Monday, 16 October 2017

New Google initiative begins in Pittsburgh

MIT Technology Review has a story titled "Google Hopes $1 Billion Will Help Americans Adapt to the Future of Work" reporting that "The tech giant may have a guilty conscience. It says it will pony up $1 billion (and 1 million hours of employee time) to retrain people around America with digital skills that “they need to get a job or grow their business.” Money for training will be handed to non-profits, and a national tour of courses in things like coding and social media will roam the U.S., starting in Pittsburgh. The hope: that the initiative will help save some of the careers that technology (such as Google's) is already destroying." You can read all about it (and also feel good about Pittsburgh) on Google blog, in an article by Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

ResearchGate starts removing research papers

Inside Higher Ed reports that ResearchGate, a scholarly social media platform used by scholars to share their work, has started taking down large numbers of research papers because of publishers warnings that many of the papers uploaded there are in breach of copyright. ResearchGate provides an easy platform for uploading scholarly papers, but apparently publishers have gone from being irate to threatening legal action. A group called the Coalition for Responsible Sharing posted a statement saying that "ResearchGate’s primary service is taking high-quality content written and published by others and making as many as 7 million copyrighted articles – 40% of its total content – freely available via its for-profit platform...numerous attempts to agree with ResearchGate on amicable solutions... remained unsuccessful." Inside Higher Ed says that the coalition planned to initially issue more than a hundred thousand takedown notices to ResearchGate. It also reported that ACS and Elsevier were suing ResearchGate in its home country of Germany.  Now the Coalition has published an online notice that ResearchGate has removed a significan number of copyrighted articles. 

Friday, 6 October 2017

Resources Supporting Research On Cybersecurity

From the Federal Depositories Library Program:
National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), celebrated each October, was established to educate the public about the need to be safe and secure online and to be prepared in the event of a cyber incident. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team are two agencies concerned with informing the Nation about these crucial matters. Stop.Think.Connect. is a DHS national public awareness campaign which provides promotional materials as well as educational videos and brochures. The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE), led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), is a partnership between the Government, academia, and the private sector which focuses on cybersecurity education, training, and workforce development.
In addition, GPO has recently cataloged a number resources on this critical issue; examples:
Prospects for the rule of law in cyberspace
Is cyber deterrence possible?
Task force on cyber deterrence
The achievable multinational cyber treaty: strengthening our nation’s critical infrastructure
Assessing Russian activities and intentions in recent US elections

Saturday, 30 September 2017

"Clickbait" corrupting scholarship

The Tax Prof Blog posts and quotes from a recent article in Inside Higher Education, which says that "academe has been “hacked” by scholars and journals looking to up their citation and impact figures." The problem has received attention because of the recent furor over an article called "The Case for Colonialism" published in the Third World Quarterly. The article has been criticized as being "a thrice-rejected piece that failed on basic scholarly standards of intellectual rigor, accuracy or integrity ” and some critics claim that the only reason it was published was as "clickbait" to raise the profile of the journal. The paper achieved a higher Altmetric Attention Score than any other paper published in the journal.

Hollywood versions of true crime

The ABA Journal has an interesting article about how Hollywood portrays true crime stories in films. The article discusses the movie version of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, about the 1959 murder of an entire family in Kansas by two men; it says "Critics have suggested Capote took a few creative licenses with certain scenes and conversations for dramatic impact as well: a 1988 biography concedes that at least one of the scenes was Capote’s own creation... there’s evidence that Capote arranged scenes and added fiction to what he claimed was a factually accurate account."

