Friday 28 September 2007

HeinOnline now has a blog

Theirs is also on Blogspot: And they're using the same blogger template. Don't tell Shannon, but I think ours is better :-)

Batgirl is a librarian.

Secret closets for the librarian rock!(hat tip Joe Hodnicki)!

Thursday 27 September 2007

Database reviews

A recent query on the ERIL (Electronic Resources in Libraries) listserv asking for sources that review electronic databases generated a lot of interest and quite a bit of information. The list of sources that review databases and eresources has been published on the listserv (free registration required).

More law database news

Advanced Technology Systems Corp. and Claraview, a company "focused on business intelligence and data warehousing", announced that the Law Library of Congress has contracted with them to host, maintain and enhance and a supporting distance learning program. Currently available in 13 languages, ATSC will add Hebrew and simplified Chinese language support for in the first contract year. The Global Legal Information Network is a public database of official texts of laws, regulations, judicial decisions, and other complementary legal sources contributed by governmental agencies and international organizations. The GLIN database contains nearly 150,000 laws and supplementary legal material from 47 nations and multi-national jurisdictions is accessible in 13 languages and viewed by users in over 100 countries around the world. Since January 2007 traffic to the website has increased by 70%.

nellco grant: Universal Search Solution

NELLCO (Barco is a member of this organization - the New England Law Library Consortium - even though we're not, strictly speaking, in New England) has just announced that it's been awarded a 2-year, $364,150 National Leadership grant from to develop a "Universal Search Solution." What's that, you ask? According to the press release, "Universal Search Solution" will result in the creation of a physical master index of material including participating library catalogs, as well as subscription-based databases and open content, special collections, and other resources that a participating library wishes to make discoverable to its patrons. Tracy Thompson, who is the executive director (and only fulltime employee) of NELLCO,
says that the project is a response to the shortcomings of the federated search solutions currently available to law libraries. “Law libraries spend an enormous amount on electronic resources for their users. We want those resources to be exploited as fully as possible to enhance scholarship and inform thebody of knowledge in the legal arena. But connecting library users to our e-resources isan ongoing challenge.
Sounds like an ambitious and very worthwhile project. NELLCO's technical partner in the venture is IndexData, and the grant is from the IMLS - the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


The back-to-school cold season has hit the Barco Law Library faculty and staff hard - straining our resources and making it hard to keep up with the blogging. Let's hope we all recuperate over the weekend.

Wednesday 26 September 2007

Saturday 22 September 2007

Mail: the twilight years

A couple of days ago I told a friend of mine that I don't think there will be snailmail or a post office much longer. She replied that her mailman has told her the only reason he's still got a job is because of all the junk mail he has to deliver. So this headline in PC World magazine (the online version, needless to say) caught my eye: "Never Get Paper Mail Again". There is a company called Earth Class Mail that offers this service: you pay them $13 a month, and you fill out a change of address card at the Post Office that redirects all your mail to Earth Class Mail in Kirkland, Washington. They scan the outside of all the envelopes that arrive and you can view the scans online, and decide whether you want that piece of mail opened and scanned, archived, shredded, or even mailed to your address (a little more than half of the mail is discarded, with nearly a quarter of the mail opened and scanned.) PC World says "The service is targeted at people who travel a lot and at companies of all sizes that want more secure, efficient mail handling. But it's also ideal for anyone who thinks paper mail is silly and is looking for a better way."

Friday 21 September 2007

Are ISBNs intellectual property?

Yesterday's Harvard Crimson has a story about a student who was asked to leave the Harvard Coop bookstore because he was writing down the prices of 6 books in the store. The president of the Coop said that the Coop considers information about ISBNs to be the Coop’s intellectual property.

SSRN expands

SSRN (the Social Science Research Network) sent an email this morning announcing the expansion of its ERPN - Entrepreneurship research and policy news - and the addition of several new paper series. One that might be of interest to law faculty, especially to anyone contemplating empirical research, is the U.S. Census Bureau Center for Economic Studies Research Paper Series.

Thursday 20 September 2007

Et tu, WSJ?

A story on the front page of Section B of the Wall Street Journal this morning suggests that the Wall Street Journal - the bastion of capitalism - may follow the lead of the New York Times and make its online content freely available. The Journal became the only major U.S. paper charging for online access to most of its content after the New York Times yesterday abandoned its online "Times Select" paid-subscription service.
You can read the story in the WSJ here if you have a paid subscription. Otherwise, you can read about it here, or if you search Google news using the search term "Murdoch's Choice" (in quotes) you can get into the WSJ version free.

