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The AALL Spectrum® Blog is published by the American Association of Law Libraries. Submissions from AALL members and other members of the legal community are highly encouraged. Opinions and editorial views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of AALL. AALL does not assume any responsibility for statements advanced by contributors. The previous Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.
3/13/2015 6:42:02 PM

Review: Constitute, “The World’s Constitutions to Read, Search, and Compare”

Constitute (https://www.constituteproject.org/) is a free website developed by the Comparative Constitutions Project, which is based at the University of Texas at Austin. It contains 194 constitutions that are accessible three ways: from an A-Z list, a full-text search, or selecting from a list of topics.

A useful feature is the ability to compare two or more nations’ constitutions by topic. To do so, click on the Compare button next to the applicable nations on the A-Z list and click on the Compare icon in the left frame of the screen. The texts of the constitutions will display side by side. To compare provisions in specific areas, do a full-text search in the box under the Compare icon in the left frame, or select from a list of topics located below the search box.

Below is a comparison of U.S. and Japanese constitutional provisions on the topic Rights and Duties/Legal Procedural Rights/Protection from Self-incrimination:



To find which nations’ constitutions address particular areas, be sure you’re in the List view (as opposed to Compare view) before using the search box or topics outline. A sample topic selection, Culture and Identity/Citizenship/Requirements for Naturalization shows that 118 constitutions have relevant provisions.

If you wish to preserve your search results, you can click on the pin icon near the top of the page, then click on the Pinned icon in the left frame, and then export to Google Docs, download as a PDF, or save as a .csv file. It appears that once you’ve pinned your search results you must take any of the above actions before closing your tab or window, as I saw no option for creating an account that would enable saving your results. Also, I discovered that my pinned search was gone once I closed the page and then returned, so the site doesn’t remember IP addresses.

While I enjoyed exploring Constitute, I encountered a couple of issues that would concern me if I were relying on it for research:

1.  When comparing the U.S. and Japanese constitutions, I clicked through the topic menu Rights and Duties/Legal Procedural Rights/Due Process. The one U.S. match was the 5th Amendment, but the 14th Amendment also contains the phrase “due process.”

2.  On the bottom left of Constitute’s main page there is a box that contains teasers of the site’s content. One was “Scotland, Catalunya, Who’s Next? 22 constitutions contain provisions on secession. Click here to see which.” When I clicked, I was directed to a search result list of the 22 nations, and the full-text box was populated with the phrase “secession of territory.” However, when I did a separate full-text search for just “secession,” I got 11 results that didn’t overlap. A search algorithm expert may know why this is, but I expect most users won't.

Posted By Colleen Williams at 3/13/2015 6:42:02 PM  0 Comments
3/13/2015 3:04:56 PM

Promoting Wellness Through the Law Library

In March each year, Yale Law School focuses on the wellness and mental health of our student community. Different departments throughout the law school engage in discussions of mindfulness, health, stress, and mental health issues. The librarians at The Lillian Goldman Law Library feel strongly about participating in the school-wide dialog. Below are a few ways we provide information to our students and (hopefully) help relieve a bit of their stress.

Book Display: The law library makes it a point to collect materials relevant to the issues facing the YLS community, and we often highlight these resources through topically-arranged book displays. In March, the “Wellness and the Law Student” display focuses on five categories: balance, gender issues, alternative careers, family, and advice. A sample of the books displayed in each section includes:

-     Balance:

-        Gender:

-        Alternative Careers:

-        Family:

-        Advice:

Therapy Animals: Whether it is dogs, cats, or llamas, bringing animals into the library offers respite to animal-loving law students. The Yale Law Library’s nationally recognized therapy dog program has been wildly successful with the students, faculty, and staff. During Wellness Month the law library extends the therapy dog program, allowing the students to get their fill of puppy snuggles before charging head- long into finals season.

Drop-In Reference/Research Sessions: Our reference librarians have an open door policy and spend most of their days meeting one-on-one with students. However, during the month of March, the reference librarians hold extra office hours/drop-in sessions outside of the library. By setting up a drop-in reference station in the YLS dining hall (our largest communal area) during student break times, the librarians aim to provide whatever research support the students need, wherever they need it.

Movies/Games/Sports Equipment/Books: Our popular reading and viewing collection is ever expanding. In late February and March we get an influx of new movies and books that we hold exclusively for the use of the YLS community. March can also be an odd month for weather; it could still be snowing or the thaw could be in full effect. Either way, the law library collects board games and sports equipment (such as sleds, soccer balls, squash rackets, and bicycles) to help students blow off steam and aid with their cabin fever after the frigidly-cold New Haven winter.

These are just a few of the endeavors the law library undertakes to aid our students during Wellness Month at YLS. We are always looking for new ways to engage our community and provide for their needs. We’d be interested to hear what other law libraries are doing to encourage student wellness.  

Posted By Jordan Jefferson at 3/13/2015 3:04:56 PM  0 Comments
3/12/2015 8:42:00 AM

Election Issue of the ALL-SIS Newsletter is Available Now

ALL-SIS members, learn about your candidates in the latest issue of the ALL-SIS Newsletter.  Candidates include Prano Amjadi and Jessica Wimer for Vice Chair/Chair-Elect and Kate Irwin-Smiler and Patrick Meyer for Executive Board Member-at-Large.  Susan David deMaine will prepare and distribute official ballots to all ALL-SIS members.

Posted By Kristen Moore at 3/12/2015 8:42:00 AM  0 Comments