Session Cases: Celebrating 200 years of Scotland’s prestigious law report series

A row of leather bound books fills the frame from left to right. The title 'Session Cases' and the year are embossed on the spines. The leather is blonde and each spine has a red and black square.

Session Cases volumes 1971-1982, image courtesy of the Supreme Court Library team, SCTS.

This year the Scottish Council of Law Reporting celebrates 200 years of publishing Session Cases, Scotland’s most authoritative law report series. From the SCLR website:

The Session Cases law report series contains all the key appellate decisions, civil and criminal, from the Court of Session and High Court of Justiciary in Scotland together with selected cases decided at first instance.

Also included in Session Cases are all decisions, as issued, on Scottish appeals to the House of Lords and to the Privy Council. All judgments are reported in full.

The judges who gave opinions (judgments) in each case have the opportunity to review the report before it is published – this gives Session Cases its unsurpassed authority in Scottish courts.

The first case ever published in Session Cases was Rev. Wm. Strang v Wm. McIntosh (1821) 1 S.5, dated 12 May 1821. You can access a copy of this case via our subscription databases Westlaw or Lexis Library UK, via the Law Databases page. If you’re not familiar with using these databases we have a recording of a session on Using Legal Databases available here (22 mins) There’s more information about SC and other law reports available via our subscription services on the Law Subject Guide ‘Law Reports’ page.

To mark this anniversary the Scottish Council of Law Reporting is running a poll to determine readers’ top three cases featured in Session Cases. They don’t have to be the most important cases, legally, but may be just a quirky case or one that has caught your interest. You can vote for your cases here: SurveyLegend Survey.

Another way SCLR marked this milestone was by creating a postgraduate research scholarship available to students in Scottish institutions studying Scots Law. The inaugural recipient of this award was Shona Warwick, a PhD candidate at Edinburgh. The scholarship will contribute to her tuition and living costs as she completes her PhD thesis on Leases and Licences in Scotland. From the SCLR headlines page describing Shona’s research:

For commercial landlords and tenants in Scotland, the common law, rather than legislation, is the source of most rules. Yet, despite its widespread practical importance, a lack of research has left the common law regarding leases and licences to occupy riddled with uncertainty. Through a historical study, this research sheds light for the first time on some of the most fundamental unanswered questions: it evaluates which occupancy agreements can be validly created, and how their formation requirements differ.

The announcement of Shona’s success featured in the Scottish Legal News bulletin in September last year. Shona is also the winner of one of the two Scottish Universities Law Institute (SULI) Scholarships. Congratulations Shona!

Three new things: Dissertations

It’s around the time where many of our students will be planning and beginning the research for their dissertations. If you’re at the start of this journey and looking for a bit of help we’ve got three new things which we hope will help you on your way.

1: Llm Dissertation : How to Maximise Marks for Your Practice Focused Dissertation by Suzanne Reece.

Book cover, which features an orange background and a student sitting at a desk facing away from the viewer. Visible on the desk are a laptop and many open books, and there are number hovering around the student's head, implying they are surrounded by research data.

This book is brand new to the library and while it is focused on specifically LLM dissertations, it contains useful information about how to plan for any large research project in Law. Chapters include helping choose your topic, planning and timing, and #SurvivalTips. Reece identifies top tips and common mistakes in students’ work and suggests activities to help you explore your research thoroughly. As such it’s more of a handbook than a set of rules to follow, but we think it will help answer many of the frequently asked questions that students have early in the process.

We have this ebook on an unlimited user license, which means that there’s no waiting and no queue to take it out. Find access information via the DiscoverEd record for this item.

2: Dissertation Festival (Guide and Festival Bag)

You may have seen that Library Services ran our second Dissertation Festival for the year in March 2021. While the festival events don’t exactly line up with Law Dissertation timetable, the wonderful thing about hosting the festival online is that we can keep the resources around for you to access just when you need them most!

  • Are you looking for some inspiration for which of the library collections can help you with your research?
  • Do you need some support in constructing your search strategy, or managing your results?
  • Would you like some tips from students who’ve previously completed their dissertation work?

