Legal Databases Training for Law Students

The Nahum Gelber Law Library is pleased to be able to offer again  the database training by legal publishers to McGill Law students. The sessions will take place in the Law Library Computer Classroom (main floor of the library).

  • QuickLaw (LexiNexis)
    Monday, October 27, 13-14:30h
  • Westlaw Canada (Carswell)
    Wednesday, October 29, 13-14:30h
  • Azimut (SOQUIJ)
    Monday, November 3, 13-14:30h
  • CAIJ (Centre d’accès à l’information juridique)
    Wednesday, November 5, 13-14:30h

Sign-up sheets are available in the Law Library Computer Classroom.

Unsolicited Advice: Library Fines and How to Avoid Them…

This is not a literary text solicited by the co-editors-in-chief for this issue of the Quid, but more of a continuation of the re-emerging theme of my column, an unsolicited advice about the library. Today, I would like to talk to you not about a new “cool” rare book or a useful database that we recently bought but about something totally unglamorous and rather dull: library fines. This choice of topic is not random. From the reference desk, I begin to notice the traces of sleepless nights and mid-term-induced stress at the law students’ faces. [Here, a law student harassed by the looming deadlines and incomprehensible mysteries of the Red Book (sorry, McGill Law Journal) should burst into a fit of sarcastic laughter. “She sees how stressed we are, and she wants to speak about WHAT?”] Yes, I would like to talk to you about library fines. Not out of a malevolent desire to fill your life with a bit more stress and to see how you can handle it, but to help you, to make library fines easy to understand, and thus, easy to avoid.

So, library fines and how to avoid them… There are two main types of library fines that might affect a law student:

1. Recall fines for books – $5 per day.

As McGill students, you can borrow 80 books and renew them for an unlimited number of times. Following this logic, it may seem that you can borrow a book and keep it until you graduate. You can… unless the book is recalled. To make it possible for students and faculty members to share library resources (i.e. books and journals), any borrowed item can be recalled. Anything that you have on loan is subject to immediate recall if needed for reserves, or after 14 days from the date of the original loan if requested by another library user. When something is recalled, you receive a recall notice from the Library at your McGill student e-mail. You must return the item by the new due date or you will be charged $5 per day, with a maximum fine of $100 per item.

How to avoid getting fines for recalled books:

  • Check your McGill e-mail every day. When you see a recall notice, bring the book to the library.
  • Before you leave Montreal for vacation, holidays, or a visit, return all the books to the library. If you prefer not to do so, find a trustworthy friend/ classmate/ relative whom you can leave keys to your apartment/ room. Keep checking your McGill e-mail when on holidays (some people love working during Christmas vacation, so the books ARE being recalled even then). If a book is recalled, ask your friend to go to your lodgings, get the book, and return it to the library.  It may sound horribly insensitive, but the fact of being on vacation “up North”, on Bahamas, etc., is not a sufficient reason to waive your library fines (see below about fine waiving).

2. Reserve fines – $0.02 per minute.

First, what are reserves? Reserve materials are books and other items that because of high demand have short loan period. In the Law Library, the reserves are mostly books that are required readings for a class or some ever-popular titles, such as Canadian guide to uniform legal citations, a.k.a. Red Book. The loan period for all reserve items is 3 hours, after which the fines will kick in and will be calculated 24 hours/day. They can be borrowed overnight if they are borrowed within 3 hours before the closing of Library services. Course reserve items borrowed overnight will be due back one hour after Library services begin the next day. This means, if you borrow a reserve book on Thursday after 3:00 p.m., you can have it until Friday 10 a.m. At the Law Library, the reserve books borrowed on Friday after 3:00 p.m. need only be returned on Sunday before 11 a.m.

How to avoid getting fines for reserve materials:

  • Return them on time and to the branch library from which they were borrowed
  • When the service desk is open, return reserve materials to the desk
  • Avoid returning the reserve books borrowed before 3:00 p.m. after the service desk is closed. The mere fact of putting a book in the reserves return bin does not take it off your account because the return bin is really, you know… just a bin. It is not a fancy technological contraption that will check in books once they hit the bottom. It is a simple wooden box that will keep the books safe until the next day when one of our library assistants opens the service desk and checks the books in. For you, this means that the book stays on your account the whole night and the fines keep accumulating until the morning of the next opening day with a maximum of $100 per item.

What to do if you have already accumulated library fines?

