Wisconsin State Law Library

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WSLL @ Your Service January 2011

What's New – Connie Von Der Heide

Days Closed in January & February

The Wisconsin State Law Library and the Milwaukee and Dane County Legal Resource Centers will be closed Monday, January 17 in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. state holiday. All three libraries will also be closed on Monday, February 21 for a Director of State Courts designated furlough day.

After Hours Service for Attorneys

Start the New Year right with a subscription to the State Law Library's After Hours service, available to attorneys licensed to practice in Wisconsin. Subscribers to this convenient service have access to the Wisconsin State Law Library from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. After Hours Service subscriptions are annual and run on the calendar year, so to get the best value, subscribe today. Details and the application form are available on our After Hours Access page.

Upcoming Classes

Registration is now open for our February 22 class, Lawyers and Social Media. Learn how attorneys are using blogs, Twtter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media tools. Explore the basics and delve into marketing, research and ethical issues surrounding Web 2.0. Details and registration form are available on our Classes page. Seating is limited so register today - and watch for announcements of additional classes, coming soon.

Librarians Speak Out

Carol Hassler presented "Social Networking for Judges" during the annual judicial education seminar on family law December 1 in Wisconsin Dells.

Connie Von Der Heide presented "Researching Wisconsin Legislative History: Sources and Strategies" during a recent State Bar of Wisconsin all-day CLE seminar, Wisconsin Legislative History and Intent: Fact or Fiction? The seminar was held live and via webcast on December 10, and by webcast replay on December 21.

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Celebrating Our History: 175 Years and Still Going Strong! – Jane Colwin, State Law Librarian

As part of the State Law Library's anniversary activities, the staff will be going through a variety of old files and catalogs in an attempt to find out all we can about the Library's past.

We are grateful for the assistance of our volunteer Carol Hermann who will be helping dig through the file cabinets and closets. We are also fortunate to have a variety of written accounts from past State Law Librarians Gilson Glasier (1906-1956), William Knudson (1969-1974), Marcia Koslov (1974-2000) and Deputy Law Librarian Dennis Austin (1964 -1997).

The legislation that established the territorial government of Wisconsin contained a short, but significant provision that appropriated five thousand dollars to be expended on the purchase of a library for the accommodation of the legislative assembly and the supreme court.(Fn 1) The territorial act was approved April 20, 1836 – giving the State Law Library not only the basis for its existence but also reason to celebrate its 175th anniversary in 2011.

According to a New York Times story published in 1936 in honor of the Library's 100th anniversary, Congress agreed to fund this library because "it was thought the Legislature of this distant state would need the assistance of books, particularly law books."(Fn 2) It's interesting to note that this was the first instance of Congress appropriating funds for a territorial library – and it served as a precedent for later acts establishing other new territories. Just two years later Congress appropriated funds for a library for the territory of Iowa.(Fn 3)

Capitol Library Front Doors - Wisconsin State Law LibraryCapitol Building - Library Front Doors

That first $5000 would roughly be equal to $100,000 today – and so the committee that was appointed to purchase the books had a relative fortune to spend. Peter Hill Engle, speaker of the first territorial house of representatives traveled to Washington D.C. and Philadelphia and purchased approximately 1500 volumes, two-thirds of which were law or law-related, thus setting the focus of the library as clearly legal. In 1866 this focus was solidified by Ch. 119, Laws of 1866, which stated "no books shall hereafter be purchased for the state library, except law books of reference, and works on political science and statistics." Although the collection was to remain solely legal, the library continued to be called the State Library until 1977, when the name was changed to the State Law Library.(Fn 4) In fact, the glass fanlights above what used to be the front doors of the Library in the Capitol still bear the "State Library" stencil.

The Library's first home was in Burlington – now located in Iowa but at the time part of the Wisconsin Territory. Burlington served as the location of the meeting of the second territorial legislature. When the government moved to Madison, the library moved with it and was located in the State Capitol until 1999 when it moved into temporary space at 1 East Main (currently home to the Legislative Reference Bureau). The Library moved into its current location at 120 MLK Jr. Blvd. in the Risser Justice Center in January 2002.

Historical Articles Snapshot - Wisconsin State Law Library Historical articles and documents for the Library (Enlarge image)

Although we've changed our name and our location over the years, what hasn't changed is the Library's commitment to serve the officers of the court, government employees, attorneys and the public. Along the way we have embraced new tools – ballpoint pens, typewriters, microfilm and microfiche, photocopiers, fax machines and computers, just to name a few - and provided access to new products developed to make legal research easier - such as key number digests, looseleaf services, CD-Roms, DVDs, LexisNexis and Westlaw, the internet, GPO Access, HeinOnline and LegalTrac. And yes, through it all we still bought books. And will continue to do so, as it is not possible yet to preserve our legal history and provide access to a wide variety of legal information by solely depending on the internet or fee-based online resources.

The staff of the State Law Library is very proud and excited to celebrate this special milestone, and so will be offering a variety of special activities throughout the year. We will highlight special historical moments in our monthly newsletters, have birthday cake here at the Library on April 20, and hold a special after-hours celebration later in the year. Look for special displays in the Library – we are fortunate that librarians are traditionally pack rats, so we have some fun and interesting things that have been collected over the past 175 years. Please join us as we welcome in 2011 as a year to celebrate our past as we continue to maintain our collections and explore new ways to serve you.


