Public Libraries Toolkit - Federal

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PUBLIC LIBRARY COLLECTION GUIDELINES FOR FEDERAL LEGAL MATERIALS

MINIMUM RECOMMENDATIONS

The minimum federal materials that a public library should consider purchasing in paper are the United States Code and the Code of Federal Regulations. The United States Supreme Court cases should be made easily accessible to the patron, either by using an internet version at no cost or purchasing them on CD-Rom. Other federal cases can be requested through the internet on a per document pay basis.

Information about purchasing and researching in these areas is listed below. If you follow the recommendation listed in the previous paragraph, you will have subject or full-text access to everything except the lower federal court cases. However, because cases are a primary source material (part of what constitutes the law) they should be consulted when a patron is doing federal research, and it would be appropriate to refer a patron to a public law library to access case finding tools if your library can't carry them.

One more note. Depending upon which version of the federal statutes you own, you may also need to obtain a set which publishes current federal laws as they are passed. If you own the United States Code, one way to update it is with a set called United States Code Congressional and Administrative News which will give you text of the new public laws, and a table telling you which sections of the United States Code are updated with those new public laws. If you own one of the annotated statute sets, either United States Code Annotated, or United States Code Service, they have current enough supplementation that purchasing an additional set may not be necessary.

Form books and citators (also listed below) may be too cost and space prohibitive for a public library to maintain.

Costs are classified as follows: $=under 100, $$=101-250, $$$=251-500, $$$$=501-1000, $$$$$=1001+, and unless otherwise noted, cost information relates to the new, print version.

FEDERAL STATUTES

TITLE
United States Code. Washington DC: , 1926 -

The United States Code (USC) contains the public, general and permanent federal statutes (laws) arranged by subject in fifty titles. The USC is published every six years and is updated with hardbound supplements.

PAPER COST
$$$$$

INTERNET
http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/
http://www.access.gpo.gov/congress/cong013.html

CD-ROM
The Government Printing Office also issues a low cost CD-ROM. You can look at the available Government Printing Office CD-Roms at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/sale/sale300.html. As well, West Group and LEXIS Law Publishing offer annotated CD-Roms.

NOTES
With a little persistence, you can find a used set that would be less expensive. You could try one of the used law book dealers: National Law Resources at 1-800-886-1800, Law Book Exchange, Ltd.: http://www.lawbookexc.com, Hein 1-800-88-7571 or Rothman 1-800-475-1986.

You could also monitor the Law Librarians (LAW-LIB) listerv: (send the following message to listproc@ucdavis.edu; subscribe law-lib fistname lastname or view the LAW-LIB FAQ: http://www.olemiss.edu/~noe/llfaq.html) or check out the the NEEDSANDOFFERS listserv (this is a listserv just for people looking to obtain or discard law books). To subscribe to NEEDS AND OFFERS send the following message to listserv@law.wuacc.edu: subscribe needsandoffers-l firstname lastname.

Although Listservs may offer low priced or free set; you will still need to purchase updates from the Government Printing Office.

RESEARCH TIP
If patrons are looking for case law regarding a statute, you should refer them to a library that has the United States Code Annotated or the United States Code Service; these are both annotated versions of the United States Code published by commercial publishers. The annotations will give the researcher summaries of cases that were decided about the statute, and also reference any regulation
TITLE
United States Code Congressional and Administrative News, West Group.

DESCRIPTION
This set contains the text of federal laws, and includes key legislative history. It is updated often, which makes it an effective tool to use when updating federal statutes.

PAPER COST
$$$$$

INTERNET
The text of recently passed federal laws are available on the internet. One of the best places to look is at http://thomas.loc.gov.

NOTES
The expense of this set may be prohibitive for public libraries to purchase. It is really the currency of the volumes and the legislative history information that make it attractive, because after the law is published in the United States Code, you will have another way of accessing the information.

RESEARCH TIP
Become familiar with Table 3 in the softbound supplements to this set. It is called "U.S. Code & U.S. Code Annotated Sections Amended, Repealed, New, etc." and will give you the number of any public laws that have amended the statute you are updating. Follow the instructions in the updating portion of this toolkit.

REGULATIONS

TITLE
Code of Federal Regulations. Washington, DC: Office of the Federal Register: http://www.nara.gov, 1939- .

DESCRIPTION
The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) contains federal regulations organized by subject into fifty titles. The CFR is published annually on a quarterly schedule throughout the year. Between annual updates, CFR titles are updated by the Federal Register, which comes out daily from the federal government.

PAPER COST
$$$$

INTERNET
http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/index.html

CD-ROM
A CD-ROM version of the CFR is available from the National Technical Information Service http://www.ntis.gov and from West Group.

NOTES
Patrons seem to do historical research in the CFR more than you would expect. If you have space, you may want to consider saving the volumes. If you don't have space to save all the volumes, still try to save Volume 3 because it contains all the Presidential Executive Orders.

RESEARCH TIP
There is a companion publication to the Code of Federal Regulations called List of Sections Affected. You use this source to determine when/if your regulation was affected by a newer regulation published in the Federal Register that has not yet made it to the CFR. Check the section on updating. There is also a Shepards Federal Rules Citator published for the CFR that will tell you if cases were decided about a particular regulation.

TITLE
Federal Register. Washington, DC: Office of the Federal Register: http://www.nara.gov, 1936-.

DESCRIPTION
The Federal Register publishes proposed and final rules from federal agencies along with presidential documents, executive orders, and notices.

PAPER COST
$$$

INTERNET
The internet sites for the Federal Register are great, because you can get today's federal register from them while you may not receive the paper for another two weeks. They also have the register going several years back. They are located at Government Printing Office sites, so the information is reliable. Try http://www.gpo.ucop.edu or http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces/aaces002.html.

CD-ROM
This product is available on CD-Rom (going back several years) from the West Group.

NOTES
This is a daily publication that rapidly becomes a space hog. If you subscribe to the print, it is wise to develop a retention policy (e.g., one year) and have signage indicating where patrons may locate back issues.

RESEARCH TIP There is a yearly index you can use to search for particular sections, but otherwise, this publication is much easier to search electronically.

CASES

TITLE
United States Reports. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office: http://www.access.gpo.gov, 1790- .

DESCRIPTION
The United States Reports contain the full-text of the decisions of the United States Supreme Court.

PAPER COST
$$$$$

INTERNET
Findlaw has Supreme Court cases beginning with volume 150 of the United States Reports at http://www.findlaw.com/casecode/supreme.html. You can pull up a case by citation or title or do a full-text seach. The Legal Information Institute at Cornell has cases from 1990-present at http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/. Fee-based full-text searching of Supreme Court cases from 1900-present is available on VersusLawat http://www.howedata.com/ sells a disc that carries all cases going back to 1754 for $250. As well, West Group and listproc@ucdavis.edu: subscribe law-lib fistname lastname or view the LAW-LIB FAQ: http://www.olemiss.edu/~noe/llfaq.html) or check the NEEDSANDOFFERS list by sending the following message to listserv@law.wuacc.edu: subscribe needsandoffers-l firstname lastname listservs. You could also try one of the used law book dealers: National Law Resources at 1-800-886-1800, Law Book Exchange, Ltd.: http://www.lawbookexc.com, Hein 1-800-88-7571 or Rothman 1-800-475-1986.

RESEARCH TIP
The paper United States Reports have an extremely slow publication schedule and thus are usually two years behind commercially published sets. For current research, use the Internet and/or refer patrons to libraries that subscribe to the U.S. Supreme Court Reporter (West Group) or the United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyers' Edition (Lexis Law Publishing) as these publications are published by commercial publishers and are much more current.

TITLE
Federal Reporter 3d St. Paul, MN: West Group: , 1880- . [1st Series: 300 vols.; 2d Series: 999 vols.]

DESCRIPTION
The Federal Reporter 3d series contains the published* decisions of the United States Courts of Appeals.

