Thursday, May 31, 2012

Library Closing Early on Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Fred Parks Law Library will be closing at 5:00pm on Saturday June 2, 2012, as the air conditioner to the South Texas College of Law will be turned off for maintenance.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Reference Tidbit - A Trip to the Library - Citing Vernon's Texas Statutes and Codes in Briefs

By Jessica R. Alexander, Reference Librarian

Like it or not, it is sometimes necessary to visit the library even though you have a sophisticated electronic database to access Texas statutes and codes. In these instances only paper and microform resources can solve the research issue.

I provided reference assistance to an attorney today who is writing an appellate brief on Texas law. The patron called the reference desk initially to determine how to obtain an "official copy" of a Texas session law.  I easily solved that problem by directing her to the Texas Legislative Reference Library Legislative Archive System. That site allows the user to enter the date of the session, i.e. 78th Regular, 78 1st called, etc. or the chapter number of the law. 78th Regular, Chapter ###.  After entering the required information, an image of the law in the General and Special Laws of Texas is available. (See the image below. The General and Special Laws of Texas of the State of Texas are available in print in our library at KFT1225.T45.)

The patron was not as fortunate in her other research need. In order to cite Texas statutes and codes according to the Bluebook, 19th Edition, Rule 12.3.1, it is necessary to list the copyright date of the bound volume and/or the paperback supplement in Vernon's Texas Statutes and Codes. ( West.) The writer must determine if parts of the statute or code appears in both the bound volume and the supplement or in just one of them. When a law is amended, all of its existing provisions may or may not change.  Unchanged provisions may be in the bound volume, while changes appear in the pocket part.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to readily access this information in Westlaw or other electronic statute databases.

Both the patron and I contacted Westlaw reference attorneys for help.  The person I talked to could only suggest that the Filing and Shelving Instructions found online at the Westlaw store might solve the problem. I carefully examined the Filing and Shelving Instructions and the Summary of Contents information and determined that while it is possible to determine the bound volume copyright date (see Summary of Contents information), it is not possible to determine the pocket part date. 

Another instance when a trip is necessary is that superseded pocket parts are not available on Westlaw or any other electronic database. If a law is changed or amended between publication of the bound volumes, the changes appear only in the pocket parts. These pocket parts are usually discarded by small libraries.  We now keep the superseded pocket parts in paper, but our fail safe materials are microform images of both the bound volumes and the pocket parts.The images date to the inception of Vernons.

As an academic library, we strive to bridge the gaps left by electronic legal resources.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Effective June 2013, Westlaw will no longer provide free printing to law students. Students may download or print to their attached printers, but the printers/toner/paper Westlaw provided will go away.

The budgetary impact on a law library will be huge. We're not just talking paper, but toner and the printers capable of handling the demand, and the maintenance contracts that go along with them.

What is a law library to do?

Do we provide the same level of unlimited printing as Westlaw, even if it means implementing a library fee?

Do we just say, go green, save a tree and download?

Weigh in, what do you think should happen?  Creative, off the wall, and just plain crazy ideas welcome!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Same-Sex Marriage: Congressional Documents

From the Government Documents department...

With President Obama's recent announcement of his support for same-sex marriage, we're providing links to two good resources that will further your research or help satisfy your interest in this topic.

CRS Report: Same-Sex Marriages: Legal Issues

Proquest LibGuide: Same-Sex Marriage: A Selected Bibliography: This research guide will point you to legislative documents, reports, hearings, and committee prints that address the issue.  The links provided will point you to our Proquest Congressional and Legislative Insight databases.  You must be on campus or logged in to Stanley to access this content

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Texas Forensic Science Commission 2012 Seminar - Opportunity for Free CLE Hours

The Texas Forensic Science Commission in cooperation with the Texas Criminal Justice Integrity Unit will host the 2012 Texas Forensic Science Seminar on June 4th and 5th. Conference topics include arson investigation, forensics of drug testing, DNA evidence, crime lab accreditation and fingerprint forensics to name a few.

The conference is FREE.  The registration form states that potential participants must contact Commission Coordinator, Leigh Tomlin, for details on continuing legal education credits.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sunlight Foundation Launches SCOUT to track State & Federal Government Information

From the Government Documents Department...

First of all, if you're not familiar with the Sunlight Foundation, you should definitely check it out.  The Sunlight Foundation is "a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that uses the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency, and provides new tools and resources for media and citizens, alike." Their dedication to open government and unrestricted free public access to government information at the state and federal levels is astounding. Through their many projects, the Sunlight Foundation provides resources for tracking activities on Capital Hill and in the White House, as well as government spending and the influence of lobbyists.  They also offer a bunch of apps so you can use all of this important information on the go. 

The Sunlight Foundation's latest project is called SCOUT.  It's still in beta, but it promises to be a powerful tool.  Using SCOUT, you can create alerts to be notified of updates from Congress.  You can track every bill and regulation in the federal government as well as the bills being debated in all 50 states.  This is an indispensable tool for keeping up with all that's happening in government.  Give it a try!