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WSLL @ Your Service January 2021

Word of the Year? Communication - Heidi Yelk

Each December many of us look forward to the Oxford English Dictionary / Oxford Languages announcement of the Word of the Year. If you followed the news last month, you'll know that the folks at Oxford Language were unable to limit themselves to just one word.

If the library had a word of the year, it would likely be "communication." This word has factored heavily in our work and will continue to be of utmost importance in 2021. With our users working remotely, communication is more vital than ever.

Why is communication so important right now? Because everything has changed. It's no longer the same old routine. The library has changed its hours and the way it delivers services. Our users have changed where they work and when they work. Night owl attorneys are emailing at midnight. Early risers are leaving voicemails at 6:00 am. Instead of going to the movies, people are working from home offices on Saturday night. Librarians and attorneys who used to have face-to-face conversations are now playing phone tag or creating long email threads back and forth. Chances are that you are having the same experience with your clients.

How can we improve communication?

Consider the medium. Remote work involves a lot of email. But email is not always the best way to connect with a client or give your assistant an assignment. Sometimes good communication requires a live conversation. The person you are working with may have questions you did not anticipate. The matter may be urgent, confidential or complicated. Know when to pick up the phone instead of sending email. (By the way, library phone hours are now 9:30-3:30, Monday through Thursday; librarians are available for reference and research consultations at 608-267-9696)

Emailing? Be brief, clear and careful. Sometimes a quick email is all you need. (At the library, email is one of our main forms of communication with users.) Email is such a fast, easy, casual form of communication that sometimes people forget to proofread. Before clicking send, take a few extra minutes to read the entire email. Verify that you have the correct email address. To prevent delays and avoid email tag, be sure to include all important information. If you need a quick turnaround, remember to provide a deadline or time frame. And, due to the nature of email, don't assume the message will be read immediately. Choose your subject line, contents and attachments carefully. Many businesses have implemented new cyber security safeguards which could mean that some emails are rejected or delayed if they contain suspicious subject lines or questionable links. Likewise, be on guard for phishing scams and other attacks. See this National Law Review article for more discussion on protecting your law office. (Did you know you can email the library's reference desk for articles, case law, and research help? Reach us at wsll.ref@wicourts.gov. Most questions are answered the same day)

Leverage the Internet. Are you planning to visit a business or expecting clients to visit yours? Check the web before you go. Good website communication should include up-to-date information on current hours and services. Some businesses provide important information about COVID-19 protocols for visitors. If you manage your own website, consider having a friend review it. Does it provide enough information about business operations at this time? Do your clients know what to expect if they have to reach you or visit your office? The library's website provides continuous communication on our status and the services we've implemented during the pandemic. This includes sidewalk pick up and returns, information on our designated parking space for easy transactions, and CLE offerings via Zoom.

As we move into 2021, please reach out and keep in touch. Use our email and phone service for reference and research help. Watch our website for updates to services, hours, and class offerings.


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New Books - Kari Zelinka

New Edition! Home Business Tax Deductions: Keep What You Earn, 17th ed., by Stephen Fishman, 2020
Call Number: KF 6395 .B88 F57 2020

If you run a small home business on the side or you advise clients who do, you are likely a jack-of-all-trades. Not only do you need to be an expert on the products or services you are selling, you also need to be well versed in customer service, tech support, and book-keeping. Home Business Tax Deductions is a resource that will come in handy at tax time. This edition contains important updates about the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Whether you are just starting your home business or doing business taxes for the first time in a pandemic, check this book out today!

Chapters include:

  • Getting your business up and running
  • Home business operating expenses
  • Deducting long term assets
  • Getting around town: car and local travel expenses
  • Hiring help: employees and independent contractors
  • What if you get sick? Deducting medical expenses
  • Deductions that can help you retire
  • Record keeping and accounting
  • Eight tips for avoiding an IRS audit

New Book! Dignity law: global recognition, cases, and perspectives, by Erin Daly and James R. May, 2020
Call Number: K 3249 .D35 2020

In the past few decades, most constitutions across the world recognize that human dignity is a right to which all humans are entitled to in a court of law. It may seem difficult to pin down this idea that dignity is what makes us all equal into words and facts, but authors Erin Daley and James R. May have laid the theoretical groundwork utilizing their experience with the Dignity Rights Project. Whether you are an educator or a practicing attorney, consider perusing this book, as it affects all areas of law. Cases, conditional provisions, and other secondary materials are also included in this exploratory resource.

Chapters include:

  • Dignity in the human rights era
  • Dignity and equality
  • Introduction to social, economic and cultural rights
  • Protection against humiliation
  • In the criminal justice system
  • The dignity based right to participate in political activity
  • Incidents of citizenship beyond electoral politics


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 - Beth Bland

Tracking Student Loan Bills

According to a recent article in Forbes Magazine, about 45 million Americans have student loan debt.

The National Conference of State Legislatures offers a Student Loan Bill Tracking Database which “tracks state legislation related to student loan debt across several categories, including forgiveness, licensure, oversight and taxes. It includes pending, failed and enacted bills since 2015. The database can be searched by category, year or state. The database is updated monthly with bills identified by NCSL staff.”

The database’s page for Wisconsin is below. We can see that of the proposals introduced, only one was enacted. This makes researching bills by state - or throughout the U.S. - quick and easy.

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Library News - Carol Hassler

Libraries Closed on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

The State Law Library, and Milwaukee and Dane County Law Libraries will be closed on Monday, January 18th for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. To send a question to the Wisconsin State Law Library while we are closed, you may call us at 608-267-9696 or Ask a Librarian online. We will respond to questions and requests on Tuesday, January 19th.

Librarians Reach Out

State Law Librarian Amy Crowder published an article on the latest features and research tools in HeinOnline for last month’s State Bar of Wisconsin InsideTrack. Read Legal Research: What’s New with HeinOnline? for tips to help streamline your work in the world’s largest image based legal research database.

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January Snapshot

Milwaukee County Courthouse Murals
Photos by Jenna Marquardt

New murals brighten the Milwaukee County courthouse walls. Celebrating and representing the diversity of Milwaukee County, these murals feature work from local Milwaukee artists or art collectives. Learn more about each mural at Urban Milwaukee.

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

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