April-May 2020

Summer Research Assistant Resources and Librarian Availability

Although the library is unable to offer its typical live library training session for incoming research assistants this year, the librarians are still available and happy to answer any questions RAs may have about how to best assist the faculty with their research needs. The Moritz reference staff will continue to be available throughout the summer, from 12-4 pm Monday-Friday, via phone, email and chat. For more details please see the Ask a Librarian page.

Additionally, to address many of the common issues and questions new RAs have, the library has created a Research Assistant Resources Guide which provides important information about library operations and locating and using the library’s various resources. The Research Assistant Resources Guide was recently updated to include a recorded presentation demonstrating the use of some of the most common resources. Faculty are encouraged to share the link to the guide with their research assistants

Research assistants are also welcome to reach out to their faculty member’s Moritz library liaison at anytime with additional questions they may have, including any questions they may have about finding alternatives to print versions of materials due to the current unavailability of our print collection.

Covid-19 and the Law

States are approaching the COVID-19 pandemic in varying ways, in part because the disease is spreading differently in each state. The virus is also raising a host of legal issues, from election postponement to refunds for students moving out of dorms unexpectedly. There are a number of ways to learn about and keep up to date on these issues and approaches.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) provides many resources comparing state bills and laws. For example, the environmental health state bill database covers topics ranging from tattoos to swimming pools. The NCSL has put together a page of coronavirus resources, tracking both state and federal actions on a wide range of issues. Keep the NCSL in mind for future research comparing state law, particularly regarding issues of current interest.

Subscription legal databases often present similar collections of resources, ranging beyond recent state actions. For example, Bloomberg Law’s health law practice center now includes a section entitled “In Focus: Coronavirus.” This material incorporates not only statutory material, but also coronavirus litigation, SEC disclosures related to the pandemic, tax implications and more. In a similar vein, Lexis Advance offers a Covid-19 Resources Kit, Westlaw’s Practical Law offers a Global Coronavirus Toolkit, and Wolters Kluwer provides Coronavirus Resources and Tools.

Finally, law library research guides can be useful starting points for research at any time. UCLA’s law library has compiled a list of legal responses to COVID-19.

Supreme Court Preserves Access to Legal Information in Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org

Although Supreme Court cases often rely on research, opinions do not often explain the research process or discuss research tools. Justice Breyer included appendices to his dissent in Brown v. Entm’t Merchants Ass’n that began with a description of the research process, including Boolean search terms. A recent case, Georgia v. Public.Resorce.Org, offers a window into the world of a specific legal research tool, statutory annotations. In this case, the State of Georgia claimed copyright in the annotations included in its official statutory code. The annotations were created by the state of Georgia’s Code Revision Commission. The Court denied this claim, holding that the government edicts doctrine applied because the annotations were written by a legislative body as part of its legislative duties. As a result, access to this important legal information will remain public.

Justice Roberts’s majority opinion offers an example of how valuable annotations can be for those seeking to understand the law:

“Imagine a Georgia citizen interested in learning his legal rights and duties. If he reads the economy-class version of the Georgia Code available online, he will see laws requiring political candidates to pay hefty qualification fees (with no indigency exception), criminalizing broad categories of consensual sexual conduct, and exempting certain key evidence in criminal trials from standard evidentiary limitations—with no hint that important aspects of those laws have been held unconstitutional by the Georgia Supreme Court. See OCGA §§21–2–131, 16–6–2, 16–6–18, 16–15–9 (available at www.legis.ga.gov). Meanwhile, first-class readers with access to the annotations will be assured that these laws are, in crucial respects, unenforceable relics that the legislature has not bothered to narrow or repeal. See §§21–2–131, 16–6–2, 16–6–18, 16–15–9 (available at https://store.lexisnexis.com/ products/official-code-of -georgia-annotated-skuSKU6647 for $412.00).” Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org, Inc., No. 18-1150, 2020 WL 1978707, at *10 (U.S. Apr. 27, 2020.

Aaron Kirschenfeld, a UNC law librarian, explores annotations as a research tool in the majority and dissenting opinions here. Moritz librarians played a role in this case. Law librarians Kyle Courtney, Leslie Street and David Hansen drafted an amicus brief arguing that due process and the rule of law required meaningful access to official versions of the law, including Georgia’s annotated code. Many of their colleagues signed the brief, including Susan Azyndar, Paul Gatz, and Sara Sampson.

Nearly Two Million Volumes Accessible in HathiTrust Digital Library

In addition to online databases and ebooks findable through the OSU Libraries catalog, Moritz Law Library users now have access to nearly two million scanned print volumes through HathiTrust, a consortium of academic research libraries of which Ohio State is a member. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, HathiTrust is providing emergency temporary access to copyrighted material in its digital library to member institutions with copies of those items in their physical collections. This special digital access corresponds to approximately 46% of the print collections held by University libraries.

To take advantage of this resource:

  1. Visit https://www.hathitrust.org and click the yellow “LOG IN” button.
  2. Select “The Ohio State University” and log in using your university credentials.
  3. Use the site to locate the item you wish to view.
  4. Click on the Temporary Access link at the bottom of the record to check out the item through the Emergency Temporary Access Service.

OSU Libraries has announced that this Emergency Temporary Access Service will be available to members of the campus community for as long as library facilities are closed and circulation of print materials is suspended. If you are having difficulty accessing needed library material, contact a reference librarian or email the reference desk at lawlibref@osu.edu.

New E-Book Acquisitions at the Moritz Law Library

While our physical collection is currently inaccessible, the Moritz Law Library and the Ohio State University libraries continue to acquire digital content for our patrons. Below are just a few of the e-books recently acquired by the Ohio State University Libraries. For a list of other recently acquired e-books related to the law, click here.