Wisconsin State Law Library

Serving the Wisconsin Supreme Court and State of Wisconsin

Skip to content

Website Catalog

WSLL @ Your Service May 2011

What's New – Connie Von Der Heide

State Law Librarian to Retire

Jane Colwin, State Law Librarian since 2003 and a member of the WSLL staff since 1984, has announced that she will retire at the end of June.

Jane Colwin, State Law LibrarianA native of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Jane came to Wisconsin when her husband, Tom, took a faculty position in the UW-Whitewater theater department. Jane had worked in public and special libraries before, and so she decided to enroll in the graduate school of library and information studies at UW-Madison. It was there, near the end of her degree program, that she spotted a notice for an opening at the State Law Library. The rest, as they say, is history.

During her 27 years at WSLL - first as a reference librarian, then as director of public services, and finally as State Law Librarian - Jane has carried out the library's mission of service in many important ways. Some highlights: She has attended and presented at countless judicial education seminars and conferences, where she taught judges how to navigate legal research tools. She and former staff member Betsy Vipperman developed a "Legal Research in a Nutshell" program for Wisconsin public librarians that has been presented over 30 times around the state, and which led to Jane's involvement in the Wisconsin Court System's public library initiative programs that bring together circuit court judges, staff and public librarians in order to better serve pro se litigants. Under Jane's direction, WSLL has become a provider of hands-on legal research training, with library staff or a guest instructor offering a least one CLE-accredited class each month. And from her first day on the job through her very last Jane has taken her turn staffing the reference desk every week, handling any and every question that has come her way.

While at WSLL Jane has also been active in state and national professional organizations. She's been a member of the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin since 1984 and served as its president in 1992. She's also been a member of the American Association of Law Libraries since 1987, and she received her 20-year member recognition certificate from the AALL State, Court & County Law Libraries Special Interest Section in 2007. Since becoming State Law Librarian, Jane has also been active in an informal group of state law librarians from around the country.

Jane's plans during retirement include more time for traveling and reading, and a little less time behind the wheel. "There are many things I will miss about working at the State Law Library –the great staff, working with the judges, and witnessing those "light bulb" moments while helping people navigate an unfamiliar or tricky research tool. But I will say the daily commute from Fort Atkinson is not high on the list – especially during the winter months!"

Jane, from everyone at WSLL, MLRC and DCLRC: Our sincere thanks and gratitude for your 27 years of dedicated service, and our very best wishes on your retirement. We'll miss you.

WSLL 175th Birthday Party Recap

Approximately 120 people gathered in the State Law Library Reading Room on Wednesday afternoon, April 20 to celebrate the Library's 175th birthday. Jane Colwin, State Law Librarian, welcomed everyone and introduced Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, who gave remarks and read the Governor's proclamation recognizing April 20 as Wisconsin State Law Library Day. Guests enjoyed birthday cake and punch while viewing displays of historic library photographs and memorabilia set up throughout the Reading Room. Many thanks to everyone who helped make the day a very special one.

175th Anniversary Party

Amy Crowder, Jane Colwin and Connie Von Der Heide serve cake and punch to guests during the State Law Library's 175th birthday party April 20.

New MLRC Staff

The MLRC has hired Christine Herbert as a part time library associate. Christine graduates from UW-Milwaukee later this month, and she'll begin graduate studies in psychology in the fall. Welcome, Christine!

May Holiday Closing

The Wisconsin State Law Library and Milwaukee and Dane County Legal Resource Centers will be closed on Monday, May 30 for the Memorial Day state holiday. All 3 libraries will be open the preceding Friday, May 27.

Upcoming Classes

Registrations are now being accepted for our next three hands-on legal research classes. Details and registration forms are available on our Classes page.

Finding Wisconsin Public Records
Tuesday, May 24, 9:30 - 11:30 a.m., State Law Library Training Room
Learn firsthand how to find public records on individuals and businesses in this information packed class. Discover criminal records, state and local court records, business entity records, liens, foreclosures, real estate records, and more. We'll help you find the government agency sources for Wisconsin public records.
Fee: $69. 2 CLE credits applied for.

Researching Wisconsin Legislative History: Sources and Strategies
Wednesday, June 15, 9:00 – 11:00 a.m., State Law Library Training Room
"I need the legislative history of a Wisconsin statute. Where do I start? What do I do?" Get answers to these questions and more during this hands-on class. Participants will look at the primary resources used to research Wisconsin legislative history; navigate the online Wisconsin legislative drafting files; and learn some time saving tips and tricks along the way.
Fee: $69. 2 CLE credits applied for.

