Monday 31 March 2008

Library of Congress criticized

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that many librarians working at the LOC disagree with the LOC report "On the Record: Report of the Library of Congress Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control"and have published a 38 page critique "On the Record but Off Track" that claims the LOC's report ignores the "very real and important" differences between the research needs of scholars and casual information seekers.

Amazon flexes its muscles

Amazon has created a furor in the publishing world by requiring Print On Demand publishers to use Amazon's BookSurge POD technology, according to a story in Publishers Weekly. Amazon notified publishers who print books on demand that they will have to use its on-demand printing facilities if they want their books directly sold on Amazon's Web site. If the publishers use a different POD company Amazon will disable the "buy" button on the Amazon website. A links list of other stories about Amazon's move shows titles like "Amazon pulls a Microsoft", "Amazon puts the screws on", and "Amazon tightens noose."
According to the Wall Street Journal, the move signals that Amazon is intent on using its position as the premier online bookseller to strengthen its presence in other phases of bookselling and manufacturing. Print On Demand is a rapidly growing printing technology that allows publishers to quickly produce copies of books. Instead of printing a large quantity months before a title goes on sale, publishers can print copies in response to requests from retailers or other customers. The technique is being used by more than half of the country's university presses and most of the major consumer publishers in the U.S. for some titles.
Someone (the website says "I'm an independently published author worried about the fate of our industry") has started an online petition to combat Amazon's actions here.

Saturday 29 March 2008

Recommended freebies

PC World has a list of "101 fantastic freebies" - downloadable software and online services. They are categorized by what they are used for, like "Security", "filesharing", "maps and directions", "photos and video" etc.
I have to give snaps to MizPee, for concept if not execution. The idea is that if you need to find a bathroom you enter the address of where you are and MizPee will direct you to a nearby clean facility. Fabulous idea! Problem is that the data is very sparse at the moment. Like if you need a bathroom in Pittsburgh forget it, the nearest thing one it will find will be in Cincinnati or Philly.
But you can add toilets and rate them too.

GPO Access announces authentication of online pdfs

GPO has announced the release of Authenticated Public and Private Laws for the 110th Congress on GPO Access. What's this, you ask? In order to assure users that the pdf documents you are looking at are "authentic", GPO has begun attaching digital signatures to certain electronic documents on GPO Access. The digital signatures establish that GPO is the information disseminator and also provide the assurance that an electronic document has not been altered since GPO disseminated it. The GPO Seal of Authenticity is a graphic of an eagle next to the words “Authenticated U.S. Government Information.”

Friday 28 March 2008

GPO flap

The Washington Times is running a series of stories on GPO that are critical of GPO officials business expenses, the profits made on passport sales, and concerns over the security of passports produced by foreign companies (see, for example, today's story "GPO Profits go to Bonuses and Trips" with the opening sentence "When the government's main printing agency booked $100 million in unexpected profit it went on a spending spree: large bonuses to top managers, trips to Paris and Las Vegas, and an official photo of the boss that cost $10,000."). The GPO presented its side of the story in a press release yesterday titled "GPO Responds to the Washington Times Story. GPO Presents the Following Facts of the US Passport".

Country pages database

The Government Publications Library at the University of Colorado at Boulder has announced that its country pages database on for all countries of the world is complete. The database has extensive collections of information and weblinks on each country including country-specific e-resources on economics, history, or politics.

$10,000 contest for law students

Access Group, a nonprofit student loan company, is sponsoring the "One Less Worry" video scholarship contest for law students. They are offering a $10,000 scholarship to the law student who submits the best original video no longer than four minutes on the theme, “What are your worries as a law student?”
Ten finalists will be selected. All video entries will be evaluated by judges on a 100 point scale:
• a maximum of 20 points for Creativity;
• a maximum of 20 points for Humor;
• a maximum of 20 points for Realism;
• a maximum of 20 points for Quality;
• a maximum of 20 points for Overall Appeal
So students, pick up that videocamera and start kvetching!

