Author Archives: Rhiannon

Oh Camel Ye Faithful

‘We three Kings of Orient are, bearing gifts we traverse afar, field and fountain, moor and mountain, following yonder star…’

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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.

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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.

Happy Christmas!

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 

Equipment in the Law Bod

As well holding over 500,000 printed items; the Bodleian Law Library also keeps a range of equipment to aid your study and keep you comfortable when you are here.

Plug sockets can prove to be few and far between here but don’t make lack of charge a reason for leaving! Behind the Enquiry Desk we have a number of portable power banks that hold charge for up to three hours allowing you to recharge any of your electronic devices. These have a UK plug socket on one side and multiple USB sockets on the other and allow you to charge multiple devices at once.

Keeping within the theme of electronics, we also have a box of miscellaneous chargers behind the Enquiry Desk. If you have forgotten your charger come and see us and fingers crossed we will be able to provide you with the correct cable to get your laptop up and running again. This also includes Ethernet cables – which can be used at the most of the graduate research desks and desks 41-64 on the main floor – and adaptors to allow students with different style plugs to connect to our UK plug sockets.


There are also a large number of Bodleian computers in the Law Library which can be useful either if you have exhausted all of the charging possibilities we offer and your laptop has run out of battery, or if you need to need to access a resource only available via electronic legal deposit. These can be found mostly on the ground and third floor, in the two IT rooms that are free to use unless there is a class booked into them and, in some of the bookable and walk in carrels. However, make sure you do not try to use a computer marked ‘Quick Search PC’ as these only have the ability to search SOLO for physical resources.

If you have booked one of our discussion rooms we do have a range of equipment that we lend out to anyone using the discussion rooms. These include VGA and HDMI cables for connecting to the TV screens inside, webcams for video conferencing, a 3.5mm audio extension cables and adaptors to make sure you can make the most of our discussion rooms. Please note all of the equipment mentioned here must be picked up from the Enquiry Desk, and if you do require an adaptor, these must be reserved at the time of booking.

Also behind the Enquiry Desk we have book stands that allow you to rest any book or E-reader device on them while in use, with the ability to keep a book open to a certain page, making life much easier than trying to switch from looking down at a book to up to a screen every minute or so. Our book stands are big and sturdy so will hold any book for as long as you need!

The Law Library has four adjustable desks as well as a variety of seating options to make sure you are as comfortable as possible when you are here. You will find adjustable desks on the ground floor and the third floor, that can be raised or lowered to suit you. The Library has a variety of options to help readers with visual impairment or dyslexia when they are here. These consist of daylight lamps, acetate coloured sheets that can be placed over screens or printed materials, Kurzweil and Zoomtext and, handheld or hands free magnifiers. Similarly, for anyone who is hard of hearing we can provide a portable RNID Ezee loop. To make use of any of this equipment come and see us at the Enquiry Desk and we will provide you with whatever you need to make the most of your visit to the Law Library.

There you have it; any problems with equipment don’t go home! Come and see us at the Enquiry Desk and we’ll do our best to help you get your work done and stay in the Law Library. If you believe our readers would benefit from any other equipment please don’t hesitate to come and talk to us in person at the Enquiry Desk or email us at

Taking a Break in the Law Bod

So, first week of term is over, that means your first essay is handed in, you’ve made it through your first week of work and are now perhaps a bit more confident with how Oxford works. This blog is all about taking a breather, and where you can go to take a break in the Law Bod.

First of all, inside the Law Bod just on the left of the entrance is our Just In Corner, complete with two sofas and a small table filled with the latest editions of newspapers for readers to browse as well as our new journals displayed to the left of the sofas. This is a perfect spot if you just fancy a quick break from studying, or if you’re waiting for some of your friends to finish up.

Downstairs in the Law Bod we have a different type of relaxation method in the form of jigsaws and puzzles. These are brilliant mindfulness exercises to help use your brain in a non-academic yet just as useful way. We have five puzzles, a box of Lego and colouring pencils and paper to help focus your brain on something other than work for a few minutes. Feel free to start a on a jigsaw or indulge your artistic side:  find them in the right hand corner of the first floor.

Just outside the main doors of the Law Library is the Missing Bean café, open now that it’s term time. A handy space to have your lunch, afternoon coffee, bagel or something sweet to break up your day. A subsidiary of the favourite Oxford café on Turl Street, the Missing Bean has great, sustainable food and drinks at student friendly prices. Full of tables and comfy seats there is a bit of everything for everyone here, you’ll always find people sat here having a break between lectures, or students discussing work, as well as the usual lunchtime rush. Bring your Keep Cup and then you and your coffee are more than welcome back into the Law Bod (plus you get 10p off if you use your own cup in the Missing Bean!)

