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April 23, 2001
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Index to Legal Periodicals and Books

In the fall, Bonnie Shucha introduced several periodical indexes and dicussed one of them - LegalTrac - in depth. Our focus for this issue, Index to Legal Periodicals and Books (ILPB), is another electronic database which indexes legal periodicals.

Content and Coverage

ILPB contains citations to articles, bibliographies, book reviews, and other titles from 891 legal journals, covering the period from August, 1981 through the present.1 More than 2000 law books from 1993 or later are also indexed.

Comparison With Other Databases

In her article of 11/20/00, Ms. Shucha addressed some of the advantages, in terms of coverage, cost and content, of a legal periodical index like LegalTrac over searching the full text of periodicals on databases like Westlaw and Lexis. The same arguments apply in favor of ILPB.

There are, however, some differences between LegalTrac and ILPB that are worth noting:
  • Materials Indexed - LegalTrac indexes more general and legal newspapers, while ILPB emphasizes law reviews. ILPB indexes books; LegalTrac does not.
  • Currency - LegalTrac is updated daily. ILPB is updated monthly.2
  • Content - LegalTrac includes some abstracts and a few full text items. ILPB includes citations only.

It is always a good idea to use both databases when doing a periodicals search, because each is indexed differently and the results may reflect this. Additionally, the search protocol is similar enough that switching from one to the other is not difficult.

In determining which index to start with, consider the purpose of your search. If you require scholarly analysis only, and want to minimize search results from practitioner oriented publications, start with ILPB. If you need an overview of a current issue in a newspaper or more practicioner oriented articles in bar journals, start with LegalTrac.

How to Use ILPB

To access the database, point your Internet browser to the law library's home page at http://library.law.wisc.edu/. Click on Electronic Resources, then select Journal Article/Publication Indexes. Choose Articles (Legal Journals) from the table of contents, then select Index to Legal Periodicals and Books.

The initial search screen provides for a basic search. It enables you to find citations in which the terms you have chosen appear. Selecting the Search Plus button in the top right hand corner of the screen enables you to search in eight different fields, including author, title, subject, keyword, journal/source, ISSN/ISBN, court cases, and statute.

Search terms can be joined by connectors ( eg., AND, OR, AND NOT), which allow you to broaden or increase the precision of your search. Click on the Help button in the top right hand corner of the search screen for more operators and other search options.

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1 For older titles, see Index to Legal Periodicals (1880's to 1994) on the Periodicals Index Tables in the Grand Reading Room.

2 Another database, Current Index to Legal Periodicals, supplements ILPB with weekly updates. The Current Index is amenable to browsing only, and is not searchable.

 

Written by: Sunil Rao
Reference Librarian
strao@facstaff.wisc.edu

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