The Dissertation Festival subject guide has all this and much more available with the click of a button! Recordings are available for our live sessions and slides have been added.  Plus you can access my favourite part, the festival tote bag (not a real bag) via the link on the front page. We can’t furnish you with free pens and post-its for the next academic year, but we do have an image of a penguin and a bagpiper from our collection that you can use as your Zoom background…

3: A twitter thread on #EdLitSearchTips

Our Academic Support Librarian colleagues have been compiling a list of tips that will help you get started with literature searching. Although you may have used DiscoverEd or our Library Databases to find materials for your assignments before, click through to this series of tweets to get advice from information professionals whose business it is to help you find information!

A screen capture of a tweet which features a black and white image of the corner of a laptop, a mug containing many pens and other stationery, and another mug.  The text in the tweet reads "The librarians often get asked for advice on literature searching - so over the next few weeks we will be tweeting some hints and tips! So look out for our #EdLitSearchTips".

Click this image to find a list of #EdLitSearchTips

If you’re struggling to get started with your research, why not arrange a one-to-one with one of the Law Librarians to discuss your research question and which direction you’d like to go? We can help suggest resources or even just provide advice on the best way to go about searching. Look out for the next available ‘Literature search clinic’ appointment using the MyEd Booking System and find the option for ‘Law’. Further details on how to book can be found on this earlier post on our blog, or just email law.librarian@ed.ac.uk.

Click & Collect comes to the Law Library

The Law Library now is part of the Click & Collect Service!

The Click & Collect service has been expanding since it’s launch in Feb 2021. As of 29th March 2021 staff and students are able to place Click & Collect requests for print material from the Law Library collections.

The Law Library resources are in addition to those already available from the Main Library, New College Library, ECA Library and University Collections Facilities. Items based at other site libraries are not yet available for Click & Collect.

To order a book collection using the service:

  • Place your request through DiscoverEd.
  • You can order up 3 Click & Collect items at any one time. The maximum number of requests covers your total current Click & Collect requests.
  • All items requested should be collected from the Main Library as the Law Library remains closed.
  • Staff will undertake retrievals of items requested from the Law Library once a week (Tuesdays). So depending on when you place your request it may mean that it may take over a week for you to receive an email notification that your requested item is available for collection.
  • Once you have received an email notification that your requested Law Library item is available you should make a booking to collect your item from the Main Library.

Full details of the service are available on the main Library Click and Collect Service webpages:

https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/library-services-update-2020-21/click-and-collect

Don’t forget that the Scan & Deliver Service is also available to you!

https://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/library-museum-gallery/using-library/request-resources/scan-and-deliver%20

 

Literature search clinics: one-to-one sessions

Do you need help with your research? Have you got yourself into a muddle using legal resources online? Do you just need to know what you need to know?

Book a one-to-one meeting with one of the Law Librarians to discuss your research issues or library problems. In previous one-to-ones we’ve helped students with:

  • search strategies
  • using our subscription databases
  • finding international case law
  • finding historical Scots material online (specifically the Institutional Writers)
  • referencing (specifically using OSCOLA)
  • setting up news alerts for cases or legislation

We arrange appointments once a fortnight using the MyEd booking system. Search for “Literature search clinic” and select the Law specific event, or search for “Law” and select provider group “IS Library and University Collections” to find all our Law related training. Future dates include:

  • 18th March (currently booked)
  • 6th April
  • 22nd April
  • 3rd May
  • 20th May

We release appointments approximately three weeks before the meeting, and all meetings are currently held online via Microsoft Teams with links sent out the week before the appointment. If you cannot see an available meeting slot that suits you please email law.librarian@ed.ac.uk and we will arrange an appointment to suit.

Two silver coloured tin cans are connected by a string. The open end of one can faces the viewer, while the open end of the other faces the right side of the picture. The cans are lying down on a cream marbled background.

Chris Potter, CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

New Resources

A poster stating 'Edinburgh Everywhere: your library online' and depicting people busy with stacks of books surrounding a half-globe. Statistic about library services are shown in colourful circles are written across the middle of the page, echoing the half-circle shape of the globe.

Throughout the year the Law Librarians purchase new materials – sometimes following requests, and other times to ensure that new editions of established and key texts are available to staff and students. This part of our work has been especially busy this last year as learning and teaching has gone online!

Requests are received from students, staff and colleagues from across the Law School. Some are related to specific courses, but many are to support the research undertaken by staff and students.

We thought we would take this opportunity to let you know about a few of the new items we have recently ordered and received in:

This last item is a 13 volume set comprising of around 9000 pages, making it an incredibly helpful resource on the topic of the history of the Kurdish people. Having access to this material makes Edinburgh one of a select number of universities who give access to their students and staff to this unique resource.


