Friday, 20 December 2013

Early help with your digital New Year's resolutions

If your plans/hopes for 2014 include getting some control over your digital stuff,  two articles published today can help. Does this sound familiar: "most people have a growing inventory of storage sitting around their homes. Typically there’s a drawer of 1GB and 2GB USB flash drives—it seemed like a lot of space at the time—camera cards, old CDs and DVDs, and usually a few external drives. What’s on those drives? Can they still be read? Are they safe to throw out?"  Note that the author doesn't even mention the piles of floppy disks stuck on a shelf somewhere.  In "How to Cope with an Expanding Data Closet", from MIT Technology Review, Simson Garfinkel gives extensive advice on how to "create your own personal storage management plan" and organize all that data.  
Meanwhile, ProfHacker, a blog of The Chronicle of Higher Education, has a post titled "Lighten Your Inbox in 10 Minutes with Unroll.Me".  I confess I haven't had time to test it out yet, but just the thought of a service that helps cope with the barrage of daily emails makes me feel hopeful.
Here's to a neatly organized 2014.

Vendors of legal research databases: who bought whom in 2013

Greg Lambert at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog has an interesting post titled "Review of 2013 Legal Research Vendors' Mergers, Acquisitions and Partnerships".  Thanks, Greg. 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The legal aspects of drones

There's been a lot about drones in the news lately.  And just in time, CALI has a new lesson titled "Drones: Unmanned Aircraft Systems" which explores the legal aspects of drones in both military and civilian settings. This lesson looks at the following legal issues relating to the use of a UAS:
1. FAA proposed and current regulations;
2. Military uses and the ethics of such use. Military uses include using drones as a decoy, or as a target simulating enemy aircraft, or in reconnaissance providing battlefield intelligence, or in combat attacking or killing people;
3. Law enforcement use and the search and seizure implications; and
4. Other commercial purposes and privacy considerations.
Note: you will need to be registered for a CALI account before taking the lesson. 

Monday, 9 December 2013

25 years of PACER

The US Courts are hailing the 25th anniversary of the PACER electronic filing and docketing system.  "In September 1988, the Judicial Conference of the United States approved a new way of opening information to the public, through a service known as PACER—Public Access to Court Electronic Records." You can read all about the history of PACER and the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) on the US Courts website, complete with photographs. The article concludes: "User surveys in 2009 and 2012 showed strong and growing user satisfaction with PACER and CM/ECF, but efforts continue to build on the first quarter-century’s success. We are in the process of modernizing the CM/ECF system and PACER service, to make it more user-friendly. The biggest challenge—and opportunity—lies in the area of preservation of the electronic dockets and opinions for posterity. Electrons don't age as gracefully as paper. We will need to work closely with the National Archives and the Government Printing Office to ensure that future generations can access this valuable information.”

Monday, 2 December 2013

Printing Questions Answered

It's the time of year when students are doing a lot of printing, and may have questions about campus printing at Pitt.  CSSD has a webpage with all the information they might need. The most common questions about print quota and adding money to your print quota are answered:

Pittsburgh campus students receive 900 print units per semester. Black & white pages are 1 unit each. Color pages are 7 units each. Users can purchase additional units for $0.07 each at the Pay Stations located in any of the Campus Computing Labs. You can check how many pages you have printed at any time. Log in to accounts.pitt.edu, click Manage My Account and click the View quota information link.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Google Scholar amps up features

Google Scholar Blog has announced the launch of Google Scholar Library, a feature that allows a user to "save articles right from the search page, organize them by topic, and use the power of Scholar's full-text search to quickly find just the one you want... with a single click, you can import all the articles in your profile as well as all the articles they cite.". You're able to use "labels" to organize the material you've saved to your library. And Google Scholar's database includes U.S. case law, legal journal articles, and patents, as well as scholarly articles from many other disciplines. You can also save library access links for up to five of your most-used libraries.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Project Management Software

Law Library Tech Talk, a pretty regular online show brought to you by several geekish law profs & librarians, discussed and recommended  some online project management software products yesterday.  These are, in alphabetical order:

  1. Asana: "Teamwork without email."
  2. Azendoo "We make it easier for people to do their job, to work better, together."
  3. Trello "Organize anything, together." 
  4. Wrike "Project Management Software that makes your life easier!"
All have free trial options, as well as various levels of pricing.  

Friday, 22 November 2013

Scheduled GPO website maintenance

The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) will be performing scheduled maintenance on its Web services this weekend, and many GPO Web services will be unavailable.
Start Time: Saturday, November 23, 2013, 7:00 a.m. EDT * End Time: Sunday, November 24, 2013, 8:00 p.m. EDT
Approximate Duration: 36 hours
 During the maintenance period, Beta.fdlp.gov FDLP.gov, FDLP Community, Digitization Projects Registry, Browse Topics, and Ben's Guide will experience downtime. The Catalog of U.S. Government Publications and the Federal Depository Library Directory will not be affected. The GPO says:  "Scheduled maintenance is a necessary and vital aspect of Web services. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your cooperation during this time."

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

GPO assembles publications about JFK

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy was one of the most historic—and horrific— events of the 20th century. In commemoration of this important milestone in our Nation's history, the U.S. Government Printing Office has assembled a number of Official Federal publications that help us reflect on the legacy left by “JFK” in his 1,000 days in office.  These include publications containing the text of his speeches as a Senator, the story of the Peace Corps, and publications that tell about US involvement in the Cold War.  

Monday, 18 November 2013

The truth abt legal research vendors, irreverently

This 10 minute video succinctly tells the story of electronic legal research in thrall to big vendors.



hat tip: Joe Hodnicki

Friday, 15 November 2013

The Google Books verdict came down yesterday. Google won.

Wow. The use of the full text of tens of millions of books for its online search function is a transformative use and thus Google's mass digitization of those books without authorization from copyright holders constitutes fair use, Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled Nov. 14. The story is all over the news and the full 30-page decision is available in pdf format online. The current citation for the case is Authors Guild, Inc. v. Google Inc., S.D.N.Y., No. 1:05-cv-08136-DC, 1:05-cv-08136, 05-cv-8136, 11/14/13.
PW reports that "After years of fair use legal wrangling, the case wasn’t even close. Chin found Google easily prevailed on three of the four fair use factors, and lost slightly on one."
Libraries are pleased with the decision; the ALA said that "This ruling furthers the purpose of copyright by recognizing that Google’s Book search is a transformative fair use that advances research and learning.”

