We the People: A Constitutional Day Miscellany

Constitution Day September 17th

September 17, 1787. 229 years ago tomorrow the drafters of the U.S. Constitution gathered to sign the document they created. Constitution Day was established by Congress in 2004 and since then, schools and universities in the U.S. have celebrated Constitution Day on September 17.


Each educational institution that receives Federal funds
for a fiscal year shall hold an educational program on the United
States Constitution on September 17 of such year for the students
served by the educational institution. (Pub. L. No. 108-447, § 111, 118 Stat. 2809, 3344 (2004)).

Trivia question: Pub. L. No. 108-447 also designated the National Tree.
What is the National Tree of the United States?


This year Constitution Day is being celebrated at the University of Montana on September 20 with a public lecture by Orin S. Kerr titled The Digital Fourth Amendment. The lecture will be held at 7:00 pm in Room 101 of the Law School.


Barry Faulkner's Constitutional Mural depicing signers of the U.S. Constitution
How many of the Signers can you name? (Answers)







The National Archives has some fun resources for observing Constitution Day, including an interesting of set of constitutional “trivia” questions. How many of these can you get right? (Answers)

  • How many lawyers were members of the Constitutional Convention?
  • Who was called the “Sage of the Constitutional Convention”?
  • Who was called the “Father of the Constitution”?
  • What did Thomas Jefferson have to do with framing the Constitution?
  • Who presided over the Constitutional Convention?
  • How long did it take to frame the Constitution?
  • Did George Washington sign the Declaration of Independence?
  • In ratifying the Constitution, did the people vote directly?
  • In what order did the States ratify the Constitution?
  • Is it possible to impeach a justice of the Supreme Court?
  • Who administers the oath of office to the Speaker of the House of Representatives?
  • Which is the longest term of office in the government, aside from judges?
  • How many methods of electing the President of the United States were considered by the Constitutional Convention?
  • What constitutes the Bill of Rights?
  • How many amendments to the Constitution have been repealed?

A couple other pages of interest from the National Archives:


The National Constitution Center’s Interactive Constitution allows users to explore the meanings of the Constitution through the discussions of expert Constitutional scholars representing a variety of viewpoints.



There’s a New Blog in Town

In the 1930s S.R. Ranganathan formulated his five laws of library science:

  1. Books are for use.
  2. Every reader his / her book.
  3. Every book its reader.
  4. Save the time of the reader.
  5. The library is a growing organism.

In 2004 librarian Alireza Noruzi applied these laws to the internet:

  1. Web resources are for use.
  2. Every reader his / her web resource.
  3. Every web resource its user.
  4. Save the time of the user.
  5. The web is a growing organism.

And now I will apply the laws of library science to weblogs or blogs.

  1. Blogs are for use.
  2. Every reader his / her Blog.
  3. Every Blog its user.
  4. Save the time of the Blogger.
  5. Blogs are a growing organism.

Save the time of the blogger? What does that mean? I realize that its not a perfect application of the laws of library science but it helps to illustrate a point: There is very likely a blog about almost anything you can think up. Try it. Just add the word “blog” to your google search. It is surprising how much knowledge, information, insight and advice people have to share.

Recently, Professor Bari Burke created a blog about the first women admitted to the Montana bar called “Montana’s Early Women Lawyers: Trail-blazing, Big Sky Sisters-in Law“.

Professor Burke focuses on women attorneys in Montana between 1899 and 1950 by providing biographical and anecdotal information on each woman admitted to the Montana Bar. Professor Burke also provides some historical statistics and lists significant events for women lawyers in Montana. Her blog is kept up to date with entries that consist of historical newspaper clippings that address some aspect of the status of women practicing law in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Visit Montana’s Early Women Lawyers for a fascinating study of how women participated in the legal profession in Montana’s early years.

Happy Birthday Library of Congress

The Library of Congress celebrates its 215th birthday today. Though not the oldest library in the United States (this honor belongs to the Darby Free Library in Darby Pennsylvania which has operated continuously since 1743), the Library of Congress (LC) is certainly the largest library in the United States. The Library of Congress is only slightly smaller than the British Library which claims the world title.

