Friday 11 February 2022

LinkedIn adds "No politics" button

 Windows Central reports that LinkedIn now has a "no politics" button that you can enable on your LinkedIn account's news feed. It filters out content about political parties and candidates, election outcomes, ballot initiatives and more. This is a new feature that LinkedIn has added. "This is all about giving all of our members greater choice and control," a spokesperson for LinkedIn said.

Wednesday 2 February 2022

Maryland Library e-book "battle"

 Publishers Weekly has an excellent article about the court battle between the Association of American Publishers and the new Maryland library e-book law. According to the article, the AAP doubled down on their claim that Maryland’s library e-book law is clearly preempted by the federal Copyright Act, and said supporters of the law are seeking to “unravel decades of federal legislation and jurisprudence that delineate the contours of copyright law.”
The article has links to the court filings. 

More on free PACER:

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports on Legislative efforts to increase access to PACER:
"On December 9, 2021, the Senate Judiciary Committee favorably ordered reported the Open Courts Act of 2021, S. 2614. At the markup session, the committee ordered to be reported, by voice vote, the bill with an amendment in the nature of a substitute. It is one of two legislative proposals introduced this Congress to eliminate the U.S. Courts’ current user fee structure for searching and accessing federal court filings on PACER. While S. 2614, as amended in committee, would make PACER free for the general public, each federal agency would be charged an annual fee equal to the total PACER fees paid by the agency in 2021 (adjusted for inflation). In addition to removing PACER user fees for the general public, both the Senate Judiciary Committee and House-introduced versions of the Open Courts Act of 2021 (S. 2614 and H.R. 5844) require the AO to modernize PACER’s technical functionality, including the additions of full-text search capabilities and “widely accepted common data elements.” Meanwhile, the AO has been independently weighing recommendations of 18F—the U.S. government technology and design consultant group—to improve functionalities of the public-facing PACER and underlying CM/ECF systems."

Not just free PACER, but PACER with a user-friendly interface! 

Friday 10 December 2021


 The Reuters headline grabbed me: "Free PACER? Bill to end fees for online court records advances in Senate." It's a bipartisan bill called the Open Courts Act of 2021 and the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure on voice voate without any recorded opposition (who could be against it?). It would certainly be a nice New Year's gift to law libraries and law librarians!

Tuesday 7 December 2021

Data Literacy online course from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

The Research Information Services Team at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has developed a micro-credentialing program on data literacy skills for librarians. The program is free. It is administered via the Canvas CMS.  From the blurb:

The Research Division at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is widely known for its flagship data service FRED®. An integral part of our work facilitating access to data is building capacity among consumers to use data effectively and accurately. Our Library Services and Economic Education teams have developed a fully asynchronous online professional development program on data literacy for librarians. This program focuses on seven foundational data literacy competencies and uses FRED® data to provide opportunities for hands-on learning. Each competency in the program is matched to a digital badge issued by Credly. Librarians successfully completing individual modules will receive, at no cost, Credly badges certifying their achievement. After completing all seven individual modules, librarians will receive a digital micro-credential on data literacy.

Participants will develop seven competencies: 
- Saving Graphs and Downloading Data
- Identifying Data Sources and Release Frequencies
- Understanding Data Types and Units
- Visualizing Data
- Storytelling with Data
- Acting on Data
- Using Data Ethically

 Information is available at this link. Register for the free program via this link.

Thursday 18 November 2021

Is IP authentication about to "break"?

An organization called SeamlessAccess warns that because of new privacy protections enacted by browser vendors, IP authentication, the predominant means of authorizing access to scholarly resources, may become obsolete.The article title is "FAQ on Browser Privacy Changes and Library Resource Access (Or Why Your IP Authentication is About to Break). The article reports that Apple recently announced that subscribers to their iCloud+ service will have their IP address obfuscated from website operators; other browser vendors are also moving in the direction of supporting consumer privacy and may follow Apple's lead.

Friday 24 September 2021

Have students lost the ability to mentally organize hierarchically?

There's an interesting article in The Verge titled "FILE NOT FOUND: A generation that grew up with Google is forcing professors to rethink their lesson plans." Apparently college faculty are increasingly finding that students are confused about the concept of hierarchical organizing.