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Considerations before weeding print in favor of digital

Government Documents librarian James Jacobs has posted a reminder on the govdocs website that all libraries should bear in mind as we are pressured to weed our print collections.  He says please take these four things into account:
 1. Do you actually have access to a digital copy? Note, for example, that some documents in the HathiTrust are fully available only to HathiTrust members. http://www.hathitrust.org/help_digital_library#Download
 2. Are the digital copies you expect to rely on complete and accurate? Many are not. See the article in D-Lib: "The Digital-Surrogate Seal ofApproval: a Consumer-oriented Standard." by James A. Jacobs and James R. Jacobs. D-Lib Magazine, 2013, 19(3/4).
 3. Do the digital copies you intend to rely on match the needs of your users? Not all digital copies are created or delivered equally. For example, Have they been OCR'd? Is the OCR text searchable? Can you copy the OCR text? Are numbers in tables preserved in the OCR text? Was the original a large-format or did it contain images, color, fold-outs, maps, etc., and are those as legible and as easy to use as the original? Do your users expect to use digital books in a different way from paper (textual analysis? convert to ebooks? read on tablets? use text-to-voice? etc.) and do the digital copies you intend to rely on meet the needs of your users?
 4. Finally, providing digital copies for enhancing access and use is a good thing, but please do not assume that it is necessarily a good idea to discard paper copies once digital copies are available. Print copies were made to be used in print (size, layout, accessibility, visual context, etc.). Digital copies of those may or may not adequately preserve that same usability and accessibility and few digitization projects take the time to remake the paper into a fully functional digital object designed to be consumed digitally. The preservation of these valuable paper copies will continue to be important unless and until many questions can be adequately addressed (http://freegovinfo.info/node/3961). Discarding paper prematurely, without ensuring the long-term preservation of these historic documents would be contrary to the spirit of the FDLP and would not serve either your constituents or the nation.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Transition to Congress.gov

The Library of Congress has announced that on Nov. 19 the free legislative info website THOMAS.gov will redirect to Congress.gov as Congress.gov transitions into its permanent role as the official site for federal legislative information from the U.S. Congress and related agencies. The site, which launched in beta form last fall and features platform mobility, comprehensive information retrieval and user-friendly presentation, is replacing the nearly 20-year-old THOMAS.gov.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Redesigned RegulationRoom website launched

RegulationRoom - the website operated by the Cornell eRulemaking Initiative (CeRI) and hosted by the Legal Information Institute (LII) - has just launched a completely redesigned version of their website RegulationRoom.org. They have also opened a new discussion about consumer debt collection practices. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is considering new rules for the debt collection industry, and needs feedback on its questions and ideas. CFPB believes debt collection is an important issue for consumers and are taking the first steps to gather information to determine what rules would be appropriate to protect consumers who are subject to debt collection. They would like input from anyone who:

  • had an experience with debt collection (good or bad) 
  • counsels consumers with overdue debts
  • has a business where you do your own account collection or 
  • works in the debt collection industry. 

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Practical Law Co. on the future of US-EU Safe Harbor for Data

The US-EU Safe Harbor framework is an important cross-border data transfer mechanism that enables certified organizations to transfer personal data from the EU to the US in compliance with European data protection laws. Recently, however, the Safe Harbor's future has been thrown into doubt. Following widespread concern about the US government's covert surveillance programs, European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding announced in July 2013 a plan to review the Safe Harbor and publish the results before the end of 2013. To learn more about the US-EU Safe Harbor and recent developments affecting its future viability, see the Practical Law Company's assessment on  Privacy & Data Security: The Future of the US-EU Safe Harbor for Data Transfers.

New ULS database: OnePetro

OnePetro is an online library of technical literature for the oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) industry. It contains more than 145,000 documents produced by 18 publishing partners, including the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). It may be useful for our faculty and students who are interested in the law of Marcellus Shale development.
hat tip: Judy Brink, Engineering Library

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

New free e-resource: Global Health and Human Rights Database

Lawyers Collective and the O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University in Washington DC have launched the Global Health and Human Rights Database . The Database is a fully searchable online database of more than 1000 judgments, constitutions and international instruments on the intersection between health and human rights. The Database is the first attempt to comprehensively make available health and human rights law from both common and civil law jurisdictions, and features case law and other legal documents from more than 80 countries and in 25 languages. It also provides 500 plain-language summaries and 200 original translations of case law previously unavailable in English. The Database has been created in collaboration with more than 100 partners from civil society, academia, and legal practice worldwide. An official public launch of the Database was held on 24 October 2013, at the Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York.

hat tip: Lyonette Louis-Jacques

Portico e-journal service reaches historic milestone: More than 25 million articles preserved

Portico has announced that it is preserving 25 million journal articles—and counting—through its E-Journal Preservation Service. The articles represent content from more than 287,000 volumes and more than one million journal issues. This is a significant milestone for Portico and the library and publisher community that supports digital preservation. "It is quite remarkable to see the growth in the Portico archive over the last eight years," commented Marilyn Geller, collection management librarian of Lesley University, an early Portico participant. "When it first started, the Portico system was an untested concept. But in the ensuing years, the system has proven successful and the organization has demonstrated that they can be trusted when unforeseen circumstances happen. We couldn't be more pleased with Portico's growth." Read the complete news  release online.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Students are texting in class!

We already know that students are texting in class. Inside Higher Ed reports on a recent study done by a researcher at the University of Nebraska that looks at just how much they are texting.  The results show that Undergraduates reporting using their devices for non-class purposes 11 times a day, on average, compared to 4 times a day for graduate students. Asked why they were using their devices in class, the top answer was texting (86 percent), followed by checking the time (79 percent). e-mail (68 percent), social networking (66 percent), web surfing (38 percent) and games (8 percent).

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Decline of Microsoft Windows

Speaking of decline, a post on the Wall Street Journal's new Digits blog projects the continuing decline of Microsoft and its Windows operating system. This is mainly due to the growth of mobile devices that use non-Windows operating systems: Android, iOS/MacOS  and "Other". According to the post, Windows' marketshare will shrink from over 50% in 2010 to a projected 20% in 2017.  

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Is Wikipedia in decline?

There's an interesting article in MIT Technology Review titled "The Decline of Wikipedia".  The author takes a close look at how Wikipedia operates and notes that the volunteer workforce that built and maintains the English-lanaguage Wikipedia site is growing smaller.  Why? The author notes that "The main source of those problems is not mysterious. The loose collective running the site today, estimated to be 90 percent male, operates a crushing bureaucracy with an often abrasive atmosphere that deters newcomers who might increase participation in Wikipedia and broaden its coverage."  He cites a detailed study of Wikipedia by  University of Minnesota, Berkeley & Washington grad students that details various problems with useful graphs and charts. 

Monday, 21 October 2013

New on HeinOnline: citations in articles linked to caselaw

HeinOnline recently announced that case law is now integrated into all HeinOnline content via links to either HeinOnline or Fastcase. What does this mean? If you are reading a law review article in HeinOnline and the author cites a case, the citation will be highlighted in blue, and if you click the citation a new window will open so you can read the case. The case document will be presented in the familiar HeinOnline format so the document delivery is seamless. The federal case coverage includes the judicial opinions of the Supreme Court (1754-present), Federal Circuits (1924-present), Board of Tax Appeals (vols. 1-47), Tax Court Memorandum Decisions (vols. 1-59), U.S. Customs Court (vols. 1-70), Board of Immigration Appeals (1996-present), Federal District Courts (1924- present), and Federal Bankruptcy Courts (1 B.R. 1-present). The state case law covers all fifty states, with nearly half of the states dating back to the 1800s. Coverage for the remaining states dates back to approximately 1950.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Survey: Bluebook

We are currently using the 19th edition of the Bluebook, which means that the 20th is right around the corner. Here's a chance to share your opinions about the BB with the people who are revising it: the editors of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation are about to begin making revisions for the forthcoming Twentieth Edition, and are seeking the help of people who use it. They rely on user input to guide revisions to The Bluebook, and they have composed a survey to get your help so that they can target the revisions to best serve user needs. Please take a few minutes to fill out the survey at www.legalbluebook.com/survey. Surveys must be received by November 8, 2013, in order to be considered for the Twentieth Edition. Comments and suggestions are also welcome through e-mail to editor@legalbluebook.com.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Law Review reform suggested by new study

A hot-off-the-presses new article from the Loyola Law Review (59 Loy. L. Rev. 1) discusses a study that was done by surveying law faculty, law review editors, lawyers and judges about law reviews. The article is titled Do law reviews need reform? A survey of law professors, student editors, attorneys, and judges.
From the article:
"We surveyed law professors, student editors, attorneys, and judges to determine what they think about the current system of law reviews, the need for reforms, and what reforms should be implemented. We received an excellent response to the survey. A total of 1,325 law professors, 338 student editors, 215 attorneys, and 156 judges participated.... Although the present study was exploratory, has limitations, and does not definitively resolve the debate about law reviews; it nonetheless offers support for several important conclusions about them. Law reviews are likely not meeting the needs of attorneys and judges; and law professors believe that they have a capricious, negative effect on their careers. The vast majority of legal professionals and student editors believe that law reviews should be reformed and that the reforms should include blind, peer reviews and more student training. There needs to be more empirical studies about law reviews because authors' opinions about them may not reflect the views of the legal community and many of their assumptions about law reviews may lack empirical support."