(1) 5 Stats. 10, sec. 17, April 20, 1836

(2) Wisconsin's Pioneer Library, New York Times, February 9, 1936

(3) 5 Stats. 235, sec. 18, June 12, 1838

(4) 1977 Laws of Wisconsin Act 29, section 1393

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This Just In – Pete Boll

New Title! Technology Licensing: A Practitioner's Guide, by Heather Meeker
3rd edition
American Bar Association, 2010
Call Number: KF 3145 .T43 2010

Written as a course book for the author's seminar, this new title addresses the field of technology licensing as it applies to intellectual property law. Meeker covers everything from the anatomy of the "shrink wrap license" to royalties, ethics and negotiations, as well as the "ten commandments of contract drafting." The appendix provides several useful, practical hypothetical questions and exercises to test the reader's skill and knowledge.

Updated! Living Trusts: Forms and Practice, by Dwight F. Bickel
December 2010 update
LexisNexis Matthew Bender, 2010
Call Number: KF 734 .B53

Originally published in 1993 and updated annually, Living Trusts is a one-volume, practice oriented guide aimed at estate planners, providing analysis of the law of estate planning and a comprehensive collection of legal forms used to establish and fund living trusts.

The December 2010 update features new information regarding the creation of the role of Trust Protector, and it outlines the effects of the Uniform Statutory Rule Against Perpetuities. The Uniform Trust Code (UTC) has been adopted in almost half of all jurisdictions, and this latest update provides information trust preparers in those jurisdictions need.


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 in Brief – Heidi Yelk

Windows Tip: How to Control Folder Views

Folder Options menu item

Items inside folders can be displayed in several different ways: thumbnails, tiles, icons, as a list, or with details. Within any given folder, the user can change the display by opening the View menu and choosing a display option. However, that only changes the view in that one folder. Often, users find that one folder will display as a list while another displays icons, and yet another displays details. Is there a way to make them all display the same? Yes.

To set a default folder view:

  1. Open any folder.
  2. Go to the View Menu and choose your preferred view options.
  3. Go to the Tools Menu, choose Folder Options, and click the View tab.
  4. In the first box, labeled Folder Views, click Apply to All Folders.

Now all your folders will display the same way.

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WSLL Recommends...

This monthly column highlights a legal research tool, in print and/or electronic format, that is not freely available on the internet. We hope it will increase your knowledge of sources you might already be already familiar with, and help to expand your legal research toolkit.

Legal Information Buyers Guide & Reference Manual. Kendall F. Svengalis. Published annually by Rhode Island Law Press.

This guide is a gold mine of information for anyone interested in acquiring and maintaining legal information resources, written primarily for solo practitioners and attorneys in small to medium sized law firms operating without a law librarian.

Legal Information Buyer's Guide and Reference ManualNot only does the Legal Information Buyers Guide & Reference Manual provide a comprehensive list of cost-saving strategies, it also provides detailed information on the major legal treatises and reference works in a wide variety of subject areas. Author Kendall Svengalis, who for over twenty years was the Rhode Island State Law Librarian, provides a description of each included title and online resource and pricing history for supplementation and selected cost-saving tips.

An attorney whose practice is focused in federal court would do well to read the chapter on Federal Practice and Procedure before deciding whether to purchase Wright and Miller or Moore’s. Likewise, anyone wishing to develop an immigration law practice should review the resources annotated in this book before making any purchases. Accompanied by tables that detail the rise in the cost of legal publications, this book provides anyone working with law library budgets reliable data to use in planning future law book spending.

This guide also provides a state-by-state review of primary legal publications and sources for practice materials for each state, as well as leading websites for state-specific law research. And for those interested in legal publishing history, Mr. Svengalis provides a history of the industry accompanied by annotated entries for all of the current leading legal publishers.

State Law Library staff use this book frequently – not only to assist in developing our budgets but also to help direct us to the best sources when working on research questions. For that reason, it's shelved in Reference and available for in-library use only. However, as we purchase future editions we'll now be keeping one or two older ones that may be borrowed.

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Odds ‘n' Endings – Julie Tessmer

Notables for January

JanusThe month of January gets its name from the Roman god Janus, which in Latin means gates, doors, beginnings, endings, and time. The mythological god is often depicted as having two heads: one looking back to the past and one looking forward into the future.

1 - Happy New Year! January 1 also marks the date in 1836 on which the Wisconsin Territory was first organized. (It was officially created by act of Congress dated April 20 of that year.)

4 - Edwin Witte, "father of the Social Security Act" is born in 1887 in Watertown, Wisconsin. Mr. Witte headed the Legislative Reference Library from 1922-1933, then went to Washington where he served as executive director and research synthesizer for FDR's new Committee on Economic Security. Witte returned to his home state in 1935 and became chair of the UW economics department. He died May 20, 1960 – just a few weeks short of Social Security's 25th anniversary. Source. Edwin Witte, WI Historical Society

17 - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday is observed. It's both a federal and state holiday so banks, post offices and government offices will be closed, including the Wisconsin State Law Library and Milwaukee and Dane County Legal Resource Centers.

22 – WSLL marks the 9th anniversary of our move into the Risser Justice Center.

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