Lawyers: big (carbon) feet

The ABA Journal reports today that lawyers have oversized carbon footprints. The average lawyer uses 20,000 to 100,000 sheets of copy paper in a year. Not included in the study was Barco's student Westlaw printer - the one in the computer lab that was one of the top printout producers in the country this summer.

Duke Law School creates new center

In the aftermath of the scandal involving wrongful accusations of several Duke lacrosse players, the Duke Law School has announced that it will spend $1.25 million on a center that will incorporate and expand the law school’s Wrongful Convictions Clinic and Innocence Project. The purpose of the center is to promote criminal justice and train lawyers to fight wrongful convictions. The center will expand the existing Wrongful Convictions Clinic to include an undergraduate course on the causes and remedies for wrongful convictions and courses taught by experts in areas such as forensic science, eyewitness identifications and false confessions. The programs will continue to investigate credible claims of innocence made by convicted felons in N. C. and work to raise public awareness of systemic problems in the criminal justice system that lead to wrongful convictions.
Duke University President Richard Brodhead stated that “three of our students suffered a grave injustice at the hands of the legal system... I am determined that we will make some good come out of the grave injustice that took place."

Tuesday 18 September 2007

NY Times online to stop charging

The New York Times has announced that as of midnight tonight it will stop charging for content that it started charging for two years ago. The NYT has been noticably irresolute about its Times Select online service. It began as a paid subscription that was free to print subscribers, but then the Times began to give free access to college students and educators. Now the Times reports that "in addition to opening the entire site to all readers, The Times will also make available its archives from 1987 to the present without charge, as well as those from 1851 to 1922, which are in the public domain. There will be charges for some material from the period 1923 to 1986, and some will be free." Removing the subscription barrier will open the website to traffic directed by search engines and the paper says the increased traffic and resulting increased ad revenues will more than make up for any lost subscription revenues.

Monday 17 September 2007

New attorney general

President Bush has named Judge Michael Mukasey Attorney General. Read the AP report on the appointment.

Academic library asks patrons what to cancel

In an article in the online university newsletter, the librarians at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota have asked the university community to review and comment on their cancellation list. ""We propose canceling 31 titles for which there will be no exact counterpart available on campus. Please, take a moment to examine the list to ensure that we have precisely identified the least used resources for the campus. " It will be interesting to hear the results - will anyone bother to comment?

Library Science Jeopardy

Test your library science knowledge!

Second Life in the classroom

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting report about some college faculty who are using Second Life to teach in innovative ways. The article also contains comments from faculty who don't think Second Life is helpful.
The US Courts website recently posted a report on the federal judiciary's Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system and how PACER's popularity is affecting court staff. The widespread use of PACER by law firms has changed the way court staff do business. One judge is quoted as saying that "I'm worried about what can be the complete absence of interaction between lawyers and their staffs and the court staff." Another judge said he's more likely to insist on quicker responses from lawyers because "submitting a reply brief in two days is much easier than it was in a paper world."

Students use of technology

Inside Higher Education has interesting writeup about a new report from the Educause Center about how students in higher education use information technology. They interviewed 27,846 students at 103 higher education institutions and studied what kinds of information technologies these students use, own, and experience; their technology behaviors, preferences, and skills; how IT impacts their experiences in their courses; and their perceptions of the role of IT in the academic experience. The entire report is available free on the Educause website.

Friday 14 September 2007

Let sleeping judges lie?

For those of you who don't follow the LawLib listserv, here's a case one of our members in Australia sent us. The appellants claim that their conviction at trial was a miscarriage of justice because the judge slept through most of it. You're going to have to read the case to see what happens next...

Friday fun: are you juggling too many things?

Take a lesson from this guy!

Thursday 13 September 2007

A Shaggy Dog tale

A blogging group of law librarians in Oregon are blogging about a real life story in 6 parts of a librarian dilemma: the FBI confiscated a patron's books and among the books were 2 belonging to the library. How to get them back?

Beautiful libraries

Curious Expeditions has blogged about some of the world's beautiful libraries; the post includes many gorgeous photos of many gorgeous libraries. The only modern building included in the list is the rare book library at Yale, which deserves mention, although the photo doesn't really capture the beautiful glow that suffuses the building's interior and doesn't include the case with the Gutenberg Bible. Do the librarians really turn one page a day?
Speaking of the world's libraries, an accident at the National Library of Scotland came perilously close to damaging their Gutenberg Bible.

