Reference Blog Entries

Everyday law for laypeople: great online resources

Ann's picture

Many people come to the Reference Desk looking for information such as how to change a business’ name, draft a will or healthcare Power of Attorney, or understand landlord/tenant disputes. We often help people access our wide range of NOLO reference books to get understandable answers to everyday legal and business questions.

gavel and open law book

But we also have some very helpful online legal resources that you can access from home through our website:

  • Ohio Legal Forms  -  offers access to thousands of Ohio legal forms, including business, personal, real estate and general forms covering hundreds of legal subjects and issues.
  • Gale Encyclopedia of Everyday Law - provides information on common legal issues, from civil rights to real estate, providing historical background, important statutes and cases, profiles of U.S. laws and regulations, and details of how these laws and regulations vary from state to state.

To access these online resources, go to Use the drop-down menu on the left hand side to Select a Database Topic and choose ‘Law and Government.’

Of course, reference librarians are super smart, but can’t provide legal expertise or counsel! However, we can also help you find an attorney using the Best Lawyers in America.

And don’t forget, you can always contact a Reference Librarian by phone, textemail, or in person for assistance in using our databases and eBooks.


Laura's picture

Let’s examine everyone’s favorite Christmas treat, the fruitcake. Fruitcake cut in wedges on a doily-covered plate.What? Not your favorite? You shrink from the thought of even one bite? You contend that the cakes make good doorstops? You admit to sending your friends Edward Gorey holiday cards showing a 19th century family dropping theirs through a hole in an iced-over pond? Well, even so, you may be interested in knowing more about this much-maligned holiday tradition. 

To that end the UA Library’s database Food and Drink in American History tells us that fruitcakes first appeared when dried fruit became available in the 13th century. The American fruitcake is most probably a combination of two British traditions: the Christmas cake and the English Christmas pudding. The latter adds brandy or rum to the ingredients in the Christmas cake (sugar, spice, eggs, sweet wine, cream, currants, candied lemon, orange, and citron).  The database includes an authentic recipe from The Times Cookbook, 1905. You can make your own!

In addition, the UA Library’s database Daily Life Through History, says that the leavening agent used was barm, a “yeasty by-product of fermenting malt liquors” and links the bread to other, more popular Christmas treats such as stollen and panettone. Recipes from the 18th century called for beating the cake batter for up to one hour.

Perhaps, now that you've learned more about it, you have developed a new respect for this once-iconic symbol of Christmas. If not, there are always Santa cookies!

Cover of database Daily Life through History with sepia-toned photograph of man with a beard and woman's headLogo for database Food and Drink in American History with Coke bottle and title of the book on a black background