Monday, November 29, 2010

Finding law journal articles

The library has a very good source of law journal articles - Westlaw Campus - but due to the unique way that database is organized, those articles are "invisible" unless you're already inside that database.

There are a few tricks to using Westlaw, so I'm going to summarize the steps for finding law journal articles right here:
  1. Get into the database. Go to the library web site and click All Databases By Title. Scroll all the way down and click Westlaw Campus. Log in if you're prompted to.
  2. In the options below the search boxes, click the checkbox for Journals and Law Reviews and then use the pull-down menu to select All Journals and Law Reviews.

  • Go back up to the search boxes and enter your keywords.
  • Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page and click the Search button there.
  • In your search results screen, the actual journal title, article title, and author are printed underneath the citation number, which is a link to the full-text.This is what the search results page looks like:
  • Law journal articles are often over 100 pages long (don't worry - most of it is footnotes!) Do not print the full-text before you check how long it is! But if you do decide to print it, or better yet, e-mail it to yourself, the links are in the top right corner of the page.

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  • Monday, November 22, 2010

    Finding the resources you need using Subject Guides

    Doing library research can be intimidating just because there are so many places to search for different kinds of information resources (e-books, articles, videos, data) on different topics.

    Some day we'll have achieved a level of technology where you can say, "Computer, give me three articles about PTSD among fire fighters!" and it will know exactly what you want and customize your results based on your known interests and preferences... that day is still far in the future. Not so much because of the technology, which is practically there already, but because of the laws and business considerations that restrict the sharing of content.

    In the mean time, we have Subject Guides. These are mini-websites that the librarians put together to make it easier to do research. Subject Guides bring together all the different search tools and sources that are useful for a particular subject area or family of topics, and they organize those tools and sources by type. In every Subject Guide you will find tabs for Reference, Journal Articles, Books, Multimedia and Web Sites. Under each tab will be various search tools and resources, each with a brief but useful description.

    You'll also find a chat box so you can ask a librarian any question that occurs to you while you work.

    It's important to note that the Subject Guide is not the place for you to do the actual keyword searching. With a few exceptions, it doesn't contain any useful content in itself. What it does is link you to the places that you can go to search.

    To get to the Subject Guides, either go to, or go to the library web site and click the link for Resources By Subject.

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    Monday, November 15, 2010

    Using WorldCat to discover books in any library

    Last week I mentioned that you can go to any SUNY, CUNY or New York state community college library to take out books. You can use their online catalog to find out what books they have and where to find them in the stacks.

    WorldCat is a catalog of catalogs. It's a database that contains the holdings
    of thousands of libraries - hundreds of millions of books, microform and multi
    media materials.

    You can get to it by going to Once you're in, just do a keyword search. It's a huge database, so be as specific as you want with that search! Also be sure to specify Year, Audience, Content, Format and Language using the boxes provided.
    Now you'll see your search results. Click on the title of any one that you're interested in to see more information about it. If you scroll down, you will see "Find a copy in the library." Put in your zip code to let it know where you are. It will tell you what libraries have the book, and the list will be arranged so that the ones closest to you are at the top of the list. Below, you can see that my book is available from four SUNY libraries, one of which is only 45 minutes away.

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    Monday, November 8, 2010

    New library resource - Annual Reviews

    Read the rest of this entry »

    The Annual Reviews are expert analyses of different topics that are put out every year. They survey the most up-to-date scholarly publications on a topic and synthesize and evaluate their content. As such, they are a high-quality, scholarly tertiary source.

    The Empire State College Library has just subscribed to the Annual Reviews in the social sciences. The content is from 2007 to 2011.

    • Anthropology
    • Clinical psychology
    • Environment and resources
    • Law and social science
    • Political science
    • Psychology
    • Public health
    • Sociology

    They are accessible by going to the library web site and clicking All Databases By Title. Then click Annual Reviews and log in with your college username and password. You will see this page

    screenshot of annual reviews main page

    Notice the checkmarks next to the ones that are available to us.

    You can either search by keyword, or you can click on one of the subject areas and browse for the particular Annual Review that you want. Then your results page looks like this:

    annual reviews results page

    Notice the full-text links to the right of each search result.

    Bear in mind that if you use the search option on the main page, your results list will probably include items that we don’t have access to, in addition to items for which you can get the full-text. This is more likely to come up if your research topic crosses over the boundaries of social science into economics or the “harder” sciences.

    Empire State College Library Research Blog
    Questions? Ask a Librarian

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Getting books from other SUNY Libraries

    Every once in a while I like to put out a reminder that all Empire State College students are also SUNY students, and as such, you're entitled to use the libraries at any SUNY, CUNY or New York state community college. You can use their in-house collections and borrow books using your college photo id. Some libraries also offer a guest login so you can use their databases while on campus. The libraries in this list that belong to SUNY will also extend interlibrary loan services to you.

    It's good to know what you're looking for before you get to the library. All library catalogs are on the web, so just do a web search like University at Albany library to locate their library web site. From there you can get to their catalog (sometimes called an OPAC) and find out what books they have on your topic. Be sure to write down their call numbers and any other "holdings" or location information provided, because that is how you will locate those books in the stacks.

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