Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Did Santa Bring You Stolen Art?

We don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer this holiday season, but thefts of artwork and cultural property are part of a billion-dollar black market. Collectors of art and antiques should protect their own treasures from theft, as well as educate themselves to prevent unknowingly acquiring stolen pieces from unscrupulous dealers.

The FBI makes it easy with a searchable National Stolen Art File, launched in late November as part of the Bureau’s website redesign. The database includes information on stolen artwork and cultural property which is valued at more than $2,000. Also worth a look is the FBI’s general Art Theft page, which includes resources to report thefts, advice for protecting against losses, and the Bureau’s fascinating list of “Top Ten Art Crimes.”

The FBI is not the only organization which is concerned with stolen art. INTERPOL also maintains a resource page about art theft, although their database requires approved registration in order to perform advanced searches (access to recently-reported thefts is freely available).

The recovery of stolen works is just one facet of what is known as "art law." To learn more about the unique legal issues related to art and cultural property, search the Duke Libraries’ catalog for the subject keywords "Law and Art – United States" and "Artists – Legal status, laws, etc. – United States," or Ask a Librarian.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Understanding the New Tax Law

It's been hard to ignore the last few weeks of debate about the massive tax legislation working its way through Congress. A controversial “compromise” plan, engineered in part by the White House, passed the U.S. House of Representatives close to midnight on Thursday, December 16.

Just a few hours later, the major tax research databases were announcing the publication of updated commentary and analysis of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act (H.R. 4853 – THOMAS bill summary and text). Researchers at Duke Law have access to three premium tax resources: BNA’s Tax and Accounting Center, CCH IntelliConnect, and RIA Checkpoint. Since research in these services can be overwhelming to novice users, here are detailed roadmaps to their expert commentaries on the new tax law.
  • BNA Tax and Accounting Center: Follow the path Federal Tax > Tax Legislation > BNA Analysis of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, passed by the House and Senate.
  • CCH IntelliConnect: Follow this path in the “Browse” menu: Federal Tax > Federal Tax Legislation > Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010: Law, Explanation & Analysis. Note that IntelliConnect requires a username and password, which can be created with your Duke email address.
  • RIA Checkpoint: The full text of RIA’s “Complete Analysis of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, RIC Modernization, and Other Late 2010 Tax Provisions” is currently linked from the database home page, and is also searchable from the “Research” tab underneath “Legislation (Editorial Analysis and Source Material).”
Just sixteen hours after its passage in the House, the President signed the bill into public law, illustrating the value of these electronic services as sources for news and analysis on the latest developments in tax law. For more sources of information on federal tax, check out the library’s research guide or Ask a Librarian.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A New Congressional Staff Directory

Earlier this year, we rounded up some Duke databases which can help identify Congressional staff members, and asked the question: “Do any free Internet sources stack up to CQ and the Yellow Book?”

Last week, a new online resource entered the fray when the Sunlight Foundation, a government transparency organization, released a beta directory of all employees from the U.S. House of Representatives. Sunlight's House Staff Directory contains data from the third quarter of 2009 to present. The data can be searched by staff title, political party, quarter and/or state, and results can be downloaded to a spreadsheet.

The Sunlight Foundation explains the development of the directory in its blog post. The staff information is drawn from the House Clerk’s office and the Statement of Disbursements (a quarterly breakdown of House expenditures). The makers caution that some data may be up to six months out of date, due to the distribution schedules of their source material. The new directory also does not include salary information, which is provided by another free source called Legistorm.

Sunlight calls its new directory a “work in progress,” and invites comments and suggestions for improvement. Take a look at the new directory as well as the resources from our earlier blog post, and see for yourself how they compare.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Human Rights Day 2010

On this day in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The anniversary of this influential document has been observed around the world in subsequent years as Human Rights Day, including since 1949 in the United States by presidential proclamation. The UN’s Human Rights Day 2010 page profiles “human rights defenders” who are working to end discrimination from Mongolia, to Lesotho, to Chile. There is also a short quiz to test your historical human rights acumen.

More than 60 years after the declaration’s adoption, human rights violations remain a major international concern. Non-governmental organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch publish reports on a variety of topical issues, and also provide access to news and commentary for particular countries and/or regions. Additional human rights NGOs around the world can be located through resources listed in the Perkins Library’s NGO research guide, including Associations Unlimited, a searchable online version of the Encyclopedia of Associations (which can also be found in print in the Law Library’s reference collection).

Information about the history and impact of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be found in the Duke Libraries Catalog with a search for the subject keywords "Universal Declaration of Human Rights". The library’s large collection of materials on human rights can be located with a subject keyword search for "human rights". You can further narrow your search results by a specific country (for example, “human rights – burma”). For further help with researching human rights law and history, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

32 Flavors. 57 Varieties. 51 Code Titles?

Some numbers just seem destined to remain constant: 24 hours in a day; 212 degrees to boil water; and a 3.5 median in Law School seminar classes. For a long time, it seemed like the 50 titles to the U.S. Code was one of those dependable numbers too. The U.S.C. has had 50 titles since its first edition in 1926 (although their corresponding subjects have changed over time, and Title 34, Navy, has sat empty since its 1956 repeal).

But over the weekend, the Senate unanimously passed H.R. 3237, The Charles 'Pete' Conrad Astronomy Awards Act, which would create Title 51 of the U.S. Code, as a single place for laws on the subject of ‘National and Commercial Space Programs.’ The newly-enacted title would transfer existing code sections related to space from Title 15 (Commerce and Trade), Title 42 (Public Health and Welfare), and Title 49 (Transportation). The bill had passed the U.S. House of Representatives in January 2010, but languished without action in the Senate for months.

H.R. 3237 is an example of positive law codification, a tricky legal research concept which is best explained with a history lesson. The first U.S. Code was an attempt to arrange all of the laws in force (from the chronological U.S. Statutes at Large) by their subject matter. This editorial arrangement of the general and permanent laws in force was considered only “prima facie evidence” of the law (i.e., in the event of a typo or other textual discrepancy, the Statutes at Large text would control). Beginning in 1947, Congress enacted several U.S.C. titles into positive law, systematically revising a title and enacting it as a new statute (thus making the title itself into legal evidence of the law, rather than prima facie evidence). Currently (and until H.R. 3237 is signed by the President), 24 of the U.S.C.’s 50 titles have been enacted into positive law.

The Office of the Law Revision Counsel, the office within Congress which updates editorial changes to the U.S.C., has an information page about the Title 51 codification, as well as pages for its other proposed positive law codification projects, for subjects (like space programs) which don’t fit comfortably into the Code’s current topical structure. If all goes according to the Office’s plan, the U.S.C. could soon expand to 55 titles—although it still has a long way to go before it overtakes its predecessor, the Revised Statutes, which boasted 74 titles in its 1876 edition.

The Office of the Law Revision Counsel is also in the process of proposing positive law revisions to existing U.S.C. titles – another House bill, for the enactment of Title 41 (Public Contracts), also passed the Senate over the weekend, but amendments made in the Senate will need to be reconciled before that bill is sent to the President for signature.

Still unclear about the finer points of positive law codification? Feel free to Ask a Librarian!

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Costly Lesson in Parliamentary Procedure

Parliamentary procedure tends not to be a very hot topic of discussion-- unless your organization follows Robert's Rules of Order, or there’s yet another fistfight on a legislative chamber floor. But without even a single punch thrown, the finer points of parliamentary procedure are currently making headlines in the U.S.

Last week, the Senate passed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, hailed as a landmark achievement by a lame-duck Congress. The bill would provide greater authority to the Food & Drug Administration to recall contaminated food, in addition to requiring more frequent inspections of production sources. Unfortunately for the bill’s sponsors, and much to the amusement of Jon Stewart at the tail end of this Daily Show clip, the bill hit a constitutional snag almost immediately after its passage.

As Roll Call reported, any revenue-raising legislative provision is required to originate in the U.S. House of Representatives, not the Senate. (To avoid the issue, the Senate could have located a dead House bill, stripped its unrelated provisions, and attached the food safety bill text, but failed to do so.) Now that the bill is making its way to the House, some members are expected to block the bill’s passage there through a process called “blue slipping.”

The food safety bill sponsors would have done well to review Riddick’s Senate Procedure, the bible of Senate parliamentary practice. Originally researched and written by former Senate Parliamentarian (and Duke alumnus) Dr. Floyd M. Riddick, the title is available in print at the Duke Libraries as well as online through the Government Printing Office’s FDsys site. Its "Revenue" chapter clearly explains the constitutional issues which took place here, and other sections discuss the finer points of subjects like attendance expectations, treaty practices, and even the history of a century-long ban on flowers in the Senate chamber.

Throughout his distinguished career, Dr. Riddick had an enormous influence on Senate procedure as well as on the Goodson Law Library. Dr. Riddick and his wife Marguerite were primary benefactors of the library, and their generosity is readily apparent in the Floyd M. and Marguerite F. Riddick Rare Book and Special Collections Room on Level 3. Displayed in the room are numerous photographs from Dr. Riddick's career, as well as some donated works from his personal collection on legislation and American government (many with personal inscriptions to Dr. Riddick from their authors, including most of the works by former president and Law School alumnus Richard Nixon). The Riddicks also established an endowment to support the library’s collection in the areas of legislative and parliamentary procedure. Although some of these items are kept in the Riddick Room, many are found in the library stacks by call number, with a bookplate identifying the Riddicks’ contribution.

For more information on congressional procedures, try a subject search in the Duke Libraries catalog for "Parliamentary practice—United States". To track the developments in the food safety bill, visit the THOMAS Bill Summary and Status page for S.510, or any of the bill tracking resources listed in this May 2009 post.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Exam-Time Excellence

It's reading & examination period at the Law School, and that means our students are busily preparing outlines and reviewing class notes. As stress levels rise and preparation time grows short, the Goodson Blogson wants to review some of the most common questions at the service desk lately.

Library Access

As previously reported (both here and in certain other legal blogs of note), exam time brings a temporary change to the library’s access policy, most notably in the evening hours. From now until the end of exams (Saturday, December 18), access to the Goodson Law Library for study purposes will be limited to current Duke Law students, faculty and staff. Card-swipe access to the library entrance will be required after 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends.

Members of the Duke University community who require access to the library for research purposes should contact the library service desk for assistance. Additional study space is available to all throughout the building, in the Star Commons (Level 3 and 4), the Blue Lounge (Level 2), and Room 3041.

Getting Technical

If you plan to use your laptop to take an exam, make sure you have installed Electronic Bluebook (EBB) well ahead of time, and practice using it to ensure that your test goes smoothly! Detailed instructions are available on the Academic Technologies' Computing for Students page. If you encounter problems while downloading the software, talk to the Academic Technologies' Help Desk staff.

Reviewing Old Exams

A frequent question at the Reference Services desk during the reading and exam period is where to obtain copies of Law School exams from previous years. Past exams from your professors, where available, will be posted to your class Blackboard site. There is a common misconception that the library maintains an archive of exams as well. Although there is a print collection of past Law School exams in the library’s Archives collection (1935-2001), most of these are either from faculty who no longer teach at Duke or for faculty/course combinations which are no longer current for Fall 2010. The library has no post-2001 exams in paper or online formats.

What to Expect

If your professors have chosen not to place past exams on Blackboard, it may be helpful to review general law examination preparation guidebooks. These provide an overview of the most common formats for law school exams, and give strategies for studying and for writing successful answers. Often, these books also provide model exam questions and sample answers, along with explanations why a particular answer is more successful than others. Titles like Mastering the Law School Exam: A Practical Blueprint for Preparing and Taking Law School Exams can be found in the libraries’ catalog with a subject search for “Law examinations—United States”. A selected listing is provided in the “Exam Preparation” section of the library’s Law School Success handout, along with a helpful page of recommended "Study Guides & Aids."

Anything Else?

As always, the library staff are here to help. Visit the Service Desk on level 3 with any questions. Good luck on your exams!

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Meth House is Not a Home

Today, CNN and the Consumerist blog reported the story of a Pennsylvania couple, Jenn Friberg and Ron Quigley, who were dismayed to discover that their new home had previously been a meth lab. Lingering drug residue made the new owners physically ill just days after moving in, and professional cleaning will cost the couple an additional $25,000 over their purchase price. Friberg and Quigley have started a blog, Our Meth House, to solicit donations for the cleanup, as well as to help raise awareness of the warning signs for other potential home-buyers.

Goodson Blogson readers who have survived the labor-intensive process of purchasing a home may be shocked to hear that no laws were broken by the inspectors or sellers who failed to disclose the property’s colorful history. Disclosure laws vary widely by state, and in Pennsylvania the burden is on the homeowner to request a “meth lab test” by the inspector and/or to conduct independent research on the property. Friberg and Quigley learned of their new home’s history from a neighbor, and subsequently discovered the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Clandestine Laboratory Register, which did list their property’s address. Unfortunately, the news came too late to prevent the purchase of their contaminated home.

What can a savvy legal researcher do to determine how Friberg and Quigley’s situation might compare to another state’s laws on the matter? 50-state surveys to the rescue! Multi-state surveys provide quick access to various jurisdictions’ statutes and/or regulations on a particular subject. Although there won’t always be a survey available on your specific research topic, it’s always worth a check before you attempt to compile the information yourself. Here are some approaches which could save you valuable research time down the road:
  • Researchers at Duke may want to start with HeinOnline’s Subject Compilations of State Laws database (the book version is also available in the library’s Reference Collection). This collection is searchable by keyword or browseable by topic, and indexes multi-state surveys from premium databases, footnotes and appendices to law review articles, and non-governmental organization websites. A keyword search for “methamphetamine” returned several results, including a Westlaw survey entitled “Cleanup, Remediation, or Demolition of Methamphetamine Houses” (dated 2006).
  • As seen above, the Subject Compilations will frequently point to surveys available on LexisNexis and Westlaw, but because of publication delays (the 2008-2009 volume was uploaded to Hein in June 2010), it can be useful to search these premium databases separately for more recent material. On Lexis, follow the path Legal > Legislation & Politics (or 50-State Multi-Jurisdictional Materials) > LexisNexis 50 State Surveys, Legislation & Regulations to search the survey text; on Westlaw, the database identifiers are SURVEYS for statutory materials, and REG-SURVEYS for regulatory comparisons. Note that these surveys are updated periodically by Lexis and Westlaw staff—that 2006 survey cited in the Subject Compilations was last revised in October 2009 (for Find by Citation: 0070 SURVEYS 9).
  • A quick web search can also be an effective research strategy for locating free 50-state surveys which may not yet be indexed by the Subject Compilations of State Laws (such as surveys from the National Conference of State Legislatures, or this 2010 student note from BYU on methamphetamine disclosure laws, which is freely available on the school’s repository). As with all Internet search results, though, smart researchers will want to independently verify their findings – because with free legal information, you often get what you pay for.
(For local readers, the Westlaw survey and BYU note both point to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 130A-284, which charges the state Commission for Public Health with rulemaking power to establish decontamination standards for former meth labs. North Carolina’s disclosure form includes a section on “environmental hazards” but does not specifically address meth labs.)

Have 50-state surveys ever saved you a research headache? Tell us your success stories in the comment section.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More Holiday Gifts for Lawyers (and Law Students)

Last year, the Goodson Blogson rounded up some recommendations for law-themed holiday gifts. But our Dec. 11 post came a little late for many shoppers-- and besides, who wants to brave the mall when you need to study for final exams? This year, we’re beating the Black Friday crowds with our 2010 legally-minded gift guide.

The links from last year’s post still remain great sources for legal-themed holiday gifts. What budding constitutional law scholar could resist the wares at the Supreme Court Historical Society Gift Shop? This gift shop still boasts perennial favorites like the “Lawsuit!” board game and guest room soap with the Court’s seal (although the Goodson Blogson still wishes for a revival of the shop’s book-and-gavel salt & pepper shaker set, which hasn’t appeared on the site since 2008). Another site highlighted in our 2009 list, The Billable Hour, offers a similar mix of lighthearted games, “survival kit” care packages (including one just for law students), and practical law office accessories like briefcases and desk sets.

Last week, blogger Reid Trautz released his sixth annual Gift Guide for Lawyers. Today the ABA Journal highlighted holiday gifts from Trautz’s list as well as some other finds, including a cool coffee mug boasting 30 landmark SCOTUS cases (the names of the losing parties disappear when the mug is filled).

Perhaps you’d prefer a law-themed gift with a more local flavor. From Monday, November 29 through Wednesday, December 1, Duke Law’s Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) will hold its “PILF Gear” sale over the lunch hour in the Star Commons. Purchases of the sale’s Duke Law-themed items (including shirts, hats, and bumper stickers) will help provide grants to law students who choose to work in unpaid nonprofit/public interest employment over the summer.

Speaking of local shopping, a group of retailers in Durham have launched Sustain-A-Bull, an initiative which encourages holiday shoppers to support the Bull City’s unique independent stores. Although the law-themed gifts may be few and far between here, many of these retailers are offering special discounts during the week of November 29 – December 5.

But if limited luggage space requires you to do most of your holiday shopping online instead of in person, be sure to first check for coupon codes at RetailMeNot and The Consumerist blog’s “Morning Deals” section. For the true procrastinators among you, check out the retailers who will participate in Free Shipping Day, which will again take place on Friday, December 17.

Do you have other recommendations for law-themed gifts? Let us know in the comments.

Monday, November 22, 2010

End-of-Semester Library Access & Services

The end of fall semester classes will bring some changes to the Goodson Law Library’s access and service hours.

To ensure that adequate study space is available for law students during the reading and examination period, the library will implement a new access and use policy from December 2-18. During the reading and examination period, use of the Goodson Law Library will be restricted to the Duke Law community at all times (including when the entrance doors are unlocked). Exceptions will be made for other students who are currently enrolled in Law School classes, or researchers with a demonstrated need for use of the law collections. All others may be asked to leave. (Please contact the Reference Desk during normal business hours about access under the above exceptions, or assistance with researching legal materials.)

The Law School and library entrance doors will be locked (with card swipe access restricted to the law community) after 5:00 p.m. on weekdays, and on weekends from December 2-18. Law students are reminded to carry their DukeCards at all times, both to enter the building and to enter the library. Library doors will remain open during normal business hours to accommodate outside deliveries and the needs of law school staff and faculty to enter the library.

Reference services will be available from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. until Thursday, December 2. Beginning Friday, December 3, reference services will be available Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Evening and weekend reference services will resume at the beginning of the spring 2011 semester.

Circulation/Reserve services and the Academic Technologies Help Desk will continue to be available on weekends and in the evenings during the reading and examination period. Effective the last day of exams (Friday, December 17), all library service points will change to intersession hours (Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.), and will resume evening/weekend service at the start of the spring 2011 semester.

Good luck to our students on final exams, and have a safe and happy winter break!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Very TSA Thanksgiving

With the busiest travel days of the year fast approaching, the news media has been focused on the latest developments at the Transportation Security Administration, which has overseen airport security since its creation in November 2001. After an attempted airplane bombing on Christmas Day 2009, TSA stepped up its deployment of Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines, which are expected to eventually replace the traditional metal detectors at most airports. (A list of airports which are currently using the new screening technology is available on the TSA’s website.)

The new machines, which produce X-ray-like scans of passengers that are monitored by an officer at a remote location within the airport, stirred immediate controversy among civil-liberties groups for their detailed imagery (revealing everything from artificial joints and other medical devices to the outline of genitalia) and potential for misuse by staff. (Although TSA promises that travelers’ faces are obscured by the software and that the body scans are not stored, the machines are capable of saving and transmitting the images. Furthermore, at least two disciplinary incidents have been reported where security officers made disparaging remarks about the content of the body scans – one in Miami and one in London.)

In addition to the concerns about personal privacy, others have expressed reservation about potential health risks from radiation. While the TSA information page assures travelers that the new AIT machines provide a lower dose of radiation than cell phones (or two minutes of the flights for which passengers are being screened), some of the most frequent fliers – i.e., pilots – are unconvinced. Last week, the pilots’ unions from US Airways and American Airlines urged their members to opt out of the AIT screening, citing potential for serious health risks due to frequent exposure.

So what happens after a pilot-- or any other passenger-- “opts out” of the AIT screening? The secondary method of screening is usually a pat-down search, although the procedure has allegedly become more invasive since the deployment of the AITs. (For details, compare TSA’s official blog on new procedures with Jeffrey Goldberg’s humorous first-person account from The Atlantic).

For some, the choice between a full-body scan or a physical pat-down is a true dilemma—and one, it turns out, with potential legal consequences. Over the weekend, a California blogger described his experience with security at the San Diego airport, after he refused both the AIT scan and the pat-down, requesting instead to be screened through the traditional metal detectors. When TSA officers escorted him out of the security area and he obtained a refund for his ticket, the blogger was approached by a security supervisor who informed him that “once I start the screening in the secure area, I could not leave until it was completed,” threatening him with a civil suit and a $10,000 fine if he did not comply. On Monday, the TSA confirmed the blogger’s allegations in a statement, citing a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling to support its contention that those who refuse to complete security screening could face civil penalties. (Although the news reports do not give more detailed case information, savvy legal researchers should be able to use the court’s quoted language to easily track down U.S. v. Aukai, 497 F.3d 955, 960-61 (9th Cir. 2007); text at Google Scholar.)

More developments are certainly coming, with a Senate committee hearing on TSA oversight scheduled for Wednesday, November 17. A grassroots effort to declare Wednesday, November 24 to be “National Opt-Out Day” will also raise public awareness of the new TSA policies and procedures.

To learn more about the history and activities of the TSA, check out the “Information About Agencies” section of our research guide to Federal Administrative Law. And if the current airport security measures give new meaning to “fear of flying” this holiday season, remember that current Duke Law students, faculty and staff will retain 24-hour building access over the library’s Thanksgiving closure.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Study Rooms Are Back Online

In September and October, the library tested new reservation calendar software for its eight private study rooms. After making some improvements to the system based on user feedback, we are ready to relaunch the online reservation calendar. (For example, no longer will you need to puzzle over making a 210- or a 240-minute reservation – we’ve adjusted the time display based on the #1 complaint about the software.)

Law students may log in at with a NetID and password to reserve one of our study rooms up to 72 hours in advance. The link is accessible on the Law Library home page as well as the Library & Technology page.

If you experience access problems where the system does not recognize you as a law student, please submit a feedback form and include your NetID so that we can resolve the error. We welcome other comments and suggestions about improving the calendar software, as well. Although not every suggested change will be possible in the calendar software, library staff will definitely consider your input for making the reservation experience as smooth as possible.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

GV903, and Other Mysterious Library Numbers

Last night, the Duke Law Bowling League Fall 2010 tournament entered its semifinal round. GV903, a team comprised of staff members from the Goodson Law Library & Academic Technologies, was knocked out of contention for the BarBri Cup after an exciting Elite 8 match with defending champions Strike a Posner. The competition has been strong all season, and GV903 has enjoyed rolling against so many Duke Law students. But we were a bit concerned to hear the same question from virtually all of our opponents this season: “What does your team name mean?”

The answer, of course, can be found in the library! You may have noticed that most materials in the library are organized by the Library of Congress Classification Outline, where books are arranged not by their title or author name but by an alphanumeric code (known as a “call number”). These call numbers correspond to the subject matter of the book; as a result, books on similar topics are grouped together. In this classification system, GV903 is the beginning of the call number for any books about (what else?) bowling—and because the Library of Congress call numbers are used in most academic and research libraries, you could walk into any library which uses this system and find bowling books at GV903.

Shockingly, there’s not much to be found in the Duke University Libraries under the actual call number GV903 (although we’re sure the illustrations in this 1939 handbook must be unintentionally hilarious by now). But those search results are a good reminder that you can actually search call numbers in the online catalog, just like you would search for a title keyword or an author’s name. Since similar books are assigned the same call number, this can be a useful strategy if you have found one particularly relevant book, and want to see what other books are available which have been classified with the same call number.

The Duke Libraries catalog also allows you to Browse Call Numbers, although this can lead to an overwhelming number of results for some call numbers (such as KF, the classification for American law materials, which retrieves more than 55,000 results). The browse feature does work particularly well for quickly pulling up legal materials from non-U.S. jurisdictions (like the 17 titles classified under Law of Antarctica).

Library of Congress isn’t the only call number system out there. Public libraries tend to use the numeric Dewey Decimal system (where bowling books can be found at the call number 794.6). Even within the Duke libraries, you might encounter different styles like the Superintendent of Documents system (for federal government documents). If you have any questions about locating a call number or searching for materials on a particular subject, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

This lesson in library call number systems has been brought to you by the members of GV903:
  • Sean Chen, Digital Resources Librarian (captain)
  • Shyama Agrawal, Acquisitions Librarian
  • Kristina Alayan, Foreign & International Law Librarian
  • Jennifer Behrens, Reference Librarian
  • Karen Douglas, Head of Collection Services
  • Melanie Dunshee, Assistant Dean for Library Services
  • Kelly Leong, Reference Intern & Lecturing Fellow
  • Hiroki Nishiyama, User Analyst
    (With special guest appearances throughout the season by staff spouses & significant others: Marvin Douglas, Chris Bobko, and Chris Reeves)
Good luck to the Final Four in next week’s championship rounds, and we’ll see you on the lanes next spring!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Blekko Takes Aim at the Google Goliath

The web buzzed this morning with talk of Blekko, a new search engine which has just launched to the public after several months in private beta-testing. As The New York Times reported, Blekko aims to filter out spam-like sites which push unhelpful results to the top of other search engines. In some areas which Blekko editors consider especially vulnerable to spam results (health and medical information, recipes, cars, travel, song lyrics, finance and college searching), the results are automatically filtered. In other areas, Blekko’s “slashtag” search option allows users to quickly filter irrelevant results. (See a demonstration and comparison at Search Engine Land.)

Blekko is just the latest search engine competitor to debut in a Google-dominated market. So how will they fare? It’s hard to tell. Last year’s “new kid” Bing is still holding strong, thanks to aggressive advertising and financial support from its heavyweight parent company Microsoft. But for every Bing which captures a piece of the search engine market share, there are several smaller search engines which don’t: for example, 2008’s Cuil, which the Goodson Blogson reviewed upon its debut. Although hopes were high for Cuil due to its developers’ past employment at Google, the would-be competitor shut down in September of this year.

No matter what happens to Blekko, it’s worth remembering that there are a number of search options out there, and that each will give you slightly different results. Dogpile’s Search Engine Comparison allows you to view a cross-section of results for your search from the “Big 4” (Google, Yahoo, Bing, and Ask), while sites like SearchEngineWatch and Search Engine Land report on new developments from the major and minor engines out there.

For help finding the best place to start your search, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Witches always make the news in October, and 2010 is no exception. Recent market research indicates that pointy hats and brooms remain a top pick for Halloween costumes, for adults, kids and even pets. Witches have also infiltrated the mid-year elections, with Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell’s campaign commercial, designed to ensure nervous voters that her past admission of “dabbling in witchcraft” had been overhyped by the media. (See an alternate take on the campaign spot from Saturday Night Live.)

But witches (and/or suspected witches) have long been accustomed to notoriety. Researching witchcraft and the law is an intimidating prospect, with historical accounts of witch-hunting and witchcraft trials spanning several centuries in a number of different countries. But if you’re inspired to try some Halloween-themed research this month, check out these tricks.

Materials on witchcraft may be found in several locations at the Duke University Libraries. For example, a subject search in the Duke Libraries Catalog for "Trials (Witchcraft)" will return results from the Goodson Law Library as well as the Divinity School Library and Perkins/Bostock Library (but you can request delivery of titles from other libraries by clicking the delivery truck icon next to the title).

You can also limit your catalog search results to just those owned by the Goodson Law Library (as we’ve done with this sample Subject search for "Witchcraft"), but keep in mind that you may limit your results too severely. For example, Malleus Maleficarum (aka “The Hammer of Witches”), the notorious 15th-century guide to witches and witch hunting, is available in translation through the Perkins library and the Divinity School library, but not at Goodson Law.

To locate articles on the topic, you may also want to expand beyond law reviews and legal journals to the various History databases available from the Duke University Libraries – you can access Duke history databases through the subject list.

Got a question about researching witch trials, the history of witchcraft, or just using the Duke Libraries Catalog? Be sure to Ask a Librarian – we’ll even be around on Halloween.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Online Tools for Language Instruction

As law study becomes increasingly global in nature, we are sometimes asked whether the Goodson Law Library offers any CDs, DVDs or other resources for learning a foreign language. While the Ford Library at the Fuqua School of Business contains a Language Instruction section with books and CDs, the Duke University Libraries are also investigating some online subscription-based language tools and could use your help in evaluating a possible purchase.

There are four databases under consideration, which will be evaluated in groups of two. Right now, trials of Byki and Mango are accessible to the Duke University community (with a NetID and password) until October 31. Take advantage of these free trials to brush up on your skills, and share your impressions with the library staff via the online comment form.
  • Byki offers more than 80 language modules, using an interactive flash-card style to teach vocabulary and pronunciation. English speakers can choose from a long list of languages, from Afrikaans to Zulu, while English-as-a-second-language modules are available for a variety of languages (including Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, and Japanese).
  • Mango’s 48 language courses include 14 ESL options. Courses for each language are broken into three levels: Basic (for introductory conversation), Complete 1.0 (an intermediate stage) and Complete 2.0 (more advanced vocabulary and grammar). Each level is comprised of several lessons which focus on a particular topic (such as basic greetings, asking for assistance, or shopping vocabulary).
After the completion of the Byki and Mango trials, the libraries will also test the popular Rosetta Stone product and another language instruction database called Tell Me More. Bookmark the Duke Libraries’ Database Trials page to access the current language trials and to keep abreast of the next language instruction trials.

If you don’t have a current Duke NetID to access the trials, you may be interested in OpenCulture’s list of Free Foreign Language Lessons Online, with links to free podcasts for nearly 40 languages, including a collection for English as a second language.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Law on Lockdown: Building Codes

This summer, the Goodson Blogson wrote about municipal codes, the county- and city-level laws which impact much of our daily lives. But even the valuable resources listed in that entry do not include some critical local legal materials: building codes and other industry standards. Property owners know the importance of keeping a home or business “up to code”: whether it’s electric wiring, plumbing, construction materials, or fire safety, there is a maze of administrative regulations and commercial industry publications which must be navigated.

"No problem," thinks the seasoned legal researcher, grabbing the North Carolina Administrative Code from the library shelf (or from the virtual shelf). But a search for the 'building code' returns only entries like this one:
All applicable volumes of The North Carolina State Building Code, which is incorporated by reference, including all subsequent amendments, may be purchased from the Department of Insurance Engineering Division located at 322 Chapanoke Road, Suite 200, Raleigh, North Carolina 27603 at a cost of three hundred eighty dollars ($380.00). - 10A N.C. Admin. Code 13G.0302
“What?!” thinks our thoroughly-confused researcher. “The state building code isn’t actually published inside the state Administrative Code? Well, I guess I can try to find it in the library...”

But despite the fact that these building and industry codes are given legal effect by states and/or municipalities, our intrepid researcher is far more likely to find them in an engineering library’s collection rather than at the law library. Indeed, Duke’s print copy of the North Carolina State Building Code resides in the Perkins/Bostock Library.

This scenario is common due to the way these codes and standards are published – rather than each government attempting to draft its own building code, state and/or local governments adopt or incorporate existing codes which have been created by the relevant industry’s association. The International Code Council is a major publisher of such material, including the International Building Code, the International Fire Code, and the International Plumbing Code. The ICC codes form the basis of many states’ own codes on these subjects. Other common industry publications which are used by states include the National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Code and standards from ANSI, the American National Standards Institute.

Generally, the administrative and/or statutory publications of a government will indicate which “industry codes” apply, and will also tell you which government entity administers the code in question (such as North Carolina’s Building Code Council). But it’s historically been trickier to locate the text of the codes themselves, unless you subscribed to a commercial database (like MADCAD or ICC’s own site, neither of which is available to Duke University), could travel in person to the administrative government agency to review its public copy, had a library nearby which purchased a print copy, or you were willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a personal copy.

However, there is a push for this information to be more publicly accessible. Public.Resource.Org has built a free, scanned collection of state and municipal safety codes, which is also mirrored at the Internet Archive. While researchers must still take care to note the currency of the scans, and research any later changes which may not be reflected, the collection is a welcome development in making these materials more generally available.

For more help with researching these types of materials, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

First Monday in October

Monday, October 4 marks the start of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 term. It’s been nearly a century since the Judicial Code of 1911 designated the “first Monday in October” as the official commencement of the annual SCOTUS term (Pub. L. No. 61-475, § 230, 36 Stat. 1087, 1156); previously, the Court met for two terms each year.

Although oral arguments begin on the first Monday, the Court has actually been hard at work behind the scenes in the last few weeks, selecting petitions for review. The OT2010 argument calendars provide a preview of upcoming cases, including Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Ass’n (challenging, on First Amendment grounds, a California state ban on the sale of violent video games to minors) and Snyder v. Phelps (an appeal from the Fourth Circuit’s reversal of punitive damages awarded to a father whose son’s funeral was picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church).

Some cases for this term have been granted review, but are not yet scheduled on the oral argument calendar. The Court’s Orders page lists the disposition of various petitions for certiorari. One case which has been granted cert but is not yet scheduled for argument is Stern v. Marshall, a probate law case which would never grab headlines for its legal subject matter. But Stern’s colorful cast of characters (the late model/reality show star Anna Nicole Smith, her long-deceased oil tycoon husband, and Smith’s former attorney and paramour Howard K. Stern, who recently stood trial in California for conspiring to provide Smith with prescription drugs) guarantee a high level of media attention; and it’s actually the case’s second trip to One First Street. The American Bar Association’s Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases includes copies of the briefs filed in scheduled and unscheduled OT2010 cases. SCOTUSblog is also an excellent source of case information.

What else is new around the highest Court in the land? Of course, there’s a new face on the bench with the August confirmation of Elena Kagan, formerly the dean of Harvard Law School. SCOTUS also unveiled a new website in the spring, which promises to improve the speed at which users can access Court information: yesterday, a press release announced that audio recordings of oral arguments will be posted to the website every Friday. Audio recordings have long been available on The OYEZ Project, but this speedy release on the Court’s official page is a welcome development.

On the lighter side of SCOTUS news: with the arrival of Justice Kagan, the Court now boasts a Justice from four of New York City’s five boroughs. Last month, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart went in search of a potential SCOTUS nominee from the last remaining borough, Staten Island, holding a "moot court" on the subject of same-sex marriage to test their subjects’ legal acumen. Could we see these pizza-scarfing justices at One First Street someday? Only time will tell.

Staten Island Supreme Court Justice
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Implementing the Durham Statement (October 22 event)

During the Goodson Law Library’s Dedication Week in November 2008, a meeting of prominent law library directors resulted in the Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship, which urges law schools to cease print publication of law reviews in favor of free, permanent, online publication archives. On Friday, October 22, an all-day event at the Law School will discuss best practices for implementing this policy.

The workshop is co-sponsored by the Goodson Law Library, Duke’s Center for the Study of the Public Domain, and the Harvard Law School Library. Panels will address the traditional versus open access business model for law journals, how a move to open access affects copyright and author agreements, and technological concerns such as publishing platforms and archiving processes. The agenda, registration form, and housing information can be found at

Duke Law and our co-sponsors at Harvard Law have long been leaders in the Open Access movement for legal scholarship. The full text of Duke Law journals is provided free on our website back to 1997, and our Scholarship Repository provides a permanent online archive of Law School faculty publications and other scholarship produced at Duke Law. Harvard Law made international news in May 2008 with its unanimous faculty vote for an open access scholarship repository.

Friday’s Durham Statement event is just one part of the Open Access Week (October 18-24) celebration at Duke University. Other events include a Tuesday panel discussion of OA’s impact on researchers, and a Thursday panel with area publishers. For times and locations, see Open Access Week at Duke. For information about Open Access Week events elsewhere, visit the International Open Access Week page.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Reserve a Study Room Online

Tired of checking the study room clipboard at the library service desk, only to find every room booked solid for the rest of the night? Well, now you can stake a claim to one of our eight private study rooms up to 72 hours ahead of time from your own computer. From Monday, September 27 until Friday, October 8, the Goodson Law Library will pilot-test an online reservation system.

To reserve a study room, visit the reservation link and log in with your NetID and password (note: study rooms are available only to Duke Law students). The reservation page displays the current availability of our eight room keys, and links to the calendar where rooms can be reserved (in four hour time blocks) up to three days in advance. Be sure to claim your room key promptly; your reservation may be forfeited if the key is not picked up within 15 minutes of the reservation start time.

Because this is a pilot program, please be sure to let us know what you think of the online sign-up experience. The reservation page links to a feedback form where you can submit comments to the library staff.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tax Management Portfolios Now Available Online

After years of maintaining nearly 400 different Tax Management Portfolio titles in print, the Goodson Law Library now has electronic access to the full text of the Tax Management Portfolios through BNA’s Tax and Accounting Libraries.

These slim spiral-bound Portfolios are heavily used by tax professionals, who rely on the news, commentary and analysis within to keep current with changes in tax law. A list on BNA’s site describes the various titles available in the five portfolio series (Accounting; U.S. income tax; Estates, Gifts, and Trusts, Foreign Income and State tax).

To browse or search the portfolios online, visit the BNA Publications database, which is available on the library’s Legal Databases & Links page. Our research guide to Federal Tax has been updated to add the new database, and the remainder of the guide will be updated in the weeks to come. The print portfolios, currently housed in the library’s Gann Tax Alcove, will shortly be moved to reflect the fact that new portfolios will not be received in print.
For assistance with using the online Tax Management Portfolios or other features of the BNA Tax and Accounting Libraries, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Perfect Bluebook, Automatically?

As 1Ls make progress on their open memo assignment and 2Ls/3Ls slog through cite-checking journal assignments, it seems like everyone could use a helping hand with The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation these days. The Goodson Law Library has some spare copies on Reserve for when you just need to confirm an abbreviation or a rule, and there is also an online version (paid subscription required) which offers full-text searching of the new 19th edition and the ability to save personal annotations for future tricky cites.

