Thursday, 11 July 2019

GPO has digitized the Public Papers of the Presidents

The Government Publishing Office has announced that the GPO and the National Archives' Office of the Federal Register have digitized The Public Papers of the Presidents for Presidents Herbert Hoover (1929) through George H.W. Bush (1990), with the exception of the Franklin D. Roosevelt presidency. (The papers of President Franklin Roosevelt were published privately before the commencement of the official Public Papers series.) Each volume of The Public Papers of the Presidents is comprised of a forward by the President, public writings, addresses, remarks, and photographs.
This digitization effort joined the already digital version of Public Papers for Presidents George H. W. Bush (1991−1992), William J. Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack H. Obama.
The compiled and published Public Papers of the Presidents began in 1957 in response to a recommendation of the National Historical Publications Commission. Noting the lack of uniform compilations of messages and papers of the Presidents before this time, the Commission recommended the establishment of an official series in which Presidential writings, addresses, and remarks of a public nature could be made available. This recommendation was issued under section 6 of the Federal Register Act (44 U.S.C. 1506).

Westlaw and ICE?

Two listserv posts came in yesterday alerting us to this interesting topic. The first offered a link to this article in SSRN titled "When Westlaw Fuels ICE Surveillance: Ethics in the Era of Big Data Policing." The abstract opens with this:
Legal research companies are selling surveillance data and services to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) and other law enforcement agencies. This Article discusses ethical issues that arise when lawyers buy and use legal research services sold by the same vendors responsible for building ICE’s surveillance systems.
The second post followed with a link to a blogpost by law librarian Tom Boone titled "Why I'm Boycotting Thomson Reuters at AALL19." Tom adds that:
"I’ve written this post to share information with other AALL attendees so they’re aware of TR’s business relationship with ICE and its non-response to Privacy International’s inquiries. Each person can then decide for themselves—on an informed basis—whether to take any action."

Friday, 28 June 2019

GPO digitization projects need content

From the Federal Depository Library Program:
"GPO is actively digitizing content, with an immediate focus on adding historical, retrospective content to existing govinfo collections. GPO may accept materials from depository libraries for digitization.
If your depository is weeding any of the titles listed here, and volumes are not claimed within your region, please contact us at If any of the materials meet our digitization needs, GPO will cover the cost of shipping the material to GPO. GPO's needs are also listed in FDLP eXchange, and will automatically match to any depositories that are offering nationally."
On the same page you can download Excel spreadsheets listing the content they need for the Federal Register Index (2005-12), the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, and the Congressional Directory (1809-1905) so if your library is deaccessioning any of your print versions of these documents they would be grateful.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Supreme Court agrees to hear Georgia v Public Resource case on copyright of state government law

Law360 reports that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case filed by the state of Georgia against (the nonprofit organization founded by Carl Malamud dedicated to "Making Government Information More Accessible"). Public Resource published the annotated Georgia code without permission. The 11th Circuit had tossed the case out last November, "saying citizens should have 'unfettered access to the legal edicts that govern their lives.'”
The case is Georgia et al. v. Public.Resource.Org Inc., case number 18-1150, in the U.S. Supreme Court. Docket is here.

Fastcase transitioning

Fastcase has announced that they are getting ready to move from Fastcase 6 (classic) to Fastcase 7 (the latest in cutting edge legal research). Currently, if you use Fastcase you can use the button in the top right of the screen to toggle to Fastcase 7. Fastcase 7, with expanded tools, features and content, will become the default access over the summer.
They have training videos available about Fastcase 7. They are also offering training webinars on several Monday afternoons; register here if you're interested.

ALA removes Melvil Dewey from the award with his name

Inside Higher Ed reports that: "The Council of the American Library Association voted Sunday to remove the name of Melvil Dewey, one of the founders of the association and inventor of the book classification system named for him, from the association's medal. A resolution passed by the Council said that 'whereas Melvil Dewey did not permit Jewish people, African Americans, or other minorities admittance to the resort owned by Dewey and his wife' and 'whereas Dewey made numerous inappropriate physical advances toward women he worked with and wielded professional power over,' his name should not remain on the medal."

