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!