The person behind the rankings

The ABA Journal has a feature story today about the guy whom they call the "rankings Czar" - Robert Morse, the data director at US News and World Report and the person who developed the law school rankings.
He thinks it is others who invest the rankings with greater importance than they deserve, and he defends them, neither as calculus nor social science, but as an honestly derived “guide.”

Gadgets to blow the refund on...

Computer World has an article suggesting 10 tech gadgets that you might be tempted to indulge in if you're getting a decent-sized IRS refund. Included are a robot lawnmower, a GPS computer for bicycles, a cockpit for gamers... my favorites are a really big monitor ("you can never be too rich or too thin or have a monitor that's too big") and, of course, the MacBook Air.

Thursday 27 March 2008

Plea bargains on PACER

The Reporters' Committee for Freedom of the Press reports that the Judicial Conference's Committee on Court Administration and Case Management (CACM) has declined to endorse a Department of Justice proposal that would have removed criminal plea agreements from PACER, allowing access only to the print records at federal courthouses.
In Dec. 2006, the Department of Justice proposed a change in Judicial Conference policy to facilitate the elimination of Internet access by removing all plea agreements from PACER. The CACM Committee then solicited and received public comment on the suggestion and deliberated about the Justice Department proposal and the public comment received. The Committee determined that prohibiting public Internet access to all plea agreements, most of which do not disclose a defendant's cooperation, while simultaneously leaving all plea agreements available to the public in clerk's offices is an inadequate solution.
However, the Committee is also asking district courts to consider adopting a local policy that protects information about cooperation in law enforcement investigations.

NEW: Adobe Photoshop Express (beta)

Another cool new product launch today - this time by Adobe. It's a web-based application called "Adobe Photoshop Express" (beta). It's free, though you need to set up an account to use it. Once you have an account you can upload your photos, store them in your library, create photo albums, and, most importantly, edit them. Though it isn't - and doesn't pretend to be - nearly as option-loaded as the commercial Photoshop software, it does have very useful options for editing and a really nice interface too. I've only used it a little bit but so far I like it very much.

New YouTube video analytics

The folks at YouTube announced today that they are launching "YouTube Insight", a free tool that enables anyone with a YouTube account to view detailed statistics about the videos that they upload to the site. For example, uploaders can see how often their videos are viewed in different geographic regions, as well as how popular they are relative to all videos in that market over a given period of time. You can also delve deeper into the lifecycle of your videos, like how long it takes for a video to become popular, and what happens to video views as popularity peaks.
you can find currently available metrics by clicking under the "About this Video" button under "My account > Videos, Favorites, Playlists > Manage my Videos." You can see how many times your video has been viewed by date, and there is also a map of the world showing in which countries your video has been viewed.

Wednesday 26 March 2008

Genetic social networking?

Social networking online - on websites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn - is wildly popular these days, and there are plenty of specialized social networks too. Today's Technology Review reports that a company called "23 and me" is about to unveil a new social-networking service that allows customers to compare their DNA. To capitalize on the boom in social networking the company is launching a genome-sharing tool that allows people to compare their genome with those of family members, friends, and even strangers who have offered up their DNA data. "It seems like the first natural curiosity people have is, where do I come from? What are my roots? The next natural [question] is, how do I compare to other people?" say the founders of 23andme. They hope that, as with traditional forms of social networking, word of the new tool will ripple through family and friends, bringing in new customers.

Strange bedfellows: GAO and West?

