Students often ask about ways they can improve their research.  They say they want to be more efficient.  They say they want to be more effective.  They want to use technology proficiently, to support their work.  They know that employers are interested in hiring candidates who will do legal research as needed, keeping costs to a minimum.

The Applied Legal Experience, Research, & Technology (ALERT) Program is a non-credit program developed by the Law Library that provides students with additional opportunities outside of the College of Law curriculum to develop their legal research and technology skills.  Students, through a survey, identified the topics that are included this semester. Please RSVP if you would like to attend any of the sessions!

Upcoming next week is the sixth topic this year–Formatting a Word Document.  Roxanne Greeson, who works with the College of Law and the GSU Center for Instructional Innovation, will be presenting on the topic of Formatting a Word Document.  The presentation will help you to use the tools available in Microsoft Word to assure that your documents are formatted consistently and efficiently.  The program will happen twice:  5 PM on February 24 and 2:50 PM on February 25.

The next topic for the year is Legislative History.  Terrance Manion, Librarian and Director of Information Technology, will take you through the process of doing legislative history research.  We have some great tools in the library for gathering a federal legislative history, such as the ProQuest Legislative Insight database.  We also have print materials, such as Nancy Johnson’s Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories that are helpful.  The Legislative History program is scheduled for noon on March 2 and 5 PM on March 3.

The final topic will be Research Parties and Expert Witnesses.  Meg Butler, Associate Director for Public Services, will share tools and tips for using law library resources to identify and evaluate expert witnesses and parties.  The program is scheduled for noon on March 21 and 5 PM on March 24.

We hope to see you at the programs!

Regulatory research gets easier

ProQuest Regulatory Insight home screen

ProQuest Regulatory Insight home screen

The law library recently added the new ProQuest Regulatory Insight database to its collection of research tools available for you.  You may be familiar with ProQuest Legislative Insight, which provides legislative histories for federal laws that have been enacted.  Regulatory Insight contains federal administrative law histories organized by public law.

Our law students can access ProQuest products through our law library database list.  You may be asked to select the appropriate account when you login; if that happens, please select the account that includes the College of Law (“Coll of Law Lib”) in its description.

You can search Regulatory Insight by number, including Federal Register or Code of Federal Regulations citation, as well as the Public Law Number, Statutes at Large Citation, U.S. Code Citation, the Regulation Identifier Number (RIN), and the Agency Docket Number.

There is an advanced search function that allows word searching of the Federal Register (1988 to present) and the Code of Federal Regulations (1997 to 2015), as well.

If you need help accessing or using this new product, please contact a reference librarian!

Spring is coming early!

Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow this morning–so spring is on its way!  In case you are wondering, neither did the Canadian groundhog Shubenacadie Sam, Staten Island Chuck, or Georgia’s General Beau Lee.

Sixth floor balcony on a foggy Groundhog's Day morning.

Sixth floor Law Library terrace on a foggy Groundhog’s Day morning.

For our borrowers, that means that fine amnesty will not be extended past today.  If you have any overdue library materials, please return them before 11:00 PM today, to take advantage of the amnesty period.  Everyone shares the law library resources.  We thank you for your consideration for your colleagues!


Watching for Punxsutwaney Phil

Group photo including man holding Punxsutawney Phil

Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog’s Day in Gobbler’s Knob, photo by Anthony Quintano, licensed under CC BY 2.0

This semester you may notice that you again accrue fines if you keep library items past their return time.  The librarians want to assure that everybody has access to our resources, and charging for items that are overdue will help assure that items, including study aids and reserve materials, are available when people come to borrow them.  A systems upgrade turned off the fines and we just got the issue resolved.

Since you may have forgotten about fines while they were turned off, we ask that for now, you please be sure to turn in any overdue items.  We are providing an amnesty through Groundhog’s Day.  You may see fines on your account (if you return an item late), but we will waive them for any items returned by February 2.

But wait, there’s more!  If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow on Groundhog’s Day, we will extend the amnesty period by 6 more days to end on February 8.  If the prediction is six more weeks of winter, we will give you all six more days of amnesty for returning your overdue items.  For items returned after the end of the amnesty period, fines will accrue as our Circulation Policy indicates.

If you have questions about the policy, you may speak with Meg Butler, Associate Director for Public Services, or Kris Niedringhaus, Associate Dean for Library and Information Services.

Visit Georgia’s historic constitutions

Did you know that the State of Georgia is currently operating under its 10th constitution?  That is a lot of serious writing and revision for our state to keep up with the times.  Remember, a constitution is a foundational document that establishes the government and defines its powers and the rights of the people who are governed. We are currently governed under the 1983 constitution.

The Georgia Archives, located in Morrow, Georgia, recently announced an exhibition containing six of the ten constitutions!  These constitutions are not normally available for viewing all together, so this is a special opportunity.  The exhibit closes on November 13.

