---::--- Findings ---::---
From Maryland's First Legal Resource

 

---::--- Volume 1, Number 2, Spring 2006 ---::---

 

A Publication of the Maryland State Law Library
In This Issue:

>New Exhibit: From Freedom's Shadow

The Maryland State Law Library is proud to host From Freedom's Shadow: African Americans and the United States Capitol, a traveling exhibition commemorating the African American experience at the U.S. Capitol. The exhibit, produced by the U.S. Capitol Historical Society and visiting Annapolis through the efforts of the Maryland Judiciary Human Resources Department, is open to the public, and is located in the lobby of the Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building. From Freedom's Shadow will be on display throughout the month of June, 2006. The Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeals Building is located at 361 Rowe Boulevard, Annapolis. The building is open to the public Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For further information on the exhibit, see the website of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society.

The Maryland State Law Library As Palimpsest

By Rudolf B. Lamy

Palimpsest : "A parchment or other writing-material written upon twice, the original writing having been erased or rubbed out to make place for the second; a manuscript in which a later writing is written over an effaced earlier writing." (Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd, 1989).

A fairly easy search of either Westlaw or Lexis will find hundreds of law review articles that refer to the law as a living, evolving entity. It isn't that hard an argument to make. We are all intimately familiar with how often the law changes.

Case law and statutes change on an almost regular schedule. Secondary sources and analysis also change regularly. New editions, new editors and publishers, and new pages for loose-leaf services may be taken for granted, but all reflect changes and growth in the law.

What many do not see, mainly because the changes are usually very subtle and are extended over long periods of time, are changes in the law library itself. Changes in the Library and how the law is made available can be as important as the changes in the law itself.

The Maryland State Law Library started its life in 1827 as the Maryland State Library. The Library, which at that time collected general reference works, was part of the legislative branch of Maryland government at that time and was located on the second floor of the State House. It remained at that location from 1827 to 1904.

The Library moved both physically and metaphysically in the early 20th Century. We became the State Law Library and joined the judicial branch of Maryland government. The Library was housed from 1904 through 1972 on College Avenue in downtown Annapolis in the old Courts Building. That building was razed to make way for what is now the Legislative Services building. The current library has been in place in the Courts of Appeal building on Rowe Boulevard since 1973. (Photographs of the old libraries are on display in the current Library.)

What started as 19th Century grand Victorian, neoclassical or Greek Revival architecture has become 20th Century post-modern utility. What began with marble floors, grand staircases, wrought iron shelving, and card catalogs became spartan and electronic. The original libraries were designed to inspire. They were in great part all about form rather than function. The current library is instead about function rather than form.

Now come the latest changes to the State Law Library. Just as if the Library were an ancient palimpsest, we are scraping off the old and rewriting the basic format of the Library once again. Those changes involve both form and function and should make working with the law both easier and more comfortable. These most recent changes should inspire the newest generations of legal and historical researchers.

Physical changes now include more and better seating, new and cleaner carpets, refinished shelving unit end panels, and some basic changes to the appearance of the Library. Improved signage will be added throughout the coming year.

Access to library materials is also being improved. The user interface for MOLLIE, the Library's online catalog, is completely new. Library users will be able to use electronic versions of some legal looseleaf services. The Library's website has been freshened, and new "start pages" have been installed on the Library's public access workstations. For a grand finale, the Library's Rare Books Room has been redesigned, rebuilt, and expanded.

The evolution of the Library's physical space and services over the past 180 years has been a reflection of changes in society, government, technology and the law. As the Library moves forward through the 21st Century and into its second century of existence, you can expect a continued commitment to providing the best legal library services possible.

More spacious reference/entry area with refinished shelves and new office furniture and carpeting.

New library carrel and chair.

Refinished shelving end panels are being installed throughout the Library.


"Collection Development" Benefits Library Customers

By Steve Anderson

"Collection development." It's a fancy term that probably won't mean much to those outside the library community. Librarians tend to use jargon (much like attorneys), such as "OPAC," "SUDOC," "catalog," "record," and the list goes on.* In any event, "collection development" is one such example of Libraryspeak that I intend to demystify here.

At the State Law Library, a small group of librarians meets monthly to consider the purchases of new titles to add to the Library, which we do according to written guidelines. We are, in every sense of the term, "developing" the Library's "collection." While there are, in fact, more complicated projects in this world, selecting new information sources is certainly not as straightforward as it was in the past. While we still consider traditional factors such as cost, the reputation of the author and publisher, and the (subjective) "quality" of the information in a particular information resource, other decisions are more complex. For example, do we continue to purchase looseleaf services, which are essentially ephemeral, if online sources exist for a similar price? When is it appropriate to move a resource online? Do we spend money on continuing legal education handbooks or on reference sources, such as atlases and directories? How do we balance a collection that serves the Judiciary, the bar and the public?

In order to improve information resources for all customers, the Library has recently attempted to strengthen its holdings of secondary source material-works written about the law. For example, we have acquired several online services from CCH to replace cumbersome looseleaf binders. In addition, we will be receiving Maryland-centered continuing legal education handbooks from National Business Institutes (NBI), as well as strengthening our collection of MICPEL (Maryland Institute for the Continuing Professional Education of Lawyers) handbooks. All customer groups potentially benefit from these resources. Self-represented litigants will be able to read legal materials that are written somewhat less formally than a traditional treatise or legal encyclopedia. Judges and judicial clerks might come to understand why a party to a case may have chosen a particular argument or stance. Attorneys and paralegals will find

Suggestions for new books and databases are always appreciated. To make a suggestion-or to ask a question of our experienced reference staff-please send the Library an e-mail at mdlaw.library@courts.state.md.us.

* If you catch the State Law Library staff inadvertently using terms with which you are unfamiliar, please stop and ask! We're happy to clarify or rephrase an answer.


Blogging the Maryland State Publications Depository Library Program

By Mary Jo Lazun

The Maryland State Publications Depository Library Program now has its own blog!

Members of the depository libraries, which collect and retain Maryland state agency publications, decided to set up the blog as a quick way to share information with each other and within the library community. The blog also supports the work of the Digital State Publications Task Force--a group charged with developing a statewide strategy to store and provide access to the increasingly large number of state documents that are "born digital."

The blog includes: contacts at each depository library; the law that governs the Program; lists of state documents; and suggested readings. The Maryland Depository Libraries blog is open to all and is available at http://mddeplib.wordpress.com/.


Workers and Designers Place Finishing Touches on the Library's New Rare Books Room

By Steve Anderson

Construction on the Library's new Rare Books Room is in its final stages. Only a few tasks remain, such as the delivery of a shelving unit and the installation of finish trim and molding. Once that work has been completed, the Library staff will begin reshelving many of the antiquarian books that have been in secure storage for the last several months. Librarians also will have an opportunity to house in this new space the newly restored prints from John James Audubon's "Birds of America" series, which temporarily have been kept across the street at the Maryland State Archives through the generosity and cooperation of the State Archivist, Edward C. Papenfuse. Please watch the Library's website for notice of the Room's opening.


Scanned, Scanners, Scanning

By Rudolf B. Lamy

The Library is moving quickly into the age of scanning! New document delivery technology is now available, which makes getting documents easier than ever before. The Library recently acquired two new scanning devices: a Minolta microform scanner and a Hewlett-Packard "all-in-one."

The Minolta is a reader/printer/scanner that can be used as a standard microform (film or fiche) device. It also features an attachment to a personal computer that allows for image scanning, web-based e-mailing, and downloading (to flash drives, for example). E-mail compatibility will depend upon the limits of your web-based e-mail service provider. The new microform scanner is available to all Library users.

The HP "all-in-one" enables Library personnel to scan documents in black and white or color, convert then into PDF files, and either save or e-mail image copies. This handy machine can also be used as a color copier or printer when the need arises.

Check with the Library reference staff if you need a document sent to you via e-mail. Please keep in mind that the Library abides by all copyright terms and is not able to scan lengthy documents.


PIXELS

By Donna Wiesinger

The Library purchased the Making of Modern Law (MOML) database from the Gale Group last Spring, making it available across the entire Judiciary computer network via the Law Library's Courtnet (intranet) page.

This digital collection comprises over 21,000 legal treatise titles on 19th Century and early 20th Century American and British Commonwealth law. The coverage includes monographs, casebooks, local practice manuals, books on legal forms, works for lay readers, pamphlets, letters, and speeches, on a comprehensive range of legal subjects including domestic and international law, legal history, business and economics, politics and government, national defense, criminology, religion, education, labor and social welfare, and military justice. Works from prominent legal thinkers, such as Bentham, Austin, Maine, Kent, Story, and Holmes are included.

All 10 million-plus pages in the MOML database were scanned in such a way as to mimic the original book. The PDF images are exact reproductions of the printed pages, and can be viewed in either PDF graphics mode or text mode. Users can scale the images from 10% to 100% of the original size, and can rotate images as needed. The database limits printing to 50 pages at one time, but data can be emailed as well as printed. Metadata has been embedded in all images to allow searches on keyword, author, title, subject, full text, year, series title, edition, publisher, and physical description.

