Monday, December 29, 2008

New Research Guide: Court Records & Briefs

Although law school casebooks tend to focus on the judge’s written opinion, court cases actually generate a large amount of other documents, such as: complaints, briefs, depositions, oral argument transcripts, jury verdicts, settlement agreements, etc. These materials comprise the record of the case.

Legal researchers might wish to consult a case’s record or briefs for a variety of reasons: to review which legal arguments persuaded (or did not persuade) the judge, to learn more about the factual or procedural background of a case, and to gauge what kind of verdict or damages might be awarded in a similar situation. Unfortunately, there is little consistency in the publication of court records and briefs, which may be available in a variety of print, electronic and microform sources.

To aid these researchers, reference librarian Jennifer L. Behrens has created a new Goodson Law Library Research Guide to Court Records and Briefs ( The guide outlines compilations of records and briefs which are available at Duke, as well as sources and strategies for locating specific documents related to a particular case in the Goodson Law Library, LexisNexis, Westlaw, PACER, HeinOnline, and on the free web.

As always, if you encounter a citation to a court document which is not covered in the research guide, please ask a reference librarian.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Researching Uniform Laws and Model Acts

State legislators are busy people; between staff briefings, budget votes, and non-stop reelection campaigning, who has time to actually draft legislation any more? Fortunately, there’s the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, which has been saving legislators time and effort since 1892. NCCUSL prepares “uniform laws”, intended for legislatures to adopt in full, as well as “model acts”, whose language can be used by legislatures as a starting point for similar laws. (Note: Model acts may also be drafted by other groups, such as the American Law Institute.)

Some of the best-known examples of such laws are the Uniform Commercial Code (see the library’s research guide) and the Model Penal Code (drafted by the American Law Institute).

Uniform laws and model acts promote consistency in legislation across state governments. However, because legislatures may choose to adopt only parts of these laws, determining the status of such a law in a particular state can be challenging. Here are some sources for locating the text of these uniform laws and researching their status.

Uniform Laws Annotated (Practice & Procedure KF879.A45 U51 and Westlaw: ULA database) compiles the text of uniform and model acts which have been adopted by at least one state. The annotations describe which jurisdictions have adopted the act, along with any variations in the text. ULA also provides case annotations.

The text of uniform laws from NCCUSL can also be found at the NCCUSL website, in an online archive at the University of Pennsylvania’s Biddle Law Library, in the Goodson Law Library Microforms Room (up to 2006) and now on HeinOnline’s new National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws library.

Model laws from other organizations can be found in the Duke University Libraries catalog and in HeinOnline’s American Law Institute library, as well as in Uniform Laws Annotated.

For assistance with researching uniform laws and model acts, please speak with a reference librarian.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Library Services over Winter Break

Beginning at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, December 19, the library will operate under Winter Break service hours. Generally, the library will be open from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, with some mid-week closures in observance of the Christmas and New Year's holidays:

Saturday 12/20-Sunday 12/21: CLOSED
Monday 12/22-Tuesday: 12/23 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday 12/24-Sunday 12/28: CLOSED (Christmas)
Monday 12/29-Tuesday 12/30: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday 12/31-Sunday 1/4: CLOSED (New Year)
Monday 1/5-Friday 1/9: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Saturday 1/10: CLOSED
Sunday 1/11: Spring semester hours begin

During the break, the Duke Law Community will retain 24-hour access to the Law School and Goodson Law Library with a current DukeCard. Have a fun (and safe) winter break!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

English Reports [Full Reprint] on CommonLII

The Commonwealth Legal Information Institute (CommonLII) recently announced the digitization of the English Reports, an historical reprint of English case law from 1220-1873. The reports can be found in PDF at CommonLII’s database may be browsed by case name or year; or searched by party name or keyword.

Researchers at Duke have a growing list of options for locating cases from the English Reports. A print set is available on Level 1 at the call number KD270 1220 .E53, and the HeinOnline database added a digitized version of the set in 2007. For more information, consult the library’s recently-updated research guide to English Legal History.

Monday, December 8, 2008

American Law Reports: The Choice is Yours (Again)

In January 2008, American Law Reports became available online exclusively in Westlaw. Historically, both LexisNexis and Westlaw had provided access to the electronic version of the lengthy annotations, which compile and summarize a large amount of state and federal case law on a particular legal topic.

Perhaps moved by the spirit of the holiday season, the two legal research giants have agreed to share A.L.R. once more. American Law Reports is now available on both Westlaw (ALR database) and LexisNexis (Legal > Secondary Legal). The series is also available in print in the library’s Practice & Procedure collection (Level 3). (This is a remarkable change from the spring 2008 semester, when the Lexis access ceased and the print volumes were in renovation storage.)

Other newly-reinstated titles on LexisNexis include Witkin treatises (a major secondary source in California legal research), New York Jurisprudence, Ohio Jurisprudence, Texas Jurisprudence, and Florida Jurisprudence.

This happy news should also serve as a reminder that content on Lexis, Westlaw and other databases can change suddenly and sometimes without warning. If you have trouble locating material in a database, please speak with a reference librarian about alternative sources.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Library Services During Reading/Exam Period

The reading and examination period marks the beginning of changes to library service hours. Effective today, the Reference Desk will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Night and weekend reference services will resume at the start of spring 2009 classes, on Sunday, January 11.

The Circulation Desk will maintain regular hours during the reading and examination period, and will begin operating under winter break hours (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.) on Saturday, December 20.

The Academic Technologies Help Desk will remain fully staffed during reading and exam period, as well.

As always, current members of the Duke Law community will retain 24-hour access to the Law School and Law Library with a valid DukeCard.

For more information, see the Library's Hours & Directions page.

Exam Success Tip #5: Stop Stressing

Around this time of year, the library fills with 1Ls who are dreading their first law school exams. (Upper-class students are also not immune to this end-of-semester anxiety, even though they have a better idea of what to expect.) During the last week of classes, we're devoting the Goodson Blogson to library tips for exam success. This is the last tip of the week; click "Older Posts" to view the rest of the series.

Tip #5. Stop Stressing!

We know, we know--telling a law student to relax is easier said than done. Some law students might even view their stress as a motivating force. However, for the majority of students, anxiety is an obstacle which makes exam season even more difficult. As Duke Law begins the Reading and Examination Period, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Last month, Amy L. Jarmon, Assistant Dean for Academic Success at Texas Tech, published a thoughtful article in the ABA’s Student Lawyer magazine on the topic of stress reduction for law students. Jarmon’s common-sense tips, which are often forgotten in the hectic exam period, include:
  • No all-nighters! Get a full night’s sleep and resist the temptation to “make up” extra hours of sleep over the weekend. Keep your sleep schedule consistent to avoid feeling overtired. (We add: Just because you have 24-hour access to the library doesn’t mean you have to use it. Your roommates and/or pets and/or houseplants probably miss you.)
  • Eat healthy. Avoid the temptations of fast food, energy drinks, and high-calorie snacks. Instead, take a break to prepare a larger quantity of healthy meals over the weekend, and freeze them for use throughout the week. (We suggest: assemble a team of like-minded friends to each trade a serving from different recipes, so that you’re not eating poached chicken for five days in a row. Should you ever forget your lunch, there’s always the Refectory CafĂ© in the Star Commons, which offers a variety of fresh and healthy salads and sandwiches.)
  • Sneak in some exercise. Jarmon suggests such subtle self-deception as parking farther away and opting to take the stairs, in order to squeeze in the recommended 30 minutes of exercise at least 3 days a week. (We note: Most Duke Law students already trek from the Chemistry lot, and probably do opt for the stairs instead of our notoriously slow elevators. You might just force yourself to take a gym break, or a long walk.)
  • Prioritize your studies. Jarmon first outlines five common study scenarios which increase stress (e.g., you’re way behind in reading; you haven’t yet started an outline; etc.) and offers common-sense solutions for tackling each.
If you’re a member of the ABA’s Law Student division, you can view Jarmon's full article at (ABA username and password required). If not, you can obtain the full text from the General OneFile database (this link will work on-campus, or off-campus if you have already logged in with EZproxy).