(The professor) came to the same realization that many of her fellow educators have reached in the past four years: the concept of file folders and directories, essential to previous generations’ understanding of computers, is gibberish to many modern students. (Another professor) noticed that students in his classes were having trouble finding their documents.

According to the article, the mental model that most of us use to keep things organized is known as "directory structure." For example, it’s the idea that a modern computer doesn’t just save a file in an infinite expanse; it saves it in the “Downloads” folder, the “Desktop” folder, or the “Documents” folder, all of which live within “This PC,” and each of which might have folders nested within them, too. The directory structure connotes physical placement — the idea that a file stored on a computer is located somewhere on that computer, in a specific and discrete location. That’s a concept that’s always felt obvious to the professor but seems completely alien to her students. It’s a difficult concept to get across. Directory structure isn’t just unintuitive to students — it’s so intuitive to professors that they have difficulty figuring out how to explain it. “Those of us who have been around a while know what a file is, but I was at a bit of a loss to explain it,” lamented one educator 

Thursday 23 September 2021

New eCFR website!

 A welcome announcement from the Government Publishing Office and the FDLP:

"The Office of the Federal Register (OFR) and the U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) have formally launched a new eCFR website (CFR = the Code of Federal Regulations.) Over the last few years, OFR and GPO developed significant improvements that are now available on the new eCFR website, including the ability to:
• Show which sections have been recently updated.
• Display and compare previous versions of text.
• Link references between content within the CFR and the Federal Register.
• Link references within the content to the United States Code.
• Jump directly to text by entering a citation in the “Go to CFR Reference” box.
• Provide expandable tables that are scrollable.
• View higher-quality images.
• Find documents with an improved search engine.
• Create a 'My eCFR'account to receive notifications when selected areas of the eCFR are updated.
• Present text in a new, more readable format with the ability to create links to lower levels of the codification. 

Read the "Getting Started" page for a comprehensive introduction to the main features of the new website."

The eCFR is a web version of the CFR that is updated daily to reflect its current status. It is an editorial compilation of CFR material and amendments published in the daily Federal Register. It has been developed and maintained, by the GPO and the OFR as an informational resource. The OFR/GPO partnership is committed to presenting accurate and reliable regulatory information on the eCFR with the objective of eventually establishing the eCFR as a publication officially recognized by the ACFR. This means that while they try to ensure that the material on the eCFR is accurate, those relying on it for legal research should verify their results against the most current official edition of the CFR, the daily Federal Register, and the List of CFR Sections Affected (LSA).

Friday 16 July 2021

Studying for the Bar Exam

 The ABA Journal has an article titled "When it comes to studying for the bar exam, how much is too much?" - which may be of interest to all sleep-deprived Class of 2021 law school graduates. The article reports on a study of 107 California law school grads, and how they fared in taking the bar exam in 2017. Some of the results: 

  • The study group had a 77% bar pass rate.
  • The median for daily study was 8.1 hours, and candidates who studied that amount had a better than 75% likelihood of passing the bar exam.
  • Candidates who studied 10 or more hours daily were more likely to report running out of time and also reported feeling they studied the wrong material
  • Candidates who worked at a job while studying for the bar, even if it was only for 2 hours a day, had a lowered likelihood of passing the bar: 63%. Candidates who did not work had a 78% chance of passing.
  • Candidates who averaged two daily study sessions with a break in between had a 75% chance of passing, compared with 45% for those who only had one study session.  

Friday 25 June 2021

How have law student perceptions of online learning changed over the past year?

 Professor Victoria Sutton of Texas Tech School of Law has published the results of a study she has done comparing law student perceptions of online learning in May 2020 and May 2021.  Her article, titled "Perceptions of Online Learning and COVID-19 Countermeasures Among Law Students in a One-year Followup Study" is available on SSRN.  From the abstract:

..."preference for online courses is increasing by 17%, despite the fear that burnout or frustration from the COVID-19 transition to online learning for law schools would create a general dislike for online courses. There are still a significant number of students who have difficulty with online learning of as many as 25%. About 72% of the respondents feel safe returning to class with no pandemic precautions, but accommodations should be considered early in the planning stages for the semester for those 15% who still do not feel safe enough to return to the classroom. In general, the survey dispelled a wide concern that online courses would sour students to online teaching, but it had the opposite effect, resulting in a significant increase in interest in online learning in law schools."

