Quiet in the Library for Exams

The librarians  would like to share a few strategies we have identified that will help everybody focus and prepare for exams.

First, the librarians are going to make extra efforts to keep the library quiet.  This includes keeping our own noise levels down.

Typical Study Room, Typing Room #220, taken in 1926. Source: New York Public Library Visual Materials / Lantern Slides / Research Library / Typing

If you prefer quiet when studying, we have some guidelines and suggestions.

1) Use the back of the library (up the stairs or the ramp) as an extra quiet area.

2) If you would like a librarian to come and shush other library patrons in the designated quiet area, please ask at the reference desk or use the library’s chat reference service to better maintain your anonymity.

3) Borrow one of the new “Do Not Disturb” signs from the circulation desk–you can put it on the shelf in your study carrell as an indication that you’re trying to focus on your schoolwork.

4) If we can’t keep the ambient noise out of your head, please pick up some earplugs–sponsored by West–from the Reference Desk.

Of course, if you would like to use the library to study with a group of people, and you are looking for a place for your study group to be successful, please use our study rooms.  They are available for checkout for law students only, and you can reserve them online.  Study rooms are great if you want to outline together, talk through hypos, use a wipe board, or project your notes on the wall using the overhead projector.

We have three additional study rooms available for reservation during the exam period thanks to the Career Services Office.

Good luck with your exams!

iPads and Apps

You may have heard the news that Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder, has died.  Described as a visionary, he is credited with overseeing the creation of the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Not surprisingly, the iPad (and iPhone, to some degree) holds a great deal of fascination for lawyers.  The American Law Institute and the American Bar Association have sponsored with the ABA Law Practice Management section several continuing education classes about lawyers and their iPads.   The classes addressed basic set up and use of an iPad for lawyers as well as how to use an iPad in a law practice.  One regularly offered class particularly addresses iPhone and iPad apps that are useful for lawyers.

Of course, the law library is also in on the game, and Austin Williams, one of our student services reference librarians, created a LibGuide that addresses in part apps that law students may find useful.  Check out the Life of a Law Student guide’s selection of apps.

If you want to read more about the iPad and the law, check out some blogs on the topic.  For example, you may want to read the Off Site LawTech Center, which has introductory info for those new to the iPad, as well as suggestions for law-related apps, such as one for tracking juries.  Blogs that might also be of interest include TabletLegal,TechnoEsqiPad Notebook, and iPhoneJD.

Escape into Fiction

Lawyers, law students, and law librarians enjoy a good story.  Even better is when that story combines our interest in the law with a bit of escapism.  Here are a couple of ways you can take a break from studying without having to forget about law school entirely.

You may be familiar with some lawyer authors—John Grisham, Brad Meltzer, Lisa Scottoline—who write books for adults—and other lawyers, like Louis Sachar who write for younger readers.  These authors know how to capture an audience’s attention:  Write about issues of justice, power, and the law.

Legal academics entertain themselves and others by considering legal themes in popular culture.  In print, for example, The Law and Harry Potter analyses legal concepts and issues seen in the Harry Potter series.  New York judge Karen Morris wrote Law Made Fun Through Harry Potter’s Adventure:  99 Lessons in Law from the Wizarding World for Fans of All Ages.

And, just this past weekend many celebrated the DVD release of X-Men: First Class.  As described in the Law and the Multiverse blog, the latest X-Men movie addresses international law, as well as civil rights-employment law.  Other blogs also address superheroes and the law.

While you are enjoying law school—whether you’re in your first or your final year—remember that this new way of ‘thinking like a lawyer’ enables you to consider your popular culture consumption in a new way.  You, too, can consume and create fiction—books, movies, blogs, and more—with a focus on truth, justice, and the American way!

Fist Bump Finally Legal

The days before the fist bump.

Though you still shouldn’t use it in your 1L writing assignment, fist bump is now recognized as a word in the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary for 2011.  Fist bump is one of approximately 150 words added to the new edition.