To Jarmon's tips, we would also emphasize the importance of making time for the outside world: one evening of fun won't mean the difference between passing and failure. Call a friend or family member who is neither a law student nor a lawyer; talk about something other than your studies. Go see a movie which does not feature lawyer characters. Pick up a novel; go shopping; try a new restaurant. Put aside law school for a few hours, and you'll be ready to pick up where you left off the next day.

Above all, try to remember that you know more than you think you do. Good luck to all of our students on exams!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Exam Success Tip #4: It's All About EBB

Around this time of year, the library fills with 1Ls who are dreading their first law school exams. (Upper-class students are also not immune to this end-of-semester anxiety, even though they have a better idea of what to expect.) During the last week of classes, we're devoting the Goodson Blogson to library tips for exam success. Check back each day for a new tip.

Tip #4. Install Electronic Bluebook (EBB) Ahead of Schedule

As Registrar John Spencer sagely noted in last month's panel Exam Prep and Study Session Tips for 1Ls (now available as a webcast; RealPlayer required), please don't hesitate to download Electronic Bluebook (EBB) if you will be using your laptop to take an exam. Detailed instructions are available on the Academic Technologies' Computing for Students page ( If you encounter problems while downloading the software, talk to the Academic Technologies' Help Desk staff.

After downloading the software to your computer, practice using it before your first exam so that you encounter no unpleasant surprises on test day! You might try writing a model answer from one of your professors' old exams (Exam Success Tip #1), or from a general law school exam prep guide (Exam Success Tip #2), in order to familiarize yourself with using the software's basic functions.

Finally, be aware of the Law School's policy and procedures on what to do if you encounter problems with EBB or your laptop during an examination: Just a small amount of EBB preparation before test day could save you a host of trouble during exams!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Exam Success Tip #3: Close the Outline Gaps

Around this time of year, the library fills with 1Ls who are dreading their first law school exams. (Upper-class students are also not immune to this end-of-semester anxiety, even though they have a better idea of what to expect.) During the last week of classes, we're devoting the Goodson Blogson to library tips for exam success. Check back each day for a new tip.

Tip #3. Complete Your Outlines...with a Little Help

Still confused about consideration? Puzzled by the Rule Against Perpetuities? Fill in your course outline gaps by consulting some subject-specific study guides. The library purchases a number of book series which are designed to help law students understand the concepts in a particular area of law. Perennial favorites:
  • Examples and Explanations Series: This series of books, published by Aspen, are written by law professors and are great exam preparation aids. The books give a narrative overview of key concepts and rules followed by "examples" (hypothetical questions) and "explanations" (answers to the questions). In the online catalog, search the title keyword [your subject] and examples and explanations to retrieve the volumes on a particular topic and their locations in the library.

  • Hornbooks: These books are written especially for law students and review specific areas of law in a summary, narrative form. They are thorough, but not exhaustive. The primary producer of hornbooks, West, has now divided its hornbooks into two editions: Practitioner's and Student's. The practitioner's edition usually contains additional chapters which discuss practice-oriented issues not normally of interest to students. The library usually has both versions in the Reserves collection.

  • Mastering... Series: These slim volumes provide a quick overview of a specific area of law, with minimal footnotes. They are available on a variety of law school course topics and can be located in the catalog with a title keyword search for “mastering [subject]”; e.g. mastering contracts.

  • Nutshell Series: These books contain a comprehensive outline of a specific area of the law, usually written by a noted authority on the subject. They provide a big-picture look at the law and avoid in-depth analysis. They contain fewer footnotes and references than hornbooks, but generally give greater coverage of a subject than commercial study guides. The most current Nutshells are in the Reserves collection, organized by the author’s last name.

  • Understanding... Series: Published by LexisNexis on a variety of legal topics, this series can be found with a title keyword search of the catalog for “understanding [subject]”; e.g. understanding criminal law. The Understanding series contain an overview of an area of law, with footnotes to primary sources for further reading.
If you require more in-depth analysis of a particular issue, you might wish to consult a multi-volume treatise on the subject. The library's guide to First-Year Treatises ( provides author and title information for the top treatises in 1L subjects, as well as links to online versions in Lexis or Westlaw. Links to relevant CALI exercises are also provided.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Exam Success Tip #2: Consult Prep Guides

Around this time of year, the library fills with 1Ls who are dreading their first law school exams. (Upper-class students are also not immune to this end-of-semester anxiety, even though they have a better idea of what to expect.) During the last week of classes, we're devoting the Goodson Blogson to library tips for exam success. Check back each day for a new tip.

Tip #2. Consult General Law Exam Prep Books

What if you can’t find any past exams from your specific professors? You might benefit from looking at general law examination preparation guidebooks, available on reserve in the library. These books contain an overview of the most common formats for law school exams, and give strategies for studying and for writing successful answers. Often, these books also provide model exam questions and sample answers, along with explanations why a particular answer is more successful than others.

Titles like Law School Exams: Preparing and Writing to Win and Mastering the Law School Exam : A Practical Blueprint for Preparing and Taking Law School Exams can be found in the libraries’ catalog with a subject search for “Law examinations—United States” ( Generally the most current editions of these books will be available on reserve (4-hour/overnight checkout), although past editions may be available for a longer borrowing period in the General Collection.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Exam Success Tip #1: Review Old Exams

Around this time of year, the library fills with 1Ls who are dreading their first law school exams. (Upper-class students are also not immune to this end-of-semester anxiety, even though they have a better idea of what to expect.) During the last week of classes, we're devoting the Goodson Blogson to library tips for exam success. Check back each day for a new tip.

Tip #1. Review Old Exams from your Professors

A frequent question at the library’s service desk during the reading and exam period is where to obtain copies of Law School exams from previous years. The Office of the Registrar currently hosts a database of Exams on File (, which offers password-protected access to some past exams. Note that participation in Exams on File is at the discretion of the instructor; as a result, the selection is somewhat limited. (Tip #2 will provide suggestions if your professors choose not to provide old exams for review. Note that beginning in the Spring 2009 semester, Exams on File will change to a format in which individual instructors can post exams on the Blackboard course site.)