Prof. Sutton conducted her study via an email survey that was reviewed by the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center Institutional Review Board. She had a 42% return rate, which is "exceptionally high" for an email survey.   

Wednesday 23 June 2021

Library of Congress: new finding aid for RBG Papers

 The Library of Congress (LOC) website has a new finding aid for the Ruth Bader Ginsburg papers, 1897-2005
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was, of course, a U.S. Supreme Court justice, judge, lawyer, and educator. The LOC collection contains "correspondence, memoranda, case files, speeches, lectures, writings, reports, interviews, briefs, orders, opinions, motions, depositions, and other papers relating chiefly to Ginsburg's efforts as an advocate for women's rights, particularly through her speeches and writings and her endeavors as general counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union and director of its Women's Rights Project. Documents her work as a proponent for the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, as law professor at Columbia University, and as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 1980-1993. Also includes family papers and material relating to Ginsburg's travels." The finding aid includes a list of the the collection contents, an Index of the creators, collectors, and other individuals and families associated with this collection, and information on copyright and restrictions on use of the collection.

Tuesday 22 June 2021

Copyright Public Modernization Committee announced by the Library of Congress

 The Library of Congress has announced the members of the new Copyright Public Modernization Committee (CPMC), which includes several librarians:  

Todd CarpenterNational Information Standards Organization
Susan ChertkofRecording Industry Association of America
Brewster KahleInternet Archive
Roy KaufmanCopyright Clearance Center
Keith KupferschmidCopyright Alliance
Melissa LevineUniversity of Michigan Library
Pamela MalpasAssociation of American Literary Agents; Copyright Committee co-chair
Micah MayDigital Public Library of America
James NealColumbia University Librarian Emeritus, ALA, ACRL
Kathleen RodriguezWarner Media
Jeff SedlikPicture Licensing Universal System (PLUS) Coalition
Scott WeingartCarnegie Mellon University Libraries

The reason the Committee is being convened is "to expand and enhance communication with external stakeholders on IT modernization of Copyright Office systems" and "to enhance communication and provide a public forum for the technology-related aspects of the U.S. Copyright Office’s modernization initiative."   
The first public meeting of the committee is a virtual meeting scheduled for Thursday, July 22 from 1-4 pm. The meeting is free and open to the public, but participants must register here in advance
According to the announcement, "Register of Copyrights Shira Perlmutter and Library of Congress Chief Information Officer Bud Barton will provide opening remarks and Library subject-matter experts will provide an update on the development of ECS and other modernization efforts. Attendees will have an opportunity to hear directly from CPMC members and participate in a live Q&A. The meeting will be recorded and made available for viewing after the event."

Tuesday 8 June 2021

Book discusses bias in algorithms, searching, and library "discovery" systems

The beSpacific blog today featured a post about a book titled "Masked by Trust: Bias in Library Discovery" by librarian Matthew Reidsma, who works at Grand Valley State University Libraries. He starts by discussing how most librarians develop, on their own, a favorite search that they use to evaluate "the dizzying array of search tools that are a part of modern librarianship." But as he studied the way variations in search terms can pull up results that can vary significantly, he decided to look more closely at the inner workings of search and the sorts of biases that can happen.

For this research, I investigated four library discovery systems, with varying degrees of access to each: Ex Libris’ Summon and Primo, OCLC’s WorldCat Discovery, and EBSCO’s EDS...Because these systems bear a remarkable resemblance to one another, it is easy for users to assume that they will all give the same results for similar searches. But in fact, the combination of di#erent centralized indexes, varied collection development practices at subscribing institutions, and competing relevancy algorithms means that it is unlikely that these systems will return the same results for the same searches.

The book is full of great examples and provides many useful  citations to other articles. It is written in plain language without a lot of technical terminology, and is available both from Library Juice Press and as a PDF download under a Creative Commons license.  

Hat tip: Sabrina Pacifici

Sunday 6 June 2021

Bar exams will be in person next year

The ABA Journal has an article titled "Online bar exams axed by NCBE beginning next year," in which it reports that law school graduates planning to take the bar exam next year should expect to take the exam in person. According to the article, the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) has announced that its test will be made available to jurisdictions only in an in-person form beginning in February 2022. The NCBE develops licensing tests for lawyers that are used by most U.S. jurisdictions. Since October 2020, states could choose either an in-person or an online exam developed by the NCBE. Twenty-nine jurisdictions are planning a remote bar exam in July, while 24 jurisdictions are planning in-person exams. Pennsylvania is one of the states that will administer the July 2021 bar exam remotely.