PAPER COST
$$$$$ initial investment
$$$$$ upkeep

INTERNET
All Federal Courts of Appeal now have recent decisions posted on the World Wide Web. Websites with the best links to Court of Appeals cases are Emory Law School Library: http://www.law.emory.edu/FEDCTS; and Villanova Law School Library: http://www.law.vill.edu/Fed-Ct/fedcourt.html. Findlaw and Cornell have sites where you can search multiple circuits at once. For a fee, you could also search Versuslaw which has daily, monthly, and yearly subscription rates. Another option for your patron is to have them visit the WestDoc site where they can, upon payment of a fee, enter the citation of a case and have it delivered to them over the internet. Cost for this service is $10 per document.

NOTES
*Because of the great number of cases, not all decisions are published. Unpublished decisions are available for a fee from the clerk's office of the respective court or from commercial online legal databases.

This title may be purchased at a substantial savings from used law book dealers: National Law Resources at 1-800-886-1800 or lawstuff@aol.com; and Law Book Exchange, Ltd. http://www.lawbookexc.com, or try Hein 1-800-88-7571, or Rothman 1-800-475-1986. In addition, because of the space requirements for this series, many private law firm libraries have converted electronic case databases and may be willing to donate the set to you; monitor the law librarians (LAW-LIB) listserv (to subscribe send the following message to listproc@ucdavis.edu: subscribe law-lib firstname lastname or view the LAW-LIB FAQ: http://www.olemiss.edu/~noe/llfaq.html. You could also try the NEEDSANDOFFERS listserv (to subscribe send the following message to listserv@law.wuacc.edu: subscribe needsandoffers-l firstname lastname.

RESEARCH TIP
For subject access to cases published in Federal Reporter 3d, refer patrons to the Federal Practice Digest or search full-text via the internet, just be sure to note the time period that the internet site covers.

TITLE
Federal Supplement. St. Paul, MN: West Group: , 1932-.

DESCRIPTION
The Federal Supplement contains the published* (see Notes under Federal Reporter 3d) decisions of the United States District Courts.

COST
$$$$$ Initial investment
$$$$$ Annual upkeep

INTERNET
Relatively few U.S. District Court cases are available at no cost on the Web. Librarians should try Findlaw: http://www.findlaw.com/casecode/district.html; or the Villanova Law School Library: http://www.law.vill.edu/Fed-Ct/fedcourt.html. Your patron can also visit the WestDoc site where they can, upon payment of a fee, enter the citation of a case and have it delivered to them over the internet. Cost for this service is $10 per document.

NOTES
This title may be purchased at a substantial savings from general used law book dealers: National Law Resources at 1-800-886-1800 or lawstuff@aol.com ; and Law Book Exchange, Ltd.: http://www.lawbookexc.com, or try Hein 1-800-88-7571, or Rothman 1-800-475-1986. In addition, because of the space requirements for this series, many private law firm libraries have converted to electronic case databases and may be willing to donate the set to you; monitor the law librarians (LAW-LIB) listserv (to subscribe to the list send the following message to listproc@ucdavis, subscribe law-lib fistname lastname, or view the LAW-LIB FAQ: http://www.olemiss.edu/~noe/llfaq.html . You could also try the listserv NEEDSANDOFFERS (to subscribe send the following message to listserv@law.wuacc.edu: subscribe needsandoffers-l firstname lastname) This series grows by leaps and bounds.

RESEARCH TIP
For subject access to cases published in the Federal Supplement, refer patrons to the Federal Practice Digest, or search full-text via the internet, but just be sure to note the time period the internet site covers.

COURT RULES

TITLE
Federal Civil Judicial Procedure and Rules. St. Paul, MN : West Group.

DESCRIPTION
This inexpensive, annual, paperback volume contains the federal rules regarding civil procedure, multidistrict litigation, habeas corpus, motions attacking sentences, evidence, appellate procedure, and supreme court procedure.

COST $

INTERNET
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are found at http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/frcp/overview.htm. Federal Rules of Evidence are at http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/overview.html. Supreme Court Rules are found at http://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/supct/overview.html.

NOTES
Though these rules are available on the internet, this book is a great resource, and inexpensive enough to be considered for purchase.

TITLE
Federal Criminal Code and Rules. St. Paul, MN: West Group.

DESCRIPTION
This inexpensive, annual paperback volume contains the federal rules regarding criminal procedure, habeas corpus, motions attacking sentences, evidence, appellate procedure, and supreme court procedure.