There is a common misconception that the library maintains a paper archive of exams as well. Although there is a print collection of past Law School exams in the library’s Archives collection (1935-2001), this collection was discontinued when the Exams on File site began. Unless your professor has specifically placed an old exam on Course Reserve (and none has, at the time of this writing), the library has no post-2001 exams in paper format.

If your professor has not included exams in the online database, he or she might be willing to share exams on the class Blackboard site, or at least to detail the general format and specific topics of the exam in class. Don’t be afraid to ask for more information.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Study Space: An Insider's Guide

As the fall semester draws to a close, study space is at a premium in the Goodson Law Library! Here is a travel guide to the best places to study in the library, both well-known and off the beaten path.


1st Place: Private study rooms (Level 2): If the sign-up sheet at the Circulation Desk is any indication, our top pick for group study is no secret to the Duke Law community. Our eight private study rooms on Level 2 are already immensely popular with groups (FYI, individuals are allowed to sign up as well). You may reserve a four-hour block of time in one of the eight study rooms up to 24 hours in advance.

2nd Place: The Reading Room (Level 3): It might be hard to believe now, but prior to the Law School’s renovation, the Reading Room was constantly abuzz with conversation. Library policy always permitted talking in the Reading Room and Level 4, while Levels 2 and 1 were designated as official quiet study spaces. Although you can occasionally hear a pin drop in the new Reading Room, this policy still stands (of course, consideration for your colleagues’ noise level is always appreciated). Round tables near the window wall and behind the center staircase offer a bit more seclusion than the large tables in the middle of the room.

3rd Place: The mezzanine tables (Level 4): Your study group might start speaking in hushed tones, as the acoustics on Level 4 tend to carry voices a good distance. But when the study rooms are packed and the Reading Room is full, the tables along the north and south sides of the Level 4 mezzanine are an acceptable-- if not exactly private-- substitute.

Honorable mention: The Fite Room (Level 2): When not being used for instruction, the John D. Fite Computer Instruction Room is open on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Pros: Fits more people than the private study rooms; has more built-in technology (if you can figure out how to operate it).
  • Cons: Unlike the private study rooms, there are no blinds for the fishbowl-like window; just like any other Law School classroom, you run the risk of being ousted for more “official” use of the room.

1st Place: The subject alcoves (Levels 2 and 3): The Goodson Law Library’s best-kept study secrets are the subject-specific alcoves on Levels 2 (the Clarence W. Walker North Carolina Alcove and the Dean Pamela B. Gann Tax Alcove) and 3 (William F. Stevens Federal Alcove and the George C. Christie Jurisprudence Collection). Tucked away in the corners along the window wall, the alcoves offer a secluded spot for quiet study—although you might occasionally be interrupted by a cite-checker or library staff.

2nd Place: Level 1: The library staff wants everyone to know that Level 1 reopened in November—but you might want us to keep that fact under wraps. Not far from the back elevator and staircase are more than 60 study carrels and a handful of tables, as well as a delightfully retro bar-style seating area near the shelves.

3rd Place: New study carrels (Level 2): Current 3Ls will recall the pre-renovation Level 2 as, shall we say, a somewhat drearier place. The renovation involved the creation of brand-new windows on Level 2, which are accented by beautiful new study carrels. If you need to take occasional study breaks in order to gaze longingly at the outside world, this is the spot for you.

Honorable mention: Soft seating (Level 4): Who doesn’t love to read in a comfy chair? The leather club seats along the window wall on Level 4 are a pleasant place to review notes or proofread writing assignments. Hint: bring earplugs or an iPod to avoid distractions from the Reading Room below.

Did our rankings miss the mark? Critique our picks and share your top-ranked places to study in the comments.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

And the Winner Is...

We are pleased to announce the winner of the Rename DULL News contest, prompted by our recent name change from “Duke University Law Library” to the “J. Michael Goodson Law Library”. Nearly 20 individuals from the Duke Law community submitted more than 45 (!) possible blog names.

The selection committee reviewed all entries, and awarded the grand prize to 2L Kyle Kelly for her suggested title, “The Goodson Blogson”. The new name will debut on the library site beginning Monday, December 1.

Kyle wins a decorative serving tray packed with goodies to help her survive exam season, from study essentials (highlighters, earplugs, a mini-stapler) to sustenance (trail mix, Red Bull, microwave popcorn—to be enjoyed outside of the library, of course), to pleasant diversions (a travel edition of Scattergories, a Starbucks gift card), and more.

Congratulations to Kyle, and to all of the other entrants (each of whom will receive a special gift for their participation)! We truly do appreciate the outpouring of creativity from all of the students, faculty and staff who entered the contest.

If you'd like the latest stories from The Goodson Blogson to be delivered automatically to your RSS reader or your Google Homepage, be sure to click "Subscribe to Posts" at the bottom of any screen on the blog.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Take a Movie Break with our New DVDs

Papers are due; exams are looming. If you start to stress, take a sanity break with the Goodson Law Library's new collection of law-related feature films on DVD! The collection includes the ABA Journal's list of 25 Greatest Legal Movies (and honorable mentions), and we are planning to expand it with your help (submit your suggestions to Lauren M. Collins,

Available feature film DVDs are displayed on Level 3, next to the James D. Cox Legal Fiction Collection. Bring the empty case to the Circulation Desk to receive the disc. (Note that the library also owns a number of nonfiction, or documentary, DVDs which are shelved by call number with the General Collection; to view a full list of DVDs available in the Goodson Law Library, click here.) Law Library DVDs may be borrowed for 3 days at a time.

If you need a non-legal movie break, you might take a trip to the Perkins Library (on West Campus) or Lilly Library (on East Campus), which both offer a display of the latest popular DVD releases, for checkout only to undergraduate and graduate students. These "DevilDVDs" are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, and may be checked out by students for 3 days. The Lilly Library also has an impressive collection of more than 18,000 feature and documentary films, but you must visit the library in person to borrow them.

Need a quiet place to watch your movie? You can hook up a laptop with DVD playback capability in one of our eight private study rooms, which each feature a 32-inch LCD screen. Demand for study rooms becomes high around exam season, though, so you may wish to reserve a room up to 24 hours in advance.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Library Services Over Thanksgiving Weekend

The Goodson Law Library will operate under reduced service hours in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.

  • Wed., Nov. 26: Library closes at 5 p.m.

  • Thu.-Sat., Nov. 27-29: Library closed

  • Sun., Nov. 30: Regular hours resume

During the break, the Duke Law Community will retain 24-hour access to the Law School and Goodson Law Library with a current DukeCard.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Researching Hong Kong Laws

For many years, the library has received the official Laws of Hong Kong in a 43-volume looseleaf set (KNR1.9 1991). As is often the case with printed looseleafs, the index volume provides only limited options for locating ordinances on a particular topic. Additionally, updates were often delayed due to lengthy shipping times from Asia.

After consulting with colleagues at Hong Kong University, the Goodson Law Library has decided to transition from use of the printed looseleaf to two unofficial but highly reliable web versions: Bilingual Laws Information System (BLIS) from the Hong Kong Department of Justice ( and the Hong Kong Legal Information Institute (HKLII) (, from the University of Hong Kong. Both services offer increased search options, although HKLII often lags one week behind BLIS for the most current updates.

