Wisconsin State Law Library

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WSLL @ Your Service April 2011

What's New – Connie Von Der Heide

WSLL @ Your Service receives AALL marketing award

We're very proud and excited to announce that the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) has selected our newsletter, WSLL @ Your Service, as the winner of this year's AALL Excellence in Marketing Award for Best Use of Technology. The award will be presented officially during the AALL annual meeting in Philadelphia July 23-26.

In their announcement, the AALL Public Relations Committee said, "WSLL @ Your Service … is well organized and user friendly. The selection committee was very impressed by the synchronization of the elements of the newsletter with the webpage. It is a great example of a relatively low cost effort with a very positive response."

Many library staff members make the newsletter happen. Our planning committee and regular contributors are Pete Boll, Amy Crowder, Carol Hassler, Julie Tessmer, Connie Von Der Heide and Heidi Yelk. Occasional contributors include Jane Colwin, State Law Librarian, Lynne Gehrke, MLRC Librarian and Lisa Winkler, DCLRC Librarian. Carol Hassler crafts each issue into an attractive and functional web page. Tammy Keller maintains our email list and sends out the monthly announcements. Every member of our staff encourages people to subscribe.

But even with all of that, our newsletter wouldn't be a success without you, our readers. Your frequent comments and suggestions assure us that we do in fact have an audience! And they encourage and inspire us to produce a publication that's informative, engaging, and hopefully a little entertaining – in short, worth reading every month. So we heartily thank you, and "as always, your comments are welcome."

WSLL's 175th Birthday Party – You're Invited!

If you've been reading our newsletter the past few months, you know that this is the State Law Library's 175th anniversary year. And you might remember reading that April 20, 1836 was the enactment date of the federal legislation that established the library. To mark that date we're hosting a festive birthday party, and you're invited! Please join us in the Reading Room of the Wisconsin State Law Library on Wednesday, April 20, 2:00 - 3:00 p.m. A proclamation from the Governor will be read, cake will be served, and some interesting library books and artifacts collected over the years will be on display. Please come and help us celebrate this historic day!

Test Our New Mobile Website

Mobile Display on wilawlibrary.gov

The last few months we've been working on making our website compatible for mobile devices. If you visit our website from a mobile device (like a smartphone), you should see that every page except for our home page now has a simple, streamlined appearance and menu for optimal viewing on a small screen.

In addition, we have a beta mobile-specific website featuring the links and library resources we felt were most important for our patrons who use mobile devices. Included on this small site are links to mobile versions of many of the databases to which we provide access, as well as clickable directions and phone numbers.

We encourage you to try out this site, and we would especially like your feedback. Is something you use regularly not listed? Are things listed that you probably won't use? Please let us know. Access the mobile site here: http://wilawlibrary.gov/m/.

If you have any problems with the mobile display, send an email to Carol.Hassler@wicourts.gov. Along with any comments or suggestions you submit, please let us know the type and model of the device you are using.

In order to access your library account and some of the databases listed on the mobile site, you will need a Wisconsin State Law Library borrower card.

Upcoming Classes

Want to know more about using the free Westlaw service available on the State Law Library's public computers? Register for our free class on Wednesday, April 13. Participants will learn about searching state and federal primary law – cases, statutes, codes and legislation – as well as KeyCite, online forms, and treatises such as McQuillin: The Law of Municipal Corporations; Norton Bankruptcy Law and Practice, 2d; Fletchers Cyclopedia of the Law of Private Corporations. The instructor will also offer useful tips on effective searching in both Boolean and Natural Language modes.

For complete details and registration information, please visit our Classes webpage.

April 10-16 is National Library Week

Since we're already in celebration mode for WSLL's 175th anniversary, this year we'll observe National Library Week by sharing a few remarks about librarians and librarianship we've found here and there:

"Librarians are cool and they help and love everyone!" -- from the facebook page for International Hug a Librarian Day - which was March 1st.

