Finding Books and other items in the Library Catalogs
While many (if not most) of the items you will use to cite check will be available electronically (e.g. journal articles and most primary legal sources), there will also be instances where you need to find a book at the library and scan the appropriate pages. You will need to check Biddle, Penn Libraries, and any online facsimile versions before asking your Research Editor to submit an Interlibrary Loan Request. Instructions on each one of these three steps are included below.
Decision Tree for Library Materials
Search CENTER - The Law Library Catalog
In 2021, the Biddle Law Library transitioned to a new library catalog named "Search CENTER," in honor of Margaret Center Klingelsmith (1852-1931), a graduate of Penn Law in 1898, one of the first women admitted to practice law in Philadelphia, a noted suffragist, and the third law librarian at the Biddle Law Library, from 1899-1931.
The library catalog is separate from the general Penn Libraries catalog and is your main source for finding books held at Biddle and legal databases restricted to law school users.
The search bar is located front and center on the Biddle Law Library's webpage and includes several searching options located in the tabs above the search bar. If you use this search bar as-is, it defaults to a "Keyword Search," which is not always the most useful if you are trying to look up a known item.
For known item look-ups, it's usually better to do a title search and run the title of the book in quotation marks. To view this and other searching options, click the "Advanced Search" link beneath the "Search" button.
This will bring you to a search results page with catalog records. Find the correct item, verify that it is available (meaning not currently checked out to someone else!), then use the Call Number to find it in the Biddle Stacks.
Remember that the catalog includes both print and electronic resources, so you may see records for items only available as eBooks.
If you don't see a record for the item you need at Biddle, you will next want to check if it is held by the Penn Libraries system. You can get a quick preview of that by using the Held By Library filter in the filter bar on the left side of the results list to see items at the "University of Pennsylvania Libraries." This may help you make the next step--finding an item in the Penn Libraries holdings--easier!
**Journal students are required to check the Penn Libraries catalog for items held at Van Pelt before placing an Interlibrary Loan.**
Finding Books at Penn Libraries
If you need to review a book that is not held at Biddle, you will next need to check Penn Libraries. As Penn Law students you have full access and borrowing privileges at all Penn campus libraries. The main library on campus which houses the overwhelming majority of Penn's print collection is the Van Pelt Library located about two blocks from the Law School.
The Penn Libraries Catalog: FRANKLIN
Before making the trek over to Van Pelt, you will want to confirm whether they have the resources you need by using their online library catalog. The Van Pelt library is the main research library for the University of Pennsylvania and is home to most books in Social Science disciplines including such law-adjacent subjects as History, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology, and Psychology. Additionally, the Lippincott Library of the Wharton School of Business is also located within Van Pelt.
**Note that the FRANKLIN catalog for Penn Libraries is completely separate from the Biddle Law Library's Search CENTER Catalog**
The search bar on the Penn Libraries homepage will search across the FRANKLIN catalog, in addition to other library resources.
Beyond physical books, the Penn Libraries also provide access to an exhaustive collection of subscription databases that enable access to non-law scholarly journals, periodicals, ebooks, and newspapers (see more about finding these items on the Finding Articles portion of this guide).
Finding Facsimiles of Books Online
During the 2020 shutdown of the Penn Campus for the COVID-19 pandemic, we encouraged journal students to embrace some less traditional strategies for finding books, specifically by looking for facsimiles online. Even when the libraries are open, these strategies continue to be a useful addition to your source hunting toolkit, both for finding pages and potentially for screen-capturing what you need. For AE, it is likely worth checking for an online facsimile before asking your Research Editor to place an Interlibrary Loan request, simply because of the amount of time you could save.
If your journal makes a practice of saving copies of substantiating pages, you can do this with these electronic copies as well by using screen capture software such as the Windows Snipping Tool or the Command+Shift+4 shortcut on a Mac. You can either save these pictures as image files or export them to Adobe Acrobat or Apple Preview.
Here are some suggested places to find digital scans of books:
This is a tool you are likely familiar with already. The Google Books preview will often allow limited browsing of the scanned pages of titles in their collection. The amount of content will vary—in some instances you actually may be able to see most of an entire book, whereas in others it may only be part of a chapter. A blue box will be inserted to indicate when pages are excluded from preview. You can also use the “Search in this book” bar on the left to look for specific language or quotations. This can be helpful for identifying specific pages to request via ILL as well if you cannot view the full page in GoogleBooks.
When most people think of the Internet Archive, they think of the Wayback Machine. However, the Internet Archive also includes facsimile scans of a wide range of books and articles. To access them, you will need to create a free account. This is a reputable, safe resource to create a personal account. This will allow you to “borrow” titles for a period of 14 days.
You can run a title search in the search bar from the landing page. If they have the title in their collection, you will be able to view a preview of the work before you determine whether you want to borrow it.
If you do borrow the full work, you can use screen capture software to save copies of relevant pincites and bibliographic information for your journal’s internal records.
This is another resource you may be familiar with—the HathiTrust is a mass digitization project from a consortium of member libraries, including the University of Pennsylvania. To access the collections, you will need to login, identifying your member library as the University of Pennsylvania and providing your Penn credentials.
You can search the catalog or Full-text of items in the catalog, applying filters on the results screen. Once you click that link, it will prompt you to “Check Out” that book, which will allow you to view the book’s contents. Some items, namely ones that are out of copyright, may be downloadable. Like both resources above, this is a scan of the print book.
Another resource that is likely very familiar, but probably not one that you have used for Cite-checking. The “Look inside” preview will often let you view some scanned portion of a work’s text. Sometimes the preview is of the ebook, which may not preserve the pagination, however this is usually pretty obvious.
As with the other sources listed above, depending on if the relevant pages are available in the preview, you should be able to use screenshot software to save images.