Law library services and resources during the pandemic

This blog post has been adapted from our recent From the Gelber columns in the Quid Novi.

Edit: this blog post was edited on October 26th, 2020, to include the reactivation of our article/ chapter scan service, and on November 26th, to update our study hub hours and add book return information.

While heading back to school in the middle of a pandemic certainly comes with its challenges, the library worked hard throughout the summer (and continues to work hard!) to try and make the transition to a remote environment a little easier. Here is a summary of key services and resources available to McGill Law faculty, staff, and students:

Electronic course reserves

Since we knew there would be no physical course reserves available in the library during the pandemic, we worked with professors and with legal publishers to try and ensure that the vast majority of required course readings would be available electronically for free through the library. This table summarises where you can try finding key texts through library resources:

PublisherDatabase
Carswell, Sweet & MaxwellWestlawNext, UK Legal (through OnePass)
EmondVitalsource (linked in catalogue)
Irwin LawCAIJ (DèsLibris)
LexisNexisLexis Advance Quicklaw
Wilson & LafleurCAIJ (eDoctrine)
Yvon BlaisLa référence

Additional electronic resources (SOQUIJ, CAIJ, Practical Law Canada + additional Thomson products)

Les étudiant.e.s et les membres de la Faculté de droit profitent des accès additionnels à quelques bases de données juridiques, notamment SOQUIJ, le CAIJ, et des produits Thomson Reuters, dont Practical Law Canada. Ceci dit, vous devez tout d’abord compléter un formulaire de consentement pour y avoir accès. Contactez la bibliothèque pour plus de détails.  

Library pickup service (to borrow physical library books)

Titles not available in electronic format can be borrowed via our library pickup service. Items are retrieved by our library assistants, put into paper bags and quarantined, and are then made available via a contactless pickup. Users will first need to locate the book in our catalogue, and take note of the call number. Details can be found here.

Interlibrary loan (including borrowing books checked out at McGill but available at another Quebec university)

Interlibrary loan (ILL) – the ability to borrow titles not available in McGill’s collection – is now available both for articles and physical books. Physical books will be made available via the library pickup. McGill users can put in an ILL request as usual through Colombo directly or via the ILL request link within the catalogue.  

In addition, if a user notices that the McGill copy of a physical text is currently checked out, we have no electronic version, and there is a physical copy of the same text available at another Quebec university library, the user can now make an interlibrary loan request to have the copy from another Quebec university library sent to McGill. Currently, this should be done through the regular ILL request. This is made possible through a new agreement with the other Quebec university libraries.

Article scan service

Depuis le 26 octobre 2020, notre service de repérage d’articles est de retour. Les demandes doivent se faire via le formulaire qui se trouve sur cette page. Tout document disponible en version numérique ne peut être demandé.

De plus, les étudiant.e.s qui ont activé leurs comptes CAIJ peuvent bénéficier de leur service de repérage documentaire pour les articles disponibles dans leur collection. Ce service est normalement payant (5 $ par document), mais compte tenu de la COVID, il est gratuit jusqu’à la fin mars 2021.

Study hub

Students looking for study space in the library can book a spot up to one hour in advance, via the library website. The Gelber is open Monday to Friday, from 9:00am-12:00pm and from 1:30pm-4:30pm. Note that no other library service will be available at the study hub other than access to the photocopiers/scanners/ printers and pick-ups of previously requested books.  

Book returns

Books can be returned to the book drop just inside the entrance at the Law Library Monday to Friday from 9:00am until 4:30pm. 

Books can be placed in the returns bin on the street level at the McLennan Library Building 3459 McTavish Street at any time. 

Virtual reference service

Questions? Concerns? Please contact Sonia (sonia.smith@mcgill.ca) or Katarina (katarina.daniels@mcgill.ca) directly. Simple questions can be sent by email, while conference calls can be arranged for more complex reference questions.

New Wellness Libguide

Working from home on this Wellness Wednesday, and with all the stress and news about the COVID19 virus around the world and in my own neighborhood, I decided to focus my attention on creating a new Libguide on Wellness.

This Wellness Libguide is designed to foster the development of healthy habits and lay the groundwork for students to lead a balanced and healthy lifestyle. The goal is to promote student wellness and to assist them in finding the resources they need to help cope with the stresses of law school. It points to topics relating to mental health & wellness within the legal profession.

