Wisconsin State Law Library

Serving the Wisconsin Supreme Court and State of Wisconsin

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September 5, 2019

WSLL @ Your Service September 2019

The September issue of WSLL @ Your Service is now online. Your comments are welcome! Please direct them to the editor, Carol Hassler.


In this issue: 

Read it online with your library card 

Did you know you can access HeinOnline, LLMC Digital, and Index to Legal Periodicals outside one of our libraries, for free? You just need our library card.

Leave Your Card at Home

September is Library Card Sign-up Month and while we love our library cards, it's not always convenient to carry them around. You can take a photo of your card and store it in your phone for easy access.

New Books

Our featured titles this month are What Are My Rights? Q & A About Teens and the Law and Handbook on Household Hazardous Waste. Our September new book list is also included.

Tech Tip 

Link rot. It's an apt name for a serious and annoying problem. Link rot is when an online link no longer leads to the information being cited.

Library News 

Read library staff news, find opportunities to listen to us speak, and see a list of upcoming CLE class opportunities.

September Snapshot 

Julie Robinson gave a lunchtime presentation to Sauk County Bar Association members in picturesque Baraboo. Afterwards, she stopped by the next-door Circus World for some photos.

Read the September issue of WSLL @ Your Service now!

August 1, 2019

WSLL @ Your Service August 2019

The August issue of WSLL @ Your Service is now online. Your comments are welcome! Please direct them to the editor, Carol Hassler.

In this issue:

Welcome to the library

August is the month of back to school sales and the last of family vacations, but for the Library it's time to welcome new users. Read more


Wisconsin briefs database

The Wisconsin Briefs Database houses more than 100,000 appellate briefs and appendices filed in cases that were decided from around 1992-2009. Read more


New books

Our two featured titles this month are Marital Property Law & Practice in Wisconsin, and Science Bench Book for Judges. Our August new book list featuring all our new and updated titles is also available. Read more

Tech tip

Get tips for filtering email by registering your own domain name and then adding email services to the hosting package. Read more


Library news

Learn about August classes, librarian speaking events, the Labor Day holiday, and read an AALL conference report. Read more


August snapshot

We are grateful to Ismael Ozanne, Dane County District Attorney, for setting aside time in July to talk to our library staff and answer questions about the District Attorney's office and criminal procedure. Read more

July 22, 2019

Databases in our libraries

Public computers at our libraries provide access to many subscription-based and free research sources. We often talk about what you can search by signing in with your library card. While you can get to a lot of information from anywhere with a Wisconsin State Law Library card, other sources are only available in the library.

Westlaw is available at all three libraries. The library's subscription to Westlaw includes primary law databases (case law, statutes, codes) at the Wisconsin and federal level plus all 50 states. In addition, users can access law reviews, forms, and several treatises. KeyCite, a citation verification tool, is also included. Wireless users at the  David T. Prosser Jr. Library can also access Westlaw from their own devices.
Lexis Advance is available at the David T. Prosser Jr. Library. The library's subscription to Lexis Advance includes primary law databases (case law, statutes, codes) at the Wisconsin and federal level plus all 50 states. In addition, users can search popular treatises and Shepardize citations.
While we have an extensive collection of Wisconsin Jury Instructions, past and present, you can also search or browse these through FastCase on our public computers. The FastCase archive of Wisconsin's jury instructions goes back to 2015.

Do you have a question about local government? Liquor licenses? Zoning powers? The “Legal Opinions” database from the League of Wisconsin Municipalities may have the answer. This CD-ROM includes almost three decades of legal analysis as well as League manuals on assessments, annexation, meeting conduct, and more. This resource is available at the David T. Prosser Jr. Library.
The OED is a well-established source on the meaning and history of words in the English language. This resource is updated quarterly and is available in all three libraries. The library also has a print copy of the most recent edition available at the David T. Prosser Jr. Library.
The National Consumer Law Center library features full access to 20 treatises on consumer law. Popular titles include Consumer Class Actions; Consumer Bankruptcy Law and Practice; Credit Discrimination; Fair Credit Reporting; and Student Loan Law. Many of these are in print in our library, but can be easily keyword searched through this database.
Search BNA Bloomberg law books, do docket searching, and use Bloomberg Law's legal research and business intelligence tools to find what you need. This resource is available at the David T. Prosser Jr. Library.
This website provides access to Wisconsin State Bar online PINNACLE books collection and forms. You can easily keyword search books here, and access the downloadable forms for our print copies (which used to be issued on CD). Ask a librarian to sign you in.

