Oh Christmas Tree

I don’t know if it’s holiday magic, the spirit of the season, the creativity of librarians, or all of the above, but this is the time of year when ordinary stacks of books turn in to book trees in libraries everywhere. Librarians ponder which sets are the right shade of green, which title should be featured at the top, how many books you need so it’s tall enough. Just as every tree in the forest is unique, so is every library book tree. They can be elegant or fun, statuesque or miniature, colorful or the more traditional green. They can be library fundraisers or a sustainable option to more traditional Christmas trees. The trees can be freestanding or built on shelves. They can be stacks of books or intricately folded pages.

Here is a wonderful collection of some of the book trees gracing law libraries this holiday season.

Tall, colorful Christmas tree build of law books.

Dee J Kelly Law Library, Texas A&M University School of Law. Photo courtesy of Joan Stringfellow.

Tall green Christmas tree build of law books.

Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes, PLLC, Jackson, MS. Photo courtesy of Lee Ann Robertson.Constructed using CJS and the Mississippi Code Annotated.

Tall green book tree.

Supreme Court of Ohio. Photo courtesy of Erin Waltz.Constructed from volumes of the National Union Catalog. Decorated with old library cards and a microfiche garland. Topper made of pages from the Ohio Revised Code and Ohio Official Reports.

The Supreme Court of Ohio Library also constructed a fireplace using Page's Ohio Revised Codes. Photo courtesy of Erin Waltz.

The Supreme Court of Ohio Library also constructed a fireplace using Page’s Ohio Revised Codes. Photo courtesy of Erin Waltz.


Colorful book tree.

2012 book tree at Phelps Dunbar, LLP in New Orleans. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Dabbs. Ornaments are pictures of the firm’s attorney; the managing partner is the star at the top.















Tall colorful Christmas tree constructed from books.

University of South Dakota, McCusick law Library. Photo courtesy of Sarah Kammer. This year the library hosted the NALSA student group’s annual toy drive near the tree.

Tall colorful Christmas tree constructed of books.

James Hunter III Law Library, 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, Camden, NJ. Photo courtesy of Kristin Schroth

University of Nebraska College of Law Schmid Law Library. Photo courtesy of Marcia Dority Baker.  Constructed from books that were boxed on a loading dock, waiting to be recycled. "It takes more books than it looks." Brian Striman.

University of Nebraska College of Law Schmid Law Library. Photo courtesy of Marcia Dority Baker. Constructed from books that were boxed on a loading dock, waiting to be recycled. “It takes more books than it looks.” Brian Striman.

Tall green and red Christmas tree constructed from books.

Tulane University law School. Photo courtesy of Amanda Watson. Constructed of Tulane Law Journal and LC Subject Headings.

Small book tree on a table.

Franklin County Law Library, Columbus, OH. Photo courtesy of Angela Baldree

Alaska Court System, Fairbanks. Photo courtesy of Susan Falk. Tree constructed by law clerks.

Alaska Court System, Fairbanks. Photo courtesy of Susan Falk. Tree constructed by law clerks.

Tall green Christmas tree constructed of books.

Beeson Law Library, Cumberland School of Law, Samford University. Photo courtesy of Grace Simms.

Top view of tall green Christmas tree constructed from books.

San Diego County Public Law Library. Photo courtesy of Benita Ghura. Constructed from 672 superseded books.

Tall green Christmas tree constructed of books.

St. Louis University Vincent C. Immel Law Library. Photo courtesy of Corie Dugas.

Tall green Chritsmas tree constructed from books.

UNT Dallas College of Law. Photo courtesy of Edward Hart.

New Mexico Supreme Court Library. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Wilson. Tree constructed from about-to-be recycled New Mexico Reports and Federal Rules Digest.

New Mexico Supreme Court Library. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Wilson. Tree constructed from about-to-be recycled New Mexico Reports and Federal Rules Digest.

New Mexico Supreme Court Library. Wreath made from reporter pages. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Wilson.

New Mexico Supreme Court Library. Wreath made from reporter pages. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Wilson.

O'Melveny & Myers, LLP, San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Holly Riccio.

O’Melveny & Myers, LLP, San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Holly Riccio.

