Foreign Jurisdictions • Et. Seq: The Harvard Law School Library Blog

Thoughts on Legal Citation

My relationship with the Bluebook goes back to when I was a first-year law student in 2004. There have been moments of love and moments of hate, but mostly, as someone who appreciates order, structure, and rules, love.

As a legal reference librarian, my interest in legal citation is more research-focused than anything.  There are few things that make my heart soar more than a work of legal scholarship that includes carefully drafted and correct citations to the sources referenced so that readers can find those sources with minimum pain and maximum efficiency.

However, legal citation has several purposes beyond just making it easier for researchers to find stuff.  “Citation Literacy” is a fascinating new article in the Arkansas Law Review by Professor Alexa Z. Chew of UNC Law School.  In the article, Professor Chew discusses four “communicative purposes” of legal citation: “(1) to locate the cited source … , (2) to communicate information to the reader about the weight of the cited authority … , (3) to demonstrate the writer’s credibility … and (4) to avoid plagiarism through proper attribution.” (pages 879-880)

Professor Chew also discusses what she calls the “untaught skill of reading citations.”  (page 890)  By removing citation information from cases in casebooks read by U.S. law students, she argues, the “dominant message sent by the first-year law school curriculum about legal citation” is that providing support for statements of law is either unimportant, optional, or both.  (pages 891-892)

Additionally, Professor Chew contends that, when law students read cases that do not include citations, they are not learning the skill of reading cases holistically.  This is not ideal, according to Professor Chew, because “understanding a case’s citations and how the information they encode informs the surrounding text is an essential part of reading a case in the first place.”  (page 895)

I was glad that Professor Chew also discussed the impact of learning legal citation on foreign-trained lawyers who are studying the U.S. legal system.  This part of the article made me re-think this issue myself.  When I taught substantive U.S. law classes in Germany last year, I gave them versions of cases that I had edited myself.  I also, for the sake of brevity, removed citations from those cases.

Looking back, I wish I had done more with Bluebook and legal citation with my German students.  I believe it would have helped them understand our legal system better, and it also would have helped them with their future forays into the world of U.S. legal research.

Speaking of teaching legal citation to non-U.S. law students, I maintain our library’s Bluebook Citation Guide for LL.M. Students.  After reading Professor Chew’s article, this guide seems, perhaps, overly procedural in nature.  I am now considering adding a section about why citation is important, and citing Professor Chew’s article in it.

My own experience as a foreign student contributes to my thinking on this issue as well.  Germany does not have an equivalent to the Bluebook citation system, or really any standardized system of legal citation at all as far as I know.  When I was writing my LL.M. thesis in Germany earlier this year, I was given a 4-page handout by my faculty supervisor, with examples about how to cite sources in the footnotes and in the bibliography (Literaturverzeichnis).  I did my best to follow the protocol, but I’m still not sure if I got everything right.

Below is a picture of footnotes 49-52 from my German LL.M. thesis:

The sources cited here are, in order: an article from the German Basic Law (Grundgesetz), a Federal Constitutional Court decision, a scholarly commentary on the Basic Law, and a U.S. law review article.

(Of course I did not notice until this very moment that footnote 49 should end in a period and not a semi-colon.  I guess I know now for sure that I did not get everything right.)

In these and all the footnotes in my thesis, author-written works are basically cited in a shortened format because full-length citations are provided in the bibliography.  Here is the bibliography entry for the Eberle article cited in footnotes 51 and 52:

I was told by people who read my thesis that my use of footnotes and citation was, perhaps, more extensive than is the norm in German legal scholarship.  But they knew that I am trained in U.S. law, and that I have spent years reading U.S. law review articles, which are heavily annotated compared to German legal periodicals, so it was understandable.

Anyway, I am very pleased to have seen an article in the legal literature about citation, and I hope this is a trend that continues.  I agree with Professor Chew that this is an important area of legal education that, perhaps, should be considered in a different light than it has been in the past.

