‘We three Kings of Orient are, bearing gifts we traverse afar, field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star…’
The ‘three wise men’ are an integral part of the Christmas nativity and are well known for their journey following the star to the stable where the baby Jesus was born, and bringing him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Of course, they don’t make this trip on foot, they use the most well equipped animal for crossing deserts: the camel. But did you know that according to the Guinness World Records as of 2013 the country with the most feral camels is not in the Middle East, north Africa nor is it Mongolia (where they are native), but in fact Australia. (PSA: Feral Camels are slightly different to wild camels – they are camels that once were domesticated and having escaped captivity one way or another are now living in the wild.) Whilst you may not think of Australia as the most traditional of countries when it comes to the festive season – for example if you decided to traverse the Australian desert following a star your journey would more likely end on a beach rather than in a stable – here at the Law Library we think of them as a country with a vast amount of legal resources.
Electronically my top three Australian legal databases have to be AustLII, Informit and Westlaw AU. For starters, AustLII is an online free to access resource for Australian legal information, maintaining databases full of primary materials including case law from the High Court and the Federal Court of Australia, legislation on both a federal and state level and much more. They also have a wide variety of secondary materials including journals like the Australian Indigenous Law Review, Federal Law Review and the Asia-Pacific Journal of Environmental Law. Even though AustLII is a free to use website, it is laid out exceptionally well and has a huge range of resources available, so check it out for yourself.
Informit is another great database for Australian legal resources, with a broad range of secondary sources online. Informit actually covers much more than just legal resources, with content on education, business, health, humanities and indigenous culture as well as law. However, our access has already narrowed down the databases to two; Indigenous Collections and AGIS Plus text, which are the relevant ones for law. Like many search engines, Informit has both a simple search and an advanced search, allowing you to search by things like title, author, journal title, case, ISBN/ISSN, content type, subject field and more. So if you’re looking for a specific article or case, or just for any materials on a subject Informit could be a good place to start.
Finally, Westlaw AU is worth an honourable mention because all law students should be familiar with its UK counterpart. Westlaw AU however looks very different to Westlaw UK and Westlaw International which can work in its favour. It is super simple to use, perhaps because it does not have the volume of resources the previous two databases have. On the home page, there is the usual basic search box, with the option for advanced search if this suits your researching style, but the interesting part of the home page comes below the search bar. Here you have the option to expand files entitled cases, journals and The Laws of Australia, a feature that allows users to search through every record on Westlaw AU without having to leave the homepage. Once you have found a journal issue or law report volume the layout is very similar to Westlaw UK. It is also worth mentioning that some journals or law reports that are not on Westlaw AU may be on Westlaw International, such as the Federal Law Reports, so make sure to search both sites before trying a different database!
Turning our attention to print materials, the Law Library holds numerous monographs, journals and law reports from Australia. Our monographs are spread between the first and second floors, with some classified in the Moys system and are distinguishable with the shelfmark containing ‘A8’ in the middle and some classified in our old style.
For example: KN94.A8.FIS 1980 Environmental law in Australia : an introduction or;
Cw Austral 510 F654c Trade Unionism in Australia.
The first floor is home to all the post-2000 journals starting with the shelfmark Cw Austral 300 and all of the law reports (and there are many!) with the shelfmark Cw Austral 100.
For example: Cw Austral 100 C30 The Commonwealth Law Reports or;
Cw Austral 300 A30 The Australian Law Journal.
Finally, although most of the collections are on the first and second floors you may find it useful having a peek on the ground floor if you’re stuck as this holds any secondary collection materials we may have and any pre-2000 journals. If you need any help locating any of our Australian materials, please feel free to ask the staff on the enquiry desk.
So Three Wise Men –> Camels –> Australia –> Australian legal resources, a tenuous Christmas link at best but a link nevertheless! I hope that this has been an enlightening post and has peaked your interest in some of the legal materials the Law Library has. If you have found this blog useful the best thing to do next is to have a read of our Australian LibGuide which will give you an in depth guide to Australian law.
Image 1: Three wise men reproduced under cc-by-nc 2.0 flickr
Image 2: Camel-Wombat-Kangaroo sign reproduced under cc-by-nc-nd 2.0 flickr
Image 3: Scenes from a Community College: Library Christmas Tree of Supreme Court Reporter edition reproduced under cc-by-nc-nd 2.0 flickr