D’Angelo Law Library now has bookstands

You can now check out a bookstand from the D’Angelo Law Library. Several students, including members of our D’Angelo Law Library Student Advisory Board, have suggested to us that bookstands are extremely useful for studying, especially given the characteristically large casebooks used for most courses in the Law School. We currently have two styles of bookstand available: one is larger and more sturdy, while the other one is more portable.

wood bookstandplastic bookstand


Stop by the Circulation Desk and choose the one that suits your needs. You can check them out for 4 hours at a time, and they can be renewed. Let us know what you think of them!

Brief Formatting Classes for 1L Students: Monday, April 18 and Tuesday April 19

First year law school students may attend one of two sessions on formatting for the Bigelow appellate brief assignment:

  • Monday, April 18 at 4:00 PM in classroom II
  • Tuesday, April 19 at 4:00 PM in classroom II

The training will focus on Microsoft Word and cover formatting the cover page and generating a table of contents and a table of authorities.  Students are welcome to attend either session.

Celebrate National Library Week by sharing your #shelfie

The University of Chicago Library invites you to celebrate National Library Week April 10-16. National Library Week, sponsored by the America Library Association, is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians.

National Library Week - Libraries TransformWhile we always appreciate hearing your #librarylove, we invite you to share your appreciation during the national campaign. Celebrate with us by:

  • Taking a #shelfie of your favorite place in a UChicago Library and tagging us on Instagram (@UChicagoLibrary)
  • Checking out a book from the UChicago Library bookmobile on National Bookmobile Day (April 13). Updates on the bookmobile’s location can be found on library social media pages.

The library works hard to make sure its spaces, people, and services grow and evolve with the University’s needs. We appreciate your love and acknowledgement of our work this National Library Week.


Prepare to Practice legal research workshop, May 20

The Law Library has organized a series of legal research workshops focused on getting students ready for their summer work. On Friday, April 8, from 3:30 – 5:00 pm, in Room IV, we will be hosting a Keystone program featuring representatives from Bloomberg Law, Lexis, and Westlaw, who will talk about using these services in practice, from how to be cost-effective to how to do transactional law research.

Following the April 8 program, there will be further legal research workshops on the following days:

  • Lexis: Prepare to Practice – Monday, April 18, 12:15 pm, in Room F
  • Bloomberg Law: Prepare to Practice (register here) – Thursday, April 21, 12:15 pm, in Room E
  • Westlaw: Prepare to Practice (sign up here) – Friday, April 22, 12:15 pm, in Room F
  • Bloomberg Law: Prepare to Practice (register here) – Wednesday, April 27, 12:15 pm, in Room E
  • Lexis: Prepare to Practice – Wednesday, May 18, 12:15 pm, in Room F
  • Prepare to Practice: Beyond Bloomberg Law, Lexis, & Westlaw (register here)- Friday, May 20, 12:15 pm, in Room F

Magazines in the Fulton Room: An Assessment

The D’Angelo Law Library subscribes to a number of periodicals for students to read that locate in the Fulton Room (at the west end of the 3rd floor). We are concerned that some of these periodicals have not found an audience. We want to be sure we are putting our efforts into titles that are valued and will be read.

Consequently, we are conducting an assessment activity. There is a clipboard in the Fulton Room. Please write on it the titles of magazines that you like having in the Fulton Room. Even one vote may save a title from cancellation! If there are magazines you’d like to see in the Fulton Room that are not there, we’d like to know that, too.

We are more confident about the newspapers than the magazines. You do not need to write in, e.g., the Wall Street Journal, or the Financial Times, to avoid their cancellation.

The ultimate goal of this effort is to have a smaller, but more active, collection of periodicals for your enjoyment. Help us achieve that goal! Thanks to those who have already written on the clipboard – we look forward to hearing from others.

D’Angelo Law Library spring interim hours, Mar. 14 – 26

Beginning Monday, March 14, the D’Angelo Law Library will have reduced building hours for Spring Break. The Library will be open from 8 am – 5 pm Monday through Friday and closed on the weekends. Normal hours resume Sunday, March 27.

For a complete list of hours for all locations and departments, see hours.lib.uchicago.edu.

