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.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Google Earth relaunched

Google Earth has been completely revamped, in a "stunning relaunch" according to Search Engine Watch.  They have an article authored by Clark Boyd that gives a detailed look at the new product. For those of us who use Google Chrome as our browser the best news is that Google Earth is built into Chrome so one no longer has to download the app.  It works quickly and smoothly and is quite amazing. When you launch it for the first time there is a brief video tour "This is the new Google Earth, here are the top 5 things to try" which can help you get started. 

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Fake Review Detector

Have you every doubted a review on Amazon or Yelp?  There's an app/browser extention/website to help with that. It's called Fakespot.  Because there are lots and lots of fake reviews out there, and this will help you separate the junk from the useful ones. It also has a webpage called "worst fake reviews" where you can see products whose online reviews are pretty much 100% fake. 

Friday, 21 April 2017

New: USA Facts website

CIO and others report that Steve Ballmer, late of Microsoft, has a new project called USA Facts (Our nation, in numbers) that has the grand goal of fixing the US government.  According to the New York Times, "The database is perhaps the first nonpartisan effort to create a fully integrated look at revenue and spending across federal, state and local governments." The website states that "USAFacts is a new data-driven portrait of the American population, our government’s finances, and government’s impact on society. We are a non-partisan, not-for-profit civic initiative and have no political agenda or commercial motive. We provide this information as a free public service and are committed to maintaining and expanding it in the future. We rely exclusively on publicly available government data sources. We don’t make judgments or prescribe specific policies."  The site already contains a wealth of information but it is still in beta. 

WK Study Guides: interface update tomorrow

Wolters Kluwer has informed us that they are upgrading the portal for the WK Online Study Aid library with the release planned for April 22, 2017. Their website will be unavailable for about one hour on April 22 beginning at 1:00 am while they implement the changes. There will be no change to the content, to a student’s settings, notes, highlights, or bookmarks. Students will continue to access content as previously. Benefits of the new interface for students include:
• Updated online and offline readers.
• Sync notes and highlights between online/offline access when same file format is used.
• Option to view EPUB or PDF when reading online.
• Export notes.
• My Shelf: create custom shelves to organize your books.
• Responsive design for the desktop site and a mobile site for tablets and smartphones.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

The very first 1040 form, from the LOC

In a timely post, the Law Library of Congress blog today posted an image of the very first Form 1040, from 1913. The current federal income tax can be traced back to the Revenue Act of 1913, which was passed after the ratification, by the states, of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution. The act provided that taxes on individual taxpayers would be imposed beginning for the year 1913 on incomes of $3,000 and up.
Despite being over 100 years old, the 1040 from 1913 resembles our current form in its structure and bureaucratic language, as well as the several "see instructions page ___" However, it was due on March 1, and only taxed income earned between March 1 and December 31 for some reason.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

GPO Launches New GPO.gov Website

The Federal Depository Library Program has sent out an announcement that the Government Printing Office has launched a new website (still in beta) that is meant to be more user-friendly for customers, vendors, Federal agencies, libraries, and the public looking for Government information. The site is https://beta.gpo.gov. Eventually this site will replace the current site, developed in 2009.
They welcome your feedback on the site at this feedback form.

Friday, 7 April 2017

FDLP webinar: resources from the Army War College

The Federal Depository Library Program is offering a free webinar on Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 2 pm titled "U.S. ARMY WAR COLLEGE INFORMATION RESOURCES: LANDPOWER, GEOPOLITICS, ARMY HISTORY, AND EDUCATIONAL TREASURES." The presenter is Prof. Bert Chapman,who is a Political Science and Economics Librarian/Professor of Library Science at Purdue University. This webinar will introduce students to the rich variety of information resources provided by the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA. Examples of these resources from the Army’s premier professional military education institution include materials such as course syllabi, podcasts, and detailed studies on the role of land power and strategy in the U.S. and foreign militaries. It will also cover historical materials produced by the War College’s Army Heritage and Education Command that can enhance understanding of the U.S. Army’s role in U.S. and international history. Register here.

Reuters adds "Trust Principles" and "Backstory" to news reports

Reuters recently announced that they "have attached a link to the Trust Principles at the bottom of all stories on Reuters.com. In addition, from time to time, when we think it might be useful to the reader, we will also provide an explanation – which we are calling Backstory – of how we have reported a particular piece. Backstory will be presented as a statement of methodology or a Q&A with a Reuters journalist. These additions reflect our commitment not only to deliver accurate, unbiased news but to share more information about the way we work and the standards under which we operate."

hat tip: Karen Shephard

Saturday, 1 April 2017

A graphical history of Google search results

Google has been around for almost twenty years now. Search Engine Watch has created a visual history of Google's evolution, "including its many successes and its few notable failures, through the lens of the humble Search Engine Results Page (SERP)". They also provide an updated look at search engines that are currently an alternative to Google - even though about 80% of desktop computer users vhttps://www.netmarketshare.com/search-engine-market-share.aspx?qprid=4&qpcustomd=0 Google for their search engine.  