Elf on a Shelf and Librarian Action Figure, Nancy Pearl, research whether Santa is real at O'Melveny & Myers.

Elf on a Shelf and Librarian Action Figure, Nancy Pearl, research whether Santa is real at O’Melveny & Myers.
















































































If you’re inspired to build your own book tree, there are a couple of resources to get you started. Kate Krause from the Texas Medical Center Library has written an illustrated article, How to Build a Library Bookmas Tree. There is also a youtube video, How to Make Your Very Own Christmas Tree Out of Books. Or if you’re inspired beyond Christmas, see Mari Cheney and Rob Truman’s article in WestPac News (beginning on p. 5) about the Boley Law Library’s “book art” endeavors encompassing Christmas and beyond.

Jameson Law Library Tree

Photo courtesy of Ed Wrzesien.

The staff of the William J. Jameson Law Library wishes you happy holidays. Our book tree this year was constructed from Halsbury’s Laws of England and the Revised Code of Washington. It is decorated with glittery snowflakes and battery-powered candles. The tree topper was handcrafted from a copy of Educating Lawyers.

The Jameson Law Library blog will be taking a break until January 30. Look for us in the new year.

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December Survival


It’s a very difficult time of year. The stress of final exams is thick in the air and anxiety and exhaustion are apparent on the faces I see around me. Oddly mingling with the toxic atmosphere are Christmas songs with messages of joy, but they also remind that the holidays have their own stresses that are bearing down. For you students, life is rather unpleasant right now.

It is only logic (since you feel stuck in the logic mode these days) that if you’re going to survive, you’ll have to take care of yourself. Your survival plan should include sleeping whenever possible, occasional meals instead of constant quick junk food, and stretching/walking breaks built into your study schedule. Though your brain and how much you can pack into it seems to be the only thing that exists right now, you still have a body to take care of, and that body has to carry you through this.

You may still remember when you had a life, and you should make it your goal to get back to it as soon as possible. Before you are a lawyer, you have to be a person. To be a person, you have to find joy and meaning in your life. Too often, being a person gets lost in the process of becoming a lawyer.

It is important to foster your final exam survival skills not only for the next round of exams but for the long run as well. There will always be stress, deadlines, and the tendency to get lost in the work. You will need to find ways to balance your life and let life inform your work instead of work destroy your life. Be a person first and a lawyer second.

With that, I wish you good luck with finals and happy holidays with lots of sleep and some serious fun!


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New Books Libguide

Our new library guide, New Books at The Jameson Law Library provides a new and improved way to present new books, book review resources, and student, staff, and faculty reading recommendations.

This Libguide is so new that there are hardly any books in it yet! I’ve added a few new titles and will add a page for recommended books just as soon as I receive some recommendations.

Consider this announcement a solicitation for recommended titles. You don’t have to review a book for me to include it. Just send me the title, author, and a sentence or two about your response to the book and I’ll do the rest. A recommendation can be positive or negative. Nearly any topic or subject will be covered.

Send your recommendations to:


And check out the New Books at the Jameson Law Library libguide at


There will also be a link to the new books lib guide on the Jameson Law Library website.

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New Kid in Town

Montana attorneys have a new option for conducting electronic legal research, and this one is free, making it a game-changer for many attorneys who have had limited access to electronic legal research until now. The State Bar of Montana recently contracted with Fastcase to provide research services for Montana attorneys. This week University of Montana Law School students and faculty also gained access to Fastcase.

The Fastcase library contains cases, annotated codes, administrative regulations, constitutions and court rules from all 50 states and federal jurisdictions. In addition, through a partnership with Hein Online, Fastcase users can also research law review articles.

Fastcase has some unique features that set it apart. Fastcase’s relevancy results make sure the most relevant documents are always listed at the top of the results. The results screen weighs the relevancy of each document and in one glance shows how many times each has been cited, making it easy to find both the most relevant and most cited cases at the same time. For researchers who prefer visual cues to numbers, an interactive results map allows researchers to see both most relevant and most cited cases in one visual display. Fastcase’s authority checker doesn’t analyze how citing cases have treated a particular case, but it does show the context in which the case was cited and the language surrounding the citation. In addition, Fastcases’s new Bad Law Bot flags cases that have been treated negatively.

