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.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Canada's Supreme Court launches online archive to alleviate link rot

Slaw, Canada's online legal magazine, reports that there is a new online archive of Internet Sources Cited in SCC Judgments (1998 - 2016). The archive was set up by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) in order to deal with the problem of "link rot" in SCC opinions - cited links that go to URLs that no longer work because the document has been removed or moved without updating the link. Slaw quotes from the the Terms of Use: 
“The Office of the Registrar of the SCC, recognizing that web pages or websites that the Court cites in its judgments may subsequently vary in content or be discontinued, has located and archived the content of most online sources that had been cited by the Court between 1998 and 2016 in order to preserve access to them. These sources were captured with a content as close as possible to the original content"
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GPO webinar "Beyond Google"

The GPO is hosting a free webinar on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 2 pm Eastern time titled "Beyond Google - Another Look at Finding Government Information." The webinar will cover intermediate and advanced searching techniques, deep web search engines, and ways to find and use "hidden" resources. During the webinar, sample searches will be for statistics, born-digital, and digitized historical publications. You can register here.

Friday, 13 January 2017

GPO Style Manual: new edition

The Government Publishing Office (GPO) has announced the release of a new edition of their Style Manual. It's available as a free download in several different formats from the GPO website. According to the announcement,
"Besides a thorough revision throughout, new features in this edition include:
  •  GPO’s most recent digital initiatives 
  • Updates to foreign nation information 
  • Updates to State demonyms 
  • Treatment of words related to native entities recognized by the Federal Government 
  • Clarification of punctuation rules 
  • Updates to capitalization, abbreviations, and computer terms 
  • Inclusion of many suggestions from users."

ALA & Google to launch phase 2 of code-teaching program

"the American Library Association (ALA) and Google, Inc., announced a call for Library and Information Science (LIS) faculty to participate in Phase Two of the Libraries Ready to Code project. This work will culminate in graduate level course models that equip MLIS students to deliver coding programs through public and school libraries and foster computational thinking skills among the nation’s youth."

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Northeastern law students compile civil rights & restorative justice archive

The ABA Journal has an interesting article about the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project at the Northeastern University School of Law in Boston. The project has been identifying lynching deaths that occurred "during the reign of racial terror that lasted from the end of Reconstruction through the 1950s." It aims to create an archive of documents, photographs, news clippings, and interviews about as many of these deaths as possible—particularly the overlooked and unnamed among them. The idea is to create a record of each murder, a trove for historians and researchers and family members who are searching for news of their ancestors.

Librarian webinar: Research Data Management

Those great govdocs librarians from North Carolina are having another information-filled webinar next Wednesday, Jan 18, 2017 from noon to 1 pm. The topic is Research Data Management, and the presenter is Katharin Peter, the Social Sciences Data Librarian for the Von KleinSmid Center Library for International and Public Affairs at the University of Southern California. The webinar will present an overview of Research Data Management including: data management planning, how data fits into the research lifecycle and scholarly communication, and key resources/strategies for liaison librarians working with faculty and other researchers. You can register for the session here; it will be broadcast using Webex.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Library funny business?

Not sure how to feel about this one. The Orlando Sentinel reports that two staff members of the East Lake Library in Florida have been suspended for allegedly creating bogus borrowers, in order to outwit automated book-culling software designed to discard titles that are not being read. The accused have alleged that the practice is widespread among librarians fighting to protect book budgets. After an anonymous complaint was filed about the library an investigation revealed that librarians had created several fake identities with false addresses and drivers’ license numbers. Support for the librarians has come from digital activist Cory Doctorow of the Boing Boing blog. He attacked the use of automated stock systems, calling it “datafication at its worst”.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

SCOTUS docket: freedom of speech

Erwin Chemerinsky has written an article for the ABA Journal on two freedom of speech cases that are on the Supreme Court docket for January oral arguments. The article discusses Lee v. Tam, aka "the Slants" case and Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman, a case involving what to call it when a merchant charges higher prices for using a credit card rather than paying in cash. 