The legal blogosphere is abuzz about an agreement between the General Accounting Office and Thomson West giving ThomsonWest exclusive rights to federal legislative histories prepared by the GAO. Carl Malamud was quoted March 17 on Boing Boing explaining that he's been investigating the arrangement with help from the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
"The law librarians at GAO have compiled complete federal legislative histories from 1915 on. These are the definitive dossiers that track a bill through the hearing process and into law. If you want to divine the intent of Congress, this is where you go.... Now GAO cut a contract with Thomson West to have these documents scanned. Thomson West claims they have exclusive access to these public documents and even go so far as to boast that you should purchase this exclusive 'product' from West because the GAO law librarians (public employees!) have done all the work for you!"
Malamud has set up a Scribd page called the "Government Accountability Office" that contains the documents he has obtained from the GAO pertaining to this agreement. This weekend, our friends at Free Government Information went through the documents in some detail. They found that the GAO has compiled 20,597 legislative histories covering most public laws from 1915 to 1995 and spanning the 64th to the 104th Congresses - almost all in print or microfiche. In recent years, the GAO sought ways to digitize these histories, to preserve their integrity and improve their searchability. It tried to do some of this in-house, then went looking for a partner, which it found in Thomson West (!).
"Wholesale privatization without a careful, public examination of other, more citizen-friendly, alternatives is not acceptable," FGI asserts.
I don't think we've heard the last of this.
hattip: FGI and Legal Blog Watch

Tuesday 25 March 2008

Google translator, video may soon be hosted services

Computerworld has a story that good old Google is developing an instant translator and a video service to add to its hosted services. The translator would do instant translating of IM and email and the video could be used for teleconferencing.

Dept. of Education proposes new rules on student privacy

The Chronicle of Higher Education news blog is reporting that the US Dept. of Education has proposed changes in student privacy rules in FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) in the wake of the shootings 2 years ago at Virginia Tech. The rules clarify the Dept. of Ed's policy that institutions of higher education have to balance student privacy concerns with safety concerns. The rules say that the Dept. of Ed. will defer to institutions’ decisions, so long as the institutions have a rational basis for their determinations. The proposed changes are similar to guidelines the department published in October in the wake of the shootings at Virginia Tech.

Saturday 22 March 2008

Change Congress: Lessig's ambitious new project

Wired has an excellent story about Lawrence Lessig's new initiative. Lessig lectured at the National Press Club on Thursday where he introduced his ambitious new project,,designed to increase congressional transparency.
The Change Congress website provides a central clearinghouse for data on earmarks, campaign financing, etc. and advocates an end to corporate and private interests. It encourages citizens to push candidates to make four commitments: No money from lobbyists or PACs, vote to end earmarks, support publicly-financed campaigns, and support reform to increase Congressional transparency.
The Change Congress website offers the opportunity to join their cause of getting rid of "crony capitalism" and volunteer to contact candidates to take the pledge.

Friday 21 March 2008

Elimination of Racial Discrimination

March 21 is the official International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and this year's theme is "Racism and Discrimination: Obstacles to Development." You can find out more on the UN website and the Dag Hammarskjold Library page.

Let the sun shine in...

The Baltimore Sun reports on recent efforts to pass legislation to create a publicly accessible database of state spending for the state of Maryland. The proposed database was approved in the House of Delegates and saw no opposition in a key Senate committee and has support from staunch liberal groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Sierra Club as well as conservative organizations such as Americans for Tax Reform. Both sides argue that more transparency will lead to better government and less waste. The database would allow anyone with a computer and an Internet connection to find out where the money is coming from, who was awarded the contracts and how much they received from the state for anything else.
Can Pennsylvania be far behind?

TRACFED Demo and Trial

I am setting up a demonstration and trial of TRACFED, . It’s a database containing data from many Federal agencies and offices and analytical tools for facilitating empirical research.

What is TRACFED:
TRAC = Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse
Syracuse University – non-profit, non-partisan research center; est. 1989
Co-sponsored by the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications & the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University.
Now has offices at Syracuse University, in Washington, D.C. & California.
TRAC ( is a free public website that contains the data collected from the federal government
TRACFED ( is a subscription “data mining application”. Makes it possible to produce useful reports with minimal effort.