Finally, I would like to briefly mention a new citation guide that we recently received in the HLS Library collection:

Global Arbitration Review’s UCIA – Universal Citation in International Arbitration
General Editor, Stephen Anway ; Assistant Editors, Alexis Martinez and Jonathan Allen
Published in 2018 by Law Business Research Ltd.
ISBN 9781912377299
Hollis Catalog Record

This is a guide to the developing convention on style and citation that is used by practitioners in the field of international arbitration.  It is “intended for use in all writings related to international arbitration – from memorials to awards, from scholarly articles to student briefs.”  (Editor’s Preface)  And, mercifully, it is much shorter than the Bluebook.

 

 

 

 

AALL Conference; Lex Baioariorum – Law of Bavaria

I will be joining several of my colleagues at the annual American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) conference in Baltimore this year, which begins on Sunday.  I missed last year’s conference, so I am really looking forward to connecting with my law library colleagues from all over the country.  I’ll be posting about a few of the conference programs on the DipLawMatic Dialogues blog, which is maintained by AALL’s Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Special Interest Section (FCIL-SIS).

Before heading out to the conference, I wanted to write a quick post about a fascinating little book related to Bavarian historical law that I found in our collection recently:

Lex Baioariorum: Das Recht der Bayern
Roman Deutinger (Ed.), 2017
http://id.lib.harvard.edu/alma/990150173540203941/catalog 

This is a bilingual Latin-German version of the Lex Baioariorum, which is the law that was in place in Bavaria during the early middle ages. As my Latin is a little, well, insufficient to get through a text like this, I am so grateful that Dr. Deutinger took the time to translate and publish this book.

This code is divided into 23 subjects, and has a total of 270 chapters.  Its content includes “regulations for every possible aspect of human co-existence and the conflicts that could arise within it” (“Regelungen zu allen möglichen Bereichen des menschlichen Zusammenlebens und zu den Konflikten, die sich dabei ergeben können”) – everything from religious institutions and family relationships to personal injuries, criminal offenses, and the ownership of property.

Within the code, there are separate sanctions defined for offenses against “free people, liberated people, and slaves.”  Penalties are defined in great detail.  For example, hitting a free person on the nose results in a penalty of nine Schillings, whereas a strike to a free person’s ear meant only a three-Schilling penalty.  The latter was one of a host of penalties related to the ears of free people: cutting off a free person’s ear meant a 20-Schilling fine, but that penalty was doubled to 40 Schillings if the action resulted in an injury severe enough to render the person deaf.  If, however, you committed a similar action that resulted in a slave’s deafness, the fine was only four Schillings.

I spent my recent professional development leave at a university in what is today the German state of Bavaria, which is a beautiful area full of castles that has interesting and rich history and traditions.  Unfortunately, I was not able to take a course on the legal history in Bavaria, which is a shame because I think I would have enjoyed it a lot.

In any event, I hope to explore our library’s resources related to Germany’s legal history in more detail in future posts.

Spotlight on Recently-Published Titles on African Constitutionalism

Several recently-published books on African constitutionalism in our collection caught my eye this week. I admit that I don’t really know much about this topic, but it strikes me as massive, likely made up of many varying and diverse philosophies and viewpoints. So I was interested in exploring its recent scholarly treatment.

In this post, I will focus on the two books that are part of a new Oxford University Press series, the Stellenbosch Handbooks in African Constitutional Law.  This series, edited by Professor Charles Manga Fombad of the Faculty of Law at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, is “designed to avoid a mere repetition of the now well-rehearsed concerns and doubts about constitutionalism on the continent and instead to identify, analyse, and promote serious discussion on the critical issues that can shape, refine, and deepen the strides being taken towards consolidating constitutionalism in Africa.”

The first book in the series, Separation of Powers in African Constitutionalism (ISBN: 9780198759799), was published in 2016.

