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Law Library News for January 22, 2001

Ann Hemmens, editor

Law Library News Archive


What Does That Westlaw Database or LEXIS File Contain?

by Nancy McMurrer

A recent Crier article discussed how to search or explore the Westlaw or LEXIS-NEXIS directory to find the best database or file for your research. But, exactly what is in that file you found in the directory? For instance, will the US Supreme Court database on Westlaw have an opinion just handed down this morning? Does the LEXIS Seattle Times file include news articles from 1986? If you select a file or database that contains articles from some environmental law reviews, which journals are covered?

Both LEXIS-NEXIS and Westlaw provide information about their files and databases online. In Westlaw, you may look at that information before or after you access a particular database. Go to the Westlaw directory, explore the sources there and, when you find a database of interest, type its abbreviation (or ID) in the database selection window on the left of the screen. Then click on the information button, the green circle with an "i" in the middle. You may recognize the graphic as an international symbol for information.

Westlaw calls this database information a "scope note." In the scope note you will find what type of documents are in the database, where they come from, when coverage begins, how current the materials are, references to related databases, all sorts of searching tips, and a list and explanation of all the fields in the document. If you want to check these notes and are already in a database, go to the database's search page and look for the SCOPE link on the left side of the screen.

LEXIS-NEXIS, like Westlaw, permits you to check the contents of a file either before you enter the file, or at any time while you are in the file. After signing on to LEXIS-NEXIS, you are taken to the "Look For A Source" screen. As you explore the directory, notice that each separate file has the information symbol by it. LEXIS uses a blue circle with an "i" in the middle. When you are in a file, just look for the information button by the search window, or at the top of a results display.

The file description in LEXIS-NEXIS, called a "guide," provides the abbreviation for the file (its "short name"), its coverage, its update schedule, the different places it may be found in the LEXIS-NEXIS file directory, a short summary of its contents, a list and explanation of all the document segments, and a sample document. Some guide documents contain search hints and most guides indicate how the documents retrieved in a search are displayed (reverse chronological order is typical).

A quick skimming of the Westlaw scope notes or the LEXIS-NEXIS guide documents can save you time and head off frustration. Westlaw and LEXIS-NEXIS contain much more than just cases, statutes, and regulations! Use those information buttons to see just how rich their files and databases really are.

Judicial Biographies

by Cheryl Nyberg

(To the tune of "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer")

You know Rehnquist and Brandeis
And Marshall and Whizzer.
Warren and Fortas
And Douglas and Coke, Sir.

But who would you call
The most famous jurist of all?

During the grey months of winter in Seattle, you may feel the need for a little inspirational reading. Turn to the substantial collection of judicial biographies found in the Gallagher Law Library for a little enlightenment.

Most of these books are shelved under call number KF8745, in the Classified Stacks on the 5th floor. Feel free to browse the collection.

Here is a partial list of American judges and the basic call numbers of their biographies:

  • Hugo Black =  KF8745.B55
  • Louis Brandeis =  KF8745.B67
  • William Brennan = KF8745.B68
  • Benjamin Cardozo = KF8745.C3
  • Salmon P. Chase = KF8745.C45
  • Abe Fortas = KF8745.F65
  • Felix Frankfurter = KF8745.F7
  • John Marshall Harlan = KF8745.H3
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes = KF8745.H6
  • John Marshall = KF8745.M3
  • Thurgood Marshall = KF8745.M34
  • Sandra Day O'Connor = KF8745.O25
  • Lewis F. Powell, Jr. = KF8745.P69
  • Joseph Story = KF8745.S83
  • Clarence Thomas = KF8745.T48
  • Earl Warren = KF8745.W3
  • Byron "Whizzer" White = KF8745.W48

For the truly historically inclined, consider these selections on British judges, found in the Classified Stacks on the 4th floor:

  • Sir William Blackstone = KD621.B53
  • Sir Edward Coke = KD621.C64
  • Lord Mansfield = KD621.M3

For other book reviews, visit the Book of the Week Archive.

Extended Exam Hours

by Mary Ann Hyatt, Assistant Librarian for Access Services

We counted law students using the library every evening of the last two weeks of Fall Quarter. We wanted to see whether law students would take advantage of extended exam hours. You surely did! A significant number of law students came in during the longer open hours. It is always hard to find staff to work these extra hours, so we thank the Library staff as well as those of you who used the Library and made it worth their while.

Here are the numbers:

Day Date # Law Students in Library Notes
Thur. 11/30 136  
Fri. 12/01 40  
Sat. 12/02 26  
Sun. 12/03 153  
Mon. 12/04 172  
Tues. 12/05 161  
Wed. 12/06 159 last day of classes
Thur. 12/07 176  
Fri. 12/08 149 open until 11
Sat. 12/09 163 open until 11
Sun. 12/10 206  
Mon. 12/11 123  
Tues. 12/12 160  
Wed. 12/13 81  
Thur. 12/14 87  
Fri. 12/15 45 last day of exams