Sometimes it's difficult to even determine what an author is referring to, so often you may actually want to Google the author's citation to see what you can determine from that. The first thing you want to do is ascertain whether the source is a book, journal article, or something else. You may want to use Google Scholar, rather than Google, to see if anybody else may have cited the source - albeit hopefully in a more recognizable manner!
Another resource that may help you determine what exactly it is that your author is citing is the Bieber Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations. Among other things, it contains listings of abbreviations and tells you what the source that uses that abbreviation is. It is broader than the Bluebook.
Once you've determined what it is, you can then look for the source more easily.
I would advise you to begin by searching the library catalog. If your source is a journal article, remember that you cannot search for the article title, but you can search for the journal title. And many of the journals we carry electronically are linked directly from the catalog, so searching the catalog could be one-stop-shopping for you (this isn't true for all titles, so if you're looking for a journal and don't find it in the catalog, you still will want to check the subscription databases).
Search the catalog now
(Unsolicited advice: if the catalog says the journal you're looking for is in HeinOnline, and you want the article electronically, I'd go to Hein. They have almost all the law journals Westlaw & Lexis have, plus they go back to volume 1 for every journal that they carry - Westlaw & Lexis do not. Also, the articles are scanned PDFs of the print version, so the Bluebook says you can cite to them just as if you were using the print).
A newish addition to our system is the ability to search for an article on Google Scholar and have Google Scholar link you directly to one of our electronic databases. In essence, you have to connect Google Scholar to our catalog. Here's a very short tutorial on how to do this.
The Google Scholar connection is pretty slick, but it may not cover everything we have. You should still search some of our subscription databases, to see if we actually do carry it in electronic format, but it does not appear in our catalog. This is more likely to happen with some of the large, multi-subject databases that we own, such as the EBSCO Combined Databases, or the Gale Group Collections databases.
After you've searched our catalog and subscription databases, if our library does not carry an item, you should try searching Worldcat, which is the largest combined library catalog in existence and combines holdings information from most large libraries around the world.
» Search Worldcat now
Once you locate an item on Worldcat that Mitchell Hamline doesn’t own, you can request it by using an the Tipasa interlibrary loan system. Please note that interlibrary loan requests may take a while, and that you will only be allowed to have the book for a short period of time, usually about three weeks. Mitchell Hamline students have borrowing privileges at the other Twin Cities academic law libraries, and the borrowing time is likely to be longer if you go to the library itself and check it out. For more information on interlibrary loan policy, visit the "Policies" tab.
» Submit an Interlibrary Loan Request
Mitchell Hamline students have borrowing privileges at the other local law school libraries. If a book you are looking for is available at one of these libraries, you can request it via ILL, or you can go to that library and check it out (you must have your MHSL ID to checkout from another library). If you go to the library, you may be able to obtain it more quickly and you also may be able to check it out for a longer period of time.
For either library, you should call to verify that the item you need is available and does circulate before making a trip in person.