What data is contained in TRACFED:
Federal government data obtained largely through the Freedom of Information Act as well as readily available fed data ( e.g. Census data)
Unique in that they proactively go out and get data using FOIA requests and lawyers to back them up; they have gathered data no other database has.
Partial list of agencies tapped for info:
Department of Homeland Security
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Internal Revenue Service
Drug Enforcement Administration
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
Administrative Offices of the US Court
Environmental Protection Agency
Executive Office for Immigration Review
Office of Personnel Management
Mapping tool easily displays data by state, county and city.
Geographic boundaries
Population trends for calculating rates
Inflation rates for calculating constant / real dollars
Historical information to capture organizational change
Changes in data recording
Examples of how TRACFED has been used for empirical research:
§ Article on how serious crime on Indian reservations goes unpunished: TRACFED provided detailed info about all the matters that the government had investigated but decided not to prosecute.
§ Article about federal enforcement priorities: data from TRACFED showed that under the Bush administration there’s been a dramatic decline in the prosecution of white collar criminals, corrupt government officials and organized crime bosses.
§ Study using TRACFED showed inexplicable disparities in how immigrants seeking asylum are being treated
§ Study of federal prosecution in KY of police officers accused of civil rights abuses showed that only one of 294 cases was prosecuted.
§ Study of trends over time and regional variation of Brady Bill enforcement including declinations, prosecutions, convictions, and sentencing.

More information:
The website has many short (1 minute or less) video tutorials on using TRACFED for topical research. Examples:
Criminal Enforcement: Lead Charge (US Code Title and Section)
Criminal Enforcement: Dept. of Justice Program
Federal Judges: Available Information
Homeland Security Available Information
Civil Enforcement: Detailed Cause of Action
Civil Enforcement: Investigative Agency

There is an article available in HeinOnline about TRACFED and its usefulness for legal scholars: 17 Trends L. Libr. Mgmt. & Tech. 61 (2007) Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse and the TRACFED Data Warehouse by Roberge, Linda ; Long, Susan; Burnham, David; Hassett, Patricia.

Tuesday 18 March 2008

New Harvard Law public service initiative

Harvard Law School has announced a new public service initiative intended to strengthen its commitment to public service. According to a posting in the Chronicle of Higher Ed news blog, Harvard Law will waive the third year of law school tuition - currently $41,500 - for all students who agree to spend at least five years after graduation in public-service jobs. These students must also demonstrate a commitment to public service during law school. To do so, they must earn eligibility “credits” by engaging in public service activities such as relevant clinical programs, summer jobs and internships.
The Public Service Initiative is the first program of its kind in legal education. Over the course of its first five years, the initiative represents an additional annual investment of just over $3 million on the part of the Law School.

Chronicling America website is growing

The Library of Congress reports that their Chronicling America website recently added more than 79,000 pages, and now contains more than half a million newpaper pages as part of a longterm project to digitize historic American newspapers. These pages come from 61 papers between the years 1897 and 1910. An interesting feature is that this collection contains small American newspapers like The Bourbon News (Paris, Ky) and The Gulf Coast Breeze (Crawfordville, Fla) as well as big-city papers. It's got a user-friendly search interface that makes it easy to browse or search. You can find coverage of such topics as the assassination of President McKinley in 1901 , the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 , and the construction of the Panama Canal.

Monday 17 March 2008

Google Books in the OPAC?

The Wired Campus from the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Google Books now provides a set of software protocols that will help libraries integrate Google Books into their online catalog, so users will know if a book they want is available via the Google Books project.

