Friday, September 21, 2007

First Years - Be better Lexis and Westlaw searchers

All of you 1Ls out there, become better Lexis and Westlaw searchers. Sure, you can sign on and use it now. But, are you finding the best information, most efficiently??? These are complex, sophisticated systems. Learn to take advantage of them and become power searchers.

Classes will be held in the lower level computer lab in the Library during the weeks of September 24, October 1 and October 8. The schedule posted in the Library. Each class will take 1.5 hours and will cover both Lexis AND Westlaw. You should sign up at the Circulation desk in the Library. You need to sign up for only one of the classes. Class space is limited to 15 so make sure to sign up early so that you get your first choice of dates and times.
You will need your registered LEXIS and WESTLAW customized usernames and passwords. Make sure to have them both when you go to your class. If you do not have either, please make sure to go to the Reference desk and speak with a librarian so that you can register your password or authorization code prior to coming to class.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Information About Presidential Signing Statements

The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy offers in PDF format a comprehensive index of presidential signing statements issued between 2001 and 2007. According to the Society's Web site, "the index, compiled by Neil Kinkopf, associate professor of law at Georgia State University College of Law and former special assistant in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice, provides a comprehensive list of every provision of a law objected to by the White House in a signing statement, the reason for the objection, and a link to the relevant signing statement".

In addition, the index assigns each objection to one or more categories, from a base set of twenty-three. These categories include constitutional, doctrinal, structural, and other justifications for objection.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Law Library of Congress Website

The Law Library of Congress, "the world's largest collection of law books and legal resources," has just announced its newly redesigned website at The site provides links to the Library's research guides and databases, such as Guide to the Law Online and the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN), an international legal database with official full texts of published documents from countries around the world. Two new resources are especially useful for law students. Take a look at the Congressional Hearings project, which provides full-text, PDF access to selected historical Congressional committee hearings on three topics: immigration; freedom of information/privacy; and the U.S. Census. These hearings are just samples of a much larger group from the Library's collection that will be digitized and made available. Also new and helpful are the Foreign and International Law Guides, designed as a starting point for research in this area, with individual guides for a selection of countries.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

21st Century Library workshops

What are the 21st Century Library workshops? The librarians have put together a number of 50 minute workshops that identify and demonstrate online resources other than Lexis or Westlaw. The workshops are topical or focus on a specific resource providing descriptions of the resources and why they should be used. Research strategies and tips are a bonus.

Effective and efficient legal research means knowing there are a number of resources available and understanding the purpose of each and when to use them. A common critique we hear from law firm librarians is that students are too quick to use Lexis or Westlaw when another tool is more appropriate for their research task.

21st Century Library workshops goal is to expose our students to additional online tools.

All workshops are held in the lower level computer lab. Registration for a workshop is not required. Look for announcements closer to the dates of the workshops.

Tentative schedule for workshops during the Fall 2007 semester.

Week of 10/1 – Paper Writing resources

Week of 10/15 – Health Law research

Week of 10/29 - U.S. Government Information

Week of 11/5 – LexisNexis Congressional Universe

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Monday, September 17, 2007

Constitution Day

Celebrate Constitution Day by visiting the Constitution page at the National Archives Experience.
The web site offers high resolution images of the Constitution, information about the Constitutional Convention and dozens of interesting facts.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Sunday, September 16, 2007


If you're finding the interface of a government-provided legal information site hard to use, or if you would like an alternative to Cornell's Legal Information Institute, LawGuru's Legal Research Tool tries to offer one-stop shopping for searching free online legal information. LawGuru also provides a good set of links on its Internet Law Library. These sites are by no means comprehensive--one should not necessarily assume that they search or link to all of the legal information that is available on the internet, or the best or most recent, but they are helpful. LawGuru's compilation of Weird Laws also has some entertaining entries.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat