August 15, 2013

Working Paper on the Availability of Tribal Law

Last year I became responsible for our collection of Native American materials at the UW Law Library. In reviewing the collection and availability of sources, I learned that tribal legal materials are very difficult to track down, especially for non-Indians.

There are 566 federally recognized tribes in the United States today. For a majority, no law has been published. Where is it available, tribal law is scattered across various websites, databases and print publications.

Curious about why this was true, I did some research on the matter. I've recently posted a working paper on SSRN that describes my findings. The paper, entitled 'Whatever Tribal Precedent There May Be': The (Un)Availability of Tribal Law, explores the costs and benefits of publishing tribal law and presents various publication options.

Part I analyzes why tribal law may not be more widely available; part II illustrates how making tribal law more accessible can benefit tribes and others; and part III describes how tribes can make their law available if they so choose.

An appendix lists existing publicly available tribal law collections, both historical and current.

July 9, 2013

Hein Online and Fastcase announce partnership

Two of the biggest names in the legal database and publishing world recently announced that they would be partnering up to expand the scope of services that they offer to their customers. Hein Online and Fastcase will allow each other to integrate services that will enhance the experience that users will receive. The integrated libraries will be available at the end of the Summer.

Hein Online will now offer federal and state law that will be connected via inline hyperlinks that will be powered by Fastcase. Authority Check, a citation analysis tool that was developed by Fastcase will also be available to Hein Online subscribers. One element of Authority Check that may be heavily utilized is the "Bad Law Bot", which will allow Hein Online users to identify negative citation history. These additions all come to Hein Online subscribers at no addtional cost.

Fastcase users will gain access to a wide range of Hein Online's library, ranging from Session Laws to Hein's extensive Law Journal Library. Hein's large collection of Law journals (more than 1,800 unique journals) is the first secondary material that has been added into the Fastcase Legal Research Service. Fastcase users will be able to view Hein's search results and abstracts for free, and will have subscription options for viewing full articles.

Overall, this collaboration will be a great boon to researchers using either service. Hein is enhanced with greater primary law and citation analysis, while Fastcase gains one of the greatest collections of Law Journals that have been assembled. For more information, check out the joint press release from Fastcase and Hein Online that was released today.

May 23, 2013 to Replace THOMAS is a beta site by the Library of Congress that contains U.S. legislative information. It will eventually replace

At this point, the beta contains legislation from the 107th Congress (2001) to the present, member profiles from the 93rd Congress (1973) to the present, and some member profiles from the 80th through the 92nd Congresses (1947 to 1972).

For more information, see the comparison of coverage currently available via and

February 12, 2013

Digital Commons Network Makes Open Access Articles More Accessible

bepress recently launched a new product called The Digital Commons Network. It indexes and makes available scholarship contained in the broad network of open access institutional repositories that use the Digital Commons platform. Digital Common Network is available to researchers at no cost.

According to the about page, "the Digital Commons Network brings together scholarship from hundreds of universities and colleges, providing open access to peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, dissertations, working papers, conference proceedings, and other original scholarly work."

The main Network covers all subject areas included in the Digital Commons repositories. However, legal researchers may be most interested in the Law Network, which is a subset of the full product.

Once in the Law Network, you can do a broad search for scholarship in all legal subject areas, or you can narrow your search by practice area first (on the left). On the right side, there is a display of the most popular institutions, authors or articles in that subject area. This is based on the number of downloads.

There are also several options to follow content by email. You can follow all new scholarship or just content in a specific practice area or choose to follow the most popular institutions, authors or articles.

January 22, 2013

City of Madison Launches Open Data Platform

From the journal, Government Technology:

On Jan. 8, city officials announced the launch of its open data ordinance and a more accessible open data platform. Thus far, only one other city in the country, New York City, has implemented an ordinance mandating widespread government release of data, according to officials.

The city, officials said, is making open data projects a high priority. The new ordinance will require agencies to eventually release most of their data in raw format and make it available for download through the city's new open data Web portal.

Though the city made open data available in the past, the effort was far less comprehensive and the data was not in a format that developers could easily use, said CIO Paul Kronberger. "We recognize that this data has been created with public funds," he said, "so it rightfully belongs to the public and should be made available to the public."

Almost all city data will be made available, he said, with the exception of personally identifying information and any data prohibited to be released by existing regulations. In some cases, the city will further support software developers by providing access to APIs through the new portal, Kronberger said, and will look for opportunities to work with local developers.

Another benefit to the Web portal, Kronberger said, is that the city will field fewer formal requests for data because it will already be openly available to those who need it on the portal. Not all city data will be made available at once, but the city plans to gradually make most data available, Kronberger said.

January 17, 2013

Whitepaper Compares Caselaw Citators

Internet for Lawyers recently posted a whitepaper in which authors, Carole A. Levitt and Mark Rosch, compare the results generated by the following caselaw citators: Google Scholar, Fastcase, Casemaker, LexisNexis, WestlawNext, and Bloomberg. Registration is required.

The study is somewhat limited in that it only compares the results from one case, but it is still illustrative. The authors found that LexisNexis, WestlawNext, and Bloomberg performed better than their lower price counterparts, Google Scholar, Fastcase, Casemaker. No big surprise there. However, the authors so suggest some workarounds to help expand results.

October 18, 2012


SSRN, the Social Science Research Network, has recently launched a iPhone/iPad app.

SSRN is a repository of scholarly research for social sciences and humanities scholarship, including law. Many of our UW Law School professors have contributed scholarship to SSRN.

The SSRN app allows users to search over 260,000 research papers in the SSRN electronic library. The papers can be emailed or viewed right on the device.

August 6, 2012

Guide to Searching on FDsys - basic search tutorial

GPO has recently released a new series of training video modules on its Federal Digital System (FDsys). The first video introduces the basic search in FDsys and I must say that I was quite impressed.

The basic search is actually very powerful. It allows you to use Boolean operators (and, or, not) as well as quotes to search a phrase, proximity operators (near, before, adj) and parentheses to group searches.

The search results page features some very nice filtering options which allow you to narrow your search by collection, date, author, organization, etc.

The video is on the longer side for a tutorial (11 minutes), but if you search for federal government materials on a regular basis, it is well worth the time.

May 16, 2012

Study Reports that Westlaw Classic is Significantly Less Expensive than WestlawNext

Emily Marcum of Lightfoot of Franklin & White, LLC recently conducted a study comparing the pricing models of WestlawNext v Westlaw Classic.

Although the full study is not available, the abstract from SSRN appears below:

WestlawNext and Classic were each used exclusively in transactional mode for eight days. Cost to the client was assessed using a discount off retail model. Classic was found to be 51.6% cheaper. This difference was so stark that the experiment was terminated early and only two days of each platform in hourly mode was completed.

It's very unfortunate that the full study isn't available. Eye raising findings such as these deserve some closer investigation.

March 13, 2012

Google Changes Format of Legal Citator

I suspect that most of you know that Google Scholar offers full text federal and state court opinions. But did you know that it also offers a citator similar to (although not as extensive as) Shepards or KeyCite? This feature allows you to find significant citing decisions for a case.

Google has recently announced that it has changed the way that it presents these citing decisions. Previously, it had sorted by prominence, but it will now sort them by the extent of discussion of the cited case.

To access the citator, view a case in Google Scholar by entering the citation in the search box - try, for example, 603 F. 3d 181.

At the top you should see two tabs: the default tab is "Read this Case" and the other one is "How cited." If you click on the latter, you'll get the following screen.


Note that in the middle it shows you how other cases have quoted your case. On the right you'll see a list of cases that have cited your case, sorted by depth of treatment as described above.

March 8, 2012

Improve Your Google Search Results

Hack College has created a useful infographic on how to use Google more effectively. It's targeted toward students, but is helpful to anyone who uses Google - which is just about everyone, right?

I found the section on the operators to be the most useful. I've long used quotes to search for exact phases and the minus sign to exclude words, but I didn't know about the ~ to search related works or the .. to do a number range search. I will certainly be making use of those from now on.

You can also limit your search to a specific file type, search just the title of a webpage, search within a specific site, get a definition, do calculations or unit conversions, and lots more.

Don't worry if you can't remember all these operators. Google will walk you through many of them on the Google advanced search page. I just wish that Google didn't make the advanced search page so hard to find. There used to be a link to it from the main Google page, but they removed it for some odd reason. Now you have to either know the direct URL ( or search for it.

GPO Access to Shut Down in March

GPO Access will officially be shut down on March 16, 2012. Users will be redirected to content on FDsys for at least one year thereafter.

For more info, see FDLP Desktop

January 5, 2012

Some Law Firms Encouraging/Requiring Law Students to Violate Westlaw & Lexis Agreements

From the Legal Skills Prof Blog:

The Utah Legal Ethics Advisory Committee considered whether an attorney who encouraged a student to breach her agreement by doing firm-related research had committed an ethical violation. The Committee answered in the affirmative finding that an attorney's misuse of a student's educational Wexis access is theft of services, a potential felony.

Interestingly, the opinion notes that students are increasingly under pressure by employers to use their free Wexis access for firm matters. Indeed, the opinion notes that "numerous" students have reported that their "initial or continued employment" has been conditioned upon a willingness to violate their user agreements with Wexis.

Wow, this is really troubling - especially the part about conditioning employment upon willingness to violate a user agreement.

But it provides a good opportunity to remind WisBlawg readers that there are ways to legitimately access legal information at no or low cost. See our Wisconsin Legal Information Sources Guide for tips on what information is available and how to access it.

For example, did you know that the UW Law Library, Wisconsin State Law Library, and Milwaukee & Dane County Legal Resource Centers all offer free walk-in access to numerous legal databases, including Westlaw? Attorneys can even access some databases remotely with a Wisconsin State Law Library card.

December 12, 2011

Index to Legal Periodicals No Longer Available via LexisNexis

According to the Law Library Directors' listserv, Index to Legal Periodicals (ILP) will no longer be available through LexisNexis at the request of the publisher. It is unknown whether it will continue to be available on Westlaw.

ILP indexes English language legal periodicals published in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand.

For many years, ILP was published by H.W. Wilson Company. Earlier this year, Wilson merged with EBSCO Publishing.

September 7, 2011

JSTOR Makes Early Journal Content Freely Available

Today, JSTOR announced that they are making journal content published prior to 1923 in the United States and prior to 1870 elsewhere freely available to anyone, anywhere in the world.

This "Early Journal Content" includes discourse and scholarship in the arts and humanities, economics and politics, and in mathematics and other sciences. It includes nearly 500,000 articles from more than 200 journals.

See the press release and FAQ for more information.

August 30, 2011

Two Legal Journal Indexes Change Platforms - ILP and IFLP

In updating the "Legal Periodicals and Indexes" chapter of the upcoming edition of Fundamentals of Legal Research, I've done some digging into the details of two major indexes that will be changing platforms in the very near future: Index to Legal Periodicals and Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals.

  • Index to Legal Periodicals For many years, ILP has been managed by the H.W. Wilson Company but in 2011, Wilson merged with EBSCO Publishing.

    There are three electronic ILP products: Index to Legal Periodicals Full Text; Index to Legal Periodicals & Books; and Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective.

    - Index to Legal Periodicals Full Text indexes a 1,050 legal periodicals from 1982 to the present. Books are indexed beginning in 1994. Over 350 periodicals are also available in full text from 1994 to date.

    - Index to Legal Periodicals & Books presents the same indexing offered in Index to Legal Periodicals Full Text, but without links to full-text articles. The same journals are covered.

    - Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective indexes almost 900 legal periodicals from 1908-1981.

    Due to the merger with EBSCO, all three electronic ILP products will be moving from the WilsonWeb internet platform to the EBSCOhost platform in 2012.

    In addition, EBSCO is releasing a new product called Legal Source in 2012 that will combine the ILP content with content from EBSCO's Legal Collection, as well as new additional content. In total, the new Legal Source database will contain over 1200 full text legal journals.

    Before the merger, the ILP & Books index was also available to subscribers of LexisNexis and Westlaw. It is unknown if it will continue to be available on these services after the move to EBSCOhost is complete.

    It doesn't appear that the print edition of ILP will be affected by the merger with EBSCO, although this is not certain.

    For more information about the merger and new database, see this brochure.

  • Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals
    IFLP, produced by the American Association of Law Libraries, is a multilingual index to articles and book reviews appearing in legal journals published worldwide.

    IFLP was formerly available electronically via Ovid Technologies and Westlaw. As of 2012, IFLP will be available exclusively via HeinOnline (1985 to the present). Index entries will be linked to the full-text articles in HeinOnline when possible.

    The print edition of IFLP, which had been published by the University of California Press, will now also be produced by William S. Hein & Co.

    See the HeinOnline blog for more information.

August 26, 2011

Google De-Enhancements

A few weeks ago I posted that Google had discontinued the Google Uncle Sam search engine for government documents.

Law Librarian Blog reports that Google has, unfortunately, discontinued a few more things:

  • "The option for Advanced Search no longer appears on the main Google page. You can still get there by going to The option still appears next to the search box on a results page for a previous search. Advanced Search has been vastly simplified in its filtering options, suggesting that Google thinks its omnivorous general search is good enough."
  • "Google News Archives search is no longer available as a direct search, nor will there be any new content added to the project.... The content that currently exists should still be available through a general search and through the Advanced Search option in Google News."

August 11, 2011

Google Pulls the Plug on Uncle Sam

From Government Computer News:

Saying that search technology has made some specialized tools unnecessary, Google has discontinued operation the tool for searching government websites....

"Today, search quality has advanced tremendously, and based on our analysis we've found that in most cases you're better off looking for this kind of specialized information using the regular Google search box..." Google said.

Government marketing maven Mark Amtower, in a blog post on the subject, says Google doesn't understand what it did. In response to Google's assertion that users can now find all they need in a regular search, Amtower writes: "WRONG!!!! Regular searches include all the non-government sites we were able to filter out through the use of ... You don't understand the nature of our searches and you are WAY off base."

I tend to agree with Amtower. I was dismayed when I tried searching Google Uncle Sam last week only to find it was gone.

It was the ability to filter out non-governmental sites that was the beauty of Google Uncle Sam. As a legal researcher, I valued being able to zero in just on authoritative government sources.
Update 8/15:
My colleague, Bill Ebbott, reminded me of a good workaround: limiting the domain name to .gov in a Google advanced search. The search results will include both federal and state sites, but the federal sites tend to display at the top for the most part.

August 9, 2011

Feedback Needed on Beta US Code Website

From the AALL Government Relations Office:
The Office of the Law Revision Counsel is seeking comments on the new beta version of its website for the U.S. Code. The Office is looking for feedback from law librarians and members of the public about the site's features, content, and ease of use.

The beta site is located at and the current site is located at Your comments will help the Office make changes to the website to better meet user needs. Please send your comments to

Some key features of the new website are:

* A new search engine for Code data
* An expanding "Table of Contents" style browse of the Code
* A simple search facility for quickly accessing specific Code sections or performing simple word or phrase searches
* An advanced search facility for sophisticated searching of Code content using delimiters such as field or Code hierarchy restrictions, Boolean logic, and case sensitive searches
* An improved display of search results and Code documents
* Cite Checker, a new tool that enables quick checking of specific Code sections for recent amendments
* Easy access to USCprelim, an advance posting of the next online version of the Code
* New explanatory material about the Code and the functions of the Office

Prospective features include:

* Ability to search previous versions of the Code
* Ability to search USCprelim
* Enhanced internal and external links

August 4, 2011

House Votes for Cuts to FDsys

H.R. 2551, passed by the House of Representatives, would eliminate funding for GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys).

"Kirsten Clark, the regional depository librarian at the University of Minnesota and the chair of ALA's Government Documents Round Table, said the bill and the subsequent House report betrayed a lack of understanding of the GPO's role as a "great equalizer," that provides everybody access to "the same key documents of our democracy."

To learn more about this development, review:

by Amy Crowder
LLAW Government Relations Chair

May 24, 2011

New Features for WisBar's Books UnBound

Books UnBound, the database of online CLE Books from the State Bar of Wisconsin, has added some new features recently.

My favorite new feature is the ability to search across your entire Books UnBound library from the home page. BuB_3.jpg

You can also now access Books UnBound from your mobile device. Other features include the ability to add notes, turn footnotes on and off, contribute to forums, keep track of time spent for billing purposes, and pick your font size.

February 16, 2011

LexisNexis Library Express Available to Madison Public Library Patrons

The Madison Public Library has recently subscribed to LexisNexis Library Express.

Although this is not the full version of LexisNexis with which many legal practitioners are familiar, LexisNexis Library Express does provide access to thousands of full-text news, business, and legal publications. See the specific coverage information.

LexisNexis Library Express is accessible at any Madison Public Library location on their computers and through the wireless networks.

The news and company module are also accessible at home to anyone with a Madison Public Library location listed as their "home library" (the default library you use to pick up holds).

Note that the legal portion is only accessible inside one of Madison Public Library's locations.

Source: Check It Out from the Madison Public Library

February 8, 2011

Find Mobile Apps for Law

From Information Today:

Mobile Apps for Law is a just-released database on the web that covers all legal research and utility apps for all types of mobile devices. Whether you use an iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, BlackBerry, Android device, or a Palm PC, this is the place to find out which law apps are available for your device...

Subscriptions are $49.99 for 1 year of access. For a limited time, subscriptions are being offered at a 50% discount.

February 4, 2011

Wisconsin Public Notices Searchable via New Website

Wisconsin Public Notices is a new site containing full text public notices as originally published in Wisconsin newspapers. The site was created by the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

The site features a robust search engine allowing users to search by keyword, date, location and/or newspaper title. The search results (see image below) show the full page of the newspaper on which the notice appears in PDF. Note that the results aren't perfect, though - it will return a hit if the keyword appeared anywhere on a full newspaper page, not just in the notice section. But that seems to be a relatively minor glitch.


The site also has a subscription alert service whereby newly uploaded public notices matching your search criteria will be emailed to you. The cost is $75 a month or $600 per year.

If you wish to extend your search to the full newspapers, instead of just the notice sections, use the Wisconsin Newspapers Digital Research Site available through Badgerlink. It provides access to the daily and weekly newspapers in Wisconsin, starting in 2005 to the present, with an embargo delay of 60 days.

This service is available onsite in libraries of all types (except for corporate libraries) and through entry of a public library card number. It is not available statewide through IP address authentication as are other BadgerLink resources.

January 18, 2011

Now Search Opinions from Specific Courts with Google Scholar

As you may already know, Google Scholar offers an excellent collection of free federal and state case law for the following years of coverage.

Sup. Ct. pre 1776?
Fed. Circ. Cts. 1924?
Fed. District Cts. varies
States vary (most mid 1950s?)

Using the advanced search page, you've always been able to limit your search to a particular state, but now users may limit to specific courts and jurisdictions. You can even mix and match your selections.
Source: Robert Ambrogi's LawSites

November 1, 2010

MPL's Sanborn Maps Offer Property Level Detail for WI Communities from 1867-1970

The Milwaukee Public Library has recently acquired the Digital Sanborn Atlases which contains very detailed, large-scale maps of Wisconsin towns and cities from 1867-1970.

The maps were created by the Sanborn Map Company for fire insurance purposes. They detail buildings and their construction materials and were used to assess potential risk from fire and other hazards. The maps also give street names, street and sidewalk widths, property boundaries, building use, and house and block numbers. Today these maps are a great source of historical data for urban specialists, social historians, architects, geographers, genealogists, local historians, planners, environmentalists, or anyone wishing to track the development of a community, neighborhood or particular property over time.

City of Milwaukee Public Library users can access this database remotely with your library card. Others can uses the database on-site at the library.

From Now @ MPL

October 15, 2010

GPO MetaLib - Federated Search Engine for Government Databases

The Government Printing Office has recently released a federated (combined) search engine for multiple databases compiled by the federal government. The new search engine called MetaLib includes reference databases, digital repositories and subject-based Web gateways.

View a complete list of all current resources that can be accessed in MetaLib.

For more info, see the FDLP Desktop.

October 6, 2010

Books Unbound Search Improved

The latest edition of InsideTrack from the Wisconsin State Bar highlights some major improvements in the search capability of Books Unbound. Books UnBound is the subscription-based online library of State Bar of Wisconsin CLE Books.

The first improvement is that you can now search across the all of the Books UnBound titles in your subscription. Previously, you could only search within one title at a time. To search across all titles, first open one of the titles in your collection. At the top, there is a search box in which you'll enter your terms. Search within "this book" is the default, but you can change it by selecting "all books" from the drop down menu.

It would be nice if there were a search box right on the main page without linking into a specific title, but at least it's possible to do the search across titles somewhere now.

The second improvement is that your search terms are highlights in your returned documents (see screen shot below). Previously, the terms would be highlighted in the list of results, but when you clicked in to the document, you didn't know where your terms appeared.

Unfortunately, there still appears to be no way to jump to the next search result without scrolling down the page or going back to the search results page by clicking the back arrow or re-doing the search. This would a nice improvement

Are there other changes that I missed? If so, please comment or email me.

The new search interface is powered by Google. I'm very pleased with the enhancements, although there is a little more room for improvement. Read more about the changes in the full InsideTrack article.
Update: There is a third improvement that I forgot to mention in my original post. Since the search is supported by Google, there are some advanced search options available, such as phrase searching, boolean logic, number range, in title, etc. Carol Hassler, from the Wisconsin State Law Library, offers some tips in the latest edition of the LLAW Newsletter.

September 30, 2010

GPO Access to Shut Down by End of Year - Being Replaced by FDsys

From the U.S. Government Printing Office:

The sunset of GPO Access is planned for the end of 2010. At this time, FDsys will assume the role as GPO's electronic system of record. Migration of all content from GPO Access to FDsys will be complete by October 2010, and the two systems will run in parallel through the end of the year.

September 14, 2010

Wisconsin Newspapers available via BadgerLink

From Wisconsin InfoLink:

BadgerLink -- the state's online full-text library collections -- now has access to five years of complete PDF pages from more than 250 Wisconsin newspapers, dailies and weeklies....

The collection goes back to March 2005 and will continue to grow as current editions are added to the database. There is a 60-day embargo placed on the newspaper pages, so the most recent issues to search will always be two months old.

I've blogged about BadgerLink before. Remember that it is available to all Wisconsinites through the DPI. It's a wonderful resource with thousands of full text magazines and journals, newspapers and newswires, and full text reference books.

This service is available in many WI libraries, including the UW libraries, and through entry of a library card number. It is not available statewide through IP address authentication as are other BadgerLink resources. Users will be able to access it through the BadgerLink website by clicking on Newspapers under Resources by Type.

August 27, 2010

Archive of Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel Articles

Thanks to Bev Butula on her Wisconsin Law Journal blog for sharing that the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel now offers an archive of articles from 1884 - 2007. The search box is located on the JSOnline homepage on lower right.

Coverage includes the following, although there do appear to be some gaps:

  • Milwaukee Journal - 1884 to 1995
  • Milwaukee Sentinel - 1909 to 1995
  • Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel - 1995 to 2007

The user can search by specific date or keyword. This is nice if you want to see the headlines from a specific day or have a very specific keyword in mind. But, there was no way to combine the two search type to search for a keyword in a date range. It also doesn't seem to allow phrase searching in quotes. These would certainly be an improvement.

Archived news articles are also available in Google News from the 1890s to the present. To access the archives, go to the advanced search page and enter "Milwaukee" in the Source box. Note that there are several advanced search features available here, including keyword by date range.

See Bev's post for a comparison of the search features of both databases.

Both databases are "powered by Google" so the content view is identical - a full view of the paper, complete with adds. The user can reduce or enlarge the view and move around the sections of the page. Unfortunately, there is no way to download print the articles, other than doing a screen capture.

July 8, 2010

Books UnBound Library Now Complete

According to the Wisconsin State Bar, the Books UnBound electronic library is now complete. See the full list of titles.

The Books UnBound product launched in April, but not all of the titles were available yet. They have since all been loaded, tested and are ready to go.

July 7, 2010

WI Sec of State Hosts Digital Archive of Municipal Records

The Wisconsin Office of the Secretary of State maintains a digital archive of state municipal records - some more than 100 years old.

Records from Wisconsin's towns, villages, cities and counties include incorporation papers, charters, annexations, corporate boundaries, maps and litigation correspondence.

For example, see this 1921 map of the Original City of Madison with Subsequent Annexations.

Source: Found in Wisconsin

Fastcase iPad App Coming Soon

Earlier this year, Fastcase released a free iPhone app which was named 2010 New Product of the Year by the American Association of Law Libraries.

Now, Fastcase is set to release an app for iPad also. According to Bob Ambrogi, once Apple gives the OK, the app will launch. Check out the iPad screen shots over at Ambrogi's LawSites.

This is great news for Wisconsin State Bar members since you have access to Fastcase as a free benefit of membership.

July 6, 2010

Search Documents Citing Case or Article in Google Scholar

Google Scholar has a feature that allows you to view documents that cite to your case or article. This is somewhat akin to Shepards, although without the status indicators and comprehensiveness.

Recently, Google has beefed up the "cited by" feature by allowing you not only view the citing cases and articles, but also do a full text search of them. It can also be used to limit the results to citations from specific jurisdictions (via the dropdown on search pages or the advanced search page).

In your initial search results, click on the "Cited by ---" link below the item.

This will open a new search window at the top in which you can do a full text search of the documents citing that case or article.

Source and images: 3 Geeks and a Law Blog

June 17, 2010

Migration from GPO Access to FDsys Almost Complete

The migration of government content from GPO Access to FDsys is almost complete. As of this month, 29 of the 40 collections have been migrated with the remaining collections set to make the move in the coming weeks.

It was previously reported that migration would be complete by June 30, 2010. Due to the constraints of testing the remaining collections, the completion date for migration has been moved to July 31, 2010.

Source: GPO FDLP List

April 21, 2010

Library of Congress to Archive Twitter

The Library of Congress has announced that it is archiving every public tweet made since the service went live back in 2006.

Why you may ask? ars technica gives a pretty good explanation

There's been a turn toward historicism in academic circles over the last few decades, a turn that emphasizes not just official histories and novels but the diaries of women who never wrote for publication, or the oral histories of soldiers from the Civil War, or the letters written by a sawmill owner. The idea is to better understand the context of a time and place, to understand the way that all kinds of people thought and lived, and to get away from an older scholarship that privileged the productions of (usually) elite males.

The LoC's Twitter archive will provide a similar service, offering a social history of hipsters, geeks, nerds, and whatever Ashton Kutcher is. As Twitter continues its march into the mainstream, the service really will offer a real-time, unvarnished look at what's on people's minds.

And here is more from the Library of Congress itself.

April 19, 2010

More Info on Searching CLE Books Unbound

Last week I posted about the State Bar of Wisconsin's new Books UnBound product - a subscription-based online library of State Bar of Wisconsin CLE Books (the "brown binders").

I had some concerns about the limited search capabilities but Books UnBound project coordinator, Kristin Huotari, tells me that a more advanced search is in the works. She says:

We are in the process of integrating our Google Search Appliance into the online books reader, and providing for searching across all titles. Until this feature is completed (which should be fairly soon), you can use the Legal Research tab for better searching. Our Legal Research site uses the Google Search Appliance and should help you get the relevant results you are seeking for Books UnBound.

April 16, 2010

WI State Bar Releases CLE Books UnBound

Earlier this week the State Bar of Wisconsin launched its new Books UnBound product - a subscription-based online library of State Bar of Wisconsin CLE Books (the "brown binders").

According to the State Bar, Books UnBound is not intended to replace the print books, but rather to provide greater flexibility for members to conduct legal research. Books UnBound will replace access to the CLE books through Loislaw, however CLE content will continue to be available, with updates, to Loislaw subscribers until the end of their contract terms.

There are two subscription options available: individual access and firm access (pricing based on the number of lawyers in a firm or a branch ) Subscriptions for individuals or firms are available for single titles, a limited number of select titles (individual access only), and the entire Books UnBound™ library*.

Access to Books UnBound is through Attorneys login using their regular Wisbar login (i.e. their State Bar member number). Non-attorney staff must register for their own non-member ID number and password. Law students receive free access to Books UnBound by registering as Law Student Associates with the State Bar.

A free trial is available. Visit the product page of the title you wish to see, and select the Free Tour link to get free access to the first chapter of each book.

Below is a screen shot of the new interface.

I really like the look and feel, but the search options are very limited. There doesn't seem to be an advanced search option nor were there any search tips listed on the Help page. I tried searching for a few phrases in quotes and threw in some Boolean operators, but got not results which was disheartening since I know that there were matches in the text.

Also, I don't see any way to search multiple titles at once but this could just be because I'm looking at the free trial version. This is a feature that I use all the time with the CLE books on Loislaw and I'd hate to lose it

All in all, though, it's a nice product. With a few search enhancements, it could be very sweet.

April 1, 2010

Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel since 1890s Available on Google News

Archived news articles from the Milwaukee Journal and Journal/Sentinel are now available in Google News from the 1890s to the present. Unfortunately, there is no way to print the pages, but you can direct link to an article.

To access the archives, go to the advanced search page and enter Milwaukee Journal in the Source box.

Thanks to UW Madison Archivist, David Null, for the tip.

March 11, 2010

CLE Books will Soon be Available Online through State Bar's Books UnBound

On April 15, the Wisconsin State Bar will launch a new product called Books UnBound. This subscription database will contain content from CLE books published by the State Bar. Primary law links will point to Fastcase which is available to State Bar members.

The initial library will include 29 titles, i.e. the majority of the CLE Books treatises (Brown Binders and WBA Series) that are currently available in print, with approximately 10 titles being added each month. The entire finished library will consist of 59 titles. Codebooks will not be included.

According to the State Bar, Books UnBound is not intended to replace the print books, but rather to provide greater flexibility for members to conduct legal research.

Prices for law firms will be established through tiers based on the size of the law firm. Pricing for larger entities has not yet been finalized.

Access will be through Attorneys will login using their regular Wisbar login (i.e. their State Bar member number). Non-attorney staff must register for their own non-member ID number and password. Law students will receive free access to Books UnBound by registering as Law Student Associates with the State Bar.

Books UnBound will replace access to the CLE books through Loislaw, however CLE content will continue to be available, with updates, to Loislaw subscribers until the end of their contract terms.

Read more at the State Bar website.

March 9, 2010

Map of Free Legal Resources Provided by State Bar Associations

3 Geeks and a Law Blog had created a nifty map of free legal resources provided by State Bar Associations. Looks like Casemaker and Fastcase top the list.

January 28, 2010

RIP PreCYdent

According to Law Librarian Blog, PreCYdent - one of the free online legal search services - is no longer available. Apparently it folded due to lack of funds.

December 29, 2009

CRS Report on the Google Library Project

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has recently compiled a report on The Google Library Project: Is Digitization for Purposes of Online Indexing Fair Use Under Copyright Law?

The report offers some background of the project and discusses the legal implications:

"First, does an entity conducting an unauthorized digitization and indexing project avoid committing copyright infringement by offering rights holders the opportunity to "opt out," or request removal or exclusion of their content?... Second, can unauthorized digitization, indexing, and display of "snippets" of print works constitute a fair use?"

It concludes with a discussion of the ongoing litigation and possible outcomes.

Thanks to my law librarian colleague, Bev Butula, for the link.

December 8, 2009

Google Scholar Legal - What It Is and Isn't

Greg Lambert over at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog reports on his conversation with Google Scholar Chief Engineer Anurag Acharya.

First of all, let me address the questions that I'm sure a lot of you have been asking:

"Can Google Scholar Legal and Online Journal replace my Westlaw or Lexis content?"
My answer: "Absolutely Not!"

In fact, the people at Google would tell you the same thing. It is just not what they are planning to do with this product. Now that I got that out of the way, let me explain what I learned in the interview and you'll see why I'm not confident in SLOJ competing with Westlaw, Lexis, or even the upcoming Bloomberg Law (which I'll call "Wexisberg").

Read the full post for more detail.

December 7, 2009

Value Line Investment Service Online Now Available to Madison Public Library Card Holders

Madison Public Library has acquired an online subscription to the Value Line Investment Survey. The service is available at all nine Madison public libraries or remotely to city of Madison residents with valid library cards.

From Check It Out:

Value Line is best known for the Investment Survey, one of the most widely read investment services in the world. Value Line online offers the same one-sheet summary as the Investment Summary, but also includes more up to date information on the stocks covered, as well as stock screening, custom reports, industry information, historical data, and email alerts. Madison Public Library's subscription also includes the Value Line Special Situations Service.

For more info, see this tutorial from the Madison Public Library

December 3, 2009

Now on Badgerlink - HeritageQuest Online Offers Genealogy Resources including Serial Set and Census

There is a new database available on BadgerLink* called HeritageQuest Online. It offers a treasury of American genealogical sources, including some legal material.


HeritageQuest Online contains the following:

  • U.S. Federal Censuses feature the original images of every extant federal census in the United States, from 1790 through 1930, with name indexes for many decades. In total the collection covers more than 140 million names.

  • Genealogy and local history books deliver more than 7 million digitized page images from over 26,000 family histories, local histories, and other books. Titles have been digitized from our own renowned microform collections, as well from the American Antiquarian Society via an exclusive partnership.

  • Periodical Source Index (PERSI), published by the Allen County Public Library, is recognized as the most comprehensive index genealogy and local history periodicals. It contains more than 2 million records covering titles published around the world since 1800.

  • Revolutionary War records contains original images from pension and bounty land warrant application files help to identify more than 80,000 American Army, Navy, and Marine officers and enlisted men from the Revolutionary War era.

  • Freedman's Bank Records, with more than 480,000 names of bank applicants, their dependents, and heirs from 1865-1874, offers valuable data that can provide important clues to tracing African American ancestors prior to and immediately after the Civil War.

  • LexisNexis U.S. Serial Set records the memorials, petitions, private relief actions made to the U.S. Congress back to 1789, with a total of more than 480,000 pages of information. Note that this isn't the full Serial Set - just contains those documents deemed to be of interest to genealogists. Note that the Serial Set may not available to academic libraries according to the ProQuest contract with LexisNexis.

*Remember that Badgerlink is a database containing full-text magazines, journals, newspapers, reference materials and other specialized information sources. It is available remotely to all Wisconsinites free of charge with a public library card.

November 4, 2009

ISP Legal Department Contact Info

"Need to subpoena Facebook or Gmail? If you do, then you'll need to know where to serve the subpoena."

Jon Groth's Wisconsin Personal Injury Weblog points to a useful site called SEARCH which contains contact info for the legal departments of various Internet service providers (ISP) and similar information services. This information may be useful for service of subpoena, court orders, and search warrants.

October 23, 2009

CorporationWiki Visualizes Corporate Relationships

In her Wisconsin Law Journal blog, Bev Butula discusses CorporationWiki, a web site for company research.

The website allows the researcher to search businesses in over 25 states. It also supports an index to browse by company name or a person's name....

One tool that can be very useful is the "relationship visualizer." It is a graphic display of how companies and individuals are interconnected.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here's a screen shot of the relationship visualizer for Harley Davidson Motor Company. Note how the business names and officer names intersect. Very nice for visual learners like me.

There is one problem with CorporationWiki, however, and it could be a pretty big one if you don't recognize it. As Bev notes, the page lacks an "about us" link.

It is important for me (and should be to you) to confirm how the material is collected, who is gathering the information, etc. So, I use the site to collect information and then turn to other resources to verify it.

August 14, 2009

Online v. Print Cost Savings Examined

Mark Gediman at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog has an interesting post about law firm cost recovery for online database charges.

I find myself constantly explaining/defending/justifying our cost recovery policy. Maybe I've been sampling the Kool-aid along the way, but I've come to realize that most firms that charge back for online services are actually saving their clients money.

Mark offers some examples of the cost savings that can be achieved using online databases v print materials, including this one:

Charging a fee for pulling a case online is less than the cost of pulling it off the shelf
Let's say a firm charges clients $10 per case. It takes about a minute to pull and print the case. With a billing rate of $300/hr, the total cost to pull that case would be $15 ($10 for the case, $5 for the attorney's time).

If the case is pulled from the shelf, let's figure the following time is spent: 5 minutes to walk to the books, 2 minutes to pull the right volume, 5 more to copy the case and 5 more to walk back to the office for a grand total of 17 minutes. The cost is $85. And this doesn't count the cost of the space required to house the cases or the copying charges.

The cost to pull the case online is only 17% the cost of pulling it in print. I realize that not everyone does these activities in exactly the same way. However, what is clear is that the client actually saved money in the process.

But he does note that there are some caveats to the online saving rule, particularly when using a treatise, "usually a practice guide, that the end user knows intimately." He notes that "it is actually better to keep these types of treatises in print."

July 9, 2009

UW Madison Expands Agreement with Google Books

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has expanded its agreement with Google to digitize books from UW-Madison's collection and make them available online.

From a press release issued this morning:

The expanded partnership, completed on July 8, 2009, enables the university to broaden public access to its collection in new ways, made possible by the settlement Google signed with a broad class of authors and publishers last year.

"Our original project with Google was undertaken in the spirit of the Wisconsin Idea--UW's commitment to making useful information and knowledge available beyond the confines of the university," says Ken Frazier, director of Libraries. "Now, our new agreement will promote equitable access to knowledge even further, by giving every student in the U.S. access to the same books, whether they're on campus or not."...

Through Google's pending settlement with authors and publishers and the new agreement with UW-Madison, readers and researchers will be able to preview portions of UW-Madison's in-copyright and out-of-print books for free and buy online access to the full texts of such books.

In addition, universities, colleges, and public libraries throughout the U.S. will be able to offer their students and patrons access to UW-Madison's rich collections through institutional subscriptions to the books contained in the institutional subscription database. Every public and university library in the U.S. will be able to receive one free public access license to provide free, full-text online viewing of millions of out-of-print books at designated computers in each of their buildings.

July 1, 2009

More on Badgerlink Changes - Additional EBSCO Content

A few weeks ago, I shared the news that ProQuest content would no longer be accessible via Badgerlink. But there is also some good news...beginning today, July 1st, EBSCO content is being expanded to nearly double what was previously available. [What is Badgerlink?]

The expanded EBSCO package includes:

  • an upgrade to the Premier versions of Academic Search and Business Source;
  • a major newspaper collection (Newspaper Source Plus);
  • the leading reader's advisory service (NoveList and NoveList K-8);
  • all three versions of Book Collection: Nonfiction;
  • two new health databases (Consumer Health Complete and Alt Health Watch);
  • two new education products (Education Research Complete and Educational Administration Abstracts);
  • high school level science and history resources (Science Reference Center and History Reference Center);
  • an auto repair database (Auto Repair Reference Center).
  • a pair of literary/humanities collections (Literary Reference Center and Humanities International Complete)

Source: TechBits and Channel Weekly

June 19, 2009

Forthcoming Loislaw Enhancements & Widgets

In the recent Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin newsletter, Nancy Scibelli of Quarles & Brady describes some forthcoming Loislaw enhancements and widgets:

Wolters Kluwer will be making a number of enhancements to Loislaw this summer by improving Find A Case, document delivery capabilities, and the Loislaw homepage.

Find A Case is a Loislaw tool to pull cases by citation. It is similar to Westlaw's Find & Print or Lexis' Get & Print tools. It will be improved so researchers can retrieve multiple citations at once. Find A Case will also be enhanced so individuals can extract citations automaticallyfrom an electronic copy of a document, such as a brief or memo, by uploading the document into Find A Case.

The document delivery tools on Loislaw will be improved so researchers can print, email, or save multiple documents simultaneously. Researchers will also be able to print, email, or save search results including Global Cite and Find A Case results. These document delivery options are not currently available on Loislaw.

The Loislaw homepage will be reconfigured so only the content available is displayed. Wolters Kluwer is calling this a Smart Start Page. The Smart Start Page will display only the content available under your agreement. Currently, the Loislaw homepage displays all Loislaw content including content not available under an institution's agreement and thus not available for use.

Wolters Kluwer anticipates releasing all of these tools this coming summer.

In addition, Wolters Kluwer will release a Case Law Widget later this month. The widget is a Internet webtool that Loislaw subscribers can put on their webpage to retrieve cases via the Internet portal. It simply provides an external access point to Loislaw's Find A Case tool. The widget is highly customizable and can be modified to match the Internet portal design.

May 20, 2009

Open Jurist Offers F. 1st, 2nd, 3rd & US Reports

Open Jurist is a new (I think) database of free US Supreme Court and Federal Appellate opinions. It joins a number of other sites which offer federal opinions, such as Altlaw, PreCYdent, Public Library of Law, Justia and FindACase.

However, the coverage for Open Jurist extends farther back in time than do the others. It contains U.S. Reports from volume one and the Federal Reports back to the first series.

To help you navigate which content is available on what database, you might find the UW Law Library's Guide to Wisconsin Legal Information Sources to be a useful resource. The guide will also soon appear in The Wisconsin Lawyer.

May 12, 2009

Lexis Offers Free Access for One Year to Grads Serving Public Interest

LexisNexis has launched a new program for deferred graduates which will enable students who pursue public service during the deferral of professional practice to access certain LexisNexis services free of charge.

Initially, the LexisNexis ASPIRE (Associates Serving Public Interests Research) program was limited to graduates who have accepted an associate position at a law firm but are experiencing a deferred fall 2009 start date and are taking on public interest work during the deferral period.

But Lexis has recently announced that they are expanding eligibility to all 2009 graduates pursuing verifiable public interest (non-profit or charitable) work. This includes:

(1) Deferred fall associates pursuing public interest work during their deferral periods,

(2) 2009 graduates who elect to pursue public interest work while searching for law firm employment, and

(3) Those 2009 graduates who pursue public interest work as a continuing profession.

Complimentary LexisNexis access will be provided throughout these graduates' public interest employment periods, up until September 2010 maximum.

Interested students may sign up now at

March 10, 2009

Archival Case Law Free with FindACase

FindACase, from VersusLaw, is a new source for free case law. While there are other free case law sites out there, such as Justia, Public Library of Law and PreCYdent, the coverage on FindACase appears to be more comprehensive.

FindACase contains case law from:

  • U.S. Sup. Ct. 1886-
  • Fed. Circ. Cts. 1930-
  • Fed. District Cts. vary (most 1940s-)
  • States vary (most 1990s-)

Users can retrieve cases by by citation or keyword search.

BUT - there are a few "gotchas"

  • First, you are required to provide your zip code before a search " to provide advertisers with information they need to support the site"
  • Second, the documents you retrieve with your search do not contain the citation or docket number . If you want the citation or docket number, you may purchase a complete version of the document by selecting the "Buy This Document" button and will be charged $2.95 per document.

    The FindACase Network consists of 52 web sites: one for each state (including Wisconsin), Washington D.C., and a FindACase Network homepage. Each web site consists of the state and federal case law for that particular state, i.e., the state appellate courts, the Federal Circuit Court, the U.S. District Court cases, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Source: LexLibris

  • February 18, 2009

    Track "Shovel-Ready" Projects at Stimulus Watch

    Stimulus Watch has compiled a list of Wisconsin's municipal "shovel-ready" projects for which mayors have requested federal stimulus funding. Click on a project to read (and add to) its description and vote on whether you believe it is critical or not. stimulus.jpg

    Thanks to my colleague, Vicky Coulter, for the tip

    January 21, 2009

    FDsys to Replace GPO Access

    A new system called Federal Digital System (FDsys) is slated to replace GPO Access. GPO's FDsys is an advanced digital system that will enable GPO to manage Government information in a digital form.

    According to the FDsys Current Status report:

    The information on GPO Access is in the process of being migrated to FDsys, a process that will be complete in mid-2009. The migration is occurring on a collection-by-collection basis. The information on GPO Access will remain current and continue to be available until migration is complete.

    Collections currently available for search in FDsys are:

    * Congressional Bills
    * Congressional Documents
    * Congressional Hearings
    * Congressional Record
    * Congressional Reports
    * Federal Register
    * Public and Private Laws
    * Compilation of Presidential Documents

    Stay up to date with FDsys news by subscribing to the FDsys blog.
    Source: Yale Law Library Reference Blog

    January 15, 2009

    Madison Crime Reports - View Neighborhood Maps & Receive Alerts

    The Wisconsin State Journal reports that Madison is participating in a new online service that allows members of the public to monitor crime in their neighborhoods. allows users to zero in on a map of the city and view recent crimes within the vicinity (excluding traffic citations and crashes).. They can also sign up to receive free e-mail alerts when any new crimes are reported.

    Here's a sample of the neighborhood surrounding the law school:crime.jpg

    Madison is only the second city in the state to use the system - New Berlin was the first. About 400 other cities nationwide use the system also.

    From the article:

    Users can select which types of crimes to track -- from homicides to noise complaints. They also can adjust the reporting distance from a specific address, search by police sector or aldermanic ward, or search within a range of dates going back six months. The site also tracks the location of registered sex offenders.

    The Web site combines Google's online mapping program with information automatically provided daily by the Madison Police Department. The city pays $130 a month to feed information from its police records management system to a Utah-based Internet company, Public Engines....

    Michael Scott, a University of Wisconsin-Madison law professor who specializes in law enforcement, said he has encouraged Madison police for years to follow the lead of other police agencies around the country and post their crime data online.

    "The data can have a reassuring effect by showing citizens that their neighborhoods are not necessarily as crime-ridden as they might otherwise believe," Scott said. "Other times, the data are helpful in informing citizens that there is a crime problem in their neighborhood which might motivate them and police to take steps to address."

    See also Criminal Searches, a site that allows you to do just what its name implies - run a criminal history check on specific people or generally for a geographic area. See my earlier WisBlawg post on this service.

    December 30, 2008

    Researching Layoff Data

    In her Wisconsin Law Journal blog, Bev Butula offers tips for researching layoff information. One of the databases she mentions is JWT Inside's Layoff Report Database.

    The researcher can search by week or keyword. The weekly report lists the various companies, locations, affected workforce, news source, and date of the layoffs for that particular week.

    Refinement by industry, metropolitan area (includes Canada), headcount, or date range is available. These results first provide a list of the company, date, and industry. Selection of a particular company will then take the user to the news story. It appears that the database goes back to the late 1990's.

    To give you a flavor for what's included, see the screenshot below of a search I did for layoffs in the Madison area in the last year.layoffs.jpg

    Bev also suggests the Bureau of Labor Statistic's Mass Layoff Statistics site.

    The main webpage provides instant statistics on the right hand side of page (with an RSS feed). The page also offers links to the various databases to query and tables. Like many BLS tools, these databases are very dynamic and provide an extensive amount of information.

    December 17, 2008

    Comparision of Legislative Resources on GPO Access v. Other Government and Commercial Sites

    GPO Access has recently conducted a comparison of legislative resources available in its collection with those in other government websites and commercial databases such as Westlaw, LexisNexis and HeinOnline.

    The report concludes that "one of the primary advantages of GPO Access is the number of online legislative resources it provides to the public." The comparison reveals that it offers almost twice as many sources as any other government website or commercial database.

    However, "in terms of scope of the legislative resources it provides, GPO Access is behind the other Web sites evaluated. Many of the other sites either contain historical content on their service or link to external sites with historical information, whereas GPO Access possesses current information that generally begins in the mid-1990s."

    The two charts which accompany the report may be useful finding tools for locating legislative sources. The charts list several important sources along with the dates of coverage for various websites and databases.

    This is the fifth such report that GPO has conducted. Earlier reports are available on the Federal Bulletin Board at GPO Access.

    Source: Virtual Library Cat's Eye View

    December 4, 2008

    ALR Comes Back to Lexis

    After almost a year's absence, the American Law Reports are now available again on Lexis.

    Here's the announcement from my Lexis rep:

    The following publications are again accessible on via the Legal menu > expand Secondary Legal sources:
    • ALR (American Law Reports)
    • Witkin Library
    • State Jurisprudences for Florida, New York, Ohio and Texas
    • American Jurisprudence 2d (Am Jur 2d) will continue to be available through

    November 21, 2008

    LIFE Photo Archive Available via Google

    Google has recently released a LIFE magazine photo archive. The archive contains millions of photographs, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time.

    I particularly enjoyed this cover image titled "The Good Life in Madison, Wisconsin" dated September 6, 1948.

    November 11, 2008

    Fastcase Now Free to WI Bar Members

    From the Wisconsin Law Journal:

    Oct. 31 marked the State Bar of Wisconsin's roll-out of its newest, and by far most significant, member benefit: It launched free access to Fastcase for bar members...

    A couple of months ago, I talked to law librarian Mary J. Koshollek, of Godfrey & Kahn S.C. in Milwaukee, about Fastcase for an article about alternatives to Westlaw and Lexis.

    Although none of the competitors can match them with regard to the sheer volume of materials, Koshollek nonetheless gave Fastcase a thumbs-up. She praised its Google-like searchablity, clean interface and extensive customer service and help options.

    Read the full article for more on the State Bar's Fastcase service, including some recent improvements.

    October 9, 2008

    Legal History Resources Online: Avalon Project, A Century of Law Making & ConSource

    The following is reprinted from a column in the UW Law School News. It was written by my colleague, Eric Taylor.

    In this week's column, we review three free online resources of historical legal documents relating to the formation and development of the United States of America. For students, scholars, history buffs, and interested citizens alike, there is a great deal of American treasure to be mined from these three resources.

    Avalon Project : Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy (Yale Law School)

    Online since 1996, this resource offers a truly remarkable and ambitious collection of historical materials. It includes documents from before the Magna Carta (1215) to the 9/11 Commission Report. A simple click on the "Documents Collection" link shows a list of discreet collections that looks much like a ladder through time. Listed below are just a few of the collections you'll find:

    • Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Documents;
    • The American Constitution - a Documentary History;
    • Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England : 1765-1769;
    • The Jefferson Papers;
    • Presidential Papers;
    • The Barbary Treaties 1816-1836;
    • Confederate States of America : Papers;
    • Nuremberg War Crimes Trial;
    • Soviet-American Diplomacy;
    • United Nations - Documents

    One drawback to this site is that the vast majority of documents are in html. Nonetheless citation is given to the source document and many of these can be cited by their title, chapter, article, paragraph, and section numbers. In terms of sheer volume and easy access to primary documents defining the broad outlines of American and Western legal history, the Avalon Project is an outstanding source.

    A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation : U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates (1774-1875)

    This resource is one component of the Library of Congress' "American Memory" historical collections. The focus here is on the records and proceedings of the U.S. Congress over the first century of our Nation. Quoting from the website's introductory remarks: "These documents record American history in the words of those who built our government."

    One look at the homepage immediately reveals the scope of this collection. A short list of the titles one may find here, include:

    • Journals of the Continental Congress;
    • Letters of Delegates to Congress;
    • United States Statutes at Large;
    • American State Papers;
    • U.S. Serial Set (selected documents and reports);
    • Journals of Congress;
    • The Debates of Congress, featuring:
      • Annals of Congress;
      • Register of Debates;
      • Congressional Globe;
      • Congressional Record

    Most collections appear to be in PDF format, offering a digital facsimile of the original, though there are some in html. Readers can browse or search the content. Historical background, a citation guide and links to related information are also available.

    ConSource : the Constitutional Sources Project

    This is by far the most focused of the three online resources under review. ConSource offers a collection of primary and secondary sources related to the formation and ratification of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For a quick overview of the site's content, click on the "All Collections" link at the bottom-right of the homepage.

    Some of the collections may already be familiar to you, such as, The Federalist Papers and James Madison's Notes of the Constitutional Convention; other collections may not be, such as the Bill of Rights' Legislative History, the Papers of George Washington, or the State Ratification Debates. The documents are available in both html and PDF of the original source.

    ConSource features two useful tools for searching constitutional content. The first, the Clause Browser is a pull down menu which directs the user to a particular clause by number. There is also an advanced search feature which allows you to search by constitutional topic or keyword.

    Another interesting feature is the "Documents by Author" link at the bottom of the ConSource Collections page which includes many letters of correspondence among the Delegates to the Convention.

    Most of the most powerful features of this collection are the constitutional cross-references. Below the text of each constitutional clause, ConSource contains cross references to other titles in the collection that are connected to the clause.

    Although many of the documents in this collection are also available at the Avalon Project and elsewhere, the biggest strength of ConSource is that it has gathered these core documents together in one place.

    October 6, 2008

    Recent SSRN Enhancements

    The folks at Social Science Research Network have been kind enough to share with me info about some recent enhancements. These features include a completely revised Simple Submission process, a new sign in process, and redesigned Author and Abstract Pages. See the announcement for more information.

    I recently spoke with SSRN pres, Gregg Gordon who tells me that they are working on a open url resolver. With this feature, a reader coming across a fee-based article in SSRN would see a link to the full-text article, if available, from their local library. I'm all for that!

    October 1, 2008

    SAGE Offers Free Online Access to Journals in October

    SAGE is offering free online access to over 500 of its journals until October 31, 2008. Content is available from 1999 to the present. Registration is required.

    Source: LISNews

    September 3, 2008

    Fastcase Free to State Bar of WI Members Starting Nov. 1st

    Beginning November 1st, Fastcase will be available free to State Bar of Wisconsin members. See the press release for more information.

    The Fastcase database contains state and federal caselaw, statutes, administrative codes, and court rules. See this list of documents included in the State Bar of Wisconsin Fastcase subscription. Per the rep I spoke with on the phone, the subscription does not include the public records service available from Fastcase.

    Check out the video demo for an overview of the Fastcase system.

    Fastcase is the service behind the free Public Library of Law.

    Fastcase has been much in the news lately. See this recent article on and this interview with Fastcase CEO, Ed Walters and president Phillip Rosenthal about the business of legal research and competing against the big vendors.

    Badgerlink Databases Available to All Wisconsinites - Now with Federated Searching

    If you're a regular WisBlawg reader you know that I often sing the praises of Badgerlink. Badgerlink is a collection of databases containing over 11,000 periodical titles and over 700 newspapers (including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and many Wisconsin newspapers), children's and adult literature, business, medical, and education sources, and many other specialized resources not available through regular Internet search engines.

    And the really cool thing is that Badgerlink is free to all state residents via Wisconsin's libraries through funding from the DPI. If your Web access is provided by a registered Internet Service Provider, you should automatically have access to Badgerlink from your home or office. Users whose ISP is not registered may be able to access one or both of the database resources using a WI library card as a log-in ID.

    Yeah, I've said all this before - so why am I talking about Badgerlink again? Because now you can do a combined search ("federated" search in library lingo) of all the Badgerlink databases at once. Very nice!!

    Source: WSLL @ Your Service

    August 21, 2008

    IDEA to Replace EDGAR for Company Filings

    The Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman recently announced that EDGAR will be replaced with a new system called IDEA offering "investors far faster and easier access to key financial information about public companies and mutual funds."

    From the press release:

    The new system is called IDEA, short for Interactive Data Electronic Applications. Based on a completely new architecture being built from the ground up, it will at first supplement and then eventually replace the EDGAR system. The decision to replace EDGAR marks the SEC's transition from collecting forms and documents to making the information itself freely available to investors to give them better and more up-to-date financial disclosure in a form they can readily use.

    August 1, 2008

    New Name & Interface for Delicious

    Must be the week for new interfaces - this time its a new look for - or make that Delicious (hold the periods). Delicious is a social bookmarking web service for storing, sharing, and discovering web bookmarks.

    Here's a look at my list of the bookmarks I've tagged PhotosImages in Delicious:delicious.jpg

    According to the Delicious blog

    We've updated the user interface to improve usability and add a few often-requested features (such as selectable detail levels and alphabetical sorting of bookmarks). Our goal has been to keep the new design similar in spirit to the old one, so all of you veterans should be able to jump in without any confusion. At the same time, we're hoping that newcomers to Delicious will find it easier to learn.

    Check out all the changes, including navigation, tag bar, bookmarks, side bar and action box, on the What's New page. Or, watch a short movie which visually depicts the changes.

    Behind the scenes, Delicious has also improved the speed and search capabilities according to the blog.

    July 30, 2008

    SSRN Improves Article and Author Pages

    It appears that SSRN (Social Science Research Network) has made some interface improvements to its author and article pages. Very nice. For those that may not be familiar with it, SSRN is an open access repository of scholarly papers.

    Article page:
    Notice the large download buttons at the top of the article page. They appear when you "Choose Download Location" link. This is a nice improvement since it wasn't entirely clear how to download on the old format. If you click on the "Share" link at the top, you'll see links to save/share the url on Digg,, etc. At the bottom of the page, you have the option to export the cite to EndNote, BibTeX and RefMan. That may or may not be new, but I've never noticed it.

    Author page:
    The author page also has some nice options. At the very top, notice the RSS feed which will notify you of all new papers and revisions by that author. (This isn't new, but it's worth repeating.)

    In the listing of articles, statistics to number of downloads and citations appear on the right. In the actions bar across the top, you can email or export citations to selected articles in the list. You can also choose to view or hide abstracts in the article list.

    July 25, 2008

    Free Criminal History Search for Individuals or Entire Neighborhoods

    Criminal Searches is a new site that allows you to do just what its name implies - run a criminal history check on specific people or generally for a geographic area.

    From an AP story:

    Created by the folks behind, the new site crunches monthly government data down to the state and county level, says Bryce Lane, president and chief operating officer of

    "What we're really good at is establishing connections across all these different data sets, linking it back to a particular person," Lane said, acknowledging, however, that some data might be missing. The company also doesn't tap into federal crime data.

    The Neighborhood Watch feature lets you focus your search by address or ZIP code. You can also search by a person's name or specific home address, and there's a separate search with a detailed map of registered sex offenders.

    All I can say is WOW. I ran a general check of my street (I live in small town USA) and was completely shocked by the number of people listed - and all overlayed on a Google map of my neighborhood. Criminal Searches also includes an legend of the type of crime for which an individual was charged. See, for example, this map of the UW Madison campus area.

    Not surprisingly, some are questioning the product.

    Yet, if a neighbor was not convicted and is otherwise innocent this may not matter to If you land on the list, prepare to save money on Halloween candy and rest assured you'll have a less cluttered social calender -- as word moves along about the free criminal background search website.


    July 22, 2008

    Survey Finds that Most Law Librarians Prefer Westlaw to LexisNexis

    Two librarians from Stanford Law School, J. Paul Lomio and Erika V. Wayne, have recently published the results of their study analyzing law librarians opinions on LexisNexis v. Westlaw.

    As costs for research tools, both online and paper, continue to increase, librarians are often faced with the difficult decision of what materials can and should be canceled, and what new acquisitions can be made.

    The survey, titled "LexisNexis vs. Westlaw," was designed to answer a few of our key questions: which database could be canceled?, what some of the effects might be from cancellation?, and what low cost or free legal research alternatives are available and

    Interestingly, law librarians overwhelmingly preferred Westlaw.
    See the complete study for the full results, including why respondents had a preference for one system over the other.

    April 30, 2008

    CityDictionary Defines Local Customs/Phrases

    CityDictionary is a fun new online dictionary with a local flavor. From the creator:

    It's for regional words/phrases/things/places, etc. that you think someone should know about a city. But it's more than just a city guide -- it's really a place to share insider information like nicknames for things, regional slang, etc. that you wouldn't know until someone explained it to you. You can also upload photos of things (whether or not you wrote a definition for it). Also, if you have a better definition for a word that already exists on there (or just think there is some key information missing), just add your own definition. You can vote on definitions, too, and the number of votes they have determines the order in which they appear under the word.

    Although it's heavily Madison focused, CityDictionary is open to any city/town in the United States.

    Thanks to my colleague, Vicky Coulter for the tip.

    April 21, 2008

    SEC Adds RSS Feeds

    The SEC has begun offering RSS feeds of new filings. You can receive all filings received by the SEC or do a search by company, CIK or form type and subscribe to the results.

    Source: Slaw

    PreCYdent Tops Search Results

    It seems that David Hobbie over at Caselines is very impressed with PreCYdent. He ran a sample search in several databases, both free and commercial, and was surprised with the results:

    I was stunned by the results of my search for IPJ on PreCYdent. The top six cases were the leading U.S. Supreme Court cases I studied in Prof. Reimann's jurisdiction class. Each of them is fundamental to an understanding of the application of personal jurisdiction in federal courts. I have never seen a such a highly relevant set of search results on any electronic case search engine. Not in Westlaw. Not in Lexis. Not anywhere....

    A look on the PreCYdent team list and firm description site has a clue."PreCYdent search technology is able to mine the information latent in the "Web of Law", the network of citations among legal authorities. This means it is also able to retrieve legally relevant authorities, even if the search terms do not actually occur or occur frequently in the retrieved document."

    Source: Et Seq

    April 15, 2008

    National Library Week Freebies - Databases

    The following databases are available free this week (some longer):

    Source: AbsTracked and my colleague, Nancy Paul

    April 10, 2008

    Search 19th Century Newspapers

    New from the Milwaukee Public Library: 19th Century U. S. Newspapers

    Consisting of just under 17 million articles, 19th Century U. S. Newspapers from the Thomson Gale Company is a genealogy or history buff's dream come true. Fully searchable by keyword, this database includes papers from across the U.S., and is particularly strong on the Midwest. Newspapers with significant runs include the Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee Sentinel, Wisconsin State Register, Chicago Evening Journal, Hartford Courant, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, and Frederick Douglass' Paper, to name just a few.

    This database can be accessed at the Milwaukee Public Library or from home/office by City of Milwaukee library cardholders. It is also available on at the UW Madison campus libraries or remotely with a campus id.

    Source: Now @ MPL

    March 28, 2008

    GPO Authenticates Online Content

    Beginning with the 110th Congress, the Public and Private Laws on GPO Access have been digitally signed and certified. GPO has signed and certified the PDF files to assure users that the online documents are official and authentic.

    "To help meet the challenge of the digital age, GPO has begun implementing digital signatures to certain electronic documents on GPO Access that not only establish GPO as the trusted information disseminator, but also provide the assurance that an electronic document has not been altered since GPO disseminated it." Read more at GPO Access' authentication efforts.

    Source: FDLP-listserv via my colleague, Bill Ebbott

    March 25, 2008

    Foreclosure Alarm Offers Alerts of WI Pre-foreclosure Filings

    Foreclosure Alarm is a new company based out of Madison which offers real-time notifications of all pre-foreclosure filings in Wisconsin. The data is derived from CCAP.

    From the Attorney Benefits page:

    • Search foreclosure filings based on county, zip code, partial zip code (for metro area matches), plaintiff names and event types.

    • Subscribe to whatever counties in which you are interested. Receive instant email notifications whenever a pre-foreclosure filing is entered in the CCAP statewide system.

    • After you've searched and found the list of filings you are interested in, simply click the export link at the top of the list. This will download a spreadsheet to your computer specifically formatted for easy mail merge with programs like Microsoft Word.

    • With our Filing Watch, you can choose which event types you are interested in. Many events occur during the foreclosure process - many of which you probably aren't interested to know about. With our system, you can filter out these events and only keep track of the ones important to you.

    Foreclosure Alarm is priced at $39.95/month for all features. A free trial is also available. They have created a short video explaining how it works.

    I spoke with developer Philip Crawford yesterday about the differences between Foreclosure Alarm and CCAP itself. Although the data is derived from CCAP, Foreclosure Alarm's notification service is unique. While CCAP does offer RSS feeds now, they are only available for the basic search. There seems to be no way to get a CCAP feed based on a class code or case type search. Plus, Foreclosure Alarm also offers downloadable spread sheets for mail merging.

    Philip also informed me that they are also considering the development of a more generalized notifications system which would incorporate all case types. I also recommended that they look into offering RSS feeds in addition to the email notifications.

    Thanks to Carol Bannen for alerting me to this new service.

    March 21, 2008

    Google Scholar Indexing Hein Online Content

    Due Process reports that law review articles from Hein Online are now being indexed by Google Scholar.

    I've always liked Google Scholar, but up until recently I haven't found it particularly helpful for finding law review articles. Until today. I just noticed that Google Scholar now searches HeinOnline, which has one of the largest online collection of law review articles. I can't tell how much of HeinOnline is being searched by Google Scholar.

    Google Scholar is different from Google because it searches only databases that have scholarly content and aren't searchable by Google as they aren't part of the free web. Google Scholar doesn't provide access to the full-text of these articles (your library does that), but it is an quick and easy way to search multiple databases at one time.

    And if you didn't already know, the Wisconsin State Law Library offers remote access to Hein Online to firms or state agencies with less than 25 attorneys. If that's you and you have a WSLL library card, you can access the full text law reviews and journals in Hein Online from anywhere.

    Update: 3/31/08
    Read more about in the Hein Online Weblog

    The indexing is still ongoing, as Google Scholar has not fully indexed all of the titles in the Law Journal Collection as of yet. Over the next 30 days or so they should near completion of the indexing at which point the entire HeinOnline Law Journal collection will be searchable in Google Scholar.

    March 18, 2008

    PreCYdent Adds New Content - State Opinions & Congressional Records

    Per an email I received from developer Antonio Tomarchio, PreCYdent is reporting some new content:

    • A collection of opinions from major states has recently been added with more to come
    • Later this week, a GPO section will be added containing "all congressional records" I'm not sure what that means, but I'm eager to find out.

    March 12, 2008

    Has Westlaw Really Removed Almost All Dialog Content?

    Out of the Jungle reports that "Westlaw has removed all Dialog content with the exception of the copyright databases." Worse yet, it seems that there was no prior notification.

    It's uncertain whether this affects all Westlaw accounts or just academic ones. I've asked my Westlaw Librarian Relations rep about it, but haven't heard back yet. OOTJ also promises to report any updates.

    March 10, 2008

    Google Adds Search within a Search

    Google has added a new feature in which a secondary search box that appears within some of the search results themselves. See, for example, the search results for a "NASA" search.

    Note the "Search" search box below the link. According to Google,

    This feature will now occur when we detect a high probability that a user wants more refined search results within a specific site. Like the rest of our snippets, the sites that display the site search box are chosen algorithmically based on metrics that measure how useful the search box is to users.

    I've not seen this yet for any other search I've done - have you?

    Source: Search Engine Watch
    Update: 3/12/08 Looks like Google within Google also appears for some university names, including the University of Wisconsin. I also saw it for the IMDB (Internet Movie Database).

    February 28, 2008

    JD Supra Combines Business Networking & Document Repository

    Since its launch earlier this week, JD Supra is already creating quite a buzz around the blawgosphere. It's a combination business networking site and shared document repository for legal professionals - quite ingenious actually. And it's all free.

    As a Business Networking Site:
    JD Supra offers legal professionals and organizations a chance to showcase their work. Individuals, firms or organizations create profiles for themselves in which they describe their expertise, practice areas, educational background, etc.

    Once the profile is created, individuals or organizations can post documents - court filings, articles & newsletters, and legal forms. "The more documents you post on JD Supra, the more exposure you receive. Each document you post advertises your experience and the quality of your work."

    As a Shared Document Repository:
    As more and more legal documents are shared, JD Supra is quickly becoming an important tool for legal researchers, too. It's not only that JD Supra is facilitating the sharing of legal content - there are other sites do that, like DocStoc or Scribd - but what makes it unique is that it is able to lend some authority to those documents by tying them to author profiles. As a librarian, I'm much more likely to rely on a source when I can verify the expertise of its author.

    There are already lots of documents available, including numerous items from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Morrison & Foerster. Justia reports that they are in the process of doing a major data upload of the higher quality briefs and filings aggregated from Pacer.

    As I said, JD Supra is creating quite a buzz, and rightly so. To read more, check out the ABA Journal, WSJ law blog, and Robert Ambrogi's Law Sites to name just a few.

    February 26, 2008

    Article: Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business

    With so many great resources available on the Internet at no cost, you may wonder how content creators can afford to offer them for free. Wired magazine has a very useful article which explains Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business.

    Source: Vancouver Law Librarian Blog

    February 21, 2008

    Photos of Milwaukee Businesses, Homes Now on Google

    Google Street Views has made its way to Milwaukee. Simply do a Google search for an address in Milwaukee and click on the "Street Views" link in the resulting map. You'll see a panoramic view from the street like the one below. Notice that you can pan, rotate and zoom, as well as, move forward or backward down the street.

    View Larger Map

    Despite its usefulness for travelers, home buyers, etc., it's no surprise that Google Street Views has raised privacy concerns. See the related NYT article. Google does allow users to report inappropriate photographs.

    Google Street Views is currently only available for major metropolitan areas.

    Source: Wisconsin Law Journal blog

    February 15, 2008

    Create a Form with Google Docs

    Google recently announced that you can create forms using spreadsheets in Google Docs.

    Create a form in a Google Docs spreadsheet and send it out to anyone with an email address. They won't need to sign in, and they can respond directly from the email message or from an automatically generated web page. Responses are automatically added to your spreadsheet.

    Forms are great for collecting information and now you don't have to know anything about programming to set up one of your own. Very nice.

    February 13, 2008

    Public Library of Law Gathers Free State & Federal Law - Cases, Statutes, Regs, Etc.

    Wow - more big news today stemming from the availability of free federal case law. Fastcase has developed a new resource called The Public Library of Law which brings together a wide variety of free legal resources, including:

    State Law for All 50 States:
    • Supreme and Appellate Court cases from 1997 to the present
    • Statutes from all 50 states
    • Constitutions from all 50 states
    • Court Rules from all 50 states
    • Regulations and Administrative Codes from selected states

    Federal Law:
    • All U.S. Supreme Court Cases
    • All Federal Circuit Courts from 1950 to the present
    • The United States Code
    • US Code of Federal Regulations
    • Federal Court Rules

    Free registration is required to view materials. PLoL also includes free links to paid content on Fastcase. See the PLoL user guide for more information.

    Thanks to Tim Stanley of Justia for the heads up.

    February 11, 2008

    Wisconsin-Related Public Records Databases

    The Appleton Post-Crescent has gathered together a number of Wisconsin-related public records databases, some useful, others, well, maybe more interesting than useful. They include:

    • Banned Wisconsin license plates
    • Delinquent Appleton accounts
    • Disciplined doctors, dentists and other licensed professionals
    • Smoking cost calculator
    • New businesses in Northeastern Wisconsin
    • Wisconsin school salaries
    • Fox Valley delinquent taxpayers
    • Wisconsin sexually transmitted disease cases
    • Wisconsin teen mothers
    • Wisconsin public library statistics
    • Trophy deer, bear
    • Records on car crashes with deer
    • DNR hunting and fishing license sales locations
    • Wisconsin fishing records
    • Fox Valley unclaimed property
    See the Post-Crescent's DataMine page for even more databases.

    Source: The Wheeler Report

    February 4, 2008

    Docstoc Shares Legal Documents, But Are They Reliable?

    Denise Howell over at Lawgarithims has good things to stay about Docstoc, a "user generated community where you can find and share professional documents." There are tons of sample legal and business forms to be had, not to mention law school outlines and bar exam resources. Seems a lot like Scribd but with more legal content.

    The content is extensive to be sure, but the lack of authority scares me. I was troubled that so many Docstoc documents are of anonymous authorship, and even when authorship is listed, authority is certainly not guaranteed.

    As a librarian, I'm constantly advising people to pay attention to the source when replying upon information from the Web. This is particularly important for legal information where so much as a misplaced comma can cost millions.

    I'll all for social networking and building up the information commons, but legal contract language does doesn't strike me as something I'd be willing to trust to an unknown author. But, maybe I'm being overly cautious and not appreciating the whole social networking dynamic. What do you think?

    January 31, 2008

    PreCYdent, New Public-Domain Law Search Engine, Features Sophisticated Search Engine & Social Networking Tools

    There is a new public-domain law search engine on the block and it's a dandy.

    Like parallel projects, Public.Resource.Org and AltLaw, newcomer PreCYdent aims to compile public-domain cases and statutes for free availability on the Web. "We believe judicial opinions and statutes must be in the public domain, in practice as well as in theory. To us this means that effective legal research in all of these materials should be free to the user -- not expensive, not inexpensive. Free." Officially, the alpha version contains only U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Court of Appeals cases so far, but it looks like the US Code is available, as well.

    Search Engine
    There are several things that make PreCYdent stand apart from the other projects, however. Foremost is its sophisticated, yet simple-to-use Google-esque search engine developed specifically with legal resources in mind. "PreCYdent search technology is able to mine the information latent in the "Web of Law", the network of citations among legal authorities. This means it is also able to retrieve legally relevant authorities, even if the search terms do not actually occur or occur frequently in the retrieved document."

    Social Networking
    Another stand out aspect is PreCYdent's incorporation of social networking tools, such as offering users the option to add tags and comments to documents, and to rate their importance. "Our objective is to create a space where people interested in law will be able to share knowledge, find help and to exchange experiences. We are going to integrate our effort with successful social communities such as Facebook. "

    For more on PreCYdent, see Robert Ambrogi's insightful analysis, as well as, Joe Hodnicki's interview with founder Thomas A. Smith, professor at University of San Diego School of Law.

    January 30, 2008

    Atlantic Monthly Goes Free, But WSJ Doesn't

    Despite speculation to the contrary, The Wall Street Journal will keep a significant portion of its content behind its paid-subscription wall.

    The Atlantic Monthly, however, has recently dropped its subscriber registration requirement, making the site free to all visitors. Back issues are available from 1995 to the present. Note that the search box, oddly enough, is at the bottom of the page.

    Sources: beSpacific and Boing Boing

    January 16, 2008

    Additions to Cornell's Legal Research Engine

    Cornell Law Library has recently enhanced their Legal Research Search Engine to include a few new specialty search engines. It now includes four search engines:

    • Legal Research Guides (compiled by law libraries around the county)
    • Legal Internet (sites indexed by InSite)
    • Academic Blawgs
    • and a combined search of the all of the above

    You can also add these search engines to your Google homepage by clicking on the Google button under each one. Nifty.

    December 20, 2007

    Mersky & Dunn's Index to Periodical Articles Related to Law to be Searchable in Hein Online

    From the HeinOnline Weblog:

    Next month, HeinOnline will release an enhancement that will allow you to search an Index to Periodical Articles Related to Law Database. The database was created from the Index to Periodical Articles Related to Law publication, which is compiled and edited by Roy M. Mersky and Donald J. Dunn and has been published since 1958. [Read more from HeinOnline]

    December 19, 2007

    Tax Notes and Other Tax Analysts Products Free to Professors Online

    I learned today that full-time professors of law, economics, or accounting may sign up for complimentary access to Tax Analysts Campus. The purpose of Tax Analysts Campus is to provide professors an opportunity to teach with, and students to learn with, Tax Analysts' news and research products.

    These products include:

    • Tax Notes Today (Daily)
    • Tax Notes (Weekly)
    • Federal Research Library
    • State Tax Today (Daily)
    • State Tax Notes (Weekly)
    • Worldwide Tax Daily (Daily)
    • Tax Notes International (Weekly)
    • Worldwide Tax Treaties

    Professors will receive a user name and password via e-mail to share with their students. Web access provided under Tax Analysts Campus is solely for educational use and may not be used to replace professional subscriptions or be used for business purposes. Length of access is limited to the academic year; annual renewal is required.

    To access, professors should return a completed application via fax (703-533-4444) or e-mail (

    EndNote Now Supports Bluebook Citation Style

    A question about citation management software on the ALL-SIS listserv reminded me that I haven't yet posted about EndNote's addition of the Bluebook citation style. Previously, the only product of which I was aware that supported Bluebook was Citation Legal Edition. [What is citation management software?]

    I learned about this back in August when Web of Knowledge started including EndNote Web in our campus subscription. Although the two products are designed complement each other, you can use them separately. So, despite the fact that there isn't a ton of legal content in Web of Knowledge, I can still make use of the EndNote Web piece.

    According the to technician I spoke with at EndNote, the EndNote Web program comes with a standard set of output styles (which currently cannot be changed or modified like the desktop version of EndNote), which now includes the two Bluebook styles.

    If you don't already have EndNote (desktop) or EndNote Web, you can get the free demo version of EndNote X1 and test out the Bluebook outputs.

    Since I'd already built custom Bluebook styles in RefWorks (to which our campus also subscribes), I haven't felt the urgent need to play around with the Bluebook styles in EndNote. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone that has. Please share in the comments.

    December 3, 2007

    Hein Online Offers Live Help

    Hein Online is now offering live chat search and tech support. Live help is accessible through the "Help" button found in the upper right hand corner, on the welcome screen, and in the technical and training sections of the home page.

    If you aren't familiar with Hein Online, it is made up of several libraries, including law journals, CFR, Federal Register, codes, session laws, and much more. PDF page images are available. For more information, see Cheryl O'Connor's article in the Law School Newsletter.

    Hein Online is available at the UW Law Library, Wisconsin State Law Library, Dane County Legal Resource Center, Milwaukee Legal Resource Center and Marquette Law Library. The Hein Online Law Journal Library is also available remotely to legal professionals with a Wisconsin State Law Library card.

    Source: Hein Online Weblog

    November 20, 2007

    Open CRS Offers Meta Search of CRS Reports

    The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is the public policy research arm of the United States Congress. The reports issued by CRS, which are created to inform members of Congress on issues of public policy, are excellent sources of in-depth, non-partisan information.

    Unfortunately, while the taxpayer-funded CRS reports are unclassified, they do not become public until a member of Congress releases them. Fortunately, a number of libraries and non-profit organizations have sought to collect as many of the released reports as possible. Open CRS, a project of the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), brings together these collections.

    Because there is no systematic way to obtain all CRS reports, not all reports appear on the Open CRS web site. But with the help of one anonymous lawmaker, we at least know what we are missing. According to a CDT press release, this lawmaker is providing a running list of new reports, making it possible to seek out the "fugitive" reports and upload them to the database. Looks like all known ones so far have been tracked down.

    Sources: Virtual Library Cat's Eye View and beSpacific

    November 19, 2007

    Key Number Searching in Westlaw Just Got Easier

    From CM Law Library Blog:

    At last! You can now easily get to the digest topic outline on Westlaw via a link on the top of the Westlaw page that says "Key Numbers". [Read more]

    November 2, 2007

    New Business Database Availability from Madison & Milwaukee Public Libraries

    Two business databases available to public library card holders have just been announced:

    Value Line from the Milwaukee Public Library

    Value Line, a popular online database for investors, is now available remotely through the Milwaukee Public Library's Website. All City of Milwaukee residents with valid library cards can use this great resource. To access this database from your home computer: Go to the Milwaukee Public Library's home page. Select "Research Resources," then "All Library Databases". Scroll through the alphabetical list until you reach Value Line. Click on the Value Line link. Enter your library card number and PIN, and you're in!

    Value Line is also available at some Madison Public Library locations.

    Morningstar Library Edition from the Madison Public Library

    Madison Public Library and the Madison Public Library Foundation are offering a five-month trial of the Morningstar Library Edition financial evaluation service. Morningstar Library Edition incorporates the best of Morningstar data, analysis, technology, and information design. Individual investors can access and use all of the features and functionality in this online destination, including analyst reports of 2,000 mutual funds and nearly 2,000 stocks. An exceptional Education Center offers in-depth guides on five different topics that matter most to today's investor: retirement planning, college planning, investing during retirement, investing for beginners, and portfolio tips and tricks.

    Morningstar Library Edition will be accessible from November 1, 2007, to March 31, 2008, to anyone who visits a Madison Public Library location. The service will also be available remotely to any City of Madison resident who has a current public library card. Contact Carla DiIorio at 266-6310 or email to participate in this trial.

    Morningstar is also available from the Milwaukee Public Library.

    October 31, 2007

    Westlaw WebPlus: a New, Free Legal Search Engine.

    West has unveiled a new Web search engine called Westlaw WebPlus. This legally-focused search engine filters search results based on legal relevance.

    WebPlus is available from within Westlaw, although it may just be for law schools at this point (see image below), as well as independently on the Web. Using it in either platform is free.


    There are some nice features including specifying whether you're searching for a legal Issue, person, company, government entity, etc. Search results can also be refined by subject, domain or file format, as well as by format (web, news or blog results).

    Of course Westlaw WebPlus isn't going to replace other research tools, such as Westlaw, Lexis and other databases, or more traditional print resources. But for searching the legal Web, it's pretty nice. I'll definitely be adding it to my list of search engines.

    October 30, 2007

    West Headnote of the Day - Amusing, Profound or Otherwise Interesting

    West has launched a fun new resource called Headnote of the Day in which "amusing, profound or otherwise interesting" headnotes are delivered to you by email (what, no RSS?). Headnote of the Day is a free subscription service.

    From the press release:

    "People are fascinated with the law," said Al Maleson, West Headnote of the Day developer. "The law is life and death, love and betrayal, marriage and family, crime and punishment. This is also what is captured in the free West Headnote of the Day, and why we think headnotes make good daily reading."

    Thanks to Danae, one of our Westlaw reps, for telling me about this one.

    October 26, 2007

    New Statewide Victim Notification System

    Thanks to a grant from the US Dept of Justice, Wisconsin will soon be launching a new statewide victim notification system.

    From the Wisconsin Radio Network:

    [According to Corrections Secretary Rick Raemisch], the project is intended to make sure all victims have easy access to the status of an offender or defendant as they move through the criminal justice system.

    The state does already have a system in place that notifies victims about the status of an offender. However, Raemisch says it can be complicated and stressful for victims to use. The new system being developed would allow them to use register with just one source for information on an offender.

    Thanks to my colleague, Bill Ebbott, for passing this on.

    October 19, 2007

    HeinOnline to Enhance Title Browsing

    HeinOnline will soon be enhancing title browsing. From the HeinOnline Weblog:

    We added the ability to browse volumes within a title without taking you to an entirely new page. On a collection's list of titles you will now see a "+" to the immediate left of each title which indicates that when it is clicked, the volumes relating to that title will open up underneath that title in reverse volume order so you see the most current volume first.

    October 10, 2007

    WI Dockets Available on Westlaw

    My Westlaw representative informs me that there are two new databases of interest to Wisconsinites:

    • Dockets-Wisconsin-Appellate and Supreme Courts (DOCK-WI-APPSCT)
    • Dockets-Wisconsin-Circuit Courts (DOCK-WI-CIRCUIT)
    Unfortunately, they are not available to law schools at this time.

    October 2, 2007

    DataOnDemand, JSOnline's Statistics Portal

    I've recently discovered that JSOnline maintains a statistics portal called DataOnDemand. The data sets, which go back to June 2007, include:

    • Annual pay for Milwaukee city employees
    • FBI crime statistics
    • U.S. housing unit estimates
    • U.S. poverty estimates
    • School instructional hours
    • Dam inspections
    • Wisconsin bridges
    • Property taxes
    • Wisconsin fuel pump inspections
    • State subsidies to businesses
    • Wisconsin population

    The data sets relate to stories published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The source of the data appears at the bottom of each data set.

    September 26, 2007

    Lookup by Title in HeinOnline

    HeinOnline will soon be adding a new search feature called Title Lookup whereby you can locate a title anywhere in HeinOnline or you can use it to locate a title in a specific library.

    Title Lookup is available on the HeinOnline "Welcome" page and in each HeinOnline library. You can enter any term you wish to search. Surrounding terms with " " will perform a phrase search.

    Here's a screen shot from the HeinOnline blog:

    September 22, 2007

    HeinOnline Launches Blog

    HeinOnline has launched a blog to provide product information to users.

    According to Hein:

    This blog will offer insight to our newest products, notify customers of our latest interface enhancements, and share tips to help improve customers research experience.

    Anyone from students and librarians to professionals world-wide will be able to use our blog to communicate with our development team, share tips with other subscribers, or simply to read what other HeinOnline users are saying.

    September 18, 2007

    LexisNexis 50 State Surveys Available to Law Schools

    According to my rep, LexisNexis Fifty State Surveys of Statutes and Regulations are now available on the Law School menu. The LexisNexis 50 State Surveys deliver an easy to access, easy to understand overview of legislation, regulations and even court rules, all organized by topic.

    Use the following path:
    Legal > States Legal - U.S. > Combined States > Statutes & Legislative Materials

    I love that 50 states surveys are available on LexisNexis - and Westlaw, by the way. I used to cringe when I'd get a request for a 50 state survey of state statutes because they are fairly difficult and laborious to compile. But, now, it's quite easy - assuming that Lexis or Westlaw has one on topic.

    September 11, 2007

    New Content in LexisNexis Academic - Full Shepards, Municipal Codes, ALR & AmJur

    In addition to the password protected LexisNexis, there is also a campus wide product called LexisNexis Academic to which the UW Madison Libraries subscribe. Anyone may use this service at no charge at any campus library. Although it doesn't offer everything in full Lexis, most of it is there.

    LexisNexis Academic recently underwent a redesign and the layout is now quite similar to full LexisNexis. But in addition to the layout changes, it seems that some new sources were added. Most significant is the full availability of Shepards. Previously, Shepards was only available for US Supreme Court cases, but now it's comprehensive. Another addition are selected municipal codes.

    Also, according to product manager, Alistair Morrison, American Law Reports and American Jurisprudence on available on LN Academic, but probably only until the end of the year. That may have something to do with the removal of ALR from all Lexis products.

    To see what's available for Wisconsin, go to the "sources" tab and then "find sources" Do a search for the keyword "Wisconsin". You might find something else you didn't know what available. I did - the Wisconsin Administrative Code archive. I'm not sure if that's new or not.

    August 23, 2007

    ALR to be Available Only on Westlaw

    Information Today reports that as of January 2008, American Law Reports (ALR) will be available exclusively on Westlaw.

    From the article:

    It isn't the first time that users have had products pulled out from under them. Lexis took away Shepard's Citators--and in fact, Westlaw's novel and award-winning KeyCite was a response to that. Factiva has been an exclusive at one time or another on each system. Various newspapers and journals have also been moved back and forth, lock, stock, and barrel...

    Competition now demands (and Lexis has already announced) new products to fill the gap left by ALR... According to Michael Saint-Onge, my LexisNexis consultant, we "really have a two-pronged answer. Cases in Brief, which gives the in-depth analysis of specific cases (and the larger legal issues underlying the case)" is one... The "second part of the answer hasn't been released yet: It's the remake of Search Advisor, which is being revamped and should release in late September or early October."

    Source: AbsTracked

    August 15, 2007

    Ebsco Embraces RSS

    The Shifted Librarian reports that EBSCO has finally embraced RSS. To test it out, do a search in an EBSCO database, such as Academic Search Elite which is freely available to all Wisconsinites via Badgerlink.

    On your search results page, notice the orange RSS button which appears at the top. Click on this will give you a customized RSS feed based on your search terms. It also gives you the option to receive an email alert.

    I'm very pleased with this. EBSCO has made it easy and intuitive to generate a custom feed. Lets hope that more vendors follow suit.

    August 8, 2007

    Shepards Coverage to be Expanded in LexisNexis Academic

    I noticed a while back that Shepard's coverage was expanded in the new beta version of LexisNexis Academic. In the current version, only U.S. Supreme Court cases can be Shepardized.

    There was some discussion today on the AALL Academic Law Libraries SIS about coverage. Apparently it includes all case law, but no statutory coverage.

    August 7, 2007

    TimesSelect Content Free?

    Looks like The New York Times may stop charging readers for online access to its TimesSelect service which features Op-Ed columnists and other content, says the New York Post.

    After much internal debate, Times executives - including publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. - made the decision to end the subscription-only TimesSelect service but have yet to make an official announcement, according to a source briefed on the matter...

    Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis would only say in an e-mailed statement, "We continue to evaluate the best approach for"

    Source: Boing Boing

    August 2, 2007

    Online Madison City Directories, 1850-1911

    The Madison Public Library reports that it has expanded its online collection of Madison City Directories. Coverage now spans from 1850-1911. The collection also contains historical county plat maps from South Central Wisconsin.

    In addition to their usefulness for historians and genealogists, these plat maps and city directories are also an important resource for legal researchers seeking historical land use and ownership information.

    City directories provide an alphabetical list of citizens with their addresses and occupations, a classified business directory, lists of city and county officials, churches, schools, societies, streets and wards. See, for example, the following entries from the 1911 for Robert M. La Follette's home, law firm and magazine.

    July 20, 2007

    Google Scholar Hacks

    Wendt Library Blog has some good hacks for Google Scholar for UW-Madison users.

    By simply changing your preferences, you can beef up your search results by adding full-text links from UW-Madison library databases. And now, you can export your search results to RefWorks.

    June 18, 2007

    Wisconsin Blue Books Digitized Back to 1853

    WIBlueBks.jpg The University of Wisconsin Digital Collections has recently digitized the full text of the Wisconsin Blue Books, going back to 1853. Read more about it in the Wisconsin State Journal.

    May 29, 2007

    Recently Digitized Wisconsin Magazine of History Contains My First Article on Prostitution in Eau Claire

    The Wisconsin Historical Society has recently digitized the full text of The Wisconsin Magazine of History from volume 1 (1917) to volume 83 (1999). The journal is freely available on the Wisconsin Historical Society's Web site.

    prostitutes.png Not only is this good news for historical researchers, it holds special significance to me personally. My very first article was published in The Wisconsin Magazine of History. It was my senior history thesis at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire and is entitled, "'This Naughty, Naughty City': Prostitution in Eau Claire from the Frontier to the Progressive Era." The research was fascinating, as you can imagine. And seeing it in print gave me the confidence to continue writing articles.

    Notice what the women in the photo are wearing. I've recently learned that stripped stockings were a dead giveaway as to a woman's profession. Of course, being photographed with the liquor bottle on the table next to them was also a tell-tale sign.

    Thanks to Bill Ebbott for letting me know about this digitization effort.

    Hein Online Reportedly Plans to Digitize Congressional Record, Etc.

    It's been reported on the GOVDOC-L listserv that Hein Online is scheduled to release some significant collections soon, including the following:

    • Congressional Record
    • Annals of Congress
    • Register of Debates
    • Congressional Globe
    • Journals of the Continental Congress
    • American State Papers

    According to the post, this collection will begin to appear in June 2007, with the remainder of Congressional Record volumes available sometime in the year 2008.

    May 15, 2007

    Thomson to Take Over Reuters

    The New York Times reports that Reuters agreed today to a "$17.2 billion takeover by Thomson that would vault the combined entity ahead of Bloomberg to become the world's largest financial data and news provider."

    ''The companies will be separate legal entities but will be managed and operated as if they were a single economic enterprise,'' the announcement said. ''The boards of the two companies will be identical and the combined business will be managed by a single senior executive management team.''

    The combined Thomson Financial unit and Reuters financial and media businesses will be called Reuters.

    Thomson's professional businesses -- legal, tax and accounting, scientific and healthcare -- will be branded as Thomson-Reuters Professional.

    Thanks to my colleague, Eric Taylor, for the tip.

    May 4, 2007

    Google Web History Has Been Tracking Your Searches for Years

    If you have a Google account (like Gmail, Google News, etc.), you might be surprised to learn that Google is keeping track of your Web activity. We're taking every day, every site, every search going back years (mine goes back to 2005). They call it your Web History.

    Here's the explanation from Google:

    You know that great web site you saw online and now can't find? With Web History, you can view and search across web pages you've visited in the past, including Google searches. Web History also provides interesting trends on your web activity, such as which sites you visit most frequently and what your top searches are. Finally, Web History helps deliver more personalized search results based on what you've searched for and which sites you've visited.

    OK, now while I admit that could be useful in some situations, mostly I just find it creepy. Worse yet, if you happen to find out someone else's Google password, you can view their info, too. Or, if you share a computer with someone else (like a family member) and you don't log out, you can see their searches - or they can see yours if you use the computer when they are still logged in. Heck, you can even create a Web History RSS feed.

    Fortunately, you can delete your search history, either specific searches or the entire search history.

    Source: LawLibrary Blog

    May 2, 2007

    WI State Law Library Offering Remote Access to Hein Online

    The Wisconsin State Law Library has recently begun offering remote access to Hein Online. This service is only available to firms or state agencies with less than 25 attorneys, however. If that's you and you have a WSLL library card, you can access the full text law reviews and journals in Hein Online from anywhere. Sweet.

    Add this to WSLL's remote access to LegalTrac and you're pretty well set up for law journal searching. See their full list of electronic resources.

    See this month's WSLL @ Your Service for instructions on how to access full text law journal articles via Hein Online by searching the library catalog.

    May 1, 2007

    LLRX Redesigned

    Sabrina Pacifici with help from the team over at Justia has launched a redesigned LLRX. They've done a great job of spicing up the look and feel to highlight the first rate content for which LLRX is so well known. Kudos all around.

    Library services for UW Alumni &WI Residents

    Amanda Werhane over at Wendt Library Blog has compiled a useful list of library services available to UW alumni and Wisconsin residents. Check it out.

    April 30, 2007

    CLJC Offers Customizable Subscriptions to Law Journal Contents

    I know I've mentioned it a couple times before, but I wanted to give another plug for Current Law Journal Content (CLJC) from Washington and Lee Law School. With CLJC, you can search and subscribe to current tables of contents from over a thousand law journals (including Wisconsin Law Review, Wisconsin International Law Journal, and Wisconsin Women's Law Journal). Search results include the article citation along with a link to the article in Westlaw (password required) and WorldCat (which will show the nearest library that has the journal).

    You can also elect to receive customized alerts by email and RSS. To create an email alert, you must create a profile. Just click on the journals that you want and enter your email at the top. By clicking subscribe, you'll receive a weekly email with the journal table of contents.

    With RSS you can customize even further, although it is fairly complex. You can customize your RSS feed by journal, country, author or search terms. [A BIG thanks to John Doyle for recently developing those last two!!]

    You do need to construct your own feed - here are a few examples:

    • For articles from a specific journal: [insert your own ISSN] -or- [insert your own journal title]
    • For articles by a specific author: smith) [insert your own author name]
    • For articles matching your keyword search: [insert your own search term(s); note: multiple terms will be "anded"]

    If you are a RefWorks user, you'll be happy to know that John has recently created a special RSS feed format for importing into RefWorks. Just paste "&outformat=refworks" on to the end of your feed. For example, smith)&outformat=refworks

    At the UW Law Library, we've been working with RefWorks to develop a faculty bibliography. Being able to not only receive notification of new articles by our faculty, but to have the citation information directly imported into RefWorks via CLJC will be a time-saver.

    Update: Customized RSS feeds just got a lot easier! Per my suggestion, John has added a RSS button to the search results page. Just do a search and click on the RSS button to subscribe to the results. I LOVE this!

    April 24, 2007

    WSJ on Why You Should Spy on Yourself

    There is a very useful article in today's Wall Street Journal on Why You Should Spy on Yourself. [Article link is to (subscription required). Wisconsinites can also access the article on Badgerlink (via ProQuest)]

    The article lists services, free and fee, which you (and others) can use to check your credit history, criminal history and online reputation.

    The author suggests these tips for running a background check on yourself:

    • Order your credit report. These are from major credit-reporting agencies Equifax, TransUnion and Experian and can be obtained from or 1-877-322-8228.
    • Order a free annual public-records report (consumers are entitled under a 2004 federal law) from Acxiom Corp., ChoicePoint, LexisNexis and other reporting agencies. The records include lien searches, bankruptcy judgments, real-estate ownership records, insurance information, professional licenses and other government data. For a free report, go to for information. Contact LexisNexis at 1-877-913-6245. And Acxiom, which provides material to people only when a background search has also been ordered by a corporate client, is at 1-888-3ACXIOM.

      Source: TVC Alert

    April 18, 2007

    Public Records Available on LexisONE

    From TVC Alert:

    Consumers and other non-subscribers to LexisNexis may now obtain select public records, verdicts, settlements and other case information through LexisONE. There is a fee for accessing this information, but the site offers several pricing options. See TVC for more.

    April 17, 2007

    Article on Gathering Competitive Intelligence for Litigators and Business Lawyers

    Tony Chan, information specialist at Quarles & Brady LLP, Milwaukee and LLAW Government Relations Committee Chair, has written an excellent article on Gathering Competitive Intelligence for Litigators and Business Lawyers. In the article, which appears in the April 2007 Wisconsin Lawyer, Tony covers:

    • Online Sources of Public Records
    • Background Checks
    • Finding Company and Industry Information
    • Opponent or Co-counsel records

    April 16, 2007

    American Reference Books Annual Online Free this Week

    Libraries Unlimited is providing free access to ARBAonline during National Library Week April 15-22, 2007.

    Derived from the trusted reference standard American Reference Books Annual, ARBAonline features about 17,000+ reviews of reference works published since 1997. Written by librarians for librarians, ARBAonline's reviews cover reference sources from more than 400 publishers in over 500 subject areas.

    April 11, 2007

    Free Quicklaw Access for U.S. Law Schools

    It's not very well advertised, but U.S. law school users may access Quicklaw at no charge. To register, call 1-800-387-0899. A .edu email address is required.

    Quicklaw, from LexisNexis Canada, is a Web-based resource that offers over 2,500 databases of law, news and information from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Africa, Malaysia and the Caribbean. Includes cases & case citator, legislation, regulations, and news & journal articles. See the source directory for more information.

    Apparently, there is a new Quicklaw, but according to the LexisNexis Canada representative I spoke with, this is not available to US Law Schools, nor are there plans to offer it anytime soon.

    Proceedings of the Old Bailey Digitized

    From LibraryBoy:

    Two professors in England have digitized the Proceedings of the Old Bailey, the digest of more than 100,000 trials that took place in the famous London criminal courts between 1674 and 1834.

    The website includes a publishing history of the Proceedings, a list of notable trials that reveal a lot of the context of policing and community life at the time, historical background about crime, punishment and gender roles in early modern England, a bibliography (with sections on the publishing history of the Old Bailey Proceedings, advertising, the literature of crime, criminal biographies, last dying speeches, newspaper history, British novels about crime, etc.), etc.

    bailey.jpg There is additional background about the project in the April 2007 issue of the Smithsonian Magazine in an article entitled Digitizing the Hanging Court.

    April 4, 2007

    NYT Rethinks Free Access to Colleges Based on Librarian Complaints

    The Chronicle of Higher Ed reports that the New York Times has altered its offer to make Times Select, which includes columnists and archives going back to the 1800s, available to college students for free.

    After librarians complained that they already pay tens of thousands of dollars for access to premium New York Times content through database companies like ProQuest and Lexis-Nexis, TimesSelect will now be available only to students of colleges that subscribe to database companies that carry Times content. Currently non of the pre-1980s archives is available to students for free while is working on a patch that will recognize colleges that are subscribers to databases.

    Boy, this is a tough one. I can certainly identify with the librarians who are upset that they shelled out big bucks for a resource that was later offered for free. BUT, for the Times to restrict access because of it is just a Lose-Lose situation. It's all so painfully ironic since librarians are all about the free sharing of information.

    The comment of Barbara Fister, one of the librarians quoted in the article, is illustrative:

    This is not the outcome I'd hoped for, and I certainly was not lobbying against information being free. I simply felt taken for a ride when the publisher who had made a deal with a third party to sell content at a large price tag to libraries turned around and marketed the same content to our students as "complementary". (It wasn't free to everyone, just students and faculty with .edu e-mail addresses. The people we spend many thousands to provide it to.) I'm sorry they turned off the access and I'd be much happier if they made it available to everyone.

    Frankly, I raised the question because it seemed underhanded of the Times to do business this way.

    Librarians are in favor of open access. We've fought hard for it. Don't let the Times's response to a question asked in good faith make you think librarians are against information being widely and freely available. It's what we do, after all. I just don' t like getting soaked.

    April 2, 2007

    How Trustworthy are State-level Primary Legal Resources on the Web? Not Very, Says AALL Report

    AALL has conducted a State-by-State Report on Authentication of Online Legal Resources. The report presents the results of a survey of primary online legal resources and whether these resources are official and capable of being authenticated. In short, "How trustworthy are state-level primary legal resources on the Web?"

    The answer (from the executive summary):

    A significant number of the state online legal resources are official but none are authenticated or afford ready authentication by standard methods. State online primary legal resources are therefore not sufficiently trustworthy. Citizens and law researchers may reasonably doubt their authority and should approach such resources critically.

    According to AALL President, Sally Holterhoff, the report is the focus of a National Summit on Authentication of Digital Information, which AALL will hold April 20-21 in Chicago. The 50 delegates to the summit are judges, state government officials, attorneys, and leaders of AALL and of other organizations, such as the American Bar Association. All of them were invited to participate because of their interest in exploring legal and technological solutions to the issues raised in the report.

    March 29, 2007

    CRS Reports No Longer Distributed to 'Non-Congressionals'

    Material Information at Hamline reports that "according to the CRS Director Daniel Mulhollan, CRS reports cannot be distributed to 'non-Congressionals' without prior approval from CRS officials." See Mulhollan's memo.

    This is quite interesting and troublesome, given that "in 1998, the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration encouraged the publication of CRS Reports on the Internet."

    For more on CRS Reports, see the LLRX article by Stephen Young.

    March 20, 2007

    Odd Google Search - Celebrity Heights

    I recently learned about a fairly odd Google search feature. If you type in the name of a celebrity followed by the word "height," Google will tell you how tall the person is (if they have the data).

    Thanks to one of my UW-Madison library colleagues for the tip - albeit an odd one.

    March 19, 2007

    NYT Archive Free to .Edu Users

    Apparently, as of March 13th, the New York Times has opened up access permanently to TimesSelect to all students and faculty who have .edu e-mail addresses. See the sign up for more information.

    TimesSelect provides access to The NYT archive dating back to 1851, op-ed columnists, news tracker, and more.

    March 1, 2007

    Google Tips and Tricks

    There have been a couple of good posts recently about cool Google tips and tricks. Bates InfoTip, an email newsletter, shares four Little-Known Google Tools. One of these is Simply Google which gathers together on one page pretty much everything you can do with Google - which is a lot!

    Google Librarian Central explains Google Custom Search Engine (CSE). With CSE, you can create a custom search engine to search just the sites you want. For example, see John Doyle's (of Washington & Lee Law School Library) Searching U.S. Law School Websites.

    If I'd have one Google tip to share, it would be to check out the Advanced Search screen. You can limit by:

    • format - Nice if you're giving a presentation and you want to see if anyone else has created a PowerPoint on a similar topic. Also good if you want PDFs
    • date - This is good if you only want to see things posted recently.
    • domain - Not every Web site has a search engine - or if it does, it may not be very good. But, by entering in the main URL for the site you want to search into the domain box, you've created a Google search engine just for that site. I use the one all the time, especially when helping our cite checkers track down a poorly cited Web page.

    February 28, 2007

    Top 10 Largest Databases in the World

    One of the Top Ten Lists You Don't Want To Miss from Jim Calloway's Law Practice Tips Blog caught my eye: Top 10 Largest Databases in the World. Number 1? the Library of Congress.

    The post didn't give any sources for this information, however, which makes me wonder about its validity. I'm a librarian - I like to see sources.

    For an interesting comparison, see the Sixty Largest Deep Web Sites as of 2001 in BrightPlanet's Deep Web White Paper (table 2).

    February 19, 2007

    American Law Sources Online, An Excellent Legal Research Portal

    One of my favorite sites for researching law on the Internet is American Law Sources Online (ALSO).

    ALSO has compiled an outstanding, well organized collection of links to freely available primary and some secondary legal resources for federal and state law. It includes case law, statutes, local ordinances, administrative code, forms, research guides, and more. See the Wisconsin Sources page.

    Links to some Mexican and Canadian sources are available, as well. There are also links to Uniform State Laws, Amicus Curiae briefs, law reviews and more.

    February 14, 2007

    Comparing Loislaw and Versuslaw

    Electronic legal research can be very expensive. Fortunately, there are a few lower cost options out there, including Loislaw and Versuslaw. There is a nice short article comparing the two in the February 2007 edition of The CRIV Sheet (which is an insert in AALL Spectrum).

    When looking at your research options, Loislaw and Versuslaw are definitely worth considering. The amount of information available in these databases is much less than Lexis and Westlaw, but sometimes you don't need all that information, and a smaller database may provide just enough of what you seek. They are both reasonably priced and provide a good service to their users.

    February 1, 2007

    ABA's List of Free Library Databases by State

    Kudos to the ABA for compiling a list of state public Library Databases.

    Many public libraries now offer extensive database collections free to their patrons. For most libraries these databases can be accessed from a remote computer with a library card ID number. Which means research can be conducted at home or at the office utilizing these powerful resources. Check with your local library and see if a library card combined with free database access can supplement your law practice.

    I noticed that the Milwaukee Public Library's wonderful collection of databases were not included, so I emailed the ABA with an update. I encourage others to do the same for other public library databases which should appear on this list.

    January 30, 2007

    Article on Paid Wikipedia Entries

    This Capital Times article entitled, Wikipedia payment: Why the big deal? was today's Library Link of the Day.

    Abstract: Gregory Kohs last year launched MyWikiBiz, a service that offered to write Wikipedia entries for businesses for $49 to $99. But a few days afterward, MyWikiBiz's account on Wikipedia was blocked. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales called Kohs to tell him MyWikiBiz was "antithetical" to Wikipedia's mission.

    January 25, 2007

    "Places Mentioned in this Book" Now In Some Google Book Search Results

    Google has announced a new feature in the "About the Book" pages on Google Book Search. It's called "Places Mentioned in this Book" and it displays an interactive map with pointers to cities and addresses mentioned in the text of the book.

    From a Google Libraries Group message:

    Readers can click and drag or zoom in/out on the map, as well as view the page numbers and snippets of text where the locations appear in the book.

    For a few examples of the "places mentioned in this book" section in action, check out War and Peace or The 9/11 Commission Report.

    I did a search for a few other titles and inclusion was more miss than hit. One of my favorite books, Gone with the Wind, did include the map though. This is really neat. I've often read books where place names were central to the story. Having a map would be helpful. Although, frankly, I doubt that I'd bother to look up from the pages of a good novel to do a Google Book Search to see the map.

    It would be neat if you could search by place name in the Advanced Book Search, but, alas, you can't. Maybe that feature will eventually be added.

    January 22, 2007

    Meta Search for Inside the Book Searches

    Over the last year or so, several search engines have been released that let you search inside books (Google Books, Amazon Search Inside/A9 & MSN Live Book Search). But there has never been a way, until now, to search them all simultaneously.

    Developer Kokogiak notes that there are some big differences in the type of books available on each system. "It's been interesting to see the quantity/quality differences between the 3 in trying several searches. Results for "ajax", for instance - Amazon is all current programming books, Google is a mix of classic mythology and programming, and MSN is all classic mythology."

    Source: ResearchBuzz

    January 3, 2007

    UWDC Digitizes Additional Volumes of Foreign Relations of the United States

    The University of Wisconsin Digital Collections has recently digitized additional volumes of the Foreign Relations of the United States. It now covers 311 volumes from 1861 to 1958/1960.

    The Foreign Relations of the United States series is the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions that have been declassified and edited for publication. The series is produced by the State Department's Office of the Historian and printed volumes are available from the Government Printing Office.

    December 20, 2006

    UK Statute Law Database Free on Web

    Just released today, the UK Statute Law Database (SLD) is the official revised edition of the primary legislation of the United Kingdom made available online. Previously accessible only to a limited number of users in government, SLD is now publicly available online, free of charge.

    Thanks to my colleague, Nancy Paul, for the tip.

    December 19, 2006

    Google Offers US Patent Searching Back to 1790

    Google has recently added one more to it's specialty search engine tool box: Google Patent Search.

    Nancy Spitzer, Patents and Technical Reports Librarian at UW-Madison's Wendt Library, had this to say:

    Patent librarians across the country are busily analyzing this new member of the Google family and it looks promising. There's much excitement because this is the first time that keyword searching of all US patents from 1790 to (almost) the present are available free on the Internet! (The US PTO Patent Full Text Database only allows keyword searching back to 1976 and Espacenet keyword in abstract back to 1920).

    Google says: "We don't currently include patent applications, international patents, or U.S. patents issued over the last few months, but we look forward to expanding our coverage in the future."

    Also, be aware of many glitches due to faulty OCR character recognition in older patents. "Electric EEEE CHIICFTE" was found to actually be "Electric cash register."

    Please keep in mind that more precise, comprehensive, "advanced" patent searching is still going to require using the US PTO database and other resources.

    Nancy also points out that there is no way to print or save the patents you find in Google. Fortunately, Nate Vack from Wendt has developed a script to add a link to the free pat2pdf service to any patent search result in Firefox.

    For questions about patent research, contact Wendt Library. Note also that Wisconsin TechSearch does patent searching for a fee.

    December 13, 2006

    Online Plat Maps & City Directories Offer Historical Land Use & Ownership Information

    A collaboration between the University of Wisconsin Digital Collection Center and the Madison Public Library has produced a digital collection of Historical County Plat Maps from South Central Wisconsin and Early Madison City Directories. The collection spans the latter half of the 19th century.

    In addition to their usefulness for historians and genealogists, these plat maps and city directories are also an important resource for legal researchers seeking historical land use and ownership information.

    From the MPL site:
    Historical plat books help people to trace neighborhoods and streets from what was once farmland. These maps show the division of the land into streets, blocks, and lots, indicating the measurements of the individual parcels.

    Early city directories of Madison provide helpful historical information on the early years of the state capitol in addition to helping those looking for information on specific people and businesses in the area in the 1800s and early 1900s. The directories provide an alphabetical list of citizens with their addresses and occupations, a classified business directory, lists of city and county officials, churches, schools, societies, streets and wards.

    For other digital collections of Wisconsin historical materials, see the UW Digital Collections State of Wisconsin Collection and the Wisconsin Historical Society web site.

    December 7, 2006

    Microsoft Beta Releases Book Search

    On Wednesday, Microsoft released Live Search Books in beta. Similar to Google Book Search, the Microsoft book search engine allows users to keyword search for scanned books. Unlike Google, however, Microsoft is scanning only noncopyright books, unless publishers opt-in to have in-copyright publications scanned.

    According to CNet news, Microsoft has restricted the beta release of Live Search Books to only include noncopyright books scanned from the collections of the British Library, the University of California and the University of Toronto. Materials from New York Public Library, Cornell University and the American Museum of Veterinary Medicine will be added within the next month.

    November 28, 2006

    Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Charging For Archives - Badgerlink Still Free

    Looks like the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is now charging non subscribers for articles older than fourteen days. Access to the archives is free for 7 Day subscribers. See the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Archive Search page for more information, including pricing. (Thanks to Bev Butula & Diane Duffey for the tip)

    Wisconsinites can still access Journal Sentinel content back to 1995, and much more, free of charge through Badgerlink. See the Wisconsin newsstand. If your ISP doesn't provide access to Badgerlink, you may also be able to use your public library barcode number as a log-in ID.

    November 1, 2006

    Article: Research Beyond Google

    Jimmy Atkinson, of the OEDb: Online Education Database has compiled a very useful directory of authoritative Web resources. The article is entitled, Research Beyond Google: 119 Authoritative, Invisible, and Comprehensive Resources.

    I like this line:

    Do you think your local or university librarian uses Google? Sure, but certainly not exclusively. [Oh no, our secret is out] In order to start researching like a librarian, you'll need to explore more authoritative resources, many of which are invisible. [What do you mean "invisible"?]

    Topics Covered include:
    Deep Web Search Engines | Art | Books Online | Business | Consumer | Economic and Job Data | Finance and Investing | General Research | Government Data | International | Law and Politics | Library of Congress | Medical and Health | Science | Transportation

    Historical CFR Now Available on HeinOnline

    HeinOnline has recently announced the availability of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) from inception in 1938 through the 1983 edition. It includes all editions inclusive of this period as well as all supplements for this time frame in PDF format.

    Currently, the 1938 through 1983 editions of the CFR in HeinOnline have been electronically indexed to the Book level. Additionally, content from 1938 through 1949, as well as 1977 through 1983 has been electronically indexed to the Part level. In future enhancements, all content will be electronically indexed to the Part level.

    Note that the CFR is available from 1996 through the present at GPO Access.

    October 16, 2006

    Remote Access to Library Databases

    I'm a firm believer that public libraries are one of the best deals around. Besides the books, music, and movies available for checkout, many libraries offer card holders remote access to their collection of databases. If you are a regular WisBlawg reader, you know that I often mention those available through the South Central Library System (Madison-area) and Milwaukee Public Library, as well as through Badgerlink.

    But if you live outside of the Madison or Milwaukee area and find that Badgerlink doesn't have what you need, there are a couple of other options. Both the New York Public Library and the Godfrey Memorial Library of Middletown, CT offer library cards to non-residents for a fee. With a card, patrons are allowed remote access to many of their databases.

    New York Public Library Card
    $100 annual fee for non-residents
    Databases available from home

    Godfrey Memorial Library "Scholar's Card"
    $35 annual fee for non-residents

    October 11, 2006

    Half of All Federal Gov Docs Are Born Digital and Will Stay That Way

    "We estimate that as many as 50 percent of all federal government documents are now born digital, published to the Web, and will never be printed by the GPO," says GPO CEO Bruce James. Read more in the article.

    Thanks to my colleague, Bill Ebbott, for the tip.

    October 9, 2006

    State Blue Books

    Cullom Davis Library of Bradley University in Peoria, IL has compiled a wiki listing Blue Books for every state. Where available, links to the online sources are available.

    Source: V.U.Lawcity - The Valpo Law Blawg

    September 28, 2006

    UW Madison Experts Database

    I recently discovered that the University of Wisconsin-Madison maintains an Experts Database. This database consists of over 1700 UW Madison faculty and staff who have agreed to talk with reporters on selected topics.

    There are two different ways to search the database: by keyword search and by expert name. If you have trouble finding the expertise you need, you can contact one of campus public information offices for further assistance.

    September 22, 2006

    New York Times Archives Back to 1851 Now Available

    According to a press release, The New York Times announces that "all articles dating back to Sept. 18, 1851, when the paper started publishing, are now available online at"

    "Searches for articles published before 1981 will produce PDF files showing pages or articles exactly as they appeared in the newspaper. Articles published in 1981 and thereafter will continue to appear online in the familiar scroll-down screen format."

    "The Archive is accessible through TimesSelect, an online feature that is available for free to all regular subscribers of the paper, or for $49.95 for an annual subscription. Non-subscribers will be able to purchase individual articles for a fee per download."

    This is pretty sweet. We've had access to the old NYT articles for a while through our subscription to the ProQuest Historical NYT Database. It's wonderful for digging up history on a person or business and for understanding the popular thought about an issue at a particular time in history.

    Looks like you can do a search of the archives at no cost. (Change the pull down to "NYT Archive 1851-1980") You will be able to view the first paragraph of the article, but will be charged $4.95 to view it if you don't have a subscription.

    Source: beSpacific

    September 8, 2006

    LegalTrac Interface Changes

    The Wisconsin State Law Library newsletter recently ran an article describing the interface changes to the LegalTrac database.

    What's LegalTrac? A database containing citations for articles in law reviews, specialty law publications, bar association journals, legal newspapers, etc. from 1980 to the present. And it's freely available to WSLL library card holders from their home or office. If you aren't using it yet, you should be.

    September 7, 2006

    Search 200+ Years of News & Magazine Articles

    The big news today is Google News Archive Search, a searchable archive of articles that, in some cases, date back 200+ years.

    Some publishing partners include The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, Guardian Unlimited, Factiva, Lexis-Nexis, HighBeam Research and Thomson Gale. See New York Times article for more.

    I did a test search for "Wisconsin Law School." The left side bar of the search results page contains a list of dates and publications in which articles were located. I'm a history buff, so I clicked on the "Before 1950" link. One of the more interesting articles is a Time magazine article from 1937 about the dean of the UW Law School, "good-natured, baldish, ruddy-cheeked Lloyd Kirkham Garrison."

    On the right, you can select "show timeline" to have the articles sorted by date. However, I found that the list of articles it produced was only a very small portion of the total articles.

    Yeah - this is really cool, but the downside is that many of the articles you find are fee-based and come from multiple vendors. Before you go opening your wallet, write down the citation and see if the article is available elsewhere - i.e. your local library.

    I agree with Dan Giancaterino's (Jenkins Law Library Webblits) advice not to forget about the subscription databases available freely to you. In Wisconsin, it's called Badgerlink.

    Thanks to my colleague, Eric Taylor, for the tip about Google News Archive Search.

    September 5, 2006

    Scanned Books & Gov Docs Available via MBooks

    You may have seen the news that the University of Michigan has partnered with Google to scan library materials. The project is called MBooks.

    According to the FAQ:

    • Access to MBooks is through Mirlyn, the online catalog for the University of Michigan libraries. Conducting an "Advanced Search" and restricting the Format to "Electronic Resources" will return only electronic materials.
    • Public domain materials will be available instantly through the Pageturner application, while copyrighted materials will be readily accessible through the library's conventional processes, such as circulation and interlibrary loan.

    The University's extensive federal government document collection makes up a large portion of the public domain materials. According to the Govdoc-l listserv, this includes approximately 2,200 Congressional hearings from the 1970s and 1980s, as well as, the diplomatic correspondence of Benjamin Franklin and John Adams.

    August 31, 2006

    LexisNexis Picks up Blog Content

    Looks like LexisNexis has tuned in to the blogosphere. They are now picking up blog content in their Newstex (file name = NEWSTX) database. Lori Blair, Marketing Manager with the LexisNexis - Librarian Relations Group just send me a link to the list of blogs they cover. According to Lexis, coverage is January 1, 2006 through current.

    There are also a couple of other blog sub-databases, including:

    • Newstex Business Blogs
    • Newstex Computers & Technology Blogs
    • Newstex Financial Blogs
    • Newstex Government & Politics Blogs
    • Newstex Marketing Blogs
    • Newstex Medical & Health Blogs
    • Newstex Media Blogs

    August 24, 2006

    Sample Corporate Contracts on Findlaw

    Looking for samples of software license agreement or an employment contract? Check out Findlaw's Corporate Counsel Center's Business Contracts. This is a gold mine of contracts and sample contract language. And since it's on Findlaw, it's all free.

    Hidden in the Research Tools section at the bottom is a link to Contracts. You can browse by industry or by type of contract. There is also a search box on the right that you can use to search by party name, etc. Just make sure that you select the "Corp Counsel" pull down above the search box.

    I ran a sample search for "Amazon" and pulled up bylaws, an investor rights agreement, a credit agreement, bonus letters, an indenture, and much more - all on the first page of search results.

    Wow - I had no idea this existed. Thanks to my colleague Bev Butula for enlightening me.

    August 18, 2006

    Zillow - View Home Valuations in Your Neighborhood on a Satellite Map

    Some of the scarier databases that my colleague, Bev Butula, covered in the Internet Research Workshop were those in the Investigating Individuals section. One of these is

    Zillow offers free, instant valuations and data for over 67 million homes nationwide. Not just that, but it shows them on a hybrid satellite image/street map. Take a look at the screen shot from the neighborhood around the Capitol.
    Click on the blue diamond next to the valuations in Zillow and you'll get more info on the property including sales history and tax info. Some neighborhoods also have birds eye view images of individual homes. Take a look at Zillow's sample home, for example.

    Like Google Maps, if you want to see something off of the current map area, just click and drag in any direction. The map will reposition itself to the new location.

    Try putting in your own address - I put in mine. Scary, but cool. Interesting to learn the assessments for all of the neighbor's houses.

    August 8, 2006

    Legal History Databases

    Attention legal historians:

    WilsonWeb has added ten more years of coverage to Index to Legal Periodicals Retrospective. You can now search for legal articles dating back to 1908. ILP Retro is available for public use at the UW Law Library. Although the full text of articles is not available in ILP Retro, the Law Library has many older periodicals which you can access in print.

    Other legal history resources available at the UW Law Library include:

    • Hein Online which contains the full text of many legal periodicals from the first volume to most current volume allowed under contract
    • Nineteenth Century Masterfile includes Jones and Chipman's Index to Legal Periodical Literature covering 1786-1922
    • Nineteenth Century Legal Treatises Index and Twentieth Century Legal Treatises Index are two free Web resources that index works relevant to legal theory and history printed in the United States and the United Kingdom.

    August 2, 2006

    Westlaw at the WI State Law Library

    From the Wisconsin State Law Library newsletter, WSLL @ Your Service :

    New & Improved Westlaw Access @ WSLL and MLRC

    WSLL and MLRC have offered in-library user access to Westlaw for a little over a year now. With this popular service, users at either library can search and browse AllFeds and AllStates caselaw, Wisconsin caselaw, statutes and regulations, use the KeyCite citator service, and much more, all at no charge. (Printing is 15 cents per page plus tax at WSLL, 20 cents per page including tax at MLRC.)

    Until now, WSLL had been able to provide this service on only four of our seven public access PC's. We're pleased to announce that as of July 1, Westlaw is now available on all WSLL PCs. And, users at both WSLL and MLRC can now access Westlaw's new RegulationsPlus™ for federal regulatory research. RegulationsPlus provides streamlined access to full text current and prior versions of CFR; full text Federal Register summaries dating back to 1981; West's new CFR Index with over 1 million entries; KeyCite coverage with links to related full text court and agency decisions; and access to agency administrative materials. The next time you need to do federal regulatory research, stop in and give RegulationsPlus a try.

    FYI: Westlaw is available on UW Law Library computers also. It's referred to as Westlaw Patron Access.

    August 1, 2006

    Wisconsin Codes & Ordinances Online

    In addition to their many other excellent guides, the Wisconsin State Law Library has compiled a list of Wisconsin Codes & Ordinances online. This is a very comprehensive guide.

    July 26, 2006

    Status Report on RSS Use Among Legal Publishers

    Cindy Chick of LawLibTech, reports on her conversations with legal publishers at AALL about content delivery via RSS. She writes, "I found some serious progress is being made on the RSS front." Here's more:

    • First, there's BNA. Their email newsletters are very popular among the attorney population. And yes, their information is soon to be offered via RSS. They can even create keyword specific feeds that searches across all the publications you subscribe to, and aggregate the result in a separate feed. Contact your rep for more information.

    • Lexis, in their Publisher product, and Westlaw, with Westlaw Watch, give you the option of RSS feeds. If you're using these tools, these can be a significant source for RSS data.

    • Westlaw is also incorporating RSS into their Docket Watch product. An RSS feed could be perfect for keeping up with developments in that area.

    • What about CCH? Not so much. Heck, they've only just started sending selected newsletters out by email. It may take them a while....

    July 25, 2006

    Silly Government Document Titles

    Free Government Information (FGI) has compiled a list of silly titles of government documents. The list based on an exchange among GovDoc-L subscribers.

    Some of my favorites are (title followed by SuDoc number and link to find in a local library):

    • Fertilizers in a national emergency A 1.6:966 Find in a library

    • The golden age of bathing
      I 29.2: B 32/4 Find in a library

    • State-of-the-art dummy selection. U.S. Dept. of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
      TD 8.2:D 89/5/v.1 Find in a library

    • PMS Blue Book
      HE 20.4001/2: Find in a library

    • Step into action! A guidebook for the above-knee amputee
      FS 2.6/2:ST 4/964 Find in a library

    • Elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation: are we doing enough?
      Y 4.J 89/2:S.HRG.108-445 Find in a library

      Thanks to our Documents Assistant for the tip.

    July 5, 2006

    National Sex Offender Public Registry Now Covers All 50 States

    "All 50 states are now participating in the National Sex Offender Public Registry (NSOPR) Web site," the Justice Department announced on Monday, according to Government Technology. "The Department of Justice-sponsored site allows parents and concerned citizens to search existing public state and territory sex offender registries beyond their own states."

    Source: New York Supreme Court Criminal Term Library

    July 3, 2006

    Directory of Published Proceedings Now Available Free

    InterDok has announced that it is offering the Directory of Published Proceedings (DoPP) freely available on the Internet. DoPP indexes published conference proceedings in science, engineering, medice, social science and humanities. There are over 280,000 records available.

    InterDok does also offer an Acquisitions Service if you wish to purchase any of the indexed proceedings. But, before you do that, check out your local library. Even if they don't have them, they might be able to interlibrary loan them for you.

    June 22, 2006

    Full Text Searching in EDGAR

    From BeSpacific: Search Full Text of EDGAR Filings From Last 2 Years

    SEC: "This page allows you to search the full text of EDGAR filings from the last two years. The full text of a filing includes all data in the filing as well as all attachments to the filing. We are still developing this feature, and we plan to enhance it based on user feedback."

    Other new SEC search features:
    - EDGAR Mutual Fund Search - From this page you can search for current information on mutual funds. For closed-end funds and for filings prior to February 6, 2006, click here.

    Google UncleSam Gets a Make Over

    Google UncleSam is now Google U.S. Government Search. From Google:

    Google U.S. Government Search offers a single location for searching across U.S. government information, and for keeping up to date on government news. You can choose to search for content located on either U.S. federal, state and local government websites or the entire Web -- from the same search box. Below the search box, the homepage includes government-specific news content from both government agencies and press outlets. You can personalize the page by adding content feeds on government or other topics that you're interested in.

    The name seems a bit misleading to me since it indexes not only federal sites, but state and local ones as well.

    The big changes seems to be with the personalization features. Looks like you can customize what information you would like to see displayed on this page by choosing from a handful of syndicated content providers (via RSS feeds) such as the NYT Washington news or LLI's Supreme Court opinions.

    Perhaps I'm missing something, but I don't really see the value of this. The beauty of syndicated content is that you can have all of it displayed in a single RSS reader (such as Bloglines). To have to go separately to individual sites - like Google U.S. Government Search to get my gov news; Google News to get my news news; and so on - seems like a waste of valuable time.

    June 14, 2006

    Google Spreadsheets

    From LibrarianInBlack:

    Google Spreadsheets

    Well, I posted early in the day that Google was launching Spreadsheets, all incredulous and cranky that it hadn't appeared yet. But it did, and here's the information: They're still sending out invitations to folks, so you can get one if you sign up soon! (LIB posted this yesterday)

    Legal, Factual & Other Internet Sites for Attorneys & Others

    Timothy L. Coggins, Associate Dean for Library and Information Services and Professor of Law at the University of Richmond School of Law has compiled a very comprehensive list of Legal, Factual and Other Internet Sites for Attorneys and Others. It appears in the Richmond Journal of Law and Technology, Spring, 2006 (12 Rich. J.L. & Tech. 17)

    This list is divided into eleven categories:

    • Part I covers search engines.
    • Part II identifies some important "comprehensive" or portal web sites.
    • Part III includes those web sites that can be used to search for legislative and administrative materials, both Federal and state.
    • Part IV covers case law research sites.
    • Part V lists some important Virginia legal research and other web sites.
    • Part VI is a listing of foreign and international law sites.
    • Part VII covers secondary materials.
    • art VIII is a fairly long listing of web sites for people, places, weather, vital records, company information, expert witnesses, and more.
    • Part IX presents some helpful sites for legal and other news, as well as a brief introduction to some law blogs (blawgs).
    • Part X covers sites that are difficult to categorize into one of the preceding nine parts.
    • Part XI, is a listing of URLs for the law schools in Virginia, many of which have legal research sections that might present additional sources for the legal researcher.

    June 13, 2006

    UW Law School Legal Studies Research Paper series

    The UW Law School has put together a new edition in its Legal Studies Research Paper series (via SSRN).

    The following papers are available: (Bloggers take note of the last one)

    "The New versus the Old Legal Realism: 'Things Ain't What They Used to Be'"
    University of Wisconsin Law School

    "A New Realism for Legal Studies"
    University of Wisconsin Law School

    "Destabilizing the Normalization of Rural Black Land Loss: A Critical Role for Legal Empiricism"
    University of Wisconsin Law School

    "Is it Time for a New Legal Realism?"
    University of Wisconsin Law School
    Southwestern University School of Law
    University of Wisconsin Law School
    American Bar Foundation
    University of Wisconsin Law School
    Harvard University - Harvard Law School

    "Crossing Boundaries: Legal Education and the Challenge of the New Public Interest Law"
    University of Wisconsin at Madison Law School

    "Bit by Bit: A Case Study of Bloggership"
    University of Wisconsin Law School

    June 1, 2006

    MS Office Add-in Strips Metadata - To Be Added to CCAP Workstations

    Judge Daniel Anderson responded to yesterday's post Metadata: What You Can't See Can Hurt You. He recommends using the Microsoft Office add-in that removes hidden data.

    With his permission, I'd like to share his comments:

    Metadata is a big problem in an appellate court because documents are circulated among a large group of people and the hidden data can be very "revealing" to someone who knows how to look for it.

    I suggested that the add-in be used in the Wisconsin Court System. After evaluation, CCAP--the best government IT program in the State--will be updating all work stations with this add-in.

    May 31, 2006

    Metadata: What You Can't See Can Hurt You

    One of most useful features of the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin (LLAW) Newsletter is Cindy May's Recommended Readings. I can always find a few gems I've missed in her annotated list.

    One article of interest is Metadata: What You Can't See Can Hurt You by Sharon Nelson and John Simek. Law Practice 32(2):28-29 (March 2006)

    The authors discuss metadata in programs such as Word, WordPerfect, Excel, PowerPoint, and email, and implications for discovery and client relations. They suggest a couple of ways that people can purge unwanted metadata from their documents.

    May 25, 2006

    BooksOnPoint Indexes Web Sites of Legal Publishers

    The folks at IndexMaster have beta released a new service called BooksOnPoint which indexes the content of legal publishers' web sites. Unlike IndexMaster, which provides the full index and/or table of contents of legal texts, BooksOnPoint only retrieves content freely available on a publisher web page, such as description, publication details or summary table of contents. But BooksOnPoint is free, although registration is required.

    So what is BooksOnPoint good for? Finding print-based books on a given topic. "Print - how quaint," you say. Just keep in mind that many secondary law books still only exist in print format.

    You probably still want to start your search for books in a library catalog. Be aware, however, that the catalog might not contain all of the same information as the publishers Web site, such as a chapter table of contents. Consider that while there may not be a whole book about a given topic, but there may be a chapter about it. BooksOnPoint could help you find it.

    BooksOnPoint currently indexes about 30 publishers and over 10,000 titles. Although the name suggests books, it will contain many "titles" including journals, articles, newsletters and more.

    From developer Mike Mingo:

    I am determined to provide a universal search tool to supplement the on-line services and assist legal researchers by quickly delivering relevant on-point secondary materials. I am equally determined to provide the publishers with a useful marketing tool to assist them in getting their information in the hands of researchers who have a specific need that they can provide, at any given time.

    May 22, 2006

    Google Blog Search Adds Date Restrictors

    Google has revved up it's blog search engine with the addition of date restrictors. Go to the Advanced Blog Search page to search posts written within a specific date range.

    While Google blog search is still my most often used blog search tool, I agree with ResearchBuzz that it could benefit from some of the advances features available in regular Google. I'd like to be able to search blogs within (or excluding) a particular domain or subdomain.

    Source: ResearchBuzz

    May 17, 2006

    LexisNexis U.S. & Canadian RSS Feeds

    It seems that LexisNexis has unveiled some Canadian RSS feeds, including new Butterworths Titles, The Lawyers Weekly (headlines from the weekly legal newspaper), Supreme Court of Canada Service (case digests) and more.

    U.S. feeds are available from LexisNexis Mealeys, including general news, legal trends, and numerous Mealey's litigation reports.

    Now if only Lexis (and Westlaw) would hurry up and offer RSS as a delivery option from their clipping services.

    Source: Library Boy

    Law Reviews & Journals on the Web

    Thanks to Wendy Nobunaga from the USC Law Library for compiling a list of law reviews and journals on the Web. Codes indicate what is available at each site:
    F = Full-text A = Abstracts T = Table of Contents S = Subscription Information

    The list is divided into:

    • general law reviews
    • subject specific law reviews
    • commercial law journals
    • foreign law journals
    • ABA journals and newsletters
    • general interest and computing periodicals
    • e-journal locating services

    Thanks to UW Law Library Director, Steve Barkan for the tip

    May 15, 2006

    Wall Street Journal & Other Factiva Content Finally Available to Law Schools via LexisNexis

    Good news for law students, faculty, and staff: the Wall Street Journal and other Factiva content is finally available via LexisNexis to law schools.

    From the press release: Beginning May 12, your students, faculty and library staff will have access to the following Factiva sources:

    Publication Name:
    - Asian Wall Street Journal
    - Barron's
    - Dow Jones Business News
    - Dow Jones Capital Markets Report
    - Dow Jones Corporate Filings Alert
    - Dow Jones Emerging Markets Report
    - Dow Jones International News
    - Dow Jones News Service
    - Reuters EU Highlights
    - Reuters Health E-Line
    - Reuters Washington Daybook Report
    - The Wall Street Journal Europe
    - The Wall Street Journal Sunday
    - The Wall Street Journal
    - Reuters News

    April 20, 2006

    StateMaster for State Statistics

    The folks who brought us, have released a new tool called, a statistical database which allows you to research and compare a multitude of different data on U.S. states.

    This is pretty sweet. With a few clicks of the mouse, you can find lots of stats, complete with charts and maps. Some of the more popular stats include:
    - Illegal Immigrants
    - Current Gas Prices
    - Richest
    - Best Place to Live

    Source: LibrarianInBlack

    April 17, 2006

    Microsoft's Windows Live Search Engine Indexes Academic Content

    Microsoft has beta released a new search engine for academic journal content called Windows Live. According to a press release, the initial beta release will target the subjects of computer science, electrical engineering and physics, although they plan to bring new subjects online in the near future.

    It seems that Microsoft, like Google Scholar, has an arrangement with OCLC to integrate WorldCat content into Windows Live thereby indexing scholarly content, such as articles and books, which is available at a local library. Marketing libraries is a good thing.

    April 12, 2006

    LexisNexis Academic Investigating Metasearch

    For those academic librarians, like myself, who thought that LexisNexis Academic would never be metasearchable, I share the good news that they do have an XML gateway in production.

    According to an email received by a UW-Madison Library staff member from a product manager at LexisNexis Academic: "We are at different stages of implementation with several federated search vendors. We are working with Ex Libris but have not begun the configuration and testing process with them yet."

    Metasearching is hot on college campuses. Being able to combine multiple databases from different vendors with one Google-esque search box certainly does have its appeal. For law students, however, this was never terribly attractive since few legal databases were metasearchable - until now.

    EBSCOhost Offers RSS Alerts & Visual Search

    It looks like EBSCOhost is offering a couple of new search enhancements: RSS Alerts for saved searches and a visual search interface. EBSCO has some great medical and business databases, many of which are available freely to Wisconsinites via Badgerlink.

    Visual search: This type of search is great for the visual learner. Search results are grouped in circles within circles using Grokker technology. See the screen shot - a picture is worth a thousand words. To access, click on the "visual search" tab on the main EBSCOhost screen.

    RSS Alerts: I'm a big fan of setting up alerts so that I'm automatically notified each time content that interests me is added to a database. Several other databases, including Westlaw and Lexis, do this by delivering results via email. EBSCO has done it one better by offering delivery via RSS. Very nice.

    I warn you that setting up an alert in EBSCOhost is not for the novice. First you will need to sign up for your own account. Just click on the "Sign into MyEBSCOhost" under the logo at the top left. You'll be prompted to register.

    Then run a search using Advanced Search. In the search results area, click on the "Search History/Alerts" tab. Here you will see a list of your searches. Below the tabs, there is a line of links. Click on the one that says "Save Searches/Alerts" Complete the form selecting "Alert" in the "Save Search As" section. This will give you the option to save it via RSS. Clicking save will bring up a new screen with the URL for the alert's RSS feed.

    I'm not sure why they made it so difficult to set up, but it's nice that it is there, nonetheless.

    Source: The Distant Librarian

    March 23, 2006

    Competitive Intelligence Resource Guide

    Donna Cavallini and Sabrina I. Pacifici have recently updated their Competitive Intelligence - A Selective Resource Guide on LLRX. They recommend a number of excellent free or low cost resources for monitoring of your competitors.

    March 22, 2006

    Nothing Special About Google Finance

    According to MarketWatch's Bambi Francisco, Google's newest service, Google Finance, gets a thumbs-down from some hedge-fund managers.

    Launched Tuesday, Google's (GOOG) latest, Google Finance -- with its perfunctory quotes, news headlines, charts and the like -- is not terribly impressive, partly because it looks so much like other finance sites created years ago, notably Yahoo Finance...

    To be fair, there are some interesting features, like a very cool chart and news mash-up. In it, Google has taken its charts and news and integrated them so that readers can see where the stock was trading as particular news hit. People do this all the time -- look at news, and the time it hit, and then go to a chart and pinpoint the time. But it's eliminating the interim steps that makes Google stock charts instantly appealing.

    But besides an interactive chart, there is nothing innovative or certainly spectacular about the new service. Where are the real-time, live quotes? Where's the related video? Where are the open application programming interfaces, or APIs, so that techies can add maps and other neat tools that Google hasn't thought of?

    March 15, 2006

    High Tech, Circa 1986

    In going through some files, I found an old issue of Westlaw Password featuring this photo, circa 1986. Bring back any memories?

    I think that my parents got our first home computer around that time. It was an Atari which used our TV as a monitor and cassette tapes as storage media. Those were the days.

    February 23, 2006

    Wisconsin Briefs Database Incorporates New Docket Number Format

    Last April, the Clerk of Supreme Court's office changed to a new case management system. As part of this change, the docket number format for Supreme Court and Court Appeals cases has changed. The new docket format contains the year, followed by the letters AP (appeals) and the case number. For example, docket number 99-1234 will now be displayed as 1999AP001234.

    The Wisconsin Briefs database, created by the Wisconsin State Law Library and hosted by the UW Law Library, has now incorporated the new docket number format. When searching the database, you may use either the old (eg 992588 - no hyphens) or the new, expanded (eg 1999AP002588) docket number format.

    To date, the coverage of the Wisconsin Briefs database includes published cases from 173 Wis.2d to 279 Wis.2d and unpublished cases from 173 Wis.2d to 280 Wis.2d.

    February 22, 2006

    Ask To Retire Jeeves Name

    From TVC Alert soon will retire the name, Ask Jeeves, to become simply Ask.

    February 6, 2006

    Diplomatic Papers Added to Foreign Relations of the U.S. Collection

    Tthe University of Wisconsin Digital Collections group has announced the addition of Diplomatic Papers, 1944-1945 to its Foreign Relations of the United States Collection.

    The Foreign Relations series is the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions that have been declassified and edited for publication. The series is produced by the State Department's Office of the Historian and printed volumes are available from the Government Printing Office.