Part I of the book contains two extremely helpful and informative introductory chapters, both written by Professor Fombad.  The first chapter offers a historical overview to African constitutionalism that catalogs and explains its many influences, including colonialism (accompanied by the implementation of common law and civil law legal systems), political ideologies (democracy, socialism), religion, and indigenous institutions.  It also includes illustrative examples from the constitutions of several jurisdictions, including Cape Verde, South Africa, Tunisia, Egypt, Burundi, Zambia, Botswana, Malawi, Cameroon, and many others.  It concludes with a discussion of the influence of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which later became the African Union, and the adoption of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights.  Chapter two provides a general overview of how the concept of the separation of powers manifests itself in African constitutions, as influenced by the American presidential system, the British parliamentary system, and the French “hybrid” system.

Part II of the book includes chapters that focus more narrowly, either on a specific issue related to the separation of powers (such as power sharing between the branches, the role of the judicial branch, and government accountability), or on a specific jurisdiction (Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and Namibia) or group of related jurisdictions (Lusophone, Francophone, and Anglophone Africa).  Part II focuses bit more heavily on sub-Saharan Africa than Part I, but it still provides an extensive analysis of the jurisdictions that are covered.

The second book in this series, Constitutional Adjudication in Africa (ISBN: 9780198810216), was published in 2017.

As with the first book in the series, Professor Fombad provides a very helpful introductory chapter that provides an overview of constitutional review in Africa.  He begins by distinguishing between the “decentralized” and “centralized” models of constitutional review.  According to Professor Fombad, under the decentralized view, as explained in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Marbury v. Madison, “constitutional matters are dealt with by ordinary courts during normal proceedings.”  (p. 20) By contrast, the centralized model, as developed in Europe by Hans Kelsen, features constitutional adjudication that is “carried out by a centralized, often specialized, tribunal established independently outside the judicial branch during special proceedings.” (p. 21)  The chapter then discusses how these models have been employed and adapted in African jurisdictions, providing, as a means of illustration, a comparative study of judicial review in Benin and South Africa.  The chapter concludes with information about access to and remedies provided by courts in African jurisdictions that have jurisdiction over constitutional matters.

This introductory chapter is followed by several chapters that focus on constitutional jurisprudence in specific African jurisdictions, including Benin, Cameroon, Angola, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Ethiopia.  There are also chapters discussing the impact of transjudicialism on constitutional adjudication, including the effects of international law norms and the work of regional and sub-regional courts in Africa.

Another chapter expands on the influence of Ubuntu (“the belief that the well-being of the individual and that of the community are inextricably linked – that one cannot exist without the other … (and that) the well being of the community is inextricably linked to a harmonious relationship with both its ancestors and with nature” (p. 294)) on constitutional adjudication in Africa.

Finally, Professor Fombad’s conclusion explores the further development of constitutional justice in Africa in the future.

As with the first book in the series, the focus here seems to rest on sub-Saharan African countries.  However, these two books provide an excellent broad introduction to this topic.  The content of these books is extensively annotated, providing citations to many other books and articles that researchers can use to perform a deeper dive into this subject.  Both books also include tables of cases and legislation.

I am glad that Oxford University Press is publishing this series, and I am looking forward to exploring its future volumes as they are released.

Note:
To explore other books in our collection related to African Constitutionalism, click here to search the HOLLIS library catalog by this subject.

Thoughts on Library Research Guides

Since I came back to the law library from my professional development leave, I have been looking at and thinking about the research guides I have written here.  (You can view the list of them.)  I was never formally trained on writing research guides.  I learned a little bit about them, conceptually, in library school, but mainly I have developed my own process and style by just doing them.

I think my philosophy about research guides has changed a little over the years.  In the past, I thought that bigger is definitely better.  Certainly the guides that I have done for German Law Research and Alternative Dispute Resolution Research are quite broad in terms of the number of topics covered and number of resources referenced.  Those guides generate a lot of interest in terms of traffic and hits, not just from Harvard but from all over the world.  People clearly find them helpful on some level.

