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BLAWg In Bloom

The Indiana Law Library Blog

Jumpstart Returns!

The extremely popular Jumpstart research program returns to the Law Library. Jumpstart sessions will be available April 8th-April 17th. The program, designed by the reference librarians, will again work towards preparing law students for summer internships, clerkships and the first year of practice. During last year’s sessions, a number of students learned the necessary research skills for dealing with materials such as legislative history, administrative law and the regulatory process, and computer-assisted legal research.

Following the formula established in previous years, each of the Jumpstart sessions will begin with a brief review of the basic legal resources so that every student has a complete grasp of the legal research process. The librarians will also provide information about more specialized types of reference books, including practice aids and form books. The Jumpstart sessions will then focus on individual student problems and questions about legal research, with an emphasis on the type of practice student participants will be seeing in the summer.

If you have any questions about the Jumpstart programs, be sure to drop by the Reference Office and speak to a reference librarian. We’d especially like to hear from those of you who already know in what jurisdiction you’ll be working this summer and any special areas of law with which you’ll be dealing. We tailor the Jumpstart sessions to your particular needs in order to make the program a continuing success.

Bieber Fever Hits Maurer!!!

This news just in! Justin Bieber has confirmed he will be hosting today’s Singing For Summer Salaries fundraiser at noon! When asked if he had demanded a cut of the donations to fight permanent deportation to Canada, Bieber muttered, “I could do it … but it would be wrong.” In the meantime, Bloomington authorities have been put on “high alert” to deal with any of the Bieb’s antics. New Maurer Law School Dean Austen Parrish commented, “I am absolutely appalled Mr. Bieber is showing up here. This is part of L.A. I was hoping to leave behind!”

One in a Million: The Law Library Digital Repository

downloadsYou may have heard that last week our digital repository hit it’s millionth download.  For a law school repository that’s only two and a half years old, that’s pretty impressive.  But this may also have you wondering: what in the world are all these people downloading?

Digital repositories are most often thought of (and rightfully so) as storehouses for faculty scholarship, as a place for showcasing the research interests of the faculty.  Along similar lines, the next thing most people think of in a digital repository is a showcase of student scholarship, such as doctoral theses or award-winning papers.  In the world of law library repositories, people often add to this list issues of the law school’s journals and law reviews.  Our Law Library Digital Repository has all of this, and more.

Not only does our Repository showcase faculty and student publications, we boast the entire run of all journals and law reviews that have been hosted by our institution.  And these three categories don’t even make up half of the collections in our Repository.  It’s when you get into these other collections that you can find some really surprising documents.  For instance:

  • In the Law School Publications collection, you might be interested to find the Indiana Flaw Journal, a student-produced satirical publication on law school life, originating in the 1940s and ending in the 1960s.
  • Remember our last blog post, about that certificate of the Hundred Days Men, purportedly signed by Abraham Lincoln?  In the Law School History and Archives collection, you can see the document and read all about it.
  • Did you know that the Law Library used to have a monthly newsletter, Res Ipsa Loquitur?  Yes, you can read all of those as well, in the Law Library Publications collection.  (I especially recommend the April issues, annually inspired by April Fool’s Day.)
  • Finally, if you have missed out on any of the law school’s special events throughout the year, check the Repository’s Lectures, Conferences, and Events collection to see if materials have been posted there.  (We have a wide array of publications based on our visiting lecture series, for example.)repository

The best feature of a digital repository is that it is freely accessible, not reliant on personal accounts, paid subscriptions, or proxy server access.  Anyone in the world, anywhere in the world, can access the full-text of our faculty’s recent work, any issue of our school’s journals, and law school historical publications and documents whenever and wherever they want.  If you would like to keep up-to-date on new additions to the Repository, you can request email or RSS notifications.

Fun fact: Our most popular download?  A book review of Lon L. Fuller’s The Morality of Law, reviewed by Edwin W. Tucker. (40 Ind. L.J. 270 (1965))  (Most popular as of March 10, 2014, based on the average number of full-text downloads per day since the review was posted on the Repository.)  The top ten downloads can vary, but the most recent top ten can always be found here.

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

Full Story »

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 »

Indiana visits SCOTUS: Sandifer v. United States Steel Corp.

On the slate for this year’s Supreme Court term is a case out of Indiana, Sandifer v. United States Steel Corporation, discussing whether steel workers should be paid for the time it takes to put on and remove their work clothing.  Oral arguments occurred on Monday and have already garnered some enthusiastic responses, so we thought we’d share a little more information about and coverage of the case.

Summaries of the facts and arguments of the case:

7th Circuit Opinion (678 F.3d 590 (2012))


Summaries from:

News coverage:

The main issues:

Petitioners Respondent
Clarity of Fair Labor Standards Act, §203(o), or “What are ‘clothes’?”
Clothing of steel workers should be exempted from this provision because of its protective nature, functioning more as a tool than as something to cover the body Such an exemption would make 203(o) confusing and difficult to enforce
Collective Bargaining
Labor unions have the power to bargain over issues of wages, hours, and working conditions and those agreements should be upheld The steel workers already had a collective bargaining agreement in place that could have covered this, so they must already be getting some benefit as a concession, and straying from that agreement would harm the collective bargaining process

Halloween Laws

IUpumpkinIn the spirit of Halloween, I thought I’d share some Halloween-related state laws with you:

Laws about the wearing of masks in public places:

  • Louisiana – La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 14:313
  • Oklahoma – Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 21, 1301
  • Food laws pertaining to Halloween:North Carolina – N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. 14-401.11

Laws restricting certain conduct on Halloween:

  • Missouri – Mo. Ann. Stat. 589.426 (** Ruled unconstitutional by F.R. v. St. Charles County Sheriff’s Dept., 301 S.W.3d 56)

Special Legally-Declared State Holidays:

  • New Jersey – N.J. Stat. Ann. 36:2-72 (declaring Halloween/Oct. 31st UNICEF Day)

Laws on the Spending Powers of Counties, pertaining to Halloween and other festivities:

  • Wisconsin – Wis. Stat. Ann. 59.56

Laws related to the behavior of sex offenders and violent offenders on Halloween:

  • Florida – Fla. Stat. Ann. 947.1405, 948.30
  • Illinois – 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/3-3-7, 5/5-6-3 et seq., 5/11-9.3, 152/122, and 154/105
  • Louisiana – La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 14:313.1

Laws related to parenting timelines for holidays (including Halloween):

  • Utah – Utah Code Ann. 30-3-35
  • (Many other jurisdictions also include Halloween in parenting guidelines, usually in the form of appendices to the code or court rules.


Happy Halloween!