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!

The Law It Self: Sir Edward Coke and his Lasting Authority

Bacon and Shakespeare: what they were to philosophy and literature, Coke was to the common law. – J.H. Baker

Sir Edward Coke, 1552-1634. The First part of the Institutes of the Laws of England; or, A Commentary upon Littleton, Not the Name of the Author Only, but of the Law it Self.  12th ed. London: 1738.

The Osgoode Library has recently been the recipient of an important donation from Fraser Laschinger, Osgoode ’73: a copy of the 12th edition of Sir Edward Coke’s famous commentary on Sir Thomas Littleton’s Institutes of the Laws of England, printed in London in 1739. Coke on Littleton is one of the great authorities of the English common law.

This particular copy is especially valuable for its remarkable provenance, reflective of Canadian legal history. As evidenced by an armorial bookplate on the inside front cover, the text came to Canada sometime in the late 18th Century with Sir James Monk (1745-1826), who was appointed Solicitor General of Nova Scotia in 1772 and acting Attorney General in 1775. He served as Attorney General of Lower Canada 1776-1789 and again 1782-1794, when he was appointed Chief Justice of Lower Canada. Monk built the mansion Monklands in Montreal, the oldest remaining Palladian-style villa in Canada, which was the residence of Canadian Governors General from 1844 to 1849. Lord Elgin lived in the house, where his son, Victor Bruce, the future Viceroy of India was born. The house was acquired in 1854 by the Congrégation de Notre Dame to serve as a girls’ boarding school, Villa Maria, which still operates today in the same building.

Initials inscribed in the text may also refer to a further possible association of this copy with Edward Goff Penny, the Montreal journalist and conservative politician, called the Bar in 1850. Mr Laschinger’s father acquired the book upon purchase of the Montreal home of Mme Jeanne Vanier (née Tétrault, widow of Antoine Vanier) in 1950. This book complements copies of other editions of Coke on Littleton already in the Library’s Canada Law Book Rare Book Room, the earliest being the 2nd edition, 1628. We thank Mr. Laschinger for his generosity.

Sir Edward Coke (that’s pronounced Cook, as I found out the hard way) was a prominent English jurist and politician whose Institutes of the Laws of England have had an enormous impact on the development of English law, and by extension, common law in general.

Coke was born in Norfolk in 1552. He entered the Inner Temple in 1572 and was called to the bar six years later. He ably proved his worth as a jurist and rose through a number of positions in the public service, eventually beating out rival and renaissance man Sir Francis Bacon for the post of Attorney General in 1594. Besting Bacon seems to have been among Coke’s many talents: four years after his appointment, Coke again found himself at odds with Bacon as they competed for the hand of Lady Elizabeth Hatton, which Coke won.

As Attorney General, Coke was involved with a number of high profile cases; Coke prosecuted both Sir Walter Raleigh and the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot. Until his retirement in 1628, Coke spent the rest of his career in politics, though at times, like many of today’s statesmen, he found himself on both sides of scandal.

Today, Coke may be best remembered for his defense of the supremacy of the common law against Stuart claims of royal prerogative, and for his four-part series of treatises, The Institutes of the Laws of England. Coke’s Institutes were not only influential in their day, but continue to be of great importance to the common law tradition in their collective role as “books of authority”.

What are books of authority? The International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law offers a clear description of their use in law:

The function of academic works [in law] may differ. A judge may be required, if in difficulties, to follow the opinion of one or more particularly expert jurisconsults. Or [academic works] may be of persuasive authority only.

The former system was used at the time of the Roman Empire, where the famous Law of Citations promulgated by Emperor Valentinian III in 426 required the opinions of certain jurisconsults (Gaius, Papinius, Paul, Modestinus, and Ulpian) to be followed. This Law also determined which authority was to be followed if they disagreed on a point requiring resolution.

The principle of the Law of Citations has frequently been accepted: in societies where written matter was rare there was a great temptation to recognize that the writings of certain eminent personages constituted a definitive statement of the law.

Thus it was accepted in England that certain works had authority, and that their authors must be considered as having stated correctly what was known, in Coke’s phrase, as the general immemorial custom of the realm. These “books of authority” are Glanvill and Bracton in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Littleton and Coke in the sixteenth and seventeenth, and Blackstone’s Commentaries in the eighteenth century. In our day the proliferation of precedents and their increasing authority, and the frequent intervention of the legislature, have replaced the rules stated in these works by new rules. However, English authors continue to regard them respectfully as books of authority which can be relied on before the courts, if necessary.

The Oxford Dictionary of Law (7th ed, 2006) also discusses “books of authority” in its definition of textbooks:

Textbooks may be cited in court to assist in the interpretation of the law. They have no authority as a source of law but merely provide an expert opinion as to the current state of the law. There was formerly a convention that only the works of dead authors could be cited, but modern practice also allows citation of living authors. The Books of Authority, i.e. the works of Glanvil, Bracton, Littleton, Coke, and Blackstone, are treated as having the same authority as cases of the same period.

A quick search on CanLII for Edward Coke in Canadian Supreme Court documents returns over fifty cases citing Coke as an authority; a similar search in US Supreme Court cases returns over one hundred. Clearly, Coke is one for the ages. Though he displays admirable modesty in the subtitle of his First Institute by referring to his precursor Littleton as “the LAW it self,” it is Coke who is consistently referred to as the authority, not Littleton, and the title may as well be attributed to him.

Komagata Maru Exhibit in the Osgoode Library


This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Komagata Maru episode, when Canadian authorities turned away 376 migrants of South Asian origin aboard a Japanese steamship in Vancouver harbour. The South Asian Law Students’ Association (SALSA) at Osgoode Hall Law School will have launched Komagata Maru Week (March 10-15, 2013) and the Komagata Maru Reflections Project.

On May 23, 1914, the Komagata Maru sailed into Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, carrying 376 passengers of Indian origin. However, the passengers on board the Japanese steamer were denied permission to enter Canada. Fears over Asian immigration at the time led the Canadian government to adopt a series of racist exclusionary policies against Chinese, Japanese and Indian migrants.

In the case of Indian migrants, Canada enacted the Continuous Journey RegulationThe Continuous Journey Regulation was an order-in-council that permitted entry to Canada only to migrants arriving in Canada by boat directly from their country of origin through a continuous journey and in possession of $200. Migrants who arrived on a boat that stopped anywhere between Canada and their country of origin or were in possession of less than $200 were denied entry. At the time, it was highly unlikely that migrants could make the journey from India to Canada without stopping en route. Moreover, the $200 fee was a considerable sum at the time, especially for Asian migrants. This regulation was designed to prevent Indian migration to Canada without being explicit in its intent.

For two months, passengers of the Komagata Maru sought to defy the Continuous Journey Regulation. While the passengers were not allowed to disembark the ship, supporters in Vancouver challenged the regulation on their behalf in court, ultimately unsuccessfully. The Komagata Maru sailed out of the Burrard Inlet on July 23, 1914 to the uncertain fates that awaited the ship’s passengers in Asia.

As part of the anniversary events, the Osgoode South Asian Law Students Association (SALSA) have set up in the Osgoode Library an exhibition of photos and images documenting the Komagata Maru incident. The photos are from the Komagata Maru Collection of the Sikh Heritage Museum of Canada. The exhibit will run throughout the week during regular library hours. The exhibit is free.