Digitizing Einstein

There's news of a cool new digitization project: Princeton University Press is partnering with online publishing platform Tizra to make Albert Einstein's papers available online. The Collected Papers, will contain searchable text, in German and in English translation, for the thousands of pages of Einstein’s work throughout his lifetime. The papers include lectures, research notebooks, interviews, and letters. Nearly 14,000 of Einstein's papers will provide a complete picture of a massive written legacy that ranges from his first work on the special and general theories of relativity and the origins of quantum theory, to expressions of his profound concern with civil liberties, education, Zionism, pacifism, and disarmament.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

New Databases from the University Library System

We now have access to Uniworld, the online version of two important business directories: "American Firms Operating in Foreign Countries" and "Foreign Firms Operating in the United States." Uniworld Online provides quick access to high quality contact information for businesses in over 200 countries and 20,000 industries.
Thanks to the Health Sciences Library System, we have online access to DSM-5, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. A well-known and heavily used resource, the DSM is a classification of mental disorders with associated criteria designed to facilitate more reliable diagnoses of these disorders.

American Lawyer Media subscription at Barco

The Barco Law Library now has a subscription  to 14 American Lawyer Media (ALM) publications.  These are available via IP range, meaning you can access them at any computer and via the wireless network in the Barco Law Building and the Sennott Square clinic offices. There are links on the Barco Law library databases page.  The list of publications:
1. The National Law Journal provides news and analysis for a national audience of legal professionals, and corporate and government decision makers, from Supreme Court rulings to complex litigation.
 2. The American Lawyer   is the leading daily news source covering legal business, law firms, and lawyers across the U.S. and around the world.
 3. The Legal Intelligencer  As the oldest law journal in the U.S., The Legal Intelligencer takes advantage of 170 years as the expert source of legal information for professionals in Philadelphia, its suburbs and the state of Pennsylvania.
 4. The New York Law Journal (NYLJ) is the largest selling legal daily in the country with the latest news on prosecutors, judges, legislators and law firms, along with in-depth analysis.
 5. The New Jersey Law Journal  has daily news for New Jersey’s practicing attorneys in the nation’s ninth-largest legal market.
 6. The Recorder  is a leading provider of essential California legal news and information, indispensable to the daily practice of California's legal decision-makers.
 7. The Delaware Business Court Insider , a weekly electronic newsletter distributed every Wednesday, will provide the latest news, analysis, case summaries and reporting on developments in Delaware corporate law.
 8. Corporate Counsel has information for the in-house community.
 9. Litigation  is a special report for coverage and analysis of the biggest cases, profiles of successful litigation firms and a review of the year’s highlights and trends. Print is twice a year. Online is daily.
 10. Connecticut Law Tribune is Connecticut’s only weekly newspaper devoted to covering the legal community, giving you the latest developments in Connecticut’s courts, law firms and legislature.
 11. The Daily Report  is the primary source for news about the courts and the business and profession of law for lawyers in metro Atlanta and the state of Georgia.
 12. The Daily Business Review Insider  is designated the official court newspaper by the chief judges of the state judicial circuits in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties and by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
 13. Texas Lawyer  has news for members of the Texas Bar, one of the biggest and most influential bars in the country,
14. Supreme Court Brief features exclusive high court news and analysis from the National Law Journal.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Westlaw Webinars for Faculty

Westlaw has scheduled a series of webinars for faculty during the next couple of months. If you click on the link you will automatically be registered for the webinar.
September 26th Noon Practical Law
October 3rd 2:30 pm Terms & Connectors on WestlawNext 
October 7th 1:00 pm Digests
October 18th 1:00 pm TWEN 101
October 25th 1:00 pm From Classic to Next
October 28th 3:30 pm Alerts
November 1st 2:30 Secondary Sources on WLN
November 8th 1:00 pm WLN Productivity Tools
November 10th 1:00 pm From Classic to Next
November 21st 1:00 pm Advanced TWEN

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Thomas transitioning to Congress dot gov

The Library of Congress has announced that starting in November, when you click on a link in Thomas you may be redirected to the up-and-coming Congress.gov; though Thomas will remain accessible from the Congress website through late 2014.
They are also looking for feedback about the site. Starting today through next Monday, September 30 they are doing a more in depth user test. They are looking for people who are interested in Congress and legislation to take 15 minutes to test Congress.gov. with a new test that can be done from your computer anytime and is absolutely anonymous. Your input will help make it a better site for everyone.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

New Bloomberg BNA State Tax Law content

The Bloomberg BNA Tax and Accounting Center has been enhanced to include new Excise Tax, Property Tax, and Estates Gifts and Trusts navigators and chart builders that provide detailed state-by-state tax information and allows users to quickly create custom charts and compare state tax details among states. Three State Tax Nexus tools – Corporate Income Tax, Sales & Use Tax, and Trusts Nexus Evaluator Tool – allow faculty and students to create reports to compare company activities to what the states report as nexus-creating contacts. The nexus tools are an excellent way to teach students the importance of nexus in the state tax area. A new State Tax Development Tracker allows tax faculty and students to track and summarize daily state tax developments across a full range of topics.
The Tax and Accounting Center can also be accessed directly from your Bloomberg Law account. 

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The U.S. Constitution for iPhone: the pursuit of Appiness

Just in time for the 226th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, the Library of Congress has a free iPhone app of the U.S. Constitution: Analysis and Interpretation, aka the Constitution Annotated or CONAN. This is a comprehensive analytical legal treatise prepared by attorneys of the Congressional Research Service. It contains legal analysis and interpretation of the United States Constitution, based primarily on Supreme Court case law. This regularly updated resource is especially useful when researching the constitutional implications of a specific issue or topic. The Featured Topics and Cases page highlights recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions that demonstrate pivotal interpretations of the Constitution's provisions.  

