Category Archives: Libraries & Librarians

A Zotero Update and work-around for the UW Catalog

2015 has been a whirlwind year of change for UW Libraries, even though most of it is not obvious to users. The campus (and entire UW system!) recently switched our library catalog platform and modified several of our web discovery tools.

Zotero, a free and very helpful citation manager used by many Law School faculty and staff, was also recently updated and changed in Firefox. Instead of seeing a book icon (or folder, journal article, etc.) in your address bar, the Zotero translator tool is now located to the far right in your Firefox browser, as indicated in the screenshot below:


To save your item (book, article, website, etc.), click on the drop-down menu and select how you want the resource to be saved. It’s an easy-to-use upgrade, but one that was rolled out somewhat quietly.

All these changes, however, have caused one part of Zotero to go on the fritz. If you try to save a book, etc. from the UW library catalog, Zotero currently cannot detect all of the information about the item and so doesn’t know that it is saving information for a book or journal. It will simply try to save them item as a webpage…which leaves a lot of useful information behind.

The UW team is aware of the problem, but it may take some time to fix it as there are so many other changes to work through at this time. In the meantime, a helpful workaround is to go to, a catalog of library materials worldwide, and locate your book, etc. there. You will be able to save your item with all of the important data and information quickly and easily.

If you have any problems or questions, feel free to contact either Kris or Bonnie and we’ll figure out a solution.

Dane & Milwaukee County Law Libraries Renamed

Two Wisconsin county law libraries have been renamed. The Dane Legal Resource Center will now be known as the Dane County Law Library and the Milwaukee Legal Resource Center is now the Milwaukee County Law Library.

From WSLL @ Your Service:

These new names give our users a better understanding of the legal information services we offer. Both county law libraries work extensively with legal service providers. Complimentary to that one-on-one assistance, the library provides convenient access to legal information and space to work right in each Courthouse.

Someone Keeps Photocopying Their Cat at the UW Library

Ok – this has nothing to do with law, but it was too good not to share.  Headline from TIME:  Someone Keeps Photocopying Their Cat at the University of Wisconsin Library.

From the post:

A staffer at the university’s Badger Herald newspaper stumbled upon the following photo while studying at the Steenbock Library Tuesday:


I had not heard about this until I saw the post in TIME.  How funny.  We’ll see if the cat-culprit makes his or her way to the Law Library.

Article: Ineffective Assistance of Library: The Failings and the Future of Prison Law Libraries

There is a very interesting article in the June 2013 edition of the Georgetown Law Journal (101 Geo. L.J. 1171) about prison libraries. (available via Westlaw and LexisNexis)
From the abstract:

The prison law library has long been a potent symbol of the inmate’s right to access the courts. But it has never been a practical tool for providing that access. This contradiction lies at the core of the law library doctrine. It takes little imagination to see the problem with requiring untrained inmates, many of them illiterate or non-English speakers, to navigate the world of postconviction relief and civil rights litigation with nothing more than the help of a few library books…
This Article uses original historical research to show how prison law libraries arose, not as a means of accessing the courts, but rather as a means of controlling inmates’ behavior.

Curious about the meaning behind that last phrase, I took a closer look at the article. It seems that during the 1950’s, the law library that served Illinois’s prisons became so popular that in just a nine year period “inmates at the 4,400-man Stateville facility shot off 27,890 filings to the courts, not including those filed by their attorneys.” This apparently didn’t sit to well with some in the legislature and judiciary.
Author Jonathan Abel wondered, “with legislators and judges criticizing the law library, what could have motivated Stateville and Joliet Warden Joseph Ragen to let it grow so big? Not constitutional requirements. Not a sense for the future development of the law. No, it appears the warden had more practical reasons, at least according to the newspaper. Ragen said he was ‘not too unhappy’ with the situation because ‘the job of preparing petitions keeps the prisoners occupied.'” (p 1183)
Here’s more from the abstract

By placing the origin of the prison law library in the first decades of the twentieth century-half a century earlier than typical accounts-this Article shows how the law library evolved to take on a new purpose in the 1960s and 1970s, when the Supreme Court and other courts first began to fashion a law library doctrine.
The central argument of this Article is simple: The courts’ attempts to graft an access-to-courts rationale onto a law library system that had developed for other purposes led to a law library doctrine riddled with contradictions and doomed to failure. This historical account helps explain a prison law library system that never really made sense in terms of providing access to the courts.