In addition to the actual text of the treatise, users can view the full citation, any indexes and tables of content included with the title, and a hypertexted list of all illustrations contained within the work.

MOML uses four search paths, and all searches can be limited to either British or American legal treatises, by topic, and/or to works published in a particular year or range of years. Search strategies include:

  • Basic Search: allows users to search on specific words occurring within the full text of works, or on several key fields of data, including metadata incorporated from bibliographic library catalog records.
  • Advanced Search: allows searches on a variety of criteria, thus enabling the user to retrieve very specific results. Searches can be conducted on a word or words occurring within key fields and the full text of works. In addition, the search can be limited on the values of several fields of information.
  • Browse authors: allows searches on an alphabetical list of authors of works within the database. Searches return a list of results containing all works in the database attributed to the author selected.
  • Browse Works: allows searches on an alphabetical list of titles within the database. Searches return a list of results containing all works published under the title selected.

The Law Library is acquiring complete catalog records for each title and is planning to load all 21,000 bibliographic records into our online catalog, MOLLIE. Upon completion of that project, users will be able to search MOLLIE to locate titles included in the Making of Modern Law database, and use hyperlinks included in the bibliographic record to directly link to the treatise title in the database.

If you have any questions about the Making of Modern Law (or any other online databases or journals), or would like to schedule training on the use of any of the databases, please contact Donna Wiesinger, the Systems/Electronic Resources Librarian, at 410-260-1435, or mailto:donna.wiesinger@courts.state.md.us


Circuit Court Law Library Grants Evolve

By Catherine McGuire

Over the last several years, the Maryland State Law Library has been offering limited financial assistance to public circuit court law libraries to aid in bringing their collections and facilities up to state and national standards for court collections. Last year, the State Law Library developed guidelines and a formal application and reporting system to streamline and organize this grant program.

The grant program was proposed initially as a result of the 2001 Report of the Maryland Circuit Court Libraries Study Committee. That report focused on three main concerns: funding, standards and technology. Funding was found to be, in most cases, inadequate and unpredictable. Regarding standards, the Committee approved a recommended core collections list for county law libraries. And regarding technology, in addition to other recommendations, the Committee advised that each county law library have a minimum of two public workstations with reliable connectivity and some form of public electronic legal research service. The grants were established to assist libraries in reaching these, and other, recommended goals. All recipients must be open to the public.

A key component of the new grants process is the request itself. Circuit court law libraries have the option of submitting an application on their own or requesting a field visit from the State Law Library's Outreach Program. The field report from the Outreach Program then functions as the application for grant funds for that library.

Through February and March 2006, field visits were requested by and conducted at nine different county law libraries. Additionally, six counties submitted individual applications, making a total of fifteen applications considered for grant funds. All applicants were awarded funds (one county declined to approve its site visit recommendations, but hopefully will reconsider next year) and will begin implementing the proposed purchases, projects, and enhancements July 1, 2006.

The bulk of requests or recommendations for grant funds fall into the category of collection development or maintenance. Of the fourteen libraries receiving funds, twelve will use some or all of the funds to maintain current or purchase new subscriptions to online and print materials. Most of these twelve are experiencing a commonplace budget shortfall that makes it impossible to maintain a recommended collection level without a supplemental income.

One library anticipates using the grant funds to hire a part-time professional librarian. Two will use part of the funds to acquire high-speed connections for their public internet workstations. Other planned purchases include appropriate signage, updated printers or copiers, and new seating or shelving. Three libraries may fund part-time library support personnel; one will begin a serials binding and repair program; and one will begin a local and county court government documents preservation program. All of these uses are laudable, as well as crucial for the maintenance of library services to the general public, the bar and the bench.

The State Law Library's Outreach Program field visits were insightful. It has been five years since the Circuit Court Libraries Study Committee issued its report on the condition of Maryland county law libraries. In 2001, many county law libraries did not have publicly-available subscriptions to Westlaw or Lexis; in 2006, all libraries have some form of such access. In 2001, there were no recommended collection guidelines for libraries; now there is a regularly maintained list for these libraries. Five years ago, there were no supplemental funds to assist the libraries in reaching any recommended goals; now there is the grant program. The State Law Library's Outreach Program is exploring other avenues for providing assistance to the county law libraries, both as a group and individually. With perseverance, and a little luck, the next five years will bring even greater progress than the last five.