Friday, 30 November 2007

Library robots

There's an article in Backbone magazine that tells all about the University of British Columbia's automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS), aka the "library robot". It's a system that uses a computerized crane and robotic arm to retrieve books requested through the online catalog (Voyageur). The article was brought to my attention by a govdoc listserv posting from a librarian in Washington state who says his state is very interested in using something similar and who wants to know if any FDLP libraries (especially regional depositories) are considering installing library robots.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Westlaw news

November's Westlaw newsletter of new features and databases has a few noteworthy items:
  • Search for Key Numbers is a fabulous addition: Click on the "Key Numbers" link at the top of the Westlaw research system page and you will pull up a page that lets you search for the key number that you want with your own keywords. For example I searched for the terms "landlord tenant light bulb" and it pulled up five key numbers that were pretty much perfect for what I wanted. No need for fancy query construction.
  • The US GAO Federal Legislative Histories (FED-LH) database contains the GAO's collection of comprehensive legislative history documents compiled for most U.S. Public Laws enacted from 1915 to 1995.This includes the Public Law, Reports, Committee Prints, Congressional Record entries, Bills and Resolutions, Hearing prints, Presidential signing statements, Presidential messages, and other documents, all in pdf format and broken down into three categories - Congressional Materials, Hearings, and Presidential Documents. There is a "rolling release" of these documents; the November 2007 release contains legislative histories for public laws enacted between 1988 and 1995.
  • Five Topical Views of ALR can now be searched as discrete databases:
    American Law Reports–Construction (ALR-CSTR)
    American Law Reports–Elder Law (ALR-ELD)
    American Law Reports–Environmental Law (ALR-ENV)
    American Law Reports–Immigration (ALR-IMM)
    American Law Reports–Workers' Compensation (ALR-WC) ; and remember that come January, Westlaw will offer exclusive access to the ALR.

Nazi archives opened to public

The International Committee of the Red Cross and the German government yesterday announced that extensive archives on the Holocaust are now open to to the public. The International Tracing Service archive, located in Bad Arolsen, Germany, comprises more than 50 million pages and takes up 16 miles of shelving and filing cabinets in six buildings. It includes meticulous records kept at concentration camps by the Nazis and a complete postwar index of every non-citizen who was on German soil during the war years. The Nazis kept meticulous records on the smallest details from the number of lice on a prisoner's head to the exact moment of execution.
Up until now the documents in the archive have been used mainly to help trace missing persons or provide information in support of compensation claims and only archive staff members have been able to see the originals. The US State Department has been at the forefront of a growing move in recent years to open up the archives to a broader public and their website states that "(w)e welcome the entry into force today of an agreement opening the extensive Holocaust-era archives of the ITS to survivors, their families and to researchers."
The archive is a labyrinth of paper that has never been organized by a historian or even by a professionally trained archivist and contains many old and brittle documents. The good news is that over the last 10 years 70 % of the documents have been digitised and the ITS plans to complete digitization by 2011 - and each country of the internation commission governing the ITS will receive a complete copy. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will administer the US copy of the archive. Organizing the digital material to make it accessible will be a major job because there is a huge amount of material and many of the documents are hand-written, some in old German script, and spelling is inconsistent, making it difficult to convert files into digitally searchable format. Once the documents are formatted for the Holocaust Museum’s computer system, the Museum will facilitate access to the documents for researchers. According to the State Dept., he formatting process is now underway and is expected to take several months.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

ULS: New database on British Social History

ULS has added a new database called Mass Observation - British Social History, 1937-1972. It's not of any obvious interest to legal researchers, but it's an interesting and quirky collection. The Mass Observation project was created by three British researchers interested in everyday social history. Their plan was to create a collection of “meteorological stations from whose reports a weather map of popular feeling can be compiled." The researchers recruited 500 volunteers from the general public to form “a national panel.” The panel were asked to record the every day concerns of their lives on the twelfth of each month, including dreams, hopes, and fears. The first full-scale book by Mass Observation, "May 12th", provided reactions the coronation of George VI and accounts of what the panel thought and did on that day.
The"observers" also noted people's reactions to news; the idea was to collact a true, detached, scientific observation of popular attitudes and beliefs so that popular opinion could be properly understood.
The collection also includes photos, diaries, radio show transcripts, information about the project, and links to more information.