2016 map of Google searches

Courtesy of Big Think, a map of the US titled "What Each State Googled More Frequently Than Any Other State in 2016."  The article also has interesting stats on popular Google searches for the year.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Winners Of The Techshow Startup Alley Competition

Above The Law reports on the winners of a new competition to select 12 legal technology startups to participate in the first-ever Startup Alley at the American Bar Association’s TECHSHOW conference in March.  These startups will participate in a March Madness-style bracketed face-off on TECHSHOW’s opening night. Startups will face off against each other in pairs, over three rounds, with audience votes determining who moves to the next round. The startups are:
ClariLegal, a cloud-based litigation management platform that is simplifying the way litigation services are bought, sold and managed.
Ping is automated timekeeping for lawyers that will automatically track, categorize and describe all of a lawyer’s billable actions.
Court Buddy is a wholly automated platform that matches solo and small firm attorneys with small businesses based on pre-selected, a-la-carte flat rates.
LawTap Like ZocDoc for doctors and dentists, LawTap is a booking engine for attorneys.
Doxly is a cloud-based platform that transforms the chaotic process of managing legal transactions into a singular tool.
Paladin helps law firms, companies and law schools manage their pro bono with streamlined sourcing, tracking and outcome reporting on a modern, tech-forward platform.
UniCourt is a nationwide case research, tracking, management, and analytics platform that integrates court data from federal and state courts into a cloud-based application.
LegalClick is a platform for lawyers to sell their legal services direct to clients with a document assembly shopping cart in an app or online.
TrustBooks takes a scary thing like trust accounting and makes it drop-dead simple.
LawBooth connects people and attorneys online, making it easy for consumers to find the right attorney and schedule a free initial consultation.
 Alt Legal’s software helps companies and law firms create, track, and analyze intellectual property filings.
 Aggregate Law quickly and efficiently connects skilled project attorneys to legal work.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

New ABA Innovation Fellowship

The American Bar Assn. Center for Innovation has announced that applications are now being accepted for the first Innovation Fellows Program. The ABA Center for Innovation encourages and accelerates innovations that improve the affordability, effectiveness, efficiency, and accessibility of legal services. Recent – within the last 5 years – law school graduates will spend one year in-residence at ABA headquarters in Chicago. Fellows will receive a stipend of $45,000, along with benefits, during their time in the program. The first cohort of fellows will begin August 1, 2017 and complete their work by July 31, 2018. Bar admission is not necessary.

Are gadgets done?

The New York Times recently had an interesting article called "The Gadget Apocalypse is Upon Us." The Gadget Age, claims the author, is over, and "and even if that’s a kind of progress, because software now fills many of our needs, the great gadgetapocalypse is bound to make the tech world, and your life, a little less fun."

Lexis.com for law schools ending Dec. 31

LexisNexis has sent us a reminder:
"Dear Law School Librarians, A friendly reminder that Lexis.com® will retire on December 31, 2016 for law school customers. The current link to lexis.com in the drop down menu in Lexis Advance® will be removed. We've been communicating directly via email to the small number of faculty nationwide still using lexis.com to ensure a smooth transition to Lexis Advance, consistently over the past year. LexisNexis Account Executives have also been contacting these individuals to offer training on Lexis Advance. Faculty using lexis.com should be aware of the retirement date, but we want to make sure no one is caught off guard. If you're aware of faculty at your school still using lexis.com, please remind them of the impending date. "

Monday, 12 December 2016

FDLP "End of Term Presidential Harvest"

The Federal Depository Library Program has announced that The Library of Congress, California Digital Library, University of North Texas Libraries, Internet Archive, George Washington University Libraries, Stanford University Libraries, and the U.S. Government Publishing Office have joined together for a collaborative project to preserve public United States Government web sites at the end of the current presidential administration ending January 20, 2017. Using a two pronged approach, the project seeks to capture a comprehensive snapshot of the Federal government on the Web at the close of the current administration. The first is a "comprehensive crawl" of the dot gov domain; the second is a "prioritized crawl" that seeks to capture sites in greater depth and to identify those at greater risk of rapid change or disappearance. The project team will assemble a list of related URL’s and social media feeds. As a result, the project team is calling upon government information specialists, including librarians, political and social science researchers, and academics – to assist in the selection and prioritization of the selected web sites to be included in the collection, as well as identifying the frequency and depth of the act of collecting. You can use their "End of Term Presidential Harvest 2016" form to submit sites for consideration.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Gender differences in law schools

Bloomberg Law blog has an interesting post that looks at gender differences in law school attendance. They point out that although almost half of law school students today are female, this is a national average and conceals an interesting gender divide. "Female law students outnumber men at schools with weak reputations while men dominate class rosters at the most prestigious schools." As am example they point to Yale where just 46 percent of students are female. At Duke University and the University of Virginia, also highly ranked law schools, women make up only 42 percent of the student body. The school with the highest percentage of women students (65 percent) is low ranked Charlotte School of Law. "This relationship between law school rank and the percentage of women students isn’t just anecdotal: across all ABA-accredited law schools, it reaches a sizable (and statistically significant) correlation of .381. Schools with a better rank, on average, enroll a substantially smaller percentage of women."