What “extinct” Research Tools Do You Miss?

The American Asssociation of Law Libraries sent an email to members today asking the following question: What “extinct” book, research tool, database, etc., do you miss from an earlier time (include the year) and why?

They will publish the results in their Spectrum magazine and I will report back here on their results. Since I assume most of their responses will be based on American law-related resources, I thought I would throw the question out here specifically for any Canadian responses. What “extinct” book, research tool, database, etc., do you miss from an earlier time (include the year) and why?

For me, I still miss the convenience of the “organization by subject” of the extinct print version of Carswell’s Index to Federal and Ontario Statutes (Mary Maclean). Also – sort of related to Simon’s recent comment on the simplicity of using ascii text editors for word processing – there are times when I harken back to the command line interface for Quicklaw (e.g., type: db oj to get into the Ontario Judgments database) – it was so much quicker.


  1. I agree wholeheartedly with the command line interface for QL. I don’t know whether it is because that was the way I learned QL, but I found higher-level searching more natural and basic searching much faster in those days. As well, I think that method (and even the more recently “extinct” graphical QL) required greater thought about targeting searches withing specific databases, as in Ted’s example.

    And, although I’m sure that, upon reflection, I will think of many other (i.e. non-Quicklaw) research tools I would like to see again, one that comes to mind now is the little Quickfind tool we used to have locally installed – such that, by highlighting a citation, we could simply pull up the case or its consideration without looking into the QL program itself.

  2. They stopped publishing “Criss Cross” directories for Vancouver in 2001, though I think they are still in publication in other cities.

    These directories allowed you to look up names and addresses by telephone number and vice versa. Of course, we can do some of that with online reverse lookups, but there’re no archives kept in these online services. I often hear people wistfully remembering the hard copy directories and wishing they were still published.

  3. Ted, you hit the nail on the head–I miss the print Index to Federal and Ontario Statutes and was thinking about it before I even got to your mention in the third paragraph. I didn’t need to know which jurisdiction legislation was covered under since this little index helped sort it all out.

    Emma, they stopped producing the criss cross here in Toronto and vacinity in about 1998 as I recall. It was called “Might’s directory” here. Other parts of Ontario had one published by “Vernon” I think. We used the historical copies a fair for tracing people and businesses through the years. I suppose some of that information would be contraband now with the privacy legislation.