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WSLL @ Your Service February 2010

In this issue we take a few moments to review the activities and accomplishments of our three libraries in 2009. Many thanks to "guest" authors Jane Colwin, Rebecca Knutson and Lisa Winkler. Following their articles you'll find our regular What's New and This Just In columns. Tech Tip in Brief and Odds 'n' Endings will return in March. – Editor

 

Mastering the Art of Legal Research...a look at 2009 – Jane Colwin, State Law Librarian

I recently enjoyed reading Julia Child's memoir My Life in France and seeing the film Julie and Julia. What strikes me most about Julia Child was her unwavering desire to make French cooking and cuisine more readily available to the average person. She did this through her cookbooks, her television programs and her personal appearances. When I sat down to write this article, I thought of Julia Child and how we try to do the same thing with legal information. All of our efforts are aimed at making the law more accessible to a variety of people – lawyers, judges, students and the general public. While we don't have a feature film to help us with our mission, we do have a batterie de cuisine that includes excellent print and online resources and an enthusiastic staff who never pass up an opportunity to teach about or promote them.

Our biggest accomplishment of 2009 was the launch of our newly redesigned website wilawlibrary.gov. Led by Webmaster/Cataloger Carol Hassler, a team of library staff worked for over a year to come up with the new name, design and content. The most popular part of our website – the Legal Topics pages, got a new look with added content on each page; a new county database was developed to provide quick access to a variety of law-related county contacts; and we've tried to make it easier for you to find and request journal articles and other library materials. Thanks to Carol and team members Amy Crowder, Angela Sanfilippo and Heidi Yelk, and to the many volunteers who helped us by responding to surveys and testing the site before its launch in May 2009. The goal of our website is to bring people and legal resources together in a way that is easy and understandable. I believe, and increased website traffic since the launch would back me up, that it does this very successfully.

Our daily interactions with our users – in person, by phone, and ever increasingly by email, continue to provide us with many opportunities to make the law more available. We answer many of the questions that we get by suggesting our website as a good "jumping off" place; we use the many online resources that we subscribe to, such as HeinOnline, LegalTrac, Westlaw and Loislaw, to assist users in finding full-text law review articles, court decisions, jury instructions, etc. As part of our new website, Carol and her team put together a number of online video tutorials that give brief explanations of topics such as Finding Forms, Finding Wisconsin Briefs, and Hiring a Lawyer. As part of this tutorial series, Carol and Heidi Yelk created a timely overview of resources related to foreclosures. Our initial foray into using social networking tools such as YouTube to make legal research information more accessible must be working – the tutorial pages have been viewed almost 1000 times since the new website came up in May.

I believe that one of the best ways that we help make the law more accessible is by our "personal appearances" – teaching classes, giving programs and participating in statewide outreach efforts. Connie Von Der Heide, Director of Reference and Outreach Services, has developed a program aimed at local county bar associations that gives lawyers an in-depth look at the many services that we offer. Connie presented this program to the Winnebago, Waupaca, and Tri-County bars this past year, and hopes to schedule more in 2010 – so please contact her for more information.

We reach a variety of people - lawyers, paralegals, court staff, state government employees, librarians and the general public – through the classes that we offer here at the State Law Library. In 2009 library staff and guest instructors taught classes on how to put resources such as Google Book Search, medical databases, and BadgerLink to use in a legal research context. 2010 classes already on tap feature the social media phenomenon (think Twitter and Facebook) and an exploration of WisconsinEye. Our aim is to take the mystery out of using these resources and show how they can add to a researcher's toolbox of skills.

I continue to participate in several Wisconsin Court System programs aimed at assisting self-represented litigants. One program targets clerk of court staff and provides them with information on how they can better assist self-represented litigants while staying within the scope of SCR 70.41. Court staff from around the state had the opportunity to attend one of three regional programs put on in Madison, Neenah and La Crosse, and the 10th judicial district sponsored four programs in the fall just for their district staff. My part of the program is to promote the State Law Library, in particular our website, as a resource that court staff can use when assisting the public.

A second statewide program is the court's Public Library Initiative – a program designed to introduce public librarians around the state to various court services aimed at assisting self-represented litigants and to train the librarians in basic Wisconsin legal research so that they can assist their own patrons with legal questions. Started in 2007 in the 10th judicial district, we continue to travel around the state - in 2009 we held programs for public librarians in the 5th and 7th judicial districts, hosted by library systems in Madison and Virocqua respectively.

