Moving from book recall to ILL

As of March 1, Northwestern Libraries is dropping book recall, a service that caused confusion and disruption as competition was waged over a single copy of a book. In the place of recall, the Libraries are adopting a more practical alternative that is faster, more efficient, and less troublesome for all our patrons: interlibrary loan.

Because ILL items come from our partnerships with other academic libraries in the Big Ten Academic Alliance, they are likely to arrive faster than the 10-day grace period typical of recalls, and they come with a guaranteed 16-week loan period. Also, Big Ten ILL books are not recalled unless needed for course reserve.

For questions about ILL, please contact the Law Circulation Desk at

Posted in Library Resources

New Year, New Look for Westlaw

If you’ve used Westlaw this semester, you’ve likely noticed some major changes, or perhaps thought you’d accessed the wrong database!  Indeed, as of January 2019, all law students now have access to Westlaw Edge, the latest iteration of Thomson Reuters’ Westlaw platform.

Rest assured, the basic functionality and organization of Westlaw has stayed the same, so you won’t need to learn a new way of doing research.  That being said, though, a few new features are worth noting, each of which results from the system’s increased use of artificial intelligence.

WestSearch Plus.  This feature allows you to begin typing your terms or area of law into the universal search box and receive suggested search queries and secondary sources.  In the screenshot below, for example, typing “employment discrimination” into the search box results in suggested searches such as “What is pretext in employment discrimination?”  For a brief video overview of this feature, visit:

A Screenshot of Westlaw Edge's New WestSearch Plus Feature

KeyCite Overruling Risk.  Up to this point in time, Keycite flags have only applied to the case you’re viewing, not the underlying cited authorities.  So, for example, even if the case you’re viewing has not been explicitly reversed or overruled, it may be relying on one or more cases that are no longer good law.  KeyCite Overruling Risk addresses this by assigning a new treatment symbol to cases relying upon reversed or overruled authority–an orange circle with a white triangle containing an exclamation point.  For a brief video overview of this feature, visit:

Statutes Compare.  Statutory sections and regulations on Westlaw now include a “Compare Versions” button above the text.  This feature allows you to quickly review how the text of a statute or regulation has changed over time.  For a brief video overview of this feature, visit:

Litigation Analytics.  The largest addition to the platform in terms of content is “Litigation Analytics,” which allows you to gain granular insights into courts, judges, attorneys, law firms, and case types.  Using this feature, you can investigate questions such as “How often does my judge grant motions to dismiss?” or “What types of litigation does a law firm handle?” For a video overview of this feature, visit:

If you have any questions about these new features or anything else research-related, just ask a librarian.  We’re happy to help!

Posted in Library Resources, Resource Spotlight, Uncategorized

Resource Spotlight: Subscript Law

Subscript Law is a free nonprofit legal news website that provides summaries of Supreme Court cases featuring easy to understand infographics.  Subscript Law contains summaries of cases from the courts October 2017 and 2018 terms, as well as explainers for selected historical cases and legal concepts.

For example, see the explainer and infographic for last term’s case, Abbott v. Perezabbott_v._perez(subscriptlaw)

The case had a complex procedural history, which Subscript breaks down in the argument section of the case’s overview.  It provides additional context by acknowledging the other gerrymandering cases before the court last term and linking to the explainers on Gill v. Whitford, Benisek v. Lamone and a general overview of political gerrymandering.


If you are interested in receiving updates about new Supreme Court explainers and infographics as they are released, you can sign up to receive Subscript Law’s free email newsletter or follow them on Twitter.

Posted in Resource Spotlight

New Resources Added in January 2019

snowy pathway surrounded by bare tree

The Pritzker Legal Research Center added 85 new items to our collection in January 2019. Check out what we’ve added on our New Books List.

Posted in Library Resources

Student Library Assistant Position Available for Spring Semester

The Pritzker Legal Research Center is looking for reliable law students to work at the library circulation desk on weekends during the spring semester. 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

Resource Spotlight: Hein’s U.S. Federal Legislative History Library and Proquest Congressional

Some research tasks involving legislative materials are relatively straightforward.  You need to find a certain document, what librarians call a “known item.”  You need a particular Senate Bill or a public law and maybe you even have the citation or know what law it came from.  The researcher with a task like this has a wealth of options including Lexis, Westlaw, and free sites like

The researcher who has the more difficult research task is the one who does not know where a statement is found.  Those sources that let you find a known item do not (at least not easily) let you search across all of the documents that make up a legislative history.  That’s where the sources that I am highlighting become invaluable.  Hein’s U.S. Federal Legislative History Library has what are called “compiled legislative histories.”  These are what they say they are: compilations of all of the documents in the legislative history of a single public law.  Better yet, you can search across all of the documents at once using Hein.

