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WSLL @ Your Service July 2018


Researching Municipal Boundaries with the Municipal Data System - Michael Keane

The State of Wisconsin preserves legal documents on the evolution of municipal boundaries. Most of these documents are found in the Municipal Data System (MDS) at mds.wi.gov. Records on the Municipal Data System website include:

  • "Petitions for annexation received by Municipal Boundary Review since December 2002
  • Land transfer ordinances since 2000, and many that are earlier
  • Boundary agreements between municipalities
  • Annual corporate boundary changes reported by cities and villages
  • Incorporations since May 2014 (older incorporations are in Historical Municipal Records)
  • Contested annexations under DOA review for contiguity
  • County supervisory districts changes
  • Newly passed municipal charter ordinances
  • Historical municipal records from the Wisconsin Office of the Secretary of State"
    source: About the Municipal Data System

From the main page, choose from different types of records to get started. Some data tables are short, while others may contain hundreds of records. For larger tables, sort or search tables to find the records you need. Sort tables by clicking on the red header row at the top of the table. Clicking once sorts the data one way; clicking twice sorts it the other direction.


Search within individual datasets by entering search terms into the filter boxes at the top of each table. After entering search terms, select the filter button filter symbol to choose what type of search operator will work best. Choosing "contains" gives you the broadest search because it will search for your words anywhere in that field.

For example, Historical municipal records are categorized in the "Description" field of that table. Type keywords in the Description box to filter by:

  • Corporate boundaries
  • Annexation boundaries or ordinances
  • Detachment ordinances
  • Plats

search for plat

Historical boundary maps can be found by searching for the word "plat" in the description field of the Historical municipal records table. Use advanced filters for more sophisticated date searches. These searches require a special format. See the website's help guide for a detailed example of each filter option.

In tables which include a County field, filter by county name to see only municipal records from that county.


Most records in the MDS include the full text of the filed documents. Select the PDF link to the right of the record (or the ID Number link) to download or read the document. Many of these records were required to be filed with the Secretary of State, and later the Department of Administration. Use this website for access to these historical records. Learn more about Wisconsin's history of municipal formation in our article on Municipal boundary research.

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New Books - Kari Zelinka

New Edition! How to Draft Bills Clients Rush to Pay, by Mark Robertson and J. Harris Morgan
Call Number: KF 316 .M67 2018

Authors Robertson and Morgan have tried out the methods described in this book in their own practices over the past 50 years. They stress that clients need to understand their bills and to feel attorney fees are justified. If those two things are accomplished then clients won't hesitate to pay promptly. This book includes samples that you can model your bills after. The authors walk readers through the first meeting with clients and suggest when to hold fee discussions as well as how to accurately estimate fees. In this updated edition, new billing technologies are discussed as well.

Chapters include:

  • Building the lawyer-client relationship
  • Establishing fees and budgets and using billing technology
  • Communicating value
  • Alternative fee arrangements

New Edition! Law of Asylum in the United States, by Deborah Anker
Call Number: KF 4836 .A15 L39 2018

The latest edition is updated through spring of 2018 to reflect recent developments in asylum law and policy. The 2018 edition includes many unpublished Board of Immigration Appeals and immigration judge decisions as well as asylum officer training materials. The procedures index has been expanded and contains valuable information for practitioners and researchers.

Topics addressed include:

  • The five grounds for asylum (race, religion, nationality, social group membership, and political opinion)
  • The meaning of "well-founded fear" and "persecution"
  • Claims based on childhood status and gender-based agents of persecution
  • Elements of proof
  • BIA cases on social distinction and particularity
  • Gang membership / opposition to gangs

new book shelf
New Titles RSS Feed 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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Tech Tip - Heidi Yelk

Is it time for an ad blocker?

ublock originIt's not unusual to hear people bemoan that "ads are following me everywhere" or "Google seems to know what's on my grocery list." One way to avoid seeing most ads is to install a blocker extension or add-on to your web browser. If you're not using an ad blocker while browsing the web, you don't know what you're missing. After you try one, you won't miss all the ads you are missing.

