By Ken Fox, Research Librarian
Last week I told you how to access the Irwin Law book collection through the Des Libris ebook platform. This week I will give you a few tips on finding texts using Des Libris.
The Des Libris library that Saskatchewan lawyers have access to includes more than 80,000 titles on every subject under the sun. The Irwin collection includes 254 Canadian legal titles, including many journal issues, legal texts, reports, and multiple editions of each of the Essentials of Canadian Law series.
As I said last week, you can browse the 254 Irwin titles by selecting “Law” in the bottom row of the home page. But for most purposes, you probably prefer a more direct route to specific content.
Let’s start with the Search bar at the top of the screen – the “quick” search. Here is a quick overview of this search’s parameters (there are no handy “search tips” – I did this by trial and error. You’re welcome):
To summarize, this search only returns documents that include ALL of your search terms exactly as you typed them. The best way to use this search is to enter an author name or book title, or a combination of words that are likely to appear together in a title. If you know the title or author name, the relevance ranking will usually ensure that the text you are looking for appears near the beginning of the results list.
If you enter a legal concept, let’s say “standard of care” (without quotes), you may get a large number of results (544 in the present case), few of which look like Canadian legal texts. This is where you might want to try the green trapezoidal button to “Refine Results.”
There are many ways to refine, but the most expedient for our purposes are to select the “Publishers” or “Collections,” filter, then (in either case) select “Irwin Law.” Applying either of these filters brings the results down to 13, with Osborne’s text on the Law of Torts appearing prominently.
But if you are looking for a book on a particular legal subject, it might be best to try the Advanced Search link immediately below the quick search box. Here is what the Advanced Search box looks like:
Looking at the drop-down menu on the upper right, you have a few options of what field(s) you want to search “Within” – but the most important ones are:
“Keyword anywhere” uses the same fields as the quick search: title, author, description – but not full text. “Full text” searches the complete book – that is where you might try an unusual word such as “replevin” (54 results).
Between the main query box and the “Within” box, there is another drop down with the default option “All of these” – this box is critical to getting good results. The options are:
In other words: AND, OR, quote-marks, NOR. I won’t go into detail about operators here, but returning to my previous example, “standard of care” will retrieve the fewest (and best) results using “As a phrase,” more (but lower quality) results with “All of these,” and a huge number of useless results using “Any of these.”
Now note the little green box with a white plus-sign at the far top right. Clicking this button creates a new query box below the first, prefaced with three radio buttons indicating AND, OR, NOT. The Advanced Search does not recognize any operators in the command line, but by using multiple lines combined with AND or OR, you have some of the powers of command line searching.
There are other limiters and filters available on the Advanced Search, and I think they are self-explanatory.
When viewing search results, you will often find, especially with the Essentials of Canadian Law series, that multiple editions of the same title are present. Of course, you usually want the latest available edition of a text. Check the title note below the image – later editions usually contain a statement of edition, e.g., “6/e” for 6th edition. Failing that, depending on the quality of your eyes, you might be able to read the edition statement on the cover picture. And if you are still unsure, click on Title Details – the publication date appears in the right column, beside the description.
Clicking on the cover image or “title details” takes you to front page of the book. Now find the green “Read Online” button and enter the book itself!
Now I WISH I could tell you that the next thing you see is a list of book sections that contain your key terms, but (and I am sorry to have to tell you this), that is not the case. The Des Libris platform includes many types of content, and unfortunately, it is not optimized for legal research. Once you are inside the book, you need to begin searching again. And that will be the topic of my next post.