Wednesday 12 September 2007

End of an Era: adieu Shepard's

It's the end of an era. The Shepard's Citators are being discarded (we are saving some of them in the giant library storage facility at Thomas Blvd.) Farewell books, hello computer databases! Think of all the brain cells that have been spared in the minds of law students who no longer have to struggle with figuring out how the heck to use Shepard's. There are a couple of large trash containers in the back of the library filled with old Shepard's that are being dumped. Of course they might make good doorstops...

Tuesday 11 September 2007

Constitution Day at the LLOC

The Law Library of Congress in Washington DC is marking Constitution Day, Monday Sept. 17, with a bipartisan panel discussion on "National Security and the Rule of Law". Virginia Sloan, president of the Constitution Project will moderate the panel will include former congressman Mickey Edwards (R-Okla.), former State Department official Morton H. Halperin and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charlie Savage. If you're going to be in DC and are interested in attending you can email them. If not, they will be filming the discussion and will have the webcast available within 2 weeks of the program.
The LLOC wil also be launching a new web site on Constitution Day which will have a new and different look compared to the current website, stay tuned.

Monday 10 September 2007

prison libraries

We've had prison librarians come talk at Barco and one of the questions people always ask is what sorts of books they have, what books prisoners read, and what books are forbidden. The New York Times has a story about prison libraries and their collection development (actually more like collection un-development) policies. Apparently a bureau of the Justice Department has a Standardized Chapel Library Project, which entails removing some religious books from prison libraries.

New translation site

Windows has launched "Windows Live Translator Beta", a new website that allows you to enter up to 500 words of text or a url for translation. It will translate English into an impressive variety of languages, including Chinese, Korean, and Arabic as well as the more prosaic French, Spanish and Dutch. I haven't had a chance to compare its translation prowess with that of the other free online translators like Google or Freetranslation dot com, feel free to share your experiences.

Improve legal education?

The latest edition of The Complete Lawyer is focused on the question "What Can Law Schools Do Better?" The lead article by Roy Stuckey encourages practicing attorneys to become involved in trying to change the way law students are educated.

ABA committee on Second Life

The ABA section on IP law is starting a new subcommittee on Computer Gaming and Virtual Worlds and is looking for members who'd like to help form ABA policy in this new area. They're planning to hold virtual meetings "in world".

Short List

I was so buried in work that I somehow managed to miss the announcement of the Booker short list on Thursday. Howard Davies, the chair of the judges (and a dead ringer for Richard Armstrong, the Carnegie director), has a blog in which he talks about the shortlist process.
So what made the cut?
Ian McEwan On Chesil Beach (England)
Nicola Barker Darkmans (England) 840 pages
Mohsin Hamed The Reluctant Fundamentalist (America)
Lloyd Jones Mr. Pip (Australia)
Anne Enright The Gathering (Ireland)
Indra Sinha Animal's People (India)

No time to read all 6 before the winner is announced on Oct. 15? You can read The Short List Digested by John Crace, reviewer for The Guardian. And if you like an occasional flutter you can read what odds the bookies are offering on the 6 finalists.

What do the bookmakers say?

Friday 7 September 2007

Law students' information literacy skills

Ian Gallacher (who teaches legal writing at Syracuse law school) reports the results of a law student information literacy study he did in a very interesting new paper on SSRN. The hourlong internet survey of 740 students at 7 law schools was conducted in the summer of 2006 and was designed to gather information about law student reading, writing, and research habits. The paper on SSRN is chock full of interesting graphical displays of the collected data and includes information about gender differences in law student reading, writing and research.
As we might expect, students are using the internet more than the library to do their research.
When asked where they conduct research, 11.3% said they always use the internet for research, and 40.1% said they usually use the internet but will sometimes use the library. By contrast, 25.1% said they use the internet and library about the same amount for their research needs, 5.9% said they usually use the library but will sometimes use the internet, and only 0.4%, or three students, answered that they always research in the library and never use the internet. According to Gallacher, law students have a sense that the physical library retains some role in performing legal research but believe the internet is a more important source of legal information. Among the conclusions he reaches is that teaching legal research with an underlying assumption that first year law students have basic information literacy skills may be flawed - even though the 1L students are generally very confident about these skills.

Thursday 6 September 2007

perpetual access to online subscriptions

If you're on the ERIL (electronic resources in libraries) listserv you know that there's been a groundswell of interest in how various publishers are offering continued access to their online publications - especially as so many libraries are cancelling their print subscriptions. ERIL has just created a wiki for sharing this sort of information among libraries. Check it out.