Interested in historic research? Hong Kong University has also digitized Historical Laws of Hong Kong Online (, with PDFs dating back to 1890. The library also has selected historical codes in print, at the call number KNR1.9.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

On Legal Scholarship and Popularity Contests

If the phrases "most cited" or "impact factor" immediately catch your attention, you are not alone. Citation analysis (in which the influence of a particular publication is measured by how many subsequent publications have cited to it) remains a fashionable method for determining the influence of a particular law review article or legal journal. Although many scholars question the validity of such studies, their popularity endures.

Of course, you can always use Shepard’s and KeyCite to gauge the scholarly impact of a particular law review article citation, at least for articles published after 1980 (the cutoff date in Lexis and Westlaw for the full text of most law journals). For more historic legal articles, researchers might locate some citation metrics in the Social Sciences Citation Index on Web of Science (, although their coverage extends back to only 1956 and includes only selected law reviews. Fortunately, HeinOnline ( has jumped into the fray with its new social indexing tool, announced last month:

From Hein's original blog post:

For example, when you run a search for "Right to Privacy" across the titles in the Law Journal Library in HeinOnline, you will be able to determine how many times each result has been "cited by" other scholarly law review articles in HeinOnline. This allows you to view articles that have had a heavy influence or high impact on the subject you are searching. From here, you can then view the law review articles that cited this article to further your research in the given subject area. This research approach is easy, using simple links available in HeinOnline.

Future enhancements in the Law Journal Library will allow you to sort your results based on the number of times the articles are cited, thus bringing the most cited articles to the top of your search results list.
The "future enhancement" of an option to sort article results based upon the number of subsequent citations in other articles is now active in HeinOnline [update 11/7: see new blog post at]. Hein’s Law Journal Library dates back to volume 1 for most of the law reviews in the United States, making this new feature a powerful resource for locating the most influential scholarship on a particular legal topic. To test it out, run a search in the Law Journal Library of HeinOnline and on your result page, choose Sort By: "Number of Times Cited" from the drop-down menu.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Rename D.U.L.L. News! (Deadline Extended!)

Since 1978, the Duke Law School’s library newsletter has published under the tongue-in-cheek title "D.U.L.L. News". Although the monthly print publication evolved into a blog in 2006, the name remained as long as we were called the "Duke University Law Library".

However, the recent rechristening of the J. Michael Goodson Law Library has left D.U.L.L. News in flux (it's temporary called "News & Announcements", which is even duller than D.U.L.L.). As our new acronym doesn’t lend itself well to a snappy blog title, we turn to the Duke Law community for assistance, and offer the promise of lasting fame and a fabulous prize. Can you help us rename D.U.L.L. News?

Contest Rules:

  1. Contest is open to entry only by current Duke Law School students, faculty, and staff.

  2. The winning blog name must not be in use by any other law libraries (see a list at [link not working? try an archive version]), or other well-known blogs or publications (e.g., "Above the Law" or "The Devil's Advocate").

  3. The winner will be chosen by a committee of library staff; in the event of a deadlock by the committee, a run-off vote may be conducted.

  4. The author of the winning blog name will receive an Exam Season Survival Kit, with contents worth approximately $90.00. Although the specific contents will be tailored to the identity of the winner (i.e., a student might receive some different items than faculty), if you saw our Spring Semester Survival Kit at the 2008 PILF auction, then you should be confident in our ability to assemble something fabulous.

  5. Submit your name change suggestions to Reference Librarian Jennifer L. Behrens ( by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, November 14 Friday, November 21.

Good luck to all entrants!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The 21st Century Law Library

[Update 11/7: Listen to the archived webcast of this event at . RealPlayer is required.]

As part of Building Dedication Week, Senior Associate Dean for Information Services Dick Danner will host a panel discussion on the scholarly role of the modern law library.

The 21st Century Law Library
Thursday, November 6, 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Room 3041

The panel will also include S. Blair Kauffman, Librarian and Professor of Law at Yale's Lillian Goldman Law Library, and John G. Palfrey, the Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law and Vice Dean of Library and Information Resources at Harvard Law Library.

Immediately following the discussion will be a reception in the library to honor J. Michael Goodson, for whom the renovated library has been renamed. For a full list of Dedication Week events, see the online schedule.

Monday, October 27, 2008

"Communications Regulation" Now Available Online

For decades, Pike & Fischer Communications Regulation (previously known as Pike & Fischer Radio Regulation) has assisted legal researchers with its compilation and analysis of Federal Communications Commission rules, agency and court decisions, and related statutes and regulations. Previously available at Duke in loose-leaf binder format, the Library has recently transitioned to the electronic version (access with NetID and password at The older print editions of the loose-leaf will be preserved in the library's collection, but are no longer being updated with new pages.

The electronic version of Communications Regulation offers:
  • Current FCC rules, updated daily
  • Cases from the FCC and selected communications cases from other courts (including a growing PDF archive of the FCC Record)
  • Relevant statutes and regulations, including an archive of proposed FCC rules and requests for comment back to 1964
  • Pike & Fischer news and analysis articles
  • FCC Phone Directory search
Connect to the electronic version of Pike & Fischer Communications Regulation through the online catalog record or the database link:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

When Star Paging Just Won't Do

If you read court opinions on Lexis and Westlaw, the star paging feature will help you to determine where the page breaks appear in each of the parallel print reporter citations. This makes it simple to quickly generate pinpoint citations which are appropriate for Bluebook format.

Occasionally, though, legal researchers require the original page image of a particular case. Although PDFs of the National Reporter System are available on Westlaw back to 1920, locating page images of official state reporters can be more difficult. The library does own most American reporters in print, although many state reporters are housed off-site at the Library Service Center (these can be requested for delivery to the Law Library through the online catalog with a NetID and password). Fortunately, an increasing number of online sources are also providing PDFs of state cases.

As mentioned above, Westlaw offers PDFs of its regional reporters (view map) dating back to their first volumes in 1920. More recently, Lexis has joined the party by offering cases from selected Lexis-published reporters (such as California Reports) in PDF. When available on Lexis and Westlaw, PDFs will be linked at the top of the case.

For reporters not covered in Lexis or Westlaw, LLMC Digital is the logical next step. This database offers digitized case reporters from all fifty states, with an emphasis on historical volumes (although new volumes will be added as digitization continues). To view the scanned volumes for a particular set of reporters, be sure to click the red link labeled “Available Online”.

Finally, HeinOnline offers a solution for locating PDFs of executive agency decisions in its new Federal Agency Library. This collection offers complete scans of the official reporters from such executive agencies as the Securities Exchange Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Labor Relations Board, and many others.

For more information about locating legal materials in PDF, consult the library's recently-updated Research Guide.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cox Legal Fiction: Make Time for a Good Book

Everyone needs an occasional break from the rigors of law school. Fortunately, the Law Library offers an oasis from statutes and casebooks, right by the window wall in the Reading Room.