Friday 4 June 2021

New Maryland state law supports library e-book usage

The Association of Research Libraries has a great (for libraries) story reporting that Maryland is the first state in the nation to enact a state law ensuring that libraries can license e-books and audiobooks under the same terms available to consumers. The law, House Bill 518 in the MD legislature, was enacted by the Governor on May 31. It begins:

"FOR the purpose of requiring a publisher who offers to license an electronic literary 4 product to the public to also offer to license the electronic literary product to 5 public libraries in the State on reasonable terms that would enable public libraries 6 to provide library users with access to the electronic literary product..."
The article points out that  while the bill specifically names public libraries, academic and university libraries will also benefit from improved terms and business practices. The Maryland public libraries expect that the legislation will cause publishers to bring down the prices they charge libraries for e-books, although some price discrimination likely will remain. Additionally, the legislation will result in Maryland public libraries obtaining access to titles now available only to consumers. Similar legislation is pending in other state legislatures, and the adoption of the law in Maryland can be expected to accelerate this legislation.

Wednesday 26 May 2021

Article: The “Legal Epidemiology” of Pandemic Control

General Counsel News recently referenced an interesting article in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine titled "The 'Legal Epidemiology' of Pandemic Control:"

"The centrality of law as a public health intervention has been undeniable during the Covid-19 pandemic. In just the first half of 2020, more than 1000 laws and orders were issued by federal, state, and local authorities in the United States in an effort to reduce disease transmission... It is past time for a broad recognition in our health system that law is a ubiquitous treatment, one to which hundreds of millions of people are routinely exposed. If that simple but telling analogy is accepted, a more pressing point follows: we should devote much more health research money and talent to the scientific study of the health effects of laws and legal practices (“legal epidemiology”)...
The imperative is to scale up the infrastructure for at least three kinds of research: study of the mechanisms, effects, side effects, and implementation of laws designed to influence health, such as Covid control measures; research on how the legal infrastructure of the U.S. health system — the allocation of powers and duties, as well as limits on authority — influences the effectiveness of the system; and perhaps most important for addressing health equity, studies of how laws that may appear to have no health purposes — such as the tax code, minimum wage, and labor rules — shape the social determinants of health."

The article was authored by Scott Burris, J.D., Evan D. Anderson, J.D., Ph.D., and Alexander C. Wagenaar, M.S.W., Ph.D., affiliated with the Beasley School of Law, Temple University (S.B.), and the Schools of Nursing and Medicine, University of Pennsylvania (E.D.A.) — both in Philadelphia; the University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville (A.C.W.); and the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta.  

Tuesday 11 May 2021

University of Maryland Libraries becomes the institutional home of SocArXiv

The University of Maryland (UMD) Libraries has announced that it has become the institutional home of SocArXiv. SocArXiv is an open archive of the social sciences that provides a free, non-profit, open access platform for social scientists to upload working papers, preprints, and published papers, with the option to link data and code. SocArXiv is dedicated to opening up social science, to reach more people more effectively, to improve research, and build the future of scholarly communication.

hat tip: Pat Roncevich

Pittsburgh: free housing legal help available

 WESA, Pittsburgh's NPR news channel, reports that Pittsburgh residents can Now apply For free housing legal help. According to the report, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has announced a $1 million initiative to help renters and homeowners alike deal with housing issues like eviction and forecosure. Renters can access everything from legal advice to full courtroom representation to deal with an eviction. But the aim is to prevent evictions in the first place. To that end, the program will offer mediation between landlords and tenants. Homeowners, meanwhile, can work with a lawyer to get clear title to a home or to prevent foreclosure. Mayor Peduto said that "for too many Pittsburghers during this pandemic the threat of losing homes has been a constant worry, especially for those with low incomes.”
Those who need help can contact RentHelpPGH or the Pittsburgh Hispanic Development Corporation.

hat tip: Karen Shephard

Wednesday 28 April 2021

Law Libraries after Covid

 Susannah Tredwell over at Slaw, "Canada's Legal Magazine," has an interesting article in which she discusses the changes law libraries have undergone during the Covid pandemic, and whether these changes will stick.  How will library services be affected post-Covid? She covers several topics: 

  • Death of the looseleaf?  
  • Greater adoption of digital library resources by users, in which she points out the dramatic increase in print resources now available online as well.
  • Library space continues to shrink (or disappear completely?)
  • Greater flexibility in how publishers licence (Canadian spelling) products?
  • Increase in library staff working remotely. 
We are all looking forward to finding out how our law library will continue to be affected by the changes during Covid. 