Friday, 21 June 2019

Webinar on the Congressional Research Service

The excellent "Help! I'm an Accidental Government Information Librarian" series of webinars continues. Up next:
from the announcement:  " Help! I'm an Accidental Government Information Librarian presents... Congressional Research Service Reports.     The Government Resources Section of the North Carolina Library Association welcomes you to a series of webinars designed to help us increase our familiarity with government information. All are welcome because government information wants to be free. Do you want to make the most out of Congressional Research Service reports? Daniel Schuman, policy director at Demand Progress and former CRS legislative attorney, will showcase, an innovative new website that puts a modern face to these authoritative reports. We will meet together online on Thursday, July 18th from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. (Eastern). Please RSVP for the session using this link.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Westlaw webinar on natural language and Artificial Intelligence

Westlaw Thomson Reuters offered an interesting webiner last week called "Westlaw Edge: AI & Language," in which Director of Research at Thomson Reuters R&D delivered an insightful talk about artificial intelligence and language and succinctly walk us through examples of how linguistic structure and meaning are modeled by NLP algorithms and how those algorithms are used in Westlaw Edge. If you missed it, don't worry - a recording of the webinar is available for you to view at your convenience.

Do YOU love your librarian?

The American Library Assn. (ALA) announces: The“I Love my Librarian” award nominations are now open. From the press release: The American Library Association (ALA) is inviting all library users to nominate their favorite librarians for the prestigious I Love My Librarian Award. The national award recognizes the outstanding public service contributions of librarians working in public, school, college, community college or university libraries who transform communities and improve lives.
Nominations are being accepted online now through Oct. 21, 2019.

hat tip: Linda Tashbook

GPO and Office of Law Revision Counsel survey: discontinue print USC supplements?

AALL members:  The U.S. Government Publishing Office and the Office of the Law Revision Counsel (OLRC) of the U.S. House of Representatives to conduct a survey of AALL members on the use of the United States Code (USC) and its supplements. OLRC is the office that produces the USC. The office is investigating whether the USC can be produced more efficiently by eliminating printed USC annual supplements. All AALL members are welcome to complete this survey, including those who completed a similar survey for the Federal Depository Library Program. The OLRC wants to continue to serve the needs of its users, and your completion of the survey will provide important feedback.
You may see a copy of the survey before you begin.
Please complete the survey by June 24.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Pitt's Lynda training will be replaced by LinkedIn Learning July 9

Pitt's CSSD has sent out a campus-wide message that the Lynda on-demand training system will be replaced on July 9 by "LinkedIn Learning." As the switch is made, there will be an extended outage of on-demand training from 6 a.m. on Tuesday, July 9, through midnight on Tuesday-Wednesday, July 9-10. According to the announcement, "LinkedIn Learning merges the best parts of and LinkedIn, providing additional benefits for users." Beginning on July 10 Pitt users can sign into this training on their my dot Pitt dot edu pages. If you are already using Lynda lessons and have an active Lynda account you should receive additional information via email.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Federal Depository Library Council recommendations & commendations to the GPO

After the close of the Spring 2019 Depository Library Council (DLC) meeting the DLC began work on developing formal recommendations and commendations for the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) Director. Two recommendations and one commendation have been presented to the GPO and are being reviewed and discussed in detail by GPO staff. Formal GPO responses are being drafted and will be shared with the FDLP community in the near future. Briefly, the 2 recommendations are:
  1. The FDLP Modernization Act of 2018 lacks the requirement for conduction a biennial survey or any assessment of depository libraries. The DLC recommends continuing the biennial survey and keeping a core group of questions in the survey unchanged in order to be able to analyze changes over time. 
  2. The GPO should continue to provide guidance and develop standards for digital-only depository libraries; a set of best practices should be adopted. 

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Secrets of the Serial Set from Hein

HeinOnline has just introduced a series of monthly blog posts called "Secrets of the Serial Set," with the inaugural blogpost "The Lewis and Clark Expedition."
Hein says the blog will unveil "the wealth of American history found in the United States Congressional Serial Set. Anyone familiar with the Serial Set has some idea of the hidden gems just waiting to be unearthed."

Friday, 24 May 2019

"Voice assistants" criticized for reinforcing harmful stereotypes

The MIT Technology Review has a story about a new UN/UNESCO report titled "I'd blush if I could: closing gender divides in digital skills through education" that criticizes the default voices used for "voice assistants" like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana. According to the article, 
"Most AI voice assistants are gendered as young women, and are mostly used to answer questions or carry out tasks like checking the weather, playing music, or setting reminders. This sends a signal that women are docile, eager-to-please helpers without any agency, always on hand to help their masters."
The report aims to expose the gender biases that are being hard-coded into our technology and the internet of "things" that is expanding rapidly.  The title of the report comes from a response that Siri gave after being called "a b****." The report contains a section on the responses that "voice assistants" give to abusive and gendered language. "The assistants almost never give negative responses or label a user’s speech as inappropriate, regardless of its cruelty, the study found."