Just like many libraries today, the fledgling Library of Congress struggled to survive in its early years. Created on April 24th, 1800 (U.S. Statutes at Large v.2, chapter 37, section 5), the Library of Congress grew slowly until it was ransacked and burned by the British in 1814. Later that same year ex-president Thomas Jefferson sold his personal collection of some 6500 books to congress in order to restart the library. Jefferson’s vision of what the Library of Congress should be would have a permanent influence on the development of the library.

Parts of the Library of Congress burned again in 1851 and much of Jefferson’s original collection was lost. It was not until 1897, almost 100 years after it was created, that the Library of Congress moved into its current home in the Thomas Jefferson Building (originally called the Library of Congress building). Now LC employs over 3000 people, has an annual operating budget of about $618 million and houses 160,775,469 physical items in its various collections.

Thomas Jefferson building

The Library of Congress contains an incredible variety of resources including the world’s largest law library, vast photographic, audiovisual, and music collections, telephone books, comics, maps, non-English materials, and much more. You can take the online tour here.

The Library of Congress also contains a number of curiosities.

How about the world’s smallest book?

Old King Cole with penny copy (Gleniffer Press)

Or the world’s largest published book?


The Library of Congress has been and remains a major influence on the library development in the United States providing technical support and leadership to the library community. I encourage you to visit the LC website and spend some time browsing their pages. The creation and maintenance of the Library of Congress is a fantastic accomplishment. Happy Birthday Library of Congress!


Several months ago I blogged about our relatively new photocopier and indicated that it would scan a document which you could then email to yourself for free. Since I still see a lot of people making old fashioned photocopies at 10 cents a page, I’d like to elaborate on the scan/email feature. First, its free. Second, its easy. Its so easy that you don’t even need a diagram. Just follow the instructions below.

Platten Method

  1. Place the item to be scanned face down on the platen and close the top.
  2. Push the “Fax/Scan” button.
  3. Push “E-mail”
  4. Type in the email address that you wish to send the scan to. You have to use the “SHIFT” key to get to the @ symbol and the dot (.) symbol.
  5. Push the blue “Start” button.
  6. Turn to the next page in the document and place it face down on the platen (if there is a next page – if there are no further pages to scan, skip to step 8).
  7. Push the blue “Start” button. Repeat steps 6-7 until the entire document has been scanned.
  8. Push the “Finish” button when the entire document has been scanned.
  9. Push the blue “Start” button again to transmit the scan.

The Document Feeder Method

  1. Place your documents face up in the document feeder such that the top of the page lines up with the words “TOP OF THE PAGE”.
  2. Push the “Fax/Scan” button.
  3. Push “E-mail”
  4. Type in the email address that you wish to send the scan to. You have to use the “SHIFT” key to get to the @ symbol and the dot (.) symbol.
  5. Push the blue “Start” button.

The scanner will scan both side of every page in the feeder and send it as soon as it is finished scanning. No further actions are necessary. You may want to use one of the public computers to access your email and verify that your scans arrived in a usable form before you leave the library.


Legislative Intent Part 2 – 1987-1995

In the last blog we learned that some of the most valuable documents in determining legislative intent are the committee hearing notes. The methods of accessing these hearing notes depend on the legislative year in question. Here is a breakdown of access methods for various legislative sessions:

Prior to 1987 – Contact the State Law Library or the Montana State Historical Society – no materials are available at the Jameson Law Library.

1987 to 1995 – Microfiche available at the Jameson Law Library (and at the Montana State Law Library).

1997 – Electronic access at the Jameson Law Library (and at the Montana State Law Library).

1999 to the present – Online.

We have already covered 1999 to the present. 1997 represents a special case where the documents are available at the law library – the best thing to do if you need committee hearing notes from 1997 is to contact a Jameson law library staff member.

Because we will no longer be dealing with documents that are available online, the following discussion will be limited to the holdings of the Jameson Law Library on the UM Campus. Other documents and other means of access are available from the State Law Library of Montana as outlined in The Montana Legislative History Research Guide.