The Cox Legal Fiction Collection offers hundreds of law-related novels (in addition to scholarly examinations of law and literature). The collection features the usual best-selling suspects (such as John Grisham and David Baldacci) as well as classic literature (To Kill a Mockingbird) and first-time novelists with a legal bent (Saira Rao's Chambermaid and Jonathan Blachman's Anonymous Lawyer, to name a few). Students may borrow Cox Collection titles with a DukeCard for up to 4 weeks-- plenty of time to sneak a chapter of "fun" into nightly reading assignments.

Visit this page for a sampling of the latest additions to the Cox Collection. Many entries include plot summaries, and some even include previews of the first chapter in Google Books: there's surely something to please even the most finicky reader.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The United Nations' Yearbook Free-for-all

Since 1946, the Yearbook of the United Nations has remained a critically important publication for researchers of the international organization. The Yearbook provides a detailed history of the activities of the United Nations, arranged by topic and offering several useful appendices.

For decades, the Yearbook was available only in print (it can be found in the Law Library's Periodicals collection, Level 4), although a CD-ROM version was introduced in the 1990s. However, the United Nations announced last week that it has digitized the complete series of the Yearbook, and posted it for free at The online version allows researchers to browse or search all available issues of the Yearbook, which currently spans 1946-2005. International law researchers should bookmark this valuable free online resource.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

National Moot Court Competition available in HeinOnline

Every year since 1950, the National Moot Court Competition attracts top talent from the nation's law schools. Teams who have advanced from regional competitions argue before a panel of legal professionals, who evaluate participants based upon their written briefs and oral arguments. This prestigious competition allows students to develop their legal writing and oral argument skills-- essential for most legal professionals.

New moot court participants often look to the winning briefs of past years in order to determine the competition's preferred writing styles and arguments. The winning materials are published each year in a book series, National Moot Court Competition (available in the library 1991-present at the call number KF8918 .N38). The entire series, from 1950-present, has just been digitized in the HeinOnline database, and is now available at Duke. From the main HeinOnline screen, choose "National Moot Court Competition" to search or browse the available volumes.

The National Moot Court Competition library joins another important moot court series which was already available in Hein: the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Compendium (1960-present; part of Hein's "Philip C. Jessup Library"). Anyone interested in moot court competitions should make note of these useful resources.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Open Access Day at Duke

Open Access (OA) is a growing international movement that uses the Internet to throw open the locked doors that once hid knowledge. It encourages the unrestricted sharing of research results with everyone, everywhere, for the advancement and enjoyment of science and society.

Tuesday, October 14 marks the first international Open Access Day, which aims to broaden awareness of the OA movement through educational events around the world. The Duke Libraries will host two events on Tuesday, October 14, the first of which includes discussion by two Duke Law faculty members:

Duke Talks about Open Access
2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Perkins Library (Room 217)
Featuring James Boyle, William Neal Reynolds Professor of Law, Chairman of the Board, Creative Commons.
Professor Boyle will focus on Creative Commons, an organization which is working to facilitate the free availability of art, scholarly and creative materials through online licenses that authors can attach to their work.

His talk will be followed by a panel of speakers from the Duke community who will share their perspectives and their activities within the Open Access arena:
  • Melanie Dunshee, JD, AMLS, Assistant Dean for Library Services, Duke Law Library
  • Ricardo Pietrobon, MD, PhD, MBA, Associate Vice Chair and Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery Duke University Health System
  • Josh Sommer, fellow in Duke’s Program on Global Health and Technology Access, co-founder Chordoma Foundation

Open Access Webcast
7-8 p.m., Perkins Link and/or Medical Center Library (Room 104)
The international Open Access Day Webcast features:
  • Sir Richard Roberts, Nobel laureate, Chief Scientific Officer at New England Biolabs, US, and a member of the PLoS Biology Editorial Board
  • Philip E. Bourne, Ph.D. founding editor-in-chief of PLoS Computational Biology, Professor in the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the UC San Diego, Assoc. Dir. of the RCSB Protein Data Bank, Senior Advisor to the San Diego Supercomputer Center, Adjunct Professor at the Burnham Institute, and Co-Founder of SciVee
Both speakers will discuss how Open Access impacts research and will answer questions on this topic from participating campuses.

Throughout the day on October 14, the Duke University Libraries will feature short video clips on open access, provide handouts about author rights, access to research, and copyright available, and distribute OA Day buttons. The Law Library will provide a handout on Open Access initiatives at Duke Law, as well as sample contract language to preserve author's rights to redistribute published works.

For more information on Open Access Day, visit the Facebook events page for Open Access Day @ Duke University or

Monday, October 6, 2008

Library Hours for Fall Break

The Law Library will operate under reduced staffing hours during the Law School's Fall Break, October 11-18.

Saturday & Sunday Oct. 11-12 CLOSED
Monday - Friday Oct. 13-17 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday Oct. 18 CLOSED
Sunday Oct. 19 Regular hours resume

During the break, Law students, faculty and staff retain 24-hour access to the Law School and Law Library with a DukeCard.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

First Monday Madness

It’s that time of year again. "First Monday", October 6, marks the beginning of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2008-2009 term. What issues will be tackled by our nation’s highest court? A number of online resources have the answers.

  • The Supreme Court’s own web site offers its Argument Calendars for the upcoming term. Argument transcripts should be posted within the same day at

  • The American Bar Association’s annual Supreme Court Preview provides copies of all merit and amicus briefs for the Court’s upcoming term, and a “Supreme Court Primer” of procedures.

  • The popular SCOTUSblog offers running (often live) commentary and analysis on the new term’s cases. Its SCOTUSwiki feature presents OT2008 cases in argument order, with links to briefs, commentary and analysis; following arguments, SCOTUSblog volunteers will post “Oral Argument Recaps” and “Opinion Analysis”, making this an excellent place to begin researching a Supreme Court case of interest.

  • For quick summaries of the day’s activity in the U.S. Supreme Court, many attorneys rely on U.S. Law Week’s Supreme Court Today, which is available to the Law School community at (click “U.S. Law Week” at the bottom of the page; then choose “Supreme Court Today” from the menu at the left).

  • To learn more about the U.S. Supreme Court, visit the library’s online research guide for more links as well as print resources.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sources for 50-State Surveys

If you are researching the laws of more than one jurisdiction, you can often save time with a fifty-state survey. These publications compile citations to the laws or regulations for each state on a particular subject, eliminating the need to search each state’s laws individually.

Fifty-state surveys can be found in various formats. The Law Library has long subscribed to the Subject Compilation of State Laws (Reference KF1 .F67; 1960-present), a print series which offers citations to books and articles that compare state laws on a particular topic. However, because new volumes do not cumulate, the Subject Compilation usually requires researchers to consult several volumes in order to find all of the relevant listings for a single topic. Fortunately, the Subject Compilation of State Laws is now available through HeinOnline ( The online version may be searched or browsed by topic, greatly streamlining the process of locating all relevant entries on an issue.

On LexisNexis (, fifty-state surveys are available in the 50 State Surveys, Legislation & Regulations database, which is easily accessible from the Law School search screen under Legislation & Politics > U.S. & U.K. Surveys on Lexis may be downloaded as spreadsheets, which provide hyperlinks to specific regulations or statute sections in each state on a particular topic. Lexis continues to add new topics to its surveys database; recent additions included surveys for regulation of billboards and other outdoor advertising as well as the determination of damages for eminent domain proceedings.