Monday, 16 September 2013

New: consumer law treatises online

The Barco Law Library owns the 20 print treatises published by the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC). We now have access, via law school IP range, to the “companion websites” of these treatises. These books are practical guides that can be used by laypeople or attorneys in dealing with a wide range of consumer law issues. They include lots of useful forms and sample documents for pleadings. Check them out at www.nclc.org/ipaccess . To get into the content, use the links in the lefthand menu to go to the title you want, like “Access to Utility Service”. The next page will let you search the content of that title. To see all the contents, click on the “Contents” tab at the top of the page.
 The books are divided into 4 libraries:
 Debtor Rights Library: •Consumer Bankruptcy Law and Practice •Fair Debt Collection •Foreclosures •Repossessions •Student Loan Law •Access to Utility Service
 Credit and Banking Library: •Truth in Lending •Fair Credit Reporting •Mortgage Lending •Consumer Credit Regulation •Consumer Banking and Payments Law •Credit Discrimination
Consumer Litigation Library: •Collection Actions •Consumer Class Actions •Consumer Law Pleadings •Consumer Arbitration Agreements
Deception and Warranties Library: •Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices •Federal Deception Law •Automobile Fraud •Consumer Warranty Law
You can also find these resources by using PittCat, which includes a master record (search for title: “Consumer Law Manuals”) with all the titles and website info.

Law Student Technology Use: fall 2013

Law librarian extraordinaire Rich McCue, at the University of Victoria (British Columbia), surveys incoming law students about their technology use every year. This fall he had a 90% response rate to the survey. Here's what he found (the full report, including graphics, is on his website):

  • Phones: 96% of incoming law students own Smart Phones: 54%  iPhones, 31% Android and 11% Blackberry (Blackberry usage is down from 27% two years ago). New law students are primarily using their mobile devices for directions, email, and looking up schedules & contact information. 
  • Tablets and eBook ownership have doubled in the past year with 44% of students owning tablet devices or ebook readers, up from 31% last year. However, 64% of students never bring their tablet or ebook reader to school, "probably indicating a preference for laptops for note taking and research, and still heavy reliance on printed text books". 
  • When asked if they would use a library run tablet lending program, 53% said they would not use it while 18% said they would use it daily or weekly. 
  • Phone communication: 92% of students use Skype for real-time audio/video calls and collaboration. 42% use Apple Facetime and 9% use Google Hangouts. 
  • Email: 59% of students use Gmail as their primary email account, 22% Outlook.com, and 6% use their university email. 
  • Data storage and collaboration: 49% of students use Dropbox, up from 22% last year. 41% use Google drive, up from 33% last year. 15% use Apple iCloud up from 4%. 3% use Microsoft Sky Drive which is unchanged from last year. 
  • Social Media: 92% of students use Facebook (down from 97% two years ago), 31% user Twitter, 19% Linked In, 8% Google+ and 3% don’t use online social networks. 
  • Laptops: 97% of students own laptops. 57% of laptops are Macs, up from 49% last year. 44% use Windows, down from 48% last year. 68% of students bring their laptops to school regularly & 21% bring them never or rarely. 
  • Class Notes: 73% of students use laptops to take class notes, 72% use pen and paper, 3% use tablets and 4% use cell phones. 11% record lecture audio with their laptops or audio recorder.

Anti-bribery & -corruption laws app

New: the AB&C Laws Application is free from the Apple iTunes app store. The app, created by firm Latham & Watkins,is designed to inform users about anti-bribery and anti-corruption laws. about anti-bribery and anti-corruption laws in major jurisdictions around the world, including China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Users can look up the anti-bribery and anti-corruption laws in a covered jurisdiction and find out what constitutes an offense, whether the laws in one country apply outside its borders, how to reduce risk, and what potential punishments are available. The app also includes pop-up windows that define legal terms. hat tip: Law Technology News

Friday, 13 September 2013

2 new libraries from HeinOnline

Two new HeinOnline libraries are now available from Barco Law Library.
  • Parker School of Foreign and Comparative Law Publications: This collection includes more than 50 publications from the prestigious Parker School of Foreign & Comparative Law at Columbia Law School. View publications such as the 22-volume set, A Bibliography on Foreign and Comparative Law. Book and Articles in English by Charles Szladits, along with An Introduction to the Legal System of the United States by E. Allan Farnsworth, among various others. A more detailed description of the content is on HeinOnline (4 page pdf). 
  • Immigration Law & Policy in the U.S.: This monumental collection is a compilation of the most important historical documents and legislation related to immigration in the United States as well as current hearings, debates and recent developments in immigration law. This first comprehensive database includes BIA Precedent Decisions, legislative histories, law and policy titles, extradition titles, scholarly articles, an extensive bibliography, and other related works. A more detailed description of the content is on HeinOnline (4 page pdf)

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Google enters the MOOC arena

There's an interesting article today in the Chronicle of Higher Education titled "Google and edX Create a MOOC Site for the Rest of Us".  MOOC, of course, stands for Massive Open Online Courses. It seems that Google is partnering with a nonprofit company founded by MIT and Harvard called edX and together they have created a website called MOOC.org .  The site will provide a platform allowing "any academic institution, business, and individual to create and host online courses,” according to the article. In an interview, Anant Agarwal, president of edX, referred to the site as a “YouTube for courses.”  At the moment, MOOC.org is still in its formative stages - if you visit the website you will see a message saying "mooc.org goes live in the first half of 2014. Are you interested in creating or hosting courses on mooc.org? Complete one of the three forms below and let us know how mooc.org fits into your plans. We'll be in touch as we get closer to launch".

Friday, 6 September 2013

Tarlton Law Library Digital Resource

The Tarlton Law Library at the University of Texas School of Law has announced the release of a number of digital resources created by Tarlton's staff. The resources chronicle aspects of the history of Texas law and of the University of Texas School of Law, and can be found at the Tarlton Special Collections web site. The following are some of the newest digital collections:
 Texas Constitutions 1824-1876, completely updated and revised in 2013, contains the text of all the organic documents of Texas, including those from the period under Mexican rule and of the Republic of Texas. Also part of the collection are constitutional convention journals and debates and the printing history for each version of the state's constitution.
The Texas Jurists Collection includes over 400 photographs of Texas jurists that were donated to the Tarlton Law Library by Texas Supreme Court Justice Jack Pope. This collection complements the related web site, Justices of Texas, 1836-1986, which features photographs and brief biographies of Texas Supreme Court justices and judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals.
 The World War II News Sheets were created by Helen Hargrave, the University of Texas' Law Librarian from 1940 to 1965. Her goal was to provide information on UT law students, alumni and faculty serving in the military during World War II; the News Sheets, published between March 1943 and August 1945, were central in keeping the close-knit law school community connected during the war.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

New! CALI webinars begin Friday Sept. 6

On Friday, Sept. 6, at 3 pm,  Sarah Glassmeyer of CALI will host the first of a series of short - SHORT! 15 minutes! - webinars on CALI tips and tricks. More information including the registration link is here.  The webinar will use Go to Webinar, which allows for screen sharing, easy interaction with the participants and CALI has a license. Recommended for law students, librarians and faculty. 

Monday, 26 August 2013

Chronicle of Higher Ed on library databases

There's an interesting post via the Chronicle of Higher Education titled "The 3 Click Dilemma: are library databases nearing the tipping point of obsolescence?"  The author tells us that he recently had a conversation with a history professor (and library lover) during which he was told that "it’s getting harder for me to get students to use the library— especially the databases— anything beyond three clicks is just too many.”
The article goes on to explore what this evolving attitude towards databases might mean for libraries. 

