Wisconsin State Law Library

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WSLL @ Your Service no. 11/12, Nov./Dec.  2001
An E-publication of the Wisconsin State Law Library

Focus On: The Judicial Council Collection  

If you have looked at court rules and procedural provisions in the Wisconsin Statutes, you have probably read the Judicial Council notes which often accompany them. WSLL has a valuable research resource containing the background of many of those rules, procedures, and accompanying notes, called the Judicial Council Collection. 

Created by 1951 Laws of Wisconsin chapter 392, the eighteen member Judicial Council advised the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Wisconsin Legislature on matters affecting the administration of justice in Wisconsin.  The Council studied the rules of pleading, practice, and procedure and advised the Supreme Court on changes that would simplify procedure and promote efficiency within the courts.  The Council also recommended to the Legislature any changes in court organization, jurisdiction, and procedure that would require legislation.  Funding for the Judicial Council was eliminated by provisions in 1995 Wis. Act 27, and the Council’s duties were reassigned to the Judicial Commission

In 1995, the Judicial Council donated its files to the Wisconsin State Law Library. WSLL received three full-size file cabinets filled with over 6,400 individual documents and fourteen binders of Council minutes. Over a two-year period, library staff organized and outlined all the materials. Documents were grouped by committee or subject, numbered, and filed in chronological order within committee and subject folders. Tables of contents were created, listing each item in each folder. The tables of contents alone number three hundred fifty-three pages. The folders, tables of contents, and minutes make up the Judicial Council Collection.

The Judicial Council Collection consists of committee records and proceedings, correspondence, and supporting secondary sources kept by the Judicial Council. Most of the records date from 1970 to 1995. Correspondence files date from 1962 to 1995, and Council minutes date from 1954 to 1972 and from 1983 to 1995.

The Collection is an excellent source of legislative history on court-related statutes and rules. Materials within the collection may illustrate intent or discuss issues in connection with statutes and rules. For instance, committee summaries of proceedings and Council minutes contain the thoughts of the committees and the Council, as well as testimony and progress reports. The Council minutes may also help to identify a timeframe or specific committee, to facilitate more focused research within the document folders.

Searching the Judicial Council Collection used to require perusing paper copies of the table of contents or asking library reference staff to search the table of contents files in a word processing program.  Library staff have now converted the table of contents files to html format in order to make them available on the WSLL website. Users can keyword search among fifty-six committees or subjects, or they can search the collection’s entire table of contents.  These web-based files do not contain full text of Council materials.  Upon locating a document within the table of contents files, users may consult the full text item at the library or request a copy through our document delivery service. Judicial Council minutes and general correspondence files are not searchable online.  Users may browse these items in person or ask reference staff for assistance. Materials in the Judicial Council Collection are limited to in-library use only.

For more information about the collection or to search the tables of contents, visit the Judicial Council Collection page on the WSLL website.  Contact our Reference Service for additional assistance.

-- Amy Crowder

Future Focus On:  topics will include "The NEW Wisconsin State Law Library" and "Using the Internet for Background Checks"
  What's New at...  -- Amy Crowder
WSLL Web -- Elaine Sharp   Tech Tip in Brief -- Heidi Yelk
Internet Archive: The Wayback Machine

Librarians and archivists are naturally concerned about the preservation of information. Their concern has increased over the past several years as more and more information is created and stored digitally, and can be altered or eliminated with a mere keystroke or mouse click. 

One entity that is striving to preserve digital information is the Internet Archive. Based in San Francisco, the Archive is working to prevent the Internet and other "born digital" materials from disappearing into the past, and it provides free and public access to archived materials on its web site. Collaborators in this preservation effort include the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress. 

The Internet Archive has been collecting web pages since 1996 with the intent of providing a permanent digital collection of pages that have changed or are no longer available. The Archive currently has over 10 billion pages and includes special collections such as Sept. 11, 2001 and Election 2000

Researchers can now easily access these archived web pages via the Archive's new Wayback Machine. To view a web site as it existed at various points back in time, simply enter a web address in the Wayback Machine, and select from a list of dates to start surfing the archived pages.

For example, let's look at the Wisconsin governor's web site as it existed when Tommy Thompson was in office. Open the Wayback Machine page and key in the address: http://www.wisgov.state.wi.us. You can view several snapshots of the site from 1996 to late 2000. Shapshots from February 2 through late November 2001 are also available.  Want to try some others?  How about the White House, http://www.whitehouse.gov/index.html, the U.S. Supreme Court, http://www.supremecourtus.gov, or the Wisconsin Legislature, http://www.legis.state.wi.us.

Caveats to keep in mind when using the Wayback Machine: With post-September 11 access to some previously available government information now being denied, archived pages containing such information may no longer be available. And some sites are not available at all because they're password protected or have otherwise blocked access by automated web crawlers like those used by the Internet Archive web project. An example is the Wisconsin Court System

New Domains in Use

When teaching Internet research, librarians often begin by stressing the importance of understanding domain names. A domain name, such as pepsi.com or Wisconsin.gov is part of a website’s URL (Uniform Resource Locator, aka Internet address). The familiar “dot com” is considered a top level domain (TLD). Other top level domains include .mil, .edu, and .org. In the near future, Internet surfers will begin to notice new top level domains. Late last year, the ICANN board (see name and link below) approved seven additional TLDs. They are .aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name and .pro. Dot info is already in use, while the other names are expected to launch later this year or in early 2002. 

