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:

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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