Help Finding Your Way Around The County Recorder & Assessor’s Offices – Tutorials From The Advanced Media Institute

On its website, to assist in the education and training of journalism students, the Advanced Media Institute at UC Berkeley has a collection of tutorials including research tutorials.  Journalists frequently need to research the same subject areas as legal researchers – court cases, property records and business information.  Many of these practical and well-organized research tutorials were authored by Paul Grabowicz for students in his Computer Assisted Reporting class.

For Alameda County legal researchers, these tutorials are especially helpful because, as they are coming out of Berkeley, the organization and procedures of Alameda County and other East Bay government offices are highlighted.

This link – – will take you to the home page for the tutorials.  The website policy does not allow for any republishing of the content of the tutorials without express written permission but feel free to explore these internet resources.

Researching Alameda County and other East Bay property records

Tutorial: Assessor’s Office  researching who owns a piece of property by address and assessed value, this information is only available in-person, no internet site

Tutorial: Recorder’s Office   guide to what can and cannot be found within county property ownership records, includes abbreviation list for documents listed in records

Other tutorials legal researchers might find informative

Tutorial: Bankruptcy Court Records

Tutorial: Business and Corporation Records

Tutorial: Businesses Regulation Agencies

Tutorial: Civil Court Lawsuits

Tutorial: Criminal Court Records

Tutorial: Public Records Act Request Resources    includes examples of sample letters with filing information


Congressional Record – Additional Digital Resources

Research news alert from the HeinOnline’s blog – Additions to the internet federal legislative history resources

The GPO has recently partnered with the Library of Congress to release an authenticated digital version of historical issues of the bound Congressional Record from Volume 97 (1951) to  Volume 153 (2007).  The issues are now available to the public via the GPO’s website.  The project digitized more than a million pages, covering debates and proceedings of the 81st through the 105th Congresses.  Search capabilities are also provided.

The Congressional Record was first published in 1873 and is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress, published by the United States Government Publishing Office (GPO) and issued when Congress is in session.  Indexes are issued approximately every two weeks.  At the end of a session of Congress, the daily editions are compiled in bound volumes constituting the permanent edition.

The Record is the most complete and accurate account of congressional matters to date.  At the end of each session of Congress, all of the daily editions are collected, re-paginated, and re-indexed into a permanent, bound edition.  This permanent edition, referred to as the Congressional Record (Bound Edition), is made up of one volume per session of Congress, with each volume published in multiple parts, each part containing approximately 10 to 20 days of Congressional proceedings.  The primary ways in which the bound edition differs from the daily edition are continuous pagination; somewhat edited, revised, and rearranged text; and the dropping of the prefixes H, S, and E before page numbers.

The Congressional Record consists of four sections:

  • Daily Digest
  • House section
  • Senate section
  • Extension of Remarks

What about coverage after 1998?

This site provides access to the text of the Congressional Record from Volume 140 (1994) to present.  The text is available by browsing but is not presented as PDFs of the bound volumes.

Before 1951?

The Internet Archive has a collection of the older Congressional Record.  Congressional Record – Bound (1873 to 1993 via Internet Archive – Search Title and Date then Browse volume parts and Find words and phrases – Magnify, Browse, Download)

Also Google Books, Congressional Record – Bound (1873 to current via Google Books – Search then Browse selected pages with some pages or whole volume parts missing and unsearchable) Print and online sources

The Legislative Research Special Interest Section of the Law Librarians’ Society of Washington, D.C., Inc. (LLSDC) as part of its Legislative Source Book has a list on the web entitled “Sources for the Congressional Record: Free and Commercial” (–free-and-commercial).  The website contains a list with links to most all online sources for the Congressional Record, free and commercial, with dates of coverage, including the bound Record, the daily edition, the Congressional Record Index, and predecessors to the Congressional Record.  Also included are brief notations about search, browse, print, and cite retrieval capabilities of the sources as well information on libraries with paper and microform issues.  Finally there are a number of links to aid researchers in understanding the Congressional Record, its history, its volume numbers, and what is or is not included in the pages of the Record

Going back further?