Friday, 31 March 2017

USDA website redesign

The United States Dept. of Agriculture recently announced a complete redesign of thei website. According to the announcement, the  redesign features "stronger visual storytelling components, a more modern user-experience with easy to find services and resources, and to top it off, a completely mobile-friendly design. Through careful planning, thoughtful design, and a primary focus on user experience and usability, we’ve taken the best of government and industry expertise and put it into creating our new website."

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

GODORT prisoner locator update

GODORT, the ALA section of government documents librarians, maintains the State Agency Databases Project and, as a subsection, the Prisoner Locator Tools page on the State Agencies website. They recently updated the url for that site, which links to inmate locators in a number of US states; they also provide a link to the prisoner locator for Federal prisons.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Unpaywall helps find free online papers/articles

A new Chrome extension called "Unpaywall", though still being tweaked, is available - the official release is April 4th. It searches Open Access sites for accessible materials that are known to be behind paywalls. The organization behind Unpaywall is Impactstory, "a nonprofit working to supercharge science by making it more open, reusable, and web-native." According to the site, Unpaywall is able to get articles behind paywalls for free about half the time, though they claim that this is improving regularly.

hat tip: Karen Shephard

Monday, 20 March 2017

Alternative law school ranking system

The Volokh Conspiracy blog has a post titled "This law school ranking system is much better than U.S. News," by David Bernstein. The related paper, A De Gustibus Approach to Ranking Law Schools by Christopher J. Ryan and Brian L. Frye, is available on SSRN. From the abstract:
This article assumes that the purpose of ranking law schools is to help students decide which school to attend. Accordingly, it describes an approach to ranking law schools based entirely on the revealed preferences of students. Law schools admit applicants based almost entirely on their LSAT score and undergraduate GPA, and compete to matriculate students with the highest possible scores. Our de gustibus approach to ranking law schools assumes that the “best” law schools are the most successful at matriculating those students. This article concludes with a “best law schools ranking” based exclusively on the LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs of matriculating students.
hat tip: Karen Shephard

Pitt diversity book club March 30

The University of Pittsburgh Diversity Book Club is having a panel discussion next Thursday, March 30, from 4-6 pm in the William Pitt Union Lower Lounge.  In honor of Women's History Month, the topic will be the book Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. Goodreads review of the book says:
"In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture. Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better."

Sunday, 19 March 2017

webinar Saving government data: A conversation with the future

On Wednesday, March 29, 2017 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. (Eastern) there's a Help! I'm an Accidental Government Information Librarian Webinar about the DataRefuge project and other projects like it that work in conjunction with the End of Term Web Archive to capture and make available federal web content during administrative transitions. The discussion will explore the fragility of digital information, and expand on ideas about what data is. We’ll talk about current projects and efforts, and explore the future of this work. Finally, we’ll address the concept of sustainability, and propose a paradigm of empowered experimentation that aligns with our values and roles within libraries. The webinar is free; RSVP here.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Report on European case law availabilty

A project called BO-ECLI - Building On the European Case Law Identifier - has published "Online Publication of Court Decisions in the EU: Report of the Policy Group of the Project 'Building on the European Case Law Identifier' (178 page pdf)." BO-ECLI is a project involving sixteen partners from ten Member States (Italy, Greece, Croatia, Estonia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Spain, Romania) that aims to broaden the use of ECLI and to further improve the accessibility of case law. BO-ECLI is co-funded by the Justice Programme of the European Union.  

The report is a comparative study regarding the on-line publication of court decisions within all 28 Member States of the European Union, as well as at three European Courts. The Executive Summary states that "It focusses on three main themes – policy and practices with regard to on-line publication, data protection and Open Data – and two accessory topics: citation practice and the implementation of the European Case Law Identifier... After an introductory section, the five themes (publication, data protection, Open Data, legal citation and ECLI) are discussed in separate sections. Section 7 contains reports for all 28 EU Member States as well as for three European courts: the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Court of Human Rights and the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Organization. Section 8 contains the conclusions and a set of 25 recommendations. "

hat tip: LII (Legal Information Institute)

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Online resource for veterans appealing denial of benefits

The ABA Journal reports that there is a new resource for veterans who want to appeal denial of benefits hosted by the Veterans Consortium ProBono Program. Through the site, available as an application form, veterans can either appeal their cases on their own or request a free attorney to help with the appeal. The site focuses on helping veterans appeal adverse decisions from the Board of Veterans’ Appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. There are informational materials and explanatory videos explaining the appeals process.
The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program site also has a resource library with materials on a variety of topics pertinent to veterans.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Federal courts: An Inside Look at the Jury Experience