Sunday 16 March 2008

ABA Techshow 2008

The annual ABA Techshow in Chicago just ended, and for those of us who couldn't make it in person they did a good job of keep us up-to-date on what was happening. The Techshow Buzz was created as a place where anyone interested, whether an attendee or an absentee, could keep tabs on happenings there. As the Techshow Blog explained, the Buzz has:
  • An aggregated feed of blog posts authored by Techshow attendees, faculty and even exhibitors
  • A stream of photos taken at Techshow
  • A Twitter stream, with conference updates as well as personal messages from attendees and others &
  • A feed, where you can find links to some of the sites mentioned during the show.
    Also, other law-bloggers posted from Techshow, including Real Lawyers Have Blogs, Reid My Blog!, Bob Kraft's P.I.S.S.D. and Dennis Kennedy. Kennedy also set up a Techshow group on Facebook.
    • Interesting free/cheap software

      PC World has a recent article reviewing 15 mostly-free online software applications that they say can do the same things costly programs like Photoshop do - for a lot less money.

      Thursday 13 March 2008

      Marc Silverman's first grandchild!

      Welcome to the world Anthony Bradley Schubert, son of Aurora Silverman and Brad Schubert, born March 12, 7 lbs. 10 oz.

      Online training for librarians

      Solinet, the Southeastern Library Network website, provides a listing of all the online courses for librarians offered in their eCademy as well as a handy listing of online educational programs and workshops from other library networks. The workshops cover all sorts of topics from "Managing a Difficult Patron" to "Digital Licensing" to "Virtual Reference Best Practices" to "MARC for Beginners". There is a registration fee for most of these web-based courses.

      Radical overhauling of 3L curriculum

      Inside Higher Ed has an article describing how the Washington and Lee Law School has dramatically changed the 3L curriculum. The 3rd year of law school will now consist entirely of experiential courses in which students will do work that is equivalent to the work done by lawyers. The president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, which last year published a report critical of the curriculum in US law schools, praised the school for adopting such a dramatic change.

      Wednesday 12 March 2008

      Judicial Conference adopts national rules on judicial misconduct

      The Judicial Conference of the United States has announced the adoption of uniform standards for the first nationally binding judicial discipline rules among the federal Circuit courts. The standards curtail the decentralized self-regulatory system that let individual circuit's set their own standards and closed "jurisdictional gaps," according to Judge Ralph K. Winter of the 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and chair of the Conduct Committee that compiled the reforms. The changes were made in response to recommendations by a special committee chaired by Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer and pressure from some in Congress to improve implementation of the Judicial Conduct and Disability Act of 1980, the basis of federal judicial discipline.

      Tuesday 11 March 2008

      Homeland Security Spending

      The Mercatus Center at George Mason University has published a Working Paper entitled "Facts and Figures about Seven Years of Homeland Security Spending" by Dr. Veronique de Rugy, an economist and senior scholar at the Center.
      Between FY2001 and FY2009 funding for Homeland Security rose from $16.9 billion to at least $68.5 billion—a 305 percent increase. The paper shows where the money is going and how the DHS is growing.

      Constitutional Law: War Powers

      The Law Library of Congress has put together a collection of constitutional law resources focusing on War Powers as part of its information about the Executive office and the Constitution. There are three articles and a statement to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary by Louis Fisher, an expert on constitutional law at the LLOC; all are available in their entirety in pdf format.

      Monday 10 March 2008

      Crafting a Syllabus

      The Chronicle of Higher Education has 2 articles about syllabi this morning. The first, "The Syllabus Becomes a Repository of Legalese", reports that the syllabus is increasingly becoming more like a legal document, full of exhortations, proscriptions, and enunciations of class and institutional policy — often in minute detail that seems more appropriate for a courtroom than a classroom. The author discusses how this modern syllabus has evolved. The second article, "Research Yields Tips on Crafting Better Syllabi" has recommendations on writing a good syllabus.

