More E-books Developments

Some of the library’s e-books are provided to us through Scholars Portal.  The way to access the Scholars Portal books is different from the way we access books on the ebrary platform.  You can tell that the book is a Scholars Portal e-book if you see “Borrow this E-Book” above the cover image of a Scholars Portal Books book.

You will need to follow a specific process to download the e-book onto your personal computer or device.  It will not work on a public computer, and you cannot browse the book before downloading it:

  1. Download a program that supports Adobe IDs:
  2. Create an AdobeID if you don’t already have one.
  3. On the Scholars Portal page for the book, click the orange ”Borrow this E-Book” text then the blue “Download your book here” button.
  4. Then a file ending in the extension .acsm will download. This file should automatically open in Adobe Digital Editions, but if it doesn’t, right click on the file and choose “Open with…” then Adobe Digital Editions.

Your book will now open in Adobe Digital Editions. After 72 hours, it will be returned automatically.  You may return it earlier if you finish with it sooner.

For more general information on e-book platforms, see this campus guide.

The Digital Rights Management restrictions on the Scholars Portal e-books vary and are not always the same as the restrictions on the ebrary books.  The Scholars Portal books:

1.         Must be borrowed in their entirety, not just a chapter at a time.

2.         Cannot be browsed (i.e. must be checked out to look at; no partial downloading for the bit you want).

3.         Can only be used by one person at a time (single-user access) unless the catalogue says we have more than one “copy.”

4.         Are checked out for 72 hours (3 days) at a time, at which point the book disappears along with any highlighting and any annotations you may have made on it.

5.         May be renewed.

6.         Cannot be placed on hold.

7.         Cannot all be printed; some books can only be read (depends on what exact type of licence they have, which is not easy to determine). For books that permit printing, the maximum amount allowed is 20%.

8.         Need to be used with a reader that is compatible with Adobe Content Server (ACS), because books are not PDFs (see point no. 1 in the first list).  There should be a prompt from the reader to do this.  The e-book can be read by you on multiple devices if it is downloaded and opened under the same Adobe ID.  You have to be careful, though, because an Adobe ID can only be used on a maximum of 6 devices ever.  If you are on a public computer, and find one of these books to check out, e-mail the .acsm file to yourself to check it out on your own device.

Troubleshooting and Miscellaneous

1.   If it says “unable to download: already fulfilled by another user” someone else has already downloaded and opened the book.

2.   If it says “unable to download: already returned” you may have accidentally returned it: refreshing should bring it back.

3.   When you are in, you have a reading panel and a library shelf.  The ribbon says if your book has expired. For unexpired books, click on the ribbon to see the time remaining for the book.  It also says what rights you have to print/copy the book and has the button for returning the book before it is due.  If you click on a book and get an “unable to return: bad loan” message you are trying to return a book that has already been returned.  If the book has expired, you have to start from scratch to borrow it again.

4.   The most common problem people have is using Adobe Acrobat Reader instead of Adobe Digital Editions.

5.   Sometimes people using Chrome or Bluefire encounter problems.

6.   LibAnswers has answers to a number of users’ questions – select “borrowable e-books” from the topics dropdown).

7.  There is a handout on downloading Adobe Digital Editions etc. from LibAnwers.

Spring has sprung – now start studying!

The reality of exams dawns…

It’s the first day of spring (just don’t look outside), and of course that means that if you haven’t started to feel the end-of-term crunch, you will (and probably should!) very soon.

Of course, the library should be a major focal point for your study and research (if it’s not, for shame!), and we’re here to help. This post is intended as a capsule-sized survivor’s guide to the basics needed to get through the home stretch.

Our extended hours will start the week of March 31st, 2014 and go until Friday, April 25th. We will switch to summer hours on Monday, April 28th. The extended hours will be until 11 p.m. every night. As a result, our hours are will run from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. from Monday to Friday and from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Reference hours will remain unchanged, so if you wish to speak with a reference librarian at the reference desk, our usual reference hours are Monday to Friday from 10 am to 4 pm. It is also possible to make an appointment to speak with one of us outside of those hours, but in such cases please make an appointment, either by dropping by the desk or by e-mailing us – either personally or via the library e-mail at library@osgoode.yorku.ca. That e-mail is the same one you should use if you have a reference question that hits you at 3:30 in the morning. It will be handled when the desk is opened the next business day.

No food, crunchy or otherwise, is allowed. However, drinks in a lidded container are fine. Coffee is the life-blood of stressed law students, and we will not stand in your way of caffeinated highs. Just remember that sleep is just as important (but please, try and go home to catch it). Speaking from personal experience, law exams are ten times worse if you’re overly tired, so some shut-eye is crucially important!

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. We’re here to help you out, answer questions, and hopefully soothe frayed nerves!

Good luck everybody!

Eastern European and CIS Law

Given the near-ubiquity of Ukraine and Russia, along with the attendant complicated history and politics that run deep between them, in the news over the past weeks and months, it would seem that it would be a good time to do a brief blog post on available resources for legal research former Soviet CIS (Commenwealth of Independent States) states.

The ongoing Russian invasion of Crimea almost seems to read like a fact pattern for an international law or international relations exam. Multiple violated treaties, violations of international conventions, trumped-up justifications for invasion and so on – not to mention the Cold War and Great Game rhetoric and power struggles that just won’t seem to die. Which, of course, means that it is a fascinating situation to watch unfold, as the Guardian’s daily live updates of the situation have proven. Thankfully, the human cost has, at the time of this writing, been mercifully modest. On a personal note, my wife grew up in Crimea and my in-laws still reside there, so it is something that has struck a resonant chord – not to mention tremendous nervousness.

As the Ukrainian crisis has amply demonstrated, the rule of law – along with the accompanying legal frameworks – is hardly robust in many parts of the former Soviet Union. This makes legal research problematic, as the law does not necessarily represent the way the legal system actually works – “dualism” is a long-standing tradition in Russian law.

Our hard copy collection of materials on this area is modest, although we do have a handful. The leading English-language scholar of Russian and former Soviet law is William Butler, from whom we have quite a few texts that he either wrote or translated. Two that are particularly notable right now are International Law: A Russian Introduction and a largely Russian text on comparative law, Foundations of Comparative Law, which includes an essay entitled “Place of Ukraine on the legal map of the world”. Another author whose work is worth consulting is Igor Kavass, whose bibliographies of Soviet and early post-Soviet Russian law are exhaustive.

The usual suspects in terms of databases and eResources are also a rich source of secondary material, and there are also some specialized resources that are useful as well. HeinOnline’s World Constitutions Illustrated is an excellent source of, as the name suggests, world constitutions, both current and historical. There are also selected articles, commentaries, and bibliographies. The turmoil of Russia’s 20th century history is highlighted by the list of constitutions in 1917, 1918 (twice), 1923/24, 1925, 1936, 1937, 1947, 1977, 1978, and 1993.

Another fantastic resource is the Foreign Law Guide, which is a regularly updated source of both primary and secondary information on foreign legal systems. There is often legal history, commentary, and a selection of the best sources on myriad areas of the law in many countries. Not everything is readily available, but where possible they will link to online resources.

As always, if you are stuck or looking for places to start, you can come by and speak with a librarian. We’re here to help!

Refugee Appeal Division Decisions Now Available on Quicklaw

The Refugee Appeal Division (RAD), fourth division of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, was launched on December 15, 2012 and started releasing decisions mid last year. This new division considers appeals against decisions of the Refugee Protection Division to allow or reject claims for refugee protection.

All decisions of the Refugee Appeal Division are now available on Quicklaw, in English and in French, in the source Canada Immigration and Refugee Board, Refugee Appeal Division Decisions (for English decisions) and in the source Décisions de la Section d’appel des réfugiés de la CISR (for French decisions).

Please note that you can find the Canada Immigration and Refugee Board divisions’ decisions in the following sources on Quicklaw:

English Decisions

  • Canada Immigration and Refugee Board, Immigration Division Decisions
  • Canada Immigration and Refugee Board, Immigration Appeal Division Decisions
  • Canada Immigration and Refugee Board, Refugee Protection Division Decisions
  • Canada Immigration and Refugee Board, Refugee Appeal Division Decisions
  • Canada Immigration and Refugee Board, All Divisions, Group Source

French Decisions

  • Décisions de la Section de l’immigration de la CISR
  • Décisions de la Section d’appel de l’immigration de la CISR
  • Décisions de la Section de la protection des réfugiés de la CISR
  • Décisions de la Section d’appel des réfugiés de la CISR
  • Commission de l’immigration et du statut de réfugié du Canada, toutes sections, groupes de sources

 

Scottish Law – More different than you might think!