The Congressional Record goes back to only 1873.  Before 1873, congressional debates were catalogued in the Annals of Congress (1789-1824), Register of Debates (1824-1837) and Congressional Globe (1833-1873).

Counter To Courtroom – Court Procedures Outlined – Resources From The Judicial Council Of California

Counter to Courtroom

Trying to familiarize yourself with procedures used by the California Superior courts?  The Judicial Council of California has a selection of materials used for court staff training available on their web site.  The documents cover, in separate titles, procedures relating to case matters for civil, criminal, probate, traffic, family and juvenile proceedings.

The titles, identifiable by a subtitle – Counter to Courtroom, are selections from the Council’s Court Clerk Training Institute reference materials.  These items are close to being textbooks for the procedures for the California courts – giving an insider’s view to forms and procedures, even going beyond the detailed information that can be found in Nolo titles or a title, such as, Litigation by the Numbers.

The information is practical, not discussing legal theories, but the procedural steps that are required at different points of California court litigation.  The information is provided in summary outline form.  California Code and Rules of Court citations are provided for reference.

The materials also include:

  • flowcharts of court procedures
  • a glossary of legal terms used in court procedures
  • discussion and examples of Judicial Council forms
  • checklists for use by court staffers
  • charts summarizing types of filings, example – motions and their purposes – “Motions” in Civil Procedures: Counter to Courtroom, page 32traffic-infractions-flowchart-clerk-training-institute

Alameda County Law Library has added print versions to the collection.  The volumes are currently on the New Titles cart.

You can also find PDF versions using the URLS listed below next to the title.

The Court Clerk Training Institute

Remember that individual courts may have adopted their own local procedures.  Check with the clerks of the court for confirmation.


library logo

California’s Secretary Of State Business Search – Recent Upgrades

California’s Secretary of State business search web page – New and truly improved

A tip of my reference cap to the California’s Secretary of State (SOS) office for the changes made last month to the Business Search web page.

We, here at Alameda County Law Library, use the site regularly, helping pro pers locate the names and addresses of agents for service of process for companies licensed to do business in California.  Other information that can be found includes: jurisdiction of incorporation, type of business entity, and a state entity number.

The web page now presents the search boxes and results in a reader-friendly format – clean and well designed.

SOS’s search screen’s new look


Search results improvements include:

  • A searcher can increase the number of entity entries displayed on the results list –  cutting down the need to scroll through page after page.  (Up to 100 items displayed.)
  • Search capabilities now include a box to narrow search results.  See below.
  • You can restructure your search results list in order by:
    • date of registration
    • status (active, dissolved, merged out etc.)
    • jurisdiction of incorporation

For recent filings, the SOS is now providing direct access to PDFs of filing statements.

Here are some images illustrating some of the new results options for researching California registered businesses –

Narrowing search results

When a searcher wants to narrow results, he or she can enter a term in the box at the right.  The entire list of results is included in the “narrowing” search, not just the entries displayed on the screen.  This can be used to reduce an extensive results list (for a common keyword such as “McDonald’s”) to a manageable number of items for review.

Below is an example of the results list containing 145 items for “McDonald’s” that has been reduced to 4 entries by narrowing the results with the term “san jose.”  Another great change is that the screen tracks the search strategy used to bring up the results.



Date of registration

By using the arrows next to the column heading, a searcher can re-order the list bringing up the most recently filed record to the top of the list.  Initially results are presented in alpha order by entity name.

Below the search results for the keyword “McDonald’s” have been re-ordered by registration date chronological order.  A 2016 entry appears on top of the list.



Information on business and PDF of filings

The entity’s record now appears in a clean and easy to read display.  If the business entity has a recent filing, the document itself may be accessible directly from the screen.