Wellness Wednesdays have become a symbol of support for mental health awareness and advocacy, and we can do that even from our homes. Please see this new guide here.

 

Legal dictionaries through the centuries

A new exhibition is on display at the Nahum Gelber Law Library. Legal dictionaries through the centuries.

It presents items from its Wainwright and Canadiana Rare Books collections published between 1616 and 1882.

A very unique dictionary is the Vocabvlarivm ivrisprvdentiae romanae from 1718, a handwritten small book that provides a quick and simple reference guide to the principle terms and concepts of Roman civil law. Aspects covered are from inheritance and property rights through to contracts and martial law. A section also deals with “Iuris Primordia”, detailing the structure and development of the Corpus Iuris Civilis.

Another interesting work is the Dictionnaire de cas de conscience : ou, Décisions des plus considérables dificultez touchant la morale et la discipline ecclesiastique. Tirées de l’Ecriture, des Conciles, des Decretales des papes, des peres, et des plus célebres théologiens et canonistes. A three volumes set published in Paris in 1730 donated to the Library by Paul-André Crépeau.

A work dedicated to the French King and dealing with feudal Law in France is the Dictionnaire des fiefs et des droits seigneuriaux utiles et honorifiques : contenant les définitions des termes, & un ample recueil des décisions choisies, fondées sur la jurisprudence des arrêts, la disposition des différentes coutumes, & la doctrine des meilleures feudistes … by Joseph Renauldon, published in Paris, in 1788.

A recent donation to our Rare Books also presented in this exhibition is the New law-dictionary: containing the interpretation and definition of words and terms used in law… by Giles Jacob, published in London, in 1782. It was donated and restored thanks to the generosity of Penny Polk and Gordon Echenberg.

The exhibition was curated by Sonia Smith.

Focus on: LITE Newsletter

Today we rediscovered Lite Newsletter, a newsletter published between 1968-1974 by the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the United States Air Force. After it was found, we decided that it was too rare of an item to keep in our regular journal collection, and so moved it into our rare book collection to ensure preservation (McGill owns volumes from 1970-1974). The content was so unique and interesting, we thought we would share a little bit about the newsletter and its contents!

Lite Newsletter was a newsletter dedicated to sharing news about the LITE System, a computerized information retrieval system for legal research that was developed by the Air Force and which provided search service to government agencies in the United States. LITE, which stands for Legal Information Thru Electronics, seems to have been a game changer in legal research in the Department of Defense in particular, saving “countless hours of manual research”.  Run by a staff of attorneys, LITE was meant to help lawyers deal with the “information explosion” of the time. The LITE attorneys were trained in building effective queries for the LITE system to run. Based on descriptions of the search functions, it looks like LITE attorneys were essentially researchers who were particular adept at using Boolean and proximity operators (!).

LITE included many databases, including the United States Code, decisions of various boards and tribunals, published and unpublished international law agreements, and extensive regulatory material. The LITE Newsletter would keep government lawyers up to date with new additions to the databases, interesting and common LITE searches, and more. Eventually, a library was built with these searches, to save “computational time” on urgent requests that effectively repeated a previously completed search.

In one issue of the newsletter, a list of potential explanations for not using LITE were enumerated. Particularly entertaining reasons included:

2. Dreamed of the possibility of computerized research, but didn’t know that it was feasible.
9. Didn’t realize the breadth and depth of a computer-produced research report. Didn’t realize that some problems which may have been impossible to research manually can now be researched by the computer.
12. Does not trust any kind of research prepared by a machine.

Other explanations might resonate with fellow librarians today:

5. Was afraid, or at least nervous asking for information on the system.
6. Didn’t believe that LITE data bases were relevant to the user’s problems, however, didn’t bother to inquire.
7. Satisfied with manual research techniques.

One issue of the newsletter also goes into the importance of using computers for research: “The computer is the only tool of technology that can store, manipulate and retrieve data of any kind in many different and general ways […] It is the most powerful tool ever available to man and to society.”