Dictionaries add new words to reflect changing times, thoughts, and ideas.  You might wonder: the Obamas made the fist bump famous in 2008, why recognize the word now?  Well, the editorial staff who write dictionaries want to be sure that new words are truly part of the vocabulary before adding words—so there is a bit of delay between the introduction of a new word to spoken vocabulary and the formal addition of a new word to the dictionary.

The Concise Oxford English Dictionary also recently issued a 12th edition, commemorating 100 years since the first edition.  Approximately 400 new words are included in the new edition, so parents can defensibly take teens to task for sexting, cougars can hunt men without using their claws, and we can all woot with enthusiasm.

If you’re trying to find the meaning of a new word—that’s not yet in the traditional dictionary sources—don’t forget that you can check slang dictionaries.  One online source for that is urbandictionary.com.  When you want an explanation of jeggings, you can find one in a slang dictionary.

Dictionaries also eliminate words that are no longer common parlance.  Sadly, no longer can we use a growlery—“a place to ‘growl’ in; jocularly applied to a person’s private sitting room,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary online—that may happen instead in a man cave.  You can access the Oxford English Dictionary online through the University Library’s database list.

Facebook Friendships Banned

The Internet was burning last week with stories about Missouri’s new law banning Facebook friendships between students and teachers.  The talk on the web suggests that teachers and students can’t be friends on Facebook.  But is that really what the law says?

The easiest way to answer that question is to go directly to the law.  What’s the best way to do that?  We could try to find the law by turning to the Missouri statutes database on Lexis or Westlaw, but that won’t work.  Why not?  The statute is too new.  The easiest way to begin tracking a new law, one that is the talk of the town, is to begin with Google.  The search <<Missouri facebook teachers friends>> brings up over 34 million results, including reputable news sites.

News stories, such as the National Public Radio story, include background information about the law.  The story includes the number for the bill (SB 54), the name of the bill’s sponsor (Missouri State Representative Chris Kelly), and the approximate date of the bill (“signed into law last month [July].”

The NPR researchers and writers make it easy for us to look at the exact language of the law—they link directly to the Missouri Senate website containing the language of the bill.  Fantastic!  A free legal research tool for those who are interested in Missouri law.

Reviewing the bill summary provided by the Missouri site, we can see that the bill was divided into sections, each section numbered to indicate where the law will be found in the state code, once codified.  The section of interest for teachers, students, and bloggers is Missouri state statute section 162.069.  The exact language of the law: “Teachers cannot establish, maintain, or use a work-related website unless it is available to school administrators and the child’s legal custodian, physical custodian or legal guardian.  Teachers also cannot have a nonwork-related website that allows exclusive access with a current or former student.”

Although Facebook is not mentioned, the law appears to prohibit teachers from maintaining social network sites that allow for private communication with a student.

Whether the law would withstand constitutional challenges is another question!

We’re hiring!

The law library is hiring GRAs for summer and fall 2011.  For both summer and fall, we’re seeking Reference GRAs who will work at the Reference desk, answering research questions for library users.  Reference GRAs report to Deborah Schander, the Reference/Student Services Librarian.  For summer, we’re seeking Research GRAs who will assist with faculty research requests.  Research GRAs report to Pam Brannon, the Faculty Services Librarian.  If you are interested in either type of work, we encourage you to apply.  You can apply for one or both types of position, though applicants for the summer positions must be taking summer classes.

Summer GRAs receive one-half reduction in tuition as well as a $500 stipend.  Fall GRAs receive one-half reduction in tuition as well as a $1,000 stipend. To apply, please submit a completed application, resume, and your anticipated summer/fall class schedule to Deborah Schander by Friday, April 8, 2011.

Chat with a Librarian

The College of Law Library debuted its new chat reference service with the debut of the new College of Law website.  We’re hoping that our library users–students, faculty, staff, public–will use the chat service. 

You can access the service by visiting the library home page–use the Ask Ref! box to begin the conversation.  Our chat reference service is available during regular reference hours.  We’re logged in, ready to help, Monday through Thursday from 9-9, Friday from 9-5, and weekends from 10-6. 

We look forward to chatting with you soon!