Friday, 29 September 2017

CASA from Google Scholar and HeinOnline

The HeinOnline blog reports that Hein has expanded its existing relationship with Google Scholar (Google Scholar provides links to articles in HeinOnline when available). Now off-campus users can access HeinOnline articles seamlessly, without having to log in through a proxy server. This service, developed by Google Scholar, is called Campus-Activated Subscriber Access (CASA). The blurb from Google says that " With CASA, a researcher can start a literature survey on campus and resume where she left off once she is home, or travelling, with no hoops to jump through. Her subscribed collections are highlighted in Google Scholar searches and she is able to access articles in exactly the same way as on campus.”
The blogpost points out that with CASA, subscribing libraries are still abot to comply with license agreement terms and copyright laws, and material accessed via CASA is correctly attributed to the subscribing institution, so usage statistics remain accurate. One caveat is that Users must access HeinOnline on-campus at least every 30 days to maintain off-campus access.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Historical Congressional Record for the 1920s now available from GPO

The Government Printing Office (GPO) has announced that the GPO, in partnership with the Library of Congress, has uploaded the digitized Congressional Record from 1921 - 1930 to GPO's govinfo website. This release covers the debates and proceedings of the 67th through the 71st Congresses and the presidential terms of Wilson (final 2 years), Harding, Coolidge and Hoover (first 2 years). It includes Congressional debates of important historical topics, such as the lengthy debate about the Immigration Act of 1924. GPO points out that other topics covered include Prohibition, the Teapot Dome Scandal, The Dawes Plan for WWI reparations, and The Stock Market Crash of 1929.

A new look for the Bloomberg BNA website

Bloomberg BNA has announced that on Thursday, September 28, the BNA.com website will be updated. The website will have a new look and feel, which will slightly change the way you sign into your Bloomberg BNA and Bloomberg Law products. On the new home page, click on the green “Sign In” button at the top right of the page, enter your user name and password, and you should be signed in and able to access Bloomberg Law and Bloomberg BNA.
Here's hoping the transition will be smooth.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Bar Exam results are improving

The blog "Excess of Democracy", written by Pepperdine Law professor Derek Muller, has been following the latest bar exam results closely as they are reported. Last week he reported that bar exam scores this year have rebounded to the highest point since 2013 (note that not all state bar exam results have been reported yet). Today he has a post analyzing these results titled "Why are bar exam scores improving?" In the post he looks at how law schools' strategies for improving their bar pass rates may have affected this year's results. He concludes by saying,
"I wonder if institutions have found better strategies of intervening with at-risk students, or providing more robust bar exam support for at-risk students. Perhaps in the last couple of years, students have been sufficiently scared of failing the bar to study harder or earlier... These are matters that institutions may have the data to examine (or may be in the process of collecting). Regardless, it remains good, albeit still slightly mysterious news--and those in legal education hope that it is the beginning of a continued trend of good news."

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Facebook and privacy

Gizmodo has an interesting blogpost about Facebook called "Facebook Figured Out My Family Secrets, And It Won't Tell Me How." The author says:
"Rebecca Porter and I were strangers, as far as I knew. Facebook , however, thought we might be connected. Her name popped up this summer on my list of “People You May Know,” the social network’s roster of potential new online friends for me. The People You May Know feature is notorious for its uncanny ability to recognize who you associate with in real life. It has mystified and disconcerted Facebook users by showing them an old boss, a one-night-stand, or someone they just ran into on the street.
What makes the results so unsettling is the range of data sources—location information, activity on other apps, facial recognition on photographs—that Facebook has at its disposal to cross-check its users against one another, in the hopes of keeping them more deeply attached to the site. People generally are aware that Facebook is keeping tabs on who they are and how they use the network, but the depth and persistence of that monitoring is hard to grasp. . . . Rebecca Porter, we discovered, is my great aunt, by marriage. She is married to my biological grandfather’s brother; she met him 35 years ago, the year after I was born. Facebook knew my family tree better than I did."
File under creepy.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

FDLP webinar: Preservation for Free

The FDLP has scheduled another of their excellent free webinars for librarians called "Preservation for Free." It will be held on Wednesday, August 23, 2017 from 2:00 pm until 3:00 pm EDT. Description: Preserving library collections can seem both daunting and potentially expensive. Yes, hiring a Conservator, purchasing ‘archival’ quality preservation housing materials (like boxes, envelopes, sleeves, and folders), and acquiring all of the equipment necessary for an on-site Conservation Lab are all major investments, but there are also small things everyone can do *for free* to prolong the life of their materials. In this webinar, you’ll learn some tips on how you can aid in the preservation of your collection with minimal or no cost. No prerequisite knowledge required.
Register here.