July 19, 2019

All libraries closed on July 19

Due to a downtown Madison power outage, all three of our library locations - the David T. Prosser Jr. Library, Dane County Law Library, and Milwaukee County Law Library - are closed on Friday, July 19. Watch our blog, our website, or our Facebook page for updates.

There is no After Hours use currently. Please call the library on Monday for an update.

Send questions and requests to us by email or leave a voicemail at 608-267-9696. We will respond to questions on Monday, July 22.

Madison locations closed Friday July 19

Because they are without power, our Madison library locations - the David T. Prosser Jr. Library and the Dane County Law Library - are closed on Friday, July 19. Watch this blog, our website, or our Facebook page for updates during the day.

The Milwaukee County Law Library is operating with limited service today.

Send questions and requests to us by email or leave a voicemail at 608-267-9696. We will respond to questions on Monday, July 22.

July 2, 2019

WSLL @ Your Service July 2019

The July issue of WSLL @ Your Service is now online. Your comments are welcome! Please direct them to the editor, Carol Hassler.

In this issue: 

DFI Lien and Trademarks Database

The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) recently released the UCC and Trademark Filing System, a new website which allows users to search and file trademarks, tradenames, and UCC filings. Read more

New Books

Our two featured titles this month are Legal Guide to the Business of Marijuana and A Layperson's Guide to Legal Research and Self-Help Law Books. Our July new book list is included. Read more

Tech Tip

It's a given that most people have more than one email address. If you have a Gmail address, there's a twist on "multiple emails" that you may not have heard about before. Read more

Library News

Holiday closures, brand-new CLE classes on open meetings and administrative code research, and other library news. Read more

July Snapshot

This event, held in the Wisconsin State Capitol, celebrated Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson's 43 years of service on the Wisconsin Supreme Court and her upcoming retirement in July. Read more

July 1, 2019

Libraries closed on July 4

All three libraries will be closed on Thursday, July 4th in observance of the Independence Day holiday. Send questions and requests to us by email or leave a voicemail at 608-267-9696. We will respond to questions the next day.

Happy Fourth, everyone!


June 25, 2019

Job Opening: LTE Library Associate

The Dane County Law Library located in the Dane County Courthouse is seeking candidates for a Library Associate Limited Term Employee (LTE) position. This is a 20 hour per week appointment. The successful applicant must be available to fill the 20-hour requirement during our business hours: 8:30AM-4:30PM, Monday-Friday. In order to accommodate workflow, preferred weekly schedule would be Mon-Fri 11:30PM-3:30PM.

The hourly wage for this position is $14.70.

Primary duties include assisting librarian with maintenance of judges' book collections by filing and shelving materials; filling weekly legal information requests from Dane County inmates; assisting library users with legal ready reference questions such as locating circuit court procedures and forms; processing, filing, and shelving library collection materials; maintaining physical library space; handling cash; and other tasks as necessary.

Highly qualified candidates will have excellent customer service skills, be detail-oriented, be able to work independently, manage and complete projects on time, and be able to follow directions.

Call (608) 266-6316 for information on how to submit a cover letter and resume; ask for Bob. Position is work-study compatible.

The Wisconsin Court System is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer and will provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants who request them.

June 10, 2019

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage in Wisconsin

"For 53 years," Theodora Winton Youmans wrote in the June 12, 1919 edition of the Wood County Reporter, "the woman suffrage question has been presented in some way to each session of the Congress of the United States." In June 1919, it was finally close to resolution when the Nineteenth Amendment was finally passed into law and set to the states to ratify. Youmans was one of the first women journalists and the president of the Wisconsin Women's Suffrage Association (WWSA) when Wisconsin ratified the amendment. Her words can be widely read in archived newsletters and newspapers, and paint a vivid picture of some of the arguments and issues of the time.