However, I seem to be shifting a bit toward preferring to write smaller guides on narrower topics.  Like every librarian, I have a unique set of interests, strengths, and favored research techniques, and I think my guides should reflect those.

I am also thinking about how to maximize the utility of the guides that I write for Harvard Library users.  The Harvard Library has over 17 million volumes across all its libraries’ collections.  That’s a lot!  Many of the physical books and journals in the collection are stored off-site and cannot be physically browsed on the Harvard campus by library users.

In addition, our library catalog, HOLLIS, has been evolving over the last few years, as are catalogs at other academic libraries.  What I’ve been hearing about user feedback related to academic library catalogs is that people want a one-stop shop that delivers books and periodical articles, with a Google-like single-box search interface.  Of course a catalog that is set up like this makes quick searches easier.  However, it also might make it more difficult to dive deeply into a very nuanced scholarly topic, to maximize the relevancy of search results, and to find all the relevant materials in the collection, especially if users do not know very much about advanced searching.

The bottom line for me: I think it’s important to help library users where they are, and where many of them are is online, maybe even on their phone, looking for the fastest and easiest way to find the exact library materials they need.  And who can blame them for that?  If research is arduous and frustrating, then it’s not fun.  As someone who loves research, I hate the thought of that!

So the last two guides I have written for the law library have been very much of a “niche” variety.  For each of these guides, I took a smaller topic and wrote a guide describing, on a single web page with lots of links, the best options that I know to use to research it.

One of these new guides, Organized Crime in Italy, was written after I worked with a student who is doing some research in this area.  I have to admit I am more than a little fascinated with this topic.  I also wanted the opportunity to practice working with Italian-language resources.  Of course, in writing this guide, I am not doing the student’s research for her, but I am suggesting options that are available to her, based on my experience as a researcher here at Harvard.

The other guide I wrote recently is Resistance to the National Socialist Government in Germany.  This was also in created in response to a research area in which one of our users is interested.  As the library’s expert in German law, and because the Harvard Library has so many relevant materials on this subject, this was too important a guide for me not to spend my time on.

As for the contents of the guides themselves, anyone who looks at my guides will see immediately how much I love Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) as an indexing instrument.  I always include links to pre-populated HOLLIS searches by subject, using controlled LCSH vocabulary, in my guides.  This is the surest way I know to find relevant books on a subject, regardless of publication language.

Writing a research guide is, in my experience as a research librarian, the best and most rewarding way to learn about a topic and about optimal research techniques.  But it is definitely more important that a guide is readable and useful to the researchers who are looking for help on how research should be done at your library.  Going forward, I will continue to work toward that as my primary goal.

The Royal Wedding and the Law: an Update!

Seven years ago when the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (aka Prince William and Kate Middleton) tied the knot, we gave you an overview of the extra legal hurdles the royal couple were required to surmount beyond simply notifying the vicar or local register office.

There’s another royal wedding happening in just a few days, so we’re using this as an excuse to tell you about the new UK law that effected some changes after William and Kate’s big day, including a requirement that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had to follow in order for their wedding on Saturday to be lawful. The Succession to the Crown Act 2013 repealed the Royal Marriages Act 1772 doing away gender inequity, a religious requirement for royal spouses, and a cumbersome hurdle for very distant royal relations.

The first provision of the 2013 act was in the news just weeks ago: it instated absolute primogeniture rather than male-preference primogeniture in the United Kingdom. When William and Kate’s third child, Prince Louis, was born on April 23, his sister Princess Charlotte became the first British princess ever to retain her position in line to the throne and not be leapfrogged by a younger brother. She remains fourth in line to the throne after her grandfather Prince Charles, father Prince William, and elder brother Prince George.

