Legal Research Help for TJSL Law Students: When to Ask, Who to ask, How to ask, What to ask for?


Click Image for Video on How to Ask Questions at the Reference Desk. Image (courtesy Kristian D.)

When to Ask?

When you:

  • are doing an Internship and you are asked to research something.
  • are doing a course that requires you to write a paper or a memo, ask early on in the semester, as soon as you have your writing assignment.
  • are getting ready to propose an independent study class and you need to do preliminary research on your topic
  • are writing a note for the Law Review
  • are doing a moot court competition and you have just received the question
  • don’t know where things are in the library

Who to ask

First contact the reference librarians

  • By email
    • Catherine Deane, Full-time Reference Librarian, and Professor of Law (Advanced Legal Research)
    • June Mac Leod, Part-time reference librarian and Professor of Law (Advanced Legal Research)
    • Phone (for urgent questions)
      • Catherine Deane – 619.961.4339
      • June Mac Leod – 619.961.4335
      • Reference Desk – 619.961.4351
    • AskThom Virtual Chat (for questions that can be answered in one sentence, eg. What time do you close? Do you have an economics news database?)
    • In person at the 4th Floor Reference Desk

If the reference librarians are not available because it is after normal business hours then ask for:

  • Hadas Livnat, the Evenings/Reserve/Circulation Librarian
    • By email
    • Phone – 619.961.4292
    • In Person – ask for her at the 4th Floor Circulation/Reference Desk

If the reference librarians are not available during normal business hours because they are on vacation/out sick, etc. then ask for:

  • Torin Andrews, Circulation Librarian
    • By email
    • Phone – 619.961.4206
    • In Person – ask for him at the 4th Floor Circulation Desk

If none of these are available you may contact the Acting Director of the Library:

  • Patrick Meyer, Interim Library Director and Professor of Law (Advanced Legal Research)
    • By email
    • Phone – 619.961.4296
    • In Person – ask for him at the 4th Floor Circulation Desk after you have asked for any of the other public services librarians listed above first.

How to Ask

Please be polite when asking for help.

Ask the student library assistants if what you need is:

  • office supplies – look in the copy room
  • directions to the bathroom or copy room – look at the touchscreen map
  • help with printing or wireless issues –contact IT on the 3rd floor
  • a known book on course reserve – 4th floor circulation desk
  • to reserve a room – 4th floor circulation desk

The student library assistants are available at the circulation desk to help you with these matters.

What to Ask For

Ask for:

  • a tour of the library
  • help using Practice Guides or other print items to do research
  • help navigating Westlaw/Lexis or other databases
  • help finding and researching your paper topic
  • help coming up with a research strategy for a particular research problem
  • guidance doing research in general
  • help learning how to use Google more efficiently to find items
  • help evaluating the validity of an information source (can I use this in my paper/memo?)
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