The Office of the United States Courts has posted a 1-hour video to their website titled "An Inside Look at the Jury Experience." The video is of a discussion panel composed of two U.S. district judges, a clerk of court, and a law professor and author on the jury process. Panelists included Judge George O’Toole, District of Massachusetts; Judge Reggie Walton, District Court for the District of Columbia; Robin Tabora, Clerk of Court, District of Connecticut; and Andrew Ferguson, law professor at the University of the District of Columbia. The video of the question-and-answer session also includes several brief educational videos about federal juries.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

ACRL: From Shelf to Online Repository

The Association of College and Research Libraries is hosting an online presentation Thurs. 3/16/17 at 2 pm called "From Shelf to Online Repository: Creating a Collaborative Teaching and Research Collection." The presentation will feature a case study from archivists, academics and publishing editors on their involvement in producing Race Relations in America, sourced from the Amistad Research Center. Guest speakers will provide an insight into selection, views on digital preservation, motives for digitisation and value to academics in teaching and research. From the description:
"Curating, digitizing and building a digital collection of primary sources is a truly collaborative process between archive, scholar and publisher. Highlighting the power of digital research, this webinar will discuss different perspectives on processes involved, from development and selection, to digitization and usage."
Registration is free; register here.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Volokh Conspiracy blog cites Prof. Dickinson

Prof. Ilya Somin, who blogs at the Washington Post's Volokh Conspiracy, recently posted an entry titled "Potential pitfalls of building Trump’s Great Wall of eminent domain," in which he discussed Prof. Gerald Dickinson's recent WaPo article about the difficulty of procuring the land needed for a U.S./Mexico border wall. Prof. Dickinson went into detail about the difficulty of using eminent domain to acquire all the necessary land, and the history of protracted legal battles when the government "takes" land using emininent domain.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Tues Feb 28: Amazon Web Services problems causing various database problems

We've confirmed that Proquest databases and JSTOR are down because of reported problems with Amazon Web Services (see also email msg from our IT Department on the outage).

Friday, 24 February 2017

Lexis Prepare to Practice Program

Lexis has announced the 2017 Prepare to Practice program for law students, available on-demand. Content for the program is based on feedback from legal employers and former summer associates. The Prepare to Practice program is designed to help students master some of the practical skills they need to arrive "practice-ready" on day one of any legal employment. Prepare to Practice has three steps:
(1) Researching an Unfamiliar Topic (Video / Quiz)
(2) Transactional and Litigation Drafting (Video / Quiz)
(3) After completing training 1 & 2, students are eligible for certification.
Lexis says that "Through the Prepare to Practice program, students will learn to quickly and thoroughly research unfamiliar topics, research regulations, their regulatory history, and the administrative decisions that interpret them. They will also learn how to write, prepare, and find any legal document."
For more information visit the LexisNexis Prepare to Practice site

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

ICE Immigration Raids: A Primer

TRAC, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse data gathering and research organization from Syracuse University, provides comprehensive, independent and nonpartisan information about federal enforcement, staffing and spending. They have just published a report titled "ICE Immigration Raids: A Primer." This report breaks down the numbers on ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) apprehensions in recent years to provide a better picture of the role of ICE fugitive operations as compared with other components of ICE. The data presented in the report provide a useful baseline against which arrests under the new Trump Administration by fugitive operations teams and other components of ICE can be compared.

Monday, 13 February 2017

New Law Librarian of Congress

The Library of Congress has announced that Jane Sánchez has been named the Law Librarian of Congress. Sánchez earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of New Mexico, an MLS from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts, and a Juris Doctorate from The American University, Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. She has worked in a variety of different libraries. Before coming to the Law Library, Jane was the chief of the Humanities and Social Sciences Division at the Library of Congress. She has previously worked in the legislative branch as the Director of Library Services & Content Management at the U.S. Government Publishing Office. When she was appointed to her previous position she was praised by Mark Sweeney, acting associate Librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress, who said “Ms. Sánchez brings a wealth of experience to this position. Throughout her career, she has developed innovative, dynamic and strategic operations and services, has managed multidisciplinary projects and developed processes, including being an early adapter of technology.”

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Visual Personality Quiz by Getty Images

Getty Images has a Visual Personality Quiz online that can help you "discover your visual personality." The quiz uses a unique format in which you answer questions by selecting images rather than text. The colors and images people are drawn to can give indications about their personalities and subconscious. Anyway, it's short, free, and fun. Take the quiz here.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

GPO Director reports on goals for the upcoming year to Congress

The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) Director Davita Vance-Cooks testified before the Committee on House Administration of the House of Representatives about priorities for the agency in the coming year(s). Vance-Cooks was joined by leaders from the Library of Congress, U.S. Capitol Police, and the Architect of the Capitol at the hearing titled "Priorities of the House Officers and Legislative Branch Entities for FY 2018 and Beyond."
These priorities include:
Modernizing the publishing of Congressional products
Developing a new cost accounting system emphasizing transparency
Strengthening GPO's partnership with the Nation’s Federal depository libraries
Automating GPO’s print procurement process
Releasing govinfo from beta and retiring FDsys
Beginning production of the next generation U.S. Passport

Director Vance-Cooks' prepared statement is available from the GPO website here (20 page pdf).

