Hidden Gems: Under-appreciated UW Law Library Resources

As the calendar winds its way toward spring and the end of the semester approaches, Assistant Director for Public Services, Kris Turner recommends the following underutilized or overlooked gems to help law students finish the year on a high note:

1. Are you focused on Wisconsin-specific laws and procedures? Then without a doubt, you should check out Books Unbound, the digital collection of treatises and ‘brown binders’ that are relied on by practitioners across the state. You have free access as a law student! Just create a student associate account here and you get your access in a few short days. Learn about the cases that have governed Wisconsin law in a wide number of subjects and the procedures in courts across the state. This collection of secondary sources is great for briefs, law review articles, or even for your time in the clinics over the summer!

2. Are you working with a faculty member focused on legislative history? A crucial resource for you is the Proquest Legislative Insight database. Attorneys and researchers have done the dirty work of compiling all the various documents that make up a legislative history for major federal legislation in one place. It’s an enormous time-saver! Legislative histories are daunting, so always feel free to reach out to a law librarian for help, but to get started, you can review our guides on how to research either federal legislation here or Wisconsin legislation here.

3. The Law Library also has standing orders to receive the newest study aids for a number of publishers. Many students love Examples and Explanations (with good reason), but we also have Nutshells, Black Letter Outlines, Concise Hornbooks, and much more! You can see what we have available for check-out on our Study Aids guide here. But also don’t forget about the Academic Enhancement Program, which also has an extensive list of study aids. Their list of resources is available here.

4. Those last two underappreciated resources come from our long list of Law Library Research Guides. Not only have we created handy-dandy guides for legislative histories and study aids, but also for a series of other topics ranging from a 1L survival guide to Criminal Law to Copyright to Indian Law. Practically any class you take while in law school has a dedicated guide! Dive deeper and learn more about your subject and locate resources that will help you excel on that paper or final using any one of these 60+ research guides.

5. Have you ever wanted to read more of your favorite professor’s scholarship or learn more about law school history? The Law Library maintains an extensive digital repository that collects not only our faculty scholarship, but also the entire run of our journals (did you know there used to be a fourth journal?), oral histories from past law professors, recordings of our Kastenmeier and Fairchild lectures and so much more. What better way to understand what a professor wants from a paper in class than reading their own work?

6. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention one of my favorite databases – HeinOnline. I’m not so sure it’s underappreciated, but it does contain a wealth of great secondary and primary materials that makes it one of the first places I look for research and answers. You may know it as the home of practically every law review, but it also has great collections of older statutes from all 50 states, a Constitutional collection from across the world, and full-text books of legal classics that are frequently cited by legal scholars. If you haven’t used it yet, you will!

I am out of breath just talking about those six resources but there are so many more databases, tools, and services that we are happy to provide. Law Library staff are always happy to answer your questions about these or any other databases that are out there. Knowing where to start (or where to go next) can be intimidating and daunting, so please don’t hesitate to ask! We’ll have an answer! Get in touch with us via phone, email, chat or in-person!

Enjoy the slow return of nice weather and we’ll be here, ready to help!

by Kristopher Turner, March 10, 2021