Congratulations to our Digital Collections team, which was just awarded a grant from the Jefferson Trust to fund the Digital 1828 Catalog Collection Project. The project seeks to assemble and digitize all of the law books that were hand selected by Thomas Jefferson for inclusion in the 1828 Catalogue of the Library of the University of Virginia.
At the “What’s Next for Human Rights Scholarship?” conference on March 31, law librarians Ben Doherty and Loren Moulds presented the Law Library’s new searchable database of preparatory works, or travaux préparatoires, of the United Nations’ core human rights agreements. More than 30 human rights scholars from North America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania participated in the two-day interdisciplinary conference, which was organized by the UVA Working Group in Human Rights Research.
Ben began the presentation by explaining that, until the Law Library undertook the initiative, the travaux were only selectively available in electronic format, as excerpts in published guides to the travaux, and in hardcopy or microfiche at U.N. depository libraries. A Refdesk question from Professor Mila Versteeg led the law librarians to conclude that “it’s not available” was not an answer the Law Library was willing to give. Using the published guides and the United Nations’ UNBISNET database, the Law Library compiled fully-searchable, digital copies of as many of the travaux préparatoires as could be found. The travaux database and other recent digital initiatives, such as the Neil Gorsuch Project, a website that assembles all of Gorsuch’s written opinions and much of his other writings and speeches, are examples of how the Law Library’s content and services are driven by inquiry. Ben advised attendees that, “instead of thinking of research as simply being able to get what is already available,” a scholar can push “research methods forward by thinking about what you need for your scholarship and partnering with your associated library to create those datasets or resources.”
Loren likewise encouraged “scholars not to feel limited in our research plans, particularly when it comes to issues of access to materials, the creation of new types of digital collections, or the adoption of new analytical techniques.” His presentation included an overview of the website and a discussion of the technology used to create it, but he situated his technological discussion within the Law Library’s philosophical approach to scholarly research. Explaining that the Law Library provides ever-expanding expertise in a field that includes scholarly publishing, copyright issues, and the aggregation, management, and preservation of data, Loren stated, “We consider ourselves empathic stewards of knowledge production through collaboration with researchers, technologists, and other librarians working to develop the intellectual infrastructures necessary for new kinds of scholarship and research methods in a digital age.”
After the presentation, Ben and Loren took questions from the conferees. The conclusion of the ensuing discussion was that the travaux database is an example of modern librarianship: a specific inquiry (“What role did smaller countries play in drafting human rights treaties?”) was stymied by a specific problem (the lack of systematic, comprehensive access to the travaux préparatoires), which was resolved by the expertise residing in the Law Library.
 The travaux préparatoires are documents that are generated in the drafting and negotiation of a treaty. Under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, treaty terms are to be interpreted according to their ordinary meaning. However, Article 32 provides that the travaux préparatoires can be used as a supplementary means of interpretation in certain instances.
With deep sadness, the Law Library joins Special Collections assistant Teresa Ritzert in mourning the loss of her service dog, Bubba JEB (“Just Everyone’s Bubba”), who succumbed to canine cancer on Monday.
While at the Law Library, Jeb acquired another job as well. Once he got Teresa safely settled in her office, he would act as the Library’s social chair. Stationing himself at his regular spot in the hallway outside Teresa’s door, Jeb would watch intently for any sign of a friend – whether that friendship was established or just about to be – who would stop by to give a treat or a rub. Jeb took his duties as social chair very seriously, setting up a daily schedule of rounds for himself on the first and second floors, stopping for brief visits wherever each of his BFFs (that is to say, everyone) was regularly found.When Teresa came to work for the Special Collections department of the Law Library in July 2015, Jeb came to work here, too. Jeb’s primary job was to escort Teresa, who is deaf, to and from work. Last fall, MoreUs featured a two-part article on Jeb and his life as a service dog.
Last fall, we learned with great sorrow that Jeb had cancer. Through chemotherapy, remission and the eventual resurgence of his illness, Jeb came to work nearly every day, never shirking his duties of service, nor on his social obligations. Even when depleted of energy by his illness, he would rally at the sight of a student or staff member “bubba,” bounding down the hall to greet them with exuberance and joy. Students and staff were very supportive of Jeb and Teresa throughout Jeb’s illness. Some brought in a regular supply of venison for his special diet. Others visited frequently and took him outside for walks. Teresa attributes much of Jeb’s unexpectedly long life and well-being to the outpouring of love and support that he received from the Law School community.