Having just returned from Scotland this past week, I feel compelled to write about Scots law which, though it is part of the UK (for now), is markedly different from English law.

With the referendum on Scottish independence set for September 18 of this year, there has been a tremendous amount of discussion into the parallels between the Scottish and Québécois experiences in their quest for independence. The parallels are numerous (as are the differences, for that matter), but a key similarity that leaps out is the fact that they have very different – and yet strongly intertwined – legal systems. While they are both heavily indebted to the common and civil traditions, Scots law has arguably maintained an even stronger native character than the Québécois system. In an echo of Canadian and American divisions between the Federal government and states and provinces, the Scottish Parliament, first elected in 1999, exercises jurisdiction over all matters that are not specifically reserved to the UK parliament.

One of the most significant (and enduring) peculiarities is the “third option” in Scottish criminal law. While most people are familiar with the enduring, Manichean “guilty” vs. “not guilty” divide in most justice systems, the Scots have opted for and persisted with a third verdict – “not proven”. Otherwise known as the “bastard verdict”, it has been said that it is the equivalent of “we’ll no’ say ye did it, but then we’ll no’ affirm ye didna either.” It is certainly a curious idea – considered to be an acquittal, it still doesn’t conclusively dispel the notion of guilt either.

A further muddying of the waters with regard to guilt, innocence, and the apparent Scottish penchant for ambiguity in these matters hinges on jury trials. Unlike most jurisdictions that call for unanimous verdicts (an eternal source of drama such as with the classic 12 Angry Men), a simple majority of eight will suffice in Scotland (their criminal trial juries consist of 15 individuals) – even in cases that involved capital punishment. The somewhat tongue-in-cheek “Anomalies of Scots Law” from a 1919 Juridical Review notes that “we hope that these criticisms do not amount to high treason. The penalty for that crime is the drawing of the traitor to the scaffold on a hurdle, followed by execution or hanging, drawing, and quartering… why England only was favoured by the repeal of that penalty in 1870 seems itself an anomaly. It behoves one, however, to walk warily when it is borne in mind that in Scotland a jury, while it must remain closeted for three hours before returning a verdict by majority in a civil case [...] yet in a criminal trial may, by eight votes to seven, and after five minutes’ consideration or none at all, bring about the death of a fellow-subject.”

These are just a couple of (admittedly pretty significant) differences, with a whole host of others – large and small – that have allowed for the development of a body of laws and legal traditions that exist very much parallel but distinct from much of the rest of the Anglo-American legal tradition.

Given Canada’s strong Scottish heritage, it should be no surprise that the Osgoode library has a significant collection of material dedicated to Scots law, with the oldest being the succinctly and decidedly old-timey titled De verborum significatione : the exposition of the termes and difficill wordes, conteined in the four buikes of Regiam majestatem and uthers in the actes of Parliament, infeftments and used in practicque of this realme, with diuerse rules and commoun places of principalles of the lawes from 1597. This is simply one book from the 836 on Scots law in the Osgoode library alone, with a wide array of material available through databases, including the massive, impressive, and often fascinating Scottish Legal History collection on HeinOnline.

Finally, there is an up-to-the-minute research guide published in February 2014 specifically on Scottish Legal History on GlobalLex for those who may wish to delve deeper.

Law Society of Upper Canada, Minutes of Convocation

The Law Society of Upper Canada announced today the launch of a new online resource that makes publicly accessible the Minutes and Transcripts of Convocation.  Members of the Bar and the public can full-text search the Minutes and Transcripts or browse the documents by date. The site contains the public versions of the Minutes of Convocation from April 1988 to the present, and the public Transcripts of Convocation from September 1991 to the present.

This new resource was a project of the Law Society’s Corporate Records & Archives and The Great Library.

Copies of the Minutes of Convocation for the period 1959-1982 are available in print in the Osgoode Library.