But what people really seem to want is a tool to convert citations automatically into proper Bluebook format. We’re often asked for advice on shortcuts to perfect legal citation: everything from “Can’t I just copy what it says on Lexis and Westlaw?” to “Is there a citation management software that will put footnotes together for me?” We’ve previously written about citation management tools such as EndNote and Zotero, which offer some support for Bluebook styles, but a survey of help forums will reveal frustration by users about errors in the output—perhaps unsurprising since both tools were originally designed for citation from style manuals in the sciences and the humanities, and Bluebook support came later.

CiteGenie, a Firefox add-on designed specifically for use in legal research, released a beta version this summer to favorable reviews from the legal community. The site FAQ clearly outlines what the system can and cannot do – for example, while you can copy text and references from LexisNexis, Westlaw, and WestlawNext in order to generate pinpoint citations in Bluebook format, CiteGenie cannot automatically detect subsequent cites where one would normally use the short form (e.g. “Nimmer, supra note 6”). So some user intervention and Bluebook knowledge would still be required.

LexisNexis and Westlaw citations for documents will generally give you enough information to compose a perfect Bluebook citation on your own, but as with the other tools listed here, sometimes a little editing is necessary (especially with party names and source title abbreviations). WestlawNext offers a service called “Copy with Reference” which does include Bluebook as one of its output styles. To test it, highlight the text you want to copy and paste the citation into your word-processing program. Experiments at Goodson Blogson HQ showed that the WestlawNext output was reasonably successful, although it uses the Bluepages style (for court documents and memoranda) rather than the law review style, so 2L and 3L students would need to convert a lot of underlining into italics and/or small caps. It also is unclear whether WestlawNext’s Bluebook style has been updated to reflect changes in the new 19th edition (for example, “County” was not abbreviated in one of our test cites, but it is a new abbreviation in Table 6 of the 19th edition).

In conclusion, there’s really no substitute for mastering at least the basic Bluebook citation rules on your own. Citation management software and browser add-ons can provide much-needed assistance to beginners, but only time and practice with the Bluebook would help you spot any inaccuracies or system limitations. Some popular Bluebook help guides (like Dworsky’s A User’s Guide to the Bluebook) are in the process of being updated to reflect the 19th edition changes – to find help guides and for other Bluebook queries, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pirates, Ahoy!

They’re a little too early for International Talk Like a Pirate Day (Sunday, September 19), but last week the Library of Congress announced its new digitized collection of pre-1923 piracy trials. Spanning two centuries, this collection provides transcripts of historical pirate trials from around the world, from Captain Kidd to lesser-known buccaneers. This site joins HeinOnline’s Legal Classics Library and The Making of Modern Law: Trials on the list of good sources for historic trial transcripts (see library research guide to Court Records and Briefs for more info).

While it’s usually 18th-century pirates who capture our pop culture imagination in books like Treasure Island and films like the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, piracy remains a very real threat on today’s seas, especially in international waters off the Horn of Africa. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration (MARAD) reported on August 2 that 18 vessels are currently being held by Somali pirates. MARAD’s Horn of Africa Piracy page contains a wealth of reports, news releases, and travel advisories on the subject of modern piracy, as well as links to international and intergovernmental organizations which monitor piracy and international security issues.

The Goodson Law Library also has a collection of books related to piracy and international law. Find them with a search of the online catalog for the subject keyword: piracy. Note that this search will also bring up books about the other kind of pirates (intellectual property) – you can use the “subject” filters on the left-hand side to further narrow your search to “Maritime Terrorism,” “Hijacking of Ships,” and even “Trials (Piracy)” – the last of which will retrieve more trial transcripts in the style of the Library of Congress collection.

For help with locating other materials on piracy or law of the sea, be sure to Ask a Librarian. For help with talking like a pirate before September 19, consult the online glossary at the official British headquarters of Talk Like a Pirate Day. Yarr!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Technology Corner: Changes to Printing & Computing

This summer, the Academic Technologies department made some major improvements to printing and computing in the Goodson Law Library and the Law School. Here are the most important things to know:


Returning students should install the new ePrint software in order to print to the new system from laptops. It’s critical to uninstall the old software first. You can access the new ePrint drivers at with your NetID and password.


Have the printers been procreating? You may think so after seeing the Document Production Room on Level 3, where the library’s old black and white photocopiers have been replaced by two color multifunction devices. In addition to the dedicated LexisNexis and Westlaw printers, there are two ePrint printers and release stations (for black & white printing) and two Sharp multifunction devices (for color printing and photocopying). It’s important to know the difference, since black & white ePrint printers are always free to law students, while the multifunction devices will charge your Flex account.

To send jobs to the black & white ePrint stations, select ePrint-OIT as your printer. For law students, remember that ePrint-OIT is free within the Law School – although you start with a balance of $75.00, which does dwindle with use, you are not actually being charged, and the balance will automatically increase by $10.00 each time it reaches the $1.00 threshold. At the beginning of a new semester, law students have their balance reset to $75.00. The balance is intended only as a reminder of your usage.

To send jobs to the color devices, select ePrint-Color (Fee). These devices will charge your Flex account, $0.07 per page for black & white printouts/copies and $0.15/page for color printouts/copies.


Returning students may notice that the Reading Room has gotten a little quieter, now that printer 3C has moved just outside the library entrance (to the left of the staircase, near the “tabling” area). All twelve of the public computer stations on Level 3 now print to the ePrint system, as do the Level 2 carrel computers and the “lookup” stations on each floor. You can choose the ePrint-OIT option for black and white printing, or ePrint-Color (Fee) for color printouts. For ePrint-OIT black & white printing, you can then release jobs at any ePrint station within the Law School by swiping your DukeCard at the print station.


The library’s two multifunction devices/copiers are located in the Document Production Room (Room 3210), which also includes two black & white ePrint-OIT printers and swipe stations. There are two more ePrint-OIT printers and release stations located on each floor of the library (generally, one behind the center staircase and the other close to the back elevator), as well as two printers and release stations outside the library (3C, near the library entrance, and outside the Registrar’s office on Level 2). You can check the status of the various printers around the Law School at


If you do not have a DukeCard (or if you experience problems while using your DukeCard on the new system), please see the library service desk for assistance with the new printers and/or photocopiers.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Library Services for the Fall Semester

The new academic year brings some changes to the Goodson Law Library. Effective Sunday, August 22, evening and weekend services return to the library. During the fall semester, the library entrance will be unlocked (and the service desk will be staffed) at the following hours:

Sunday2:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.
Monday-Thursday 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Friday 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Duke Law students, faculty and staff continue to enjoy 24-hour access to the Law School and library. Keep in mind that the outer doors of the Law School lock down automatically at 5:00 p.m. and over the weekends, so be sure to bring your DukeCard if you plan to visit after-hours.