The answer is simple. You will have to pay them. Fines can be waived only in special circumstances, for example, a documented medical situation. The lack of awareness of library policies or failure to receive a reminder email notice is not an acceptable reason for waiving a fine. Unfortunately, if you have $30 or more owing to the library or one overdue recalled item, will block you from borrowing ant library materials and from getting any diplomas and transcripts. To see if you have accumulated any fines, you can sign in your library account at

Book about the McGill Law Journal: The Journal: 60 Years of People, Prose, and Publication

So many people have published and edited with the McGill Law Journal that the Journal’s institutional memory could fill a book. This was the insight of the Managing Editor of volume 54, Eytan Bensoussan, who came up with the idea of writing a book about the history and legacy of the Journal. James Cummins, a journalist and writer from Ottawa, was commissioned to write the book by the Editor-in-Chief of volume 56. The result is an account of the singular nature of the McGill Law Journal, recounting the ways it was influenced by and has influenced the Canadian legal and political landscape.9781926716251_cover_coverbookpage-v2-modal

The McGill Law Journal is the premiere legal periodical in the history of Canadian scholarship. Since its founding in 1952 by Jacques-Yvan Morin (future leader of the Official Opposition in the National Assembly of Quebec) the Journal has been at the forefront of legal history. It was the first university-based law journal in Canada to be cited by the Supreme Court, and has since been outpaced by no other university journal in the frequency at which the Court has turned to it. And it has always has been run solely by students.

The Journal’s alumni covers a who’s who of the last 60 years in Canada, from international figures to business leaders; from national politicians to larger-than-life legal scholars; from judges to global entertainers. This is the story of the people who made the Journal work; of the people who each made their first real impacts on the world through an unearthly dedication and passion to their job at the MLJ. It is also the tale of the revolutionary ideas that flowed into, and in some situations started, in the pages of the publication they ran.

The book is based on interviews with the Journal’s alumni, a history of legal journals in Canada, and the content of each of the 58 volumes that came to be between 1952 and the end of the 60th anniversary year of the Journal in the spring of 2013. The culmination of this research provides a breathtaking picture of a history that was beginning to slowly fade into the past, strengthening the identity of a key part of Canadian society.

The journal: 60 Years of People, Prose, and Publication is now available at the Nahum Gelber Law Library: KEQ322 M34 2013.


Law Rare Books: New Additions to our Digitised Collections

The Nahum Gelber Law Library is fortunate to house a special collection on French law of Ancien Regime, the Wainwright Collection. It was formed on a basis of the working library of the renowned French jurist and legal historian Francois Olivier-Martin (1879-1952), doctor of law, professor of the legal history, and a prolific scholar who published more than 60 articles and 9 monographs. The Olivier-Martin’s library reflects with a remarkable accuracy the academic interests of its former owner with three major themes of the collection: French customary law, history of professional corporations, and history of pre-revolutionary French law, which found their manifestation in his three most significant works: Histoire de la coutume de la prévôté et vicomté de Paris (1922-1930), Organisation corporative de la France d’Ancien régime (1938), and Histoire du droit français des origines a la Révolution (1948). Those works, which are unrivaled in their use of primary sources and the breadth of the synthesis, are still widely cited by scholars writing about the history of French law or the history of professional corporations.

The copies of Histoire de la coutume…, Organisation corporative…, and Histoire du droit français… currently held in the McGill Law Library formerly belonged to Francois Olivier-Martin and bear multiple authorial manuscript annotations. book 82

Another feature that makes the McGill’s copies of Histoire de la coutume,and Organisation corporative unique is the fact that they contain more than 100 sheets of Olivier-Martin’s research notes, newspaper clippings, and letters. Notes 1 Notes 5

Recently, all three works as well as the enclosed ephemera have been digitised and now available for viewing and downloading via WorldCat:

Electronic McGill Cite Guide, Westlaw Next, and new La Reference

Since this week, we have access to the new platforms with improved user interfaces for the Westlaw Next Canada and La Reference (former DCL/ REJB).

One of the most important new features of the Westlaw Canada Next is the access to an electronic version of the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation (8th edition).

All the links in the Law Subject guide and on the Law Library branch page have been updated to lead to the new platforms.

Quelques sources de l’histoire de droit

Bibliographie d’histoire du droit en langue française, la banque de données bibliographique, est proposée par le Centre lorrain d’histoire du droit (C.L.H.D.) de l’Université de Nancy 2.

Portail numérique d’histoire du droit se propose de rassembler et de mettre à la disposition des chercheurs et enseignants en Histoire du droit toutes les informations pratiques, liens utiles et ressources électroniques diverses destinés à faciliter leur travail de recherche et d’enseignement, et d’assurer, autant que possible, la publicité des événements qui s’inscrivent dans le cadre de cette discipline.

Jus Politicum est une revue et une encyclopédie électronique consacrée au droit politique. Ce site se propose d’être un lieu de dialogue entre juristes, philosophes, historiens et politistes, ainsi qu’un point de rencontre entre cultures nationales, comme en témoignent la diversité de ses organes éditoriaux, ainsi que ses trois langues de travail de la revue (français, anglais et allemand).