It is interesting to note how far we have come with computer-assisted research, and yet sometimes, our struggles remain the same. “Information explosion” is now known as “information overload,” and is one of the most significant challenges of the Digital Age. People may now be comfortable with researching using traditional databases, but when artificial intelligence is thrown into the mix – for instance, with new document analyzers – there is increasing skepticism. Finally, students continue to struggle with library anxiety, and librarians continue to put significant efforts into library outreach.

The LITE Newsletter is available by consultation only, Mondays to Fridays, from 9am-5pm.

  • Lite service for government agencies

Two new databases and a new agreement with the CAIJ

The Nahum Gelber Law Library is proud to announce the launch of two new databases, Practical Law Canada and Lexis Practice Advisor, as well as the signing of an agreement between the CAIJ and McGill University, granting CAIJ memberships to students, librarians, support staff and professors of the McGill Faculty of Law.

Access to Practical Law Canada and membership to the CAIJ are restricted to the Faculty of Law only; a consent form, available at the circulation desk or by emailing law.library@mcgill.ca, must first be completed. Access to Lexis Practice Advisor is available to the entire McGill community.

Practical Law Canada

Practical Law Canada (PLC) is a research tool that provides a variety of practical resources to help lawyers get their work done more efficiently. Practice notes, which provide guidelines and explanations of current law and practice, precedents with detailed drafting notes, and checklists, timelines and flowcharts, are created and maintained by a team of expert lawyers, who ensure that their material reflects current practice. The practice areas covered are:

– Capital Markets & Securities
– Commercial Real Estate
– Commercial Transactions
– Competition
– Corporate and M&A
– Employment
– Finance
– Litigation (Corporate & Commercial)

In addition, PLC offers a provincial comparison tool, allowing users to compare laws and requirements in a particular area of law, across the country. Last, their product What’s Market allows you to easily analyse and compare terms or features across publicly filed deals.

Guides, video tutorials (in both languages) and interactive eLearning (English Only) are available here:  https://store1.thomsonreuters.ca/learning/practical-law-canada (Eng)  https://store1.thomsonreuters.ca/apprentissage/practical-law-canada (Fr). A training session in the library will be offered during the course of the semester.

Lexis Practice Advisor

Lexis Practice Advisor is another practitioner-oriented research tool. Similar to PLC, the platform also features practice notes, precedents with detailed drafting notes, checklists and flowcharts, as well as forms and articles, all maintained by a team of expert lawyers. The practice areas covered are:

– Capital Markets and M&A
– Commercial
– Corporate and Private M&A
– Employment
– Family Law (BC and Ontario only)
– Finance
– Insolvency & Restructuring
– In-House Counsel
– Intellectual Property & Technology
– Litigation & Dispute Resolution
– Personal Injury (BC and Ontario only)
– Wills, Trusts & Estates (BC and Ontario only)

While the content is primarily Canadian, some international, US, UK, and EU content is also available.

Training on Lexis Practice Advisor will be offered during the course of the semester.

CAIJ

Le CAIJ met à votre disposition des ressources couvrant l’ensemble des champs de la pratique juridique. Vous retrouverez notamment du contenu et des outils afin d’appuyer vos études et recherches, notamment :

– Jurisprudence québécoise et canadienne.
– Lois des juridictions canadiennes.
– De la doctrine à valeur ajoutée et développée au CAIJ, telle que :

*une banque de question de recherche documentées (TOPO) comprenant plus de 5000 questions pour vous aider à commencer une recherche;
*des dossiers spéciaux sur des sujets d’actualité qui rassemblent toute l’information pertinente pouvant vous aiguiller dans vos recherches
*plus de 100 lois annotées pancanadiennes incluant les annotations d’ouvrages comme les AlterEgo de Wilson & Lafleur, le Code civil annoté de Baudouin-Renaud, etc.
*un accès exclusif à la Collection de droit de l’École du Barreau.

– Des banques de données accessibles à distance telles que : dèsLibris (Irwin Law’s e-library), LexBase, et bien plus encore.

Bénéficiez également du soutien personnalisé d’une équipe de recherchistes-formateurs qualifiés pour vous accompagner dans vos recherches en mode clavardage, de 8 h à 20 h du lundi au jeudi et de 8 h à 17 h le vendredi.