One of the most popular is Ublock Origin, a free, open-source extension available for several browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Safari. One thing you'll notice after adding this extension to your browser is significantly fewer ads. The "number counter" over the Ublock Origin button on the tool bar indicates what you're missing, showing how many elements have been blocked on the current site. Typically, users will install this extension and allow it to run in the background. However, the creator of Ublock Origin notes that the program is actually much more than an ad blocker. It can also block scripts, trackers and malware. For more information see the developer home page.

Once you install an ad blocker, you'll notice an immediate difference in the amount of advertising you see, especially on news and entertainment sites. However, some sites require you to "allow ads." In other cases, the ad blocker can interfere with online shopping carts and product images. There are solutions. A simple one is to use one browser with an ad blocker and another without. Or, you can "whitelist" sites to your ad blocker.

removing elementsFor more information on ad blocker tools, options, and how to use them, see:

(Right: using Ublock Origin to remove an ad)

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Library News - Carol Hassler

Finding Legal Information Online at the Verona Public Library

The Verona Public Library will host a seminar on Wednesday, July 11 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. on how to find legal information online. Julie Tessmer, State Law Librarian, will talk about how to find information on small claims, landlord/tenant law, municipal ordinances, and legal forms.

With more than 450 legal topics, a county-by-county legal resource database, and quick links to state and federal primary law and court forms, the Wisconsin State Law Library website is a one-stop shop for finding trustworthy legal sources online. Join Julie for a tour of our website and a discussion of research techniques for finding legal information online.

To register for this event, go to veronapubliclibrary.org or call (608) 845-7180.

Flag and sparklerSign up for our July CLE classes

In Milwaukee:
Navigating the Federal Court Websites
Thursday, July 26, Noon - 1 p.m.
Location: Meeting Room 1 at the Central Library, 814 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee
FREE. 1 CLE credit. Registration is suggested through the Milwaukee County Law Library and space is limited. Call 414-278-4900 or email mcll.ref@wicourts.gov to register. These are demonstration classes.

In Madison:
Introduction to Wisconsin Legislative History
Wednesday, July 25, Noon - 1 p.m.
Location: David T. Prosser Jr. Library training room
FREE. 1 CLE credit. Registration is limited to 8. Register Online | Print Registration Form

Book us for your next Bar Association meeting!

We're ready to speak at your next bar association meeting! Julie Tessmer, State Law Librarian, will talk about the library's services and the materials which we provide for practicing attorneys. Our traveling program provides friendly, digestible information about legal research with an emphasis on what can be obtained for free or a nominal fee to our users throughout the state. Attendees can apply for CLE credit for this presentation.

We're always excited to talk to people about the services and comprehensive professional collection we offer to our users. Contact Julie Tessmer to schedule a talk at julie.tessmer@wicourts.gov.

In case you missed it

Our blog is the place to go for updates on the library throughout the month, as well as short articles about legal research. In case you missed it, here are some posts from June:

Libraries closed on July 4

Our three library locations will be closed on Wednesday, July 4th for the Fourth of July state holiday. We will respond to questions and requests on Thursday, July 5th. To ask a question while we are closed, you can call us at (608) 267-9696 or Ask a Librarian online.

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July Snapshot

I am Bucky

I Am Bucky
by Insane Paint Shop

Did you know you can see several Bucky statutes near our Madison libraries? Bucky on Parade is a local art event featuring 85 individually decorated Bucky Badger statutes throughout Dane County. You can see a gallery of Bucky sculptures, plus a map to find them all, on https://buckyonparade.com/.
Photo by Carol Hassler

We are accepting snapshots! Do you have a photo highlighting libraries, attractions or points of historical interest? Send your photo the editor at carol.hassler@wicourts.gov to be included in a future issue.

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