Friday 19 March 2021

FDLP: No more "Fugitive Documents"

The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) has announced that it is discontinuing use of the term "fugitive documents" to describe "Public information products that are not discoverable through the Government Publishing Office's Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP)."  According to the announcement, "It is time to replace the phrase “fugitive documents.” Going forward LSCM will use “unreported publications.” This change was approved by the Depository Library Council, the Superintendent of Documents, and the GPO Director.
You may notice some changes over the next several weeks as LSCM staff work to reflect this change in external and internal documentation, public facing web pages on, and in askGPO. We will not replace the term in past conference presentations or in previously published articles. Our goal is to have changes completed by the end of May 2021."

Justice Clarence Thomas "goes rogue on the Bluebook"

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas recently made the headlines in both the ABA Journal and Law 360 for using what both publications termed a "rogue" Supreme Court citation in the opinion he wrote for Brownback v. King, 141 S.Ct. 740 (Legal Writing Professors take note). 
The ABA Journal says that Justice Thomas "went rogue on the Bluebook when he embraced an appellate lawyer’s suggestion for dealing with 'citation baggage'... that distracts from the point."
What was this bold move? Justice Thomas used the suggestion to used the parenthetical "(cleaned up)" after a citation to denote the court's omission of quotations within quotations and the need for a quoting citation parenthetical, as dictated by Bluebook Rule 5.2. The appellate lawyer who made the suggestion in an SSRN article is Jack Metzler of the Federal Trade Commission. Metzler told the ABA Journal that this is a big deal, "at least in the world of legal citation."

Thursday 18 March 2021

Open Access to Research and the Covid pandemic

 An interesting article on Slaw (Canada's online legal magazine) by John Willinsky discusses growth in the Open Access movement during the past year. 

It is influencing the opening of scholarly publishing, more generally...After an initial start with two publishers, there are now, one year later, nine publishers moving away from selling traditional subscriptions to research libraries to having those same libraries pay much the same price to make this research publicly available. The growth of this model over the course of this extraordinary year has meant that what is now available to readers everywhere includes research reviews in areas of public health and cancer biology, as well as research in anthropology, water, mathematics, political economy and other areas.
And what's more, the article says, "Librarians are making clear the serious consideration that some are giving to moving research and scholarship to open access." The author has embarked on an interesting project to develop usage statistics for open access articles. 

Wednesday 17 March 2021

Coronavirus Regulations State-By-State

 Law360 has an article titled "Coronavirus Regulations: a State-by-State Review." The article has an interactive map of the United States (powered by LexisNexis state-net) that lets you click on any of the states or territories of the US to view legislative, regulatory, and executive order information with a link to full text reports for each measure. The site tracks federal, state, and local government activity related to coronavirus, including pending bills, new regulations, and executive orders. 

Monday 15 March 2021

2021 NELLCO Symposium for Law Libraries begins this Wednesday

 The 2021 NELLCO Symposium: Uncertainty - Living with Reality. Finding Opportunity. is scheduled to begin this Wednesday, with a host of interesting sessions spread out over 6 days March 17-19 and 24-26. Registration is free. The Symposium will be conducted on Zoom. Some of the sessions: 
3/17 from 1-2 pm,  Best Practices for Negotiating with Vendors
3/17 from 4-5 pm, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging in Collections & Acquisitions
3/18 from 1-2:30 pm, Back to Normal? Law Libraries After the Pandemic
3/24 from 2:45 - 3:30 pm, The Fight for the Right to Loan: Digital access, lending, and preservation in crisis
Plus lots more interesting sessions, and presentations from law library vendors like Fastcase, Bloomsbury, PLI Plus, vLex, and others. 
The full program is available here. Register here

Wednesday 6 January 2021

LexisNexis Launches Law360 Pulse

 LexisNexis has introduced "Law360 Pulse: a comprehensive business of law news service." Law360 Pulse is a news service that combines the journalism and research of Law360 (which was acquired by LexisNexis a few years ago) with data and analytics from Lexis. Pulse complements Law360’s legal news coverage, offering single source for comprehensive legal news. LexisNexis is offering legal professionals complimentary access to Law360 Pulse for a limited time. And the good news for us is that law school faculty and students have complimentary access to Law360 Pulse.

