Hiring for Spring: Pritzker Fellows

The Pritzker Legal Research Center is looking for Pritzker Library Fellows for Spring Semester 2022.  Pritzker Library Fellows serve a 3-month appointment, at $850/month, working 10-15 hours per week on short-term faculty research projects and sourcing/citing for Law Library Journal.

Preferred Qualifications: 2L or 3L status, journal experience, RA experience, judicial clerkship, and/or Advanced Legal Research.  If interested, please email copy of résumé and law school transcript to Tom Gaylord, Faculty Services & Scholarly Communications Librarian at tom.gaylord@law.northwestern.edu.  Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the positions are filled.

Posted in Employment

Restricted Access – Fall 2021

December 2 – December 16

During reading periods and final examinations, access to the library is generally restricted so that Northwestern law students can study and take exams. During this time, the only students who are admitted are Northwestern law students. Students from other universities or Northwestern students outside the law program will not be admitted. Lawyers requiring the research materials may be admitted as under the Usual Access Policy, but are expected to maintain silence for the benefit of students.

Posted in Access

Thanksgiving Hours 2021

The library circulation desk will close early on Wednesday, November 24 at 5:00 pm and be closed on Thursday and Friday, November 25 and 26 for the Thanksgiving Holiday. We will resume normal hours on Saturday, November 27 at 10:00 am. See full schedule of hours.

Northwestern law students, faculty, and staff will continue to have access to the library after the circulation desk closes via their Wildcard. Please see the After Hours Policy for additional details.

Posted in Access, Holidays

Resource Spotlight: Research Methods Primary Sources

Ordinarily, we take to this space to tell you about sources for your research. This month, we are highlighting a resource to help you perform that research. Research Methods: Primary Sources is designed to help those who are researching in the social sciences and humanities (especially history) work with primary sources. Research Methods: Primary Sources lets you teach yourself how to do scholarly work with primary sources. This could be helpful if you wanted to research legal history for your own writing. It might also be helpful if you are working as a Research Assistant to a professor who does historical research.

Recall that primary sources are documents or artifacts that provide evidence or firsthand testimony of events that happened in the past. Secondary sources are things that are written about primary sources. A letter from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Eleanor Roosevelt is a primary source. A book written by an author about the Roosevelts’ marriage is a secondary source. Research Methods: Primary Sources does help you find primary sources, but it also teaches you how to evaluate them for credibility and bias. It teaches you the importance of what primary sources did and did not survive. A fashion historian would not say that all English women in the 16th century wore those big, frilly collars just because we find paintings of Queen Elizabeth I wearing them.

Armada Portrait - Wikipedia
But you have to admit she looks amazing.

The Learning Tools are guides, essays, and interviews with scholars. You can read about best practices for researching marginalized groups and get some advice on working with spreadsheets, something that anyone who has ever found herself in over her head in a poorly organized spreadsheet can appreciate. Just me?

The Case Studies let you take a peek at how scholars have dealt with primary sources around different source types (ex. photographs), themes (ex. advertising), and data sets (ex. ships’ logs).

If you want to perform primary source research according to best practices, Research Methods: Primary Sources can take you from fumbling ex-history major to confident researcher who knows the sources, where to find them, and how to use them.

Give it a look and, as always, please contact the librarians if you have any questions or need assistance.

Posted in Uncategorized

Crime, Justice, and a Change in Plans: Developing an Online Exhibit during the Pandemic Era 

The Pritzker Legal Research Center at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law holds a significant rare book collection specializing in Roman, canon, and customary law. Its more than 8,000 volumes include several incunabula as well as first editions of legal classics. On paper, it’s a point of pride, but in reality, it’s a marvel.  

Wandering through the rare book storage room, it’s easy to continually find new and surprising gems. And a gem is exactly what I found one day a couple years ago: a folio book covered in an ugly, modern-day library binding, its only captivating external feature the title stamped in gold capital letters: “GOD’S REVENGE AGAINST MURTHER.” 

The title drew me in, and to my surprise, the book proved to be as intriguing as its cover was dull. It contained thirty stories that (allegedly) originated from all over continental Europe; they conveyed the (also allegedly) true tales of dastardly murders and the ways in which divine providence ensured the delivery of justice. If the stories themselves weren’t dramatic enough, each one was preceded by an engraved illustration that depicted the tales in small, unintentionally amusing vignettes. I set this book aside as inspiration for a future exhibit, and this year, my colleague, Tyne Lowe, and I brought it to life. 