Accessing committee hearings through microfiche uses many of the tools that we learned about in the last blog: committee names, hearing dates, and bill numbers. The difference is in how these items are located and how the documents are accessed. Here is an example of a law that was amended in 1987, 1995, 1997. Let’s look into the 1995 amendment.

16-2-301. Retail selling price on table wine — tax on certain table wine. (1) The retail selling price at which table wine is sold at an agency liquor store is as determined by the agent.
(2) In addition to the tax on wine assessed under 16-1-411, there is a tax of 1 cent a liter on table wine sold by a table wine distributor to an agent as described in subsection (1). This additional tax must be paid to the department by the distributor in the same manner as the tax under 16-1-411 is paid. The department shall deposit the tax paid under this section in the general fund.
(3) For the purposes of this section, “table wine” does not include hard cider.

History: En. Sec. 9, Ch. 699, L. 1979; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 629, L. 1987; amd. Sec. 27, Ch. 530, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 399, L. 1997.

The first step is to determine the bill that amended this law. To locate the bill information we consult the Legislative Review 1995 (REF KFM9015 L43 1995) and look at the “Summary of Provisions by Chapter” section. Chapters are listed in numeric order so looking at chapter 530 tells us that HB574 was the bill that amended this law in 1995.

1995 leg review

The next step is to look at the history of HB 574 located in the “House Bills and Resolutions” section of 1995 History and Final Status (REF KFM9015 A24 1995).     The History and Final Status will provide us with the committee names, and hearing dates that we need to navigate the microfiche.

1995 hist and final status

From the History and Final Status of HB 574, we learn that the bill was referred to the House Business and Labor Committee and that a hearing was held on 3/2/95. HB 574 was then referred to the Senate Committee on Business and Labor and a hearing was held on 3/21/95. A complete search for indications of legislative intent would include looking at all available testimony, exhibits, discussions, committee reports and executive actions. In practice many people limit their search to the committee hearings and executive actions (often contained in the committee report).

We now have what we need to begin navigating the microfiche. The microfiche is organized by year, then by House or Senate, then by committee name. On any given piece of microfiche, documents are arranged in chronological order and roughly grouped by bill number. The microfiche and reader at the Jameson Law Library are located on the north wall.

For example, looking at the House Business and Labor Committee fiche that covers 3/2/95, we find the following hearing notes (plus six more pages of discussion and testimony not reproduced here).

house hearing march 2

Looking at the Senate Committee on Business and Industry fiche that covers 3/21/95 we find the following hearing notes (plus nine additional pages of discussion and testimony not reproduced here).

senate hearing march 22

To see the executive actions on this bill from these committees, we would simply move through the microfiche to the Committee Report dates provided in the History and Final Status entry: March 7 for the House committee, and March 21 for the Senate committee.

In conclusion, although some people shy away from microfiche based legislative intent questions, it’s really not that bad. It takes a little longer and you have to come to the library to do a fiche based search for legislative intent but the procedure is essentially the same as a web based search.

In the Jameson Law Library the microfiche is located on the north wall. The Montana Legislative Committee Reports are in the light blue cabinet. The microfiche reader instructions are on top of the  microfiche reader.

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.

Remote login

I was recently surprised to learn that several very knowledgeable people in the law building were unaware how easy it is to access our electronic resources from off campus. You don’t need VPN or any special hardware: all you need is access to the internet and your UM NetID username and password (the same credentials that you use to login to Cyberbear).

Here’s how it works. Start from the Law Library website:

library homepage

Click on Law Library Databases:


law library databases

Click on any of the starred databases. If you are on campus when you click on one of the starred databases, you will be taken directly to the resource and you may begin using it immediately. If you are off campus, you will be routed to the Remote Login Page:


remote login page

From here all you have to do is login with your net ID and password. Once you are logged in with your net ID, you will be routed to the resource originally selected.

Using your net ID to login remotely not only makes all of your Law Library favorite databases available, it also works with the Mansfield Library’s A-Z list of databases. So JSTOR, LegalTrac, and Lexis Academic just to name a few, are also available.

More details on the remote login process can be found here: