Thursday, February 28, 2008

Library Hours for Spring Break

Spring break is just around the corner! Beginning Saturday, March 8, the Law Library will operate under reduced staffing hours:

Saturday & Sunday, Mar. 8-9: CLOSED
Monday - Friday, Mar. 10-14 : 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday Mar. 15: CLOSED
Sunday Mar. 16: Regular hours resume

During the break, members of the Duke Law Community will retain the usual 24-hour access to the Law School and Law Library with a current DukeCard. Best wishes for a safe and productive spring break.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Online Bluebook Now Available

For more than 80 years, The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation has been the leading style manual for law schools. Now, the authors of the Bluebook (which include the law review associations at Columbia, Harvard, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania) have unveiled The Bluebook Online ( , a service which allows subscribers to read, search and annotate the current edition of the Bluebook from the Web.

Prices start at $25 for a one-year subscription; students can purchase up to a 3-year subscription at The Law Library is currently investigating ways to incorporate The Bluebook Online into its database subscriptions. If you have tried The Bluebook Online, or have comments after viewing the video tours at, please give us your feedback.

(Print devotees need not worry - the old-fashioned paper Bluebook isn't going away anytime soon. Should you ever forget to bring your own copy on the day that your writing assignment is due, remember that the Law Library keeps a few spare copies for your use on Reserve in the Annex.)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Manual of Patent Examining Procedure: Digital Archive

Last week, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office ( unveiled a complete digital archive of its Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP), at The archive includes PDF copies of all editions and revisions since the debut of the Manual in 1948.

Previously, editions of MPEP prior to 1995 were available from USPTO only on microform, and had to be requested from the agency or accessed in person at the USPTO Public Search Facility.

Duke University users have online access to archives of MPEP via HeinOnline's Manual of Patent Examining Procedure Library (, although not all revisions are yet available there. (The HeinOnline library also does not include the "original" 1948 edition of MPEP, which precedes the "original" Nov. 1949 1st edition which begins the Hein collection.)

For more information about researching patent law, check out the Law Library's research guide to Intellectual Property Law Resources.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Win a Spring Semester Survival Kit!

Attending the PILF Auction & Gala on Saturday, February 23? Be sure to place your bid on the Law Library's Spring Semester Survival Kit, a gift basket packed full of goodies (both practical and frivolous) to help you get through to the last week of exams.

The basket includes:

Tickets for the PILF Auction & Gala are available for sale every day during the lunch hour in the Law School's Blue Lounge. See the PILF Auction & Gala page for more information.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Research Tip: Preempting the Preemption Check Blues

Thinking about writing a note for law review? Or for one of the many legal paper competitions out there?

Selecting a topic is the first step toward a successful publication, and is often the most difficult. Even choosing to rework an old seminar paper is no guarantee, as the topic still must pass the dreaded “preemption check”: that is, has anyone published on the same or a similar topic? How can you tell? Here are some tips to make the process easier.

1. Take advantage of research references. Remember that Shepard’s and KeyCite can tell you more than whether a case or statute is still “good law”: they’ll also provide references to law review and periodical articles related to a specific case or code section.

2. Dig into law review databases. Supplement your findings from Shepard’s/KeyCite with a search in some sources for law review articles in full text, such as Lexis’s U.S. Journals & Law Reviews, Combined and Westlaw’s Journals & Law Reviews (JLR) databases. Beyond Lexis & Westlaw, the databases LegalTrac ( and Index to Legal Periodicals ( provide additional sources for locating relevant articles; selected results are available in full text.

Don’t be too discouraged if you find a lot of results—just work to find a fresh perspective on the topic.

3. Keep current with alert services. The research references and law review databases will tell you what’s already been published. But how would you know if someone else has been pursuing the same topic as you? You likely won’t, until they beat you to press--but there are a few ways to keep abreast of recently-published scholarship on a topic.

Lexis and Westlaw both offer alert services. Simply save your search from the journal and law review databases as an alert, in order to receive email notifications of new results daily, weekly, or at the interval of your choice.

There is also the “Current Law Journal Content” site, from Washington & Lee Law School ( Although results are not provided in full text, this is a powerful search for the tables of contents of more than 1,300 law journals. You can subscribe to an RSS feed to receive results in an aggregator (such as Google Reader), or arrange to receive results of a search by e-mail.

4. Ask a librarian for help. As always, the Law Library’s reference staff is happy to assist with searching for materials on a topic, or suggesting strategies to help narrow down an idea. Keep in touch at .