Casemaker & Fastcase merge

 Casemaker and Fastcase have announced that the two companies are merging to create "a powerful alternative for legal information." According to the joint announcement of the merger, "The two companies will combine their teams and technologies to innovate research, analytics, and workflow offerings that empower lawyers with powerful digital solutions for their clients."  Both products have been popular lower-cost alternatives with Bar associations, and have over one million subscribers. Ed Walters, who is one of Fastcase's co-founders and current CEO, is quoted as saying "With the hard-won editorial and production expertise of Casemaker, we’re now ready to accelerate our climb, rewarding all our bar partners who believed in our companies as strong alternatives.”  

For law school subscribers (Pitt Law's Barco Law Library is a subscriber), the announcements says that "Fastcase and Casemaker access for law school students will remain in its current state until a unified law school student plan is finalized. All changes and improvements will be made in the best interest of law school students who will eventually be bridging into practice, and the newly combined Fastcase and Casemaker team wish to be the preferred legal technology provider for those future attorneys."

Wednesday 18 November 2020

Free Wi-Fi for schoolchildren - broadcast from top of Cathedral of Learning

"We need to bridge Pittsburgh’s Digital Divide. By creating a community-based, non-profit Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP),...(we) will provide Internet to the homes of Pittsburghers who need it most."
That's the message from Meta Mesh, one of four community partners along with Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pittsburgh and the Keystone Initiative for Network-based Research (KINBER) who have formed Every1online, a program to provide high-speed internet for school-aged children in the area. And the source of the signal: the top of Pitt’s Cathedral of Learning.
A story published on TribLive  describing this interesting project in detail says,

'“It’s a perfect tower,” said Sam Garfinkel, development coordinator at Meta Mesh, a nonprofit internet service provider. The Cathedral of Learning is, after all, the highest educational structure on the Western Hemisphere, standing more than 500 feet tall with 42 stories.'

Tuesday 27 October 2020

EEOC's New COVID-19 Guidance

General Counsel News has a link to an article in the HR Daily Advisor that gives a a helpful summary of newly updated guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission addressing common questions about federal employment laws and COVID-19. The article points out that the new EEOC guidance, available here, pulls together information from other agency resources, modified two existing questions and answers, and added 18 new ones. It addresses question about COVID-19 testing and inquiries in the workplace; confidentiality of medical information and reasonable accommodations for COVID-19. From the article:
"The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted employers’ normal operations in virtually every way, but it’s important for you to stay abreast of the EEOC’s guidance on employment laws during this challenging time. The agency’s recent update clarified:
You may conduct coronavirus screening tests and inquiries to all employees returning to the workplace, but you must have a reasonable belief that an individual has COVID-19 or its symptoms if you wish to conduct a test or make inquiries to the person.
To the extent possible, you must keep confidential all medical information about employees, including COVID-19 details.
Finally, if employees request a reasonable accommodation, you must engage in the interactive process by discussing what they need and the reasons why."

New Westlaw news: Today

Westlaw has launched a new "news" product called "Westlaw Today." This news is different from the news you get if you click on "News" on your Westlaw home page, which provides the latest news from Reuters and links out to various news outlets.
Westlaw Today is available to our users from the Westlaw Edge main page by going to the dropdown menu in the upper lefthand corner of the page where is says Thomson Reuters Westlaw Edge. The Today homepage provides the latest legal news, attorney analysis, and most viewed articles. According to the website, Westlaw Today provides a matter of fact approach to news with content from a variety of sources, including articles from CQ Roll Call, The Hill and more. There is also a tab that allows you to focus your news by thirty different defined practice areas.