The Law Library has set up a memorial display for Jeb at the bottom of the main stairway. A large writing pad has been placed there for those who wish to share their thoughts and memories of Jeb with Teresa.
Many songs require ears to be heard, but those like Jeb’s require only the heart. Though Jeb is gone, his song goes on, and we are all the richer for it.
This week the Law Library opens a new art show, Places of the Piedmont, an exhibit of watercolors by Werner K. Sensbach (1923–2015). A public reception will be held Thursday, September 1, from 5 to 7 p.m. on the second floor of the Law Library.
About the Artist
Werner K. Sensbach was born in Mannheim, Germany in 1923. He worked throughout his life in various fields of artistic endeavor. With professional degrees from the University of Karlsruhe, Germany, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he was an architect for firms in Germany, Switzerland, and New York. He served as city planner in Columbia, South Carolina, and Roanoke, Virginia, and as the University of Virginia Campus Architect during its intensive growth period from 1965 until 1991. Werner Sensbach was also Professor of Urban Planning in the School of Architecture. Upon his retirement in 1991, the University planted an American oak tree between the East Range and Brooks Hall in his honor. Retirement allowed him to discover the Virginia landscape through the eyes of an artist. In watercolor field sketches and al fresco oil paintings, he portrayed the landscape of the Piedmont and Blue Ridge Mountains as well as the architecture of the Grounds of the University of Virginia.
Werner Sensbach’s work flows naturally from his interest in the landscape and man-made environment of the Piedmont Region. The Grounds of the University of Virginia and the City of Charlottesville are the subject of many of his architectural paintings. In the mid-1940s, Werner Sensbach received his initial artistic instruction from painters of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Realism) movement of the Twenties: Erich Heckel (1883 – 1970) and Karl Hubbuch (1891 – 1979) of Karlsruhe, Germany. Their style of slashing line drawings proved useful in his later career in architecture, urban design, and campus planning. After retiring from his position as University of Virginia architect and planner in 1991, Werner studied at the University of Virginia Department of Art with Richard Crozier, Phil Geiger, Dean Dass, William Bennett, Lincoln Perry & Elizabeth Schoyer.
The law library sadly bids adieu to Bryan Kasik today as he heads over to Alderman Library on Main Grounds to begin work as a Reference Librarian. Bryan has spent the past nine years with us as a our Faculty Services Coordinator. For all of the law faculty and students who have appreciated how quickly we have been able to pick up and deliver books and other items from any of the other libraries at UVa–Bryan has been the backbone to that service. Every day for the past nine years, he has happily stalked the Grounds at UVa for us with his book bag, flying up and down the stairs, in and out of the stacks, retrieving books and microfilm and journals, and then delivering them all promptly to you. Bryan made his library runs in the heat of summer, in the snow, in the rain, all with unflagging energy and enthusiasm.
The law library prides itself on its service to faculty, staff and students and Bryan has made us look good every day. He has also been one of our friendly faces at our circulation and reference desks, getting to know many of the students who have passed through law school along with all of the faculty. We will miss him. We’ll miss his energy, his creativity, his enthusiasm, and his ability to somehow walk down stairs while reading a book. Fortunately for the University community–he is not going far. Look him up in the Alderman Library Reference Department: he will be happy to help you find what you need.
Now through July 22, the Law Library will be open on Fridays until 9 p.m. and on Sundays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Best of luck to all of our recent grads now studying for bar exams!
A record number of law students lined up inside and outside of MyLab for last evening’s semi-annual Grilled Cheese Night. One hundred forty-two students patiently awaited the warm gooey goodness of one of the Law Library’s special recipe treats. Despite long lines, spirits among the waiting students seemed high. One student was heard to say that the event was “perfect for the middle of exams.” Another exclaimed, “This is like a taste of home!”