Westlaw ( offers the SURVEYS (for topics governed by statutes) and REG-SURVEYS (for regulatory matters) databases, which initially reprinted the surveys available in the National Survey of State Laws (also available in print at Reference KF386 .N38). Westlaw began to add its own survey topics to the database, which has now grown so large that it is available as a separate research tab. To add it to your Westlaw screen, look for the option to "Add a Tab" in the upper right-hand corner.

For other time-saving research tips, ask a librarian.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

AudioCaseFiles: Assignments on your iPod?

Law students are natural multitaskers, but even the most dedicated 1L wouldn't risk the embarrassment of reading a casebook on the treadmill. Enter AudioCaseFiles, a relatively new web site which offers MP3 downloads of more than 1,000 cases from the most popular law school casebooks. It's an ideal service for auditory learners, those with long commutes, and perhaps even insomniacs.

AudioCaseFiles offers the option to browse cases by topic or by casebook, and includes several from the Duke Law booklist (such as Kadish's Criminal Law and Its Processes: Cases and Materials and Friedenthal's Civil Procedure: Cases and Materials, among others).

If listening to court opinions isn't your idea of a good time, AudioCaseFiles has also expanded into video, with more than 4,000 hours of footage from actual trials in a variety of practice areas. (View the list by case names; you can also sort video offerings by practice area.) Trial practice students, in particular, may be interested in viewing real case videos.

Users must be registered with the service to download any media on the site; Duke Law students may now register for AudioCaseFiles with their law school e-mail account. AudioCaseFiles is now linked from the library's Legal Databases & Links page, under the "Legal Links" column.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Study Rooms Now Available

Eight private study rooms are now available on Level 2 of the Law Library. These rooms are available for the use of individual law students or groups of students, and can be “checked out” for four hours at a time from the Circulation/Reserve desk on Level 3 by presenting a Law School ID. Students may also reserve a room up to 24 hours in advance.

Each study room is currently equipped with a 32-inch LCD screen, which allows up to three students to plug in a laptop for visual presentations. In the coming weeks, all of the study rooms will also contain a built-in computer with DVD playback and a webcam with videoconferencing and recording software.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Newspapers Get Digital

Due to the sheer volume of daily publication, most newspapers do not provide their contents online in PDF or other page-image formats. Historically, newspapers have made their contents available in microform, but this means that frequently, the only libraries which own a microform version of a local newspaper are limited to the geographical region where the newspaper is published. This makes interlibrary loan requests difficult and time-consuming for owning libraries to fill, particularly when most newspaper articles are available in HTML through databases like America's Newspapers and InfoTrac Custom Newspapers. For these reasons, it is the policy of the Duke Law Library not to submit interlibrary loan requests for newspaper articles which are available in HTML format.

However, some researchers prefer to view original (PDF) images of newspaper articles, and an increasing number of free and subscription sites are filling that need. Various major U.S. newspapers are available in PDF through the Duke database ProQuest Historical Newspapers. This database includes PDF versions of:

  • New York Times (1851-3 years ago)
  • Wall Street Journal (1889-1989)
  • Washington Post (1877-1990)
  • Los Angeles Times (1881-1985)
  • Atlanta Constitution (1868-1939)
  • Atlanta Daily World (1932-2003)
  • Chicago Defender (1905-1975)

America’s Historical Newspapers (1690-1922) also offers downloadable facsimiles of many early U.S. newspapers.

PDF versions of historical articles from selected British newspapers are also available in Duke’s electronic databases. The London Times is available in PDF through the Times Digital Archive (1785-1985). The Times Literary Supplement is also available in PDF in a separate database, TLS Centenary Archive (1902-1990).

In addition to the Duke databases listed above, the free site Newseum: Today’s Front Pages provides PDFs of the front pages of many national and local newspapers for the current date. The Archive section maintains selected front-page PDFs for dates of historical interest (including the deaths of national figures, major terrorist attacks, and Hurricane Katrina).

Finally, the Google Blog recently announced an initiative to digitize historical newspapers through its Google News Archive Search. Although results in this search are a mix of pay-per-view and free articles, the free articles include scanned images from newspapers such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the St. Petersburg (FL) Times. It's always worth searching the free web for an article-- you never know where it might turn up.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Closing the Congressional Documents Gap

Earlier this week, the HeinOnline database announced the completion of its Congressional Record scanning project, which spans 1873-2003 (a scan of the "daily" edition for more current volumes is also available). Hein had already digitized the predecessors to the Congressional Record (the Congressional Globe, the Register of Debates and the Annals of Debates in Congress), meaning that Duke users now have access to a complete, searchable PDF set of the debates in Congress dating back to 1789.

Legislative history researchers at Duke have additional online resources for congressional resources which are too old to be published on GPO Access. The U.S. Congressional Serial Set Digital Collection has been steadily scanning volumes of committee reports, currently dating from 1817-1952 (with an additional 2-3 years being added each month). With GPO Access providing committee reports back to 1994, and the CIS microfiche set in the library covering back to 1970, the digital collection will quickly close the gap in committee report research which has previously been filled by the printed Serial Set available in Perkins/Bostock library.

Committee hearings date back to 1995 on GPO Access, but a digital collection through LexisNexis Congressional provides searchable, well-indexed PDF copies of older hearings, many dating back to the late 1800s.

One frequently-requested but often elusive piece of congressional research is the end result of debates and hearings related to new laws-- the statutes themselves. Session laws are readily available through GPO Access and HeinOnline's U.S. Statutes at Large library, but to locate historical versions of the U.S. Code, researchers usually must look through superseded volumes on Level 1 of the library. GPO Access provides a search of only the 1994, 2000, and (coming soon) the 2006 editions of the U.S. Code. However, there is a glimmer of hope for legislative history researchers: Hein hints in its blog post that the U.S. Code is on its digitizing wish-list...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lexis and Westlaw LLM Classes

Beginning Tuesday, September 2, representatives from LexisNexis & Westlaw will be offering training sessions in the Fite Room (level 2 of the Library) for LLMs as part of the LARWINT class. LLMs should sign up for one Lexis session & one Westlaw session.

Tuesday, September 2: 10:00-10:45, 11:00-11:45 and 1:30-2:15
Wednesday, September 3: 11:00-11:45 and 1:00-1:45
Friday, September 5: 10:00-10:45, 11:00-11:45 and 12:15-1 :00
Wednesday, September 10: 12:15-1:00

Sign up in the Law Library at the Reference Desk in the Lexis notebook.
If you have any questions about Lexis training, contact

Thursday, September 4: 9:00-9:45 and 10:00-10:45
Monday, September 8: 9:00-9:45 and 10:00-10:45
Thursday, September 11: 9-9:45 and 11-11:45
Friday, September 12: 1:00-1:45 and 2:00-2:45

Sign up in the Law Library at the Reference Desk in the Westlaw notebook or online by following
this link:
If you have any questions about Westlaw training, contact

Please remember to register your passwords before the sessions, and to bring them with you! If your passwords are not registered before the classes, you will take up valuable class time doing so. If you did not receive a password, please contact the Reference Desk.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Lexis and Westlaw Passwords

The start of a new school year brings the frequently-asked question: When do I receive my Lexis and Westlaw passwords?

