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Law Library

Introduction to Legal Research

The Online Catalog In a Law Library is Always your Friend

  • The online catalog is your friend and underutilized as a research tool.
    1. There are approximately 14 different libraries at Washington University.  Each  library maintains electronic subscriptions  to periodicals.  The easiest way to find out if a library maintains an electronic subscription is check the online catalog.  If any library on campus has an electronic subscription, there will be a link to that electronic subscription through the catalog.
    2. Each of the Computer-Assisted Legal Research (CALR) databases (Bloomberg Law, Lexis Advance  and WestlawNext) have treatises on their systems.  The easiest way to find out if a treatise is on one of their databases is through the online catalog.
    3. The online catalog uses a controlled vocabulary for its subject headings.  Think of the many terms used to describe two people living together.  Controlled vocabulary means that all the different items will be listed under one term so that if you know that term you can find everything the library has listed under that term.  For example, you have been told that “you will be going on a loooooong journey,” and you wish to listen to several books on tapes.  Think of all the various terms used to describe books on tapes.  The online catalog places all such items under the term audiobooks.  Knowing the term you can find all the items owned by the library system.