Supreme Court Sluggers at D’Angelo Law Library

From the Green Bag, creators of the Supreme Court bobblehead dolls, come the newest Supreme Court collectibles, the Supreme Court slugger “baseball” cards—and ours have been added to the Law Library collection just in time for opening day of baseball season in April. These cards, which are modeled after baseball cards, have a picture of each justice as a baseball player and are complete with their Supreme Court “player” statistics. There are currently 8 cards available, of past and present Justices of the Supreme Court. Each card has a Justice in an appropriate position on the baseball team, and features paintings by John Sargent or Alec Spangler, based on paintings in the collection of the Supreme Court. Instead of RBIs, hits and errors, the statistics include Supreme Court opinions each justice was involved in, both before and during his/her tenure on the Supreme Court, in a number of statistical categories. Each card is accompanied by a pink “Thought Bubble Gum” magnet , completing the baseball card theme.

Photo of Justice Antonin Scalia's baseball card, with thought bubble gum.

Justice Antonin Scalia, Supreme Court Slugger

Details about the statistical methods are included in an article by Law School alum, Ross Davies (JD ’97) and Craig Rust, about the first card for Chief Justice John G. Roberts, “Supreme Court Sluggers: Behind the Numbers” [PDF]. Scans of all available cards with statistics and pictures are available at the Green Bag “Sluggers: Cards & Stats” page.

Currently, the D’Angelo Law Library has 5 cards: Justices Samuel A. Alito, Abe Fortas, James Iredell, John G. Roberts, and Antonin Scalia. The cards are not sold, but made available to subscribers of the Green Bag journal, and are picked up in person by a friend of D’Angelo Law Library. Each card is cataloged separately and they can all be located in the online catalog by searching the series “Supreme Court sluggers.” The cards are stored in a baseball card collectors box in the Law Rare Book Room, along with the Supreme Court bobblehead dolls.

D’Angelo Law Library restricted access during exams

Access to the D’Angelo Law Library for non-law students will be limited from Friday, March 4 through Saturday, March 12 during the Law School reading and exam periods. During this period, the library will continue to be accessible to any member of the University community who needs access to legal materials or who would like to work with one of our reference librarians. In addition, all non-law students who are taking Law School classes will have access to the library.

Consult the D’Angelo Law Library webpage on access for additional information.

Coffee break & Law School exam preparation resources

As students prepare for Winter Quarter exams, we wanted to remind you of the many resources the D’Angelo Law Library provides to help students prepare for exams. Also, on Saturday, March 5, enjoy free coffee and small snacks near the Reference Desk in the D’Angelo Law Library, from noon until 2:00 p.m. or whenever the coffee runs out.

Past exams: Perhaps most importantly, the Library provides copies of past exams given at the Law School, in addition to model student answers and memos written by the professors where available. The exams are organized by course and faculty member. Everything we have been given permission to post is available on the Library website.


Study Supplements: Another helpful resource for preparing student outlines and studying for exams are the many study supplements, including the popular Examples & Explanations and Understanding series, that are available in the Reserve Room. Our Hornbooks & Study Supplements page provides lists of the available study supplements by course name. This year, we’ve also added the online West Academic Study Aids package. This package provides online access to many of the study supplements, including West’s Concise Hornbook Series, the Law Stories Series, and all of the Nutshells. To access the study supplements, you will need to go to http://lawschool.westlaw.com and click the link for “Study Aids Subscription.”

CALI Lessons: If you prefer something more interactive, CALI lessons might be the resource for you.  The Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) provides UofC law students with access to nearly 1,000 internet-based lessons on different legal topics. Lessons range from core 1L courses (92 lessons on property, for example) to many different upper level courses. CALI lessons are often interactive and feature questions to test your knowledge as you go through them. If you have not already registered an account with CALI, you can Ask a Law Librarian to get the authorization code for the Law School.

Student Outlines: Student outlines for various courses taught at the Law School are made available by the UChicago Law Students Association (LSA) in an online outline bank on the LSA’s website. You will need to enter a password to access. If you do not have the password, Ask a Law Librarian.

Study Rooms: If you want to meet with a study group, the D’Angelo Law Library has seven study rooms that can be reserved online: two study rooms on each of the 4th, 5th and 6th floors, and one study room on the second floor. Law students may reserve use of a study room using the Law School’s room reservation system. For further assistance, see How to Reserve a Law Library Study Room.

Quiet Study Space: Quieter study spaces are available on the upper floors of the Law Library. Law School students are also able to study in any of the other libraries on campus. Crerar, Mansueto, and Regenstein will extend weekend building hours during reading period and finals week. Mansueto will be open Friday, March 11 until 12:45 a.m., and Crerar and Regenstein will be open until 1 a.m. The Regenstein 1st floor all-night study space will be open 24 hours from Monday, March 7 until the end of finals. For a full list of library hours, see http://hours.lib.uchicago.edu.

Lockers: Please remember to secure your belongings when you take breaks. You can check out a locker key from the Circulation Desk. Library lockers are located in the northeast corner of the second and third floors. Two types of lockers are available: laptop lockers, which are smaller and each equipped with an electrical outlet, and bookbag lockers, which are large enough to accommodate a bookbag and/or coat.

Unrequired reading at the Library

Miss reading for fun? Having trouble finding unrequired reading in the libraries’ collections? With over 11 million print & electronic books, it can be hard to browse the library collections to find reading for fun. But have no fear, librarians are here! Read on to learn about specific collections at University of Chicago Libraries dedicated to leisure reading and top tips to find your next favorite fun read.

D'Angelo Law LIbrary Book Display

Books on display at the D’Angelo Law Library

Tip #1: Visit D’Angelo Law Library. The D’Angelo law library collects novels, mysteries, science fiction,  humor, science, history, and biography (Supported by the Alison T. Dunham Memorial Fund). Find authors such as Jonathan Franzen, Chuck Palahniuk, Jennifer Weiner, and many more! The collection is easy to locate and recently purchased titles can be found on display on the fourth floor.

Tip #2: Browse the Reg’s Young Adult Fiction. In 2015, College student Maya Handa won an Uncommon Fund grant to buy young adult fiction for the Reg’s collections. You can view some of the purchased book covers on display next to the dissertation office or browse for yourself by visiting the PZ call numbers on the 3rd floor.

Tip #3: Check out the Class of 2000 Books. As its gift to the University, the Class of 2000 has established a book fund for the purchase of popular fiction and media for Regenstein. The gift is intended to provide students with mysteries, science fiction, other contemporary fiction, and media that would not ordinarily be purchased by the Library.


Tip #4: Search the library catalog. The library has a lot of great books for you to read, but you have to know what you’re looking for. Find new book recommendations by browsing book recommendation engines like:

Selection of Class of 2000 Books

A few books purchased using the Class of 2000 fund. Photo by Rebecca Starkey.

  • Amazon: The online shopping giant pulls purchase histories from users. Usually browsing the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought…” section brings up great recommendations. It has allowed readers to review books for over 20 years, making the site a massive resource for book recommendations.
  • GoodReads: Described as the ‘Netflix for Books,’ GoodReads has a recommendation engine that uses a reported 20 billion data points to give suggestions tailored to your literary preferences. GoodReads also allows you to create your own virtual library, connect with friends, and create wishlists.
  • WhatShouldIReadNext: Just type in a book or author you enjoyed and see your recommendations flow in. The site’s recommendation inventory is less expensive when compared to Amazon or GoodReads, but the nice thing about this resource is that you can also browse recommendations by subject. Really enjoyed Americanah? See all other books about Nigeria!

Once you find a book that you want to read, just type it into the catalog to find it in the library. If it’s not here, remember that you can also browse search in Big 10 university libraries and Ivy League libraries through UBorrow and BorrowDirect.

Tip #5: As always, if you are having trouble finding a book in the collections, or have any questions, Ask a Librarian!

How to use copyrighted images (Hint: fair use can help!)

To celebrate Fair Use Week, the Library invited Bridget Madden of the University of Chicago’s Visual Resources Center to contribute this post about the fair use of images.

Fair Use icon: A scale showing a copyright symbol and mortarboard in balance

© 2008 Michael Brewer & ALA Office of Information Technology Policy, CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

The Visual Resources Center (VRC) is one of many places on campus that helps to advise faculty, instructors, and students on issues pertaining to copyright and fair use on campus: our specialty concerns the fair use of images. The VRC cannot make permissions requests or make final decisions regarding fair use, but we can provide advice and guidance. We use the four factors of fair use, published best practices guidelines, and several digital tools to help discuss the appropriate next steps.

For classroom use and academic assignments, we typically recommend embracing fair use to the fullest. For publishing images in books and journal articles, our conversation typically goes through the following questions and relevant tools:

If the image is in the public domain, you may use it however you want. If the image is under copyright, consider the following questions:

  • How will you use the image? Based on the four factors of fair use, is your use fair, or do rights need to be cleared?
  • What rights need to be cleared? Consider the underlying rights of the work in question and the copyright status of the reproduction.
  • Who owns the copyright?
    • ARS, VAGA, and artists’ estates and foundations are good places to start if the artist is no longer alive.
  • How to approach the copyright holder? Is there a form on their website or do you need to draft a letter?
  • Do you already have a publication quality image? Most publishers are looking for an image that is at least 300 DPI. Can the VRC scan one for you out of a book, or will you need to purchase one from the repository or rights owner?

We invite you to get in touch with the VRC  at visualresources@uchicago.edu if you have any questions related to image use and copyright.

New online resource: Greenleaf Online Library

University of Chicago researchers now have access to Greenleaf Online Library.

Greenleaf Online Library crosses over all sectors of business with an emphasis on ‘green’ greenleafmanagement, ethical business and corporate social responsibility.  It contains approximately 4,000 items, including ebooks, case studies, research papers and journal articles.

Topics covered include:

  • Sustainability
  • Ethics
  • Innovation, enterprise and social enterprise
  • Environmental management
  • Industry sectors including extractives, fashion and textiles, banking and finance, transport, engineering, construction
  • Corporate governance
  • Responsible leadership
  • Social responsibility/business in society
  • Government, policy and compliance
  • Reporting and standards
  • Sustainability in Higher Education
  • Poverty
  • Gender and diversity
  • Responsible investment and finance, including microfinance

Questions? Ask us on Twitter, Facebook, or through our reference services.


New online resource: National Survey of State Laws

The National Survey of State Laws, by Richard Leiter (7th ed.) is now available as a database on Hein Online. For more than fifty topics, you get a synopsis of every state’s laws, presented as a table, with complete citations. Subjects run from family law to drug laws and minimum wage laws. You can customize the table to show only the states you are interested in, and also see the laws as they stood in 2008 and 2005. The print edition is on order.

Other handy sources of 50-state law summaries include the Subject Compilation of State Laws, which lists statute surveys that appear in law journals and legal treatises; Westlaw 50 State Statute Surveys, and LexisNexis 50 State Surveys: Statutes and Regulations.

RegFest is back February 12 from noon – 5 p.m.

Elevated view of the Regenstein Library, from the University of Chicago architectural guidebook titled Building Ideas, published summer of 2013. (Photo by Tom Rossiter)

Regenstein Library (Photo by Tom Rossiter)

Spend College Break Day at RegFest, a study break offering relaxation, recreation, and reflection at Regenstein Library.

RegFest will be held from Noon – 5:00 p.m. in Regenstein Library, Room 122A.

Snacks will be available.

Attending? Share on Facebook!

Program Highlights

  • Underground tours of the Mansueto Library. Registration for tours is required.
  • Celebrate Honest Abe’s birthday by viewing rare Lincoln memorabilia in the Special Collections Research Center.
  • Make your special someone a UChicago Valentine’s Day card or craft
  • UChicago themed games, contests, and prizes
  • Music, movies, and relaxation (Minute Mindful Meditation)
  • Plus, learn about Library resources & services that you may not be aware of…

All RegFest attendees will be entered into a drawing for unique Library gift bags.  We hope you can drop by RegFest!

Schedule of Events

Noon – 4:00 p.m.
Mansueto Library Tours Register for a Tour
Due to limited space, tours are limited to University of Chicago students. Registration is required.  Please arrive 10 minutes before your scheduled tour.
Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library. On this 30-minute tour, you’ll go underground to witness the Mansueto Library’s automatic storage and retrieval system at work. After the program, stop our RegFest Photo Booth for a commemorative selfie with the Mansueto robots.

Noon – 5:00 p.m.
Craft table
Make your special someone a UChicago Valentine’s Day card or craft

Noon – 5:00 p.m.
Game table
Sit down and play a Library related game, or solve a UChicago puzzle.

12:30 – 1:00 p.m.
Regenstein Cinema
Let’s go to the movies! We’ll be showing two short-subjects filmed in our campus libraries, plus a 1950s UChicago recruitment movie from the archives.

1:00 – 1:30 p.m.
Tracing Your Roots at Regenstein
Want to learn more about your family history?  Become an amateur genealogist, and learn how to research your family tree using the Library’s resources. Led by Rebecca Starkey, Regenstein Library.

1:30 – 2:00 p.m.
Play Spurious Correlations with Crerar
Did you know there is an inverse correlation between per capita consumption of American cheese and points scored by the winning team in the Super Bowl? Come play a fun matching game between graphs and interesting variables.  Or bring your laptop and create your own “spurious correlation”!  Led by Michelle Bass, Crerar Library.

2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Minute Mindful Meditation
Room 122B
Ginger Carr, UChicago’s Mindful Meditation Instructor, will be providing guided 15-minute mindful meditation sessions from 2-3pm. Please feel free to stop in at 2pm; 2:15pm; 2:30pm; or 2:45pm or stay for multiple sessions! All meditation levels accepted. Brought to you by Student Health and Counseling Services – Health Promotion and Wellness.

2:00 – 2:30 p.m.
It’s All Due at the Same Time! Assignment Scheduling Tips & Tricks
Struggling to keep track of all your readings, assignments, and extracurricular activities? Learn how to make your study life easier with time management tools and tips. Watch demonstrations of various time management apps or bring your laptop and demo for yourself! Led by Kaitlin Springmier, Regenstein Library Reference.

2:30 – 3:00 p.m.
I Want My NYT! Or, How to Avoid the Pay Wall & Get the News You Need
The Library provides students with access to most major newspapers through its news databases.  Learn how to read past and present issues of your favorite newspapers and access other news sources. Led by Rebecca Starkey, Regenstein Library Reference.

3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Lincoln Love
Special Collections Research Center, Classroom
Stop by the Special Collections Research Center to get to know Abe Lincoln a little better. The archives is home to a huge collection of Lincoln memorabilia, from manuscripts and political ephemera to plaster casts of his hands and a piece of a bloody curtain that is said to have hung in the Presidential box at Ford’s Theatre. Join us in SCRC’s Classroom for this special display of rare material to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday.  Assistant University Archivist Eileen Ielmini will be on hand to answer your questions.

4:00 – 4:30 p.m.
The TECHB@R Cares…About Your Computer and Data
Scared of nefarious robots taking over your computer? Tired of losing your data after dropping your computer in the lake? Come learn from experts from the TECHB@R how to keep your papers, projects, and pet pictures safe from bad people from the internet, and yourself.

Persons with disabilities who need an accommodation in order to participate in this event should contact Rebecca Starkey at rstarkey@uchicago.edu or 773-702-4484 for assistance.

Westlaw training sessions, Mon., Feb. 1, 12:15 p.m. & 2:45 p.m.

Dennis Elverman from Westlaw will be at the Law School on Monday, February 1, to give two presentations on using Westlaw to research the Winter Quarter Bigelow Program open memo assignment.

    • Westlaw Certification 101/201 – 12:15 – 1:00 p.m. – Room F (lunch provided for this session)
    • Westlaw Certification 101/201 – 2:45 – 3:30 p.m. – Room D

The material covered by these classes is as follows:

Westlaw Certification 101 – In this section of the class Dennis will go over an introduction to case law research on Westlaw, will go over tips to make you a better researcher, and will review the tools on Westlaw that will allow you to manage all your research completely online.

Westlaw Certification 201 – This section of the class takes a deeper dive into Westlaw advanced searching techniques, statutory research, and strategies to locate trial court documents and content that will make document drafting an easier process.

To RSVP for one of the classes click here: http://goo.gl/forms/542O5NUr9F

Do not hesitate to reach out to Dennis (dennis.elverman@thomsonreuters.com) if you have any questions.

Keystone program: Productivity and Project Management Tools, Mon., Jan. 25 at 3 pm in Room III

Organizing PDFs, using multiple devices, collaborating… how do you work efficiently? This workshop will give you tools and tips to help you fine tune your individual and group productivity needs. The workshop will take place on Monday, January 25, at 3 pm in Law School Classroom III. Kaitlin Springmier, Resident Librarian for Online Learning, and Todd Ito, Coordinator of Instruction and Outreach, will give an overview of our favorite free web tools for note taking, cloud storage, organizing and annotating articles, and managing collaborative projects. These tools, tips, and strategies should help you be more efficient with whatever you’re working on, whether it’s the open memo assignment, your SRP, comment, or a project for one of the clinics.

Attendance at this program will earn you 10 Keystone points.

Sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Students & the D’Angelo Law Library.

New online resource: Investment Arbitration Reporter

The D’Angelo Law Library now has a subscription to the Investment Arbitration Reporter. The IAReporter is a news and analysis service covering legal developments and policy trends in investment treaty arbitration. It also provides access to selected source documents such as pleadings, decisions, and arbitral awards. The IAReporter site has profiles of arbitrators active in the field of investor-state arbitration. You can sign up for email alerts. The IAReporter is one of the best ways to get the latest news and documents for your research.

You can browse investment arbitration news headlines by date/in chrono order or by theme: Countries/Regions (Argentina, Central/Eastern Europe, CIS & Ukraine, India, Intra-European Union, Venezuela); Forums/Processes (ICC, ICSID, SCC, UNCITRAL, Ad-Hoc); Hot Topics (e.g. Amicus Curiae Interventions, Environmental Disputes, Human Rights and Investment Law, Land Reform Disputes); Industries (Energy, Mining, Telecoms, Transportation); Major Treaties (CAFTA, Energy Charter Treaty, NAFTA).

[Note that you also have access to the Investor-State Law Guide  (ISLG) via the Law Library subscription. Click on the “Login” button on the upper right-hand corner to start your research.]

Preserving the Texture of Legal History: The Pleasure and Privilege of Rare Books

On the D’Angelo Law Library’s sixth floor, behind the glass walls and the keycard-entry doors, bathed in air that is always between 60–65°F and 45–60 percent humidity, are the really old books.

The artifacts sit in this climate-controlled silence, brought out for the occasional visitor but more often viewed digitally by students and scholars who might never have cradled a 400-year-old calfskin volume or turned a heavy parchment page printed in calligraphy. There are more than 3,700 items in the Law School’s collection, and more than half are available in digital form—meaning those volumes are both physically rare and more accessible than ever before. It is a modern paradox: as technology brings content closer—and reduces the need for in-person use—does a rare book become more so, or less? Can it be both?

Photos of the Rare Books sections at the University of Chicago's D'Angelo Law Library.

Digitization of rare texts has been an important development—scanned books are accessible to a greater number of researchers and are searchable—but it is impossible to fully replicate the experience of working with an original. The process of converting the documents into searchable text isn’t perfect; abbreviations, for instance, aren’t always translated consistently or accurately. Context can be lost if a full volume isn’t available and one can’t flip back to find a full citation or foundational details. And the experience of holding and reading a physical volume is lost when it appears only on a screen. To visit the two rooms housing the D’Angelo Law Library’s Rare Books Collection—or better, to thumb through a centuries-old volume beside a historian like Alison LaCroix, the Robert Newton Reid Professor of Law, or R.H. Helmholz, the Ruth Wyatt Rosenson Distinguished Service Professor of Law—is to peer into the lives and minds of the long-gone scholars and leaders who created our nation’s governing structure, or interpreted canon law, or commented on the decisions of a 17th-century European court. It is to touch what they touched, to see the law in a slightly different way, and to remember that all of these ideas were created and shaped by people.

It is, simply, to feel the curves and coils of history.

One afternoon last fall, LaCroix held some of these curves and coils in her hand—a 225-year-old, first-edition French translation of the United States Constitution and acts of the first U.S. Congress that the D’Angelo acquired about two years ago. The book, Actes passés à un congrès des Etats-Unis de l’Amérique, is believed to be the first French translation of the Bill of Rights and is curious for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that it essentially groups the nation’s supreme law alongside things like the Tariff Act of 1789.

“We don’t usually think of the Constitution as an act of Congress—it’s not just some regular old statute,” LaCroix said. “But there it is.”

Photograph of page of ConstitutionThen there’s the puzzle of the book’s origin, a question made somehow more compelling by the volume’s physical presence. The text was translated by one Monsieur Hubert, who appears to have been a lawyer or judge in the French parliament, or court—but who asked Monsieur Hubert to do it? And what might that decision tell us about the America’s efforts to gain recognition on the world stage, Europe’s view of the fledgling democracy, or early U.S. political divisions? What clues might lurk in the volume’s marginalia, or the ways in which the content is structured? The timing makes it intriguing: the late 1780s brought not just the ratification of the U.S. Constitution but the start of the French Revolution, a 10-year conflict that inspired both enthusiasm and fear among Americans. There was marked division in America—those who were pro-British and those, like Thomas Jefferson, who were pro-French. Had someone in America thought it important to share our law with the French during their time of upheaval, or had someone in France requested it?

“Who was the audience? Who in France said, ‘I want the U.S. Constitution, and I want to know what the U.S. Congress is doing?’” LaCroix said. “As often happens when you pick up a primary source, all these questions arise.”

As she turned the pages, history seemed to swell and take shape: there, in French, was the Judiciary Act of 1789, which would eventually become the first congressional act to be partially invalidated by the U.S. Supreme Court. But when it was translated for this volume, the act was still new and whole: it would be more than a decade before the landmark Marbury v. Madison struck down one of its provisions, affirming the concept of judicial review.

“When we’re talking about these periods in law school, it doesn’t always seem concrete: it is Marbury v. Madison, it is John Adams and George Washington and their theories. They’re in casebooks, so the texture is stripped away,” LaCroix said. “But there is so much literal texture in this volume: just feeling the pages and seeing the print. It’s a mode of human connection with people who created the structures of government institutions and offices.”

