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Law Library News for May 6, 2002

Ann Hemmens, editor

Law Library News Archive


Trivia Contest Answers: Name That Clause

by Cheryl Nyberg

Here are the correct answers to last week's trivia contest:

1.Commerce Clause g. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3
2.Full Faith and Credit Clause d. Article 4, Section 1
3.Speedy Trial Clause a. 6th Amendment
4.Interstate Commerce Clause j. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3
5.Establishment Clause c. 1st Amendment
6.Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause i. 8th Amendment
7.Privileges and Immunities Clause b. Article 4, Section 2
8.Advice and Consent Clause e. Article 2, Section 2, Clause 2
9.Indian Commerce Clause f. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3
10.Origination Clause h. Article 1, Section 7, Clause 1

A Yankee Doodle Dandy website for answering such questions is The United States Constitution Online, In addition to the list of "Popular names of sections and clauses,", the site contains the text of historical documents, links to major sites, a constitutional timeline, an extensive FAQ page, and other information. Check it out!

[Web editor's note: See also our guide on Constitutional Clauses & Their Nicknames.]

A Theory of Plate Mnemonics *

by Vicky Santana, Reference Intern

A library is above all a place; it has a geography that patrons become used to moving around in. Part of the geography is the furniture, the tables, desks, chairs, and shelves, but the most important part, in terms of locating information, is the classification system.

You find a book in the catalog, which looks like it meets your needs; you get the call number, find the book on the shelf, and there, as if by magic, are other books on the same topic and related topics. This is no accident; it is one of the most useful features of a classification system. The system is designed to meet information needs by arranging the books not just by subject, but by subjects that blend into other subjects, making browsing the shelves a useful way to find the information you need.

There are many topics in law. The Library of Congress classification system, which started its development in 1889, published the K classification that is used for legal materials in 1968. Until then law books were squeezed into other categories, but as the geography of law libraries was determined by huge reference sets of reporters, digests, etc., law librarians by and large did not miss having a classification system. The K class is now the largest one in the system; it is mainly arranged by country, with KF being American law.

The recent shifting of books, both in the Classified Stacks (upstairs) and the Reference Stacks (2d floor), was due to the reclassification of international legal materials by the Library of Congress. Reclassification is necessary when the logic of the classification letters or numbers no longer works to help people find the materials. The JX class was designed in 1910, before World Wars I and II, before the United Nations, and far before today's proliferation of international organizations. As the JX class grew to be less and less "marginally serviceable," the decision to reclassify was postponed until the K classification for all countries in the world was completed. Once that was accomplished in 1991, work to rethink the ideas in international law began.

First released on May 1, 1997 (Law Day), in draft form, the new classification provides a way to split materials into the broad classes of Political Science (JZ) and Law (KZ). With incredible detail, reflecting painstaking work, the new classification will make shelf-browsing international materials appear intuitive. Now you can easily browse through the international commons, the law of the sea, and the law of space, areas which were particularly difficult before.

Many shelves were changed, books actually moved to other floors. It will happen again in your lifetimes, KZ is only the tenth in the series of schemes applied to the various systems of law under the letter K, more will come. JX is dead! Long live KZ!

*Thanks to Cheryl Nyberg for the title.

[Web editor's note: See also our guides on Library of Congress Call Numbers and Call Numbers for Foreign Law.]