All of the Wisconsin State Law Library staff, here in Madison as well as our colleagues at the Milwaukee and Dane County Legal Resource Centers, worked hard in 2009 to assure that our collections and services continue to serve your needs. Several staff notes of interest in 2009:

We were glad to welcome home Pete Boll, who returned in September from serving on active duty with the Navy Reserves in Kuwait. However, shortly after his return, Deputy Law Librarian and Navy Reservist Julie Tessmer left to begin her active duty assignment in Baghdad. We will all be very glad to be back at full staff upon Julie's safe return later this summer. We celebrated Carol Hassler's nomination as one of Wisconsin Law Journal's Unsung Heroes for 2009 and Dane County Legal Research Center Librarian Lisa Winkler's December 2009 graduation from the UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies Master's program.

So, a busy year behind us and a busy one ahead! Please keep your visits, calls and email coming - we look forward to assisting you to master the art of legal research. And, oh yes, Bon Appetit!

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Milwaukee Legal Resource Center: 2009 Highlights – Rebecca Knutson, MLRC Librarian

2009 was another incredibly busy year for the Milwaukee Legal Resource Center. We continued to see an increase in the number of pro se litigants needing assistance with filing their own cases, purchases of family law forms, and use of the library's computers and photocopiers. Our patron PCs were upgraded during the year and remain in constant demand, with free access to Westlaw and other online legal research tools. Six Westlaw training sessions were held for attorneys and the public throughout the year, and all were filled to capacity. We will be scheduling our 2010 classes in the near future. Watch for details.

Our National Library Week celebration in April was a big success, with many people around the courthouse getting involved. In July, MLRC staff assisted with the annual judicial rotation, smoothly and swiftly relocating judges' legal research collections to their reassigned chambers and courtrooms. As always, it was our busiest day of the year.

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Dane County Legal Resource Center: 2009 Highlights – Lisa Winkler, DCLRC Librarian

2009 marked DCLRC's 11th year of operation as a branch of the Wisconsin State Law Library, and its fourth in the "new" Dane County Courthouse. During the past year:

  • Nearly 23,000 people visited the DCLRC, and the staff sold over 7,000 circuit court forms and answered over 5,500 questions about court forms, court procedures, and legal research.

  • Dane County welcomed five new judges in 2009 - the largest annual turnover on the bench in the county's history. ("Dane County Judge Turnover in '09 is Biggest Ever; Nicks, Martin to Retire" – Wis. State Journal, Apr 10, 2009.) DCLRC staff ensures that all Dane County judges have current legal materials in their chambers, and provides legal reference and research assistance to them.

  • DCLRC staff filled over 2,000 requests for legal materials from more than 1,600 Dane County jail inmates, a service provided under contract with the Dane County Sheriff's Department.

  • DCLRC provided scheduling and/or setup assistance to the Small Claims Assistance Program (SCAP), Family Law Assistance Center and the Family Court Assistance Project, in which volunteer attorneys and supervised law students help pro se litigants complete court forms and answer basic small claims and family law questions. As in years past, all three clinics were very busy. Last year over 30 SCAP volunteer attorneys and paralegals helped nearly 500 pro se litigants with questions about small claims forms and procedures.

  • DCLRC hosted the Dane County Bar Association's annual Law Day volunteer attorney program, coordinated by Attorney Ruth Westmont. Many people took advantage of this no-cost opportunity to meet with a volunteer attorney.

  • Lisa Winkler led tours of the Courthouse for six area school groups.

  • Three volunteers contributed their time and skills to complete a number of DCLRC projects. We sincerely thank Kathy Adams, Laura O'Flanagan and Joanna San Dretto.

  • Lisa Winkler, branch librarian since June 2007, completed her Master's degree program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Library and Information Studies. Kristin Garvey, library associate since March 2008, is also a student there and will complete her degree this summer.

  • DCLRC received a beautiful watercolor donated by retired Dane County Judge Robert R. Pekowsky. The work, by local artist Lynn Casper, is entitled Evening Reflections on the Capitol Square: The Historic Wisconsin State Capitol Building--Completed 1917. Interestingly, this particular copy also contains signatures of former Governor Tommy Thompson and former Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justices Roland B. Day and Nathan S. Heffernan.

  • Court staff, attorneys, judicial interns, and the general public participated in our National Library Week festivities April 11-15. Plans for this year's celebration, April 12-16, are in the works – so stay tuned!