LexisNexis and Westlaw are the leading electronic legal research services used in modern law practice. Individual passwords to both are provided free of charge to members of the Duke Law community. However, the distribution of passwords takes place at different times for different groups within Duke Law:
  • LLM students will receive Lexis and Westlaw passwords on their first day of LARWINT class.
  • New JD students will receive Lexis and Westlaw passwords on the first day of the research portion of LARW, during the week of September 8.
  • Law School faculty and staff may receive Lexis and Westlaw passwords at any time, although new hires must be confirmed with the Dean’s office before passwords can be issued. Inquire at the Reference Desk ( or 613-7121).

Please note that the terms of the library’s contract with Lexis and Westlaw require that academic passwords are used only for educational, non-profit purposes. The library is likewise restricted from distributing individual passwords to anyone who is not a current member of the Law School community. (Researchers outside the Law School are encouraged to use LexisNexis Academic, a campus-wide alternative to Lexis which offers much of the same content.)

If you already have a Lexis/Westlaw password, but have forgotten, misplaced, or are experiencing any technical trouble with them, contact the Reference Desk for assistance.

NOTE: The Law School community has access to other low-cost alternatives to Lexis and Westlaw, including Loislaw and CasemakerX. For details and the Loislaw registration code, contact the Reference Desk.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Cite-Checker's Toolkit

Even before the renovated Law Library had reopened, Duke’s nine student-edited journals had already begun the process of cite-checking their selected articles. A number of electronic resources make this job easier, and should be useful to cite-checkers as well as any other legal researchers.

Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations: There are several abbreviation dictionaries available in the Law Library’s Reference Collection, but this site (from the University of Cardiff in Wales) can be accessed anywhere at any time. Search by title or by abbreviation to decipher those mysterious citations--always the first step to locating an item.

Finding Legal Materials in PDF: This research guide was created in response to the library’s renovation, since 95% of the print collection was moved into inaccessible off-site storage. It remains a useful guide to locating the full text of many common legal materials, including primary (cases, statutes, legislative history materials) and secondary (law reviews, newspapers, and books) sources.

Electronic Bluebook: Multiple copies of the Bluebook are available in the library’s Reserve collection, but wouldn’t it be nice to have it always at your fingertips? The makers of the Bluebook launched an online subscription version in the spring of 2008. It allows users to keyword search the text of the Bluebook and create highlighted annotations for future reference. Prices range from $25 for a one-year subscription to $55 for the entire three years of law school.

Zotero may be more useful for writing that student note than for cite-checking, but merits a mention here. This free Firefox extension allows you to save, organize, and search your online research bookmarks, and even provides citations to saved articles in Bluebook format (with a free word processor integration add-on).

NOTE: A commercial citation management software called EndNote also supports Bluebook citation style. EndNote is available free to current members of the Duke University community, and can be downloaded at

Monday, August 18, 2008

Library Services During LEAD Week

The Law Library is scheduled to reopen on Friday, August 22. As we transition to the new building, the service desk telephones in the Law Library Annex have been transferred to the new library service desk. During LEAD Week, library staff may be reached via telephone or email during regular summer library hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Service desks in the Library Annex and the renovated library will not be staffed during LEAD Week, although help is available remotely. For reference assistance, please call (919) 613-7121 or email Reference librarians will monitor email and voicemail throughout the day; please be patient for a response as we prepare to reopen our spectacular new library!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Social Networking Gets Legal

Did you suffer through Facebook withdrawal at your summer associate job? Law firms who block popular social-networking sites in an effort to decrease employee distractions may need to revisit this policy soon, as some familiar legal sites begin to incorporate social components.

Fresh from an announcement last month that its powerful legal directory will now feature contact information from professional networking juggernaut LinkedIn as part of its search results, parent company LexisNexis is also testing a separate service called Martindale-Hubbell Connected. Similar to LinkedIn, with a focus on the legal community, Martindale-Hubbell Connected has the potential to increase an attorney’s visibility and professional network exponentially. Read a review from an early visitor, and register to test this beta service yourself.

Additionally, the research system Casemaker (an alternative to Lexis and Westlaw which is included in the membership of 28 selected state bar associations) recently unveiled CasemakerX: The Social Network for Law Students. CasemakerX is now available-- and free-- to Duke Law students, who may register with both “” and “” addresses. Registration includes full access to the Casemaker research resources, as well as a MySpace-like profile for networking, both professional and social.

As with any other web site in which you provide personal information, always consider the impact that your postings can have upon your professional reputation. For further reading on professionalism online, see the Duke University Career Center’s guide to Considerations for Blogs and Social Networks like MySpace and Facebook.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Public Records See Even More Light

The August 3 New York Times reported the release of a new web site, The free site (supported by advertising) compiles criminal record databases from all 50 states and several thousand counties. The site allows an informal "background check" of individual names, as well as a sex-offender search by neighborhoods.

The original version of the site, in late July, included a controversial "Neighborhood Watch" section, compiling results for all known offenders--down to traffic violations-- living near a specific address; this has since been revised to include only registered sex offenders. (Durham city residents can generate a similar "neighborhood watch" map-- albeit only for reported incidents of specific crimes, not for addresses of offenders-- at the Durham Crime Mapper.) represents a growing trend of making public records even more freely accessible online, raising concerns from privacy advocates. In the past, "public" records were frequently available only at the government office which collected and maintained them, and could be inspected only on-site during business hours. As the Internet grew in size and audience, public records search sites like Accurint and Intelius began to emerge, but generally required registration and payment, in part to deter casual snooping (or even stalking). Now, it's common to find online databases of state employee salaries, how much your neighbor paid for her house, or whether your children's school cafeteria is as clean as it should be.

But is increased transparency always a good thing? Don't ask us; we're too busy figuring out how our friends really spent their vacation in Las Vegas.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"Cuil" Competes for Search Engine Crown

CNN reported yesterday that former Google employees have launched a competing search engine, Cuil ( Creators declare Cuil (pronounced "cool") to be "the world's biggest search engine", possibly indexing up to three times as many web pages as Google (although exact figures for Google's scope have not been publicly available since 2005).

Cuil displays your search results in a 2- or 3-column layout, with brief summaries below each item. An "explore by category" box and navigation tabs help to narrow your results (ever "Google" someone with a generic name, or someone who shares their name with a celebrity?).

The next time you have to search the web, experiment by comparing your results in both Google and Cuil. To assess your results in other major search engines, the site will provide side-by-side comparisons of the top hits for a search term in selected search engines, but it unfortunately does not yet include Cuil.

Of course, Cuil and Google are far from the only competitors in this field. To locate lesser-known or specialized search engines, check out the directories at and the Yahoo! Search Engine Directory. The recent College@Home posting on "100 Useful Niche Search Engines You've Never Heard Of" may also provide you with some interesting alternatives for your web searches.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ease Your Bar Exam Anxiety

As the bar exam draws closer, the tension becomes palpable in the Law Library. Although Bar/BRI study materials and commercial outlines are, undoubtedly, more than enough reading material for the bar exam, the Library does have some additional titles which may provide insight on the experience, and perhaps even a bit of serenity:
  • Darrow-Kleinhaus, S. The Bar Exam in a Nutshell (2003). [On Reserve]
  • Friedland, S. The Essential Rules for Bar Exam Success (2008). KF303 .F75 2008
  • Walton, K. Strategies & Tactics for the MBE: Multistate Bar Exam (2003). [On Reserve]
Above all else, remember this: You know more than you think you do.