Twenty-five state bar associations now subscribe to Fastcase for their members. If you are a UMSL student or faculty member, you should have received your Fastcase password via email this week; if you didn’t, contact the law library. There will be training opportunities early next semester, but if you want to start trying it out now, there are some video tutorials you can use.

Two pumpkins surrounding a Happy Thanksgiving sign.


The Jameson Law Library Blog will take a break Friday, November 28 for the Thanksgiving Weekend. Look for us again on December 5.

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In the legal field, changes in technology in the last ten years have changed how things are done and what is possible for everyone from law students to advanced practitioners. As always, some embrace technology and others resist, but it is impossible to ignore. The profession now demands technological competence.

It’s always difficult to tell where technology is leading, but it’s often useful to look back at the technological breakthroughs of the past and see how they have led to the present. The changes in the legal profession in a very short time are astounding.

You know how important legal documents are, and copies of legal documents are equally important. Everyone involved needs a copy, copies need to be filed with the court, copies need to be sent to people in other places, etc. This has always been true, but Xerox designed the first successful commercial copier in 1959 (Xerox 914).

Up into the 1900’s, lawyers depended on scriveners for making all the necessary copies. A scrivener is a person who makes handwritten copies of documents. A scrivener didn’t need to be trained in law. They needed to know how to read and write, write legibly, and copy accurately. Up until the mid-1800’s, this was all done using quill pens. A technological breakthrough that sped up the process a bit was the introduction of steel nib pens like the ones in this 1869 advertisement.


Typewriters first appeared in the late 1800’s, but they were rather awkward machines at first and with few people trained to use them, they weren’t used with any regularity until the mid-1900’s when rows of typists began to replace rows of scriveners. The typewriter below is from 1874.


What we take for granted now, the ability to instantly and exactly copy any piece of paper, was a dream, but it was a dream that was achieved by means of the letterpress copier. This is basically just a large screw vise with a square document-size plate (usually wood). This wondrous machine could make an exact copy of a document page. This did speed things up tremendously, but it still took a special person to make the copies because it was a rather tricky process and had the risk of destroying the original document in the process. Here are the instructions on how to make a copy:

  • Place a piece of oiled, moisture-resistant paper underneath the leaf of thin copying paper in the copying book, to prevent moisture from transferring to surrounding leaves.
  • Dampen the sheet of copying paper with a dampening cloth or a brush dipped in water. “Moisture evenly distributed, and neither scant nor excessive, is the secret of success.” Too little water and the copy of the letter would be too faint to read; too much water and the copy would be blurred and illegible.
  • Remove excess moisture from the copying paper with a sheet of blotting paper, so that the copying paper is evenly saturated and damp, but not wet enough to be shiny.
  • Place the letter to be copied so the writing side is in contact with the dampened leaf of copying paper.
  • Place another sheet of oiled paper or blotting paper behind the original letter, to prevent moisture from transferring to surrounding leaves.
  • Close the book, place it in the copying press, and make the impression.
  • Open the press, remove the original letter, and return the (closed) copying book to the press with the two sheets of oiled paper still surrounding the copy. This allows the page to dry flat and prevents moisture from transferring to other leaves of the copying book.
  • 19th_c-legal_technology-sm

How technology changes procedures and possibilities is a fascinating subject, but technology doesn’t necessarily solve problems. Sometimes it creates new problems. It’s up to you to understand and properly use technology to solve problems and make yourself more effective.

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Using the Law Library Online

Former Jameson law librarian Cynthia Condit wrote an an excellent guide to using the online library catalog   –  I present it to you below.  Thanks Cynthia for this week’s blog entry!

The online catalog is your key to determining what resources are available in the library collection and precisely where they are located. You can access the catalog through the Law Library website (link under Research Tools) or directly at: http://catalog.lib.umt.edu/vwebv/searchBasic?sk=law

The default search is to materials located at the Law Library, but you can expand your search to Mansfield library and other affiliated UM libraries. One exception to the Law Library default: if an item is available as an electronic book or resource through an affiliate library, it will appear in your results list.

Note: Law titles often are referred to by shortened or popular names. For instance, Wright & Miller is the name most people use to refer to Federal Practice and Procedure. If a title search does not return results, conduct an advanced search (see below).

How to Search the Law Library Catalog

Basic Search by Title: This is the default search that comes up when you open the catalog. Use this search if you know the title of the resource you are looking for. Exclude A, An, or The when they appear as the initial word of your title.

Author Search: Use this search if you know the author’s name. Select the Author tab and enter the author’s last name and first name. Double check that you have the correct spelling of the author’s name.

Advanced Search: Use this search if you are not sure of the title, don’t have the author’s name, or want to browse what’s available in a particular area.

  • Select Advanced Search tab. Type in search term(s) in the search field. Options include search term(s) “as a phrase” (the default), or as “any of these” or “all of these” from the drop-down list.
  • The “Search by” box default is by “keyword.” This returns results where your term(s) appears anywhere in the record. Sometimes, this broad search returns many more results than are useful to you.
  • To narrow and refine an advanced search, select “Title Keyword” from the “Search by” drop-down list. This search limits results to items that contain these terms only in the title.
  • Example: enter Evidence as a “Keyword,” you retrieve over 3,400 results. But enter the same term and select “Title Keyword,” and the results list drops to 1,684 results. To continue narrowing, add additional keywords in the remaining search boxes and select “Keyword Title.” Example: add “federal” and the results list drops to 70. Add “guide” and the results list drops to 18.
  • The “Library” default for searches, as noted above, is the law library, excluding government documents. If you want to expand your search to include other affiliated libraries, select from the drop-down list.
  • Further optional search limiter criteria include: by year, format, type of material, language, and place of publication. You can also increase the number of results per page.

How to Locate Your Title in the Law Library

 Materials in the Law Library are arranged according to the Library of Congress classification system. See the handout “How Do I Read Library of Congress Call Numbers” for a quick guide to understanding how titles are shelved according to this system.

 To locate a title:

  • You need the Call Number to your title from the record. The Call Number will look similar to the following examples:
    • REF KF 154.A42 (may or may not include a year)
    • KF 5692.J84 (1998).
    • KFM 9112.A75 L25 (2003)
  • Quick tips:
    • REF at the front of the Call Number indicates that the title is in the reference section of the Law Library (west side of the library, downstairs and on the mezzanine level).
    • Items without REF on the call number are generally located in the treatise section of the Law Library (east side of the library, downstairs and on the mezzanine level).
    • Items with KFM in the Call Number indicate Montana titles.
  • Some exceptions:
    • Law Reviews and Journals do not have a call number. They are on the mezzanine, north-west section of the Law Library, in ABC order.
    • ALR’s (American Law Reports) are along the west wall downstairs.
    • Bankruptcy Reporters and Digests are along the east wall downstairs.
    • Federal reporters are in the low shelves downstairs in the middle section of the Law Library.
    • Compact shelving (in the far north-east corner of the Law Library) holds pre-2000 Law Reviews and Journals.
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Vampires in the Workplace


Being Halloween, I guess I can admit that I’m partial to vampires. It seems that zombies are the favorite Halloween character these days, but the classic Dracula was number one when I was growing up. Of course I’ve seen everything from Nosferatu and Lugosi’s Dracula to millions of questionable movies on late night TV and up to the True Blood series, which was a particularly interesting take on the whole vampire mythology. Vampires are such a part of our culture that we feel like we know them. Maybe we do! Maybe your co-worker is a vampire.

The article “The Vampire in the Next Cubicle” in the Employment Responsibility and Rights Journal (2012) has everything you need to know if you might be working with or supervising vampires in the workplace. I love this article because it’s not a fluff piece or a humor piece, it’s a complete and solid analysis of the legal issues that would be involved if vampires wanted employment.  It covers nondiscrimination in the hiring of vampires, how vampirism would be classified as a disability under the ADA, what is reasonable accommodation for vampire employees, and vampires and confidentiality laws. It also shows how existing laws try to adapt to new situations, which is a process of great importance to anyone in the legal profession. So I would recommend this article whether you’re passionately interested in the legal rights of vampires or if you just want a little Halloween fun learn some law at the same time. Happy Halloween!


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