This is the "II. Finding Sources: Books and Articles" page of the "Law Journals' Guide to the Library" guide.
Alternate Page for Screenreader Users
Skip to Page Navigation
Skip to Page Content

Law Journals' Guide to the Library  

Last Updated: Aug 23, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

II. Finding Sources: Books and Articles Print Page

What are you looking for?

What are you looking for?


A published work written by one or more authors, generally concerning one specialized subject. (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; Economic Foundations of International Law; If You Give a Mouse a Cookie; etc.)


A short- or long-form piece published in a Journal or Magazine. ("Napster's Second Life?: The Regulatory Challenges of Virtual Worlds"; "Consider the Lobster"; etc.)


News sources printed on a frequently recurring basis, usually daily or weekly. (The Chicago TribuneThe New York Times; The Boston Globe; etc.)

Cases, Government Documents, and International Materials


Rationale for PDF Sources

The Bluebook has a strong preference for citation to print sources, expressed in Rule 18 and implicit throughout the rules. The Bluebook prefers print sources because they are stable over time and not subject to changes in format or pagination, or to "link rot." In many cases PDF images of print sources are readily available either on free Web sites or through library databases, and frequently these will be the most convenient method for source and cite verification.

Note that it may be necessary or appropriate to cite to a more preferred source than the author cited. A case may have become available in a source preferred by The Bluebook, or a newspaper article that was originally cited to a newspaper Web site could be acquired by an interlibrary loan request for the article as it appeared in print.

If you have any questions about any of the citations, sources, or databases used in source and cite, please ask a reference librarian for assistance!





    When searching for books, it's best to start with Northwestern's online library catalog: NUcat. NUcat allows you to search for materials by Keyword, Title, Author, Call Number, and other methods.

    If Northwestern has the book, it will display a description of the book, along with its location within the Law Library (e.g., MON; PER; S,NY), Call Number, and whether the item is checked out, renewed, or not checked out.

    If the item's location is "Law Library: STO (Rubloff Basement)," please request the item on the library's website. A staff member will pull the book and you will receive an email when the item is available. Books from storage are retreived Monday through Friday at 12:00pm and 6:00pm during the academic year.

    If the book is "checked out" or "renewed," please place an Interlibrary Loan request. When the book becomes available, you will receive an email.

    Always check with your journal before placing an Interlibrary Loan Request to make sure it isn't already checked out to your journal. To see what books your article currently has checked out, you can log in to NUcat using the "Login to MyNUcat" tab at the top of the page. The last name will always be "journal" and the barcode will be the name of your journal followed by the author of the article. (For example: when logging into NUcat, for last name you would enter "journal", and for barcode you would enter "NULRAuthor" or "JCLCAuthor," etc.).


    If we have the book at the Law Library, use the location code found in NUcat to locate the book. Bring it to the circulation desk, where you can check it out to your journal/article and leave it on the journal shelf. When checking out a book to your journal, remember to tell the circulation staff what journal and article the book is for so they know to check it out under the journal's account instead of your own.

    Please note that items checked out to journals are not permitted to leave the library or be kept in lockers.

    Items checked out to journal accounts will be renewed by the Law Library automatically.

    If the book is located at another Northwestern library, you can place a request for the book in NUcat using the "Request" tab at the top of the page. Log in using your WildCARD barcode and last name.



    Make sure you select the "Law Circ Desk" as the pickup location. When the book becomes available, you will receive an email. Books delivered from another Northwestern library will be held behind the Law Library circulation desk for a period of two weeks and will be returned if not claimed.


    In addition to its collection of print books, Northwestern University Libraries subscribe to some current books in PDF through various electronic book vendors. Use NUcat for access to these books.

    The library has access to a tremendous number of digitized historical books and other works, including treatises, colonial and early state laws, and founding documents. These are highlighted on our historical resources page. In many cases, NUcat will provide access to these digitized texts.

    If the book you are looking for is not available through Northwestern's library system, you can place an Interlibrary Loan request. If your journal assigns interlibrary loan requests to staff members, please follow the directions for placing an interlibrary loan request on the next page. Otherwise, refer citations that need to be requested through interlibrary loan to your managing editior (or whoever is designated to place these requests).


    Back to top



    Most common legal and academic journals are readily available in PDF, except occasionally the most current issue(s). When searching for articles, it's best to start with the Journal Finder, which allows you to search or browse journals by title. If you have multiple choices, note the dates of coverage each database permits access to. Remember that Westlaw and LexisNexis typically don't have PDF images of their sources.

    You can also search for e-journal titles using the NU Electronic Resources page. If you have multiple choices, note the dates of coverage each database permits access to.

    Not all electronic versions will provide PDFs, but it is not generally easy to tell from the links. Examples of databases that do include PDFs are HeinOnlineJSTORAcademic Search Premier, and Index to Legal Periodicals & Books. Occasionally HeinOnline and LegalTrac will provide PDFs of certain bar journals and magazines. LexisNexis Academic is an example of a database that does not provide PDF versions. (A couple of our databases provide a PDF that is not actually a facsimile of the original, but this is rare.)

    HeinOnline contains most legal journals you will need. An example of a law journal that is not in HeinOnline is the Journal of Law & Society, which is found in JSTOR. HeinOnline and JSTOR usually "embargo" the last year or more of most journals, but frequently we will have access to current issues in PDF through another source. Use NUcat or the Journal Finder to determine whether another source is available.

    If the article is not available through Northwestern electronically, do a NUcat "Title" search for the journal title (NOT article title) to find the article in print in the Law Library. If Northwestern does not have access to the article through its resources, or if an article is available in print at our Main campus in Evanston, you can place an Interlibrary Loan request.


    Back to top



    For recent newspaper articles (2008-present), use the ProQuest Digital Microfilm database.

    Make sure to include the page number for the issue are looking for. All issues will open as a PDF.

    For less recent newspaper articles, use the ProQuest News & Newspapers database. PDF versions of these articles are restricted up to a certain date, which varies depending on the paper.

    Newspaper PDF Coverage Newspaper PDF Coverage
    Chicago Tribune (Historical) 1849 - 1989 Chicago Tribune (Current) 2008-present (3 mo. embargo)
    Lost Angeles Times (Historical) 1881 - 1989 Los Angeles Times (Current) 2008-present (3 mo. embargo)
    New York Times (Historical) 1851 - 2009 New York Times (Current) 2008-present (3 mo. embargo)
    Wall Street Journal (Historical) 1989 - 1995 Wall Street Journal (Current) 2008-present (3 mo. embargo)
    Chicago Defender 1910 - 1975 Washington Post (Current) 2008-present (3 mo. embargo)
    Washington Post 1877 - 1996 Boston Globe (Current) 2008-present (3 mo. embargo)

    If your newspaper is not included in ProQuest, search NUcat for the newspaper title to see if we have it in another online database or in print.

    For articles that fall outside of the range for dates the library has access to, or for articles that are available in print at our Main campus in Evanston, please submit an Interlibrary Loan request. Please note that AP, UP, and other wire services articles are often online only.

    While the Law Library does keep a small number of very recent newspapers behind the circulation desk, these are discarded frequently and are not available to be checked out to journals.


    Back to top

    Cases, Government Documents, and International Materials

    For tips on researching and locating these materials, please refer to Finding Sources: Primary Law located on the next page.


     Back to top


    Loading  Loading...