Congressional Research Service reports

The Congressional Research Service, an arm of the Library of Congress, provides Congress with non-partisan and in-depth legislative research and analysis on a variety of topics. The CRS produces more than 3,000 studies and publications each year, none of which are distributed to the public. The Thurgood Marshall Law Library has created an online collection, called the Congressional Research Service Reports Collection, in the subject areas of Homeland Security/Terrorism and Health Law and Policy. Examples of some recently added titles (with publication dates):
Congress's Contempt Power: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure 7/24/07
Extraterritorial Application of American Criminal Law 9/10/07
Presidential Claims of Executive Privilege: History, Law, Practice & Recent Developments 9/17/07
U.S. Arms Sales to Pakistan 11/8/07
The collection can be browsed by subject area or date.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

1Ls get full access to Lexis and Westlaw

On Dec. 1 the 1L Lexis and Westlaw accounts will be switched to “full access”. What does this mean? Up until now they’ve only been able to access the information in these databases with the precise citation for a desired document. So, for example, to read the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision they'd have to know that the citation for the case is 93 S. Ct. 705. Now they can search for cases by party name(s); search for legislation by the popular name of the law (Megan’s Law will get 110 Stat. 1345) and search both primary and secondary sources by keyword, author, title, subject, etc. In other words they can do anything we can do in Lexis and Westlaw. Problems or questions can be referred to Susanna or to one of the Lexis or Westlaw representatives.

Stat-USA: government info on the US economy

The director of Stat-USA (a service of the US Department of Commerce) posted a reminder on the gov-docs listserv that their website is a great one-stop source for lots of useful statistical information about the US economy - including the latest figures on general economic indicators, housing and construction, monetary policy, employment, and international trade. If you know the statistics you want, there is also an extensive spreadsheet with a schedule of the release dates for over a thousand Principal Federal Economic Indicators.

Internet filtering information

Filtering Facts is a newly improved website maintained by David Burt, a former librarian with professional interest in internet filtering (his concern about protecting children from pornography on the Internet led him to start Filtering Facts, a nonprofit organization that encourages libraries to voluntarily adopt filters). The website is an excellent reference resource for anything related to internet filtering and filtering software. It includes a legal page with exhaustive coverage of US legislation and caselaw involving internet filtering. There is also a library policy page that has a list of many public libraries that use Internet filtering software, including links to all the library internet policies online. In addition there is a lot of information about internet filtering and filtering software, including research and legal papers about filtering software and reviews of filtering software products.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Thanksgiving statistics from the government

The Free Government Information blog has an entertaining post of Thanksgiving statistics available from the government. For example: 1 billion pounds: Total pumpkin production of major pumpkin-producing states in 2006. Illinois led the country by producing 492 million pounds of the vined orange gourd.

Lecture Browser

Technology Review has a fascinating report about how researchers at MIT have developed the Lecture Browser (RealPlayer required), a search tool that lets users search the library of online video lectures at MIT by keyword. Using the Lecture Browser you can locate a lecture video and pinpoint the segment of that lecture that interests you without having to go through the whole video.

Lexpionage: espying new words and phrases

Wordspy is a useful website for language lovers - it's a site dedicated to tracking new words and phrases and their meanings. According to the website, they track "new terms that have appeared multiple times in newspapers, magazines, books, Web sites, and other recorded sources." For example, the top new term today is listed as:
Cyber Monday n. The Monday after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, when online retailers reportedly experience a surge in purchases.
The entry also includes citations for use of the term and the earliest usage of the term.
Hat tip to beSpacific.

New book to be authored by Justice Scalia

The Legal Times reports that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is co-authoring a book with Bryan Garner (editor of Black's Law Dictionary) on the art of persuading judges, both orally and in written briefs. The tentative title of the book, which will be published by West, is Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges. According to Justice Scalia “The object of the book is to make available, in a compact and (we hope) readable format, what we think to be the best advice on how to argue a case. It covers both brief-writing and oral argument. And it includes both advice from modern sources and advice from ancient sources adapted to modern American circumstances. We hope it will be helpful to the bar; if so, it will benefit the bench as well.”