Thursday, 22 August 2013

New: study room reservations

The Barco Law Library is looking forward to a good year.  And with the start of the new year we introduce Study Room Reservations, new for 2013-14. Study rooms are now available by online reservation using an online form.
Some things to know:
You must be a Pitt Law student, faculty or staff to reserve a room
Please use your Pitt email address to make the reservation
Please have your reservation confirmation handy
Individuals can reserve a maximum of one 2 hour slots in any given day
Individuals can reserve a maximum of five 1 hour slots per month
If a room is not reserved it's available on a first come/first served basis
Minimum occupancy of two persons; maximum occupancy for each room listed on the reservation form
Please be courteous and respect others' reservations

Monday, 5 August 2013

ProQuest Congressional webinars

With the school year fast approaching, you might like to brush up your research skills with these useful August webinars from ProQuest Congressional (the links will take you to a registration page for the webinars):
Executive Branch Documents 1789-1932 Wed. 8/7/13 3:00 pm and Wed. 8/21/13 10 am. Content targets the entire range of executive branch publications listed in the authoritative 1909 Checklist, created in 1911 by the U.S. Superintendent of Documents. The 1909 Checklist is the only systematic effort to provide a complete listing of all documents published by the U.S. Government in its first 120 years. Executive Branch Documents 1789-1932 includes all of the 200,000+ executive branch titles listed in the 1909 Checklist that were not included in the U.S. Serial Set, as well as an additional 200,000 titles from 1910-1932. The webinar will cover what the product is, how it relates to the other ProQuest Congressional Digital Collections, and what's in this rich resource.
Reviewing Congressional Basic Fri. 8/9/13 3:00 pm and Fri. 8/23/13 11:00 am
   Congressional Basic is a resource for 1970-present research with content ranging from the Daily Congressional Record, indexing for Reports, Documents, Hearings and Prints (and a lot of full text in there too), and information on Members of Congress ranging from voting records to campaign contributions.
Are You Ready for Reference: Statistical Insight and the Statistical Abstract of the U.S.: Wed. 8/14/13 3:00 pm
Find out how to use Statistical Insight and the Statistical Abstract of the U.S. effectively at the reference desk. Note: there will be a brief overview of the various modules customers might have in Statistical Insight at the beginning of this session.
 Are You Ready for Reference: Congressional Mon. 8/19/13 1pm
Use  ProQuest Congressional to answer ref questions about laws and legislation, as well as find answers related to the many topics that Congress considers. Includes how to use citations, names, and dates to retrieve bills, laws, reports, hearings, and related documents.The database is an effective source for general research in many academic disciplines, in addition to research related to specific legislative proposals and laws.
Legislative Insight: Recent Supreme Court Decisions Fri. 8/30/13  1:30 pm  
Will discuss recent or important Supreme Court opinions that involved research into Congressional documents and legislative materials. Despite well-known disapproval by at least one justice for looking to legislative intent, we'll look at when and why they look at legislative history and how we can use Legislative Insight to do that research.
Using the ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the U.S. Online Edition Thurs. 8/8/13 11:00 am and  Wed. 8/21/13 11:00 am
Questions come across the reference desk on all topics: how many hate crimes were there in 2008? Are there many book clubs in the U.S.? Do you have the GDP for the U.S. for the past ten (or so) years? How many people use facebook? All of these questions can be answered by the new ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the United States online edition. The webinar will demonstrate how to browse for content, search for content and how to personalize the spreadsheet files available for every single table. We have updated hundreds of tables since the online product was released so we will look at updated tables and learn how ProQuest is archiving past data. 

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Lexis Advance tips

You can still do Boolean search in Lexis Advance.  The "Help" menu at the upper right corner of the page has lots of information about working in Advance.  Go to the page "Searching with Lexis Advance" and you will see links to pages where you can learn how to use Search Connectors and Commands, limit your Sources, use Filters, and search Segments.  For Segment searching, there is a very helpful Excel spreadsheet you can download that shows what segments can be searched in which type of documents.  

WestlawNext tips

Here are a couple of tips on WestlawNext that our rep has provided.
1. Printing snippets: You now have the option to print less than an entire document.  It's a bit of a workaround but it does work: Highlight the paragraph(s) or whatever snippets you want to print and Save to a folder. You can then select the snippet in the folder and print it.
2. Uniform Commercial Code State Variation Service: There is a database for the UCC that contains a state-by-state and section-by-section analysis of variations from the official text of the UCC as adopted in each state, called the Uniform Commercial Code State Variation Service published in the UCC Reporting Service (identifier is UCC-VAR). There is a nice template you can use to search with the UCC section number, a state's section number, or by selected states.  

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Bloomberg Law news

The CEO of Bloomberg Law sent an email message to subscribers recently, viewable here. In the message he announced that "Bloomberg is taking the next step to deliver better and faster solutions for our clients. Beginning in January 2014, we will join together into a single subsidiary all of our Bloomberg Law legal and business intelligence solutions, as well as Bloomberg BNA's industry-leading legal and regulatory businesses." He adds that "We are committed to making individual users more effective, and our clients' enterprises more profitable. For example, we are exploring how to integrate the BBNA Tax Management Portfolios with the Bloomberg Law DealMaker product to give tax professionals even more powerful tools for serving their clients."
We'll keep you posted.  

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

FRED database continues to grow

The St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank (FRED) database now has more than 140,000 economic time series available, due to the addition of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)'s Main Economic Indicators. You can check out all the data at the FRED website. The additional data allow users to make cross-country economic comparisons for the 34 OECD-member countries, plus Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, the Russian Federation and South Africa. These data include granular employment data by age, status and gender; balance of payments data; monetary aggregates; and compensation. The folks at St. Louis Fed continue to work to make economic data easily accessible, with many options for saving, sharing, and customizing the display. You can email them with requests for other data.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Detroit declares Chapter 9 bankruptcy

Detroit's bankruptcy filing is big news all over the country.  The Office of the United States Courts a very good post titled "When Cities Go Bankrupt" that explains Chapter 9 Bankruptcy with a map and links to more info.
UPDATE: BloombergLaw has an excellent discussion about Detroit's bankruptcy with bankruptcy attorney Harvey Miller.  

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Public Resource challenges the Bluebook

Public Resource has published a letter it sent to the Harvard Law School Dean and "select members of the faculty".  The letter points out that Harvard Law is one of the 4 sponsoring institutions of the Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. It goes on to say that  "it is clear that the stringent and unbending copyright restrictions surrounding the Bluebook® are a huge brake on innovation for the legal profession. Those who would build new legal tools that incorporate the mechanics of citation are prohibited from doing so by the terms of use and the lack of response to requests for permission by the current corporate owners of the Bluebook®....enforcing a monopoly over a system of citation in the Internet era is immoral and nonsensical." Public Resource bought a copy of the Bluebook, translated it into valid xhtml, put the resulting document on a thumb drive and sent it along with their letter, saying "if you or others choose to publish the enclosed work, we would be delighted."  

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Unpaid internships come under scrutiny

A recent decision favoring the plaintiffs in an unpaid internship lawsuit in federal district court has led to more suits being filed against employers who use unpaid interns. It was decided by Judge William H. Pauley III, federal judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, in Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures Inc., (11 Civ. 6784 (WHP) decided June 11, 2013) that two interns working on the set of the film Black Swan should have been paid, given that the work they accomplished did not meet the six criteria used for determining that an internship may be unpaid, as published in a fact sheet by the U.S. Department of Labor. The judge determined that Fox Searchlight violated the minimum wage law when it failed to pay its interns for their work. The New York Times reported the day after the decision that “ Two former interns filed a lawsuit against Condé Nast on Thursday, saying the company failed to pay them minimum wage at their summer jobs at W Magazine and The New Yorker, and asked that it be approved as a class-action suit.” The ABA Journal reports that the Hearst (publishing) Corp. which has been defending the use of unpaid interns, is supporting the plaintiffs in their request for an interlocutory appeal of a recent trial court ruling in order to obain federal appellate court clarification on the topic.
   Legal commentators at BU,  Business Insider , the Law of Work blog (Canada) and others are  predicting a flurry of lawsuits and saying the days of unpaid internships may be numbered.