Hein’s library is a little quirky, but it’s worth it.  Let’s say you want to find any mention of “grease payments” in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). When you click on U.S. Federal Legislative History Library from Hein’s main page you are met with this confusing menu:

Hein fed leg hist library main page.PNG

The first thing you probably see is the search box.  That will search across all of the legislative histories.  Because you already know you only want the FCPA, this isn’t helpful. The next thing we see are a few buttons with different options.  The first two are the U.S. Federal Legislative History Collection and the Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories Database.  Which one has the compiled legislative histories?  Would you believe it if I said that they both do?  The Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories Database is unique because it gives information, citations to, and links to law review articles that contain enough legislative history to be considered compiled legislative histories.  Because these law review articles will actually discuss the legislative history of a law and may go into what it all means, I prefer the Sources of Compiled Legislative Histories Database as a starting point.  Also, that database contains the same compilations of documents that you’ll find in that U.S. Federal Legislative History Collection.

Once I locate the FCPA in the Sources database (hint: search or browse by popular name or public law number), here’s what I see:

FCPA entry in Sources database.PNG

As I mentioned before, all of those law review articles are potential starting points for an in-depth discussion of the legislative history and what it means.  But to search across the legislative history of the FCPA for any mention of “grease payments” my best option is the first entry.  That’s a compiled legislative history of the FCPA made by the Howrey Law Firm in 1977 that spans two volumes of print.  Lucky you, you can search across all of it all at once.

grease payment results

So that’s what makes Hein’s product so valuable.  Now let’s say you’re interested in a more broad question.  Let’s say you wanted to find any mention of “grease payments” by Congress and you didn’t want to limit yourself to the FCPA.  If you searched Hein’s legislative history database you’d be limiting yourself to the laws for which Hein has a compiled legislative history.  If you searched Lexis, Westlaw, or a free source like, you’d limit yourself to around 1990 to the present.

In steps Proquest CongressionalProquest Congressional is a massive database of Congressional documents.  It isn’t absolutely everything from all time in full-text.  Some things just weren’t published in the earliest years of Congress and some materials are available with an abstract and some index terms rather than full-text.  But this database is as close as you’re going to get as a database of all Congressional materials.  Thus, you could search for “grease payments” cutting across the widest possible range of time and document type.

proquest grease payment results

This can also be helpful for legislation that took many years to pass across several Congresses.  Famously, President Clinton signed the Family and Medical Leave Act into law after it passed Congress and was vetoed by President Bush.  Less famously, women’s service on federal juries was considered by Congress from the early 1940’s until a law was finally passed to prescribe uniform qualification for jurors in the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

ProQuest Congressional is also nice because it gathers together witness information.  This lets you find every time that, say, someone from the ACLU testified before Congress or every time that Fred Rogers testified.

So if you’re looking to research the history of a law and you want to search across all the documents in a legislative history or across a broad date range, you’ll want to try Hein’s U.S. Federal Legislative History Library and ProQuest Congressional.


Posted in Uncategorized

New Resources in December 2018

The Pritzker Legal Research Center added over 160 new items to our collection in December 2018. Check out what we’ve added on our New Books List.

Posted in Library Resources

Food for Fines

Food for FinesBetween Nov. 19 and Dec. 21, Northwestern University Libraries will be hosting our annual food drive.  Overdue library fines will be reduced by $5 for every food item donated. Nutritious, ready-to-eat food preferred. We cannot accept open packages, homemade items, perishable foods, expired items, beverages, or glass containers.

Food will be donated to Northwestern’s Purple Pantry and the Howard Area Community Center. See the Circulation Desk  for additional details.


Posted in Uncategorized

Resource Spotlight: American Civil Liberties Union Papers, 1912-1990


Gale’s American Civil Liberties Union Papers, 1912-1990 is a digital library containing more than 2 million pages of records, including bills, briefs, correspondence, court documents, legal case files, memorandums, etc.. It covers numerous topics, including the first “Red Scare” following the Russian Revolution of 1917; labor organizing; debates in the 1920s on immigration; the American Birth Control League; lynchings in the 1930s; debates on aliens and immigrants in the years immediately preceding the U.S. entry into the Second World War; and the ACLU’s involvement in Vietnam War issues and the Civil Rights movement.

Posted in Library Resources, Resource Spotlight

Fall Exhibit: Clarence Darrow

For Alumni Weekend, the PLRC debuted its fall exhibit, Clarence Darrow: Selections from the Arnold Greenberg Clarence Darrow Collection. Featuring photographs, rare books, correspondence, and others materials, the exhibit presents snippets of Darrow’s life, from his relationships with his wife and son to his work on the Scopes Trial in Tennessee.

The Arnold Greenberg Clarence Darrow Collection is the gift of the family of the late Arnold Greenberg, an antiquarian bookseller and lifelong admirer of Darrow. His son, Mike Greenberg (of ESPN’s Mike & Mike and Get Up!), is a Northwestern University alumnus who, along with his mother, generously offered the collection to the Law School.

Clarence Darrow: Selections from the Arnold Greenberg Clarence Darrow Collection will be on display on the third floor of the PLRC until early March 2019. To see additional items from the collection, please contact

Posted in Uncategorized