Friday, 23 November 2007

Allegeny County real estate website

Just as we were leaving home for Thanksgiving we heard on the radio that the county council voted to remove the 'search by name' option from the Allegheny County real estate website. Drat.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Turkey Day talking points

As the family gathers 'round the table on Thursday, librarians can be prepared for the usual questions (Read any good books lately? Are books becoming extinct?) and converse knowledgeably and intelligently with friends and family by checking out a few links:
Are Books on the way out? :
The BIG BIG news is Amazon's Kindle. Read the press release, and read about it in the Chronicle, PC World, the ZDNet review - and don't forget to visit Amazon where you can read about it AND buy it if you want.
also check out The new Sony e-reader: a review from ArsTechnica
About e-ink and e-paper
20 places to find public domain e-books ...
When asked for book recommendations, I'm pleased to have two solid ones that are appropriate for pretty much anyone. Both are good reads about the joys of reading. The first is Mr. Pip by Lloyd Jones, which was on the Booker Prize short list this year. ("in its exploration of how literature can bring joy amid great suffering, Mister Pip is a heartwarming and worthwhile coming-of-age novel. ") The second is The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett ("a perfect gem... that celebrates the pleasure of reading."). They'll warm the cockles of any library-lover's heart.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Jack Bauer circa 1994

The previously unaired 1994 pilot for the TV show 24.

US-China Security Economic Review report

The U.S. China and Security Economic Review Commission released its 2007 report yesterday. While the full report won't be posted on their site until Monday Nov 19th several parts are available on their website now, including the Intro (which gives the good news/bad news view)the Executive summary and the Commission's Recommendations. The report cites Chinese progress in certain areas but describes some negative trends including a retreat by China from market-based economic principles, the growth of China’s information control regime, and the use by China of espionage to acquire military and industrial technologies; the report also offers 42 recommendations for congressional action.

hat tip to G. Marlatt, Homeland Security Digital Library Content Manager

Friday, 16 November 2007

Fair Use of DVD's

There's an article in Inside Higher Ed. reporting that the Society for Cinema and Media Studies has published a new set of best-practices guidelines for fair use of media DVD's for professors who use media for educational purposes in classes that rely on films, television shows and media clips.

Fast Case caselaw in the public domain

Good news travels fast. On Wednesday Carl Malamud of and of and Lisa Miller of Fleishman-Hillard/Fastcase, Inc. sent out a press release announcing FastCase - and the story was picked up by the New York Times and Corey Doctorow at Boing Boing - and soon everyone was talking about it. What is Fast Track doing? They will release a large and free archive of federal case law, including all Courts of Appeals decisions from 1950 to the present and all Supreme Court decisions since 1754. The archive will be public domain and usable by anyone for any purpose.
Free caselaw online is a big deal. As Elmer Masters, the Internet developer at CALI said on the listserv, "Finding case law on the web has always been a crap shoot. It is all over the place, in
different formats, and coverage is haphazard. The release ...of all of this material in a single, uniform collection is an incredible boon to anyone looking for that case law or trying to build tools that use case law.
You can see a preview of the collection or search the preview collection with a Google custom search engine that Elmer made.
Thanks to everyone who sent me info about the collection, and especially to Elmer and the other teknoids.

Let the sun shine in...

There's an interesting website called that "was created to advance the values of open and accountable government." The site gathers government documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and other public disclosure laws and publishes them online. Once you register with the site (free registration) you can review and comment on any of the available documents, adding your "insights and expertise."
The website is a project of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Thanks to Valerie Weiss, Faculty Services Librarian, for alerting me to this website.

GPO online guide to members of Congress

The helpful Government Printing Office has produced its first online guide to members of the 110th Congress, intended to be a single point of access for Member information from several different official sources.
Hat tip to the Resource Shelf.