"Gov Info on the Web" libguide

Government info librarian Kathy Amen of St. Mary's U. library has moved her helpful "government information on the web subject index" to a libguide. The purpose of the index is to provide starting points for browsing government info subject areas, bringing both broad and detailed subject listings from many libraries together in one index. It aims to provide a single place to find link collections on particular subjects, taking advantage of the varied organizational schemes and terminologies developed by federal depository libraries and other organizations. The Government Printing Office has accepted the Index as a Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) Service Partnership, publicizing and supporting the Index.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

ULS adds new database PolicyMap

The University Library System at Pitt has announced that we now have access to PolicyMap, thanks to a state grant. PolicyMap is a fully web-based Geographic Information System that captures data and presents it visually through custom demographic maps, tables, reports and an analysis tool. You can also use the GIS mapping services to incorporate your own data along with that of PolicyMap. Available data include demographics, home sale statistics, health data, mortgage trends, school performance scores, unemployment, crime statistics and city crime rates. The PolicyMap Data Directory has a complete list of the available data.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

United States Code Website Beta from the OLRC

The Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the United States House of Representatives has been working to create a new website for the Office and the United States Code. The latest (second) version of the beta website is now available for testing and feedback.
Some key features of the new release are:

  •  Default search and browse is now the most current USC (now called "Online", formerly called "prelim") 
  • Ability to search and browse previous versions of the Code 
  • Internal links between USC sections and chapters 
  • Updates to explanatory material
  •  External links from the United States Code Classification Table to public laws 
  • Miscellaneous usability enhancements derived from first release feedback.
  • Features still under development include  additional enhancements to external links and additional download formats.
     The new website will replace the current website as the primary site after the testing and feedback period is complete. Your comments and questions about the beta are welcome and can be sent to uscode@mail.house.gov .

Notable Government Documents of 2012 published

The list of 2012's Notable Documents appears in the latest issue of Library Journal and is now available online. This was the result of an effort to raise awareness of noteworthy government information resources issued by state, local, and national governments, and intergovernmental organizations.

Finding or Compiling Federal Legislative Histories Electronially

Recently at a Congressional Information Symposium Federal Reserve Board law librarian Rick McKinney gave a presentation entitled "Finding or Compiling Federal Legislative Histories Electronically." The eight page PDF handout containing more than 240 links, which accompanied the presentation, can be found on the Legislative Source Book of the Law Librarians' Society of Washington, D.C. The topics of the Presentation include: -

  •  What Are Federal Legislative Histories and How Are They Used - 
  •  What Kind of Documents Are Included in a Federal Legislative History - 
  •  Some Helpful Resources for Federal Legislative History Research - 
  •  Major Electronic Sources for Compiled Federal Legislative Histories -
  •  Electronic Sources for Customary & Miscellaneous Federal Legislative History Documents - 
  • How Federal Legislative Histories Are Generally Arranged - 
  •  Options in Using Free and Commercial Electronic Legislative Sources - 
  •  Some Bibliographic, Print and Microfiche Sources for Federal Legislative Histories 

Monday, 20 May 2013

Open and machine-readable data requirement for all gov info

Last week the White House announced that President Obama has issued Executive Order 13642 (3 page pdf) "Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information", affecting federal agencies. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has sent a memorandum (12 page pdf) to agency heads establishing guidance for implementing the Open Data Policy. The guidance identifies the policy requirements to collect or create information, build information systems that support interoperability and accessibility, manage data and release practices, and identify related privacy and confidentiality measures.The memo defines “open data” as publicly available data that is “structured in a way that enables the data to be fully discoverable and usable by end users.” Under the guidance, open data is: public; accessable in open formats; fully described with documentation; reusable (available under open license); complete, with as much detail allowed by law; timely; and supportable after release.  This is a big step forward in making government data accessible and useful for citizens, scholars, entrepreneurs, politicians, and others.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

LLMC to launch new interface

The Law Library Microform Consortium publishes a monthly newsletter which it sends via email link. The May 2013 newsletter just arrived and it contains the excellent news that LLMC has been beta testing a major redesign of the LLMC-Digital interface. The new interface is set to launch at the AALL annual meeting in Seattle this July.

3D printer gun plans pulled from website

A University of Texas law student and his company called "Defense Distributed" recently figured out how to make a working handgun on a 3D printer and made the plans available on the Defense Distributed website. The federal government got involved when the "Department of Defense Trade Controls", an agency of the State Department, wrote to the company arguing that the files should not be posted because the website uses servers in New Zealand, and sharing gun manufacturing information through servers operated in a foreign country amounts to an illegal export. The plans were removed from the website but the New York Daily News reports that prior to the takedown, copies of the gun blueprint were downloaded more than 100,000 times and are now available on other websites. The Atlantic has an interesting story, titled "How Defense Distributed Already Upended the World", in which there is a discussion of various facets of the issues involved.

Build-Your-Own Law School Rankings

The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System has an online tool that essentially lets you build your own law school rankings, depending on what sort of legal career you want. The tool they provide is called "Law Jobs By the Numbers" and it focuses on the types of jobs graduates get. According to the website, "you have the flexibility to review the (law school) employment rates using formulas that are commonly applied by organizations such as the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), US News & World Report, National Jurist and Law School Transparency (LST). But more importantly, you can build a formula based on what matters most to you."

Monday, 13 May 2013

Justice Dept. approves use of data-review software

The Wall Street Journal and the ABA Journal report that the U.S. Justice Department recently approved the use of data-sifting software (rather than lawyers) to go through over a million documents produced for review in the proposed merger of beer producers Anheuser-Busch and Grupo Modelo. Lawyers for the 2 companies loaded the documents into a software program (by kCura Corp.) and manually reviewed a batch to train the software to recognize relevant documents. The manual review was repeated until the Justice Department and Constellation were satisfied that the program could accurately predict relevance in the rest of the documents. The companies spent 50% less than they would have using more traditional methods, said Warren Rosborough, a partner at the firm who represented one of the parties. "Something that would easily cost three, four, five million dollars, you can do in the range of one to two," Mr. Rosborough said.
The Wall Street Journal says that "Only a handful of judges have approved the use of such data-review software in litigation, and law firms have been cautious about deploying the technology, which can be trained to hunt for concepts and unleashed across millions of documents at once."

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Important Lexis Info: single access ID

To everyone at Pitt Law who uses LexisNexis, please note that LexisNexis is moving to a single ID system in early summer 2013. Your current lexis.com® ID will be deactivated; your Lexis Advance® ID will be required to access lexis.com, Lexis Advance, Web Courses and the Law School Home Page. If you don't have a Lexis Advance ID, or if you have forgotten your Lexis Advance username/password, contact Susanna Leers, eResearch & Technology Services Librarian.