Friday, 4 August 2017

ProQuest Ebook Central will be temporarily unavailable

ProQuest has announced that to maintain the currency and security of ProQuest ebook platforms, Ebook Central, used by the Pitt University Library System, will be unavailable for approximately three hours beginning Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
If you are interested in seeing what law books are available on ProQuest, click here.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Government Attic website

The ALA govdocs listserv had a post today about a website called The Government Attic,a site that provides electronic copies of thousands of interesting Federal Government documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. The site says "Fascinating historical documents, reports on items in the news, oddities and fun stuff and government bloopers, they're all here. Think of browsing this site as rummaging through the Government's Attic -- hence our name." The site menu, accessed by clicking on the "Documents" tab at the top of the page, is worth browsing. Documents are organized by federal agency; there is also a category for "State Records/Miscellaneous Records/Interagency Records." Most of the documents have been run through optical character recognition (OCR) so they can be searched by word, and most items include an agency release letter. The "rummaging through the Government's Attic" description is apt - there are plenty of "oddities", like the FBI file on the subject of a certain "Midwest Stag Film and Burlesque Showman, 1952-53" or "The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) emails and memos that include the word “hemp,” 2006 – 2007" or the "Report of Investigation of the Architect of the Capitol (AOC) Office of Inspector General (OIG) by the Department of Education Office of Inspector General, 2013" which sounds vaguely interesting but is so heavily redacted as to be unreadable.
There isn't much info about who created and is maintaining the website; the "Acknowledgments" page says that "The governmentattic.org web site (“the site”) is noncommercial and free to the public...The public records published on this site were obtained from government agencies using proper legal channels... The Government Attic website receives no funding from any outside source. All costs are paid for by the site owners."

Monday, 17 July 2017

GPO wants to change Title 44

Over at the Free Gov Info blog, James A. Jacobs has a post titled " Here we go again: GPO wants to change Title 44." The director of the GPO, Davita Vance-Cooks, has asked the Depository Library Council (DLC) to make recommendations for changes in Chapter 19 of Title 44 of the U.S. Code. A link is provided to the FDLP page where comments and ideas about changing Title 44 are solicited. But Mr. Jacobs discusses why he is very leery of this request. For example, he says, "Changing the U.S. Code is a complex, lengthy, political process. The results of suggesting changes to the law are unpredictable. Even if you begin the process with clear, unambiguous, and lofty goals, the outcome can end with very, very bad unintended consequences.... The first and most important question is: What does GPO want to accomplish by changing Chapter 19? Unfortunately, GPO has not told us what they want or why or if they were directed to do this. It has not told us what parts of Chapter 19 they think need to be changed or why they need to be changed. It has not told us what changes it wants or what it would wish to accomplish with those changes."

Friday, 14 July 2017

FCC cracking down on robocalls

Reuters reports that the Federal Communications Commission has voted unanimously to pursue rules that will help consumers block unwanted robocalls. One report estimates that there are 2.5 million of these unwanted automated messages made to US consumers each month. The FCC press release states that "In its latest step to combat annoying and malicious robocalls, the Federal Communications Commission is seeking public comment on standards that will help differentiate legitimate phone calls from those that attempt to trick consumers through caller ID spoofing. The Commission will explore ways to set up a reliable system to verify that a phone call is really coming from the phone number that it claims to be." These calls are easy for scammers to make thanks to inexpensive automatic dialing machines and spoofing tools that hide the source of the call from your phone company and make your phone’s caller ID display a bogus number.  FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said robocalls are a top consumer complaint. "Americans are mad as hell" that they still get these calls in spite of efforts by Congress and the FCC to stop them.