Women's Suffrage Centennial Celebration, Wisconsin State Capitol, June 10, 2019
Women were the engines of change, fighting for the right to vote for decades. While the conventional Wisconsin women's suffrage story tends to focus on the final frenzy of ratifying the Nineteenth Amendment and the subsequent rush to be first to file it in Washington D.C., the story of women's suffrage in Wisconsin is both rich and lengthy, stretching back to the origins of the state. Before women enjoyed full voting rights, they fought for limited rights to serve in office and vote in school elections.

June 10, 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of Wisconsin's ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. Throughout the month of June, the David T. Prosser Jr. Library will host a display featuring historical briefs and laws, related books, and photos and newspaper articles of the time.

Women's Suffrage Display at the David T. Prosser Jr. Library
Come into the library to read through these first hand. This display is set up so you can pick up individual pieces to examine them more closely. Don't miss our newsletter feature articles, Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage in Wisconsin and Women’s Suffrage Legislation in Wisconsin, or our blog posts featuring Supreme Court briefs related to women's suffrage: Brown v. Phillips and Gilkey v. McKinley.

Gilkey v. McKinley


Gilkey v. McKinley
75 Wis 543 (1890)

Women had the right to vote only in “school matters” and this was tested in 1887 by Olympia Brown’s case, Brown v. Phillips. The ability to vote in elections concerning school matters was additionally diminished when a close local election was decided by the margin of votes in a special voting box set aside for women. The runner-up sued, and the resulting Wisconsin Supreme Court decision, Gilkey v. McKinley, meant that clerks could not provide separate ballot boxes for women voting in certain local elections (which may involve “school matters”), nor could clerks inspect the women’s ballots to make sure they only voted on those items. It wasn’t until a decade later, in 1901, that the Legislature enacted a law requiring every precinct in the state to provide a separate ballot box for women voting on school matters. Prior to that time, women were unable to vote for school issues in elections which decided other matters or offices.


We have the Supreme Court briefs for this case in our library, and you can read them online as well: Gilkey v. McKinley.

Brown v. Phillips


Brown v. Phillips
71 Wis 239 (1888)

Olympia Brown led the Wisconsin Women’s Suffrage Association from 1884 to 1912. Beginning in 1886, women had been granted a limited right to vote in “any election pertaining to school matters.” The law headed for a test with the spring election of 1887. Olympia Brown, along with many other women, voted in her local municipal election for the offices of mayor, city clerk, comptroller, alderman, and supervisor. Brown argued that these offices were pertinent to “school matters” and were therefore permissible for her to vote on. When she was not allowed to vote, Brown sued the city.

While the circuit court agreed with Brown’s position, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ultimately ruled against Olympia Brown. You can learn more about this case on the Wisconsin Court System’s summary of famous cases: Brown v. Phillips and others.


We have the Supreme Court briefs for this famous case in our library, and you can read them online in two parts: Brown v. Phillips Part One, Brown v. Phillips Part Two.

June 3, 2019

WSLL @ Your Service June 2019

The June issue of WSLL @ Your Service is now online. Your comments are welcome! Please direct them to the editor, Carol Hassler.

In this issue: 

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage in Wisconsin

June 10, 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of Wisconsin's ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. Read more


Women’s Suffrage Legislation in Wisconsin

The process of passing full women's suffrage was decades in duration, and marked by setbacks. Read more


New Books

Our featured titles this month are Field guide to legal research and The family law guide to appellate practice. Don't miss our new book list as well! Read more


Tech Tip

Windows 7 is coming to an end. Although this operating system was introduced 10 years ago, it's estimated that almost 40% of PC users are still using it. Read more


Library News

Get a recap of recent events at the library and schedule a library tour for your summer associates, clerks, and interns. Read more


June Snapshot

There's no surer sign of spring in downtown Madison than tulips blooming around the Capitol! Read more

May 22, 2019

Libraries closed on Memorial Day

The David T. Prosser Jr. Library, and Dane and Milwaukee County Law Libraries will be closed on Monday, May 27th for Memorial Day. We will respond to questions and requests on Tuesday, May 28th.