Staff and students can place requests directly using the online forms available on the Library webpages.

If we cannot purchase the item (may be it is an older edition, out of stock, or not available in the online format you want) then we recommend you use the Interlibrary Loan Request Service which allows us to try to source access from other libraries or academic institutions.

If you would like us to consider a subscription, or you want to discuss your request further you can email us in the usual way using law.librarian@ed.ac.uk.

Happy reading!

The problem with ebooks

Two hands enter the screen, one from each side of the image. One is holding a smartphone which has a book spilling out of the side, the other has a pile of paper currency which is being offered in exchange.

Image from mohamed_hassan via Pixabay

Working and studying through the Coronavirus pandemic has meant that we’re more reliant on ebooks and other electronic resources than ever before. As much as we would have liked for this to be a seamless transition to hybrid learning, it’s been a struggle throughout the year to make sure that we have access to all the essential materials you need for your coursework.

One of the reasons that we’re not always able to provide ebook access is that publishers do not always make their material available electronically. They may do this for a number of reasons, one of which is that they are worried they will not make the same amount of profit from print book sales as they usually would. They may also make the price of the ebook much much higher than the price of an individual print book to compensate for this potential loss of sales. For us in the Law school, we have found problems where publishers make books only available if you purchase access to an entire database of resources, often for hundreds of thousands of pounds, when we only need access to a handful of ebooks. This is not a realistic way for us to purchase access – budgets for resources are limited and getting tighter every year.

Some academic librarians in the UK have joined forces to launch an investigation into this spike in ebook prices and limits to availability because it is seriously affecting the courses that universities are able to run. You can read more about this campaign and the open letter sent to the UK Government asking for support here: https://academicebookinvestigation.org/ 

More recently, this campaign has had some publicity in national newspapers including this article in The Guardian by Anna Fazackerley, ‘Price gouging from Covid: Student ebooks costing up to 500% more than in print’:  https://www.theguardian.com/education/2021/jan/29/price-gouging-from-covid-student-ebooks-costing-up-to-500-more-than-in-print

Last week it was announced that the Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) has petitioned the Competitions and Markets Authority to investigate this issue:
https://academicebookinvestigation.org/2021/02/04/chartered-institute-of-library-and-information-professionals-cilip-formally-petitions-competition-and-markets-authority-cma-to-investigate-practices-of-academic-ebook-publishers/ 

We wanted to draw your attention to these items so that you’re aware that action is being taken at a national level, and that librarians and academics are working hard to ensure that higher education institutions are not held to ransom over ebook access. The issues we’re facing here in Edinburgh are not unique, but they are very worrying.  We hope that the investigations that are now being proposed will result in fairer and more equitable access for all in future.

If you’re worried about ebook access to core material for your course please speak to your course organiser or email us, law.librarian@ed.ac.uk.

Dissertation Festival: Monday 8th – Friday 19th March 2021

  • Do you want to find out more about the library resources available to support your dissertation question?
  • Are you interested in learning how to manage the bibliographic and research data you’ve found?

Join us in a fortnight of online events and find out what the Library can do for you to help you succeed with your dissertation.

  • Make your dissertation something special : find out about the fantastic collections available at the Centre for Research Collections
  • Discover the full range of digital resources that you can access via the University
  • Take the first steps to learn new skills in managing your bibliographic references and your research data

We know that in Law your dissertation period starts later in Semester Two, but it’s never too early to start planning and see what resources are out there! We’ll also be recording many live sessions which will be available to watch back at a time that suits you.

Find out more at: https://edinburgh-uk.libguides.com/dissertation

For more information about how the library can support your dissertation or research project, contact us by emailing law.librarian@ed.ac.uk, or book a one-to-one appointment with us using the MyEd booking system: search for ‘law’ and find the listing for ‘literature search clinic’.

A person is standing in front of a wall with his back to the camera. The wall is covered with bits of white paper showing images, notes and text, suggesting he is organising his thoughts and constructing a plan.

Forward planning is important! (Image from pexels on pixabay)

What is a Legal Deposit Library?

When speaking to students who live in Edinburgh library staff tell them that they can join the National Library of Scotland (NLS).