Thursday, 23 May 2019

ABA adopts tighter bar passage standard

The ABA Journal reports that the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has adopted a proposed revision to tighten the bar passage accreditation standard. To be in compliance with the revised Standard 316. Bar Passage;, at least 75% of a law school’s graduates who sat for a bar exam must pass within two years of graduation. Under the previous rule, there were various ways to meet the standard, and no law school had been found to be out of compliance with it.

Monday, 20 May 2019


This morning's walking-to-work podcast on 99% Invisible was a great story - and of particular interest to librarians (the title is "Weeding is Fundamental").
It's about the San Francisco Public Library and a recent earthquake, and covers such topics as library weeding, card catalogues, online catalogues, and even has an interview with Nicholson Baker about his book Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper.
As an added bonus there is also a story about the packhorse librarians of Eastern Kentucky, riding horses loaded with books through the mountains, creeks and hollows of Kentucky during the Depression - and even reading the books to illiterate patrons. 

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Changes to ProQuest Congressional coming this summer

News from ProQuest about a redesign of the Congressional database that will be happening over the summer. Promised improvements include:

  • Search results will be organized by Content Type. A new section at the top of the search results page will direct users to the best results for each Content Type and give them more information about the content type choices they can select. 
  • Improvements to the Advanced Search Form layout provide search options for specific content types (Hearings, CRS Reports, House & Senate Documents/Reports, etc.). Duplicate entry points to content have been eliminated and streamlined to make it easier for users to select the content they need. 
  • The Search by Number form has been improved and made more intuitive through clearer navigation. 
  • Search results relevance is improved to emphasize content types that are expected to be most useful for the search that was performed.
Customers are welcome to provide feedback at any time through this development and design process by contacting the Product Manager.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Wiley journals

News from ULS/HSLS: they have recently switched the Wiley journal subscription so that we now have access to all Wiley subscription journals’ contents, generally from 1997 (if the title existed then) to present. Also, going forward, we will have access to any new titles that Wiley launches or that they acquire from other publishers.
You can browse the Wiley subscription by going to the Wiley journal online library and, in the lefthand menu select “Law & Criminology."

Friday, 19 April 2019

Mueller Report is now in HeinOnline

If you would like to read the newly released redacted Mueller Report about Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, it's now available in HeinOnline. Per their instructions: "To read the report in HeinOnline, enter the U.S. Congressional Documents database. Next, click on Other Works Related to Congress. Select the letter R in the A-Z list and scroll down until you find the title Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election (Redacted). To search within these volumes, open up a volume and click the magnifying glass. This tool gives the user the option of searching within the section, page, volume, or entire title.

Monday, 1 April 2019

Dean Wildermuth to speak at teleforum on Supreme Court case

On March 27, the Supreme Court heard the oral argument in Kisor v. Wilkie, a case in which the Justices will consider whether to keep, modify, or end the doctrine of judicial deference to agencies’ interpretations of regulations — better known as Seminole Rock or Auer deference.
The ABA's Section on Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice is hosting a teleforum on Wednesday, April 3, at 4 pm EST titled "The Future of Seminole Rock Deference? Analyzing the Oral Argument in Kisor v. Wilkie," in which "experts will discuss the justices’ questions and the advocates’ answers."
Pitt Law Dean Amy Wildermuth is one of the panelists who will be speaking. Registration is free, but required, and the deadline is Tuesday, April 2. To register, Please send an email with your contact details.

Update: If you missed the live version of this very interesting discussion you can listen to the recording provided by the ABA's Section on Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice.

Friday, 29 March 2019

ProQuest Congressional announces a redesign

The email from ProQuest reads "You told us what you wanted. We listened. Updates to ProQuest Congressional inspired by customer feedback." The online announcement says that Congressional will be improved with major updates during Summer 2019.
Among the improvements:
  • Search results will be organized by Content Type. A new section at the top of the search results page will direct users to the best results for each Content Type and give them more information about the content type choices they can select for further exploration. 
  • Improvements to the Advanced Search Form layout provide search options for specific content types (Hearings, CRS Reports, House & Senate Documents/Reports, etc.). 
  • The "Search by Number" form has been improved and made more intuitive through clearer navigation.
  • Basic Search has been updated to analyze search queries for key citations.
  • Search results relevance is improved to emphasize content types that are expected to be most useful for the search that was performed.
All of this is good news for law librarians and ProQuest Congressional users eveywhere. In addition, ProQuest welcomes feedback from users during the development and design process: Please send your comments and feedback to ProQuest Congressional Product Manager Catherine Johnson.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