In making this change, the UK joined Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Denmark, and Luxembourg in modernizing their monarchies. Fun side note: Belgium, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands all have one or more female heirs in direct line to their thrones! As we shared in 2011, the UK monarch is also the head of state in 15 Commonwealth realms (including Canada, New Zealand, and Jamaica). In order not to have different heads of state in these countries, during the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (aka CHOGM) held in Perth, Australia in October 2011, these nations agreed to update their laws to match, which they all did in 2015. Alas for any ambitions of Princess Anne–Queen Elizabeth II’s only daughter–the UK and Commonwealth laws were not retroactive and she remains in her place after younger brothers Princes Andrew and Edward.

The second provision of the Succession of the Crown Act 2013 removed the provision of the Act of Settlement 1701 that those in the line of succession who married Roman Catholics be disqualified from the line of succession. This provision was retroactive, and restored the Queen’s cousin, Prince Michael of Kent, and his children and grandchildren, to the line of succession starting in position number 46. Read about the history of why Catholic spouses were forbidden for heirs to the throne in our earlier post.

As for Harry and Meghan, the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 requires–as did the defunct Royal Marriages Act of 1772–that they seek permission from the Queen in order to marry. The big difference here is the number of other people the new act affects compared to the prior act. The Royal Marriages Act of 1772 specified that:

No descendant of his late Majesty, [King George II] (other than the issue of princesses married, or who may marry into foreign families) shall be capable of contracting matrimony without the previous consent of his Majesty, his heirs, &c.

This might have been reasonable at the time, but over 200 years later there are so many descendants of George II that even dedicated royal watchers won’t recognize some names of recent couples on the list of consents for marriages under the Act who had to seek the Queen’s permission in order to have a valid marriage.

The 2013 Act stipulates that “a person who (when the person marries) is one of the 6 persons next in the line of succession to the Crown must obtain the consent of Her Majesty before marrying.” Since Harry is currently 6th in line, his marriage is likely to be the last such instance of permission sought and granted for a good 20-30 years–presumably when his nephews or niece marry.

Hand-illuminated Instrument of Consent

Hand-illuminated Instrument of Consent

Harry and Meghan’s consent to marry was officially approved by his grandmother the Queen on March 14. They will also receive a hand-illuminated Instrument of Consent on vellum, suitable for framing, just as his brother and sister-in-law did. Although this aspect of the consent isn’t law-related, it’s both fun and strange as an American to see some of our symbols included on such a document in honor of Markle’s American and Californian heritage. The left side of the document contains traditional emblems of the realms of the United Kingdom, and Harry’s coronet. On the right is a leek–an emblem of Wales (as son of the Prince of Wales aka Prince Charles, Harry’s formal title until his grandmother gives him the job title upgrade to Duke on the wedding morning is Prince Henry of Wales)–surrounded by a heraldic-style rose (national flower of the United States since 1986), California’s golden poppies, and olive branches adapted from the Great Seal of the United States. Heraldry geeks may also note the labels on both sides featuring shells or “escallops” from the Spencer coat of arms, the family of Harry’s mother, Diana. Read more about the art and symbolism and get some closeups at ye olde royal website.

In addition to all the other things that will change in her life, there’s one more thing the formerly politically active American bride will have to get used to: not voting.  Watchers of Netflix’s The Crown may have picked up on the requirement that the Queen be politically neutral, including not voting. This is a requirement that comes from tradition rather than law, and the rest of her family are presumed to follow suit. Read more about the Queen’s role in government.

Happy royal wedding watching to everyone who will be up at 4am this Saturday!

Canadian Law Research in HeinOnline

Most people know that the HeinOnline subscription database is a great source of legal research materials from all over the world.  HeinOnline’s collection of legal primary and secondary sources from Canada is especially strong, and it is growing all the time.

JustinIn addition to the Canada Supreme Court Reports (date coverage: 1876-2016) and the Revised Statutes of Canada (all six revisions, from 1886 through 1985), Hein recently added a new library: Provincial Statutes of Canada.

