Wisconsin State Law Library

Serving the Wisconsin Supreme Court and State of Wisconsin

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WSLL: A Look Back at 2007 – Jane Colwin, State Law Librarian

2007 was a very ambitious year for us and I’m happy to say that we have accomplished our major objectives, all of which were aimed at making the library’s materials more accessible to our users.

High on our list of achievements is enabling remote user access to the vast full-text wonder that is HeinOnline.  I hope many of you now keep your library barcode taped to your computer so that you can easily access full-text law reviews, CFRs, Federal Registers, U.S. Supreme Court decisions and related materials, interesting legal classics and world trials.  A redesigned Journals and Legal Databases webpage accompanied the HeinOnline roll-out in order to make it easier to access the full range of these internet resources.  Much hard work went on behind the scenes to pull together the technology, the webpage redesign, and the links between our online catalog and the various web databases.  Kudos to Amy Crowder, Carol Hassler and Art Saffran for being the primary movers and shakers on this project.

Amy and Carol are also responsible for another major achievement - the redesign of our online catalog’s public face, which just debuted last month.  They spent many hours in 2007 working with our vendor, Innovative Interfaces, to get the features and look that we wanted.  Our online catalog had not had a facelift since we inaugurated it in 1990, so we hope you like the new look and features as much as we do.  And remember, it’s just one more reason you want your library barcode number taped to your computer!  One of my favorite parts of the catalog’s new look is the fleur-de-lis logo.  Carol Hassler created it based on the design of the metal index card holders that were a part of our antique iron shelving in the State Capitol, a few of which now grace the stacks in our new library.  What a great way to honor our history as we move forward in the 21st century.

We standardized the desktops for all of the public computers at WSLL and at the Milwaukee and Dane County Legal Resource Centers –  to make it easier to find and use all of the many resources we provide.  In addition to the previously mentioned HeinOnline and our online catalog, remember that you can access Westlaw1, Shepard’s and LegalTrac from any of our public computers.  Thanks to Art Saffran for creating and implementing this important feature.

Not everything we did last year involved high-tech solutions or the internet.  We spent several months completing a shelf-reading project in our stacks.  And no, we were not reading all the 120,000 items on the shelves, but rather, we were painstakingly reading the call numbers, a shelf at a time!  We covered four miles (really!) of shelving and accomplished multiple objectives: misshelved books were returned to their rightful places, faded or missing spine labels were replaced, loose or broken spines were repaired, some materials were bound, some were weeded, some were updated with the purchase of new editions, many book ends were added to prevent “cascading book syndrome,” and a general straightening up was achieved.  Although everyone worked on this project under Amy Crowder’s capable direction, Rachel Holtan will have the fondest memories – she relabeled over 1,000 items and repaired over 200 books and pamphlets. 

Daily work continued apace as we answered over 9,500 reference questions – with an increasing number of those reaching us through email.  Questions from the general public and self-represented litigants continue to increase.   Our website received over a half million hits – with  Legal Topics A - Z being the most popular destination.  This list of nearly 470 topics is constantly reviewed and added to in order to provide you  with links to useful, current and accurate information.  The Milwaukee and Dane County Legal Resource Centers continue to be non-stop busy helping their users with court forms and their associated questions.

In addition to our well attended training classes held here at WSLL, staff also had opportunities to leave the library to present a wide variety of programs – maybe we met some of you on our travels!  In November we got a chance to experience a vendor exhibit room from the other side of the table when we joined librarians from the Marquette and UW Law Libraries as part of the Solo and Small Firm Conference in Milwaukee.  I had several trips “up north” as part of a Wisconsin Court System outreach effort to present public librarians with information on legal information resources available to the public.  Most memorable for me was driving home in a blinding snowstorm from an April (!) program in Eau Claire.  Connie Von Der Heide (WSLL) and Lisa Winkler (DCLRC) presented a well-attended Basic Wisconsin Legal Research class for patrons of the DeForest Area Public Library in October. 

Connie Von Der Heide coordinated tours for over 200 people here at WSLL, ranging from basic “show and tell” to specialized presentations for students from the UW Law School and the Wisconsin English as a Second Language Institute.   Lisa Winkler is also a librarian/tour guide – she recently gave over 35 fifth graders the grand tour of the Dane County Courthouse and is preparing to do the same for a group of 9th grade American Government students.