The illustration from History X.

An Inquisition for Blood: Tales of Murder and Justice in John Reynolds’ The Triumphs of God’s Revenge launched in September 2021 as an online exhibit with a small physical teaser installed in our library. Under ordinary circumstances, the PLRC presents its exhibits in our third-floor gallery, and we originally dreamed of taking full advantage of this space. We discussed perhaps installing floor-to-ceiling panels of the book’s illustrations across the library’s walls and potentially displaying related materials from the collection. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic limited our access to the building, our plans had to change. Designing an immersive digital exhibit soon became our new goal. 

While working from home, Tyne (acting as curator) and I met weekly via Zoom to plan and build the exhibit. We aimed to summarize each of the stories (no small task when the book in question is over 500 pages long), contextualize the book in early modern English history, and highlight the aspects that we thought would be most relevant to a community of law students and faculty. We split up the task of reading the book itself, which was a challenge during the quarantine; because we were unable to take home or fully digitize our copy of The Triumphs, we found a digital surrogate (via Internet Archive) to use instead. (Although this copy is an older edition than our library’s copy, Tyne compared many pages of text and determined that they were overwhelmingly similar.)  

As we worked our way through The Triumphs and discovered relevant secondary sources, we gleaned countless details about crime, religion, gender dynamics, torture, and capital punishment that were completely ordinary in the author’s time but seemed quite shocking to us today. We enjoyed analyzing the copperplate engravings that we saw throughout the book, noting the narrative details that the illustrations chose to highlight (or ignore) while introducing us to the stories. Our meetings ran over their time allotments as we were fascinated by many more elements of The Triumphs than we could possibly fit into the exhibit itself.  

On Thursday, October 28th, Tyne and I will be leading a virtual Zoom tour of the digital exhibit, offering behind-the-scenes details about the process of its development and sharing some aspects of The Triumphs that made it such a fascinating study. For more information, please send me an email at Brittany.Adams@law.northwestern.edu, and to explore the exhibit, please visit sites.northwestern.edu/murther

Posted in Uncategorized

Resource Spotlight: AILALink

AILALink, created and maintained by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), is an immigration law powerhouse. It’s an one-stop-shop for primary immigration law research and includes a well-rounded set of secondary materials from AILA’s most heavily relied upon practice publications (e.g. Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook, Business Immigration: Law and Practice, and AILA’s Asylum Primer) to conference publications and practice guides. It’s easily browsable from the expanding menu on the left pane, but also provides multiple different search options. Getting up to speed, staying informed, and finding the practical answers you need is easy with AILALink. 

Primary law in AILALink has been highly curated to only include immigration-related items and includes statutes, regulations (9 CFR chapters), Federal Register (1997-present), and court and federal agency decisions. They recently added a flagging feature to re’s a new to the Code of Federal Regulations: “a system to help highlight CFR provisions that were altered by a rule which may be subject to a court order prohibiting its implementation.” Red dotted lines will appear around such CFR sections so readers know to take a closer look at the source material in the footnote to fully understand the status of contentious regulations. A timely addition considering how volatile immigration policy and procedures have become of late!

Besides what primarily law is directly in the AILALink platform, Fastcase Premium gives full text access to all federal court opinions, BIA/AG/AAO/EOIR Director Precedent Decisions (I&N Dec.), and five administrative databases curated especially for AILALink subscribers: AAO decisions, BALCA decisions, OCAHO decisions, DOL ALJ decisions, and DOL ARB decisions. It is important to note that Fastcase Premium will open in a separate tab or window and must be searched separately. AILALink only features selections of immigration-related laws and regulations, but Fastcase has a complete bank of  U.S. Code, Code of Federal Regulations and state statutes, regulations, and court cases. Since AILALink has hyperlinks to these materials in Fastcase, it’s a better user experience to use the two in tandem.

The coverage of agency memos, minutes, manuals, guidance, and reports is thorough but not overwhelming. In addition to memos and minutes from the DOD, CDC, SSA, ORR, AO of the US Courts, EEOC, Selective Service, White House, and NLRB, you’ll also be able to pull up the DOJ Justice ManualExecutive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) Courts & Appeals System (ECAS) User Manual, EOIR Policy Manual, EOIR Uniform Docketing System Manual, Administrative Appeals Office Practice Manual, Affirmative Asylum Procedures Manual, and the CBP’s Use of Force Policy, Guidelines and Procedures Handbook.  