The display includes the the constitution of 1789, which gave the Georgia government a structure more parallel to the then recently created federal government.  When Georgia returned to the United States following the Civil War, the state was required to promulgate a new constitution–the constitution of 1868, which is also on view.  In addition to the constitutions, there are some supporting documents included in the exhibition.

When a new constitution is considered, there is often a constitutional convention which is followed by a referendum.  This means that elected officials have a meeting to draft a proposed constitution, agree on the proposed language, and then ask the people to vote on the proposal to approve (or disapprove) the constitution.  The transcripts of the Select Committee on Constitutional Revision, 1977-1981 (culminating in the 1983 constitution) are available through the Georgia Government Publications database.

Strategies for managing your time in the library

student reading a book in a study carrel in the law library.

Student studying in the law library.

We are approaching the time of the semester where law students, especially first years, begin to feel the time crunch.  In addition to balancing or juggling demands on your time from outside of law school, law school places its own demands on your time—read for class, brief cases, outline, study for exams, meet with study groups, etc.

Hopefully some of these tips will help you make the best use of your time in the library.

  • Plan to study when you are freshest—some of us are morning people, others are night owls. Try to do the most mentally taxing work when you are freshest and your concentration levels are highest.
  • Set aside some time for individual study and some time for group study. Consider the way that you best learn material—flash cards, outlines, flow charts, working through hypotheticals out loud, etc. If you learn best making outlines or flow charts by yourself, spend your time accordingly.  On the other hand, if going through flash cards with a partner, reserve a study room and get to it!
  • Treat law school as if it were your full-time job. (Note:  This is harder if you are in the part-time program and already have a full-time job.)  Plan your ‘work week’ around your classes, so that you can maximize the amount of time you have on campus to focus on school.
  • Come to the library between classes. Make use of the opportunity to study between your 9:00 and 2:00 classes by coming to the library for some quiet.  Take advantage of the view from the 6th floor terrace when you need to refresh yourself, it’s only steps away from our designated quiet study area.
  • Book your study room ahead of time. Plan for your study group to meet regularly at the same time.  You can reserve your room in advance of picking up the key at the circulation desk and you will spend less time in line and more time with your group.
  • Chunk your studying. Our brains work best when we give them breaks—study for up to 50 minutes and then take a brief break before switching to a new topic or task.
  • Use the Exam Archive wisely. Many College of Law professors make sample past exams available for student use through the Exam Archive.  Visit InsideLaw to view these exams.  Some professors even include sample answers!

If you would like to consult library resources about time management, we have a few titles you might find interesting.  Singletasking:  Get More Done—One Thing at a Time and Time Management are two online resources you may find helpful.

Finding What You Need in the Law Library

The new Circulation and Reference area

The new Circulation and Reference area

Hopefully you have found the wonderful amenities in our new library space—you know where the terraces are, you have found the place that will contain Miss Demeanor’s Café, and you located the bathrooms.

Now you need to know where to find things.  Use this guide to find things you need.

Reserve Items: Course required books, book stands, lap desks, games, and more are available on request at the Circulation Desk.

Reference Collection:  The materials you used to ask for at the Reference Desk and the other reference materials, including a copy of the Official Code of Georgia (O.C.G.A.) are located just to the right of the Reference Desk.

Study Aids:  The Study Aid Collection can be found in the same low shelves as the Reference Collection—just to the right of the Reference Desk.

Georgia Collection:  The Georgia state materials are located on the library 5th floor behind the elevators, in free-standing shelves.  The collection includes Georgia primary sources including Georgia Laws, West’s Annotated Code of Georgia, and reporters for Georgia cases.  You will find secondary sources including past editions of Georgia treatises (current editions are in the Reference Collection) such as Redfearn Wills and Administration in Georgia and a wide variety of Georgia continuing legal education materials.

Core Practice Collection:  A number of our heavily-used resources and practitioner tools, such as legal encyclopedias, form books, and practice guides are located the Core Practice Collection on the 5th floor behind the elevators, right next to the Georgia Collection.

Law General Stacks:  Material in General Stacks are located on both the 5th and 6th floors.  Call numbers beginning with AC and running through KE will be found on the 5th floor, starting behind the elevators.  If the call number starts with KF1 or comes later in the alphabet, you’ll want to start looking for the title on the 6th floor, just as you walk off the elevator.

Law Periodicals:  If you want to look at a journal article that you can’t access online because it’s too recently published, you may want to come up to the 6th floor behind the elevators.  The journal titles are in alphabetical order.

Leisure Collection:  The DVDs, fiction, and fun non-fiction are all still available for you to check out and enjoy—they are located at the back of the active learning area on the 5th floor.  Walk past the IT Help desk and turn left, and you’ll walk right to the collection.

If you have any questions about finding our other special collections—state materials or the Young Adult Collection—please stop by the reference desk and we will be happy to help you!

Welcome to the new building!

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!