Wisconsin State Law Library

Serving the Wisconsin Supreme Court and State of Wisconsin

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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.

Wisconsin Lawyer now on HeinOnline

We're excited to announce that the State Bar's Wisconsin Lawyer magazine is now available in full text on HeinOnline.

Library cardholders can search this publication all the way back to volume 1, when it was called the Bulletin of the Wisconsin State Bar Association. You may find earlier titles cited in cases, the Statutes Annotated, or articles, which include the Bulletin of the Wisconsin Bar Association, and the Wisconsin Bar Bulletin. The Library keeps these issues in print and microfiche, but digital access through HeinOnline means that any of our users can browse these volumes from anywhere in the state.



You can log in to databases with a library card, and print, save, or email articles to yourself. You can also use journal alerts to get updates when every new issue is added.

Ask a librarian for tips on how to use HeinOnline, or for help setting up article alerts.

April 2, 2019

WSLL @ Your Service April 2019

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

Join us for National Library Week events, from April 8-12, 2019. This year's theme is Libraries = Strong Communities. Read more

Online legal research platform Bloomberg Law is known for strong legal analysis content, like its Tax Practice Center and in-depth secondary sources. But Bloomberg Law is also a great source for docket research. Read more

Our featured new titles this month are Wisconsin Children's Code and Juvenile Justice Code and Federal Sentencing Law and Practice. Don't forget to check out our April new book list. Read more

How you charge and use your smart phone can have a significant impact on battery life. Learn tips for preserving your phone's battery. Read more

We're ready to speak at your next bar association meeting! Julie T. Robinson, State Law Librarian, will present information about the library's services and the materials which we provide for practicing attorneys. Read more

Learn about Law Day plans, upcoming CLE classes, and staff updates. Read more

You don't need to travel up to the Apostle Islands to see this awe-inspiring ice cave, formed outside the photographer's office in Wausau, Wisconsin. Read more

March 20, 2019

National Library Week, April 8-12

Join us for National Library Week events, from April 8-12, 2019. This year's theme is Libraries = Strong Communities, and we couldn't agree more with this statement. From providing vital research sources, to helping individuals navigate the court system for the first time, we are proud to serve the Court System and the people of Wisconsin.



Public Records
Monday, April 8, 11 - Noon
Thursday, April 11, 11 - Noon
Location: David T. Prosser Jr. Library rare book room
Get an overview of the history of Wisconsin’s public records law, understand top research sources, and learn where to find public records on individuals and businesses. Discover business entity records, liens, real estate records, and more. We'll help you find online and offline government agency sources for commonly-sought Wisconsin public records.
FREE. 1 CLE credit. Register Online | Print Registration Form
Dig in to Dockets and Court Documents
Monday, April 8, Noon - 1 p.m.
Thursday, April 11, Noon - 1 p.m.
Location: David T. Prosser Jr. Library rare book room

Learn how to research trial court dockets using free and low-cost tools available on the Internet, such as Wisconsin Circuit Court Access and PACER. Then survey powerful databases available free at the library. Learn how to locate verdicts and settlements via Westlaw and discover full text court filings using Westlaw and Bloomberg Law’s Litigation Intelligence Center.
FREE. 1 CLE credit. Register Online | Print Registration Form

Watch for blog posts and Facebook updates throughout the week on how we reach out to our Wisconsin community, and how you can use our services and collection.

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

March 13, 2019

Wisconsin State Budget Process

The Governor’s formal announcement of the biennial budget to the Legislature and people of Wisconsin signals the start of budget season in Wisconsin. Use this research guide to understand the process or to stay up to date on the latest changes.

Start with the budget drafts and Budget Index Report on the Wisconsin State Legislature's website, then continue your research with administrative reports, legislative agency analysis, and opinions and news coverage.


Ask a librarian for help finding information or analysis, and use our State Budget research guide to begin your research.

March 12, 2019

Job Posting: Library Assistant - Circulation Desk LTE

The Wisconsin State Law Library seeks a detail-oriented LTE (Limited Term Employee) Library Assistant, 22.5 hours per week. Applicants must have morning availability; Monday through Friday 8 AM to 12:30 PM.


Duties include staffing the circulation desk, filing looseleaf services, shelving, moving and shifting book collections, creating invoices, issuing library cards, and other collection maintenance activities.

Skills include excellent customer service skills in person and on the phone, working in the circulation system and other computer tasks, cash handling, ability to follow written directions and to do multiple tasks with a high degree of accuracy and attention to detail.

Pay is $11/hour.

Location: The library is located on bus lines, just off the Capitol Square at 120 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Madison.

To apply, please submit a cover letter and resume to elspeth.gordon@wicourts.gov which must include your hours available to work. (Emails preferred.)

March 4, 2019

WSLL @ Your Service March 2019

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

In this issue:


The Bloomberg Law Tax Practice Center gathers Bloomberg BNA resources in one website. It's a great way to keep current with federal and state tax law developments. Read more


Our featured new titles this month are Legal Aspects of Health Care Administration and Advising the Evolving Family. Don't forget to check out our full March new book list. Read more


Decluttering your electronic accessories may seem like a monumental task, but this article can help you to find guidance and disposal options near you. Read more


We're already making plans for National Library Week in April and we invite you to register for our upcoming classes! Read more


Enjoy the beautiful exterior and detailed interior of the Dodge County Courthouse at sundown. Read more

February 27, 2019

Job Posting: Library Assistant - Circulation Desk LTE

The Wisconsin State Law Library seeks a detail-oriented LTE (Limited Term Employee) Library Assistant, 22.5 hours per week. Applicants must have morning availability; Monday through Friday 8 AM to 12:30 PM.

Duties include staffing the circulation desk, filing looseleaf services, shelving, moving and shifting book collections, creating invoices, issuing library cards, and other collection maintenance activities.

Skills include excellent customer service skills in person and on the phone, working in the circulation system and other computer tasks, cash handling, ability to follow written directions and to do multiple tasks with a high degree of accuracy and attention to detail.

Pay is $11/hour.

Location: The library is located on bus lines, just off the Capitol Square at 120 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Madison.

To apply, please submit a cover letter and resume to elspeth.gordon@wicourts.gov which must include your hours available to work. (Emails preferred.)

February 25, 2019

GAO Reports and Decisions on HeinOnline

The Government Accountability Office, more commonly referred to as the GAO, is a nonpartisan agency that investigates how the federal government spends money, and provides information about ways the government might save money. The GAO generates several hundred reports and other documents each year, focusing on a variety of topics and agencies. These reports and surveys can be a valuable source of information, and may be rich with data.

You can now search almost 50,000 GAO reports and decisions on HeinOnline. This new collection, GAO Reports and Comptroller General Decisions, allows you to keyword search the collection using HeinOnline's advanced search features. You can also filter by location, individual  name, agency, and more. Start with a general search, or jump to one of the useful sub-collections like related Congressional Research Service reports, or legislative committee publications.



Learn more on the HeinOnline blog, or jump in and start researching now!

February 1, 2019

Job posting: Library Assistant


Are you a detail-oriented individual looking for part-time work? The Wisconsin State Law Library is seeking candidates for a Library Assistant - Limited Term Employment (LTE) position, 20 hours per week. Must have afternoon availability; Monday through Friday.
Duties include: processing, filing and shelving library materials, moving and shifting book collections, circulating materials, distributing mail, and providing other administrative support. Position involves lifting, stretching, bending, pushing loaded book carts, and sitting for extended periods.
Skills include: knowledge of general library procedures and on-line integrated library systems; knowledge of Microsoft Office applications including Word and Excel; ability to perform routine cash transactions; demonstrated ability to work with high degree of accuracy and attention to detail; friendly customer service and good oral communication skills. 
Pay: $15.123/hour.
Position is funded through June 30, 2019.
Location: The Wisconsin State Law Library is located on a bus line, just off the Capitol Square at 120 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Madison.

