Source Collection: Triage Guide

Before You Begin to Search

1. Read the article. (Well, at least skim it, so you have a solid idea of what it is about.)

2. Look at the footnotes you've been assigned, and read the text associated with them. If there's any extra information there about the material being cited that doesn't appear in the footnote, such as the fact that it was a speech, or a paper presented at a conference, make a note of it.

3. Identify your cited materials. Can you tell if they are books, journal articles or reporters? To decode the mysterious citations -

  • Use your Bluebook, with its helpful Tables section and Index, as well as examples on the inside front cover that show the typefaces used for different types of publications. Also try the searchable, online version of the Bluebook if you have a subscription to it.
  • The Guide to Foreign and International Legal Citations (copy at the Reference Desk) can also help you decode citations to materials from foreign and international organizations and tribunals.
  • Check Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations (copies at the Reference Desk and the Main Reading Room) for a vast list of American, foreign, and international abbreviations. With the full title information, you will be better equipped to find the source in print or online.
  • Also try the online Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations to translate abbreviations .

Note which citations are still not translated or which cite to unfamiliar types of material such as treaties, non-legal sources, foreign language sources, etc.

4. Consult a reference librarian for assistance in deciphering the odd citations, and identifying and locating items found in step 3.

To Find Books

5. Search for books and other treatises using library catalogs, in the following order (the Law Library's ILL page gives step-by-step instructions for what to do if the materials are not found in LawCat):

LawCat (The Boalt Law Library's catalog)

Expedited ILL from nearby law schools
  • Stanford (Law Library only, not the Green or other Stanford library)
  • Hastings
  • Davis (Law Library only not the Shields library)

Melvyl (The UC catalog - all ten campuses)

WorldCat (Catologs which list the holdings of many libraries.)

6. Check out books and initiate retrieval requests.

a. Books found in LawCat that are checked out to another patron may be recalled. Go to the Circulation Desk in the Law Library to request this.
b. Books in the Law Libraries at Stanford, Davis and Hastings may be borrowed through Boalt's Expedited Interlibrary Loan Service. or consult with a Reference Librarian on your options.

c.To get books sitting on the shelves of other UCB Libraries, you'll have to walk to those libraries - books will not be sent here. Maps of the campus libraries are available in the Law Library or online.

d. For books not found on the UCB campus, but are in the Melvyl catalog, initiate the loan by clicking on the button at the top of the page when you've found the record of the book you need.

e. For books nowhere on the UCB campus, and not in the UC system, you'll have to use Interlibrary Borrowing Service based at Doe Library. You can walk over to the office at 133 Doe, or navigate your way to the online request pages. Note that books will be delivered to Doe - you cannot have ILL books sent here.

7. Consult a Reference Librarian about books not found in any catalogs in steps 5-6.

To Find Journal/News/Periodical Articles

8. Search for law reviews and other legal periodicals in LawCat, by the journal's title (not the title of the article). The catalog record will indicate if the item is also available on Hein Online (PDF page images), or another online database. It will not, however, tell you if it is in Lexis or Westlaw.

9. If not found in LawCat - especially interdisciplinary and/or non-legal periodicals - search Melvyl by the title of the periodical. Many journals will be available in online versions because of a UCB subscription, and you can use the button to help you locate the full text (or call number if full text is not available) of a specific citation.

a. A note on news articles: It can be notoriously hard to find a hard copy of the article quoted by your author for a variety of reasons but, generally speaking, the problem can be distilled down to this: the same article may take a slightly different form in an East Coast edition than in a West Coast edition than in an online edition. Headlines and page/column numbers may change!

b. Off-campus access to article databases: if you are doing any of the source collecting from off-campus, be sure to have you web browser configured for using the campus proxy server so that you will connect (using your CalNet ID and passphrase) with campus subscription resources.

10. Consult a reference librarian for law reviews, journals and periodicals not found in steps 8-9.

To Find Court Reporters and Other Primary Legal Sources

11. Search for court reporters and other primary legal sources in LawCat by the title of the source, or in Westlaw for reporters in the National Reporter System (there may be a scanned PDF copy in Westlaw that you can print for free).

Still haven't found what you need? Ask at the Reference Desk!


Last edited by I-Wei Wang, 6 October 2011