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

---::--- Volume 2, Number 1, Winter 2007 ---::---

 

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

Does Your "Favorites List" Link to Books?

By Steve Anderson

I think I'm on pretty solid ground if I answer this question in the negative. While there are a growing number of digitized books available on the web, chances are that few readers will have set a link directly to a legal treatise or a history monograph.

Some day soon one well may be able to do so. For now, however, the web is full of reports, articles and lots of "filler." To be sure, much of this is useful and indeed indispensable; we all use Google scores of times every day.

Books though are most likely a missing element in your searching and linking exploits. Frankly, that scenario presents a significant problem if your research calls for just the right material in just the right paper-based work. Imagine having a home repair project, but finding that your screwdriver or level is misplaced. Or, let's envision that you are baking your child's birthday cake, but that your bag of flour only has a half cup left in it. Sure you can finish the task at hand, but it just won't be as good in the end, and the process won't be as easy. The same idea is true for legal research. In order to be thorough and comprehensive, legal professionals still need to use books on occasion.

I can appreciate the feeling that consulting print materials is somewhat inefficient in this fast-paced, technology-driven world, especially for practicing attorneys who juggle many commitments. The good news is that libraries are becoming increasingly adept at providing print-based information quickly and knowledgeably. Tools, such as Indexmaster, available here at the State Law Library, allow patrons and staff to search through treatise indexes and contents pages to hone in on the most appropriate books. Library catalogs, including the Library's MOLLIE database, enable patrons to browse materials by call number, thereby permitting patrons to look at titles arranged just as they would be on a physical bookshelf (just click on the call number link from a catalog record). Some libraries also have access to the national OCLC FirstSearch database, an enormous catalog of library catalogs, and can use this service to request books from other libraries via interlibrary loan. The State Law Library uses interlibrary lending from OCLC to meet the needs of Judiciary employees. Of course, there is also an advantage to browsing the books on the physical shelves. Searching in this way allows researchers to find more than just the titles that might be available only on Westlaw or LexisNexis; scores of smaller legal publishers distribute materials only in print.

Someday I would not be surprised to find that most older publications are digitized and available online. It is likely, of course, that the "end user" also will have to pay for this convenience. Nevertheless, the libraries of tomorrow will be ready and able to assist patrons through whatever information maze the future may present, just as we do today. After all, it is the information that counts, not merely the wrapper in which it is contained.

Until that time arrives, however, attorneys and paralegals should remember to consult books in the course of their research activities. The State Law Library has always served the Maryland legal community with this unique material. We welcome researchers to our doors and our website.


Crystal Balls and Digital State Publications

By Mary Jo Lazun

The next few issues Findings will feature a series of articles how the web is affecting the collecting, cataloging and storing of state publications.

Before working at the Maryland State Law Library, I was a webmaster at the Financial Management Service (FMS) a bureau of the U.S. Treasury Department. I was fortunate to begin my career as a webmaster just as the web was getting started. There were few rules and fewer pages. Our web site started out with a simple list of our offices and contact information.

That did not last for long; quickly FMS management and its customers began to clamor for the posting to major Treasury publications on the web. The first was the Treasury Financial Manual, followed by the Monthly Treasury Statement and eventually the Daily Treasury Statement. Once we started there was no going back. Treasury, like just about every other government agency, national, state and local, knew the web was an amazing tool for making information available online .

Now, rather than posting publications on a web site, I am collecting, cataloging and storing them for the State Law Library. Managing the Library's state agency publications is a lot like managing a web site, just very much bigger. As a member of the State Publications Depository and Distribution Program (SPDDP), the State Law Library receives hundreds of state publications. However, in the last decade the number of "print" publications has significantly declined. This is no great surprise as state agencies move from the traditional printing and mailing of their publications to simply posting them on web sites.

It is almost impossible to tally the number of web sites maintained by Maryland state agencies, but a quick count in the Maryland Manual lists at least two hundred separate entities (departments, agencies, task forces, commissions, etc.) in the state. Some of the bigger departments have a huge web presence, and their publications are sprinkled throughout their web sites. Every day a new crop of publications, reports and newsletters are posted. For librarians this poses a huge challenge. Short of investing in a crystal ball, how is a librarian supposed to know when an agency will post its annual report or when a major task force report is removed form a web site?

State publications document the history and workings of our state. They provide a historical record of the accomplishments, problems, decisions, and workings of our government. At the Law Library I see people using Task Force Reports that are decades old and I wonder if in forty years our researchers will be able to find an online report published in 2007. From my perspective it is vital that these materials be collected, cataloged and preserved, but to do so will require librarians to think very differently about concepts like collection development, acquisitions and probably most importantly, long term access and preservation. In future articles I will discuss in detail what strategies librarians are using to find these publications and store them for long-term use.


DIY: Library Resources for the Pro Se Litigant

By Rudolf B. Lamy

Part of the Maryland State Law Library's mission statement says that the Library's purpose, as "a support unit of the state court system, is to provide access for the law related information needs of the judiciary as well as the legal community, government agencies and the public."

A growing part of our service to the public is library support for that intrepid legal Do-It-Yourselfer, the self-represented litigant. The Library provides a wide range of legal resources for such pro se litigants including:

  • Free in-house access to the LexisNexis legal database
  • A large selection of publications from NOLO Press, a publisher of easy-to-read legal information
  • Online and/or hardcopy access to current and superseded codes and ordinances of Maryland counties and incorporated cities and towns
  • A growing "self-help" section in the main reference area

The Library has a knowledgeable staff that will guide the Do-It-Yourselfer through the process of learning how to conduct legal research. We can explain the uses of all the current and traditional legal resources and can also refer the lay researcher to appropriate legal assistance and representation, which the Library cannot provide.

