Second To None – Legal Databases Beyond Westlaw and Lexis

Here at the Alameda County Law Library, we provide access to a number of legal databases.  In addition to the better known Westlaw and Lexis databases, ACLL also has subscriptions to other legal information sources — VerdictSearch, HeinOnline, CEB’s OnLaw, Intelliconnect (federal and CA state tax resource) and EBSCO-NOLO.

This is the first in a series of posts describing these valuable but less well known databases.

Let’s begin with VerdictSearch.

Currently, except for VerdictSearch, sources can be searched without cost at the public terminals at the library. VerdictSearch, a unique resource, tracks information on awards – court, mediation or arbitration. To help defray the cost of providing access, ACLL asks users for $10.00 search fee.

VerdictSearch is a leading provider of verdict and settlement research. The files are a compilation of over 180,000 awards. The user can search the records full text or use over 15 specific search criteria including — state, venue, attorney, judge, type of injury, type of award, and type of case.

Results of the search can be save in a “briefcase” then emailed or downloaded using a flash drive.

Stop by the ACLL Reference Desk for assistance on getting access to VerdictSearch.

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Need meeting space near the Alameda County courthouse in downtown Oakland  – a few blocks from BART?  Conference rooms at ACLL can accommodate 6 – 28 people.  For more information refer to our web page.

Love and the Library Community. The Librarian in Black Speaks.

By Xequina Maria Berber, Reference Librarian, ACLL Hayward Branch.

The following are comments on the “Your Library Community Loves You” presentation by Sarah Houghton, Director of the San Rafael Public Library and author of The Librarian in Black Blog.  Houghton appeared at the January 29th, 2015 joint meeting of two Bay Area regional library groups – BayNet and the Special Libraries Association – San Francisco Bay Chapter.

Houghton spoke to a full house of BayNet and SLA participants about the popular trend of urging the community to love their libraries. She believes this is the wrong approach. She stated, “It makes us sound dysfunctional, needy and pathetic.  It’s defensive and rooted in fear.”  She believes this trend came from the fear of libraries becoming redundant and unnecessary in the age of Google.  “But we’re still here, we’re still needed.” Houghton said, “Bullying and guilting is the wrong way to market our services.”

Houghton believes the focus should be on how libraries and librarians love and appreciate their communities.  Directors should find ways their staff can show appreciation. For example, rather than “I love Libraries” week, it should be “The Library Loves You” week.  Houghton has instituted just such a program at her own library in San Rafael. Each day of that week, library staff actively tell patrons about the service being offered that day, such as, a day for free replacement library cards, a$1 fine forgiveness against their fines or giving away book bags made of recycled materials.

Houghton says, “Libraries must think like a business.  Communicate our responsiveness to the community.  Let patrons know we heard their suggestions and acted on them. Also, focus on individual contributions and recognize the people who contribute. Language should change too; instead of free, say ‘this is a gift from the library to you.’”

Understanding the Insurance Claims Process Can Help You Win!

How Insurance Companies Settle CasesWhen we have to deal with insurance companies about a claim whether it’s a personal injury, homeowners’ liability, property issues or automobile accident, it can put us in a state of frenzy.
The procedure can be treacherous for both attorneys and non-attorneys. How does the process work? What are they looking for? Why do they handle it the way they do? Why are they asking all these questions? Why do I feel like I’m on trial?

David Frangiamore, a former unit claims manager for an insurance company and now a consultant and expert witness in insurance claims cases, provides many of the answers to these questions. This 25th revision of his book, How Insurance Companies Settle Cases, is a valuable asset for anyone dealing with insurance companies.

Topics covered included: Introduction to the claims game; investigating coverage; how to succeed at settlement conferences; claims denials; how to estimate bodily injury settlement; bad faith and common claim myths. It also includes information about the claims manuals the adjusters use.

Chapters are broken down by smaller topics and include references to state laws and cases. At the back of the book is a list of cases mentioned as well as an index.

How Insurance Companies Settle Cases provides a behind-closed-doors look at how insurance cases are valued, what the adjuster needs to settle your case, and how to keep your case moving.

If you are involved in any claims with an insurance company, this book will surely help you understand your position, what the adjusters are looking for and how to get the best settlement you can.

The book is on the “New Book” truck near the Reference Desk until March. After that it will be on the shelf at KF 1164.3 .M55 and does circulate.