Hat tip to Legal Research Plus

Book Madness Tournament

From the UW Madison Libraries:
Love the NCAA basketball tourney, but wish it was just a little more … bookish? You’re in luck. The UW-Madison Libraries are hosting our first annual Book Madness Tournament.
A brutal selection process resulted in a collection of 64 books – 8 divisions with 8 books each – going head-to-head to determine our favorite book.
Vote for your favorites in each round. Total votes will determine which books move on.
The eight divisions are:
Contemporary Literature

Top Ten Things Law Librarians Wish Law Students Would Know or Do

In preparation for a session that I’m doing for some of our Legal Research and Writing students next week, I pulled together a list of Top Ten Things Law Librarians Wish Law Students Would Know or Do.
The list was first created by Betty Karweick for our Legal Research and Writing program years ago. I’ve updated the list for 2013 using suggestions from members of the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin.

UW Madison Unveils New Library Catalog

Today, the UW Madison libraries are releasing a new Library Catalog. It has been available for beta testing for some time, but today marks it’s official debut.
Here are some highlights:

  • intuitive interface for fast discovery
  • powerful limits and narrowing for all searches
  • seamless portal to all UW System libraries
  • easy access to your account information
  • mobile friendly

The new catalog really is a great improvement over its predecessor, MadCat. It is more visually sleek and much more intuitive. I especially like the faceting that allows you easily narrow down your search. The new catalog was designed in house.
For more information about the new catalog, see the development blog called Moving Forward.
MadCat, the prior catalog, will continue to be available for those who prefer to use it. There is a link to it on the top right of the new catalog.

Celebrate National Library Week at the UW Law Library

Stop by the Law Library this week and help us celebrate National Library Week!
For our celebration this year, we have put together a number of activities including a book drive, Bluebooking workshop, and, of course, our faculty READ poster.

  • READ Poster
    View this year’s poster featuring Meg Gaines
    – On display inside the library entrance on the 5th floor
    – View posters from previous years on our Facebook page

  • Give a Book
    Donate gently-used recreational books to help the Dane Co. Legal Resource Center purchase a subscription to Shepards for pro se patrons
    – All week on the 5th floor

  • Workshop – Bluebooking Tips for the Journal Write-On and Beyond
    Students will learn how to efficiently navigate the Bluebook to create and interpret legal citations
    – Wed., April 13th at 12:25 pm in Rm 5229
    – Fri., April 15th at 11:00 am in Rm 3253

Law Library Staff Member CJ Ullrich’s Stort Story Published

Congratulations to CJ Ullrich, our Law Library Stack Manager, who has just had a short story published. The story is entitled “The Collector” and was co-authored by Paul McComas. The publisher is
CJ’s work has earned high praised from acclaimed co-author McComas who writes:

C.J. has studied fiction writing with me for four weeks through Lawrence University’s Bjorklunden adult-ed program in beautiful Door County, Wisconsin, and for one term (Summer 2010) through UW-Madison’s Minicourse Program. It was in the latter venue that this talented young writer (whose gorgeous, elegiac story “The Call of the Mourning Dove” I’d included in my 2007 anthology Further Persons Imperfect) began developing the story you’re about to read . . .
. . . That is, if you dare. Fair warning: “The Collector” is, appropriately, the single most disturbing piece in “the collection.” It was a hard piece to co-author, simply because it took me to such a dark place–a place where I wasn’t sure it was safe to be.