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!

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

 

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.

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!

The Law Library, Old College

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Have you visited the Law Library this year?

This is a really unusual year for staff and students at Edinburgh and it can be disconcerting not knowing which facilities are open on campus, or what to expect when you get there. We want to reassure any students who are keen to visit the Law Library at Old College that there will be a warm welcome for you there. Our Helpdesk Team are working hard to make sure the library service is as safe as possible while still providing the excellent support you need to access the resources and study spaces in the building.

We’ve asked our Helpdesk Manager, Fran, to offer a few words of advice for anyone wishing to visit the library:

Library Helpdesk staff would like to welcome you back to the Library! We are here to help with guiding you to the study space that you have booked, card replacements and general enquiries. We do ask that you follow the guidelines for things that have been put in place to ensure the safety of all library users and staff. This means that you must wear a face covering (unless you have an exemption) at all times, even when you are sat in a study space. We have put a lot of cleaning material and hand sanitiser in the library, if anything is missing please let us know. There is a well marked out one way system which is there for you to follow and ensures that we all can maintain social distancing.

Our Helpdesk staff are ready to assist you in the library.

Fran and her team are ready to greet you during the library’s open hours, which are currently as listed below:

Monday 21 September – Friday 4 December 2020
Days Opening hours
Monday – Thursday 9am – 9.50pm
Friday 9am – 6.50pm
Saturday 9am – 4.50pm
Sunday 12noon – 4.50pm

These hours may change from the 5th December 2020 in preparation for exams. For more information on this and other changes to the service, check the Law Library pages on the university website:

Law Library Information
Law Library Opening Hours
Booking a study space

We hope that you stay safe and know that the Law Library will be ready to welcome you back whenever it is safe for you to be on campus.

Students sit in armchairs on the mezzanine level, visible in the top half of an archway. Students browse books in the library stacks on the ground floor.

View of the mezzanine from the Senate Room