She ran her finger down a page, examining the text as she spoke.

“These were things that were created by people,” she continued, “let’s not forget that.”


The strength of the D’Angelo’s Rare Books Collection is historical U.S. law; the D’Angelo has nearly all the original primary sources in that category. The library is working to expand the European collection, an important area of growth, D’Angelo Law Library Director Sheri Lewis said. Right now, the library adds at least a few rare materials each year, and acquisitions are often driven by opportunity. Librarians—often Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Foreign and International Law Librarian, and Bill Schwesig, Bibliographer for Common Law—peruse dealer catalogs, participate in rare book auctions, and look for other chances to acquire volumes that meet particular research interests or add valuable dimension to the collection. In the autumn of 2014, for instance, the D’Angelo acquired about 100 rare titles that had been withdrawn from the collection at the Rutgers School of Law-Camden Law Library.

Photograph of a rare bookThe vast majority of the D’Angelo’s rare books are from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, though fourteen percent are from the seventeenth century and four percent are from sixteenth century. There are early volumes of the United States Reports, sixteenth-century canon law written in Latin, and volumes of Consilia, which are collections of opinions written to advise European judges in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and early eighteenth centuries. There are books on Prussian law, materials on witchcraft trials, and volumes of Sir William Blackstone’s eighteenth-century Commentaries on the Laws of England, which are influential treatises that played a role in the development of the American legal system. Some of the books in the D’Angelo’s rare collection are heavy elephant folios; others are just a few inches long, small enough to fit in the palm of a hand. Many of the books are beautiful, featuring ornate, handset type or fore-edge painting, which are designs or pictures painted onto the edges of the pages. Some have elegant, handwritten notes in the margins—the insights of early readers. Some volumes have held up surprisingly well for their age, and others have been rebound or preserved in other ways.

“Our library is fortunate to have these treasures of law and legal history in our collection,” Lewis said. “Our aspiration is to grow; there are still scholars who work with this material, and they work with it in a way that makes the actual artifact desirable.”

After all, not everything has been digitized; books that aren’t available online—especially ones that fit faculty research interests—are of obvious and particular value. The first-edition French translation of the Constitution, for instance, was a title the library knew LaCroix would appreciate. When the library acquired it, the book was in pamphlet form, and they took it to a rare book conservator to have it rebound.

D’Angelo librarians often consult with Helmholz, the rare book collection’s most frequent user. Right now, he’s hoping to help them find a collection of volumes published near the end of the sixteenth century: Tractatus universi iuris, or “The Treatise of All Laws.”

“It was a standard book, and we don’t have a copy, but we should,” he said. “It’s proving a little hard to find one, but it’s the kind of thing I’d like to get.”

A scholar whose expertise includes canon law, Helmholz has his own collection of rare books in his office and at home—though none, he notes, are on the extreme end of rare or valuable. For instance, there’s a 1556 volume covering basic canon law of the Middle Ages that he got a bit of a deal on.

“It’s quite a handsome volume, but look at this,” he said, flipping through the inside, “it was lacking some of the pages. So what the book dealer did is Xerox from another edition and paste these in. It’s a far-from-perfect copy—even the title page is gone, and the binding isn’t in great shape. But it’s useful, and for my purposes, it works. And I was able to buy it for, I don’t remember, maybe $400.”

Students and others who visit Helmholz’s office will sometimes ask about the books, and he usually doesn’t mind pulling a volume or two from the shelf. It’s gratifying, he said, to see the interest.

Shelf of rare books“Pick one out,” he told a visitor one morning last fall, before offering a brief tour of a heavy 1709 volume detailing the duties of ecclesiastical judges. “Did you have any Latin?” he asked the visitor—who hadn’t—before translating some of the text and encouraging her to be less hesitant in turning and touching the pages.

“They’re not fragile—you can see this is done in rag paper,” he said. “These things will still be around when most of the books we have from the 1900s are dust.”

This is another part of the draw: many old books are durable, a tribute to the craftsmanship of their time. They’re also practical in ways that digital versions are not. In any book, for instance, one can stumble upon related content or deliberately flip back a few pages for context. A rare book might represent the only opportunity to do that within a given niche.

“If you pull up a statute online and you’re in a small subset—small Roman numeral iv, part 3—you don’t know where you are,” LaCroix said. “As an intellectual matter, you need to be able to work back up the tree and see what’s next to it.”

Optical Character Recognition, the technology that converts the books to searchable documents, can fall short, particularly in dealing with abbreviations in Latin or other foreign languages.