Facebook becomes searchable

Facebook, the popular social networking website, has announced that it will be making its content searchable by search engines "so that people can see which of their friends are on Facebook more easily". Depending on individual privacy settings, Facebook page holders can be found more easily by Google, MSN Live, Yahoo, etc.

Why law school rankings are perverse

We all suspect that the US News & World Report law school rankings are perverse and cause distortion in how law schools make decisions, but now there's proof! A study published in the AJS (American Journal of Sociology) reports on how the rankings become self-fulfilling prophecies. The authors, Wendy Nelson Espeland of Northwestern University and Michael Sauder of the University of Iowa, interviewed law-school administrators and faculty members, and they also collected data about how law schools' application and yield rates have varied over time. Among their conclusions, the authors write that "The challenge for USN is that, as a journalistic enterprise, they are unqualified to create incentive systems to change law schools. The authority of their rankings rests, precariously, on their status as valid scientific measures and USN's reputation as unbiased journalists reporting "the news" rather than creating it. "
Thanks to Pat Roncevich for bringing the study to our attention.

Wednesday 5 September 2007

eLearning: a paradigm shift for law school teaching

There's a fascinating article in by Diane Donahoe, chairwoman of the Legal Research & Writing program at Georgetown. While many law professors debate whether to allow laptops in the classroom, Donahoe has fully embraced eLearning and has dramatically changed the way she teaches to meet the needs of a generation of law students who learn in new ways - she calls them "digital students". Her courses are entirely paperless, and the online "textbook" she authored (which replaces the traditional paper law school casebook) integrates nonlinear text, interactivity, immediate feedback and multimedia with rich legal content that fits this generation of students' digital learning style.

Tuesday 4 September 2007

Pitt Law faculty rank high in Leiter study of scholarly impact

We should all be proud of the results of the Leiter study of the top law faculties in the US based on scholarly impact, where Pitt was ranked at 21, and made the listing of top law schools. The study gives objective evidence of the excellent quality of the faculty at Pitt Law. It is particularly noteworthy that we substantially outrank several law schools in the first tier of the US News & World Report rankings, including BU, Emory, Ohio State, UC Hastings and USC ( based on mean per capita citations.) Congratulations to our faculty for this well-deserved recognition of their legal scholarship.

Saturday 1 September 2007

American Council of Learned Societies eBooks

ULS now subscribes to the ACLS Humanities Ebook Collection - an online collection of over 1500 books "of high quality" in the humanities. Member of Learned Societies worked together to choose the books. Fields currently covered include: Area Studies in Australasian/Oceanian, Byzantine, Canadian, Caribbean, Native Peoples, and Women's Studies. Historical Studies include African, American, Asian, Comparative/World, Eastern European/Russian, Economic, European, Latin American, Legal, Methods/Theory, Middle East, and Science/Technology. HEB also encompasses the fields of Art History, Literature, Political Science, and Religion. Forthcoming fields include Archaeology, History of Medicine, and History of Philosophy.
The collection . Searching and browsing are easy, and although this is not a legal database, searching for Law or Legal pulls up titles that may be of interest to law faculty, for example: Islamic law in the modern world (1959); African women & the law: historical perspectives (1984); Lawyers against labor : from individual rights to corporate liberalism (1995).
More info about the HEB database is available on the ACLS website.

cellphone discussion rages

For those of you who are on the law librarian listserv you already know that an innocent question about patrons' cellphone use set off a flurry of postings yesterday. This is always a hot button topic. The suggestions fell into 3 categories: 1. BAN them completely 2. Designate a room for cellphone use 3. technological fixes, such as offer earplugs to people disturbed by the cellphone use, use iPod w/earplugs to block the sound, use (illegal) signal blocker technology, or (my gadgetphilic suggestion) invent a personal cellphone bubble/umbrella. (Not that I'm planning on inventing it, I leave that to someone else.)
This is a problem in libraries everywhere, of course. Barco asks people to use the elevator lobby for cellphone conversations, but this rule isn't strictly enforced and when you get a couple of people on their cellphones in the elevator lobby it gets distracting for people working in the library offices. Some women use their cellphones in our restroom stalls. The central staircase is also popular.
At least one of Pitt's law professors announces in his syllabus that "If yours (cellphone) goes off audibly, you will be considered absent that day."
If anyone comes up with a good solution for managing the pesky things, they should win the Nobel Peace Prize.