      LoC budget testimony for FY 2009

      The Open House Project has a report on the March 5 testimony of Dr. James Billington, the Librarian of Congress. His prepared statement (see attached) presented information on on current LoC initiatives, and described funding priorities. The testimony repeatedly mentions 2008's "deep and painful cuts to the Library’s budget", and the Librarian adds "I feel obligated to say that if we are stretched much farther, we may soon reach a breaking point." Furthermore, the statement adds,"Demand for online services, increased pressure on web services operations to enhance THOMAS, the World Digital Library (WDL), and the Legal Information Services (LIS) databases, and the need to develop new configurations and applications have severely strained technical assistance and infrastructure support provided by the Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI) and Information Technology Services (ITS). Since 1995, THOMAS has provided free legislative information on the web. Our congressional and public constituencies have for several years been requesting upgrades to both THOMAS and LIS to enhance content and searchability. ... However, the IT and digital demands on the Library will need support from the Congress in fiscal 2010 to sustain the Library’s ability to provide services to the Congress and its constituents. "

      Sunday 9 March 2008

      Cuban law

      The Law Library of Congress has updated their information about Cuba since Fidel Castro resigned his position as El Presidente on Feb. 19. Gustavo Guerra, Foreign Law Specialist at the library, has prepared a guide to the legal implications of Fidel Castro's resignation including links to relevant documents.

      Google Advanced Search

      Yesterday I noticed that there have been some changes and additions to the Google advanced search page, all of them good. For one thing, they actually use the Boolean "OR" connector right on the search page! Also, they have added more options for choosing a file format you want to find, including Google Earth files and Shockwave files. They've also added a "usage rights" option that includes the choices "free to use and share" & "free to use, share and modify, even commercially" among others. My favorite new option is that you can choose WHERE your search terms appear - in the URL, in the page title, in the text, or in links. There's also a "page specific" option that lets you search for pages similar to the page ______. Though when I tried searching for pages like the Barco Law Library page I only got 28 hits, 20 of them were law schools (Harvard on top, again) and none of them were law libraries; I hope they're tweaking that one.
      Now if they would just let me display more than 100 results per page I would be a very happy librarian.

      Saturday 8 March 2008


      Legal Blog Watch has a posting entitled "Are Law Libraries becoming obsolete?" The short answer seems to be "Maybe."

      Friday 7 March 2008

      National Book Critics Circle Awards

      The annual National Book Critics Circle awards ceremony celebrating the endurance of literature and literacy in America was held in New York last night. The 2007 Award winners, chosen from a strong group of finalists, were announced.
      The complete list of winners in all categories:
      Fiction: Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
      General Nonfiction: Harriet Washington, Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present
      Autobiography: Edwidge Danticat, Brother, I'm Dying
      Biography: Tim Jeal, Stanley: The Impossible Life of Africa's Greatest Explorer
      Criticism: Alex Ross, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century
      Poetry: Mary Jo Bang, Elegy
      Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing: Sam Anderson, book critic for New York Magazine
      Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award: Emile Buchwald, founding publisher of Milkweed Editions

      Thursday 6 March 2008

      US News law school rankings leaked

      The Concurring Opinions blog has published a leaked memo from an anonymous source purportedly written by a U.S. News and World Report "law school ranking executive" that provides a sneak peak at this year's law school rankings and some amazing secrets about how US News ranks law schools.
      The memo instructs "Please keep this confidential, we don't want people catching on to our method. They need to think these rankings really mean something. But remember our goal - to sell issues! Lots of issues!"

      Note: an update to the memo says "News flash to the very gullible: The memo is fake. After all, could the real ranking process possibly be as rational as the memo? "

      New database of Chinese books

      Another new database has been acquired by ULS: the Chinamaxx Digital Libraries. It contains full text access to Chinese language e-books. When you go to the database you'll see this, which is a listing of the subject categories of books in the collection in Chinese:

      Hong Yu, who works in our Technical Services department and reads Chinese, has translated this page into English for us, and the categories listed are:
      Political Doctrine, Military, Literature, Math Physics & Chemistry, Agriculture, Environmental & Safety Science;
      Philosophy & Religion, Economics, Arts, Astronomy & Earth Science, Technology, Comprehensive books;
      Social Science, Education, History & Geography, Biology, Transportation;
      Politics & Law, Language, Natural Science, Medicine & Health, Astronautics.
      In the Politics & Law section there are 44289 titles.

