Wisconsin State Law Library

Serving the Wisconsin Supreme Court and State of Wisconsin

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WSLL @ Your Service no. 13/16, Jan./Apr. 2002  
An E-publication of the Wisconsin State Law Library   

Focus On: The New Wisconsin State Law Library

Greetings from our new home! We are so excited about the abilities and opportunities it provides to serve all Library users even better than before. With this issue, our first since opening in the recently completed Risser Justice Center, we depart from our usual format in order to bring some of the new Library to you in both words and pictures. We hope this glimpse encourages you to come and see it for yourself. An excellent time to visit is during our open house. Details are below.

Please note our new street address: 120 Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, Madison, WI  53703.  Our P.O. Box, phone, fax, and email addresses all remain the same.

The Supreme Court of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin State Law Library will host an open house on Friday, April 19 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Library. Lawyers, legislators, court staff, librarians, and interested members of the public are all invited to see the new Library, visit with the Justices and Library staff, enjoy refreshments, and join in observing the Supreme Court’s upcoming 150th anniversary as a separate court and the State Law Library’s 166th anniversary.

The Wisconsin State Law Library is located in the Risser Justice Center at 120 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., just off the Capitol Square on the northwest corner of Doty St. and MLK, Jr. Blvd. The Library entrance is on the second floor. Nearby parking is available in the Government East public ramp at Doty-Pinckney-Wilson Streets and in the parking garage of the 10 E. Doty St. office building.

Click here to see photos of the construction project and the new library

Back Together Again

More square footage and increased shelf space mean that for the first time in well over a decade, the entire WSLL collection can be housed under one roof.  5,000-plus volumes of Wisconsin Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Briefs, in storage since the move from the Capitol in 1999, have been unpacked and shelved in the Wisconsin treatise area. All microfiche and microfilm resources are once again readily accessible in new cabinets and with new machines for viewing and printing. Superseded materials, stored off-site for several years, have been placed in the Library's new eleven-range compact shelving area. Users needing prior editions of frequently cited treatises or superseded volumes of "U.S. Code Annotated," "West's Wisconsin Statutes Annotated," or "Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory" now wait just minutes for them instead of up to a day.

A Room Fit for a ...Rare Book!

The Rare Book Room was designed to finally provide a proper home for the Library's collection of over 1,000 books dating from the early 17th century. Since we had no safe place to display them before, these books were for many years sequestered in several closets, a bat-filled attic, and two different basements -- environments with clearly less than ideal conditions. The collection now resides in a temperature and humidity controlled room lined with glass-front wood bookcases that provide security and elegant display. The Rare Book Room is open during regular Library hours and may be reserved for special functions on a per hour basis. Its four tables comfortably seat 16-24 people.

Sitting Prettier Than Ever

The new Library still offers many quiet spaces for undisturbed study, but those spaces now come with abundant natural lighting and comfortable furnishings. Carrels are located throughout the Library and small tables line the southern exposure windows. Study areas in the Doty Street-MLK Blvd corner offer larger tables and views of Lake Monona. Four enclosed workrooms are also available, at no charge during regular library hours and on a rental basis for extended periods. These "office away from the office" rooms are ideal for trial preparation and client conferences. The Library Conference Room is another private meeting space. It comfortably accommodates 6-8 people and is available for use by outside groups on a per-hour rental basis. To make a reservation, contact Tammy Keller at 608-261-7553.

After Hours Service -- It's Back and It's Better

During our two-year temporary stay at 1 East Main Street, many attorneys inquired about the fate of the Capitol Library's popular After Hours Service. It had to be suspended during the interim, but it's back and even better here at 120 MLK. For a nominal annual fee, Wisconsin-licensed attorneys can access the Library from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. More convenient entry procedures and availability of electronic research tools on our public access computer network make this service an even greater value than before. For more information and to register, contact Connie Von Der Heide, Reference/Outreach Services Librarian, at 608-267-2202.