What should Internet users know about these new domains? Perhaps the most important thing is understanding whether a domain is available for registration to any website creator/owner, or whether its use is restricted to a select group. Dot aero, for example, can only be registered by the air transport industry while .biz will be open to any business or future business. Domains with stricter control are likely to attract fewer fly-by-night operations, possibly making information on those sites more reliable. 

What should businesses and lawyers know about the new domains? IP lawyers point out that a trademark registered under existing TLDs (such as .com or .org) will be “up for grabs” under .biz, .info, .name and .pro. Domain name holders may want to investigate registering and reserving their name or trademark under each of the new TLDs, even if they do not plan to use the domain name on the Internet. For more information on top level domains, visit the website of The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

Copy and paste from a PDF document.

Adobe Acrobat Reader allows Internet users to view documents created in PDF format. PDF documents are considered secure, unalterable files, but that doesn’t mean you can’t copy and paste from them. To copy and paste from a PDF document use the “Text Select Tool.” This button is illustrated with a capital T and is found in the Adobe Acrobat button bar at the top of a PDF document. Click one time on the button then highlight the selection of text you would like to copy. Right mouse click and choose “copy.” Open your word processing program or document and paste, using either the right mouse click menu or the pull down menu under the "Edit" button.

Send your suggestions for future legal research Tech Tips to the editor.

  Odds 'n' Endings -- Connie Von Der Heide

Thank You! The Prose & Cons Collection has grown to over 80 items through your generous donations of books, audio books, and videotapes. The collection includes legal fiction from Steve Martini, Patricia Cornwell, John Grisham, WI Supreme Court Commissioner Nancy Kopp, and other authors.  A complete list of authors and titles is available in the online catalog. Make your holiday reading selection today! Most items from the Prose & Cons Collection circulate for 30 days (videos are 7-day items). If you would like to donate an item or make a cash contribution, please contact Connie Von Der Heide.

Jane Colwin and Connie Von Der Heide recently presented their Legal Reference in a Nutshell workshop to members of the South Central Library System.  If your group is interested in sponsoring this workshop, contact Jane or Connie at the Library’s toll free number.

On Nov. 16th, WSLL hosted members of the UW School of Library and Information Studies' chapter of the Special Library Association.  Connie Von Der Heide discussed WSLL's services and led a tour of the library.  She also introduced the students to WSLL staff members, who discussed their roles within the library and the court system.

On Nov. 16th, Jane Colwin presented online and print legal resources during the Milwaukee felony judges retreat.  Jane also attended a Civil Law Seminar earlier that week. 

Peter Boll and Connie Von Der Heide spoke to the Monona Chapter of the Kiwanis Club on Nov. 21st. Connie and Peter reminded attendees that WSLL serves the legal information needs of the public as well as attorneys, members of the court system, and government employees. Connie discussed the library’s mission, the collection, and WSLL’s Reference and Document Delivery services.  Peter talked about the origins and history of the State Law Library, the library’s former quarters in the State Capitol Building, and WSLL’s imminent move to the Risser Justice Center. If you would like to schedule a presentation for your group, contact Connie Von Der Heide.

On Dec. 12th,  Julie Tessmer presents Moving a Library's Collection to members of the South Central Library System.  Julie will share her list of "do's and don'ts" that she has acquired while moving six different libraries.  She will also offer tips on working with moving companies and moving libraries that retain their shelving or purchase new shelving.  Julie is currently managing the State Law Library's move to the new Risser Justice Center.

Library Will Relocate in January

Relocation of the Wisconsin State Law Library to the  Risser Justice Center, 120 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., remains on schedule.  Books and shelving will move the first three weeks of January, and staff will move on January 22.  We will be settled in the new facility by the beginning of February.  

We are committed to providing the best possible service to all library users during this transition. Any changes in normal operations during January will be posted on our News page as far in advance as possible.  We thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation, and we look forward to serving you even better in our new location! 

After Hours Service Returns

We are pleased to announce the return of After Hours Service in our new facility!  Attorneys licensed to practice in Wisconsin are eligible to register for this popular service, which allows extended access to the Wisconsin State Law Library: Monday through Friday 6 a.m. - 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. - Midnight, and Saturday and Sunday 6 a.m. - 10 p.m.  When combined with our normal hours of Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., this is 122 hours per week of library access!  And, it's not only access to books, but also to more space, a comfortable environment no matter the season, new furnishings, and all the resources on our public computer network: our online catalog, Legal Resource Index to law review and journal citations, Shepard's Public Access, CD-ROM databases, and the Internet.

The cost of this convenient service for the 11-month period February 1 - December 31, 2002 is $75.00, which includes a keytag for convenient access--no more signing in each time you visit!  

For more information and to request an application form, contact Connie Von Der Heide via email or by phone at 608-267-2202.  Please register as soon as possible to ensure that your keytag is ready for pickup by February 1.

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

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