The event was not without a few stressful moments, however. Librarian-chefs Ben Doherty, Micheal Klepper and Tim Breeden offered both tomato and non-tomato editions of the sandwich. One student requested a gluten-free edition – just two slices of tomato with cheese in between and no bread – which none of the chefs had prepared before. But, being the true service professionals that they are, they were able to fulfill the special order to the customer’s satisfaction. Later, staff began to worry that supplies might not hold out through the 7 p.m. closing. “It looked like we might run out of bread,” said Breeden. “But as luck would have it, the last piece hit the butter just before 7!”
This semester’s GCN featured a new twist – Law Library staff were invited to guess ahead of time the number of sandwiches that would be served. The staff member submitting the closest guess was to be awarded their own grilled cheese sandwich for this morning’s breakfast. The winner was none other than Library Service Dog Extraordinaire, Bubba Jeb. Jeb’s owner, Teresa, was prepared to submit a guess of 121 sandwiches, but she said Jeb nudged her and nodded upward to say, “no it’s 136.” Though Jeb’s diet is strictly gluten-free, he was delighted to receive his prize in the form of some cheese and a few potato chips.
This semester saw the publication of the twelfth edition of Legal Research in a Nutshell, a compact but venerable text on legal research that dates back to 1968. Its original author was the late Morris Cohen, then Law Librarian at the University of Pennsylvania, but since the fifth edition in 1992 he has been joined as coauthor by our own Kent Olson. Kent has written about the book’s early days (Birth of a Nutshell: Morris Cohen in the 1960s, 104 Law Libr. J. 53 (2012)), but we sat down to ask him about his own role in the book since then.
AJM: How did you get started as a coauthor of Legal Research in a Nutshell?
Olson: It started when I was a law student, lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. In 1984, I was a second-year student at Boalt Hall (UC Berkeley) and working for the Law Library part time. My boss, Bob Berring, had worked at Harvard with Morris Cohen, the author of Legal Research in a Nutshell. Morris put out a call looking for people to revise and update chapters of the Nutshell, and Bob turned two chapters over to me. Morris may have been looking for light edits, but I attacked my chapters with gusto, crossing out huge chunks of obsolete text and inserting several new pages. A lesser man might have been offended or appalled, but Morris liked what he saw and asked me to review the entire manuscript before it went to the publisher. We talked on the phone, but we never met in person until the project was over.
The following year I came to Virginia and became a coauthor with Morris and Bob of their legal research hornbook, How to Find the Law. Morris had no interest in taking on a coauthor on his Nutshell, but in 1991 he found himself a week away from a deadline with no revised manuscript. And I was visiting him in the hospital.
AJM: Morris Cohen was a legend among law librarians. What was it like working with him?
Olson: He was my mentor and nearly thirty years my senior, but he always made me feel like a peer rather than a junior associate. Working with him was one of the great privileges of my life. He knew so much more than I did about legal bibliography (and was probably sorry that I never quite shared his love of rare books), but as legal research turned more and more to online search techniques our roles gradually shifted.
I do remember one disagreement, a friendly one, over how to describe the state of administrative law before the Federal Register and the CFR. Morris wanted to call it a wilderness, and I didn’t understand why until I realized we had very different concepts of “wilderness.” Mine was a pristine roadless area protected by environmental legislation, but he was thinking of a biblical place where people wandered lost and in despair. I think we ended up abandoning the metaphor.
AJM: You’ve now worked on nine editions of the Nutshell. How has the book, and legal research, changed over the years?
Olson: When the fourth edition was published in 1985, we had Westlaw and Lexis but a large focus of research was still print-based – some of it in materials today’s students are fortunate never to have seen, such as digests and Shepard’s Citations. “Case-Finding by Computer” was a two-page section of the chapter on case research. Research isn’t necessarily simpler these days, but there are so many answers that used to take work that we can now Google our way to.
People talk about a “sea change” in legal research from print to online, but to my mind it’s more of an evolution. In the end, it’s still about finding persuasive authority and reasoning by analogy. If we reach the point where cases are decided by the number of “likes” or by some machine-based measure, I’ll need to move on.