Hein describes this new library as follows:

“The Provincial Statutes of Canada contain public and private acts passed by Canadian provincial governments. Current, revised, and historical content is available for Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Ontario. Historical and revised content only is available for Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan.”

HeinOnline also has a collection of more than 100 Canadian law journals. To access this collection from the HeinOnline homepage, click Law Journal Library > Country > Canada.

In addition to HeinOnline, the Law Library also subscribes to QuickLaw: LexisNexis Canada. This source provides access to Canadian court cases, legislation, journal articles, commentary, and more.

If you would like to read more the intricacies of Canadian legal research, the 4th edition of The Practical Guide to Canadian Legal Research, edited by Nancy McCormick, was published in 2015.

Photo Credit: Justin Trudeau, the leader of Canada’s Liberal Party, was sworn in as the country’s 23rd Prime Minister on November 4, 2015. This photo was taken during a debate in Toronto on February 16, 2013 by Adam Scotti.  https://flic.kr/p/dW2m9a.

What’s new on HeinOnline?

HeinOnlineLogoIf you use HeinOnline, you’re probably well aware of its comprehensive Law Journal Library and U.S. Congressional Documents, but there’s so much more. Here are highlights of new databases and other content that Hein added and updated in 2016.

HeinOnline is available to everyone at Harvard, not just HLS, so if you’re researching history, government, and related topics these resources are accessible to you too!

Note: descriptions of resources come from HeinOnline and have been lightly edited

National Survey of State Laws 7th Edition & Database
The new edition and database version of National Survey of State Laws provides an overall view of some of the most sought-after and controversial legal topics in the United States. The book and database are presented in chart format, allowing users to make state-by-state comparisons of current state laws. Additionally, database enables users to compare laws among specified states and previous editions. This database will be updated at least twice annually, ensuring up-to-date and accurate information.

UNC Press Law Publications
In May, HeinOnline reached an agreement with the University of North Carolina (UNC) Press to include nearly 150 law-related publications both within their own unique database and throughout existing collections. UNC Press was the first university press in the South and it has earned national and international recognition for excellence in publishing. The collection, which became available in September, includes both current and historical titles, with many available as full-color, image-based PDFs.

Slavery in America and the World: History, Culture & Law
This significant collection brings together a wealth of legal materials on slavery in the United States and the English-speaking world, including every statute passed by every state and colony, all federal statutes, all reported state and federal cases, and hundreds of books and pamphlets on this subject. The collection will continue to grow and now contains nearly 1,200 titles and 870,000 pages, including the prestigious Judicial Cases concerning American Slavery and the Negro by Helen Tunnicliff Catterall. Tools unique to this database include a Slavery Quick Finder, which enables users to select publications based on their position on slavery, document type, jurisdiction, and topic. These categorizations also apply to searching, so it’s simple to refine search results using facets. HeinOnline offered free global access to this brand-new resource.

Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases
The ABA’s Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases provides comprehensive expert analysis of all cases argued before the United States Supreme Court, is now available online exclusively via HeinOnline’s fully searchable, user-friendly platform. Released in October, this database includes complete archives as well as the most current material. In addition, the database version of this title features a case locator tool, access to exact replicas of original case briefs, full print transcripts of cases, links to audio transcripts via Oyez, and citation and summary information for each case.

Provincial Statutes of Canada
This new collection includes nearly 100 titles and 1,500 volumes of public and private acts passed by Canadian provincial governments. Current, revised, and historical coverage is available for Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Ontario. Revised and historical material only (material not under Crown Copyright) is available for Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan.

Brennan Center for Justice Publications at NYU School of Law
Publications from New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice were made available in October. The Brennan Center is a nonpartisan law and policy institute that seeks to improve the systems of democracy and justice in the United States. The Center’s work focuses on a wide range of issues, including voting rights, campaign finance reform, racial justice in criminal law, and constitutional protections in the fight against terrorism. The Center considers itself to be a think tank, public interest law firm, advocacy group, and communications hub. Its law and policy scholarship addresses many issues, is largely written by attorneys, and is extensively peer-reviewed by both scholars and legal practitioners.

