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Better Than Google

Some of you might remember the black, maroon and tan lawbooks we kept on shelves and shelves in the reference area. They were McKinney's Statues (the laws of NY) and the U.S. Code Annotated (the laws of the U.S.) and U.S. Supreme Court Reports. Several years ago, we replaced all of them with Westlaw, an on-line database for NY statutes and cases, federal laws, Supreme Court cases, and legal forms. We are quite satisfied with the switch, and we are the only public library in the county with Westlaw access. Many lawyers who come in don't use the books and are delighted to see what they used in law school or their law firms, Westlaw.  Not only have we saved a huge amount of space, but the on-line version is less expensive than the books, and we don't have to use staff time to update them with pocket parts.  For non-lawyers, researching the law is a difficult task, whether you are searching books, or databases.  The librarians will assist you, but we also have access to Westlaw's extremely helpful research attorneys. According to the terms of our contract with West, we have dedicated one computer terminal to Westlaw.  To use this computer, please see the librarian at the reference desk.  You must have a library card, any RCLS library card will do.  Copies are $.10 per page, unfortunately, West does not allow the user to e-mail, or download materials. In the future, we might switch to Lexis/Nexis, a rival company that does not impose as many restrictions on use.  All of you lawyers out there, if you want to weigh in on which legal database you prefer, I'd love to hear your comments.

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