The book itself has evolved with the changes in research. Free Internet sites were first mentioned in the 6th edition (1996), and HeinOnline first appeared in the 8th edition (2003). There are now more than three hundred websites discussed. We’ve had a companion website with updated links since 2003, and in 2013 we took the illustrations out and put them online as well. Small black-and-white illustrations were fine back when we were showing sample pages of books, but screenshots of websites work so much better in color and on a larger scale.
AJM: You’ve written other books on legal research, notably the concise hornbook Principles of Legal Research (2d ed. 2015). You also teach Advanced Legal Research. How do teaching and writing about legal research inform each other?
Olson: At the basic level, my students who’ve used draft versions as course texts have saved textbook money and they’ve helped to catch some embarrassing typos before they made it to print. But they also help keep me honest by letting me know what’s superfluous and what’s unclear. If we don’t cover something in class, it might not be important enough to include in the book. And without my students I wouldn’t have known that you need to explain to some digital natives the difference between a table of contents and an index.
AJM: Any regrets about the new edition?
Olson: Of course. There are always regrets. One minor one is that I completely missed that govtrack.us stopped tracking state legislation several months before we went to press. At least I could update that on the Nutshell website. A more significant omission is that I made no mention at all of Practical Law, to which our students have access through Westlaw and which is a really useful and current source of basic legal information in several disciplines. At some point I also should really think about how research by mobile app differs from website-based research.
But this just means I need to start planning for the thirteenth edition. In the past couple of months Lexis Advance added a directory of resources to its main screen and made its Advanced Search much more useful, and Westlaw introduced its “Westlaw Answers” feature when you type a question into the search box. All the references to FDsys in the current edition will be obsolete once GPO completes its transition to govinfo.gov. It won’t be long before January 2016 seems like a very long time ago in legal research.
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Law school teaches you how to think like a lawyer. The UVA Mindfulness Center’s introduction to mindfulness enhances your law school learning by giving you tools to focus, retain information, communicate effectively, and handle stress.
What is it?
Eight, 75-minute weekly sessions of hands-on, expert-guided practice in mindfulness techniques like meditation, mindful eating, mindful listening, and mindful movement, led by the UVA Mindfulness Center.
When does it meet?
Tuesdays, 3:45-5pm, February 9 to April 5 (no meeting during Spring Break). There will be a half-day retreat on March 19.
Where is it?
At the Law School.
Who can sign up?
The workshop is open to all law students, and is free of charge (sponsored by the Law Library). Enrollment is limited. To sign up email Kristin in the Library (email@example.com). In order to get the most out of the workshop, commit to attending all eight sessions and the half-day retreat.
If you’re curious about mindful meditation, drop in anytime at the Wednesday noon 15-minute meditation study breaks, every Wednesday in the Library’s 2nd floor Klaus Collaborative Classroom. Also check out books and audio about mindfulness, available in the Library’s Reserve Room.
– Kristin Glover
With the new year, you may have noticed a new face in the library. Alex Jakubow joins our research and reference team to support empirical legal research. Alex is skilled with data collection, cleaning and analysis. As law increasingly turns towards large datasets and statistical methods, his expertise will be critical to supporting UVA Law scholarship.
A Wisconsin native, Alex earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from the University of Richmond in 2008. He then attended graduate school at Rutgers University, where he earned a Ph.D. in political science in 2014.
Alex married his graduate school sweetheart, Devon Golem, in September of 2012. Career decisions have taken the pair across the entirety of the continental United States and back in a relatively short amount of time. In less than four years, Alex and Devon have lived in New Jersey, California, and New Mexico before moving to Virginia in December of 2015. Alex and Devon look forward to staying in place for a while, especially when family is near: Alex’s mother and sister respectively live in Williamsburg and Alexandria.
Devon and Alex live in Charlottesville with their canine companion, Lunch Lady Doris. Doris, a brownish-red Papillion/Dachshund mix, is approximately eight years old. She enjoys having Alex and Devon as tenants in her apartment and sneezes uncontrollably when excited.
Outside of work, Alex enjoys reading, traveling, exercising, and socializing with loved ones. He also looks forward to taking full advantage of the area’s many and varied opportunities for outdoor fun. Guilty pleasures: prolonged consumption of Netflix and, when his family is out of town, video games.
– MoreUs Staff Writers