Celebrate National Library Week With Us Training Opportunities at WSLL
National Library Week and the 10th Annual National Legal Research Teach-In are April 14-20. Each of our libraries will celebrate with special events. Be sure to participate!

Dane County Law Library

  • Children’s coloring contest. Pick up a coloring sheet at the library. Prizes will be awarded and entries will be on display all week.

  • Enter your best guess in the “How Many Bookworms Are In The Librarian’s Head?” contest --a must see!

  • Take a fun quiz about the DCLL and the City-County Building.

Milwaukee Legal Resource Center

  • Take the “Explore the MLRC” quiz. Questions can be answered by visiting the library. Prizes will be awarded!

  • Enter your name in the Door Prize Drawing.

  • Enjoy a cookie, any day that week!

Wisconsin State Law Library

  • Take the WSLL Web quiz and get to know our newly redesigned website. The quiz will be available at WSLL and on our website beginning April 15. Prizes will be awarded!

  • Westlaw Update Luncheon on Tuesday, April 16. (By invitation, limited seating)

  • Book signing with Wisconsin Supreme Court Commissioner and legal mystery writer Nancy Kopp. Wednesday, April 17, 3-5 p.m. at Starbucks Coffee Shop, on the Capitol Square at 1 E. Main St. Nancy's latest thriller, Final Justice, takes place in Madison! It has just arrived in selected bookstores; copies will also be available for purchase at the signing. For more on Nancy and her writing, see www.nancykopp.com
A brand new service we are especially excited to offer is hands-on instruction in the use of print-based and electronic legal research tools. The new Computer Training Room, equipped with eight new PC workstations donated by West Group and LexisNexis, gives us the space and technology to present and host a variety of seminars and workshops. In fact, we are ready to go with classes starting next month!

Wisconsin Legal Research Basics

Wednesday, May 22, 8:30 a.m. - Noon. Learn the basics of Wisconsin statutory, administrative, and case law research, both print and online. A great class for anyone wanting a good grounding in how Wisconsin legal research and resources work. Instructors:  Jane Colwin and Connie Von Der Heide.  Fee:  $125.00. Registration is limited to 8 people.

WSLL Web Tour

Wednesday, June 5, 8:30-9:30 a.m. Ready for a power breakfast? Enjoy some light fare while Julie Tessmer leads you on a tour of the information-packed WSLL website. Learn to use our web catalog, search Legal Resource Index, and much, much more. This free, hands on session is for all library users. Seating is limited to 8. Sign up now!

Using Wisconsin Legal Resources on the Internet

Thursday, June 20, 8:30 a.m. - Noon. This course focuses entirely on web-based Wisconsin legal and government information. Appropriate for attorneys, paralegals, and legal assistants. Instructors: Melissa Kaszynski and Heidi Yelk. Fee: $125.00.  Registration is limited to 8. CLE credits applied for.

To register for any of the above classes, pick up a registration form at the Library or contact Heidi Yelk, Reference/Electronic Services Librarian, at 608-261-7555. Heidi would also like suggestions for additional classes you'd find useful.

Westlaw Training

Through a partnership with West Group, the State Law Library is also a host site for selected Westlaw training sessions. The instructor is Laura Olsen Dugan, Westlaw Account Representative. All sessions run 10:00 a.m. to Noon; registration is limited to 8 per session. CLE credit is available for most sessions.

To register, call West Group's Chicago Information Office, 800-443-3075, or email tira.jackson@westgroup.com.

  • Tuesday, May 14 Introductory Westlaw
  • Thursday, May 23 Intermediate Westlaw
  • Tuesday, June 25 Westlaw Research Strategies for Summer Associates and Law Clerks
  • Thursday, June 27 Westlaw Master Class for Librarians and Information Professionals

The Computer Training Room is also available for use by outside groups for functions held during regular Library hours. Contact Tammy Keller for reservation and rental information at 608-261-7553.