ABA mulls changes in full-time faculty requirements

Inside Higher Ed reports that the American Bar Association is considering changing its requirements on full-time faculty members at law schools. Currently the ABA requires that more than half of credit hours offered at a law school must be taught by full-time faculty, or that more than two-thirds of "contact hours" are taught by full-time faculty. The ABA is considering cancelling this requirement. The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has come out against loosening this regulation because of the effect it would have on the number of full-time law school faculty. In comments submitted to the ABA Section of Legal Education this week, the AAUP stated:
    "In the current climate for legal education, for the Council to adopt the proposed revision to Standard 403(a) would be tantamount to abandoning its longstanding commitment to tenure as the best system for assuring intellectual merit, professional excellence, and academic freedom. At this important juncture, we cannot afford for American legal education to be less rigorous in its expectations of scholarship and classroom performance, or less committed to the highest standards of free inquiry and professional integrity."

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

new: Happy! Effective lawyer

Pittsburgh attorney Robert Creo is the principal of a new website (launching officially 8/1/17, but fully operational now) called Happy! Effective Lawyer , an initiative focusing on lawyer contentment and peak performance. The site has information and links to sites about mindfulness, wellness, self-care, insights on human behavior, and other resources. The full site is set to be a subscription but you can have a free 30-day trial without giving any credit card info. From the homepage (which is a cheerfulness-inducing bright yellow):
"Lawyers deserve to lead an integrated life 24/7 and to find contentment in their daily tasks. The HAPPY Lawyers at Work approach rejects the concept of mainly focusing on achieving a work-life balance. We believe that this is a false duality between work as drudgery contrasted with time away from work as “living”. Whether you work 20 hours or 80 hours each week, not all of these hours are going to be performed with passion. Work, however, can be structured to be engaging while maximizing individual core competencies. There is a correlation between happiness, peak performance, and effective judgment and decisions. You can take affirmative steps to enhance your engagement, productivity, competency, and happiness. Best practices can be creatively crafted to meet the individual expectations for success while providing effective representation for clients."

Monday, 10 July 2017

article: Information literacy for law school graduates

The current University of Hawai'i Law Review has an interesting article by professors Ellie Margolis and Kristen E. Murray titled "Using Information Literacy to Prepare Practice-Ready Graduates." The article addresses the difficult problem of preparing “practice ready” law graduates when the practice of law is rapidly changing as a result of new developments in technology. Building upon their prior work on legal information literacy, the authors suggest a new way to think about how to prepare law students to be “practice ready” for the legal research and writing tasks they will face as they enter law practice, and how to equip them with the skills to communicate with older generations of lawyers while adapting to new and evolving technologies. From the article:
"What constitutes “cutting edge” legal research and writing skills is almost ever-changing; these are also areas where senior practitioners are likely to feel wedded to the methods and technologies they learned and first encountered in practice. Bridging this gap poses a great challenge to both the new lawyers trying to navigate it and educators striving to prepare new graduates to enter the profession within the ability to hit the ground running...The first step in helping law students and new lawyers bridge the technology gap is to shift from thinking about research and writing as fixed skills, and to focus instead on self-learning and skill development, so that new lawyers can be flexible and adapt as the technological landscape continues to change. Thinking about these skills in terms of “information literacy” can help us take this first step."

