Celebrating 75 Years of UW Law Library’s “The Freeing of the Slaves” mural

This year marks the 75th anniversary of UW Law School’s iconic mural, The Freeing of the Slaves. The mural, which was completed in July 1942, was created by artist John Steuart Curry, who is considered one of the most important American Regionalist artists of the 20th century.

The Law Library invites you to our Quarles & Brady Reading Room to view the mural this anniversary year.  We’ve created several displays celebrating the mural, including a nearby display case containing rejected designs and early photos of the mural and a website with a bibliography and photographs of the mural through the decades.  UW Law School alumni can look for an article celebrating the 75th anniversary of the mural in an upcoming issue of the Gargoyle.

A few interesting facts about Curry’s The Freeing of the Slaves:

The mural was originally commissioned for the federal Department of Justice building in 1935 but officials rejected it because they feared that “serious difficulties… might arise as a result of the racial implications of the subject matter”

Fortunately, Curry’s design caught the attention of then Law School Dean Lloyd K. Garrison who wanted it for the “new” Law Library reading room dedicated in 1940:

“I felt from the beginning that the mural would be appropriate for the law building… Here is one of the great events in our constitutional history, an event fashioned in the midst of a national crisis by a great lawyer-president.  The mural not only symbolizes that event but proclaims in a noble and patriotic setting the dignity and freedom of all persons, however humble, in a democracy whose ideals of liberty are summed up and protected by the constitution.”

The mural was completed in several phases as described by Curry:

“I made a life sized drawing in my studio… then fastened this drawing in place on the wall in the library reading room…  I traced through [the drawing] with a pencil… and proceeded to paint from a scaffolding directly onto the linen, which now contained the black and white outline of the design. There are really two complete paintings. The first was in tempera. The second, superimposed on the first, was in oil.”

The library circulation desk was originally located directly underneath the mural.  According to then Law Library Director, Maurice Leon:

“a scaffolding was stretched across the north end of the reading room and artist-in-residence, John Steuart Curry, sat or walked on it while painting his giant mural, The Freeing of the Slaves.  Underneath, surrounded and enfolded by painter’s drop cloths, the circulation and reserve desk attendants carried on business as usual.”

For more information about the creation of the mural and how it came to be at the UW Law School, see the wall placard on display in the Quarles & Brady Reading Room.  The original placard manuscript is also available on our website.

Using Infographics in Strategic Planning & Assessment

The University of Wisconsin Law Library engages in regular strategic planning and assessment of our effectiveness in achieving our mission and realizing our goals.  At the beginning of the academic year, we develop a strategic plan consisting of three parts: our mission and vision, our ongoing key priorities, and a selection of strategic initiatives on which we will focus that year.  Then, at the end of the year, we assess of our efforts in achieving our annual goals.

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, we used infographics throughout both our strategic plan and assessment report to make the information more accessible to key stakeholders.  Inspired by the University of Georgia Law Library, we used Piktochart to create the infographics.

Here’s a snapshot of our 2016-17 strategic plan.  Our 2017-18 plan is available on our website.

UW Law Library Strategic Plan 2016-17

We recently finalized our 2016-17 assessment report based on this strategic plan.  The full report is available on our website, but here are compilations of the infographics that we created to assess our ongoing key priorities and annual strategic initiatives.

 

UW Law Library Strategic Initiatives 2016-17

Access LLMC Digital Remotely With Your Wisconsin State Law Library Card

LLMC Digital is a searchable archive of historical primary legal sources for Wisconsin, the United States, and other jurisdictions. Wisconsin materials included in LLMC’s collections include historical Wisconsin reports, session laws, and statutes. A large number of secondary sources including federal government periodicals and treatises are also searchable via LLMC.

The Wisconsin State Law Library has recently announced that with your Wisconsin State Law Library card, you can now log into LLMC Digital from outside the library.

Wisconsin State Law Library cardholders also have off-site access to HeinOnline, the Index to Legal Periodicals and Books, and Legal Trac.

Arrest Data Analysis Tool Available from Bureau of Justice Statistics

Established in 1949, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) is the United States’ primary source for criminal justice statistics. BJS publishes many reports such as the seminal Crime in the United States as well as several data analysis tools. The Arrest Data Analysis Tool, for example, allows users to generate tables and graphs of national arrest data from 1980 onward. The results can be customized either by age and sex or by age group and race for more than 25 offenses.