"Handed a difficult question, a good librarian happily hacks through the data jungle, sorting the good info from the bad, and procuring exactly the answer you wanted. But great librarians do something even better: They help you ask a sharper question, then find the answer you didn't know you needed." -- from "Elegy for Librarians: After all the budget cutting's done, who'll be around to help us ask the sharper questions?" Houston Chronicle, March 31, 2011

"Librarians: more powerful than a Google search, friendlier than a wiki, and the best natural language processor on the market." -- Erica Firment, Librarian Avenger

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1836 – 2011: Celebrating Our History – Jane Colwin, State Law Librarian

"Please Don't Sit By the Book Shelves…"

1858 catalog of the Wisconsin State Library 1858 "Catalogue of the State Library"

Rule V of the Rules and Regulations Prescribed by the Trustees for the Government of the Library, effective in 1858, states in part: "Visitors are requested not [to] seat themselves near the book shelves." Odd, don't you think? It is to our credit that a library that originally didn't want people near the books has made it this far - into the 21st century! I haven't yet researched when that rule was abolished, but I am glad to say that today we certainly encourage our users to sit anywhere they like, near the books or not. We often find people sitting on the floor right in the stacks, which would likely have caused much consternation to the 1858 staff.

I found this interesting set of library rules while researching the Library's early book collection. The rules were included in the Catalogue of the State Library of Wisconsin, 1858. The Library has a collection of early catalogs – the earliest being a Catalogue of Books in the Wisconsin Library dated December, 1840. Although we have not been able to locate a list of the books that were purchased with the $5,000 appropriated by the U. S. Congress as part of the organic act establishing the Territory of Wisconsin, research done by our volunteer, Carol Hermann, indicates it is likely that most of the books in this 1840 catalog were part of the original collection. After doing some dusty research myself in our Rare Book Room, I would concur. I found books on this list with "Wisconsin Library" stamped on the leather bindings, and hand-written accession numbers on the inside flyleaves.

Chitty Blackstones volume Chitty's Blackstone volume with hand-written accession number

We're very proud to say that we still own many of the books listed in these early catalogs. Not only are they of interest to legal historians, but they also remain valuable resources when researching the early common law. The names on the spines are familiar - Blackstone, Chitty, Gilbert, Story - and the areas of law are still litigated today: marriage and divorce, contracts, evidence, insurance, agency and mortgages, to name a few.

Thanks to modern technology, several of these early books are now available digitally through HeinOnline, a service that we subscribe to in order to provide online access to a wide variety of legal materials. HeinOnline's Legal Classics database contains more than 1,800 works on constitutional law, comparative law, political science, and other classic topics. For example, we have a four-volume set of Kent's Commentaries on American Law, published from 1826 to 1830, that was very likely in the library's original collection. Library card holders1 may view those volumes on HeinOnline.

Even though a few of these wonderful old books are available online, the entire State Law Library staff joins me in encouraging you to pay a visit to our Rare Book Room and see them in person. Unlike the library's early days, we'd love to have you sitting near our books!

Celebrating 175 years of service

Footnote 1: Access to HeinOnline is always availabe in the library. HeinOnline access outside of the library to cardholders is subject to licensing restrictions.

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This Just In… – Pete Boll

New Title! Commercial Real Estate Transactions in Wisconsin, by Harvey Temkin and Jesse Ishikawa
State Bar of Wisconsin, 2011
KFW 2526 .T46

This new State Bar CLE title is authored by two experienced real estate attorneys and serves as a basic guide to the complex area of commercial real estate transactions. All aspects of a transaction are covered, from evaluating a potential investment to completing and closing the sale. Major topics include:

  • Analyzing a commercial real estate investment
  • Title insurance and closing protection letters
  • Listing contracts
  • Financing
  • Tying up the property
  • Insurance issues
  • Due diligence
  • Tax strategies
  • Environmental considerations
  • Closing issues and documents

Among the 16 sample forms found in the book are Commercial Listing Contract; Commercial Offer to Purchase; and Assignment of Leases and Contracts. A closing procedures checklist is also included.

New Title! Divorce in the Golden Years: Estate Planning, Spousal Support, and Retirement Issues for Clients at Midlife and Beyond, by Leslie Ann Shaner
American Bar Association, 2010
KF 535 .S49 2010

Older divorce clients have had opportunities and time to build financial security, so they often have estate planning tools, medical directives, and other retirement strategies in place. Chances are that an older couple has also been married longer. For those and other reasons, divorce cases involving such persons can be more complicated. This new book, sponsored by the ABA Section on Family Law, provides guidance in handling accumulated assets and other factors associated with divorces involving older people and longer-term marriages. Major topics include:

  • Non-probate assets - those that pass to beneficiaries outside of an estate's administration - including savings accounts, retirement plans, IRAs, insurance policies, and investments.
  • Certificates of intestacy and complicated issues that arise when a divorcing client or spouse dies without a will.
  • Existing estate plans that need to be reviewed to avoid complications, and how to revise or initiate a plan after separation but before divorce in order to disinherit a current spouse

The book also explains other potentially complicating factors relating to powers of attorney, medical directives and spousal support - including equitable distribution factors, methods of payment, amount, and modification. Retirement plans - often the most valuable asset of clients approaching their golden years - are examined in the final chapter, including the application of state law, social security, and QDROs.

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

Flash drive capacity – how much is enough?

USB flash drives are great for storing files and porting information from place to place. At any given office supply store, you can spend as little as $10.00 or as much as $500.00 (or more) on a flash drive. How much you spend likely depends on what you'll be using it for. Most of us are not running websites off flash drives, nor do we need the super spy security features available on more expensive drives. We simply wish to carry office documents, photos, or songs. How much capacity is needed?

The chart below shows how many documents, photos or songs can be carried on different sizes of USB drives. Of course, the quality of photos (pixel size), length of songs, and size of documents will affect the number of items that can fit on the drive. These numbers are based on figures cited by various manufacturers and suppliers.

USB Size




32 MB








128 MB




256 MB




512 MB




1 GB




2 GB




4 GB




8 GB




16 GB




32 GB




Today, most flash drives found on store shelves are in the 2-8 GB size range and cost between $15-30. From the chart, it's easy to see that 2-4 GB provides plenty of storage for average use. In some cases, it may be appropriate to save money and buy a smaller size - if you can find it.

Like any other equipment, USB drives don't last forever, and their convenient small size makes them prone to getting lost - so having a backup strategy is wise. It's been reported that USB drives are good for approximately 10,000 write cycles and 1,500 connections.

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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 with which you might already be familiar and help to expand your legal research toolkit.

Judgment EnforcementWritten by retired U.S. administrative law judge James J. Brown, Judgment Enforcement walks legal professionals through each step of the judgment enforcement process. Although the focus is on federal judgments, it also addresses both state and foreign judgments.

Users will find well-researched chapters on: Discovery to find the debtor's assets; Sale and disposition of the debtor's assets; and Reopening, correcting and vacating judgments. Each of the book's 15 chapters includes dozens of applicable forms and practice tips that advise on related matters such as interacting with court clerks.

Probably the most useful chapter for Wisconsin practitioners is Exemptions from judgment enforcement, which includes a state by state summary. Those outlined for Wisconsin include homestead exemptions, property exemptions, life insurance, personal injury or wrongful death claims, and retirement benefits.

The next time you're faced with a judgment enforcement issue, consult this treatise. It just might provide what you need to succeed in enforcing the judgment and obtaining collection.

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Odds 'n' Endings – Amy Crowder

Since April is the "birth month" of the State Law Library, I thought it would be interesting to put its 175 years of existence into some sort of context. Here is a list of several other well-known organizations and events that are celebrating milestone anniversaries this year. It's mind-boggling to realize the State Law Library is older than most of them!

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