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The Indiana Law Library Blog

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Lincoln and the Law Library

In celebration of the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s 205th birthday on February 12, it seems appropriate to examine one of the more exceptional documents housed in the archive of the Law Library—a certificate of gratitude issued by the Department of War to Union citizens who volunteered their service for one hundred days in a bold move to end the Civil War.  These volunteers became known as the Hundred Days Men and their numbers reached over eighty thousand.

 Hundred Days Men Whole

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Research Guides: The Law Library’s Hidden Gem

Have you ever wondered what study aids the Law Library has for 1L courses?  Have you found yourself endlessly searching the App Store for law-related apps?  When researching for a professor, do you find yourself struggling to remember what resources to use to locate government documents or foreign and international resources?  If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you should check out the Law Library’s online research guides. research-guide-link They can be accessed from the Law Library’s home page, under Research Tools.

Written by our librarians, these guides serve as research portals, with each page of the guide directing you to a different category of resources on a particular legal subject.  After an explanatory first page, for example, you might have a page on books in the catalog, another page on related databases, and another page on free and low-cost alternatives.  And unlike many subscription resources, these guides are free and open for anyone in the world to use!

In our assembly of research guides, you can find a large collection dedicated to research in government documents, and an equally large collection dedicated to foreign and international legal research.  You will also find guides dedicated to specific legal subjects, such as Art & Cultural Heritage Law and Privacy Law.  If you are a 1L, or just need a refresher on the legal research process, check out our collection of guides for LRW.  Perhaps you don’t have a research question, however.  We still may have guides to answer your questions.  Are you looking for law-related apps?  Check out our app guide.  Do you have questions about the new IUCAT?  We have a guide for that too.  Were you wondering how to interlibrary loan?  Yep, our guides can answer that too – just refer to the Circulation & Interlibrary Loan guide.  Are you unsure whether we have a guide to answer your question?  Check out the subject listing of guides on the left side of the research guides home page, or search the content of all of our guides using the search box at the top.

So how do the guides work?  The layout and content of a guide may vary, but the same basic elements will be universal.  Look for colored tabs across the top of the guide that will take you to the other pages of content.  Content within a page is divided into boxes; some will be prose-like, while others will simply contain links to resources, RSS feeds of pertinent blogs and news sources, and even video.  Some guides also feature a box of related guides to further your research.  (For an example of a guide’s layout, refer to the image at the end of this post.)

Our guides are being updated and new guides created constantly, so if you have any questions about a guide, or suggestions for new guides, contact the guide’s author; if none is posted, stop by the Reference Office and talk to one of the librarians.  Happy researching!


Google’s Constitute database

In an earlier blog post I described two commercial databases that support comparative constitutional law research, Constitutions of the Countries of the World and World Constitutions Illustrated. Now there is a new, open-access resource that permits comparative constitutional analysis as well, Google’s Constitute database.

Constitute allows the user to to identify and locate relevant text passages in most of the world’s constitutions by searching one of more of the more than 300 topics, such as “right to privacy.” The topics are listed in the expandable drawer on the left of the page. Alternatively, the user can see suggested topics while typing in the search bar (which also lets you perform free-text queries). It is also possible to filter results to include constitutions of a specific region, country, or time period, by using the buttons under the search bar. Finally, it is possible to download or print excerpts from multiple constitutions, by clicking the “pin” button next to each expanded passage you want to save. You can then view and download your pinned excerpts in the drawer on the right.

Alternatively, it is also possible to search Constitute by country. This is the option you would use to retrieve the entire constitution of a specific jurisdiction.  Having retrieved the entire constitution, you can then choose to view it in HTML or to download a PDF of the document.

Constitute does not include historical constitutions or commentary about the constitutions included. However, it is a powerful search engine that facilitates quick comparisons of different constitutions. It also makes it possible to determine quickly how many constitutions have language on any given topic. Not bad for a free database!

Finals Prep at the Law Library

exammemeThe end of the semester brings both the fervent anticipation of the holidays and the anxiety of looming exams.  As you finalize (or perhaps begin) your course outlines, let’s talk about some of the resources at the Law Library you might find useful for exam preparation.

Exam File

The Law Library has long kept a file of past exams for students to peruse as they prepare for finals.  You can find an electronic version of the exam file on our website under Study Aids; because it is a resource from our professors for our students, this file is password-protected.  Stop by the Circulation Desk or Reference Office to obtain the password.  We also maintain a paper file of past exams, which you can check out on 4-hour loan from the Circulation Desk.  (Whether to submit past exams for the exam file is up to the discretion of each professor.)

CALI Lessons

CALI, Computer Assisted Legal Instruction, hosts a long list of electronic tutorials on a variety of legal subjects.  These lessons are written by professors, and can therefore be a powerful study aid for almost any course.  You can access CALI from the Law Library website, under Study Aids.  CALI is a subscription-based product, so you will need to stop by the Reference Office to obtain the password for our subscription; upon completing the initial log-in, you will be able to create your own username and password.

Hornbooks & Nutshells

Hornbooks resemble casebooks and offer an in-depth discussion of a particular legal subject.  Nutshells, as the name suggests, are smaller study aids that offer a quicker overview of a legal subject.  Our collection contains a large number of hornbooks and nutshells, covering a wide array of legal subjects.  The most current editions can be found at the Circulation Desk.  During the regular semester, these check out for 24-hour periods; during exams the loan period will be reduced to a 4-hour loan to accommodate the high use of these materials as exam preparatory aids.  You may also be able to find older editions of these materials in the stacks on the second and third floor; hornbooks and nutshells located in the stacks circulate for the traditional 30-day loan period.  To see a list of the hornbooks and nutshells we own, refer to the binder kept at the end of the Circulation Desk (near the Reference Office).