Users can also view data on local arrests because the arrest data is compiled from the reporting of individual law enforcement agencies. The FBI has collected arrest counts for several decades now through its Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program which forms the backbone of the underlying statistics. Over 18,000 city, university/college, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies voluntarily participate in the program covering about 80% of the U.S resident population. The output from this dynamic tool can be downloaded to Excel format.

This User’s Guide will help you get started.

This post was authored by Eric Taylor, Evening Reference Librarian at the UW Law Library

Update from 511 Wisconsin to Help You Plan Your Next Trip!

511 Wisconsin is a website with up-to-date information about Wisconsin traffic, travel, road conditions, etc.

According to the website, “We’re updating the 511 Wisconsin website with additional features that will help My 511WI users personalize travel planning needs. These enhancements mean that all My 511WI users will need to re-enroll when the new site goes live on Wednesday, July 12. When you visit www.511wi.gov that morning, you’ll notice a new look with a responsive, mobile-friendly design that’s engineered to maximize the ‘know before you go’ experience.”

The Free Law Project’s CourtListener.com Contains Every Free PACER Opinion

The Free Law Project has recently announced that in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor and Georgia State University, they have collected every free written order and opinion that is currently available in PACER.

New opinions will be downloaded every night (!) to keep the collection up-to-date.

Currently, the collection contains about 3.4 million orders and opinions from cases dating back to 1960. All of the documents are available for search, and the Free Law Project has also partnered with the Internet Archive to upload a copy of every opinion as well (the Internet Archive is a non-profit whose mission is to permanently store digital content).

Read more about this exciting new initiative here.

US Supreme Court to Require Electronic Filing

Beginning in November, the US Supreme Court will require electronic filing of case documents.  According to a SCOTUS press release, counsel will initially submit filings both in print and electronically.  An exception will be made for pro se parties; Court personnel will scan and make their filings available electronically.

Once the system is in place, the new electronic filings will be made freely available from the Court’s website.  The e-filings will not be part of PACER system, reports the National Law Journal.

 

 

Welcome to Emma Babler, UW Law Library’s newest librarian!

The UW Law Library is pleased to announce our newest law librarian: Emma Babler. Emma will be our new Reference and Technology Librarian, where she will be tasked with assisting students, staff, and anyone who asks a question! Emma comes to us from the UNLV Law Library but received both her MLS and JD from the University of Wisconsin.

Welcome, Emma! We’re excited to be working with you!

A small but critical change on Congress.gov

 

Congress.Gov announced yesterday that with their new version of searching, users will now get slightly different results. The reason? The default operator is now AND and not OR. So, as Congress.Gov’s post points out, a search for National Park will yield results that include National AND Park instead of National OR Park. A nice improvement, if I do say so myself!

Read more about Congress.Gov’s change here.

New Tool Compares County Criminal Justice Statistics for Wisconsin and Other States

Earlier this week, the nonprofit Measures for Justice launched an amazing new data portal “to assess and compare the criminal justice process from arrest to post-conviction on a county-by-county basis. The data set comprises measures that address three broad categories: Fiscal Responsibility, Fair Process, and Public Safety.”

According to The Marshall Project:

The project, which has as its motto “you can’t change what you can’t see,” centers on 32 “core measures”: yardsticks to determine how well local criminal justice systems are working. How often do people plead guilty without a lawyer? How often do prosecutors dismiss charges? How long do people have to wait for a court hearing? Users can also slice the answers to these questions in different ways, using “companion measures” such as race and political affiliation.

Just six states are included so far, but fortunately for us, Wisconsin is one of them.  The others are Washington, Utah, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida.

The site is really incredible.  It allows you to zero in and compare data for measures including bail payments, diversion, dismissals, case resolution, type and length of sentence, and more.  Data is then presented by county with the option to further limit and compare by race/ethnicity, sex, age, offense severity, and offense type.

For example, here’s a screen shot from the tool comparing non violent felonies sentenced to prison by Wisconsin county further filtered by race/ethnicity.  Note that you can select specific counties to more deeply explore and compare data as shown below.

Kudos to Measures for Justice for creating this remarkable and easy-to-use tool.