one: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, . . . But wouldn't it be great if someone else had already done the heavy lifting?

Surveys of state laws can show up in a variety of places: e.g., law review articles, websites of advocacy groups, briefs, treatises. The trick is finding them.

And here's where reference librarian Cheryl Nyberg makes life easier for you (and other legal researchers around the country). She scans thousands of sources, looking for the footnotes and charts that compare state laws on different topics, then she cites them in an organized list so that you can find them and use them.

The latest volume in her series -- which she's been producing since 1984 -- is Subject Compilations of State Laws 2008-2009: An Annotated Bibliography (KF1 .S93 2008-09 at Reference Office).

Cool as this series of books is, it's now even better in an electronic format. All of the entries (going back to articles published in 1960) can now be searched on HeinOnline. And if the law review cited is available on HeinOnline, you can link right to it.

This is a great online tool. And it's a good illustration of how the best electronic tools take advantage of an intelligent person's work, searching for information, evaluating it, annotating it, and organizing it -- all to make your research more efficient.

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