GODORT (Government Documents Round Table)

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The mission of the Government Documents Round Table (GODORT) is to (1) To provide a forum for discussion of problems, concerns, and for exchange of ideas by librarians working with government documents; (2) to provide a force for initiating and supporting programs to increase availability, use, and bibliographic control of documents; (3) to increase communication between documents librarians and other librarians; (4) to contribute to the extension and improvement of education and training of documents librarians.

Learn more about GODORT on the ALA website.

  • 1.  Seeking advice re: LexisNexis cancellation

    Posted Jul 26, 2023 08:25 AM

    Hi Everyone,

    My institution recently dropped LexisNexis. I have had an email from our Deputy General Counsel for the University. She asks:

    "I was wondering if there are other tools available to do case history/citation research now that we no longer have access to lexisnexis?  Or which of the existing tools you would recommend, it's been a long time since I learned legal research tools, I just worked with what I was familiar with from law school.
    I primarily want to ensure I am reading the most current statutes and to shepherdize research case law."
    I'm sometimes called on to help patrons with legal research but I'm very rusty. Does anyone have advice on alternative tools/strategies? 
    Many thanks,
    Rachel Olsen

    Rachel Olsen
    Social Sciences Librarian
    UNC Greensboro

  • 2.  RE: Seeking advice re: LexisNexis cancellation

    Posted Jul 31, 2023 02:53 PM

    Hi Rachel,

    Within the last few years we also cancelled our subscription to Nexis Uni. As part of that process, we did a review of coverage/alternatives, which I've included below. Westlaw is the product that has the closest coverage to Nexis, but I'm guessing you probably don't subscribe to that. Here are the others (some are cheaper subscription products) we looked at (including in this thread in case others are interested):


    Alternatives for legal resources

    HeinOnline (coverage and gaps)

    • All content in HeinOnline is in PDF format.  NexisUni content is text-only.


    • U.S. Supreme Court-great, throughout history.
    • Lower federal courts-none.
    • State courts-database is State Courts: A Historical Archive.
      • What is "historical"? Well, for Washington State, it's 1889-1964, plus the territorial cases, 1854-1888. Virginia's coverage ends in 1880. California's in 1925.
      • In short: a huge gap.


    (Session laws, like United States Statutes at Large) are the laws published in chronological order. Codes are laws arranged by subject.)

    • United States Code-great coverage. But it's only the official edition, published by the government. As you know, publication is slow, with a new edition every six years. 2018 edition is the latest.
      • HeinOnline does NOT have an annotated code, like United States Code Service (available on Lexis and Nexis Uni) or United States Code Annotated (available on Westlaw).
    • United States Statutes at Large-great coverage.
    • State codes-for most states, only superseded codes (in State Statutes: A Historical Archive). Revised Code of Washington up to 2010.
      • No current annotated codes (as are available on Westlaw and Lexis/Nexis).
    • State session laws-great coverage, usually up through 2019 or 2020. (For some reason Alabama coverage ends in 2017.)


    • Code of Federal Regulations-complete.
    • Federal Register-complete
    • State administrative codes-none.
    • State administrative registers-none.

    Law Journals

    • Terrific collection.
    • Searching is better than it used to be and improving.
    • PDF format (Nexis Uni has text-only format)

    Official Sites

    • Almost all states have some legal information free online. Quality, depth, and breadth vary.
    • Different states' sites take some time to figure out and can be frustrating. The ease of having one interface to cover all the states would be missed.
    • The Washington courts website links to a free site with Lexis content of Washington State cases (and Lexis searching).
    • I don't know how many states have some similar arrangement.

    Google Scholar

    Google Scholar has pretty good coverage of state and federal cases. Searching is not as sophisticated as in commercial databases. I'm not as confident of Google Scholar's coverage as I am of commercial databases' coverage.

    Caselaw Access Project

    Harvard Law Library scanned all of its case reports, redacting the editorial features where the publisher claims copyright.  Coverage ends with cases published in June 2018.


    Various Free Sites

    Different sites-e.g., Justia, Findlaw, Leagle-have case reports. Again, searching is clunky and we have little assurance that the coverage is complete and the texts are accurate.

    West Academic Study Aids

    • Good secondary source that provides overviews.
    • Licensed for campus.
    • Includes "Hornbooks" (one-volume treatises, heavily footnoted), "Nutshells" (lighter overviews), and many other works.
    • All volumes are now in Primo.  Search for "criminal law" hornbook and you will find:

    Additional secondary source resources


    • Includes state and federal cases, statutes, and regulations.
    • Is licensed for campus for one year.
    • Content in PDF format.
    • Concerns:
      • Fastcase and Casemaker are merging:
        • They are likely not thinking about the general academic market.
        • Both companies' business model is to provide lower-cost legal research to attorneys directly or through state bar associations. 
        • Fastcase is merging with Casemaker and reviewing our contract in light of the merger. It is likely to be worked out in the next few weeks.
        • Although Fastcase will likely be part of the mix of legal research sources available to UW-affiliated and on-site users for the next year, the long-term is still uncertain. Fastcase is not a replacement for Nexis Uni or Westlaw Campus. - UW Law Librarians

    More analysis of legal resources and content

    Kian Flynn
    Geography & Global Studies Librarian
    University of Washington Libraries

  • 3.  RE: Seeking advice re: LexisNexis cancellation

    Posted Jul 31, 2023 03:02 PM

    HeinOnline and WestLaw have different subscription packages – so you might be able to customize.

    West might be best to  shepherdize a case – but I am not suppose to endorse or recommend commercial products. So that is not an endorsement.



    Jenny Groome | Reference Librarian
    Connecticut State Library | 231 Capitol Ave | Hartford, CT  06106
    Tel.: 860-757-6500


  • 4.  RE: Seeking advice re: LexisNexis cancellation

    Posted Aug 01, 2023 07:52 AM

    She should get pricing and then request that the university purchase her a Lexis Nexis or Westlaw subscription.  With a multi-year contract, she probably can get monthly pricing down to around $65 for her seat to have a basic state and federal plan.  For someone working full time in law, the secondary sources and citator in whichever of those she prefers is important.

    She already has Fastcase as a member of the bar.  That will have statutes, case law, and regulations.  It used to not have secondary sources.  Now it has secondary souces, but it likely does not have the go to resources for explaining an area of law.  It has a citator.  My understanding is that the citator is not as reliable as for Lexis Nexis or Westlaw, but that they are converging over time into having similar reliability.  She should use her bar login to try it out.

    For every state, someone will be doing CLEs (continuing legal education courses required for keeping the bar certificate).  I looked and couldn't find a great resource on that.  Maybe combining https://law-campbell.libguides.com/free_resources/nc plus https://guides.ll.georgetown.edu/freelowcost and calendaring out 4 hours to look through sources there could be a way for her to assess where things are at.  Free of charge legal research online keeps getting better and better.  For example, today the laws in Justia have case notes.  I would say for primary law, free of charge websites adequately cover the topic.  Then for secondary law and a reliable citator, that is mostly what people are buying when they buy a legal research tool.

    Wilhelmina Randtke
    Head of Libraries Systems and Technologies
    Georgia Southern University