Monthly Archives: November 2011

Free Online Photo and Music Editing Website and App

I try to highlight technology apps and websites that are free and useful.  Aviary,, is a website and downloadable app for free online software that does  many of operations that  Photoshop or IllustratorAll make available for a price. Aviary offers all of the basic photo-editing tools that you need and more.  It’s free and easy to use from any web browser, and if you want to learn more advanced techniques their tutorials are waiting to help. There is also a cell phone version for use on your android or other cell phones. It also offers music editing of your recordings. This is a great website and app for you and it is all free. [DEL]

From Atlantic to Pacific, gee, the traffic is terrific

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the Thanksgiving holiday is one of the most-traveled weekends of the year. (See )

If you’re faced with a flight delay or other inconvenience this weekend, put the time to good use by participating in the administrative rulemaking process to help make airline travel more accessible for people with disabilities! No, really. Did you know that the public is invited to comment on proposed administrative regulations before they are put into effect? Your knowledge and feedback can help shape agency regulations to create the best solution possible.

Administrative rules are frequently complex and difficult to understand. One group, the Cornell e-Rulemaking Institute is working to change that. Their site, Regulation Room takes selected proposed rules, breaks them down to make them easier to understand, and then works to engage and educate the public to facilitate informed discussion. Regulation Room was selected as by the Department of Transportation (DOT) as its open-government flagship initiative and received a Leading Practices Award by the White House after a government-wide review of such projects.

In 2010, Regulation Room worked with the DOT to help make decisions about Airline Passenger Rights. Their current rule involves airline travel accessibility standards for people with disabilities. Check-in kiosks and airline websites are frustrating enough–can you imagine trying to navigate one if you had visual, hearing, or mobile disabilities? What if you couldn’t physically reach the check-in kiosk or read the instructions on the screen? So while you’re waiting in the airport this weekend, pop on over to Regulation Room and have your say.


(full disclosure: I worked as a Research Assistant for CeRI during the 2009-2010 school year.)

Understanding Citations – Bluebook Videos

If you are long for guidance on Bluebook citations in a different format; try these videos. [] The videos introduce legal citation and are intended to help you construct citations in accordance with the rules set out in the nineteenth edition of  The Bluebook:  A Uniform System of Citation.  They are available courtesy of Elon School of Law Library. [DEL]

The SNAP (research) Challenge

This week, 16 law students and their friends are living on $4 a day, the budget of a food stamp recipient. Their goal is to raise awareness and better understand the challenges faced by people who depend on SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to help meet their basic needs. You can read more about the challenge and their experiences here and here.

This brings up a great research question–how might you go about researching a government program you’ve heard about in the news? What if you’d like more information on who is eligible for SNAP, what SNAP covers (or doesn’t cover), or statistics on the program?

One good place to start is with a secondary source. AmJur, CJS, & Federal Procedure, Lawyer’s Edition all have entries on various government programs. Here, try 79 Am. Jur. 2d Welfare § 27, 3 C.J.S. Agriculture § 36, and 17 Fed. Proc., L. Ed. § 42:812 for some background information on SNAP. Remember to keep your list of search terms broad–a keyword search for “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” on Westlaw or Lexis will bring back relevant results, but it’s not necessarily a term you’ll find if you’re looking in the index. You may need to think more broadly and look for terms like food stamps, welfare, or public welfare to find relevant entries. And don’t forget to check ResultsPlus on Westlaw or More Like This on Lexis to find additional relevant sources that might not have been retrieved through your keyword search.

Secondary sources are a great place to start because they give you cross references to other relevant information,  such as topics and key numbers for the West digests and cites to ALR entries, relevant cases, and statutory and administrative authority. Use these to expand your search into a state, federal, or regional West digest, or look up the cited statute or regulation. An annotated US Code, such as West’s U.S.C.A. or Lexis’s U.S.C.S. will give you additional research references, as well as decisions interpreting aspects of the statute. You can also run a KeyCite or Shepard’s report to find more analysis, including journals and law review articles. Here, look up 7 U.S.C.A. § 2011 or 7 C.F.R. § 271 to read more on SNAP and its administration.

Agency websites are also a great source of information. Having read a secondary source for some background, you likely know what administrative agency is administering the program you’re interested in, but if not, a quick Google search on the name of the program will usually bring back the agency’s website. Here, we’d go to the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service at

Finally, don’t forget to check the library catalog. Try a keyword search on your topic to see what we have available. We’ve got lots of great books and links to electronic documents and government reports. Try this one from the Council of State Governments on issues and trends relating to SNAP, with a table comparing SNAP data by state.

These are just a few resources and suggestions to get you started– feel free to list your favorite resources in the comments.

There are finals in the air, people studying everywhere…

With the last day of classes rapidly approaching, and a surge of students coming to the library to outline and study for finals, it seems like a great time to highlight some of the resources we can provide to help you out.

1. The reference desk. Stop by and say hi! We can help you find a study aid or research guide, decipher the Bluebook, or get started researching a paper.

2. Study aids. Did you know the law library has a large collection of study aids? Check out this lib guide written by our own Professor Conroy to find study aids listed by topic available from the library.

3. Old exams and earplugs. Stop by the Circ desk to see old exams or pick up a pair of earplugs if you need a little extra quiet.

4. Study Rooms. Check out our group study rooms online at and find out how to reserve them through the law library’s TWEN page).

5. CALI. Take a CALI lesson as a way to review a subject while taking a break from outlining. Multiple options arranged by topic, available through TWEN or from

6. Find information on how to study for (and take) law school finals! The UW’s Gallagher Law Library has a research guide to final exams that includes links to blogs and podcasts. Our law library has several books on studying for and taking law school exams, including:

Getting to maybe: how to excel on law school exams. KF283.F58 1999book jacket

How to do you best on law school exams. KF 283.D44 1982

How to study law and take law exams in a nutshell. KF283.B87 1996book jacket

Law school success in a nutshell: a guide to studying law and taking law school exams. KF283.B87 2008

book jacket


Open book: succeeding on exams from the first day of law school. KF 283.F75 2011 book jacket

You can also do a subject search in our  library catalog for Law examinations — United States to see what else we have available.

Good luck studying!

LibGuides for Every Subject

There are so many law librarians out there making legal LibGuides on various areas of legal scholarship and research that I thought I should highlight several in blawg posts to show what is currently available.  Let’s start with legal writing and research. Drake University Law Library has a great one on legal writing that is for law students and practitioners, Karen Wallace has accumulated a lot of information on legal writing materials with links to Westlaw databases and practitioner form sources. The book links are to Drake University Law Library but the materials are standard and the Library of Congress numbers will give you the area to look in your library if they do not have the resource cited. She also has several other guides to legal research books and methods.  

UCLA has a very good LibGuide,, on legal research and writing. They also have one on writing a research paper that is very good,   UCLA has also covered online legal research,  Our own Terrye Conroy has one on free online legal resources, These are just examples. Go to Libguides and looking you area of interest or just Google your subject with LibGuides in the search. You will be amazed at what is available to save you a lot of time and work. [DEL]