Good luck to all of our bar exam-takers in these last few weeks before the big day(s).

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

New Look for the Library Catalog

We've previously reported on SearchTRLN, the mega-catalog of the Triangle Research Libraries Network (Duke, NC Central, NC State, and UNC-Chapel Hill) which allows you to see at a glance which area library owns an item and even to submit interlibrary loan requests directly from the search screen. As we mentioned in March, phase two of this project included the development of a customized local version of the SearchTRLN interface for the Duke community. The new catalog launches today, and will soon be the default view from the Duke University Libraries homepage (but not yet the Law Library homepage-- more on that in a moment).

The new catalog interface includes many features and functions:
  • single-click search refinement (limit your results by library, format, and more)
  • book cover image displays (where available)
  • the ability to save searches as persistent bookmarks
  • the ability to save/view searches as dynamically updated RSS feeds
However, as an unintended consequence of the Law School renovation's book storage, the new catalog interface also displays nearly all books from the Law Library and Law Library Annex collections as "Unavailable". While many Law Library materials are still in inaccessible storage during this last month of the renovation, the Annex remains stocked with thousands of titles available for checkout.

Please keep in mind this rule of thumb when looking at Law Library materials in the "new" catalog:
  • If the "Locations" line says "Law Library Annex"-- the item should be available on the shelf (unless it is checked out to another borrower, which will be clearly indicated); disregard the "Unavailable" message for Law Library Annex items.
  • If the "Locations" line says just "Law Library"-- the item is most likely in inaccessible storage for the remainder of the renovation (unless it is checked out to another borrower, and is thus subject to a recall or hold request).
Due to this technical issue, the Law Library will continue to link to the "classic" catalog interface for now, and likely until the remainder of the collection returns from storage (which will correct the erroneous display). Note that if you are using the new catalog interface, you may switch to the "classic" catalog at any time using the tabs at the top of the screen.

As always, talk to a Law Library staff member if you are unsure of the status of a particular title in the new catalog. We are happy to help.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Dish on Durham

As previously noted in this blog, dining options on the Duke campus are a bit more limited over the summer (see Duke Dining summer 2008 schedule at Fortunately, our summer starters and Bar/Bri attendees are not doomed to starve!

If you missed the Independent Weekly’s May publication of “The Dish” (its twice-annual pullout section devoted to Triangle-area restaurants), you can still access all the reviews at In fact, the online dining guide offers more functionality than the print guide, since users can sort restaurant listings by type of cuisine, location, or keyword.

In addition, the Duke Law Epicurean Society maintains the blog Carpe Durham (, in which law students review local restaurants and even provide photos. The mostly-anonymous reviewers (identified only by initials) have continued their work into the summer.

Although the scope of the featured restaurants on both sites does expand well beyond Durham city limits, Duke Law students will find more than enough appetizing options nearby. Bon appetit!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Who Owns Legislative History?

In November 2007, Westlaw announced an exciting new database for legal researchers. The US GAO Federal Legislative Histories Collection (FED-LH) provides comprehensive legislative histories in PDF for most federal Public Laws enacted between 1915-1995 (although not all years are yet available). These histories compile the full text of "laws, bills, committee reports, Congressional Record documents, transcripts of hearings, and other documents" related to a particular Public Law. Although the Law Library has access to a variety of federal legislative history materials online, researchers usually must visit several different sources to access all of the various documents related to a particular law. The GAO histories on Westlaw seemed to make such effort redundant. So what could possibly be the problem?

In March 2008, the blogosphere raised concerns about the exclusive terms of the contract with Westlaw's parent company, Thomson West (now Thomson Reuters). The histories were compiled by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the "investigative arm of Congress." Because most federal government publications are considered to be in the public domain, government watchdogs expressed concern over the exclusive and commercial nature of the digitization contract, when GAO could have pursued digitization partnerships with universities or nonprofit organizations in order to make these legislative histories more widely--and freely-- available.

Carl Malamud, the founder of (previously discussed in this blog for its "Recycle Your PACER Documents" initiative), launched a Freedom of Information Act campaign to make the GAO histories freely available for digitization by the Internet Archive or other such organizations (follow his FOIA paper trail here). Although the initial response was discouraging, last week GAO released 10 DVDs of legislative histories to Malamud. More than 600,000 PDF files are included in this release-- the product of an abandoned in-house digitization attempt by GAO, prior to the Westlaw contract.

The initial release has been posted at However, Malamud has not stopped there. He's currently petitioning GAO to allow or the Internet Archive to scan the same materials which were provided to Westlaw, and plans to ask Congress for funding to make the same materials publicly available.

The excellent Free Government Information blog has been tracking the story (see all stories tagged "GAO"). Add the free GAO materials to your legislative history research repertoire and stay tuned for further developments in the story.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Library Closed for July 4th Weekend

In observance of Independence Day, the Law Library will be closed on Friday, July 4. Regular summer service hours will resume on Monday, July 7.

Over the holiday weekend, current members of the Law School community will retain 24-hour building access with a valid DukeCard.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Hey, That's MY Hein!

Legal researchers already know HeinOnline as a great source for obtaining the full text of older law review articles in PDF. It's also the place to go for historical versions of primary U.S. legal sources like Statutes at Large, the Federal Register and Code of Federal Regulations, and the Congressional Record (whose scanning project will be completed later this week). In recent years, Hein has also become a major source for foreign and international law materials, with its full reprint of the English Reports and an extensive "Treaties and Agreements Library".

But in such a big database, how can you keep track of all your research? The HeinOnline Blog just announced the debut of MyHein, a new service which allows users to bookmark search results for later visits as well as save their search queries. Although the features are most useful for those who choose to register with individual usernames and passwords (since their information will be saved from session to session), the service is also available to unregistered users (although your information will be deleted when you close your HeinOnline session).

Check out the MyHein Video Tutorial for more information.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

BNA Services Get a Facelift

Although it’s hard to tell from the entry page, the Bureau of National Affairs online publications underwent a redesign earlier this week. BNA is a major publisher of services (also known as “looseleaf services” in their print incarnations), such as the United States Law Week and the Criminal Law Reporter. These services provide practitioners and scholars with information about the latest developments in a particular area of law, through case summaries and expert analyses. The redesign improves the general look and feel of the publications, in addition to providing more personalization options for repeat visitors.

To view the new and improved version of your favorite BNA publications, choose a title from the list. Some titles (such as the ABA/BNA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Responsibility) automatically launch the redesigned version; others offer a link in red text to “Preview Our New Platform”. If you would like to offer your feedback about the new design, BNA is conducting a survey during the beta testing period.

You may not be aware that you can also receive updates by e-mail of your favorite BNA publications. View the brief slideshow below for the steps.