Monday, February 28, 2011

Zimmerman's Research Guides

When you don't know where to start, start here: Zimmerman's Research Guides , an online legal research encyclopedia. Hosted by LexisNexis, the guides are developed and maintained by Andrew Zimmerman, a law librarian with over 10 years experience in law firm libraries. The guides are a collaborative collection of resources for a variety of legal research subjects. With several hundred guides, chances are there is a guide on your topic.

Each guide consists of several paragraphs, written in plain English, listing some of the best print, electronic, and web resources for that subject along with a basic overview of the topic. Links are included when applicable. The Guides are quite thorough, touching on many aspects of the given subject.

For example, the guide on copyright includes sections on U.S. copyright law, international copyrights, licensing, researching registrations, copyright arbitration, and legislative histories. The environmental law guide includes sections on administrative decisions, foreign & international, news, and treatises. Topics include such varied choices as: Florida, Blue Sky Laws, Kosher Food, Jury Instructions, Professional Ethics, Expert Witnesses, and Statutory Construction.

Andrew Zimmerman also posts updates, changes, and new content alerts through the ZRG blog and RSS feed.

Written by Andrew J. Tig Wartluft, Law Librarian Fellow

Friday, February 25, 2011

Resources for People with Disabilities

The Westminster Law Library is pleased to announce the release of another Colorado Law Project (CLP) resource - this time on Disability Law. These research guides focus on state, federal & community resources and help to answer practical questions on disability law issues. The CLP resources are written for the public and public librarians who are assisting patrons with disability issues. The Law Library also has a Disability Law research guide that focuses more on the legal resource available to our law students and local attorneys.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Casemaker Updates

The most recent Legal Research Corner article for The Colorado Lawyer, “Casemaker Upgrades and New Products Improve Functionality” was authored by Wanda McDavid, president of Access/Information. It appears in the February 2011 issue (v.40 n.2, page 53). Providing a low-cost research alternative for attorneys, Casemaker is available for free to memebers of the Colorado Bar Association.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Colorado Legislative History Research Guide

Planning to clerk this spring or summer? Be sure to check out the Library's new Colorado Legislative History Research Guide! Our experience has been that new law clerks are often asked to investigate the background on Colorado laws and it isn't as easy as you might think since much of Colorado's legislative materials are scattered or in an audio, not written, format. Other Colorado specific research guides are available to help make your research experiences go smoothly.

Friday, February 4, 2011

GPO's MetaLib Search Engine

In October 2010, the Government Printing Office (GPO) made a federated search option available, using ExLibris' MetaLib software. Currently, there are 53 government catalogs and databases included.

A federated search is a search that allows the user to simultaneously search multiple catalogs or databases with a single search string. With the MetaLib search engine, the results are returned to the user using a single style so that the use of multiple sources is essentially invisible.

MetaLib software, by ExLibris, bypasses the native user interfaces of the individual catalogs and databases. This means that the user does not need to know that Database A defaults to placing an OR between terms, that Catalog B defaults to placing an AND between terms, or that catalog C assumes entered terms are a phrase. The user only needs to know MetaLib's defaults to develop a search string that will be treated the same way in every queried catalog and database.

The U.S. Government Printing Office has developed a federated search of government catalogs using the MetaLib software . GPO's MetaLib interface allows the user to search pre-selected groups of databases in particular subject areas or the user can select a group of 10 or fewer individual databases. Currently, there are 53 databases included and the GPO expects to add more over time. Many of the included databases are indexes and not full-text, but the MetaLib search allows users to quickly find the citations of applicable resources, if not the full-text.

Users have the choice of three different levels of searches:

Basic searches include the following 10 databases: AGRICOLA Books, Access to Archival Databases (AAD) System – NARA, AUL Index to Military Periodicals, Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP), Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Catalog Search, Library of Congress (LOC), PubMed, TRIS Online,

Advanced allows the user to pick one of 13 'quick sets' of databases, grouped by subject. The Subjects include 'Politics+Law' and 'Environment'. Each 'quick set' contains up to 10 related databases. The advanced search also allows users to search in specific fields (e.g. subject, title, author, and ISBN).

Expert allows the user to individually select databases from 'quick sets' or by agency. The Expert search also allows the user to access the 'My Resources' link that allows the creation of personalized sets. When viewing available databases, select the '+' icon to add the database to the clipboard. The clipboard is available through the 'My Resources' link where the user can create personalized sets of databases by adding individual databases from the clipboard to a newly created set. Note: The Expert search must be accessed to add resources to the clipboard, but user created sets are only available to search in the Advanced search screen!

GPO's MetaLib returns the first 30 results from each database searched. The results may be limited by various facets listed on the left side of the screen (e.g. topics, dates, authors). The user may add individual results the their E-shelf (not saved between sessions) and from there email or save the information to disk.

Several of the included catalogs and databases of interest include:

Access to Archival Databases (AAD) System – National Archives and Records Administration The system provides access to over 85 million historic electronic records created by more than 30 agencies of the U.S. federal government and from collections of donated historical materials.

Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP)
An index to print and electronic publications created by Federal agencies. When available, links are provided to the full-text of these publications. Coverage: July 1976 – present. provides descriptions of the Federal datasets (metadata), information about how to access the datasets, and tools that leverage government datasets.

Federal Sector Appellate Decisions
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s decisions regarding equal employment opportunity discrimination case appeals filed by federal employees.

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
NARA is the custodian of documents created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government.

Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Patent Database
Includes information about all US patents (including utility, design, reissue, plant patents and SIR documents) from the first patent issued in 1790 to the most recent issue week. Patents from January 1976 to the present offer the full searchable text, including all bibliographic data, such as the inventor's name, the patent's title, and the assignee's name; the abstract; the full description of the invention; and the claims. Patents from 1790 to December 1975 offer only the patent number and the current US patent classification in the text display, and can be searched only by those fields.

THOMAS (Library of Congress)
Records of Congressional activity including bills and resolutions, Congressional calendars and schedules, the Congressional Record, committee information, presidential nominations, and treaties.

Water Resources of the United States
Provides access to water data, publications, and maps, as well as to recent water projects and events.

GAO Reports and Testimony
The database includes reports and testimony produced by the GAO at the request of congressional committees or subcommittees, or mandated by public laws or committee reports.

National Criminal Justice Reference Service Abstracts Database
Database contains summaries of several hundred thousand criminal justice, juvenile justice, and substance abuse resources housed in the NCJRS Library collection.


Chen, X. (2006). MetaLib, WebFeet, and Google: The strengths and weaknesses of federated search engines compared with Google. Online Information Review, 30(4), 413-427. doi:10.1108/14684520610686300

ExLibris. (2010). MetaLib: Reach Out and Discover Remote Resources.

Reitz, J.M. (2010). Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science.

Written by Andrew J. Tig Wartluft, Law Librarian Fellow

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Presidential Documents Research Guide

The Westminster Law Library is pleased to announce to the creation of a new research guide on Presidential Documents. This guide highlights free and fee-based resources where you can locate historical & current official documents for U.S. Presidents. These documents include signing statements, proclamations, execute orders, inaugural & radio addresses as well as selected debates. There is also a personal papers section and a listing of presidential libraries if you need to do further research.