Friday fun

It's snowing outside. Good time to snuggle up to your monitor and watch the Greatest Hits of online video, brought to you by PC World; they're all here, from Diet Coke and Mentos to The Christmas Lights House.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Fed. Rules of Civil Procedure changes

After a flurry of posting on the lawlib listserv about the changes in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (see Saturday's Barco 2.0), a helpful post from West noted that they've created a helpful 5-minute video on their website: Major Federal Civil Procedural Rules Changes Effective Dec. 1st, 2007 . In the video, Steven F. Baicker-McKee of Babst, Calland, Clements & Zomnir in Pittsburgh and Professor William Janssen of the U. of Charleston discuss the dramatic amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and why every major rule and form is changing on December 1, 2007. They are the authors of the Federal Civil Rules Handbook published by West just in time for the rule changes. All the rule changes are in their book, along with all the new forms, annotated commentary, and a "roadmap" at the end of each rule indicating the Style Project changes and the non-stylistic (substantive) changes to the rules.

Legal Technology

I’m “attending” an AALL webinar tomorrow afternoon (11/15) at 2:00 entitled “A Law Library Q & A on Legal Technology” that promises to provide the latest info on the technology that practicing lawyers are using for their day-to-day work. We are invited to ask questions, so if anyone at Pitt Law has questions they'd like to pose just email me.

Prisoner Locator Database

The irrepressable Alaskan librarian Daniel Cornwall continues to improve the State Agency database wiki that he started,with the assistance of many librarians all over the US. He has started to create subject pages for the database where we can collect links to agencies in all 50 states that provide information on a certain topic. He has created a page of Prisoner Locator info by state and asks for help with adding to the information and providing annotations if you can. He also links to an unannotated list of state prisoner locators put together at USA dot gov.
As the point person for Pennsylvania in this project, I can tell you that this is truly a collaborative project and if anyone wants to contribute ideas or information to the wiki it would be great. The "state agencies by subject area" is something that we can build that would really be a great service to librarians everywhere. If you're not sure how to wiki just email me and I'll be happy to help.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Street view of Pittsburgh

Google maps has added Pittsburgh to the list of cities that can be seen in "street view", which means you can cruise around the 'burgh virtually and look at the whole city in photos - buildings etc.
note: another cool new thing from Google Maps - send a Geo Greeting , which spells out your greeting message in buildings.

GSA publishing collection about the internet and government

News from the GovDocs listserv poster Steven Clift that the GSA is publishing a collection of papers about “How E-Government is Changing Society and Strengthen Democracy.” This is especially interesting because according to it is the first time a major govt. agency is publishing something about e-government.
The GSA website also has a list of "Who's Who in e-government and IT".

Monday, 12 November 2007


News from Westlaw: WestCheck is now compatible with Firefox. WestCheck is the nifty little tool from West that automatically extracts citations and applies KeyCite to citations from the documents you type; retrieves KeyCite and Table of Authorities results; and retrieves Westlaw full-text documents using Find. You have to download it onto your computer, and now you can use Firefox to do so.

The RIA Checkpoint tax database

We now have access to RIA Checkpoint via IP range (i.e. at all law school computers including via the wireless network in the law school).
However, in order to use the database you MUST REGISTER with RIA (everyone in the law school is eligible to register). And you must be at a computer in the Barco law building when you register (using the lawschool wireless is ok).
Once you register, you can access RIA from OFF-CAMPUS (any computer, anywhere) using your RIA username and password.
Here’s what to do:
1. Go to
You should see “University of Pittsburgh” in large blue letters at the top of the page (meaning the IP address of the computer you’re using is recognized).
2. Check the box to agree to the license terms (a popup box with the terms will appear).
3. Fill in the boxes with your first and last names, email address and the semester you wish to use the database.
4. RIA will immediately send your PERMANENT username which will be in the format UNP60-XXXXXX(6 random letters chosen by RIA)
and a TEMPORARY password to your email address.
5. You must then login to RIA using the PERMANENT username and the TEMPORARY password.
6. Before you can use RIA you must choose your own unique password. (Password rules: must be 7-20 characters, at least 1 letter and 1 number.)
NOTE that your username remains the one RIA assigned you.
7. You should then be given access to the database.
8. In the future, go directly to and log in with your RIA-assigned username and your own password.

Questions? Contact Susanna Leers.
Updated 11/11/07


Yesterday we were watching TV and my husband was "multitasking" which means he was working on his gorgeous new red Dell laptop... or trying to work, because it came with the Windows Vista OS and he's constantly having problems (the fact that it also came with Office 2007 doesn't help) and one of the new Vista-skewering Mac v. PC ads came on. Hilarious.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Google sorting search results

Pandia Search Engine News reports that Google has started to sort search results into categories. The example they give is that on the search results page for "cafe con leche" there is a heading "Results for cafe con leche recipe" with links to recipe websites. Sounds promising.