City of Pittsburgh database of city-owned properties that are for sale

The City of Pittsburgh Department of Finance has created an online searchable database listing more than 3,000 city-owned vacant lots and abandoned buildings that are for sale. The database website features a map and search options for 3,089 properties. Many of the properties are "vacant land" but there are also houses and other buildings. Some of the listings have photographs. All listings show the lot area, zoning, and assessed value. There are forms available online for anyone interested in applying to purchase any of the properties.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Lexis Advance enhancements announced

Lexis recently announced new enhancements to Lexis Advance. Lexis Answers uses "machine learning technology" to understand and anticipate your research questions as you type into the search box. The new technology suggests natural-language questions for your search and delivers a clear, concise and authoritative answer plus comprehensive search results for deeper research.
There is more info available on the Lexis website; Lexis also provides a short (2 minute) video overview of Lexis Answers on Vimeo.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Access to CRS Reports... now available to the public!

This great news came from Emily Feltren, who is the Director of Government Relations at the AALL and a tireless proponent of open access to government information.
"(T)he House Appropriations Committee just took a giant leap toward making Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports available to the public. During its mark up of the Fiscal Year 2018 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill, the full Committee approved language directing CRS to report back to the Committee within 90 days of enactment with a plan to make its non-confidential reports available to the public. This has been more than 20 years in the making, and it was only possible thanks to the hard work of the many advocates−including many of you--who have written, called, tweeted, and spoken to their members of Congress about CRS over the years. While there are still some hurdles to get over (namely, the bill must pass the House, and there must be a companion bill in the Senate), the report language in legislative branch appropriations bills is generally adhered to even if not passed into law. Please join us in celebrating this win for public access! AALL will continue to work hard to make sure public access to these valuable reports becomes a reality in the coming months. .. Here is the appropriations report language: 'Public Access to CRS Reports: The Committee directs the Library of Congress’s Congressional Research Service (CRS) to make available to the public, all non-confidential reports. The Committee has debated this issue for several years, and after considering debate and testimony from entities inside the legislative branch and beyond the Committee believes the publishing of CRS reports will not impede CRS’s core mission in any impactful way and is in keeping with the Committee’s priority of full transparency to the American people. Within 90 days of enactment of this act CRS is directed to submit a plan to its oversight committees detailing its recommendations for implementing this effort as well as any associated cost estimates. Where practicable, CRS is encouraged to consult with the Government Publishing Office (GPO) in developing their plan; the Committee believes GPO could be of assistance in this effort.'"

Monday, 12 June 2017

Ravel Law bought by LexisNexis

LexisNexis has issued a press release announcing their acquisition of Ravel Law, " a legal search, analytics, and visualization platform that aims to turn lawyers into data analysts." Ravel was started in 2012 by law student Daniel Lewis et al in a dorm room at Stanford. According to the email announcement that Daniel sent out, "Simultaneously, we will begin work on integration with LexisNexis. You can expect that Ravel's analytics offerings will continue to expand and be fully integrated into Lexis Litigation Profile Suite. Additionally, Ravel's search visualization will be integrated into Lexis Advance. Finally, Ravel's Harvard caselaw content will enrich the already expansive caselaw collection available from LexisNexis. We hope to complete integration with LexisNexis by early 2018, at which time we will ensure a seamless transition for our customers."
News of the acquisition has been widely reported as an indication that data analysis is of increasing importance to the practice of lawyering and conducting legal research.  The Wall Street Journal reported the acquisition as "When it comes to the future of lawyering, LexisNexis is doubling down on big data." SLAW says that "LexisNexis Seeks to Turn Lawyers into Data Analysts." The ABA Journal says that "LexisNexis Legal and Professional has acquired legal research and litigation analytics firm Ravel Law, and will integrate Ravel's data visualization and profiling technology into LexisNexis services."