EU Parliament passes European copyright directive

The Guardian reports that the EU Parliament has passed the controversial European Copyright Directive in spite of an intense lobbying campaign led by Google and internet freedom advocates. The sweeping copyright reform could have " could have far-reaching consequences for the business models of tech giants like Google and Facebook." Wired has a good analysis of the copyright plan.
Generally the directive makes websites responsible for preventing any copyright infringement that occurs because of content that users upload (think YouTube, photos...). There is also what is called a "link tax" that requires companies like Google to pay licensing fees to publications like newspapers that are aggregated by the search engine. According to the Guardian, "Supporters say it prevents multinational companies from freeloading on the work of others without paying for it, but critics argue that it effectively imposes a requirement for paying a fee to link to a website."
Critics of the directive have been warning that it could damage the Internet's openness by forcing the adoption of upload filters and new limits on linking to news stories. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which calls itself "The leading nonprofit defending digital privacy, free speech, and innovation," has been vehemently opposed to the Copyright Directive, saying that the automated copyright filters that will need to be developed "will subject all communications of every European to interception and arbitrary censorship if a black-box algorithm decides their text, pictures, sounds or videos are a match for a known copyrighted work. They are a gift to fraudsters and criminals, to say nothing of censors, both government and private."

Friday, 22 March 2019

video: Rules for using law library reference

Favorite rule: "When I tell you that you need to use a book, do not give me that look. You know the one I mean."

hat tips: H. Morrell and L. Louis-Jacques

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Alternative search engines

The Search Engine Watch website has an article about a new search engine alternative called Mojeek, whose developers believe " believes a truly independent and tracking-free search engine must be built from scratch."
The post also has links to a longer article from May 2018 that discusses 12 other search engine alternatives along with screenshots and a discussion of the pros and cons of each.
Why bother? Growing concerns about privacy and biased results in Google searches are making alternatives more appealing to users.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Ah, spring in Pennsylvania

Good grief. It's colder now that it ever was in December. Or January.
But don't worry, there are a few signs that Spring, if not exactly here, is right around the corner:
1. The Pitt Peregrine Falcon cam, high atop the Cathedral of Learning, has caught signs that Hope, the mama falcon, is getting ready to lay an egg. Probably not today, though. Earliest it's happened before was on a March 6.
2. The Pennsylvania Game Commission has just turned on a new live web cam in a bear den in Monroe County. A mother and several new cubs are visible- the cubs typically emerge from the den the first week in April.
3. The Pittsburgh news organizations have begun their important coverage of Lenten Fish Fries. KDKA, the Post-Gazette, the Trib... just google "2019 fish fry Pittsburgh" and click any of the links.  I rather like the "code for Pittsburgh" fish fry map.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Drop metadata from the Catalog of Government Publications?

The great geeky librarians over at the Free Gov Info blog have posted their opinions of a new GPO proposal. GPO has proposed dropping "historic URLs" from govinfo records in the Catalog of Government Publications (CGP) and wants to know if this would have any negative effects. James R. Jacobs and Jim Jacobs (no relation) feel that it is a bad idea for three reasons:
1. GPO's premise is wrong
2. Historic URLs are valuable to users
3. The proposal ignores the future of govinfo
They explicate these reasons in their blogpost; but the conclusion is this:
The “historic URLs” in CGP provide information to users that PURLs do not. That information is useful to users because it will help them identify, understand, and locate copies of resources. “Historic URLs” may seem unnecessary to GPO today, but they will increase in value to users over time. Making a decision for “resources in govinfo” today fails to take into account what resources may be in GPO’s TDR in the future (including harvested content and digitizations). The proposal to drop historic URLs is short-sighted. Dropping historic URLs today would be a mistake that users would resent in the future. GPO should clarify the scope of the policy and how it would be applied in the future and evaluate its effects on users and long-term access.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Mayor Peduto's Executive Order on self-driving cars

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has released an executive order that describes the city's expectations for testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh.  It designates the city's Department of Mobility and Infrastructure for leading oversight of of self-driving vehicles and developing guidelines for the vehicles as well as policy recommendations going forwards.
According to the city, the mayor's order that spells out the "Pittsburgh Principles" is the first of its kind to be issued by any city.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Win for Open Access: U. of California system cancels all Elsevier subscriptions