To apply: Please email your resume and cover letter to Amy.Crowder@wicourts.gov. You must include your hours available for work, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Deadline for applications: February 15, 2019.

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

January 27, 2019

Winter Weather Closures

The David T. Prosser Jr. Library, located in downtown Madison, is open to the public on Thursday, January 31.

The Milwaukee and Dane County Law Libraries, along with the courthouses, will be closed on Thursday, January 31 due to inclement weather. They will reopen on Friday, February 1. Contact the Wisconsin State Law Library at 608-267-9696 for help while they are closed.

Watch this post for updates and any further weather-related announcements this week. The Wisconsin Court System website lists statewide and county court closures: https://www.wicourts.gov/


The Milwaukee and Dane County Law Libraries, along with the courthouses, were also closed on Monday, January 28th due to weather. All three libraries were closed on Wednesday, January 30.

Updated 1/30, 6:45 pm

January 16, 2019

Libraries Closed on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

The State Law Library, and Milwaukee and Dane County Law Libraries will be closed on Monday, January 21st for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

To send a question to the Wisconsin State Law Library while we are closed, you may call us at 608-267-9696 or Ask a Librarian online.

We will respond to questions and requests on Tuesday, January 22nd.

January 10, 2019

2017-2018 Wisconsin Statutes Now Available For Purchase

The Department of Administration's Document Sales recently posted purchasing information for the new 2017-2018 Wisconsin Statutes. The prices are:

  • Hardcover: $83.26
  • Softcover: $70.58

Statutes can be purchased from the Document Sales website. Call them directly at 608-243-2441.

January 7, 2019

WSLL @ Your Service January 2019

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

In this issue: 

Bloomberg Law Now Available in the Library

Bloomberg Law incorporates Bloomberg's news, company, and financial data with legal research and business intelligence tools aimed at legal professionals. Next time you are in the library, check out Bloomberg Law! Read more

Where to Find Will Forms

We are frequently asked for information about wills. In addition to the statutory wills,  a number of sources in the library offer sample will forms and guidance to drafting wills. Read more

New Books

Our featured new titles this month are Legal Upheaval: a Guide to Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation in Law and Water Rights and Environmental Regulation: a Lawyers Guide. Don't forget to check out this month's complete new book list. Read more

Tech Tip

Using your phone's camera to snap a photo of a paper document is quick and easy. However, if you need a good quality copy, want to email the image, or mark it up, turn to specialized scanning apps. Read more

Sign Up for After Hours Access

Would you like the convenience of using the State Law Library later in the evening or on weekends? You can by becoming an After Hours subscriber. Read more

Library News

Library closures, our open house recap, and 2019 CLE classes. Read more

January Snapshot

Julie Tessmer, Heidi Yelk, and Kari Zelinka attended the first annual Beacon & Eggs breakfast to benefit The Beacon. Read more

January 2, 2019

Recommended Modern Dictionaries

Recently we added Reading the law: the interpretation of legal texts, by Antonin Scalia and Bryan A. Garner, to our collection. This book includes a list of recommended modern dictionaries. Using this book as a reference, we've updated our collection and created a display in our library which showcases these dictionaries. Stop by our David T. Prosser Jr. Library location, or ask a librarian for help using one of these sources.


Law Dictionaries

2009: Black's law dictionary (9th edition)
2011: Merriam-Webster's dictionary of law (2nd edition)
2011: Garner's dictionary of legal usage (3rd edition)

English Language Dictionaries (most recent editions)

The Oxford English dictionary (online edition)
American heritage dictionary of the English language
Merriam-Webster's collegiate dictionary
The new Oxford American dictionary
The new shorter Oxford English dictionary
Webster's new world college dictionary
The Cambridge guide to English usage
Garner's modern American usage

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