To ask a question while we are closed, call us at 608-267-9696 or Ask a Librarian online.


May 14, 2019

Agency histories in the UW Catalog

State agencies can change names over time, merging or splitting into new entities. When you're doing historical research, this can get confusing. There are a few sources you can use to research past agencies. One such source is the UW-Madison Library Catalog.

Search the catalog for the the agency's current or historical name, plus the keywords "agency history record" to pull up a list of related agency records. Each record has a description of the agency in the notes field, with older or related agency names and the agency's responsibilities. 


Huge thanks to Eileen Snyder from the Wisconsin Historical Society for the tip!

May 6, 2019

WSLL @ Your Service: May 2019

The May issue of WSLL @ Your Service is now available.

In this issue: 

Law Day at our libraries

We celebrated Law Day on May 1, 2019. Read more

Spotlight on: Oxford English Dictionary

Are you looking to expand your vocabulary and impress your friends? We have added an online subscription to the Oxford English Dictionary which can be used at the David T. Prosser Jr. Library public computers. We also have it in print! Read more

New Books

This month's featured titles are An Associate’s First Year: a Guide to Thriving at a Law Firm and Opening Statements: Winning in the Beginning by Winning the Beginning. Don't miss our full new book list for May. Read more

Tech Tip

How do I shrink this page? Where is the spell check button? If you are a casual user of Microsoft Word, the array of ribbons, toolbars, and menus can be confusing. Use the Quick Access Toolbar to help your experience. Read more
Library News

Get conference and National Library Week updates, learn about upcoming classes for May, and more news from our libraries. Read more

May Snapshot

Spotted on the interstate on the way to Chicago, this American Writers Museum billboard highlighting Douglass' timeless words ties into an exhibit they offered last year, Frederick Douglass AGITATOR. Read more

May 1, 2019

Celebrating Law Day

Recently, one of our librarians came across a Wisconsin Bar Bulletin article from 1976, commemorating Law Day. This article, 200 years of liberty and law, includes photographs from the Governor's proclamation signing, and an oral argument in the Assembly Chambers of the State Capitol "on the issue of Fair Trial - Free Press." It was great to see this window to the past, preserved in the Bar Bulletin. You can read this article and see the pictures now on HeinOnline (49 Wis. B. Bull. 56, 58 (1976)), or in print in the David T. Prosser Jr. Library.

Please join us for Law Day on May 1, 2019. The Wisconsin State Law Library is offering a free CLE-credit class on legislative history research.

event flyer Introduction to Wisconsin Legislative History
Wednesday, May 1, Noon - 1 p.m.
Location: Room 150 in the Risser Justice Center, 120 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Watch for signs in the lobby. Room 150 is located on the first floor, at the same entrance for the David. T. Prosser Jr. Library.
I need the legislative history of a Wisconsin statute. Where do I start? What do I do? Participants will look at the primary resources used to research Wisconsin legislative history, learn about the online Wisconsin legislative drafting files, and learn some helpful tips and tricks along the way. This introductory class covers basic research strategies and sources.
This year’s American Bar Association theme is “Free Speech, Free Press, Free Society.” In consideration of this theme, the Dane County Bar Association will present three free CLE programs on Digital Freedom of Speech, Attorney Ethics in “My Cousin Vinny,” and Media and Open Government Issues. All programs are open to everyone, and will be at the Dane County Courthouse.

The Dane County Law Library will be hosting free legal consultations for the public with volunteer attorneys, and courthouse tours are also offered as part of Law Day at the Courthouse.


April 15, 2019

National Survey of State Laws Update

I love 50-state surveys of laws for easy charts outlining basic similarities and differences in state laws. These are great resources for finding primary law citations in a quick glance. We have several sources in our library for finding these kinds of topical surveys. The National Survey of State Laws is a great source for this with a wide range of topics available.