Friday, 3 May 2013

50 years of Nimmer on Copyright

The U.S. Copyright Office is recognizing the 50th anniversary of the treatise "Nimmer on Copyright" by hosting a program on May 6, 2013. "nimmer" is the most cited work in the field and the undisputed leading authority for in-depth, comprehensive analysis of U.S. copyright law. The program will feature David Nimmer of UCLA School of Law who will discuss his own role with respect to the treatise, as well as that of his father, the late Melville Nimmer. Scholars Robert Brauneis of The George Washington University Law School and Peter Menell of Berkeley School of Law will also speak, as will Jon Baumgarten, former general counsel in the Copyright Office, and Shira Perlmutter, Chief Policy Officer at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Karyn Temple Claggett, Associate Register of Copyrights for Policy and International Affairs, will moderate the discussion. The panel of experts will offer insights and observations about the treatise, including its effect on both the theory and practice of copyright law.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

International content added to WestlawNext

Info from WL: The first set of International Content is now available on WestlawNext. The International Materials browse category will allow you to access the following international materials directly on WestlawNext without having to bridge out to Westlaw Classic: • UK Cases/Statutes/Journals • EU Cases/Journals • Australia Cases/Journals • Some UK Treatises To get to the unmigrated international materials, click the International Materials (on Westlaw Classic) link under Tools & Resources in the right pane of the International Materials page. This link bridges to the International Directory on Westlaw Classic.

Immigration FOIA requests problem

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University (TRAC)  reports that "at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) there has been a rapid rise in the backlog of FOIA requests received that have been waiting unanswered for long periods of time. According to its annual FOIA report, ICE had only 50 pending requests at the end of FY 2011; this number jumped to 2,903 at the end of FY 2012 after the agency was assigned the responsibility of processing some of the backlog of FOIA requests received by the Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS). And according to the latest available agency records analyzed by TRAC, ICE's backlog is projected to grow to over 13,125 by the end of September 2013 when the fiscal year ends, three and a half times higher than it was at the end of FY 2012."
TRAC derives much of its data from FOIA requests that it files with the federal government. 

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

DPLA opens

The Digital Public Library of America website has launched, despite the delay of the grand opening festivities due to the Boston Marathon bombings.  MIT Technology Review calls it "he start of a bold project to digitize America’s cultural heritage." Yes, it is still in beta, but already contains about 2.4 million digital objects including books, manuscripts, photographs, recorded sound, and film/video. It also gives access to the application program interface (API) Codex for the site, enabling users to tinker and create new tools for sorting and presenting the library’s materials. The DPLA created an open API "to encourage the independent development of applications, tools, and resources that make use of data contained in the DPLA platform in new and innovative ways, from anywhere, at any time."

Monday, 29 April 2013

Law in Graphic Novels

This week's edition of the Current Index to Legal Periodicals tells us that the latest edition of the peer-reviewed legal journal Law Text Culture has been published, focusing on the topic of "Law in Comics and Graphic Novels". Law Text Culture is a trans-continental peer reviewed journal from the University of Wollongong (Australia) that "publishes critical thinking and creative writing across a range of genres - from artwork and fiction to the traditional scholarly essay". Fans of comics and graphic novels will enjoy the articles which include Spider-Man, the question and the meta-zone: exception, objectivism and the comics of Steve Ditko and The Aesithetics of Supervillainy.

Digital Libraries now subdomain on Pew Internet

The Pew Internet homepage has added a subdomain (libraries.pewinternet.org) that aggregates Pew publishing on digital libraries. The site hosts a number of interesting Pew reports on libraries and related information. For example, there is a report on Library Services in the Digital Age and an infographic that shows what services are wanted by the public.
It also includes a blog that recently posted an updated timeline of the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life project, which has received a grant to study the role of libraries in users' lives and communities.  

Friday, 26 April 2013

Students prefer face-to-face courses for some subjects

Inside Higher Education reports that a study from the Community College Research Center at Columbia University gives interesting insights into student attitudes towards online courses.  The study looked at community college student experiences with both "face to face" and online courses, and how/when they chose the online sections of courses.  Students reported that online courses had lower levels of instructor presence and that they thus needed to “teach themselves” in these courses. Accordingly, most students preferred to take only “easy” academic subjects online; they preferred to take “difficult” or “important” subjects face-to-face. The study concludes that "While it is important to respect and accommodate the flexibility needs of busy students by offering online options, it is clear that the majority of students still prefer to take many types of courses in the face-to-face setting. Accordingly, colleges need to take care to avoid curtailing the availability of face-to-face course sections, particularly in academically challenging or advanced areas of study."

Revised "Federal Websites for and about American Indians" website

Thanks to govdoc librarian Steve Beleu, of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, for creating and updating the excellent "Federal Websites for and about American Indians" website that provides links to all federal websites and webpages containing significant information for native Americans. 

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

US dictionary history

A recent  newsletter from Readex has an interesting article  titled "War of the Dictionaries" about the history of the Merriam-Webster dictionary which has been published since 1847.  Apparently Naoh Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language was not well-received, and after he died the Merriam brothers,
a pair of entrepreneurial printers, purchased all remaining copies and the rights to the dictionary. They revised Webster's work, aiming at standardizing US spelling, pronunciation, and definition.  A rival from Cambirdge Ma. published a rival dictionary that preserved British language habits. The rivalry continued for more than a decade before the Merriam-Webster version became the dictionary of choice.  

Friday, 12 April 2013

Article: WestlawNext v. Westlaw Classic

A new article in the Legal Reference Services Quarterly by Emily Marcum of the law firm Lightfoot, Franklin & White, LLC, in Birmingham, Alabama compares the cost of using Westlaw Next with that of using Westlaw Classic (for her law firm). Her methodology included running a variety of searches, both "real-world" and artificially generated, across categories in the databases. Her conclusion is that for her firm, WestlawNext transactional is twice as expensive as Westlaw Classic transactional under the old pricing scheme regardless of whether a real-world experiment is employed or artificial questions are generated. Expert materials are an exception to the rule, however. WestlawNext under simplified pricing is cheaper than Classic for primary law materials, like cases, statutes, and newspapers, as well as expert materials, but more expensive than Classic for verdicts and treatises. She adds that "If a phase-out of Classic Westlaw is indeed planned for some unspecified future date, then it is possible that charging more for a platform that will eventually be the customer's only option is simply another way to raise prices."
The citation: Emily Marcum (2013): The Quest for Client Savings in Legal Research: WestlawNext v. Westlaw Classic, Legal Reference Services Quarterly, 32:1-2, 142-159.
Hat tip: Joe Hodnicki, Law Librarian Blog

Library of Congress invites no-cost digitization proposals

The Library of Congress's preservation blog, The Signal, recently posted an open invitation, essentially seeking collaborators interested in digitizing Library collection materials at no cost to the Library. In order to respond to increasing expectations for collections materials and related items to be made available on the Library's web site, the Library seeks to supplement its existing digitization programs by entering into no-cost contracts for the scanning or digitization of Library materials for the mutual benefit of the contractor and the Library. The Library has issued an ongoing Request for Proposals for third party digitization projects. All digitization projects must comply with Principles for Library of Congress Third-Party Digitization Agreements. For more information contact thirdpartydig@loc.gov.

Monday, 8 April 2013

GPO and FDLP to conduct virtual meeting on preservation of government info.