“By experience, you can work out what these abbreviations mean, but you can’t really search for them,” Helmholz said. “Some of the sources cited in rare books become quite unrecognizable in scanned versions. Normally, in rare books, scanned versions are not adequate substitutes for the original.”

As these volumes continue to become both older and more accessible, Helmholz wonders if the market might offer an advantage to those who are still after the physical experience of the old book.

“My hope is that prices [of rare books] will decline markedly so we can buy more. I haven’t seen evidence of that yet, but it is my hope,” he said. “If you can get what you need in digitized form, why would you pay a small fortune for a book—except for the pleasure or privilege of having a rare book and being able to look at it?”

A University of Chicago Law School news release

PLC Global now available via WestlawNext

Great news! Comparative corporate law research is now much easier. Law School users now have access to PLC Global content through the Practical Law platform on WestlawNext!

Screenshot of Practical Law Global

To access the global materials, click on Practical Law on WestlawNext. At the bottom of the page on the right-hand side, click on the Global Content link. From this page you can access all of the PLC Global content – over 70 countries – arranged by these categories: Core Countries (U.S., UK, China); Europe (35, including France, Germany, and Italy); Asia Pacific (12, including Australia, Japan, South Korea); Africa, Middle East, and India (12, including Bahrain, Qatar, UAE); Latin American and the Caribbean (10, including Argentina, Brazil, Cayman Islands); and United States and Canada.

Practical Law focuses on transactional law and provides model documents (with legal drafting and negotiating tips), step-by-step checklists, timelines, handy overviews of transactional practice areas, and legal updates on the latest market developments. With PLC Global, we now have access to these tools and resources for many non-U.S. jurisdictions!

Lexis training session for 1Ls, Wed., Jan. 13, 12:15 p.m. in Room B

Lexis Advance logoCarter Mills from LexisNexis will be at the Law School this Wednesday, January 13, at 12:15 pm in Classroom B, to give a presentation on using Lexis Advance for researching the Winter Quarter Bigelow Program open memo assignment. Students can RSVP at https://www.lexisnexis.com/lawschool.

Food will be provided.

MLK Day, Monday, Jan. 18: D’Angelo Law, Eckhart, and SSA closed, other campus libraries remain open

On Monday, January 18, D’Angelo Law, Eckhart, and SSA libraries will be closed in observance of the Martin Luther King Day holiday.

Crerar, Mansueto, and Regenstein libraries will be open during their regular building hours. The All-Night Study Space on the 1st Floor of Regenstein will also remain open.

Illinois laws new in 2016

237 new Illinois laws take effect on January 1, 2016. For a full list, see New Illinois Laws. Included are new restrictions on persons convicted of driving under the influence (PA 99-0296), an end to mandatory life sentences for minors (PA 99‐0069), and a provision making pumpkin pie the official state pie (PA 99‐0364).

TRIAL: Ravel Law Judge Analytics

Ravel Law is a relatively new legal research and analytics platform that recently announced a project with the Harvard Law School to digitize Harvard’s entire collection of U.S. case law and make the collection available online for free. In addition to providing access to case law, Ravel Law also features data visualization tools to help legal researchers analyze relationships among cases.

Through December 31, 2015, University of Chicago Law School users also have access to another Ravel tool called  Judge Analytics, which provides an overview of an individual judge’s entire career, showing every decision and every citation in a single location. Students interested in studying judicial behavior, as well as those considering clerkships and summer externships with judges, can take advantage of this tool to learn more about specific judges.

Judge Analytics uses citation information to show which cases, circuits, and judges a judge has cited most often. Users can use it determine when a judge may look to law from an unexpected jurisdiction, to see when a judge demonstrates historical patterns on a subject or procedure, or to see which cases, rules, and exact language a judge may prefer and uses often. Judge Analytics currently covers all Federal Supreme, Circuit, and District Court judges.

To access the Judge Analytics trial, go to https://www.ravellaw.com/academics to set up an account and then select “Judge Analytics” from the list of products.

Quarter loans due January 8 – please return or renew

Quarter loans borrowed or renewed before December 14 are due Friday, January 8.

Items may be renewed via My Account or returned to any campus library.

Items that have been renewed 3 times must be returned and checked out again if you wish to keep them.  This limit does not apply to students in Ph.D. or J.S.D. programs.

D’Angelo Law Library Study Break

Coffee and cookies in the Reading Room this Saturday, December 12 from noon until 2:00 p.m., or whenever the coffee runs out.  Stop by the table in front of the Reference Desk and help yourself.