Here is a view of  a filing document listed on the prior image –




A note to the SOS staff – it would be great to be able to do an initial overall search by keyword without worrying if the business entity was formed as a corporation or a LLC/LLP.  As of now, a searcher must select a “Search Type” – possibly needing to re-run a search in a different file to find information for an individual entity.  Many of our patrons (and the tax-paying public in general) are not sophisticated in business law to know that there are different business organizational structures.  A searcher may just know a name and address.

library logo



OnLAW – Saving Private Content

OnLaw_imageSaving content from OnLaw

Access to the Continuing Education of the Bar’s (CEB) OnLAW is accessible for free here at the Alameda County Law Library.

CEB titles provide in-depth, professional California legal information.

The OnLAW database provides up-to-date electronic access to all of CEB’s titles including those in the area of Business Law, Civil Litigation, Criminal Law, Employment Law, Estate Planning, Evidence, Family Law, Real Property, Torts, and Workmen’s Compensation.

OnLAW is available on ACLL’s public access terminals.  Access is also available to CEB’s materials and its downloadable forms in Word at in both library locations via WiFi.

For a short tutorial on the steps on how to access OnLAW when using your laptop at ACLL locations from a previous The Advance Sheet click HERE.

Here is another tutorial authored by the same ACLL staff member.

OnLAW – Saving Content from OnLAW by Emily Bergfeld, Reference Librarian, Alameda County Law Library

Here are the steps:

1. Locate the practice guide you would like to view in OnLaw’s expandable directory.  The list is along the left side of the Home screen.


2. Click the “+” sign to the left of the book title to view its chapters.onlaw_savingcontent_image2








3. Click “Print” on the upper-left hand side of the screen.




4. On the right side of the screen, select the radio button next to “Print multiple documents by choosing from the ToC on the left.”


5. On the left side of the screen, boxes will appear next to the chapter titles. Click the boxes next to the chapters or sections you want to copy. You can select a maximum of 50 sections. Once you have finished selecting the chapters or sections you wish to copy, press the “Print” button.


[Does the browser you are using allow pop-up screens?  If not, you will see —



Internet Explorer

onlaw_savingcontent_image10you will need to re-set your browser options to allow for pop-ups.]

6. A new window will open, containing the full-text of the selected chapters or sections. When the Print dialog box appears, press the “Cancel” button.


7. Hold down the “Ctrl” key and the “A” key simultaneously to “Select All” the generated text.
8. Hold down the “Ctrl” key and the “C” key simultaneously to “Copy All” the generated text.
9. Minimize any open OnLAW windows to return to the Cybrarian Menu (or open Word on your device.)
10. Double click on the Microsoft Word icon on the Menu to open a blank Microsoft Word document.
11. Hold down the “Ctrl” key and the “V” key simultaneously to “Paste” the text copied from OnLAW into the blank Word document.
12. Print the document, or save the document to a flash/USB drive. onlaw_savingcontent_image8

library logo







Accessing OnLAW On Your Laptop At The Alameda County Law Library


Accessing CEB’s OnLAW on your laptop at the Alameda County Law Library

From Emily Bergfeld, Reference Librarian at ACLL

Note: You must bring your laptop to the Oakland Main Library or the Hayward Branch Library to access OnLAW through the library’s wireless network.

  1. Connect to the library’s wireless network.  [LAW_LIBRARY_WIFI]  There is no password.
  2. Go to the library’s “Legal Databases” page:
  3. Scroll down to OnLAW in the alphabetized list of library databases.  onlaw_database_description
  4. Click on hyperlinked URL to open OnLAW:
  5.         OnLAW will open in your Internet browser.   (Firefox works well.)


6.         Access specific CEB titles, chapters, sections, and forms through the expandable directory on the left-hand side of the screen.


7.         Or you can search using keywords for cases, code sections, or forms/templates.onlaw_searchscreen

8.        When you use your laptop to access OnLAW, you can save selected search results directly to your device’s folders.  OnLAW does not allow for email delivery of material as Lexis or WLN does.


library logo