Sunday fun

via Larry David takes on an annoying bluetooth talker.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Social networks for scholars

There's an interesting little story in the Chronicle of Higher Ed's Wired Campus blog about how scholars are building online social networks - and these allow users to “remix” content posted to the site by others (with everyone involved getting proper credit, one hopes), creating new, custom publications that the social networking site will then market, with all editors and authors sharing in any revenues.

Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

The newly restyled Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCPs) will become effective on December 1, 2007. The changes are mostly stylistic and intended to carry forward the substantive meaning of the old rules, but the revisions have resulted in changes to both the language and numbering of the rules. The restyled rules are available on the U.S. Court’s website at
Hat tip to Gloria Jean Glasbrenner for posting this info on the law-lib listserv.


I fell out of love with Photoshop a few years ago, I'm sad to say. When I started using it a decade or so ago I was completely enamored - the power! the amazing things it lets me do to images! But it's so big and complicated (not to mention expensive) that I found myself using simpler image editors most of the time; and Gimp, which is free, keeps getting better.
So I'm happy to see that the folks at Adobe are working on it, according to this blogpost by a senior product manager.

Browser options

This morning CNET notes that Mozilla Firefox, everyone's favorite Explorer alternative, is taking up more space and working more sluggishly lately. They offer a list of the five favorite browser alternatives to Firefox. I've been using Avant Browser (#3 on the list) for years. Why? Because I like it. And because I can never remember if the Mozilla browser is called Firefox or Foxfire.

October Acquisitions

The new books acquired by Barco in October are now listed on our website by Author and by Subject. Faculty should email Susanna Leers if they'd like to check out any of the new books.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Copyright duration chart update

Peter Hirtle, who is the intellectual property officer at the Cornell University Library, sent out an announcement that he's recently updated the very useful handydandy Copyright Duration Chart on the Cornell library website. The update has added two new sections : published and unpublished sound recordings, and architectural works. Other small changes have been made to clarify some of the problems other readers have identified. Thanks Peter.

The 1L Plaint

Friday fun? Remember to be kind to our students - especially the 1L's - as exams loom.

Animal law resources

A lengthy article about the growing field of Animal Law in the ABA weekly newsletter points to an excellent online resource on the topic: This website is maintained by David Favre, a law professor at Michigan State University, and has comprehensive links to caselaw, statutes, books, podcasts, and answers to faq's for both attorneys and laypeople.

"laptops are pedagogical nuisances"

An article in the ABA Journal Weekly Newsletter discusses - yet again -the idea of banning laptops in law school classrooms and presents the spectrum of opinions on the topic. According to the article Duke Law has abandoned its laptop requirement because so many professors were banning laptops in their classrooms.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Refworks now available university-wide

Refworks is a web-based research management, writing, and collaboration tool similar to EndNote that is now available university-wide. ULS has announced that training will be offered in mid-November, and I am currently learning about RefWorks and putting together information on how RefWorks can be used by our faculty and students. Unfortunately RefWorks doesn’t do Bluebook citation format.
If anyone has used Refworks for their scholarly research and writing please let me know your opinion about it.

Defining Gender database

The database Defining Gender, 1450-1910, from Adam Matthew Publishers, is now available throughout the university. This is a collection of original source material from 21 British and European libraries and should prove useful to researchers interested in history, literature, sociology, education, and cultural studies from a gendered perspective.
The collection includes manuscripts, printed works and illustrations that are indexed to provide accessibility by person and subject. Documents include ephemera, pamphlets, college records and exam papers, commonplace books, diaries, periodicals, letters, ledgers, account books, educational practice and pedagogy, government papers from the Home Office and Metropolitan police, illustrated writings on anatomy, midwifery, art and fashion, manuscript journals, poetry, novels, ballads, drama, receipt books, literary manuscripts, travel writing, and conduct and advice literature.