      Wednesday 5 March 2008

      Foreign Broadcast Information Services database

      The Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports database is now available from ULS. FBIS Daily Reports is a collection of media content from around the world created by the U.S. intelligence community to benefit policy makers and analysts, and it offer foreign views and perspectives on historical events from thousands of monitored broadcasts and publications. There are currently 52 countries from Africa, 20 countries from the Middle East and Near East, and 8 countries from South Asia included. Additional regions be will added. Translated into English from more than 50 languages - from Arabic to Swahili - these comprehensive media reports from around the globe include news, interviews, speeches and editorial commentary. This comprehensive, fully searchable edition of the FBIS Daily Reports is comprised of the reports from Middle East and [North] Africa 1974-1987; Near East and South Asia 1987-1996; South Asia 1980-1987; Sub-Saharan Africa 1974-1980 and 1987-1996; China 1974-1996; Asia and the Pacific 1974-1987; East Asia 1987-1996; Latin America 1974-1996; Eastern Europe 1974-1996; Soviet Union/Central Eurasia 1974-1996; and Western Europe 1974-1996.

      United Nations data online

      A posting in Slashdot has information about the new UN data access system called UNdata that contains information from all major UN databases and those of several other international organizations. UNdata will improve the dissemination of statistics by UN's Statistics Division (UNSD) to the widest possible audience. It is an easy to use data access system that was developed to meet UNSD’s vision of providing an integrated information resource with current, relevant and reliable statistics free of charge to the global community. The design allows a user to access a large number of UN databases either by browsing the data series or through a keyword search.

      Pop City celebrates 100 issues

      Congratulations to Pop City, the excellent online magazine about Pittsburgh, for publishing its 100th issue. If there's anything cool happening in da 'burgh you'll find it in Pop City.

      Pitt's Audubon prints

      The Chronicle of Higher Ed. has a story today about the Pitt Audubon prints. The Digital Research Library - the one we visited last summer out at Thomas Blvd. - has digitized all 435 of the images in the double elephant folio set and made them available online as part of their project to digitize the entire Darlington collection. Only 120 sets of these hand-colored masterpieces of ornithology are known to exist. Kudos to Ed Galloway, Aaron Brenner, Mike Bolam and everyone else over at the Digital Research Library for a job well done.
      I remember learning about the Audubon prints in library school at Pitt - not just about their beauty and rarity as a collection, but during a class on paper sizes because of their "elephant" size.

      Monday 3 March 2008

      Oxford University Press

      A new message from the AALL Committee on Relations with Information Vendors has been posted on some of the listservs. The committee will be doing a site visit to the Oxford University Press facilities in Cary, North Carolina on May 6-7 and will meet with executives of the publishing company. The committee is soliciting questions, concerns and comments about Oxford University Press products including former Oceana titles that they can bring up during the visit.
      Please email your comments and questions to JoAnn Hounsell at by no later than Tuesday, April 1st.

      Westlaw Patron Access Terminal

      The posters and flyers about the new Westlaw Patron Access terminals have arrived. I've put a display of the flyers next to the terminals. They are free for any patron who wants to use the terminal.

      Saturday 1 March 2008

      New Database: the rights of internally displaced persons

      A new online database has been launched today: the Global Database on the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement . This database is geared towards helping the more than 25 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in 50 countries around the world who have been forcibly uprooted from their own homes as a result of armed conflict and human rights violation and need protection and assistance. Meant to assist policy makers and legal advocates in the development of national legal and policy frameworks for the protection of IDPs, the database provides instant access to official documents, including recommendations of United Nations treaty-monitoring bodies, reports of UN charter bodies, and UN General Assembly resolutions about the rights of these IDPs. A joint effort of Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM) and the Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement, it is a resource for scholars, policymakers, legislators, and humanitarian activists to research, develop, monitor and enforce implementation of IDP policies.The website is available in English, French and Spanish.