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What's New – Connie Von Der Heide & Heidi Yelk

Libraries Closed February 15

The Wisconsin State Law Library, Milwaukee Legal Resource Center and Dane County Legal Resource Center will be closed Monday, February 15, a designated furlough day.

To submit a reference question or document delivery request while the libraries are closed, you may call 608-267-9696, or Ask a Librarian online. We will respond as promptly as possible the following day.

HeinOnline Update

To better serve our customers, the State Law Library has purchased full text access to HeinOnline's Bar Journal collection. This means our library users now have electronic access to over 50 leading bar journals, with full text coverage dating back to the early 1900's. Titles include ABA Journal, Advocate (Idaho State Bar), CBA Record, Michigan Bar Journal, New York State Bar Association Journal, and many, many more.

The HeinOnline Bar Journal collection is useful not only for attorneys and paralegals but also for firm administrators, legal assistants, and IT staff. Bar journals often contain a wealth of information on technology trends for law firms, marketing strategies, managing employees and day-to-day law firm operation.

Other recent additions to our HeinOnline subscription include federal agency and Congressional documents. Give them a try now, and watch for an article detailing the content of those new collections in our next issue.

To learn more about using HeinOnline, please visit our tutorials page.

Upcoming Classes

Lawyers and Social Media [Back by Popular Demand!]
Thursday, Feb. 18, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at Wisconsin State Law Library

Are you sold on social media? How are lawyers using blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media tools? This class will explore the basics of social media for lawyers and delve into marketing strategies and ethical issues surrounding Web 2.0.
Fee: $99. 3 CLE credits applied for. Registration is limited to 8. Register Online | Print Registration Form

Watch, Learn, and Listen with WisconsinEye
Wednesday, March 17, 10:00 - 11:00 a.m. at Wisconsin State Law Library

WisconsinEye has been dubbed "Wisconsin's C-SPAN," providing live coverage and archived video of various government happenings. The website and television channel are valuable tools for anyone following state and local government. In this one-hour educational session, Christopher Long, CEO and President of WisconsinEye, will discuss the history and mission of the network, lead a tour of the website and take questions pertaining to this unique service. Legislative hearings, floor sessions, Supreme Court oral arguments, local public board meetings and news conferences are just some of the offerings on WisconsinEye. Join us to learn about these and more!
FREE Class. 1 CLE credit applied for. Registration is limited to 20. Register Online | Print Registration Form

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This Just In... – Pete Boll

New Edition! Wisconsin Public Records and Open Meetings Handbook, edited by Melanie R. Swank
4th edition
State Bar of Wisconsin, 2009
Call Number: KFW 2862.5 .A25 S924

This new edition features a change to a loose-leaf format to better accommodate the more frequent and significant updating this subject matter warrants. It also reflects updates in statutory and case law and incorporates recent Wisconsin attorney general opinions. Citations to Wisconsin Statutes are updated to reflect legislation through 2009 Wisconsin Act 39. Citations to the Wisconsin Administrative Code are updated to reflect rulemakings reported in the Wisconsin Administrative Register No. 645 (Sept. 30, 2009). Examples of recent legal developments discussed in this edition:

  • The Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a decision providing guidance in defining quasi-governmental bodies.
  • The Wisconsin Supreme Court held that an independent contractor is not the appropriate recipient of a public records request.
  • The U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review issued a ruling validating the power of the president and Congress to wiretap international phone calls and to intercept e-mail messages without a specific court order.
  • The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that discussions held by a governmental body in a lawfully convened closed session are not automatically protected from disclosure in discovery by an evidentiary privilege.

New Title! A Life In The Law: Advice For Young Lawyers, edited by William S. Duffey, Jr. and Richard A. Schneider American Bar Association, 2009
Call Number: KF 372 .L54 2009

In this book's nineteen essays, editors Duffey (U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Georgia) and Schneider (senior partner at King & Spalding in Atlanta) examine the calling to be a lawyer. Contributing authors include Griffin Bell, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge who was appointed by President Kennedy and served as Attorney General under President Carter; Paul Clement, former Solicitor General under George W. Bush; and Leah Sears, who at age 36 was the youngest lawyer and the first woman to sit on the Georgia Supreme Court, and later became its first Black female Chief Justice. These and many others write about the values of the profession, the responsibility of lawyers to their communities, and their duty of service to clients, to the public, and to each other. Also addressed are the troublesome issues of how hard lawyers are expected to work, and what sacrifices they should and shouldn't make.

 

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See our latest New Titles list for a list of new books and other resources.

For assistance in accessing these or other resources, please contact our Reference Desk.

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