AILALink’s thirty-three available e-books are organized under the following topic headings: Asylum, Criminal & Removal Publications, Business Publications, Occupational Guidebooks, Consular Practice Publications, Family Publications, Litigation Publications, and General Publications. The last two years of AILA’s own law journal, published by Fastcase’s Full Court Press, are listed under AILA Periodicals.

There are also reports and guides from the American Immigration Council (AIC, founded in 1987 by AILA), including three new ones from 2021: The Legacy of Racism within the U.S. Border Patrol, What Immigration Issues Do Americans Hold Sacred?, Measuring In Absentia Removal in Immigration Court. AIC also releases Practice Advisories which can be found in AILALink. Some examples: Freedom of Information Act and Immigration Agencies and Strategies and Considerations in the Wake of Niz-Chavez v. Garland. One other special item worth pointing out is the Safe Passage Project’s Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Manual, also found under reports and guides.

Image of AILALink Getting Started Page

Don’t miss these two important options: the AB icon toggles footnotes on/off (especially important in AILA books) and the pencil icon toggles search term highlighting on/off. When you toggle on the term highlighting, two little directional arrows appear. Use these arrows to quickly jump to where your next search term appears; it’s a much better way to navigate your results than scrolling. Some of the sections are massively long to scroll and watch for your results, assuming you have the highlights on! 

Image of AILALink's Advanced Search Page

If you’ve browsed but aren’t sure where you’ll find answers, advanced search allows you to customize the content you search (or leave it on the default which will search everything). Find a Case allows you to pull up a case by citation or party name. Since only select cases are available in AILALink, access to Fastcase Premium has been included for expanding case law research. The search capability does not support advanced syntax, the kind familiar to power Westlaw and Lexis+ users. Nonetheless, there’s a proximity search box!  For researchers reliant on Westlaw and Lexis’ advanced search functionality and filtering options, you’ll have to simplify your searching in AILALink. But then again since the content on AILALink is already finely curated, keeping your search simple and utilizing proximity searching is plenty adequate for getting good results. Speaking of Westlaw and Lexis+, since we have access to both, I would strongly suggest not relying on Fastcase for case research. It’s a great addition for users who don’t otherwise have access to premium case law research tools, but we do, so leverage the headnotes, KeyCite, Shepard’s Report, Key Number System, citing references and notes of decision/case annotations for the most effective case law research. 

Spend twenty minutes clicking around in AILALink and you’ll no doubt discover several go-to references worth bookmarking because if you’re in the Immigration Law Clinic or trying to learn about immigration law and practice, this is a database you’ll use again and again.

Posted in Library Resources, Resource Spotlight

Position available: Pritzker Library Fellows

The Pritzker Legal Research Center is looking for Pritzker Library Fellows for Fall Semester 2021.  Pritzker Library Fellows serve a 3-month appointment, at $850/month, working 10-15 hours per week on short-term faculty research projects and sourcing/citing for Law Library Journal.

Preferred Qualifications: 3L status, journal experience, RA experience, judicial clerkship, and/or Advanced Legal Research.  If interested, please email copy of résumé and law school transcript to Tom Gaylord, Faculty Services & Scholarly Communications Librarian at tom.gaylord@law.northwestern.edu.  Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the positions are filled.

Posted in Position Available

U.S. News & Faculty Scholarship Metrics

Back in 2019, U.S. News & World Report announced an intention to add a faculty scholarship metric to their law school ranking mechanism. There were proponents and opponents, and many questions about how the sausage would be made, including, but not limited to, which source(s) of data to use, how to adjust for interdisciplinary work (or for faculty who author books (for which we have fewer sources of citation analytics)), how to adjust for gaming the system by self-citation to oneself or one’s colleagues (the former is often tracked, the latter, less so), correcting for differences among more-cited and less-cited topical areas and, perhaps most importantly, how to adjust for traditionally marginalized authors, namely non-white, non-male members of the academy.

Last week, it became public knowledge through this Bloomberg Law article that U.S. News had dropped its plans, though no rationale was given (the Bloomberg Law article was corrected following its initial publication, suggesting that the authors themselves did not know of U.S. News‘s decision to pull back until the publication of their article forced U.S. News to reach out to Bloomberg to correct the record; later paragraphs in the article read as though the scholarship rankings are still forthcoming; the article was posted at 3:00 AM on August 19, and the disclaimer at the end reads: “(The first paragraph of Aug. 19 story was updated to reflect that U.S. News was only considering a new ranking. Second paragraph was added to indicate that U.S. News decided not to pursue this new ranking.)”)

