A survey of law librarians was recently conducted by the Advanced Legal Research Instructors at Stanford Law School’s Robert Crown Law Library and was “designed to answer a few of our key questions: which database could be canceled?, what some of the effects might be from cancellation?, and what low cost or free legal research alternatives are available and recommended?,” according to the report.  It gives thought to the age-old question, Can you live without one or the other?  The survey addresses many issues that are commonly discussed among law librarians and legal researchers, and the comments in the appendices are particularly enlightening.


An executive summary can be viewed at the blog of Stanford’s Advanced Legal Research Instructors, Legal Research Plus, and the report can be viewed here: Law Librarians and LexisNexis vs. Westlaw: Survey Results. 


50-State Surveys

March 9, 2008

If you need to survey the laws of multiple states on a particular subject, check out this recent LLRX post, Reference from Coast to Coast: Learning to Love Those 50 State Surveys.  You’ll find some very useful sources including the National Conference of State Legislatures.

A new website, OpenCongress.org, consolidates information about congress, legislation, and the news and blogs that cover them.  The web site is the topic of the radio broadcast this week, Good Day Sunshine, on On the Media from NPR, in which the origins and functionalities of the web site are discussed by host Bob Garfield and the Sunlight Foundation’s technology advisor, Micah Sifry.  Here’s an excerpt:

If you’re wondering what your Congressperson has been up to lately, you can spend hours poring over hard-to-find government databases. Or you can visit a brand new website, where it’s all in one place…

They discuss Thomas, the government’s source for congressional information, and how OpenCongress.org, differs from it, including the addition of an RSS feed to track changes to a bill.  Another excellent story from NPR, and worth a look or listen.

Looking for information about New Jersey Statutes?  A wealth of information can be found in a number of places, starting with the web site of the New Jersey  Legislature.  You can find a link to the New Jersey Statutes, view or listen to live proceedings or archived proceedings of the Legislature back to the 2000-2001 Session, access the text of House and Senate Bills back to the 1996-1997 Session, or view the Chapter Laws the final version of the bill that became the law. 

If you want to pursue the history of a law to determine the intent of the legislature, the New Jersey State Library is the place to go.  Legislative histories back to 1998 are available online.  Histories prior to 1998 are available from the Law Library.

Members of the the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) are eligible for free access to New Jersey and Federal legal research information via NJ CiteLine, according to the NJSBA. Coverage includes court opinions, statutes, rules and regulations. LexisNexis and the NJSBA “teamed up to provide NJSBA members with [this] customized FREE legal research member tool [which is] available exclusively to NJSBA members, helping us to support lawyers in their practices.” A NJSBA ID number and password are required to register. 

ResearchBuzz reports on a new search engine from Justia that searches legal blogs only.  Take a look at BlawgSearch.  In addition to the search block on the home page, you will see search terms used by recent visitors, the most popular blawgs, legal blogs broken down by category, and recent posts from all 600 blogs covered displayed in one feed.

Does your law library subscribe to HeinOnline?  If so, you have access to a fantastic resource for federal legislative histories.  HeinOnline’s Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories database is derived from Nancy Johnson’s print publication, Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories: A Bibliography of Government Documents, Periodical Articles, and Books, which is often the first step for researchers who are hoping to divine the legislative intent behind the language of a law.  In addition to providing you with the citations to sources of the legislative history for public laws however, HeinOnline provides links to the full text of the congressional documents, legal periodicals, treatises and looseleaf services which are often seen as the holy grail for many a researcher.  What a useful resource.