Citizens may contact the Library via its website or by mail or fax. We can even refer patrons to a network of twenty-two county public law libraries and other public or academic libraries throughout the State.

If you are, or if you know, a legal Do-It-Yourselfer, you cannot start your legal research in a better place than the Maryland State Law Library.


PIXELS

By Donna Wiesinger

We are pleased to report that HeinOnline now offers an online edition of the full English Reports reprint!

The online edition delivers exact-page images of all 176 original bound volumes from the English Reports, Full Reprint, plus the Indexes and Book of Charts, and contains over 100,000 cases reprinted verbatim, spanning the period from 1220 to 1867. The reprints of 275 separate series of reports are arranged by the English Courts: House of Lords, Chancery, Rolls Court, etc.

All original footnotes and editorial notes are included, as well as bracketed references to Mews' Digest of English Case Law. The reprinted reports are star-paged to their original text so that the exact paging of the original may be cited from the reprint.

Navigation tools include a Case Locator, Chart Tool, and an advanced search feature to facilitate locating specific cases. The Case Locator allows searching by English Reports Citation, Case Name, or Nominative Citation.

Browsing features replicate the experience of holding the actual book in your hand by allowing users to browse by series (i.e., volumes), indexes, and by the Book of Charts.

W.S. Hein and Company has been busy! In addition to the English Reports reprint, other databases that have recently been added to HeinOnline include the Code of Federal Regulations (currently 1938-1983), the Federal Register (1936-2006), the U.S. Statutes at Large (1789-2004), and other U.S. federal government-related content. These will be covered in detail in a future edition of Pixels.

For assistance searching, Hein offers a Help link within each database, or you can ask one of the friendly librarians at the Library's Information Desk!

Stop by the Law Library and explore these new resources!

If you have any questions about these new sources, or would like to schedule training on the use of any of the databases, please contact Donna Wiesinger, Head of Electronic Services, at 410-260-1435, or mailto:donna.wiesinger@mdcourts.gov


Biographical Maryland: Readings in the State Law Library

By Rudolf B. Lamy

1632, June 20. Maryland Charter granted to Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Lord Baltimore, by Charles I, King of Great Britain and Ireland. (Maryland Manual Maryland History Timeline at http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/mdmanual/01glance/chron/html/chron16.html)

Since the founding of the Colony in 1632, Maryland has had both the famous and infamous associated with her. Many of the names are familiar to us:

Edgar Allen Poe: writer, editor, manic-depressive, resident of Westminster graveyard in Baltimore and deceased cognac lover

H.L. Mencken: newspaperman, editor, and witness to the Scopes Monkey Trial, refused an offer from the NY Times

James Rouse: builder, entrepreneur, and social architect

Francis Scott Key: lawyer, poet, lyricist, and patriot

Frederick Douglas: slave, freeman, ships caulker, lecturer, and abolitionist

Wallis Simpson: divorcee, lover, empire shaker and Duchess

There are those people whose names are, of course, lesser know, even if their accomplishments are not:

Rosa Ponselle: vaudevillian, star of the Metropolitan Opera, recording artist, voice coach to Beverly Sills and Plácido Domingo

Benjamin Henry Latrobe: architect, friend and colleague of Thomas Jefferson, designer and builder of the Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore the first Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States

Elizabeth (Betsy) Patterson Bonaparte: First wife of Jerome Bonaparte, sister-in-law to the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, who had the marriage annulled.

If you are looking for reading material other than legal textbooks or treatises, biographies for these and many other people connected to Maryland are available in the history collection of the State Law Library. You will find individual or collective biographies published between 1877 and 2004. If people are not of particular interest, "biographies" of many of the cities and towns throughout Maryland are also available.


Sample Circuit Court Law Library Collection Policy Now Available

By Catherine McGuire

How does a library, of any size, make decisions about what materials to add to the library and which ones to remove from the collection? The standard document to guide librarians in these efforts is the Collection Development Policy. The Maryland State Law Library's Outreach Program has developed a sample document for Maryland Circuit Court Libraries to use in drafting their own individual policies. In developing the policy, the Outreach Program relied principally on the Collection Development Policies of the Washoe County Law Library (Reno, NV) and the King County Law Library (Seattle, WA). These policies are available on the internet for anyone wishing to develop the sample further for their own use. The sample policy is available on the State Law Library's web site.

A collection development policy should be a living document, one that is flexible to adapt to fluctuations in budgets, personnel and space. It provides guidelines for staff in determining whether to acquire or discard an item; informs patrons and the parent organization (the Court) of the scope of the library's collection; facilitates cooperative collection development with neighboring law libraries; helps to keep consistency over time during staff changeovers (this is particularly important in counties where library maintenance is the bailiwick of the current law clerk); and provides a basis for collection assessment in conjunction with a shelflist or catalog.

Note that the Policy is used in combination with the Proposed Minimum Standards for Maryland County Public Law Libraries (Appendix C of the Circuit Court Libraries Study Committee Report, February 2001); and the Recommended Treatises for Maryland County Law Libraries. Both of these documents are available on the State Law Library's web site as well.