Whew!  None of these efforts would have been possible without the great staff that we have in all three of our locations.  They not only do the work, but they continually have the ideas for how we can continue to offer our users the best possible service and access to the vast world of legal information.   I can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store for 2008!

1. Westlaw available only at WSLL and the Milwaukee Legal Resource Center.


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DCLRC Highlights – Lisa Winkler, DCLRC Librarian

With the beginning of 2008, we would like to take a moment to look back at some of the highlights for the DCLRC in 2007.

January 13, 2007 marked the one year anniversary of the Legal Resource Center’s move into the now two-year old Dane County Courthouse. (see this 2006 “grand opening” article.)

In April, numerous participants helped us celebrate National Library Week.  Prizes were awarded to the winners of our contests, which included Flag the Fake!, Acronym Antics, and the Get to Know Your DCLRC crossword puzzle.  Stay tuned for more National Library Week events, activities, prizes, and treats again this year!

In May, DCLRC hosted volunteer attorneys for Law Day.  Numerous pro se litigants dropped by to take advantage of the opportunity for free legal advice.  Big thanks to the Dane County Bar Association’s Courthouse Committee, and especially Barb Whitish, for making this event possible.

Over the summer, the DCLRC said goodbye to Leslie Behroozi, who took a position with the Marquette University Law Library in Milwaukee.  Good luck to you in all your endeavors, Leslie!  We welcomed Lisa Winkler, our current Librarian, and also Ashley Brown as our Library Associate.  Stop by sometime and say hello!

In October, Lisa Winkler and Connie Von Der Heide from the Wisconsin State Law Library traversed Dane County to present the Legal Research in a Nutshell class for the DeForest Area Public Library. Thanks to librarian Jane Henze for hosting us and all the hospitality!

Finally, a few figures to round off the year.  The DCLRC had around 16,000 visitors in the library with an average of 300 visitors per week, sold 4,650 circuit court forms, and answered 3,250 form-related questions.  Dane County jail inmates are another major patron group for the DCLRC. Staff filled 2,138 inmate requests for legal information and circulated 1,137 books to them.  Volunteers with the Small Claims Assistance Program, a joint program of the DCLRC, DCBA and the State Bar of Wisconsin, helped 345 pro se litigants with small claims matters.  In the last half of the year, Lisa Winkler took 5 tour groups around the Courthouse to admire its beauty and “greenness.”  These groups included students, parents, chaperones, seniors, and interested citizens.  Please contact us if you are interested in a tour of the facilities.

Thanks to everyone who assists the DCLRC in providing quality services to meet the needs of all our library users. Let’s all keep up the great work in 2008!

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Odds ‘n’ Endings – Connie Von Der Heide

Project Vote Smart

Looking for unbiased information about candidates for U.S. President and other offices?  Check out Project Vote Smart, where you’ll find candidates’ biographies, voting records, issue statements and much more.

February Notables

10 – On this date in 1763, the Treaty of Paris ceded formerly French-controlled land, including the Wisconsin region, to England. [Sources: Wisconsin Historical Society and the Avalon Project at Yale Law School.]

17 - On this date in 2009, the transition from analog to digital TV broadcast will be complete. For more information, visit DTV2009.gov. If you have an analog TV (vs. high definition) and it receives signals through an antenna (vs. cable or satellite), you'll be especially interested in item 3 on that website, where you can apply for a coupon toward the cost of a digital converter box.
19 –  The date of Wisconsin’s 2008 primary election for U.S. President and other offices.  To find your polling place, visit the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board’s “Find a Voting Location” webpage.

29 – Leap Year Day.  To find out why there’s a February 29th (almost) every four years, visit time and date.com’s Leap Year” page.

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Ask a Librarian: 800-322-9755; 608-267-9696 (In Madison); wsll.ref@wicourts.gov
Library Hours/Locations: WSLL (WI State Law Library), DCLRC (Dane Co. Legal Resource Center), MLRC (Milwaukee Legal Resource Center)
Visit Our Website: http://wilawlibrary.gov

Editor: Connie Von Der Heide 608-267-2202 Comments welcome!


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