Perfect Timing

Just to give you something to look forward to when you’ve finished your exams and papers, the library will have four especially interesting-sounding books available for your reading enjoyment by April 30.

First on the list is The Emergency Sasquatch Ordinance and other real laws that human beings have actually dreamed up, enacted, and sometimes even enforced, which is a collection of over 200 real but “wacky” laws, complete with citations.  This book is Osgoode’s first book with sasquatch content, but fear not, other libraries in the York University Library system will be able to meet your sasquatch research needs, with nearly twenty titles from which to choose.

The next book is again a first at Osgoode: The Little Book of Elvis Law.  The book talks of the license agreements respecting the use of his name and likeness in connection with the marketing and sale of consumer goods, the many paternity suits and recording contracts, cases involving Priscilla Presley, a bar called The Velvet Elvis, a death certificate investigation, a 16-hour-long documentary, a magazine photo spread, and an agreement with television host Geraldo Rivera.  If that does not sate your curiosity, again YUL will come to your rescue with another 50 titles on The King, including (electronic) FBI records!

Thirdly, for the sports-minded, we are getting Adventure and the Law, about the law relating to extreme sports.  We already do have a handful of books in the library’s sports law collection, but Scott and Steacie win in the extreme sports division.

The last book is already in the stacks: Canada the Good : A Short History of Vice Since 1500.  If this piques your interest, Osgoode and the rest of YUL do have several other items on vice control in Canada.  Here is part of its description:

This historical synthesis demonstrates how moral regulation has changed over time, how it has shaped Canadians’ lives, why some debates have almost disappeared and others persist, and why some individuals and groups have felt empowered to tackle collective social issues. Against the background of the evolution of the state, the enlargement of the body politic, and mounting forays into court activism, the author illustrates the complexity over time of various forms of social regulation and the control of vice.




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.

Tips for Using E-books


Electronic books have become very popular based on our usage statistics. Last semester, the Irwin law titles in the ebrary platform were heavily used. Working with e-books comes with a lot of pros such as the customized features like –

  • Copying and pasting
  • Highlighting into your word document
  • Downloading (this option varies in each platform, some allow you to download a chapter each while others limit you to 100 pages)
  • Creating folders
  • Saving books into your personal bookshelf
  • Export to RefWorks and Endnotes
  • Printing (save as a pdf document first).

Note that you will get better results by creating your own account in ebrary.
E-books are compatible with most devices like tablets, smartphones and eReaders. More information on mobile applications is available here

There are a few things to note in using e-books.  Like with print books, sometimes we are only permitted to have one or two people access an e-book at a time.  If you are having trouble accessing a book, especially a popular book that needs to be read for class tomorrow, try to access it again in 15 minutes.  Some platforms provide an electronic waiting list.  Be thoughtful of your classmates and download your chapter before reading it so others can access it too.

Downloading and printing have also confused some people.  If you are downloading a chapter or set of pages, take note of how the e-book platform is counting the pages.  Ebrary, for instance, counts the pages starting at 1 for the very first page, even if the page number on the screen is something else, like (i).  You can easily tell by looking at the page count in the top right corner of the ebrary screen.  For example, if the page number printed on the page of the e-book is 172, but it says 202 in the top right corner, you are going to enter 202 as the first page in the page range you want to download (and perhaps eventually print).  Calculate the end page the same way.

If you need help, feel free to contact the reference librarians, or check out the training materials on ebrary’s website:;

Louis Riel Day – November 16 in Ontario

Louis Riel Day is a day to celebrate the life of the controversial Métis leader and the efforts he made for Métis rights and also to acknowledge Métis contributions to Canada.  No doubt you will remember my blog about Louis Riel last year.  This year I wanted to focus more on the Métis than Louis himself because the Métis Nation of Ontario and the Law Society of Upper Canada are holding a free public legal education event in the afternoon of Friday November 15, 2013 at the Toronto Hilton Hotel (registration by Nov. 13 required at 416-947-3413 or

At the event, there will be a panel discussion of R. v. Powley, 2003 SCC 43, [2003] 2 SCR 207, a landmark case recognizing Métis rights protected by s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.  In the process of doing so, the Court discussed at length what Métis identity is and adopted three indicia proposed by Vaillancourt Prov. J. and O’Neill J. in the courts below: self-identification, ancestral connection, and community acceptance.  The Court specifically stated that these indicia do not comprise a comprehensive definition, but clearly what they were considering was a determination based largely on Métis cultures:

 The term “Métis” in s. 35 does not encompass all individuals with mixed Indian and European heritage; rather, it refers to distinctive peoples who, in addition to their mixed ancestry, developed their own customs, way of life, and recognizable group identity separate from their Indian or Inuit and European forebears.  Métis communities evolved and flourished prior to the entrenchment of European control, when the influence of European settlers and political institutions became pre-eminent. …

The panel will also be discussing Manitoba Métis Federation Inc. v. Canada (Attorney General) 2013 SCC 14 (CanLII), in which the Supreme Court held earlier this year, six justices to two, that the federal Crown failed to implement the land grant provision set out in s. 31 of the Manitoba Act, 1870 in accordance with the honour of the Crown.  Justices Rothstein and Moldaver dissented on the basis that the majority of the Court was proposing a new common law constitutional obligation derived from the honour of the Crown, an unpredictable expansion of the scope of the duties engaged under the honour of the Crown.

And what does this have to do with the library?  Naturally we have a wealth of resources available to you to help you come to your own conclusions on Métis cultures and land rights of the Métis.  Here is a very small sampling:

Recent International Law Acquisitions

The library has been busy lately augmenting its International Law collection.

The London Review of International Law is a brand new journal from Oxford (Volume 1 Issue 1 was published September 2013) to which we now have access.  It is not available through the catalogue or eResources yet, but it will be.

We have also acquired the comparative and international law handbooks available through Oxford Handbooks Online (Law): The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Law; The Oxford Handbook of International Investment Law; The Oxford Handbook of International Trade Law; The Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law; The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Constitutional Law; and The Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law.

As well, we subscribe to the Oxford Scholarly Authorities on International Law, which includes the Oxford Reports on International Law, and we have acquired the Brill collection of International Law e-books.

The International Law Association has just published its Index of the Reports of Conferences, and we have added a copy to our collection.  The ILA has been holding conferences biennially for 140 years and the Index allows those who wish to follow the development of international law over that time to find the reports, recommendations, draft conventions, guidelines, model laws and best practices presented by scholars and practitioners at those conferences.

According to the ILA’s website:

The ILA was founded in Brussels in 1873 and its objectives are “the study, clarification and development of international law, both public and private, and the furtherance of international understanding and respect for international law”. The ILA has consultative status as an international non-governmental organisation with a number of the United Nations specialised agencies.


Its objectives are pursued primarily through the work of its International Committees, and the focal point of its activities is the series of Biennial Conferences. The Conferences, of which 74 have so far been held in different locations throughout the world, provide a forum for the comprehensive discussion and endorsement of the work of the Committees.

The Index is divided into three parts: the list of conferences from 1873 to 2010 (the 2012 conference is not included in the Index, but is in the Hein collection), the index of subjects, and the index of authors and presenters.  The subject index is extensive and easy to use.  It refers the user to the conference number and the page numbers in that conference’s materials where the subject is discussed.

After consulting the Index, the ILA’s conference materials are available online through HeinOnline’s  Foreign and International Law Service (1873-2012).  The library also has print copies from the conferences of 1988 to 2010, and the electronic database, Making of Modern Law, has the Transactions of the ILA from 1873 to 1924.

Happy researching!


What Happened to CanLII?

On September 19, CanLII introduced its new user interface. Don’t be startled by the new homepage: you can either use the “everything” search box that initially appears for doing a keyword, citation, case name or statute name search,

or you can click on the “+” to the left of that box to give yourself the choice of using (i) the document text search box, or (ii) the box for case name, legislation name, citation or docket.  A third box, for noting up, will also come up.

You can still refine by jurisdiction at the outset, or later on when you have a set of search results. You can also refine your case search results by the court/tribunal and by date.

Noting up cases and legislation is very easy. For legislation, just click on the “Noteup” tab when viewing the legislation, or, for some statutes, you can note up by clicking on the noteup icon beside the specific section or subsection from the table of contents of the statute. Of course, there is also the Noteup box on the homepage.

For cases, lower court decisions will come up in the search results, and there is still the “cited by” link to see where the case has been cited. Again there is the Noteup box on the home page. A few things to note, though: results will not include anything from outside CanLII’s database; for cases decided after mid-2009, CanLII notes up only on the basis of the neutral citation for a case (but you can still note up by doing a keyword search with words from the style of cause).

The “?” at the right hand end of each search box still takes you to the syntax rules for searching. One change to those rules is that upper case is no longer required for the Boolean Operators (e.g. “and” and “or” are now permitted as well as “AND” and “OR.” CanLII now also automatically searches for Supreme Court of Canada cases regardless of which jurisdiction you select so you will get SCC results together with the cases from the jurisdiction you have selected.

For those of you with an interest in software development, CanLII has built an API (see “Build” icon at the bottom of the homepage) so people can build tools for using the CanLII databases!

For a more detailed review of the new interface, see the Best Guide to Canadian Legal Research.

More Good News for Foreign and Comparative Law Buffs

Following on our subscription to the Foreign Law Guide this spring, we have subscribed to the Making of Modern Law’s latest database: Foreign Primary Sources 1600 – 1970. This is the first of a proposed two “volumes,” and contains statutes, regulations, codes and commentaries of Great Britain, Ireland and countries in northern, central and eastern Europe, half of which are in English.  These primary sources relate to such topics as Administration of Justice, Commercial Law, Criminal Law, Customary Law, Maritime Law and Military Law.  The next “volume” will cover southern Europe, Latin America and  jurisdictions outside Europe.  For more details, click here.  We also have access to the companion database, Foreign, Comparative and International Law 1600 – 1926, which contains classic historical treatises, commentaries, encyclopedias, textbooks and other monographs on International Law, the Foreign Law of a number of countries (as well as Ancient Law, Roman Law, Jewish Law and Islamic Law) and Comparative Law.  For more particulars, click here.