Clio@Thémis, la revue fondée à l’initiative de plusieurs chercheurs au Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), associant des enseignants-chercheurs des Universités, souhaite contribuer au développement des débats et échanges scientifiques sur l’histoire du droit. Nomôdos est le blog d’actualités de Clio@Thémis, e-revue d’histoire du droit. 

Le portail Fontes Historiae Iuris contient les inventaires et analyses d’archives des cours de justice françaises et européennes d’Ancien Régime et les ouvrages numérisés en histoire du droit et de la justice. Les ouvrages sont classés selon la typologie des sources du droit (Législation, Doctrine, Coutumiers, Recueils d’arrêts, Dictionnaires, Encyclopédies et Lexicographies).

Essentiels du droit français donnent accès à une sélection de titres fondamentaux numérisés à partir des collections patrimoniales de la BnF et consultables dans Gallica. Le corpus est structuré par type de sources du droit correspondant aux axes de la politique documentaire de numérisation en sciences juridiques de la BnF : sources constitutionnelles, sources législatives et réglementaires, jurisprudence, doctrine, sources du droit coutumier et du droit local.

Gallica est la bibliothèque numérique de la Bibliothèque nationale de France. En libre accès, elle regroupe des livres numérisés, des cartulaires, des revues, des photos et une collection d’enluminures.

HathiTrust is a partnership of academic & research institutions, offering a collection of millions of titles digitized from libraries around the world.


Beginning in July 2014, McGill has a new, more secure VPN server. You must go through the steps to install the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client on your computer (a one-time procedure). Thereafter, you only need to click the AnyConnect icon and sign in using your McGill Username and Password. You can then access McGill internal resources, such as departmental and personal files. You can find more about the new VPN here.

Dictionnaires de droit privé en ligne

Depuis les années 1980, le Centre Paul-André Crépeau de droit privé et comparé a publié les dictionnaires de la terminologie du droit privé québécois issues du projet de recherche Dictionnaires de droit privé et lexiques bilingues. A présent, le Centre offre sur le site web trois dictionnaires en accès gratuit : le Dictionnaire de droit privé (2ème éd.), le Dictionnaire de droit privé des obligations ainsi que Le dictionnaire de droit privé de la famille, dans leurs versions française et anglaise. Dans les projets du Centre est de rajouté au site Le Dictionnaire de droit privé – Les Biens quiest paru en format papier en 2012 et la deuxième édition du Dictionnaire de droit privé de la famille qui paraitra bientôt.

Ces dictionnaires sont des outils de référence uniques  et essentiels pour l’ensemble des juristes québécois, pour les traducteurs juridiques, et pour les juristes travaillant en droit comparé. En exprimant le droit privé dans les langues anglaise et française, les Dictionnaires de droit privé / Private Law Dictionaries sont des outils de connaissance originaux qui tiennent compte du fait que le droit privé québécois évolue dans un cadre linguistique et juridique unique au monde. Ils constituent les seuls ouvrages de terminologie juridique pouvant prétendre refléter la spécificité bilingue et bijuridique de la culture juridique québécoise.

Le Capital au XXIe siècle

Can you imagine a book about economics being the number 15 on the best-sellers list of the Amazon? It is something rather hard to believe, but it is happening now with the Thomas Piketty book Le Capital au XXIe siècle. Published in French in 2013, and in English translation, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, in 2014, it had the first printings sold out almost immediately. Guardian is writing about Piketty-mania and reviews it for the readers who are not sure they can get through all 800 pages of economic wisdom; CBC sees its influence in the Ontario provincial elections; the Economist, Washington Post, New York Times, and many others publish articles and opinion pieces about Piketty and his theory… This list can be endless. Just take a look at the footnotes to French and English versions of this Wikipedia article - it will give you an understanding of the scope of the hype…

I hope that I have your attention now. We have just got a copy of the French edition of Le Capital au XXIe siècle at the Law Library and an English edition is expected shortly. Enjoy!

New Exhibit: Thought and Action: Fragments of Professor Roderick Alexander Macdonald’s (1948-2014) Life in the Law.

photoTo honour the life and work of the late Professor Roderick Alexander Macdonald who passed away on Friday, June the 13th, the Nahum Gelber Law Library opens a new exhibit: Thought and Action: Fragments of Professor Roderick Alexander Macdonald’s (1948-2014) Life in the Law.

A teacher, first and foremost, Roderick A. Macdonald will be remembered as one of the most important scholars and thinkers in McGill University’s history. He was a mentor and inspiration to generations of students and law professors, and a transformative force at the Faculty of Law, the University, in Canadian society, and in the broader world. Read the full obituary here.