Donate to the Law Library at No Cost to You Through AmazonSmile


Please shop through AmazonSmile ( to benefit the Alameda County Law Library at no cost to you. You’ll find the same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping as at  You can use the Amazon account that you already have. The AmazonSmile  Foundation donates .05%of the purchase price from eligible purchases to the library. The first time you go to, please choose the Alameda County Law Library as the charitable organization to receive your donation. The library will automatically receive a donation every time you buy through You might want to bookmark the site.  Amazon does not share your contact information or purchase details with the library. For more information,  go to .

101 Uses for a Dead Cat(alog)!

101 Uses for a Dead Cat(alog)!

Library card catalogs are only passé in libraries themselves. For those in the know, the library card catalog is a beautiful piece of furniture which fits in any home décor, from traditional to eclectic.

Those in the know include Leonard and Sheldon who have one in their apartment. (Leonard and Sheldon of the TV show The Big Bang Theory, but you knew that of course. Because you are ITK.)

And since you are ITK, you will want one of the Alameda County Law Library’s beautiful, vintage card catalogs for your own home.
Some of these beauties date back to the 1920s when card
catalogs were made from quarter sawn oak (also known as Tiger Oak), dovetail drawers (not a nail in sight) and brass fittings. This quarter sawn technique results in a beautiful tiger wood pattern which sadly is not used a great deal today due to the extra work and wood required.

The Library’s pieces for sale range from small, 15 drawers to large 40 drawers. Prices range from $400.00 to $800.00 (or best offer – call the library for details).

We can’t list all 101 uses for the catalogs here (and there may be even more), but you will find great ideas on Pinterest and elsewhere on the Internet. People have used them for everything from wine cabinets to sock drawers (for sock aficionados only). But you will probably have creative uses of your own for them that reflect your style. Or you could just enjoy them as beautiful unique furniture.

These pieces would make great holiday presents for yourself or other loved ones! Come by and check them out at the Alameda County Law Library, 125 12th Street, Oakland, CA or for more
information, call the library at 510-208-4830. Photos available on request.

Lawyers and the Stories They Tell

Storytelling for LawyersA book recently added to the library collection is Lawyers as Storytellers by Philip N. Meyer.

In library school, I learned how to do storytelling with children, to grab and keep their attention. It really is a special skill.

It’s also a skill that attorney’s need and which most attorney’s don’t even think about. Storytelling is part of an attorney’s role and not just litigators. Meyers, who has been successfully developing this skill over many years of practicing, does an excellent job of explaining techniques to become a better storyteller.

He explores how to use your voice, develop plot lines and characterization, use of language, words and structure to inform every area of your practice.

Meyer was a trial lawyer for many years before serving as Coordinator of the Lawyering Program at New York University. He is now a Professor at Vermont Law School. He also has an MFA from the prestigious Writers’ Workshop at the University of Texas.

He uses those skills to create an outline of how to become a storyteller. Discussed is how to plot and move in a compelling fashion from Point A to Point B taking your listeners with you and how to create a seamless story during a presentation of facts.

Overall, he explains how and why to do that offering a comprehensive explanation of how to achieve storytelling skills to enhance your lawyering ability. It explains the importance of the role of narrative in litigation and general practice using examples from multiple sources to help you create better “stories” as you practice law.

This book is perfect for lawyers, teachers, law students or anyone else who tries to keep the attention of listeners as they speak and teach them any subject. It offers a tool kit to supplement the analytical skills taught in law school.

For the next few months, the book will be on the New Book Truck near the Reference Desk. After that, it will be on the shelf at K 181 M49 2014.

Hayward Branch Launches First Art Exhibit

Floyd's Folly
Floyd’s Folly – Susan’s Delight 2013

The Alameda County Law Library is thrilled to announce the launching of ongoing art exhibits at the Hayward Branch  As many already know, the downtown branch has hosted exhibits from and celebrating artists in Oakland.  Librarians at the Hayward Branch joined with the Hayward Arts Council to put together an exhibit on the walls of the library.  The artist chosen for this is Frost Newton, a heavily experienced commercial and fine artist based in Hayward, California.  Mr. Newton has exhibited at various galleries in San Francisco and other locations around the Bay Area.  Most recently he contributed to Hayward Area Historical Society’s “Dia de los Meurtos.”

Newton says with regard to his work, “However my aim is not to tell a story, but to create a launching point for the viewer to interpret the paintings for themselves.  Creating enigma is a big part of what I do.”

Come down to 224 W. Winton Avenue in Hayward to truly see what he means.  The library is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Newton’s work will be on display until February 3, 2014.