COST
$

INTERNET
Librarians should check the relevant US Code provisions at http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode.

NOTES
This handy one volume publication contains reprints of the criminal procedure rules contained in Titles 15, 21, 26, 28, 31, 41, 46, and 49 of the United States Code; the rules are annotated with case decisions.

CASE FINDING TOOLS - DIGESTS

TITLE
Federal Practice Digest 4th. St. Paul, MN:West Group, 1983- .

DESCRIPTION
The Federal Practice Digest 4th provides subject and case name access to federal court decisions from 1983-. Pre 1983 decisions are indexed in earlier editions of the digest.

COST
$$$$$ initial investment
$$$ upkeep

INTERNET
No digests are as of yet available on the Internet, but remember that you can go to the particular court site you are interested in and often search full-text, though coverage may not go back as far as you would like.

NOTES
This title may be purchased at a substantial savings from general used law book dealers: National Law Resources at 1-800-886-1800 or lawstuff@aol.com ; and Law Book Exchange, Ltd.: http://www.lawbookexc.com.

Because many law firms are now relying on commercial online legal databases for their indexing needs, they are discarding this set, and you may find a set for free or for the cost of postage by monitoring the law librarians (LAW-LIB) listserv (to subscribe send the following message to listproc@ucdavis, subscribe law-lib fistname lastname, or view the LAW-LIB FAQ: http://www.olemiss.edu/~noe/llfaq.html and the listserv NEEDSANDOFFERS (to subscribe send the following message to listserv@law.wuacc.edu.

CITATORS

TITLE
Shepard's United States Citations: Cases and Statutes and Shepard's Federal Citations. Colorado Springs, CO: Shepard's/McGraw Hill, Inc.: http://www.bender.com, Monthly.

DESCRIPTION
For each federal case, this resource lists citations to all the instances where each case was cited or affected by another case. "Shepardizing" is necessary for determining if your case is still "good law" (see the updating section).

COST
$$$$$ Initial Investment
$$$-$$$$ Upkeep

INTERNET
You may "Shepardize" a case over the Web at http://www.bender.com, (click on Shepard's Citations). The current cost for this service is $4.95 per citation.

NOTES
This is an expensive set for the amount of times your patrons may use it, though it would be nice if you could carry the Shepard's set that goes with any reporters you carry. Otherwise, Patrons should be referred to a local public law library or to http://www.bender.com.

RESEARCH TIP
In addition to verifying that their cases are still good law, patrons may also use this set to locate additional cases related to their research topic.

TITLE
KeyCite. West Group.

DESCRIPTION
This citator uses depth-of-treatment stars to tell you how much another case discussed the case you are KeyCiting. It is only available electronically.

COST
$3.75 per citation

INTERNET
You may "KeyCite" a case over the WEb at http://www.keycite.com

FORM BOOKS

TITLE
Bender's Federal Practice Forms. New York: Matthew Bender: http://www.bender.com, 1951- .

COST
$$$$$ Initial Investment
$$$$$ Annual Upkeep (looseleaf pages)

or

TITLE
Federal Procedural Forms. Rochester, NY: Lawyers Cooperative Publishing: http://www.westgroup.com, 1975- .

COST
$$$$$ Initial Investment
$$$$ Annual Upkeep (pocket parts)

or

TITLE
West's Federal Forms. St. Paul, MN: West Group: http://www.westgroup.com, 1951- .

COST
$$$$ Initial Investment
$$-$$$ Annual Upkeep (pocket parts)

INTERNET
Forms may be available through individual Federal agency web pages. For example, the federal tax forms are available at http://www.irs.ustreas.gov, and Social Security forms are available at http://www.ssa.gov. There are court forms available on the internet, but caution must be used as they may not be specific to a federal action. For a good listing of the form sites available on the internet, try http://www.findlaw.com/16forms/index.html.

NOTES
The above sets are costly to maintain and require a lot of shelf space therefore it is suggested that you refer your patrons to a local public law library that has one or more of the above sets.


last updated August 14, 2006.

Please send comments and suggestions to Lee Warthen