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Government Documents Research Guide

Use this guide to find UNO library resources and other helpful research tools.

WestLawNext

WestlawNext provides online access to the published decisions of the federal courts and the appellate courts of all 50 states. Also includes federal and state codes and regulations and articles published in over 700 law review journals.

NexisUNI

NexisUNI contains published U.S. court decisions and those of the courts of all fifty states.  It also includes the  U.S. Code and the codes of all fifty states.  The law reviews file encompasses over 500 law review journals.  NexisUNI is also a source for general news and business information from thousands of sources.

HeinOnline

HeinOnline provides a fully-searchable, image-based archive of historical United States legal documents, including the Congressional Record and its predecessor series, the United States Statutes at Large, the Federal Register, the Code of Federal Regulations, and decisions of the United States Supreme Court.

Law and Courts

The University of Nebraska at Omaha does not have a law school, so Criss Library's legal holdings are limited to a few key reference works. We own the U.S. Statutes at Large and U.S. Code; and the Laws of Nebraska and Nebraska Revised Statutes. We also have the United States Reports, Nebraska Reports, and Nebraska Appellate Reports. In addition we keep the current year of the Code of Federal Regulations and the Federal Register. These series are all shelved in the Reference collection, and you may click their titles to link to the catalog records and find the call numbers.

While the library has only a modest legal collection, we do subscribe to four commercial databases, which taken together are roughly equivalent to the reference and journal holdings of a law library: NexisUNI, WestlawNextHeinOnline, and Legal Information Reference Center. These databases encompass codes and statutes for the U.S. government and all fifty states; published decisions of the U.S. courts and the courts of all fifty states; and articles published in over 700 law review journals. The Legal Information Reference Center  focuses on consumer-level information, including the very popular NOLO Press legal reference guides. Anyone may visit the library to search the databases, but off-campus access is restricted by license to currently-enrolled UNO students.

 

Nebraska Legislative History

The Nebraska Legislature has released floor debate transcripts through its Internet site at http://nebraskalegislature.gov/transcripts/.  The online transcripts extend back to the 83rd Legislature (1973-1974).  Earlier records remain available at Criss Library as described below:

The key to research on Nebraska legislative history lies in finding pertinent legislative bill numbers (LBXXXX) and years, which can be used as index points to track the legislature's actions. Keep in mind that each legislature numbers bills starting from one, so you need to know not only the bill number, but also the pertinent year. For example, it is not enough to know that you are interested in LB775, because every legislature can have a LB775.  You need to know that you are interested in LB775 of a specific year.

  • The Legislative Journal of the State of Nebraska, which is shelved on the 3rd floor at the call number KFN18 .N4, serves as the annual minutes for the Legislature. You may need to examine these volumes to identify pertinent legislative bills by number (LBXXXX). Use the index at the end of each annual journal to identify relevant bills and the journal pages which note legislative activity. Take care to note the committee to which a bill was referred.   Also, make note of the dates of action in the legislature. The days immediately before and following are the days when you are more likely to find pertinent articles in the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal-Star.
  • Criss Library also has the Unicameral Update, the Legislature's weekly newsletter, extending back to Volume 1 (1977). Volumes 1-4 (1977-1981) are filed with the Nebraska Document microfiche on the 1st floor at the call number L3000 N001. The rest of the volumes are shelved in the Nebraska Documents collection at the same call number. You may find articles addressing particular bills in the Unicameral Update.
  • Once you have legislative bill numbers, you may find the final verbatim texts of bills which actually became law by looking in Laws of Nebraska, which is shelved in the Reference Collection on the 1st floor at the call number KFN25 .N427. This annual compilation of laws is published by the Nebraska Legislature. Go to the volume for the pertinent year and find the laws in order by bill number (LBXXXX).
  • Once you have legislative bill numbers, you may examine the Nebraska legislative history microfilm, which is filed with the Government Document microfiche and microfilm on the 1st floor.  Each legislative session extending back to 1965 (except for a couple of unfortunate and curious gaps) is represented by a set of 16mm microfilm reels. Please note that the last microfilm reels distributed to libraries cover the 100th Legislature, 2nd Session (2008). Transcripts for subsequent legislatures are available through the Nebraska Legislature's Internet site.
  • Each session's microfilm reels divide into two parts: a) floor debate transcripts; and b) committee records. 
  • Look up legislative bill numbers in the index at the beginning of the first debate reel to find the page numbers for the relevant transcript pages. Look especially for a longer range of pages (say, 450-485), which indicate extensive floor debate. Single pages often just lead to notes about boilerplate parliamentary action.
  • The legislative history microfilm also includes committee records on the remaining session reels. When you know which committee handled a bill, you can scroll through that committee's records to look for committee hearing transcripts, letters from citizens, reports from advocacy groups, etc. These records are not indexed, so you just scroll through them.

Law Libraries in Nebraska

Schmid Law Library of the University of Nebraska College of Law and Klutznick Law Library of the Creighton University School of Law serve as the two comprehensive law libraries in Nebraska. Researchers engaged in in-depth legal research may well find it necessary to visit one of these libraries. We recommend that they first contact the libraries to inquire about collections and services.

Oyez

The Oyez Project at Chicago-Kent is a multimedia archive devoted to the Supreme Court of the United States and its work. It aims to be a complete and authoritative source for all audio recorded in the Court since the installation of a recording system in October 1955. The Project also provides authoritative information on all justices and offers a virtual reality Tour of portions of the Supreme Court building, including the chambers of some of the justices.