Monday 26 October 2020

LLoC to preserve govdocs for GPO

The Federal Depository Library Program reports that the Law Library of Congress has signed a Preservation Steward agreement with the U.S. Government Publishing Office. The agreement states that the LLoC will preserve its collection of the daily Congressional Record and Federal Register, published by GPO.
To help libraries meet the needs of efficient Government document stewardship in the digital era, GPO has established Preservation Stewards to support continued public access to historic U.S. Government documents in print format. Preservation Stewards contribute significantly to the effort to preserve printed documents, and GPO welcomes all libraries that wish to participate as Preservation Stewards... This agreement comes in addition to the Library of Congress’ 2017 Preservation Steward agreement with GPO to preserve Congressional Hearings. The Library of Congress and GPO also have a digital access partnership to provide permanent public access to digital publications within the scope of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) available through the Library of Congress website.

Friday 16 October 2020

Yay Teams

Pitt IT has reaffirmed that Pitt is migrating all Skype users to Microsoft Teams this Saturday.  And according to various online news sources, Microsoft has been working hard to make Teams the best WFH app for all sorts of situations.  Examples of new features on Teams:  

Endgadget reports on the upcoming “virtual commute” feature, whose goal is “to create a boundary between work and life.” It is designed to help people mark the start and end of the workday (Half of the chat volume on Teams occurred between 5 p.m. and midnight in the past six months, up 48% from the months before the pandemic). According to Endgadget, “Microsoft says this is an attempt to promote employee wellness.” 

“Teams Together” mode looks custom made for university teaching. According to Computerworld,   Instead of the BradyBunch-like gallery view that we’ve gotten used to, Together makes the group in the meeting look like they’re sitting together in a room or an auditorium.  

And Crayon has the information on how to add virtual and custom backgrounds in MS Teams. You can also blur your background on Teams (to protect your privacy or hide a mess 😊).  

Finally, there are lots of keyboard shortcuts on Teams; just open your Teams app and hit the “Control” key and the “.” key on your keyboard at the same time to pull up the list.    

Wednesday 30 September 2020

Blacklight: A Real-Time Website Privacy Inspector

The Markup is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates how powerful institutions are using technology to change our society. They have a strong interest in online privacy. To that end, they recently developed Blacklight,A Real-Time Website Privacy Inspector. On Blacklight you simply enter the address of any website, and Blacklight will scan it and reveal the specific user-tracking technologies on the site—and who’s getting your data. Blacklight says: "Who is peeking over your shoulder while you work, watch videos, learn, explore, and shop on the internet? You may be surprised at what you learn."

GPO's Collection Development Plan Updated

The Government Publishing Office (GPO) has updated its Collection Development Plan and made it available on the FDLP website (as a downloadable 1.5 mb pdf). Of particular interest to law librarians are the Executive Summary on page 1, and Appendix B:Current govinfo Collections page 20 and Appendix C: Ingest Priorities for the System of Online Access, page 23.

In order to better meet the Government information needs of current and future users, GPO must increase the availability of historical content in the system. To this end ingest priorities include, but are not limited to, earlier editions of titles currently available through govinfo so as to have complete and historic holdings. The historical content of executive and judicial branch agency collections needs to be developed as well. Digitization of this content may originate from GPO, other Federal agencies, or from parties with whom GPO has formally signed agreements, such as Federal depository libraries.
Also on the FDLP website is a list of institutions that have a project or resource that would benefit the public/depository community and have formed partnetships with the GPO.

Tuesday 22 September 2020

All-Virtual 2020 FDLP Conference in October

The (free) 2020 Federal Depository Library Conference is going to be all-virtual this year and will be held on October 20-23, 2020. Register here. The final schedule shows the dates and times of events and the agenda has information about the presenters and presentations. There are lots of interesting presentations scheduled, including the Keynote Address: Enhancing Access to National Archives Collections and Services During the Time of COVID by David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States. Also an introduction to persistent digital identifiers titled "DOIs, PURLs, URIs Oh My! " by James Jacobs, and a discussion of FOIA requests:

"The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) FOIA Advisory Committee recently issued a recommendation encouraging agencies to release FOIA documents to the public on their FOIA websites and through FOIA portals in open, legible, machine-readable and machineactionable formats. Meanwhile, there is a flood of documents released every month in response to public requests. There are some superstars out there that are helping to make FOIA’d documents and other unpublished records more publicly accessible."
There's also going to be a joint presentation from GPO and the Library of Congress about digitization of the Serial Set as well a talk about new govinfo Content and Enhancements.