Finalement, Mon CAIJ, l’espace de travail personnalisé et confidentiel, vous offre des fonctionnalités adaptées à votre pratique, notamment :

– Sauvegarde de vos requêtes de recherche, de sources et d’archivage
– Alertes personnalisées associées à vos requêtes
– Prêt, réservation et/ou livraison de documents (des frais peuvent s’appliquer)

Une formation sur les outils du CAIJ sera offert à la bibliothèque le 27 janvier 2020. Inscrivez-vous dès maintenant.

All databases are accessible directly from the Law Subject Guide. If you have any questions regarding these new products, please contact us at law.library@mcgill.ca.

New Exhibition: The Unfinished Path to Reconciliation

“Reconciliation is not an Indigenous problem – it is a Canadian problem. It involves all of us,” said Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which was tasked with investigating and commemorating the residential school system.

As Justice Sinclair and many others have said, education is key to reconciliation. As institutions that are both repositories for knowledge and natural gathering places, libraries can play an important role in reconciliation. With this goal, the Nahum Gelber Law Library offers to its visitors a new exhibition: The Unfinished Path to Reconciliation.

 

The blended-media exhibition features primary documents, books, reproductions of archival documents and memorabilia and highlight important cases on native’s rights. The exhibition includes digital materials presented on an interactive touch-table.

The use of touch-table for this Law Library exhibition is a part of the McGill Library Innovation in Service project. The exhibition was curated by Sonia Smith.

Four new study carrels available in the library

Thanks to the generous support of the Law Students Association (LSA), we now have 4 brand new carrels available for library patrons. The carrels are located on the 3rd and 4th floors of the Nahum Gelber Law Library, facing the south windows that overlook Old Chancellor Day Hall and the front lawn of the Law Faculty. Each carrel features a regular power outlet as well as two USB charging ports. Privacy dividers separate two adjacent seats.

The library would particularly like to thank Marie Pilote, the 2018-2019 VP External of the LSA, and Diane Koen, Senior Director, Planning and Resources at the McGill Library, for their efforts in bringing this project to fruition!

new study spaces on 3rd floor

outlets available in each study space new study spaces on 3rd floor

Our library’s first escape room – are you up to the challenge?

Gamification is a hot trend in libraries these days, particularly when it comes to teaching information literacy. It is no stranger in the teaching of legal research either – legal scavenger hunts have long been a favourite way for librarians and professors to introduce students to a variety of legal resources.

Over the summer, after learning about escape rooms in libraries, I decided that I wanted to build my own escape room for McGill Law students as a way of promoting the library while teaching legal research. Between codal provisions in Quebec civil law and the detailed rules laid out in the McGill Guide, I had a feeling that I could build the ultimate escape room for our students with locks and puzzles galore. A quick poll on social media suggested that students were a fan of the idea.

Soon after I drafted my scenario, I was approached by the McGill Law Journal‘s executive editors, who were looking for a fun way to test and improve their editors’ research skills. After sharing my escape room plan, we decided to put my theory to the test. I came up with a series of questions that tested the main skills the journal wanted to focus on, and integrated them into our scenario.

The scenario: You are a co-author of a research paper that needs to be submitted to the MLJ by the end of the month. The publication is time-sensitive, as a competing research team is set to publish in the coming weeks. Your co-author, who has the most recent version of the article, has died in a tragic accident (he was in fact, eaten by a polar bear while on vacation in Manitoba). Thankfully, you know that your co-author kept a USB key with the latest version of the paper somewhere in his office. You need to recover the USB key to continue working on the paper and submit in time. (Click here to read the entire scenario, made bilingual thanks to the translation work of Guillaume Lebrun-Petel of the MLJ.)

What to expect: The game includes 14 problems, though you do not have to solve all 14 to “escape”. They deal primarily with citation rules, international and foreign law research, and legislative research. Search throughout the room – including through Professor Leresponsable’s laptop and personal email – for clues.

How they did: Four groups of three-to-five students were given 35 minutes to escape, and hints were provided along the way. While ultimately none of the groups made it out, a lot of fun was had by all! The closest team was just two questions away from finding the USB!

Are you ready for your turn? That’s right – the escape room is now open to the rest of the Faculty! The game will run 9 more times between September 23rd-October 3rd in room 4020 (see updated escape room schedule here). Sign up as a team* of 3-5 individuals and put your legal research skills to the test! Students and professors alike are invited to participate! A small prize will be awarded to the team that manages to escape in the fastest time. Contact katarina.daniels@mcgill.ca to register.