The Bodleian Libraries also have created a self-help book collection following student feedback. These books range from books tailored to students with disabilities, to books aimed at any student in the University with titles such as Writing Under Pressure and The Happiness Trap. Alongside this, sometimes the Bodleian put on mindfulness initiatives for students, although there aren’t any on at the moment last year during Trinity Term GLAM (Gardens, Libraries and Museums) put on events from yoga and meditation, to dungeons and dragons games to creative workshops, all of which were free to University of Oxford students. Keep an eye out here for any new mindfulness initiatives.

There you have it, when you’re looking for a small study break without having to venture too far from the Law Library these are the best places to go! And of course, the work will still be there when you get back.

Using the Law Library’s Working Spaces

As many new students will have seen over the last few weeks, the Bodleian Law Library is far bigger than it perhaps looks at first sight. The tours offered by Law Bod staff are a great way to get an overview of the library, but now that term has started and work is piling up this blog will help guide new students (and perhaps returners who need a refresher) around the Law library, pointing out different work spaces in the library, how to use them and how to book them if necessary.

We’ll start on the ground floor – which is two floors down from the entrance level – and work our way up. The ground floor of the Law library is known for its rolling stacks, so it can be a little bit of a maze! However this floor also houses three discussion rooms that seat between 3 and 6 people. These can be used for a variety of group projects, with all the discussion rooms including a whiteboard, and two of them including a 55” TV which can be connected to personal computers or set up for video conferencing with equipment such as HDMI cables available from the Enquiry Desk.  The discussion rooms need to be booked in advance, and this can be done by first going to the booking site and then speaking to staff on the Enquiry Desk. There is also a height adjustable desk next to Discussion Room 1, which can either be raised to standing height or lowered to suit your personal preference.

Discussion Room 2

Next on the ground floor we have two IT rooms, the IT Training Room which has 24 computers and the Small Computer Room which has 7 computers, these cannot be booked but students are more than welcome to use them when they are not in use by a class. These computers can be useful when you need to be on a Bodleian computer to access certain material (such as electronic legal deposit materials – but more on that in a future blog!)

Ground floor desks

Finally, the Graduate Reading Room is located on the ground floor, a room solely for post graduate students with desks, plugs sockets, a whiteboard and soft seating inside. However currently because of the roof project, the Graduate Reading Room is being used by Law Bod staff whose offices have been affected by the work, for more information on the roof project click here, and keep an eye out on this blog, your emails and the Law Bod’s noticeboards for any updates as to when this room will be available to graduates again. There are also a number of small work desks dotted around on the ground floor which can be a great place to get your head down and focus, especially if the building work upstairs is getting overwhelming. These also tend to be the coolest spot in the library due to their proximity to the windows on the ground floor!

Moving upstairs on the first floor we have the Seminar Room which seats up to 24 people and is available to book in the same way as our Discussion Rooms, by going online and speaking to staff at the Enquiry Desk. The first floor also has a large amount of desk space which you can see as you walk through the glass doors, these are a great change of scene if you are bored with the main reading room or need a quieter space to focus on your work. There is also one smaller desk at the back of the first floor that would be a perfect spot to squirrel yourself away for a day of hard work with some of our all important reserve books (but shhh don’t tell anyone!)

One of our bookable carrels

Level two (where you enter the Law Bod) is themain reading room when the majority of desks are found. Currently interspersed between them are some lovely bright yellow scaffolding poles being used to hold up our temporary ceiling, the project is due to finish in April which should leave us with a bright shiny (and more importantly – ventilated) new roof, but for the time being we must make do with the scaffolding. These desks are brilliant if seeing other people working helps motivate you or if working (silently) with a few course mates is an appealing study method for you.

We also have numerous reserved researchers desks hidden away the other side of the shelves for use by post graduate researchers only. These desks are allocated to specific people, so if you don’t see your name there it’s not for you sadly. One of the perks of these desks is that they are the only place in the library that you can reserve books to, which you can do so by filling in a slip and then bringing the book to the Enquiry Desk where the staff members will process the book for you.

Lone first floor desk surrounded by foreign law reports and legislation

The second floor is also home to our photocopying room, a very self-explanatory room with three PCAS machines inside. Lastly the second floor is the Just In Corner where our new journals display lives with some comfy, less formal seats for catching up on the latest edition of The Times or The Guardian in a study break.

Finally, the third floor houses one bookable carrel and two walk in carrels, equipped with two desks and some with one Bodleian library computer. These are designed to help researchers access our electronic legal deposit materials, while still providing space for personal laptops, texts or other materials. These are able to be booked in the same way as our other bookable spaces. We also have two height adjustable desks on the third floor, which similarly to the one on the ground floor they can be set so that they are the most comfortable for you.

So there you have it, all of the working spaces available in the Bodleian Law Library in a short and handy guide. Fingers crossed this helps you find the best working environment for you in the Law Bod, but be sure to follow our Twitter, Instagram or have a look on our notice board where you should find all the information you need to know, and if that’s not enough then our friendly staff members on the Enquiry Desk will be more than happy to answer your questions.

Main reading room featuring scaffolding