Languages • Et. Seq: The Harvard Law School Library Blog

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 

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.

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.

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).


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


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.


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 ( 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.


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

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.

German Passports and Identification Documents: A History

In browsing the library’s German stacks recently (“KK” call numbers – 3rd floor of the Lewis/ILS building) I discovered a very cool book: an illustrated history of German passports and identification documents from the middle ages to the present.

Der Passexpedient: Geschichte der Reisepässe und Ausweisdokumente – vom Mittelalter bis zum Personalausweis im Scheckkartenformat
Andreas Reisen
Nomos Verlag, 2012

Andreas Reisen (whose last name, interestingly, is the infinitive form of the German verb “to travel”) must have had a lot of fun researching this book and exploring historical and modern examples of German passports and travel/identification documents.  Some have been scanned and included as illustrations, making the book appealing even to those who don’t read German.

When I mentioned this book to one of my colleagues, she asked, “They had passports in the middle ages?”  Well, in a manner of speaking, yes.  They weren’t little books filled with border guard stamps, however.  Instead, for example, they might have looked like this:

According to the caption, this is an “accompanying letter from Kaiser Carl V for Martin Luther for travelling to Worms” from 1521.  This letter was issued during a crucial period in the course of Luther’s life, as he had recently been excommunicated from the Catholic Church and was called to appear before the Diet of Worms to answer for his criticism of the church.  Ultimately, this journey, as a result of which he was a labeled a “convicted heretic,” was a significant stepping stone toward Luther forming the Lutheran Church.

By the 1800s, statutory requirements for passports in the area we now know as Germany were coming into force.  One example of this is the 1813 Allgemeines Paßregelement of the Royal State of Prussia. According to this law, foreign nationals, “regardless of profession, age, gender and religious belief, regardless if [they] arrive by water or land, or through an official post, or otherwise by wagon, horseback, or on foot, whether [they] would like to remain in our territories or simply pass through them,” must provide personal documentation that states one of several acceptable reasons for admission into Prussia.

(By the way, the publication in which this law originally appeared, Gesetz-Sammlung für die königlichen Preußischen Staaten, is available in print through the Harvard Depository.  Harvard’s print copy has also been digitized and is available through the HathiTrust database.  Click here to see page 47 of the 1813 volume, where this law was originally published.)

Examples of passports from the various governing entities in Germany in the mid-1800s follow a common format, with the person’s biographical information listed in the left-hand column, and the description of the reason the person is travelling on the right.

60 61

Photos, however, did not start appearing in passports until the early 1900s.


The second half of the book describes and shows the evolution of personal identification and travel documentation in Germany throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.  It concludes by discussing the new personal ID card format that was introduced in 2010.

This is a fascinating historical survey of German passports and identification documents, thoroughly researched and well-illustrated with beautiful scanned images.  It’s well-worth a look, even if you don’t read much German.

“Transliteration” of Foreign Languages in HOLLIS Records

The law library’s print collection includes many non-English books and journals, including materials published in languages that do not use the Roman/Latin alphabet.

The example below shows the HOLLIS+ record of a Russian-language book that was recently added to the collection.  Information in several of the fields, including the title, is shown first in Cyrillic, and then in what is known as “transliterated” or “Romanized” Russian:

HOLLIS+ Record of a Russian Book in the Law Library.

HOLLIS+ Record of a Russian Book in the Law Library.

The law library’s catalogers use the ALA-LC Romanization rules to create the transliterated text. Romanization tables showing these rules, for languages from Amharic to Vai, are available to the public through the Library of Congress’s website:

Want to learn more about how Romanization works for non Latin/Roman alphabet-language materials in libraries?  Check out these resources:

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