*you are free to sign up individually, but you will be added to a team.

New mural by Saulteaux First Nations artist Robert Houle on display

The Nahum Gelber Law Library is proud to play host to an incredible mural by Saulteaux First Nations artist Robert Houle (McGill B.Ed. 1975). The recently-restored three-panel mural was installed late last week, right in time for the first day of classes. It is featured prominently on our ground floor, just to the right as you enter the building. Untitled Robert Houle mural on exhibit in Nahum Gelber Law LibraryIt is accompanied by a trilingual wall label, with an English, French, and Ojibwe description of the mural and brief biography of the artist.

Trilingual wall label (Ojibwe, French and English)

Since the release of the 2015 report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the library has been bolstering its Aboriginal law collection in order to support our Faculty’s commitment to teaching Indigenous legal traditions. This new installation serves to reinforce our library’s own commitment to improving accessibility to Aboriginal law content as well as to information on residential schools.

Thank you to the Students’ Society of McGill University, the Faculty of Law and to our head librarian, Mtre Daniel Boyer, Ad.E., for their generosity in the restoration of the mural, and thank you to the Visual Arts Collection for loaning us the work.

LégisQuébec – The (In)completeness of an Official Consolidated Law

Earlier this week, a patron called the library asking about the publication procedure for Quebec legislation. He wanted to know whether the consolidated statutes and regulations published by Publications Québec on LégisQuébec were actually consolidated and up to date, and included any amendments soon to come into force. Specifically, he was seeing some inconsistencies with the Consumer Protection Act.

My initial response was affirmative – after all, the consolidated legislation on LégisQuébec includes an update date and has official status. If a bill amending the legislation had been passed prior to the update date, it would be reasonable to expect that the amendments had been integrated somehow into the official consolidated version.

This expectation was reinforced in me in particular as a result of my experience regularly seeing gray boxes with the amended provisions and coming into force information integrated throughout official consolidated legislation.

Consequently, I believed it was in error that the new section 119.1 of the Consumer Protection Act, introduced via section 27 of Bill 134 and set to come into force on August 1st, 2019 (order in council 987-2018), was excluded from the official, consolidated Consumer Protection Act. To that end, I sent an email to Publications Québec, asking them if this was an unintentional error.

Publication Québec’s Approach to Consolidating Laws

The next morning, I received a phone call from a representative of Publications Québec informing me that there was no error on their part. Rather, the absence of 119.1 from the consolidated act was the result of an editorial decision taken by Publications Québec years ago (and which was too complicated to explain in writing, and better explained verbally).

In sum, I was told that despite the signs that led me to believe that the consolidated legislation published on LégisQuébec does integrate amending legislation not yet in force, in fact, Publications Québec does not integrate all amendments brought in by a new law. This is true even if an order in council has been published in the Gazette officielle du Québec proclaiming the coming into force of the various provisions of the amending law. Confusingly, Publications Québec only integrate SOME amendments.

According to the representative from Publications Québec, an amendment will only appear in a gray box if it modifies a provision currently in force and its coming into force date has been published; anything that is entirely new law will not appear in the consolidated law until it actually comes into force. The justification for this editorial decision? (1) To reduce the number of gray boxes that appear throughout the consolidated legislation and improve the readability of legislation. (2) To minimize the risk of integrating amending provisions that would end up never coming into force.

Implications of Publications Québec’s Editorial Decision

According to the representative from Publications Québec, there is no plan to change their editorial process. What this means concretely, is that:

  • When you are looking at a piece of legislation on LégisQuébec, you can never know for sure if tomorrow, that piece of legislation will look entirely different.
  • When you are looking at a piece of legislation on LégisQuébec and you see gray boxes with coming-into-force information, you should not assume that it gives you a complete picture of the law soon to come into force.
  • In order to obtain a complete picture of a law or to be sure that the piece of legislation you are looking at has not been modified by a law soon to come into force, you will have to:
    1. Search for a modifying bill;
    2. Confirm it has received royal assent;
    3. Search Part 2 of the Gazette Officielle du Québec for coming into force information; and
    4. Consolidate, either manually or by using a consolidating tool like this one.