As Barco's many fans know, we are a Federal Depository Library. On April 23-25, 2013, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) and the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) will celebrate Preservation Week 2013 by conducting a virtual meeting with the theme, "Partners in Preservation: Government Information for Future Generations." The meeting will convey how GPO and Federal depository libraries are "Keeping America Informed" by preserving our nation's documents of democracy for permanent public access. Through a mix of information updates, focused discussions, and training sessions, the meeting will explore:
* GPO's role in preservation.
* Depository library views on preservation as reflected in FDLP Forecast Study responses.
* Partnerships for preservation.
* Digitization project guidance.
* Preservation of tangible collections.
* Digital registries.
The meeting is free, but registration is required. For those who are unable to attend the live programming, sessions will be recorded and made available for later viewing here.  The complete schedule and agenda is available here

Monday, 1 April 2013

South Dakota Rural Attorney Recruitment law signed

The Argus Leader reports that South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard signed a bill recently that would encourage attorneys to practice law in rural South Dakota. The law will provide incentive payments over a five year period to attorneys that practice law in counties with a population of 10,000 or less. Any participating attorney will have to agree to practice law on a full-time basis in the eligible county for five years. Attorneys would have to meet eligibility requirements set by the Unified Judicial System.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

FDsys access: is "cost recovery" a possibility?

The folks over at the Free Government Information blog report that Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks has written a letter responding to  the group CASSANDRA about the recent report Rebooting the Government Printing Office: Keeping America Informed in the Digital Age by the National Association of Public Administration (NAPA) (166 page pdf). The report recommends that GPO should consider "cost recovery" for access to FDsys . The Response from Vance-Cooks says that GPO has "no intention of charging public users a fee to access content available through FDsys. GPO remains committed to no-fee access to FDsys for the public as part of our mission of Keeping America Informed." FGI says that this is good news, "but we have to temper our enthusiasm with the realization that GPO's ability to meet its intentions will inevitably be dictated by Congress and its budget."  See also FGI's post NAPA releases report on GPO.

Teaching students to still the mind cultivate attention

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting article about a course offered at the University of Washington Information School called "Information and Contemplation".  Taught by Professor David Levy, the course description says that it explores contemplative practice techniques such as meditation and contemplative reading to help students learn about "stilling the mind and cultivating attention", and to critique the speedy, fragmented, and inattentive mind states that digital technologies seem to encourage.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Maps for librarians

ALA's MAGIRT (Map & Geospatial Information Round Table) recently held its first webinar called "Care and Feeding of Maps: Tips for Managing Your Map Collection". The webinar, which has a lot of information on map librarianship, is now available online. An excellent bibliography/resource guide on storing and managing maps is also available online (2 page pdf).

Congress.gov: 6 month review

The Law Librarians of Congress have posted a review/update about the Congress.gov website that was launched in beta 6 months ago. Since that time they have made a number of improvements and updates, including the addition of the Congressional Record and a "status of legislation" graphic that lets you know what's going on with your favorite bills. The review is well worth reading (not least because it was written by Andrew Weber, one of the law librarians of Congress and a Pitt Law grad).

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Mobile device charger

The Barco Law Library now has a charging station for mobile devices like cellphones and tablets. There are 8 different charging ends that work with most mobile devices. The station is in the Fawcett Student Commons on the 4th floor, right next to the Panther Funds machine.

Laptop locks now available in Barco

At the suggestion of students, the Barco Law Library now has laptop locks available for students to borrow. These Kensington laptop locks utilize the security slot found on most laptops, and have a strong cable to secure laptops to a heavy stationary object (most of the study tables and carrels in the library have laptop anchors designed for this purpose). The locks are available only to Pitt Law students and can be borrowed for a 4 hour period.  For more info, ask at the library desk.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

New JSTOR beta search

Today JSTOR released a new “Beta Search,” with a redesigned interface and a new search engine. The new search is also accessible from a link on www.jstor.org.While it is in beta testing it is in parallel with the existing search options to avoid disrupting regular research workflows on the site. During the beta period JSTOR wants to gather feedback and make further improvements, focusing development efforts in these areas:
 • Refining the new interface: facets that allow easy narrowing/broadening of searches
• Improving relevance rankings: results that more closely match your search terms
• Incorporating new features, including auto-suggested search terms and spell checking
• Enhancing the search results view to support evaluation of relevance: preview article and book details directly from the search results list
 One  feature of the new Beta Search is the application of “topic modeling” to enhance discovery of content. Unlike standard searching on JSTOR where searches can be focused only within disciplines assigned at the journal level, the Beta Search uses text analysis techniques to automatically assign one or more topics to an article. The goal is to help searchers find relevant content that may be outside of their main disciplinary area.
There's more info about Beta Search on the JSTOR website

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Livening up presentations in the courtroom

Law Technology News has an interesting article about how lawyers can make their presentations in the courtroom more interesting and "interactive".  The problem is that jurors get bored sitting in their box  "as the day drags on you can see it weighing on the jurors, as more and more of them slouch or stare at the ground or cast repeated glances at the courtroom clock." The author has several tips about techniques lawyers can use to keep the attention of everyone in the room. These include using everything from magnetic boards to ELMOs, barcode readers, and using an iPad in conjunction with AppleTV and trial presentation apps. Even more advanced (and expensive) options include the Magic Wall, a Microsoft screen with a touchscreen and other hightech options.

Legal Work of the War Department, 1 July 1940 - 31 March 1945

The Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress has just posted an interesting new (but historic) document to their website. The document is called "Legal Work of the War Department 1 July 1940 - 31 March 1945: A History of the Judge Advocate General's Department" (382 page pdf) and was prepared and published by the Office of the Judge Advocate General. The report tells of how the Office worked during WWII, with increased duties and responsiblities, reorganization of the office, and the addition of new divisions and branches. It includes chapters on Contracts, Litigation, Patents, Tax Problems and International Law. And it even includes a subchapter on the expansion of the law libraries during the war (see page 27/382). 

Thursday, 28 February 2013

LegalShare (beta) lets lawyers buy and sell legal documents online

One of the new legal technology companies that was represented at the recent LegalTech conference is LegalShare  an online legal document marketplace. It is an online repository of legal documents, including pleadings and memos, contributed by other lawyers and available for purchase on a per document basis. Lawyers can both buy and sell documents. This online tool is meant for solo and small firm lawyers who don’t have access to the vast document databases available to large firm lawyers and who can’t afford to pay for the expensive legal database access that includes access to pleadings and legal forms. According to their website, "LegalShare now has a curated collection of real estate, personal injury, criminal law, L&T, civil rights, and general litigation documents from experienced practitioners." The website also has a note to attorneys that they can "Get paid for work you have already done! If you have legal documents you want to sell, please email us with a writing sample and resume. When you upload a document, you will receive 80% of the proceeds from every purchase."

Case Western to offer MOOC in international criminal law

Case Western Reserve University has announced that, in collaboration with Coursera, they will offer 2 MOOCs starting on May 1, one in International Criminal Law. MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, are a recent trend in higher education: free online courses open to anyone. Michael Scharf, associate dean for global legal studies at the CW School of Law, is teaching Introduction to International Criminal Law, is an 8-week course. The course description and syllabus are available on the coursera website.

HeinOnline: Congressional Documents webinar

This week HeinOnline offered an excellent webinar called "The Top 3 Things You Should Know When Researching in HeinOnline's U.S. Congressional Documents". If you were unable to attend the webinar "live", video is now available at Hein's Help and Training Center. The webinar explains how to navigate HeinOnline's U.S. Congressional Documents collection, which includes both historic early Congressional documents as well as the Congressional Record, Vols. 1-155 (1873-2009). Their finding tools include a helpful "Congressional Record Daily to Bound Locator", which is demonstrated in the webinar.