Monday, 6 February 2017

LOC Recommended Format Statement - Open for comment

An announcement from Donna Brearcliffe, Electronic Resources Coordinator at the Library of Congress: "The Library of Congress is calling for input as it looks forward to the upcoming review and revision of the Recommended Formats Statement. In April, the teams of experts charged with maintaining, improving and ensuring the accuracy of the Statement will begin the annual process of examining the Statement and the creative works represented in it, to ensure that it reflects correctly the technical characteristics which best encourage preservation and long-term access.
 Given the interest and the feedback received over the past few years since the Statement was first issued in 2014, we at the Library of Congress feel that the Statement could benefit this time around by focusing the review and revision process on a few key areas. The first of these is the metadata which is so crucial to preservation and access. This has long been an important part of the Statement, but we are aware that it can sometimes be overshadowed by questions of file formats. This year we plan on taking a more focused look at options for metadata, including the work of the Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative (FADGI) to determine what might be applicable to the Recommended Formats Statement.
 Similarly, work by the Library of Congress on the archiving of podcasts has raised some interesting questions about the metadata used for this particular and important type of sound recording, which potentially might be included in the Statement as well. Taking a closer look at metadata across the creative categories has the potential to better identify metadata or even metadata schemas which could prove very valuable for preservation and long-term access and should be included in the upcoming version of the Recommended Formats Statement.
 This is not to exclude the examination of other aspects of the Statement. As this is the first year in which Websites have been included, we are very interested in reviewing the first iteration and determining what holds up and what should be changed – and the Library would very much like to get feedback from external stakeholders in the web archiving community on this as well. Likewise, we will be asking about how best to ensure that, when it comes to Software and Electronic Gaming and Learning, we are very clear on the preference of source code and of direct file submission. If this is not absolutely clear, we need to know. So, the Library of Congress requests that anyone with input, comments or feedback, either on the topics above or on any aspect of the Recommended Formats Statement, including on ways in which to make it more user friendly, please share that with us by March 31, through one of the e-mail contacts listed on the Recommended Formats Statement website." 

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The MIT AgeLab, in collaboration with founding member Monotype, has launched a new research consortium called the Clear Information Presentation consortium (Clear-IP) that will look at how typography and design affect readability and reading comprehension of content that is viewed at a glance. Although there has previously been research into readability of print-based media,the way we read has changed dramatically in the past few decades. Our default method is no longer to read ink on paper but digital type on screens of all sizes – from handheld phones and tablets to large-scale billboards. Most of us now consume information at a glance: a brief look at a text message, a pop-up notification on your desktop, the screen of your smartwatch or the Sat Nav in your car. We often read on the move and in visually noisier environments than ever before. Clear-IP will investigate how reading behavior is changing in an increasingly mobile world, where more and more information is taken in at a glance, as well as the factors that underlie what makes a piece of information more legible or easier to understand.

Monday, 30 January 2017

LII: The Inbox Project

Cornell's Legal Information Institute (LII) has launched The Inbox Project in partnership with the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (CAUCE). The project, part of LII's Wex community-built legal encyclopedia, is a collection of materials that are related to email anti-spam law. It includes information about national and international legal frameworks dealing with email and electronic commerce, including comparison tables.  According to the site:
"This Inbox Project collection will seek to answer important questions about the law governing commercial email, including the following:  What laws control spam?  How do anti-spam laws deal with free speech issues?  How have anti-spam laws been interpreted and enforced?  Can I make a case against a spammer?  What would an effective spam-control law look like, and how might legislators write one?  How can I avoid spam-related problems with my business?"

Sunday, 29 January 2017

New search tool for African American history

The University of Minnesota library recently launched Umbra Search African American History, a search interface that provides access to over 400,000 digitized materials that document African American history. These are freely available resources that are in the digital collections of more than a thousand partner libraries, archives, museums and other institutions located across the United States. The materials include music, oral histories, photographs, maps, handwritten letters, and more. Director of the project Cecily Marcus says:
"No library is able to digitize all of its holdings, but by bringing together materials from all over the country, Umbra Search allows students and scholars to tell stories that have never been told before. Umbra Search partners have amazing collections, and now those materials can sit side by side with related content from a library on the other side of the country.”

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Librarian links: Refugee Resettlement

A govdocs librarian in NC has created a page with links to Refugee Resettlement Information in the US. She is still gathering links for the page if you have anything to contribute.