Wednesday 16 September 2020

The ascendance of worker bees?

Have you noticed shifts in who takes on leadership roles during the WFH pandemic? The BBC has an article on "leadership" titled "The surprising traits of good remote leaders."
"Strong in-person leadership skills don’t necessarily translate to being a good virtual leader. Instead, organisation and competency reign supreme."
They cite a study that shows virtual teams often trend to accepting leadership from workers who are organized, dependable and productive, rather than the usual "ambitious workers" in the "executive suite." The basis of the article is a report from the Journal of Business and Psychology titled "Who Emerges into Virtual Team Leadership Roles? The Role of Achievement and Ascription Antecedents for Leadership Emergence Across the Virtuality Spectrum" (link goes to SpringerLink).

Constitution Day 2020 - African-American Members of Congress and the Constitution During Reconstruction

The Law Library of Congress and the Library of Congress have announced the annual Constitution Day lecture for Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020 at 3:00 pm Eastern Time. This year's lecture will be an online lecture given by Michael J. Murphy, a Historical Publication Specialist in the Office of the Historian for the U.S. House of Representatives, entitled“The Bulwark of Freedom”: African-American Members of Congress and the Constitution During Reconstruction. Registration is free, but required in order to attend the online event. From the blurb:

"Mr. Murphy explains that in 1870, Joseph Rainey of South Carolina became the first of 14 African Americans elected to the U.S. House of Representatives before the end of Reconstruction in 1877. Following the Civil War, Congress amended the Constitution to outlaw slavery, extend civil and political rights to African Americans, and expand the power of the federal government. Rainey and the small cohort of Black Representatives who served alongside him were all elected from southern states and many were formerly enslaved. They saw the Constitution as a battleground in the debate over Reconstruction and the future of the country, arguing for an expansive vision of citizenship and legal equality. For Rainey, the Constitution was “the bulwark of freedom,” designed to provide “protection to the humblest citizen, without regard to rank, creed, or color.” During the 1870s, Black Members embraced the Constitution—the founding document which had long denied them their very personhood—as a tool to redefine American democracy and fully realize the promise of representative government."

Another interesting webinar from FDLP Academy

FDLP is offering another interesting, free, webinar, "Legal Instruction and Resources at the Law Library of Congress: Recent Developments." The webinar will be on Tuesday, Oct. 13 from 2-3 pm Eastern time. Register here.

"This webinar will introduce attendees to new and developing resources at the Law Library of Congress: the Legal Research Institute, Legal Gazettes, and Legal Reports. The Law Library provides instruction on legal research and on how to use its vast collections, and these services have been enhanced through the introduction of webinars on the Legal Research Institute website. Participants will be oriented to the Legal Research Institute site and discover the instruction offered on U.S., and foreign and comparative law. In addition, participants will learn of how the Law Library is making available its extensive collection of legal gazettes collected from around the world and of the legal reports that are created in response to Congressional inquiry. Furthermore, participants will receive an overview of the efforts to make available foreign legal gazettes and legal reports that are prepared by Law Library staff for Congress."

Monday 14 September 2020

Webinar: Subject Headings Behind the Scenes

The FDLP and GPO are offering another free webinar called "Subject Headings Behind the Scenes." The webinar will take place on Wednesday, October 14th, from 2-3 pm Eastern time. From the blurb:

Have you ever wondered how subject headings are chosen for catalog records or why they are worded the way they are? This session will dispel mysteries about how GPO selects and applies Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms (LCGFT). Topics include headings and terms commonly used for Government information dissemination products; how to interpret headings; quality control measures at GPO; and tips for searching the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (GGP).
Register for the webinar here.

Nostalgic for sounds of the office?

 MIT Technology Review has an article titled "People who really miss the office are listening to its sounds at home." It tells of an audio engineer who gave in to many requests to make "office sounds" available for people working at home. So he created "Calm Office," a soundstream with volume sliders where users can adjust the volume of office-like sound effects: clackety keys, fax machine whirrs, and distant strains of conversation. The Calm Office tagline: "The office noise, without the boss yelling at you."