Whether you need to find references for a term paper or are interested in a subject and want to broaden your horizons, knowing how and where to search and how to determine how much you can trust your results is of critical importance.
Public search engines like Google and Bing offer instant, broad searches for any conceivable subject. These search engines can be very useful when looking for general information. Unlike a library with books that are essentially set in stone, the Internet can offer more current, sometimes up-to-the-minute information. However, many of the sources you may find will not be reputable. Without clear oversight and strict control, false information can be disseminated just as easily as the truth. As a student, you must learn to differentiate among your sources and filter out undesireable results.
Law and Justice students often have the need to find cases and information on laws. Sites like FindLaw and Oyez, a site that provides summaries for virtually every important case that was ever presented to the Supreme Court as well as information about Justices and the history of the Supreme Court, provide an excellent starting point.
The CWU library database search gives CWU students access to Lexis/Nexis, NCJRS, Proquest, and other specialized newspaper, article, and journal databases, and is the best place to begin important research. For local issues, the Washington State website hosts a number of resources, including the Revised Code of Washington (RCW). For federal statutes, the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School features a searchable version of the United States Code.
These sites can lead you to new and updated statistics, news on important cases and laws, as well as information on your local and federal government.
In Ellensburg, the main library provides adequate resources, particularly online materials. The location in Farrell Hall allows for a departmental library, study area, and computer lab for student research. Future funding for departmental library acquisitions is anticipated.
Faculty regularly use the main and Farrell Hall libraries for hard copy resources. There is a heavy reliance on computerized access to law and justice resources such as professional journals, government documents, and abstract services. The two major online legal resources, Westlaw and LexisNexis, are invaluable resources for students and faculty. In the classroom, most faculty use Blackboard and other related instructional technology options.
The Centers have availability to all of the same library resources that are available on campus. CWU at Des Moines and CWU at Lynnwood have library resource staff to assist students with research and getting access to CWU library resources. The CWU instruction and outreach librarian comes to the centers to assist with any library issues and give library instruction sessions to students. He also assists the Law and Justice department with Westlaw administration by assigning passwords to students at all locations each quarter, and assists in training staff and students on the legal resources and online databases.
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