ULS database trial: Islamic studies

From Hillman: we now have a trial of Oxford Islamic Studies Online. ULS is interested in feedback. From the publisher's description: “Oxford Islamic Studies Online offers unrivaled online access to the history and culture of Islam and provides full-text access to great Oxford reference and scholarly works, including The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, The Oxford History of Islam, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, two classic interpretations of the Qur'an, a Concordance of the Qur'an, What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam, and the forthcoming Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World (due to publish in 2008).”

New on Lexis

The LexisNexis lawschool page has a new look and offers a new feature that is really useful: Search by Topic or Headnote. Go into the Research System and look at the Search tab at the top of the page – click on the option “by Topic or Headnote”. I love the way this new search works. It lets you drill down into the area of law you’re interested in, and search across Cases, Statutes, Analysis and more. For example, choose the topic “Computer and Internet Law” and then choose one of the relevant topics, like “Privacy and Security” and find specific topics that are relevant. Check it out.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Database accessiblity for the visually impaired

There was an interesting post on the ERIL (electronic resources in libraries) listserv today. A librarian who is very interested in accessibility wrote that when looking at databases we should ask whether the pdf's in the database are "locked" or "unlocked". If they're locked you're not able to use the Text selection tool to copy any text. But more importantly, if they're locked they are not accessible to patrons with vision disabilities . A locked PDF is an image file with inaccessible text. An unlocked PDF has text that is accessible, that can be manipulated by screen readers designed for the print disabled. You can read her thoughts on open access on her blog, poetic economics. Another librarian added that librarians should look for databases that have multiple full text options, such as PDF and HTML because PDFs--even accessible ones--can be quite problematic. He pointed us to an article on website accessiblity for the visually impaired.

Federal Gov. information

GPO Access, the website of the General Printing Office, is undergoing a transformation. The new website, which is being developed in phases, is called "FDSys" (pronounced "fed sis"). FDsys is intended to make it easy for federal agencies to create and submit content to the website that can then be preserved, managed and delivered upon request. When it is completed, FDsys will include all Federal Government documents within the scope of GPO’s Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), whether printed or electronic. Content will include text, graphics, audio, and video files. It will be available for online searching and viewing, downloading and printing, and as document masters for conventional and on-demand printing.
A summary powerpoint presentation of the development of Fedsys is on the GPO website. There's also a FDsys blog where you can keep up to date and share ideas.

How the heck are they going to organize all this digital information so we can find it, you may be asking. Well, they are also testing various "naming structures" to identify information that will be entered into the bib records. If you're a cataloging librarian, or just love organizing stuff, you can check out the naming structures and comment on them (by Nov. 26) on the FDLP website.

I've added a page of useful federal forms links to our library website. If there are forms that aren't there let me know and I'll add them.

Hat tip to Pat Roncevich for the info about FDsys and the federal forms.

Monday, 5 November 2007

WSJ blogs freely available

The Wall Street Journal remains resolute in restricting its online content to those who pay for subscriptions. However, the wsj has been quietly building a collection of blogs - available to one and all -on favorite topics including the Law Blog, Business Technology Blog, and Energy Roundup Blog. Most recently, The Daily Fix blog , featuring reporting on the best sports reporting on the web, was launched today with a lengthy report on Sunday's epic Patriots v. Colts battle.

Has the internet affected offline reading?

The Center for the Digital Future at USC is conducting a longitudinal research project on how computers, the internet and related technologies affect families and society. Their 2007 Digital Future Report is now available online and to make it more digestible here's they will highlight a specific focus area every other Monday. Today's highlight focuses on the question: How has the use of the internet changed the amount of time you spend reading books, newspapers and magazines off-line?

NSSE Annual Report 2007

NSSE, the National Survey of Student Engagement, has released its annual report for 2007. The report, a summary, and more information is available on the NSSE website. NSSE, established in 1999, gathers information from colleges and universities nationwide about student participation in programs and activities provided for their learning and development. NSSE hopes to provide an estimate of how undergraduates spend their time and what they gain from attending college. It was developed in part to provide more meaningful measures than those used by US News to rank colleges. Though it addresses undergraduate education directly, it is also very pertinent to education at the graduate level.