Extended Library Hours

Much of what you need for finals preparation is simply time; we try to help with that by giving you extended exam hours at the Law Library:

Saturday      December 7           8 a.m. to midnight

Sunday         December 8           9 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Mon-Fri       December 9-13      7:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Saturday      December 14          7:30 a.m. to midnight

Sunday         December 15          9 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Mon-Thur    December 16-19    7:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Friday           December 20         7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.


John F. Kennedy Presidential Resources

portrait_jfkThe 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the 35th U.S. President, is November 22, 1963.  To commemorate this anniversary, I’d like to highlight some important government documents and research resources related to President Kennedy.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum (one of 13 Presidential Libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration) is located in Boston, Massachusetts and its website can be found at  The museum is open to the public for tours and, according to the website, “Students and scholars can also arrange to conduct research using our collection of historical materials chronicling mid-20th century politics and the life and administration of John F. Kennedy.”  The website features the following information and resources: biographical information on John F. and Jacqueline B. Kennedy and the Kennedy family; Historic speeches; Historical context; Media Gallery; Interactive Exhibits; Information on research collections and holdings, finding aids and research guides; and Educational Resources for Teachers and Students.

The Government Printing Office (GPO) recently published the official, digital version of the Warren Commission Report on the agency’s Federal Digital System (FDsys).  “The commission Full Story »

Szladits’ Bibliography of Foreign and Comparative Law available in HeinOnline

Among the Library’s database are some hidden gems. These databases are rarely used by any but the most adventurous patrons, yet they contain information that would be ideal for just the right research project. One such database is the Szladits’ Bibliography of Foreign and Comparative Law, available in HeinOnline’s Parker School Library, and which covers the years 1790-1990. Szladits’ Bibliography is an annotated index of English-language books, chapters, and articles on comparative and foreign law subjects. It thus differs from the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals, which began publication at a later date (1960), indexes articles mostly in non-English languages, and is unannotated.

The main entries in  the Szladits’ Bibliography are organized in a systematic subject arrangement. To search for articles on judicial review in Israel, for example, you would retrieve the Public Law portion of the index, then modify your search to include the terms “judicial review” and “Israel.” This would retrieve citations to all books, chapters, and articles published on the topic during the years covered by the index volume searched.

The online version of Szladits’ Bibliography only goes up through 1990. However, to update your research beyond that date, you can also search the printed volumes for subsequent years, available in the Library on the Periodical Index Table near the computer Lab (K38 .S9). The printed index currently runs through 1998, so it too is 15 years out of date; but no source is perfect.

There are many other titles in the Parker School Library that might interest those researching comparative law topics. The next time you have ten minutes to spare, browse the titles to see what’s available. Szladits’ Bibliography is the last title listed in the Library, but in this case last is definitely not least. For those interested in comparative law, Szladits’ offers a treasure trove of annotated citations to books, chapters, and articles of interest.

Law Library Evening Workshops: Getting to Know IUCAT

Starting this year the Law Library will be offering evening workshops on a variety of subjects.  Next week we’ll have sessions on using the new IUCAT effectively.

–        New to IUCAT, the library’s online catalog?

–        Familiar with IUCAT, but want to learn how to search the catalog more proficiently?

–        Expert at IUCAT Classic, but inexperienced with the new layout?

No matter your level of experience, consider attending one of the Law Library’s evening workshops, all about IUCAT:

Monday, September 9th, room 121

Tuesday, September 10th, room 121

Wednesday, September 11th, room 125

Thursday, September 12th, room 125

Each session will run from 7:30-8 PM

If you have questions about this workshop, contact the Reference Office for more information, (812) 855-2938, or drop by and ask us about it!

New Around the Library: Mobile Device Charging Station

It’s hard to believe summer is almost over! As you get ready to return to school, we wanted to let you know about a project the Law Library has been working on this summer. We have just installed a charging station in the library lobby, capable of charging a variety of mobile devices, across multiple operating systems. You will find this charging station mounted on the column next to the seating area as you enter the library.


We hope you will find this device helpful and convenient, but please remember to be responsible when charging your mobile device – do not leave it unattended. When you’re batteries are drained, let the library provide the charge you need to get through the day!

Unusual Liquor Laws

Recently, while pursuing a question about alcohol sales, one of our law librarians ran across this Indiana statute.

IC 7.1-5-10-11
Sale of cold beer prohibited
Sec. 11. Sale of Cold Beer Prohibited. It is unlawful for the holder of a beer dealer’s permit to offer or display for sale, or sell, barter, exchange or give away a bottle, can, container, or package of beer that was iced or cooled by the permittee before or at the time of the sale, exchange, or gift.
(Formerly: Acts 1973, P.L.55, SEC.1.)

At first glance, there seem to be a lot of law breakers in Indiana. It should be noted though, that there is a difference between beer deals and beer retailers.  This law was most likely passed to stop people from buying large quantities of beer and then drinking in immediately, and it made us ask ourselves what other unusual laws there were about alcohol use and consumption out there. A quick web search reveals several lists of humorous alcohol laws, but several of them are not verified. Some also stretch the truth a bit—several sites claim that you cannot buy alcohol on credit at an Iowa bar; however Iowa Code 123.49(2)(c) actually just prohibits buying on credit without a credit card.  So we proudly present some entertaining moments in the legal history of alcohol which we can actually cite. Full Story »

A Finals Break with Vinny

Finals are almost over!  Come take a study break with the Law Library tonight. We’re going to be screening that legal classic My Cousin Vinny. Curtain up tonight at 6:30 in room 125.  Popcorn provided!

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