Books Unbound @ WSLL
Thursday, July 7, 9 - 10 a.m., State Law Library Training Room
Excited about e-books? Come learn about using WSLL's FREE in-library access to Books Unbound. This class will showcase PINNACLE "Brown Books" and Business Advisor Series from the State Bar of Wisconsin. Get an overview of features, learn advanced search techniques, and get hands-on practice using Books Unbound.
FREE class. 1 CLE credit applied for.

top Up to Top

Happy 15th Birthday, MLRC! – Connie Von Der Heide

The Wisconsin State Law Library isn't the only one celebrating a milestone anniversary this year. May 1, 2011 marks the 15th anniversary of the Milwaukee Legal Resource Center. To celebrate, during the week of May 9 library staff is hosting some fun activities and prizes around the theme of "paper." There will be a hidden word puzzle and a trivia contest based on the movie "Paper Chase" and the week will culminate with the judging of origami entries. The many children who visit the MLRC can also participate in the fun by guessing the number of marshmallows in a jar. At least three prizes will be awarded each day.

When compared with the State Law Library's 175 years of service, MLRC might sound like a relative youngster. But its roots actually go back farther than 15 years.

Ever since the mid-1920's Milwaukee County has had a law library that's open to the public, but tightening budgets in the 1990's brought discussions of closing it. County supervisors who didn't want to see that happen asked then State Law Librarian Marcia Koslov to submit a proposal for a smaller, more efficient law library that would be funded by the county but managed by the State Law Library. The county board approved and funded the proposal, and so the Milwaukee County Law Library closed in November 1995 and re-opened on May 1, 1996 as the Milwaukee Legal Resource Center. During the intervening months State Law Library staff evaluated the existing collection and either sold or donated parts of it; the library's physical space was reduced by about half and renovated; and public computers were installed to provide access to Westlaw, Lexis, the Internet, and several research tools in CD-ROM format that would supplement the remaining book collection. Over 100 guests attended the grand opening celebration on June 10, 1996.

Over the past 15 years the MLRC has ably served the legal information needs of Milwaukee County courts and agencies, area attorneys, and many, many citizens and pro se litigants. The current staff – librarian Lynne Gehrke and library associates Kate Roherty, Kellee Selden-Huston, Jennifer Grieve and Christine Herbert - field myriad reference questions, help library users navigate online research tools, sell court forms, and maintain and update the book collections in the MLRC and in the chambers and courtrooms of Milwaukee County's 47 circuit court judges.

Last fall the MLRC was relocated to smaller quarters in the courthouse, and in the near future it's slated to relocate again, into different courthouse space being redesigned for the Milwaukee Justice Center. From there the MLRC will continue to serve the legal information needs of its customers for what we hope will be many more years.

top Up to Top

1836-2011: Celebrating Our History – Amy Crowder

While researching our 175 years of history, we rediscovered some of the early rules governing the library and its users. The primary mission of the State Law Library has always been service, but I think you'll agree that the manner in which we provide it has become much more accessible over the years.

The Early State Library

The State Law Library of Today

"Strangers may be introduced to the Library by the Governor, Secretary of the Territory, Judges of the Supreme Court, or members of either branch of the Legislative Assembly." Fn 1

We welcome "strangers". Our library is open to the public. Feel free to visit any of our three libraries or contact us by phone, email, fax or mail.

"No person shall be allowed to keep in his possession any work belonging to said Library a longer period of time than three days, under a penalty of five dollars." Fn 2

$5 in 1837 would be the equivalent of approximately $118 dollars today - a huge sum for an overdue fine!
We loan items from our collections for seven days and you can even renew them for another seven days. If you live outside the Madison or Milwaukee areas, take advantage of our Borrow by Mail service.

"The Library shall be open for the accommodation of all privileged persons, from the hours of nine to twelve A. M. and from two to ten P. M: during the session of the Legislative Assembly, the time shall be regulated by the Librarian."

The State Law Library is open 8:00-5:00 Monday through Friday, so feel free to stop by during your lunch hour. And remember, you can also access our website and its resources on over 400 Legal Topics – 24 hours a day!

The State Librarian "shall keep a catalogue containing all the books belonging in the State Library, a manuscript copy of which he shall deposite [sic] with the Secretary of State." Fn 3

We make it easy to access our catalog by simply visiting our website. Search by keyword, title, author, etc. to find items in our collection, full-text law journals or law-related items available on the Internet.

"He shall report annually to the Governor ... the title of every book, map, or chart missing from the Library since the date of the last annual report, together with the names of the persons who have borrowed and detained the same..." Fn 4

If a book you've borrowed goes overdue, we won't report you to the Governor! But we do appreciate having items returned in a timely manner.

Celebrating 175 years of service

Fn 2 Journal of the House of Representatives, November 13, 1837.

Fn 3 Catalogue of the Wisconsin State Library in Three Parts, 1852.