The future of scholarly communication

With technology changing the way so many forms of communication are changing, the Association of College and Research Libraries held a meeting last July to to "collectively brainstorm the evidence needed to inform strategic planning for scholarly communication programs". They have now published an online paper that discusses the results of that meeting and details a range of research questions related to new forms of scholarly communication.
The participants in the meeting identified eight major themes that characterize the transformations occurring in scholarly research and publishing:
The Impact and Implications of Cyberinfrastructure
Changing Organizational Models
How Scholars Work
Authorship and Scholarly Publishing
Value and Value Metrics of Scholarly Communications
Adoption of Successful Innovations
Preservation of Critical Materials
Public Policy and Legal Matters
The paper suggests and encourages further research into these eight themes and closes with an invitation to everyone in the academic community to join the conversation by posting to the ACRL wiki created for the topic: Establishing a Research Agenda for Scholarly Communication: A Call for Community Engagement.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Build it and they will read?

There's a report in this week's City Paper that some dedicated citizens in the borough of Millvale - best-known for its French bakery and its frequent floods - would like to establish a library. They think that the lack of a library contributes to Millvale's depressed status (less than 5 percent of Millvale residents have a college degree) and they're trying to build community support and collect donations to build one. They've got a website where you can find out more.
It reminds me of one of my favorite childhood books, Emily's Runaway Imagination by Beverly Cleary. Emily is a little girl who lives in a small town in Oregon in the early 20th century when libraries are luxuries few towns can afford. Emily dreams of a town library and with her spunk and imagination she makes one happen.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Economic Globalization news

This month's Liber8 newsletter focuses on economic globalization and has links to free data resources for global economic information. Liber8, "an economic information portal for librarians and students", is a nicely designed and easily navigated portal that has links to various international, national and regional economic free data resources including, for example, "How Much is That" where you can find out how the value of a dollar in 1950 compares with today's dollar and see the daily closing values of the Dow Jones Average every day since 1885.

Notable Quotes ideas?

Fred Shapiro, Yale law librarian and editor of the acclaimed Yale Book of Quotations, recently posted on the lawlib listserv. He says that he compiles an annual list of quotations for Reuters as an update to his book, and he welcomes "any suggestions of famous or otherwise notable quotations uttered or published in 2007". Quotations can come from politics, popular culture, sports, or any other field" and can be emailed to Fred.

National Book Awards: you vote

The Library and Information Science News blog points us to the Publisher's Weekly poll on whom you expect will win the National Book Award prizes in the 4 main categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry and Young People's Literature.
Which reminds me, the Booker Prize was awarded while I was in China, so I completely missed it. And the Prize went to .... The Gathering by Anne Enright, a novel described as "exhilaratingly bleak".

First Sunday in November: Fall Back

In my household, my husband is in charge of the clocks. This is partly because he has to be at work by 7 am and partly because his sense of time is so lame that a number of years ago the OR nurses chipped in and bought him a superatomic clock that is somehow operated by the US Government to ensure that it is always precisely correct to the micromillisecond. But last Sunday I said hey, it's the last Sunday in October, weren't we supposed to Fall Back? I was told that the Government decided to change the Fall Back day to November. My first reaction was that this is a great idea, though too late for me - Congress finally realized that it's much better to Trick or Treat when it's light out. But then I heard that no, this isn't about Halloween, it's somehow supposed to be an energy saving move. Right, whatever. But do take the opportunity to read about Daylight Savings Time and peruse the charming website of the Time and Frequency Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, where you can set your clocks to the official US time.
You can also read one person's opinion about why the energy argument is deeply flawed in a blogpost by The Numbers Guy at the Wall St. Journal.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Surveillance librarians?

The Washington Post and the Chronicle of Higher Ed. Wired Campus report today that the Association of Research Libraries, the American Library Association, and the Association of American Universities are lobbying against measures in the House and Senate that would grant federal intelligence agencies greater latitude in gathering data on library patrons. Draft House and Senate bills would allow the government to compel any "communications service provider" to provide access to e-mails and other electronic information within the United States as part of federal surveillance of non-U.S. citizens outside the country. The library groups are lobbying to have the bill amended to make clear that the term "communications provider" does not include libraries.

WL and Lexis battle it out (just in fun)

"I'm just going to make an arbitrary decision the night before my major memo is due"

Hat tip once again to Joe Hodnicki at the Law Librarian Blog.