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Publishers announce anti-counterfeiting measures

In March, academic publishers Cengage and McGraw-Hill Education, along with Elsevier and Pearson, formed the Education Publisher Enforcement Group to raise awareness about counterfeit textbooks. Now, Inside Higher Education reports that this Cengage Learning & McGraw-Hill Education textbooks will have a "certification seal" that can be scanned by a smartphone ?QR code-reading app to verify that the books are from the publisher and not a counterfeiter.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

LawPORT: Online tutorials from the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies

The University of London's Institute of Advanced Legal Studies has announced the launch of LawPORT, a collection of training tutorials "designed to improve the information literacy skills of law PhD students." Of course these are geared towards law students in the UK, but they are very well done. The tutorials "Researching customary international law" and "Treaties and international conventions" both have useful information for anyone doing international legal research (the third tutorial, using OSCOLA, is about using the Oxford University Standard for the Citation of Legal Authorities, similar to our Bluebook). The tutorials are free-to-use, can be accessed anywhere, at any time and be undertaken at your own pace.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Interactive database from the U.S. Courts

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts recently made available an enhanced database containing information about civil and criminal federal cases going back to 1970. The Integrated Database (IDB) is available to the public for free on the Federal Judicial Center website. According to the announcement, "The interactive database contains docket information from district, appellate, and bankruptcy court filings and terminations, including plaintiff and defendant names, filing date, termination date, disposition of the case, type of lawsuit, jurisdiction, and docket number. It excludes judges’ names as a preventative measure against judge-shopping by plaintiffs..."

Thursday, 18 May 2017

GPO Director on transforming the GPO for the 21st Century

The new Director of the Government Publishing Office, Davita Vance-Cooks, recently met with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on House Administration at a hearing on "Transforming GPO for the 21st Century and Beyond." She reported on the continuing evolution and transformation of the GPO from a print-centric to a content-centric publishing operation, and detailed the GPO's current and future digital publishing initiatives for Congress and Federal Agencies. Her prepared statement is available on the GPO website as a 16 page pdf.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

UN Libraries announce new free resource

The librarians at the UN have announced that the United Nations Digital Library (UNDL) is now available and can be accessed globally free of charge. From the announcement:
"The new platform runs on innovative open source technology... and is a result of the successful collaboration between the Dag Hammarskj√∂ld Library at UN Headquarters and our sister library at the UN Office in Geneva...Phase 1 of the features the integration of ... 3  databases into one; it incorporates digital content, mainly official UN documents and selected UN maps, with metadata  as well as speech and voting records... We plan to add and integrate additional collections of digital materials as they are created or are made available to us by UN departments, offices, and agencies."
Features of the new platform include:
• Content organized into collections (by UN body, agency, and type of document).
• Various search options (simple keyword, advanced, Boolean, search using field tags, include/exclude search in full text).
• Links between related documents.
• Interface in 6 official UN languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish) – in progress.
Users who register for an account at the library can access additional features, such as search alerts, saved searches, and "baskets" for saving documents and collaborating with others.
There is a promotional video on YouTube.  The librarians add "We are developing more features and functionalities and are committed to implement enhancements on a continuous basis. You can help us by sending us your comments and observations."

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

New Readex interface

Readex has announced enhancements that are now available on a number of their databases. These enhancements include "Fresh new looks featuring compelling graphics and streamlined designs to spur fresh interest and higher use; More intuitive navigation, including a prominent search box and larger tabs to encourage searching and discovery; Better image viewing to make working with historical documents far easier for both novice and seasoned users.
The search page for each of the Readex databases looks quite different, with larger and more obvious visual cues for searching. And when you pull up a document to view, the display is larger and easier to navigate. You can see for yourself at the new Readex Congressional Serial Set homepage. ULS also subscribes to several other Readex databases that have been updated:

