Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Crunch Time Again!

Jessica R. Alexander, Reference Librarian

At the reference desk I overhear conversations about upcoming exams and feel the tension in the air as students pass by. I can empathize, because I was there once. In the 1970's, it seems to me that law students were more naive about the implications of grades, job placement and salary (or I was just out of the loop.)

I am aware that studies about learning styles and techniques can be important information for exam takers. While browsing, I happened upon a blog (by a law professor) that pointed to a recent New York Times Op-Ed piece that I missed, "Tighten Your Belt, Strengthen Your Mind" by Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang, published April 2, 2008. These two experts in neuroscience recommend conserving willpower for important tasks. They also recommend exercise as a way to build it. They are the authors of a book called “Welcome to Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys but Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life.”

Are We A Nation of Prisoners? - Authorative Sources for Study of World Prison Populations

Jessica R. Alexander, Reference Librarian

Today's edition of the New York Times contains a front page article, "Inmate Count in U.S. Dwarfs Other Nations." I won't comment on the political and social positions taken in the article. But it is helpful to know about the sources for the cited statistics. The International Center for Prison Studies at King's College London put the conclusory statistics together. Their website is interesting and has interactive maps. Their statistics are drawn in part from The United States Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics. It has a sub-department called International Justice Statistics. These two DOJ websites are a valuable source for scholarly papers and just arguing with friends or foes!

Library Resources for Transactional Forms

Jessica R. Alexander, Reference Librarian

STELLAour online catalog is the starting point for finding transactional forms both in paper and online databases. Click on the STELLA link from either your STANLEY account or the library's home page. Begin with a Keyword search (one of your words should be “forms”). For precision add relevant key words such as contracts and construction. Click submit. Click the modify search button to use the Limit/Sort Search box. If the search is modified and limited to years after 1979 (randomly selected) more precise results are obtained. They represent the best sources for construction contract forms in the library. Practice searching from the keyword screen and modifying your search. A Subject search modified in the same manner will also be productive.

For more help in formulating your search ASK A REFERENCE LIBRARIAN!

This subscription database contains some of the most important resources for forms. Search online versions of the Texas Transaction Guide, Business Organizations with Tax Planning, Commercial Finance Guide, Construction Law, Computer Law and others. We have paper versions of many of the Texas and non-state specific items in the library. See the database lists on the library tab in STANLEY.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Library Changes During Finals

The Fred Parks Law Library will extend hours April 28th-May 14. We will be open until 2:00am during this period (no library services from midnight until 2:00am).

The Fred Parks Law Library provides a variety of spaces for study and meetings by currently enrolled South Texas students. Room capacity varies from 2-8 persons. Rooms are available on a first come, first serve basis. Group size has to be appropriate for room capacity.

Several areas of the library are reserved specifically for quiet study during finals. During finals the 1st floor, 4th floor, and 5th floor are ultra quiet areas. Cell phones, beepers, and conversations are not allowed as a courtesy to other patrons.

Food and beverages in unapproved containers are not allowed in the library.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Little old law books on exhibit in library

Miniature books from the library’s Special Collections Department are on display in front of the Patron Services desk on the 2nd floor. These books, published in the 16th and 17th centuries, were most likely printed for law students. Their small size (most are under 4 inches tall) meant the books were less expensive to produce and thus less expensive to buy. Prior to the mechanization of the book industry all books were printed and bound by hand, a time consuming and expensive process. By making miniature books printers and publishers could save money on paper and pass those savings on to their customers.
These miniatures will be on display until the end of June, at which time they will disappear back into the Rare Book vault – don’t miss them!

Rare Books and all items in Special Collections are available for use by students, faculty, staff, and outside researchers from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday by appointment. To make an appointment contact Heather Kushnerick, Special Collections Librarian, at 713-646-1720, or by email at

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Online access to current United States Code provisions

Jessica R. Alexander, Reference Librarian

The official United States Code is published in its entirety ever six years, e.g., 2006, 2000, 1994, 1988…). These editions are commonly referred to as the 2000 Code, the 1994 Code, the 1988 Code, etc. In between these major issue dates, cumulative supplements are issued yearly containing new laws and amendments.

The Code is published by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel and printed by the Government Printing Office (GPO). Sessions laws (Public Laws from a particular Congress, i.e. 110th are slotted into one of the 50 United States Code Titles.) The publication of the Code is complex. The intricacies of the process are described in detail at the website.


Bluebook Rule 12.2.1, requires if at all possible, citation to the publication date of the official code. The printed version runs years behind the designated publication date. In our library we have received all of the volumes of Supplement V of the 2000 version in paper. The 2006 volumes are yet to come.


PDF versions of the 2006 edition, published to date are available on the Download PDF Version of the Office of Law Revision Counsel website. Titles 1 through 9 are available. According to the Bluebook Rule 12.2.1, "...federal laws enacted after the most recent publication of the Code should be cited to an unofficial code until publication of the next edition of the United States Code. As of this date a writer can cite to the official codes Titles 1-9. The other 41 codes should be cited to an unofficial code such as United States Code Annotated and United States Code Service. These publications are up to date in our library.

Also see the GPO Access portal to official publications of the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of the United States Government.

(A later post will contain information on the interplay between the Statutes at Large and the United States Code.)