So where does this leave us? Personally, I think USNWR was really hoping to go with a “one source fits all” approach, and HeinOnline is the best for pure law review citations, but relatively light on interdisciplinary and no real help at all with books. And that’s the problem in legal publishing: we have no “best” source for citation analytics. Before Google Scholar and HeinOnline started tracking citations, the legal academy mostly focused on SSRN data; in fact, some were so focused on SSRN that there were faculty who were opposed to their schools hosting institutional repositories out of fear that it would pull their SSRN stats down (this has been debunked). Today, Google Scholar has the best universe of data, in terms of coverage, thanks to being publisher-agnostic and the strength of their book-scanning project; the problem, however, is that it is a *very* messy universe, with many cites counted numerous times (and other errors, like picking up index and table of contents entries as “publications”). There would need to be significant data cleanup and disambiguation and Google has no real incentive (yet?) to do that.

Scopus and Web of Science would be better than Hein on interdisciplinary data and they cover a small universe of books (nowhere near Google, though), but their legal holdings are slight: a few hundred law reviews and about 50% of them are commercially-published European journals. They both started as STEM and peer-reviewed-only, which is why US law reviews are not well-covered, but they’ve relented a little on that; they’d be more viable options if they relented all the way.

And while SSRN’s intention is to be a source for working papers, many authors use it as a personal repository; the rub is that SSRN will not post a final published version unless the author can show that she, and not the publisher, has copyright. If the publisher retains copyright, the final version cannot be posted.

What all of this boils down to is that with no one source, we should be using all of them, whether analyzing scholarly impact, compiling metrics for hiring and promotion decisions, or for claiming and enhancing (where possible) author profiles. Some Northwestern Law faculty have created their own Google Scholar author profiles and that does help separate some of the bad data out (if you have not, you can start here and click on “My Profile” (you’ll need to establish a Google account if you don’t have one)); everyone who has published an article that is in HeinOnline has an author profile there, (whether they’ve claimed it or not). And yes, we should post whatever we want to SSRN, subject to the above caveat.

Thus, while the jury is still out on the value of quantitative scholarly metrics, the fact remains that they are here to stay, and with that in mind, we should strive to make sure our work is properly recognized and visible.

Posted in Scholarship

Student Library Assistant Positions Available for Fall

The Pritzker Legal Research Center is looking for reliable law students to work at the library circulation desk this fall. Duties include the following:

  • Check out and check in books, journals, reserve books and other library materials
  • Answer basic informational, directional and library policy questions, help patrons locate materials in the stacks, provide basic printer and copy machine assistance
  • Help troubleshoot public computers according to directions
  • Record and tally usage statistics
  • Search the stacks for books reported missing
  • Assist with opening and closing procedures

Interested students should send the completed application form and resume to James Driscoll, Circulation Services Manager.

Posted in Employment, Position Available

Resource Spotlight: Yearbook of International Organizations Online

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in full swing, maybe you were wondering why Russian athletes are competing as Russian Olympic Committee and wanted to find out more about, say, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) or the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Well, with the Yearbook of International Organizations Online, you can do just that!

The database has multiple search capabilities, including by the name or acronym of the organization itself; by geography; by type or subject matter of the organization, etc; even searching by location of past and future meetings is an option! There are also indexes that allow users to browse by geography and subject matter.

Looking up WADA in the Yearbook gives you information such as its founding date, history, and aims; and a timeline of events (including events preceding the founding of the organization, if appropriate; for example, in WADA’s case, while the organization was founded in 2000, the timeline includes the February 2, 1999 World Conference on Doping in Sport, which helped bring about the founding of WADA). Other information includes the organization’s structure, the number of staff, its official language(s), locations of regional offices, relationships with other organizations, and more. A subject index on the organization page allows users to easily find other organizations involved in the same or similar topics. A list of regular publications, if any, issued by the organization is also included. Finally, both inter-governmental organizations (IGOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are included.

Screenshot of top of page for WADA entry at Yearbook of International Organizations Online.

So, if your research requires looking into IGOs and NGOs occupying a certain space in international law, Yearbook of International Organizations Online is a good place to start and to familiarize yourself with the major players on the world stage.

Posted in Library Resources, Resource Spotlight