The 2019 edition was recently released in print and online, and library users can use this resource on HeinOnline right away. Prior editions back to 2005 are also available on HeinOnline.

New chapters include:
  • Interest rates
  • Seat belt laws
  • Restrictive covenants in employment
  • Child support guidelines
  • Domestic violence
  • Bullying
  • Civil shoplifting
  • Food laws
  • Medical records

April 11, 2019

Currency is Key

In law, updates are vital. Our libraries receive several updates each week for books in our collection. The frequency and style of update can depend on the publisher, as well as our subscription to a title.

We just received and filed updates to all of our Wisconsin Civil Jury Instruction sets, so when you go to the shelf, or ask us for a copy of an instruction, you know they're up to date.


To learn a little more about filing updates, see: What is on the book cart? 

For a little poetry (in recognition of National Poetry Month in April), see: Sonnet to a supplement


Free Guide for End-of-Life Planning

Download this before it's gone...from April 3 to 19, the State Bar of Wisconsin is offering a free download of A Gift to Your Family: Planning Ahead for Future Health Needs, an end-of-life planning guide.

As discussed in the latest issue of the State Bar's InsideTrack, most Wisconsin residents have not completed an advanced directive document about end-of-life decisions. This planning guide discusses advanced directives, including the Power of Attorney for Health Care and living wills. It discusses the role and responsibilities of a health care agent, and provides resource lists and information on organ and tissue donation.



If you've been wondering about planning for your future medical care, this guide can get you started.

April 10, 2019

A traveling library, book by book

Today is National Bookmobile Day and while we don't have a bookmobile, we do have a library that travels!

Our Borrow by Mail service lets our users request that books be checked out and shipped to them, so our print collection can have just as much reach as our digital collections. It's easy to use. Send in a request and a librarian will pull the books from the shelves, check them out, and send the books along with an invoice for shipping costs to you. (There's no charge for requests from judges.)


While we charge for shipping to an address via UPS, there is no fee for sending materials to our Milwaukee library through our regular channels. If you're in the Milwaukee area and you need a book from one of our Madison libraries, just ask us! We'll send it over with our scheduled shipment.


Finding Legal Help

This week is National Library Week, and we're talking a lot about how we help our users. One way we help our low-income users is to refer them to legal assistance organizations or clinics close to where they live.

We direct people to our County Legal Resources page, which includes legal assistance organizations in each county. We're also very happy to be able to direct users to the State Bar of Wisconsin's initiative, Free Legal Answers - Wisconsin

Wisconsin Free Legal Answers is a free website for low-income people who cannot afford a lawyer. You can ask free, brief legal questions about civil law issues and have them answered by a Wisconsin attorney. The website requires you to create an account, but once you do so then you can use the website to ask your question. 


Research support @ your library

One thing we pride ourselves on at our libraries is our ability and willingness to help. Sometimes our users are astonished at this, feeling like they shouldn't be taking up our time to ask a question. We can assure you, we're ready and happy to help!

A book we recently added to our collection, Untangling fear in lawyering, had me thinking about the topic of fear and worry in the law profession. One way we can help attorneys handling an unfamiliar topic is to help with research. We identify books or articles that might discuss the issue or include sample form language. We also have access to specialized databases here in the library that can be useful when researching topics. You don't have to come into the library to get help either - email us our call our reference line (608-267-9696) for quick service from wherever you're located. Consider us your backup belay. With a library on your side, you're never climbing alone.



Attorneys in Wisconsin are eligible for a free library card, which lets them check out books from our three libraries and sign in to databases from anywhere with their card number. 


April 8, 2019

Happy National Library Week!

Every year during National Library Week, we take time to reflect on how we can help our users. This year, the national theme is Libraries = Strong Communities. We felt like this theme was particularly appropriate for our library. 

We help people every day with a wide range of questions, and from all over the state. Wisconsin is our community, and we're proud to to help people to access legal information.



Do you have a story to tell about using one of our three libraries? Send an email to carol.hassler@wicourts.gov.

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