Library Construction Factoid

Two floors totaling 34,000 square feet 

24,000 linear feet of shelving, 45% more than we had in the Capitol

Library Architects: Peter Bloomfield, Susan Chisholm & Gil Rosenthal, WRT/Bloomfield & Associates, Philadelphia, PA

Library Consultant: Joan Axelroth, Axelroth & Associates, Silver Springs, MD

Developer, Risser Justice Center Project: Continental Properties Co., Inc., Menomonee Falls, WI

General Contractor, Risser Justice Center Project: J.P. Cullen & Sons, Inc., Janesville, WI


WSLL Timeline: 166 Years and Counting!

Apr. 20, 1836 Wisconsin State Library is established by the same Act of Congress that creates the Territory of Wisconsin.

1837 Peter H. Engle, Speaker of the first territorial House of Representatives, goes to Washington & Philadelphia to purchase 1,500 books to start the Library.

1841 Legislation requires the Library to be moved to Madison, the newly chosen capital city.

May 29, 1848 Wisconsin is the 30th state admitted to the Union. During that year administrative authority for Library moves from the Legislature to an Executive Branch board of trustees.

1866 Library collection focus becomes law-related: "No books shall hereafter be purchased for the state library, except law books of reference and works on political science and statistics" (Laws of 1866, Chapter 119, Section 3).

1875 Non-legal books are transferred to the State Historical Society.

1876  Supreme Court & Attorney General become unofficial trustees of the Library.

1904-1910 After Capitol fire of 1904, the Library is rebuilt; formerly in the North Wing, it is now in the East Wing. Early photographs indicate the Library is completed in 1910.

1976 First circulation of books to borrowers outside the Supreme Court

1977 Board of Trustees abolished; Supreme Court given full authority over Library. Name officially changes from Wisconsin State Library to Wisconsin State Law Library, finally reflecting that it has been a legal collection for over 100 years. (Laws of Wisconsin 1977, Chapter 29, Section 1393). As a result, State Librarian is now State Law Librarian.*

1983 Library purchases first computer.

1984 Library holdings information is added to OCLC, an international resource-sharing database. 

1987 State Capitol Building renovation and restoration project begins.

1990 Library installs Innovative Interfaces online catalog with dial-in modem access.

May 1996 WSLL begins managing Milwaukee Legal Resource Center.

Jan. 1999 WSLL begins managing Dane County Law Library.

Mar. 11, 1999 Library launches its first web site.

June 7, 1999 Capitol restoration project reaches the East Wing.

Sept. 20, 1999 Staff moves out of Capitol into various offices around the Square.

Sept. 1999-Jan. 2000 User services must operate from Dane County Law Library. WSLL staff retrieve books from Capitol on request.

Oct. 12, 1999 Ground-breaking ceremony for the State Justice Center, later renamed Risser Justice Center

Dec. 1999  Books are moved from Capitol to Library's temporary location at 1 East Main St. 

Jan. 18, 2000 Library opens at 1 East Main St.

Feb. 2001  Inaugural issue of web newsletter, WSLL @ Your Service, is published.

Dec. '01- Jan. '02 Books move from 1 East Main St. & storage sites to Risser Justice Center, 120 MLK Jr. Blvd.

Jan. 22, 2002 Library opens in Risser Justice Center.

* * * * *

*State Librarians -- later known as State Law Librarians

Thirteen people served as librarian between 1836 and 1876. Since 1876, just five people have served: John Berryman (1876-1906); Gilson Glasier (1906-1956); Edwin Jensen (1956-1967); William Knudsen (1967-1974); Marcia J. Koslov (1974-2000). Currently the State Law Librarian position is shared between Jane Colwin and Julie Tessmer.

Contributors to this issue include Amy Crowder, Elaine Sharp, Connie Von Der Heide and Heidi Yelk.

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!