At the minute that’s not strictly true – as the NLS along with all other libraries are under restrictions. But why do we say it would be good to consider joining when we have so much in our own libraries?

The main reason is that the NLS is a Legal Deposit Library – but what does that mean?

The NLS is one of six Legal Deposit Libraries in the UK. A Legal Deposit Library is governed by specific legislation:

The Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003
Irish Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000
Legal Deposit Libraries (Non-Print) Regulations 2013

This legislation allows these six libraries to claim a copy of any work published in the UK and Ireland, either in print or electronically as identified under the legislation. This includes more than just books and journal articles- but also newspapers and some content from the worldwide web.

So you can just imagine what they have on their shelves and servers! If you are interested in finding out more go to the information pages on the NLS:
https://www.nls.uk/about-us/legal-deposit

For law in particular, this has a great significance in Scotland. The National Library of Scotland was founded from the collection of the Faculty of Advocates’ Library, a private members’ organisation which is still considered to have one of the finest collections of Scottish Law material in existence.

From its formal opening in 1689, the Advocates Library in Edinburgh rapidly developed into the finest library in Scotland. Following the introduction of the Library’s legal deposit privilege in 1710, its book collection grew at an ever-increasing rate.

The Advocates Library gradually came to be seen as Scotland’s national library in all but name. In 1925, an Act of Parliament formally established the National Library of Scoland. The Faculty of Advocates then gifted its collection — with the exception of legal material — to the country.

(National Library of Scotland, ‘Advocates Collection’)

We have such a wonderful opportunity for access to rare and unusual material from having both the Advocates’ and NLS collections just around the corner from our campus, and so we highly recommend students take advantage of the resources they have available.

New Scan & Deliver Service

The semester has been a busy start for everyone!

Due to government restrictions there have been limits placed on accessing our print resources, but as of the 18th January a new Scan & Deliver service is in operation.

The service offers staff and students of the University of Edinburgh the opportunity to request scans of one book chapter or 10% (whichever is the greater) or one journal article via DiscoverEd. The library will then email you a link which you can use to view and download the material. There are some limits (as we have to abide by copyright law), but it is worthwhile considering as an option for initial access to key section(s). Full details of the service are available on the dedicated webpages:

Scan & Deliver pages.

It is also worth remembering that for material we do not have within the library collections there is the interlibrary loan service (ILL). As with many library services we are operating within an online environment at the moment, but for book chapters and articles it may be possible to request a copy through this service.

Interlibrary Loan Service (ILL) pages

1-2-1 Librarian Meetings

The Law Academic Support Librarians have arranged some 1-2-1 bookable sessions for students. The time can be used for any library related query. Sessions will be advertised about 3 weeks in advance, but details of the upcoming ones are available on the MyEd Events Bookings.

Welcome back, and the Law Library during Lockdown

A pair of hands hold a tablet with an image of shelves of books displayed on the screen.

Digital Library, from Geralt on Pixabay

Hello, and welcome back! This semester is set to be another strange one as we begin in ‘lockdown’ conditions in line with Scottish Government restrictions. This means that for the next few weeks the library will be running an online service with many physical buildings closed or with only very restricted access. Full information about the availability of library sites can be found on the Library Service Updates page.

If you feel a bit stressed about the availability of materials over the coming weeks and months, rest assured we will continue to work to make sure that all core material is available electronically and that we have as much ebook access to the things you need as possible.

We’re running a few online sessions in the coming weeks to help you refamiliarise yourself with online library services. One of these is a refresher session on the 27th January 2021, between 9.30 and 10am, and is open to students at all levels. We will provide a short update on library services, some key resources that you may not already be familiar with, and will have time to answer your questions too. You can book a place for this online event here, or by searching in the MyEd Events Booking system for ‘Library Services Refresher Session – Law’

We’ll also be running an introductory event for new PG Online students beginning in January 2021, and a repeat of our popular PhD Using the Library session which we last ran in September. For booking information please follow the links or get in touch with us via law.librarian@ed.ac.uk.

Finally you can also attend the Library Bitesize sessions which we’ll be running in the coming weeks, focused on Using the Online Library. For links to this and all other Library Bitesize sessions please see the Events Booking system.

We hope that you managed to enjoy your festive break and that you’re managing to proceed with your studies as planned. We look forward to helping support your studies online over the coming semester. As ever if there’s anything we can do to set your minds at ease please let us know!