Wednesday, 6 December 2017

HeinOnline: new alert service

HeinOnline has announced that they have added a new alert feature "with the help of machine learning and natural language processing tools." You can now receive email alerts when articles are added to the database that are similar to those written by a specific author. Instructions for using this feature are included in the announcement on the HeinOnline blog.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Public Domain talk by Peter Hirtle

The American Library Association's Office for Information Technology Policy is hosting a free online "CopytTalk" with Peter Hirtle giving an overview of the public domain: what it is, how works rise into it, what is copyright renewal, and some of the common mistakes he has made when trying to determine the public domain status of a work.
Peter Hirtle is the author of the frequently cited resource, “Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States." He is an Affiliate Fellow of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. Until his retirement from Cornell in 2015, he served as Senior Policy Advisor to the Cornell University Library with a special mandate to address intellectual property issues.
The one-hour webinar will be held on Thursday, Dec. 7, at 2pm Eastern time. You don't need to register; just go to the OITP copytalk Adobe Connect site and sign in as a guest at the appointed time.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Blockchain

Debbie Ginsburg, who is the Educational Technology Librarian at Chicago-Kent College of Law (and a very gifted law librarian) recently wrote a post titled "Law and the Blockchain" on the Blockchains for the Information Profession blog. Debbie's post discusses what blockchain is and how it is starting to be used in the US legal landscape. The blog, which is a project of the School of Information at San José State University, has introductory information about blockchain technology and is gathering ideas for ways in which this technology can be used in libraries.
And speaking of Blockchain, Pittsburgh-based K&L Gates has announced that it has become "one of the first major law firms to implement own private Blockchain."

Friday, 1 December 2017

HeinOnline's Reports of U.S. Presidential Commissions and Other Advisory Bodies now available

The Barco Law Library now subscribes to HeinOnline's Reports of U.S. Presidential Commissions and Other Advisory Bodies, available from the HeinOnline's main collections page. According to the description, "This work is the most current and comprehensive listing of publications created by presidential advisory bodies, and will be useful to researchers interested in U.S. history, political science, and law. Presidents have created such advisory groups (also called committees, commissions, boards, blue ribbon panels, or task forces) to advise them on particular problems or issues such Pearl Harbor, civil rights, the status of women, the assassination of JFK, the 1967 riots, Iran Contra, HIV/AIDS, the Challenger Space Shuttle accident, and 9/11. The bibliographic listings of more than 6,000 reports and other documents from the administrations of Andrew Jackson to Barack Obama are indexed by commission/advisory body name, report title, report subject and presidential administration. Links to the full text of the reports are provided whenever possible. The companion database contains not only the bibliographic listing of reports but also many reports themselves as well as related United States congressional hearings, scholarly articles, and a bibliography."
The user-friendly search interface for the collections means Users can browse or search the collection by President, Commission Name, Commission Subject or Report Title. There is an alphabetical listing of all the reports by title and other useful discovery aids. There are also links to scholarly law review articles written about these reports which are also in HeinOnline; for example the article, "President's Commission on the Status of Women Established [Notes] by Marguerite Rawalt from the Women Lawyers Journal (1962) is linked from the "Scholarly Articles" page.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

GPO "seeking community input" on FDLP shared libraries

The US Government Publishing Office has annuonced that it is looking at the models for shared regional depository libraries, and has made a draft of proposed guidelines for establishing regionals available online (just click the blue "Download" link). The draft guidelines mention that
"different models of sharing resources and responsibilities between regional and selective libraries within the states they serve have been implemented over the years, with GPO approval. These include different models of intra- and inter-state sharing between regionals and selective libraries, and for sharing of some services between regional depository libraries in one state and selective depository libraries in an adjacent or near-by state where no regional library exists.
In recent years, technological innovations and the ease of disseminating digital information have made it possible for a number of depository libraries to participate in multi-state collaborations for rapid delivery of shared services. This has also made it possible to develop models and networks that create cost effective shared print resource archives and digital repositories. Both intra- and inter-state shared regional models can offer practical and economical means to maintain public access and reallocate library space, while achieving operational efficiencies for the participating regional and selective depository libraries."

GPO is interested in commentary about the guidelines and suggestions for making them more useful. Suggestions and comments may be submitted until Jan. 20, 2018.

Friday, 17 November 2017

A sobering cautionary tale- don't make friends online

Wired magazine has just published a horrifying true story titled "How One Woman's Digital Life Was Weaponized Against Her." The woman in question develops an online friendship that goes sour and results in her and everyone in her family being stalked and hounded for years, on the phone, online, at home, at work. Eventually it becomes a court case (with K&L Gates representing her) that is time-consuming and expensive. Despite a positive outcome it's still not over for her as the case is being appealed and the harrassment continues.
When it comes to social media, be very careful.

Monday, 13 November 2017

There's a bootleg Bluebook out there...

Sharp-eyed librarians at Brooklyn Law School Library have discovered that there are FAKE BLUEBOOKS being distributed by third-party vendors... and the fakes are riddled with errors. It's all very ironic. For the full story, see the Brooklyn Law School Library Blog post "Beware the Bootleg Bluebook."
And you would probably be better off borrowing one of the Barco Law Library copies of the Bluebook (20th edition) rather than buying a cheap knockoff online.


hat tip: Karen Shephard



Saturday, 11 November 2017

Judge Rules Canada Can't Make Google Delete Search Results in U.S.

Slashdot reports that a U.S. District Court judge has blocked a recent decision by the Supreme Court of Canada requiring Google to delete search results globally. The decision marks a significant win for Google in its efforts to prevent any one country from dictating what can be posted or searched online around the world. The problem began when a court in British Columbia ordered Google to globally block search results linking to sites associated with Datalink Technologies Gateways Inc., which Canadian courts earlier sought to shut down. Google took the issue to the Supreme Court of Canada which affirmed the order, saying that "the internet has no borders." Google then filed suit in the US arguing that that the Canadian order is “unenforceable in the United States because it directly conflicts with the First Amendment, disregards the Communication Decency Act’s immunity for interactive service providers, and violates principles of international comity.” The court order, written by judge Edward J. Davila of the Northern District of California, agreed with Google, saying that the Canadian order violated a federal law giving internet content providers strong legal protections against lawsuits over what internet users post on their sites. The judge did not address Google’s First Amendment claim.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Scholarly publishers and access to research

The Canadian law blog Slaw has an excellent article today discussing scholarly publishing. The author says, "(t)he current series of legal kerfuffles in scholarly publishing involves property and access rights in an industry that is, for all intents and purposes, moving toward universal open access..." but the publishers' "legal strategy is about reminding the academic community that such publishers own the better part of this body of knowledge and, as such, have a legal right to determine the financing of access to it now and into that uncertain future." He makes an interesting suggestion at the end of the article, saying that it may be time to reform the law, to create a new catgory of intellection property that is for scientific and academic research.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Changes to BNA coming in the new year

Bloomberg BNA has announced changes to our Bloomberg BNA Premier subscription coming on Dec. 31, 2017. All of the BNA news about energy, safety, and the environment will be moved to an "enhanced delivery platform under the Bloomberg Environment brand." Because of this some of the titles that we have subscribed to will no longer be stand-alone publications: Daily Environment Report™, International Environment Reporter™, Chemical Regulation Reporter®, Energy & Climate Report, Right-to-Know Planning Guide Report™, and State Environment Daily™ will cease publication and be replaced with the Bloomberg Environment & Energy Report. Occupational Safety & Health Reporter℠ and Environment Reporter℠ will also move to the new platform on December 31, 2017. Environment Reporter now includes reporting on water law and policy in addition to its former coverage areas. Water Law & Policy Monitor™ will cease publication on a stand-alone basis. Occupational Safety & Health Reporter will move here permanently.
Until January 16, the old URLs will still give you access to the old interfaces. Any users currently signed up to receive email highlights to the publications listed above should have already begun receiving alerts that link into the new platform.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

GPO Director leaving

The GPO has just posted an announcement that Davita Vance-Cooks has announced her departure from Federal service to accept a job in the private sector. She was nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate as the 27th Public Printer of the United States. GPO says that "Vance-Cooks leaves behind a legacy of achievement and fiscal responsibility at GPO. Under her leadership, the agency cut costs while improving services, generating positive net income each year and consistently receiving clean opinions from annual independent audits of GPO’s finances. She reversed the previous decade’s pattern of requesting ever greater appropriations from Congress while overseeing increased digital productivity and transformation. During her tenure GPO acquired digital equipment, developed new digital products, and implemented digital processes."
By law, GPO Deputy Director Jim Bradley will assume the duties of Acting GPO Director until a replacement is appointed.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

FDLP webinar series "How Laws Are Made"

The FDLP Academy recently hosted an excellent three-part series of webinars: How Laws are Made: The Legislature; How Laws are Made: The Administrative Agencies; and How Laws are Made: The Courts.  The series was created and is presented by Sharon Bradley, Special Collections Librarian, University of Georgia School of Law. Each archived webinar is available for anyone to watch. Each lasts about 45 minutes and provides well-organized information about the law-making functions of each of the three branches of government. In addition to the recorded webinars, there is a libguide for each of the three topics on the University of Georgia law library website

Friday, 27 October 2017

The Federal Courts Web Archive

The Law Library of Congress recently launched a website called "The Federal Courts Web Archive." The archive is a resource for scholars and others interested in doing historic research about the federal courts and federal judiciary. It has captured archival links to over 200 websites including the federal courts as well as specialty courts like the U.S. Court of International Trade, U.S. Tax Court, U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
The interface will be familiar to anyone who has used the Wayback Machine, because it uses a local installation of the Wayback Machine.

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.'"