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that, after months of negotiations, the University of California's 10-campus system has cancelled its subscriptions with Elsevier - one of the largest academic publishers in the world. The previous 5 year contract with Elsevier had cost about $50 million.
In a press release, the UC Office of the President stated that "As a leader in the global movement toward open access to publicly funded research, the University of California is taking a firm stand by deciding not to renew its subscriptions with Elsevier. Despite months of contract negotiations, Elsevier was unwilling to meet UC’s key goal: securing universal open access to UC research while containing the rapidly escalating costs associated with for-profit journals." A member of the negotiation team is quoted as saying, "Make no mistake: The prices of scientific journals now are so high that not a single university in the U.S. — not the University of California, not Harvard, no institution — can afford to subscribe to them all. Publishing our scholarship behind a paywall deprives people of the access to and benefits of publicly funded research. That is terrible for society.”
The University of California had asked for contract terms that would integrate subscription charges and open access publishing fees, making open access the default for any article by a UC scholar and stabilizing journal costs for the university.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Lexis news: chatbots & bubbles are coming

Bob Ambrogi reports on the news from a a Legalweek media briefing he attended- Lexis Advance will soon have "chatbots" guiding our research and "speaking" with users via a chat bubble. He has an iPhone photo of what this will look like. Mr. Ambrogi also spoke with LexisNexis product developers at Legalweek to learn more about the chatbots and how they will be used.
"When the researcher is exploring an unfamiliar area or topic of law (t)he bot can be like an electronic mentor, guiding the researcher to the sources people typically look at for that topic.
We see in the future an interaction with Lexis Advance that is highly conversational,” Pfeifer said. “You ask a question, we present results. The interaction becomes more human-like."

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

The Report of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania's Election Security

Pitt Law Prof. David Hickton has just shared the Report of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Pennsylvania's Election Security (72 page pdf) which he chaired. From the announcement:
The 2016 elections revealed the vulnerability of the U.S. election system. This is especially true in Pennsylvania, where the vast majority of the voting systems are simply unable to provide the assurances of security and reliability our citizens deserve.
We formed this commission with the belief that with study and practicality, we would be able to identify achievable solutions for the Commonwealth’s election security. Solutions that ensure that all of us—regardless of precinct or party—can have faith in our elections. After an eight-month study and consultations with a range of experts and the public, we have done just that.
Implementing the recommendations in this report will allow Pennsylvania to be better prepared to manage the cyber threats that targeted us in the past—and anticipate the ones of the future. We urge officials throughout Pennsylvania to address the policy and funding aspects of these risks in a clear-eyed manner.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Access to government info during the shutdown

Over on the Free Government Information blog, James R. Jacobs posts an excellent article about the information access problems caused by the federal government shutdown. He notes that "There are at least two reasons why users cannot get the documents they need from government servers during the shutdown. In some cases, agencies have apparently shut off access to their documents. (This is the case for both NIST and CSRC.) In other cases, the security certificates of websites have expired — with no agency employees to renew them! — leaving whole websites either insecure or unavailable or both."
But he goes beyond this explanation to say that the loss of access was forseeable and avoidable because libraries, especially FDLP libraries, make decisions about how we select and preserve government documents.
"...too many libraries have chosen to adopt a new model of “services without collections.” GPO proudly promotes this model as “All or Mostly Online Federal Depository Libraries.” GPO itself is affected by this model. Almost 20% of the PURLs in CGP point to content on non-GPO government servers. So, even though GPO’s govinfo database and catalog of government publications (CGP) may still be up and running, during the shut-down GPO cannot ensure that all its “Permanent URLs” (PURLs) will work.
This no-collections-model means that libraries are too often choosing simply to point to collections over which they have no control — and we’ve known what happens “When we depend on pointing instead of collecting” for quite some time. When those collections go offline and users lose access, users begin to wonder why someone hasn’t foreseen this problem and put “all those publications somewhere public.”

Entire editorial board of Elsevier journal resigns

Nature has a story titled "Open-access row prompts editorial board of Elsevier journal to resign: "The board of the Journal of Informetrics has launched a new open-access publication." The International Society for Informetrics and Scientometrics has more:
Over the last few years, the editorial board of the Journal of Informetrics (JOI) has grown increasingly dissatisfied with Elsevier’s actions and policies. While some of those have specific effects on our field—such as Elsevier’s refusal to participate in the Initiative for Open Citation (I4OC)—others are affecting all fields of science—such as its restrictive open access policies and prohibitive subscription costs. The editorial board of JOI expressed these concerns to Elsevier on numerous occasions, with no success. Given the inability of Elsevier to address these issues, the editorial board unanimous resigned on January 10th 2019. As of January 12th 2019, names of associate editors and editorial board members have been removed from the website of the Journal of Informetrics."
You can read the entire resignation letter here. The group of editors that resigned has launched a new, freely available journal called Quantitative Science Studies (QSS). It is being published by MIT Press.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

A font to help you remember...

WIRED magazine has an article titled "Can't Remember What You Read? Blame the Font, Not Forgetfulness." The font, named "Sans Forgetica," was developed at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Australia. According to their website,
Sans Forgetica is a font is a downloadable font that is scientifically designed using the principles of cognitive psychology to help you to better remember your study notes. It was created by a multidisciplinary team of designers and behavioural scientists from RMIT University.
WIRED says that "Sans Forgetica is purposefully hard to decipher, forcing the reader to focus. One study found that students recalled 57 percent of what they read in Sans Forgetica, compared with 50 percent of the material in Arial, a significant difference. No word yet on the retention rate of Comic Sans." You can download it for free from the RMIT website. There is also a Chrome extension that you can download and use to display any text on the web in the Sans Forgetica font. Here's what it looks like:

Monday, 17 December 2018

article: "Law Schools are Bad for Democracy"

There is a lengthy article in the Chronicle of Higher Education Review today authored by Samuel Moyn, a professor at Yale Law School, with the title Law Schools are Bad for Democracy: They whitewash the grubby scramble for power.
The author spells out a number of shortcomings of what law schools do; he says "Law school allows for doing well. But does it allow for doing good?"
He then suggests that there are "two especially imperative fixes" that can help law schools change for the better:
The first involves how law schools prove to their newest entrants that the institutions really are the pluralistic spaces they nervously claim to be, rather than factories for mass conversion of pliant subjects into large-firm lawyers.... And for the sake of our national life, law schools must take up the duty of inculcating in their students and in the public a critical attitude toward the operations of "the rule of law" in general — including a critical attitude toward the routine exaltation of the judiciary...What is lacking in public discussions about law school is attention to what it means for legal elites to serve the democratic conversation about how the people rules itself. Rather than burnishing the credentials of law and its royal judicial stewards, we should insist on the centrality of the people in a democratic legal order."

Friday, 14 December 2018

University of California takes on Elsevier journal subscription fees

Both the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Education have stories about how the University of California system is trying to leverage its massive amount of research output - almost 10% of the research output of the United States - to negotiate fees with academic publishing giant Elsevier. The UC system's five year subscription contract with Elsevier ends on December 31. In a letter to faculty, "campus officials asked faculty members to consider declining to review articles for Elsevier journals until negotiations 'are clearly moving in a productive direction.' The letter also asked professors to consider publishing research elsewhere, including in prestigious open-access journals. The California system wants to fundamentally alter how it pays for journal content from publishers like Elsevier and to accelerate open-access publishing in the process.

Data visualization: world population

The Pudding is a blog that uses visual essays to explain ideas debated in culture. A recent post is titled "Population Mountains" and looks at the population of the world in a 3D format so that big cities look like tall mountains. It's a very interesting perspective. As the author says, it can be "eye-opening to see how the world’s population is so unevenly distributed... What stands out is each city’s form, a unique mountain that might be like the steep peaks of lower Manhattan or the sprawling hills of suburban Atlanta. When I first saw a city in 3D, I had a feel for its population size that I had never experienced before."

hat tip: Pat Roncevich

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Lexis announces Context on Lexis Advance

According to the announcement,
Context is a new kind of analytics tool that expands the power of legal research using industry-leading AI, language processing and data-mining technology to capture and analyze millions of case law documents so users can pinpoint the exact language a judge will find convincing and uncover an expert’s strengths and weaknesses through a few clicks versus hours of research.
And faculty now have early access to Context to check it out - in the hope that when faculty see how it works they will want to integrate it into the curriculum. Lexis suggests possible uses include advanced legal research, legal technology and skills related courses, clinics, judicial internships, moot court, and summer associate or prepare to practice workshops. Students will get access in January.
To access Context, sign in to Lexis Advance and select Context from the product grid in the upper left-hand corner. For an overview, you can download this flyer or watch this short video about the product on the Lexis YouTube channel.
In addition, Legaltech News has a review of Context with more info.