Fn 4 Catalogue of the Wisconsin State Library in Three Parts, 1852.

top Up to Top

This Just In… – Pete Boll

New Title! Personal injury handbook, by Larry Booth and Roger Booth
James Publishing Inc., 2011
WSLL Call Number: KF 1257 .B66

This new, one-volume handbook provides practice aids and tips to assist attorneys in the selection, investigation, preparation, and prosecution of personal injury cases. The accompanying CD also provides 60 checklists and 140 forms related to the following types of cases:

  • Auto Crashworthiness
  • Construction Site Accidents
  • Collisions with Livestock
  • Dog Bites
  • Electrocution Accidents
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Industrial Equipment
  • Insurance Bad faith
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents
  • Premises Liability
  • Premises Security
  • Products Liability
  • Railroad Crossing Accidents
  • Sexual Molestation

Updated! FMLA manual for Wisconsin employers, by Thomas P. Krukowski
Krukowski & Costello, S.C., 2010
WSLL Call Number: KFW 2734.5.V32 K78

The Wisconsin Family Medical Leave Act (WFMLA) and the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) have been in existence for over sixteen years, yet confusion and conflicts between the state and federal laws still remains. Krukowski's work, completely revised in 2009 and now updated for 2011, assists in evaluating and administering claims for FMLA leave. The latest update includes or addresses:

  • Five 2010 Court of Appeals decisions relating to: an employer's more generous notice requirements; disciplining and discharging an employee on FMLA leave pursuant to the employer's usual and customary notice requirements; extending the 12-month FMLA leave year based on time spent on FMLA leave; how leave-related comments by an employer can create an issue of whether an employee's termination violated the FMLA; and terminating employees for absences occurring after they exhaust their FMLA leave allotment
  • The Department of Labor's Interpretation No. 2010-3: defining "son or daughter" under the federal FMLA as it applies to an employee standing in loco parentis to a child; examples of in loco parentis
  • When an employer may request a medical certification
  • When medical certifications are complete and sufficient
  • Updated recommendations on drafting or revising an effective FMLA policy
  • Clarification regarding the definition of "unable to work"
  • Revisions concerning domestic partner leave
  • New information on documentation requirements for employers regarding service member leave when an invitational travel authorization (ITA) or an invitational travel order (ITO) is issued
  • Clarification on when an employee can be required to work out a schedule of treatment with the employer
  • An employer's right under the federal FMLA to transfer an employee during intermittent leave

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.

top Up to Top

Tech Tip in Brief – Heidi Yelk

Smart phone privacy in the news

Recent news reporting the prevalence and extent of smart phone tracking by vendors has registered concern (but not surprise) among many users. Perhaps more disconcerting was the realization that there seems to be little privacy protection under the law.

That may change with new proposals from the FTC and a newly formed sub-committee at the federal level. The Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law was formed just a few months ago with a "focus on defending privacy and security in the digital age" according to a press release from one of its members.

The subcommittee's first hearing is scheduled for May 10 and is to focus on smart phone privacy issues.

Coincidentally, May 1 – 7 is Privacy Week, an initiative sponsored by the American Library Association with a focus on privacy rights in the digital age.

top Up to Top

WSLL Recommends…

WI public records and open meetings handbookA good "one stop" source of practical information on public records or open meetings law is the Wisconsin Public Records and Open Meetings Handbook, by Melanie R. Swank (4th edition, State Bar of Wisconsin, 2009). While previous editions of this title were published as paperbacks, this one is in the State Bar's familiar "brown binder" looseleaf format.

The author is an attorney with the Milwaukee City Attorney's office, where she handles all city and school public records and open meetings issues. The Handbook, produced in cooperation with the State Bar's Government Lawyers Division, thoroughly explores Wisconsin's laws on public records and open meetings.

  • Part One discusses the practical applications of Wisconsin's public records law and offers guidance on requesting records, responding to records requests, and applicable time limits. The 4th addition contains a new chapter on the federal Freedom of Information Act.
  • Part Two takes a practical look at the open meetings law, discussing notice requirements, when a meeting may be closed to the public, and enforcement.
  • Appendices include full reprints of the state public records and open meetings laws, sample requests and responses to requests for public records, sample open meetings notices, synopses of key public records and open meetings cases, an annotated list of statutory exceptions to public records or open meetings laws, a sample verified open meetings law complaint, and a private practice attorney's advice on using email in the business environment.

top Up to Top

Odds 'n' Endings – Julie Tessmer

Are you planning to fly soon? You'll be happy to know that the Airline Passenger Bill of Rights has been expanded. If an airline loses your luggage, keeps you on the tarmac for hours or bumps you from an oversold flight you are entitled to compensation. The new rules go into effect in August. For more information see our updated Transportation Law page.

May Notables

1 - Law Day, and Happy 15th birthday, MLRC!

6 - In the early morning hours on this date in 1947, an earthquake shook the area south of Milwaukee near Lake Michigan. The tremor shook a 7,700 square kilometer area. Fortunately, no injuries were reported and property damage was minor.

21 - Armed Forces Day

30 - Memorial Day. WSLL, DCLRC & MLRC will all be closed in observation.

top Up to Top

Comments Welcome!

Keep Up With Current News