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

TRAC reports increasing FOIA backlog at USCIS

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University issued an FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) Project report yesterday which stated
"The backlog of unprocessed FOIA requests to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) continues to climb. In just a two-year period, the backlog of unanswered FOIA requests has tripled, climbing from 17,998 at the end of December 2014 to 46,550 at the end of December 2016. This means that countless requesters – including reporters, scholars, and those subject to immigration actions – are not getting the information they need to check against unlawful actions and to better hold the government accountable to the governed."
Detailed data is included at the website link.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

the privacy paradox

Harvard Business Review has an interesting article titled "Why We’re So Hypocritical About Online Privacy." The author discusses the "privacy paradox", or why so many say they are concerned about their online privacy yet so few do anything about protecting it. An example is that most of us are annoyed at the targeted marketing that follows us around as we browse online, but few of us actually change our online shopping behavior. A scary piece of information is that "Our digital footprint can already be used to infer our deepest character traits; a 2013 study of 58,000 Facebook users (who volunteered for the study) was able to reliably predict sexual orientation, gender, race, age, religious and political views, level of intelligence, alcohol and cigarette use, drug use, and whether the volunteer’s parents were separated. The researchers were also able to predict, to some degree, personality traits, such as extraversion, conscientiousness, openness, emotional stability, and agreeableness." This is particularly true of social media users, who, despite expressing concerns about privacy, are careless in what they reveal on social media and allow a wide range of external apps to access their information. The author of the article gives some psychological reasons for this behavior, but he questions whether there is, really, "any such thing as a 'secret' life anymore?"

Monday, 1 May 2017

Airtable online database creator

The Informed Librarian Online has a recent post titled "Is There Such a Thing as an Easy to Use, Lightweight Relational Database?" by Dana DeFebbo, a law librarian at the Tarlton Law Library at U of Texas. The article is about Airtable, a new online resource for building databases. The author says that "Airtable is a cloud-based, lightweight relational database that integrates the relational database function of something like Microsoft Access with the overall easier to understand layout of a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel. However, Airtable is by and large much easier to use than Access and Excel, it is web-based so it can run on any machine with nothing to download, and it is mostly free."
Airtable is flexible like a spreadsheet, but it's made for organization rather than number crunching. You can use it to organize anything and when you start using the website you can view and explore of the ways Airtable is used for collections of information and project management. A nice feature is that you can customize your fields for a large variety of data types including text, attachments (like photos), checkboxes, date, email address, number, currency, formula, barcode, and many other types of information. Airtable has some preconfigured templates that you can modify for your own needs; you can also import an existing .csv file to create your own "base" from scratch. The interface is very user-friendly with "help" and "information" popups readily available.

Friday, 28 April 2017

The 14th Amendment

The ABA Journal has an excellent article that details the history of the 14th Amendment titled "The 14th: A Civil War-era amendment has become a mini-Constitution for modern times." The article features analysis and discussion by a number of prominent legal scholars. Included with the article is a digital slideshow of 14th Amendment Milestones, from the Dred Scott decision (1857) through Obergefell v. Hodges (2015)

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Microfiche webinar

The Federal Depository Library Program is hosting a webinar on Tuesday, May 9, at 2 pm titled "Everthing you need to know about Microfiche." From the description: "Managing a microfiche collection can be challenging, especially as this format becomes obsolete and collections of fiche begin to show signs of physical degradation. This webinar will discuss how microfiche is produced, examine risks and risk mitigation for microfiche collections, and options for reformatting microfiche to digital."
The webinar is free, but you should register here.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

GPO. LOC release digitized Congressional Record for the 1960's

The Government Publishing Office and the Library of Congress have announced that they have partnered in making the digitized Congressional Record 1961-70 available on GPO's govinfo website. Comprising ~ 380,000 pages, these Congressional Records include Congressional debates and proceedings from the turbulent 1960's. They cover important historical topics including:
·The Administrations of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and the first two years of the Administration of President Nixon
·The Civil Rights Era
·The Vietnam War
·The Space Program and Moon Landing
·Legislation of the Great Society and the War on Poverty, including:
    The Civil Rights Act of 1964
    The Voting Rights Act of 1965
    The Fair Housing Act of 1968
    The Medicare and Medicaid Economic Opportunity Act of 1964
    The Immigration Act of 1965
    The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965
    The Endangered Species Act of 1966
    The Public Broadcasting Act of 1967
The bound volumes have been digitized chronologically and are available as pdfs.