Returning students will notice some new faces at the service desk. Over the summer, the Reference Services department welcomed Foreign & International Law Librarian Kristina Alayan and Reference Librarian Jane Bahnson. You may also see more of Kelly Leong, who joined the library in the spring as a reference intern and will be co-teaching a section of LARW this year.

With the retirement this summer of our longtime night and weekend supervisor David Swearingen, you’ll also notice new faces at the Circulation/Reserve desk, as the daytime Collection Services staff will also share night and weekend duties. To learn more about what each member of the library staff does, visit our Staff Directory page.

We look forward to a great semester, and we welcome your input on ways to make the Goodson Law Library an even better place for our community. If you have comments or suggestions about the library, please visit our online Suggestion Box for a direct line to Assistant Dean for Library Services Melanie Dunshee, who will respond within 48 hours if you provide your email address (anonymous comments are also allowed). Your suggestion might even inspire one of our famous library videos, which are linked on the Suggestion Box page.

Monday, August 9, 2010

What's New with Lexis and Westlaw

Returning law students should now have fully restored access to their LexisNexis and Westlaw accounts, which may have gone dormant over the summer (if you did not fit the criteria for a summer extension). Over the coming months, everyone will notice a few changes to both research systems: some dramatic and some gradual. Here are the highlights of each.

Westlaw launched its new WestlawNext interface in the spring, offering access to law firm subscribers and selected law school faculty. Effective August 16, Duke Law students are also able to access this new version of Westlaw—just log in to and look for the link to “WestlawNext” at the top of the screen. (Don’t panic – a link to “classic” Westlaw is still available, too, and both systems will remain available to subscribers indefinitely.)

WestlawNext is a radical departure from the typical Westlaw search, where users must first select the appropriate database of content and then devise appropriate search terms. On WestlawNext, researchers do the reverse – enter search terms in the box, select a jurisdiction, and then filter results by document type, additional search keywords, and other limiting options. There are huge improvements to the display of search results and individual documents (for example, cleaner display of headnotes and footnotes, easy access to KeyCite reports at the top of a document, and useful links to “related content” which is generated by Westlaw from your search words).

The downside? WestlawNext is currently unable to print to the Law School’s dedicated Westlaw printers, meaning you’ll need to download documents and print on the Law School networked printers instead. (The upside of this extra step? You can review your print job before sending it to a printer, selecting only the pages you really need instead of accidentally printing 300 pages of case annotations!) Because WestlawNext is still in beta mode, users may also occasionally experience technical errors such as slowness. Finally, not all Westlaw content is yet migrated onto WestlawNext (particularly international law materials), although links are provided back to for the missing materials and new items are added daily.

LexisNexis is also undergoing a big interface redesign, although the changes will be rolled out more gradually. Phase one included the release of Lexis for Microsoft Office, an add-on for Office 2007 and 2010 which incorporates LexisNexis research right into your Office programs’ “ribbon.” A split screen view allows you to quickly access the full text of cited cases, Shepardize your document’s authorities, and pull up background information on companies, people, or terminology mentioned in your text—without ever leaving your document screen.

The LexisNexis Total Research System will still look familiar—for now. Lexis is currently working behind the scenes on Lexis Advance, a major overhaul of the research system interface which should go live for Duke Law users in spring 2011. In the meantime, Lexis has added some new content to its familiar interface, including full access to docket and court filing content for academic subscribers, and expansion of its New & Business tab to include the content of selected blogs, Twitter accounts (including tweets from members of Congress), and news transcripts and videos.

New 1L and LLM students will receive their Lexis and Westlaw passwords from their LARW research instructors. New transfer students, and any continuing students who are having problems accessing Lexis or Westlaw, should see the Reference Services desk in the library for assistance.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"So...Where Do You Keep My Casebooks?"

The start of the fall semester brings a flurry of activity to the Goodson Law Library, and one frequently-asked question deserves some particular attention from the Goodson Blogson: “Can’t I just borrow all my textbooks from the library?”

We admire the enterprising spirit of our law students, and we understand your dilemma: textbook costs have been rising steadily for years, and the average law school casebook can cost anywhere from $125 to $160. However, as a matter of policy, the library does not attempt to buy every single textbook which is used at Duke Law, for a few reasons: sure, we’re cost-conscious too about keeping up with hundreds of new titles and new editions every year. But more importantly, we’re concerned about equity of access. Providing one or two copies of a text to be used by 40-100 students causes some obvious problems with supply and demand; even for copies on reserve (which may be borrowed for 4 hours at one time, and overnight if borrowed less than 4 hours before the reserve desk closes), only a handful of people can use a single title in a day. It’s best to consider the library’s collection as a backup in case you forget your own textbook—and even then, a fellow student may have already beaten you to the book you need.

Of course, if you search for your book list in the Duke University Libraries’ catalog, you may still turn up a few matches. Some of these titles will be kept in the Reserve collection, such as the Legal Analysis, Research & Writing textbooks. For casebooks authored by Duke Law faculty, the catalog will usually show one copy in the General Collection (28-day checkout for students) and one archive copy in the Faculty Collection (1-day checkout; see the service desk for assistance with the locked shelving). If you’re the lucky first person to snag a particular casebook, beware: titles in the General Collection are subject to recall and hold requests, meaning that your classmates can cut your borrowing period short with a request for the same title (you’ll be guaranteed a grace period with the book, but it will be shorter than the usual 28-day checkout).

Better, then, to find cheap ways to purchase your own copies. The Duke Textbook Store in the Bryan Center occasionally has used copies for sale. There’s also the Duke Law Book Exchange on Facebook, a student-organized trading post for used textbooks. Be sure to check edition numbers against your current semester booklist, as textbooks are updated by the publisher frequently.

West, which publishes many popular law school texts, is now offering a casebook rental program, promising users a savings of almost 40% off the sticker price, as well as access to e-book versions while you wait for the print copy to ship. (And yes, according to their FAQ, you are allowed to highlight!)

For aural learners, there’s also AudioCaseFiles, currently available to users who register with their Duke email address. ACF offers MP3 recordings of the edited opinions from many law school casebooks, including a number from Duke Law’s fall book list. If you’re so inclined to listen to your Civ Pro reading while on the treadmill at the gym, this is the site for you.

For help locating a textbook (or any other title) in the library’s collection, be sure to Ask a Librarian.