Other notable additions

  • 50 legal dictionaries from Georgetown’s prestigious collection are in the process of being added to Spinelli’s Law Library Reference Shelf. To date, this collection contains more than 250 legal dictionaries.
  • Buddhism, Law & Society, a new journal published by William S. Hein & Co., Inc., is the first interdisciplinary academic journal to focus on the relationship between Buddhism and the legal world. Buddhism and its many social and legal manifestations are a central area of interest for the journal, as are the state’s legal relations to Buddhist actors, institutions and texts
  • The New York State Comptroller Opinions archive was completed, so coverage of this title is now from inception to current
  • Historical Martindale-Hubbell Law Directories
  • 117 new journals. There are now 2,343 journals in the Law Journal Library, all available back to inception
  • 1,209 new legal classics, for a total of 7,970 titles in this collection
  • 20,128 congressional documents. There are now 51,465 hearings, 20,894 CRS reports, and 5,013 Committee Prints in addition to complete coverage of the Congressional Record and its predecessor volumes
  • 125 new compiled legislative histories to the U.S. Federal Legislative History Library
  • 75 new titles and more than 1.4 million pages to State Reports: A Historical Archive

Want more help with HeinOnline or other HLS Library resources? Contact us or schedule a research consultation!

Another Option for Finding Library Materials by Subject

I have written before in this blog about using the Hollis library catalog to find materials in the law library by subject.

Specifically, I find the Hollis catalog’s hyperlinked Library of Congress (LC) Subject Headings to be a great way to discover what the libraries at Harvard have on a particular topic, especially if I’m looking for materials in multiple languages.

I recently learned more about a subject-based classification system that is used in many German academic libraries, the Regensburger Verbundklassifikation (RVK) system. This system was developed by the library at the University of Regensburg in the 1960s.

As with LC Call Numbers, the RVK system assigns letters to subjects. However, where law books are given a call number that starts with “K” under the LC system, the RVK system uses the letter “P” for call numbers for legal materials.

There is a wonderful RVK directory and search engine that is freely available through the internet: RVK Online. Although it is all in German, it is intuitive enough to use even if you don’t know the language well.

On the homepage of this site, there is a collapseable list of subjects. To view the subtopics under law, you would click the plus-sign next to Rechtswissenschaft (Legal Sciences).

rvk_1

Next, keep collapsing the list until you find the subject you want.  For example, if you are interested in researching the history of criminal law in the German states, you would click Rechtswissenschaft > Strafrecht, Strafverfahrensrecht, Kriminologie > Allgemeines und Geschichte > Geschichte > Deutsche Länder.

Once you have clicked down to a designated subject, a menu will appear on the right side of the screen. There is a row of blue buttons under the text of the subject you have selected. You can use these buttons to search for materials on this subject in German-language library consortia catalogs. (Suche = Search)

  • BVB – Library consortium of the state of Bavaria
  • GVB – Library consortium of the states of Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Niedersachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein, Thüringen
  • SWB – Library consortium of the state of Baden-Württemberg
  • OVB – Library consortium of Austria

rvk_2

If, on the above screen, you were to click Suche in SWB, you would see a search results list of 288 items available in the libraries of Badem-Württemberg, listed chronologically, newest first. (Note: I personally find the SWB catalog to be very strong in legal materials.)

The first book in this list is a 2014 conference publication about the work of Feuerbach, a late-17th century German legal scholar whose major work was to reform the Bavarian criminal code.

rvk_3

If you are interested in the history of criminal law in Bavaria, you will probably want to read this book. Of course, if you are not in Germany, you’re wondering if any U.S. libraries have this book so that you can borrow it.

This is easy enough to find out. Click the record in the SWB catalog, and look for the book’s ISBN number, a 13-digit code that starts with “978.”

Then, use that code to search for the book in the worldwide library catalog WorldCat (http://www.worldcat.org/advancedsearch). There is an option to search WorldCat by ISBN.

If you do this, you will see that several North American libraries (include the HLS Library!) own this book.

rvk_4

Although there is not a lot that has been written about the RVK system in languages other than German, there are lists of selected subjects (including those under the “P” legal sciences class) translated into both English and Italian. These lists are available at http://www.unibz.it/en/library/about/projects/rvk-translation.html.

The RVK system provides researchers with another option for finding library materials by subject. It might be easier to use this RVK system for certain types of research than to try to search a library catalog by keyword, especially if you are unfamiliar with the language used to discuss the topic in the scholarly literature.

I know that this is a resource that I am very happy to have learned about, and one that I will always use in my searches for German law materials in the future.

 

New Title Spotlight: The Liechtenstein Rules of Arbitration

One of the more recent European jurisdictions to make itself available as an arbitration venue is the Principality of Liechtenstein. In 2010, Liechtenstein amended its Civil Procedure Code (Zivilprozessordnung) to include a number of provisions related to arbitration.

The Liechtenstein Arbitration Association was formed in 2011. Since its formation, this organization has worked to establish Liechtenstein as a desirable forum for resolving disputes through arbitration. One of the means by which the organization’s membership has done this is to create the Liechtenstein Rules of Arbitration.

An English-language commentary on these rules, which includes the text of the rules in both English and French, was recently added to the law library’s collection:

The Liechtenstein Rules of Arbitration (Liechtenstein Rules): A Commentary Including the French Version and Model Clauses
Authors: Felix Dasser and Nicolas W. Reithner
Call Number: KKJ 182.9 .D37 2015
Location: Lewis (ILS) building, first floor

Co-author Felix Dasser is the head of the Ligitation/Arbitration practice team at the Homburger Law Firm in Zürich, Switzerland. He earned his LL.M. from Harvard Law School in 1990.

852 RARE: Games People Play*

Believe it or not, Historical & Special Collections is home to some law-related games, including playing cards and materials created to help students learn the law. This set of educational cards, published in Halle, Germany in 1709, was intended to teach students civil law.

Civil Law Playing Cards

Chartae Iusoriae Juridicae (Halle, 1709), HOLLIS 3706209.

Our set consists of 34 cards, numbered 2 through 35. Each card contains several principles of civil law, written in Latin. The principles are numbered 5 through 194. It’s too bad the first card is missing from our set! Each card has been backed with marbled paper, and the whole set fits into a papier mâché box, also covered with marbled paper.

Case and Playing Cards

Case and Playing Cards, HOLLIS 3706209.

There is an eight-page instruction booklet, written in German, bound into marbled paper wrappers that match the playing cards. Students could use the cards as simple flash cards for self-study, or gather with a group of fellow students for a scintillating round of play. Here are a few excerpts from the instructions, translated by Jennifer Allison, an HLSL Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Librarian:

  1. Those who would like to familiarize themselves with these laws and repeat them at will / must start by learning the first law on a card / tam quoad numerum, quam quoad sensum, and discuss it with their fellow players / who do the same thing.
  2. Once this has happened / they both, or also four, five, and six [people] could … / sit together / shuffle the cards / and deal them out to each player.
  3. At this point, the person who received the first card starts / by asking his neighbor a question about one of the cards in his hand e.g. ex fol 8. An possessor rerum immobilium satisdare teneatur? If this person answers / quod sic; he has answered incorrectly and must take the card / and must read … out loud from it / so that the other players, ex auditu, can be informed of the law. …
Instruction Booklet

Instruction Booklet, HOLLIS 3706209.

Let’s hope they were drinking lots of beer. Nevertheless, it’s a good reminder that legal study aids – and the market for them – have been around for a long time. Good luck in your law school studies, whichever study method you choose!

*with apologies to Eric Berne

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