Wednesday 29 September 2010

IBISWorld: new ULS database

Pitt's University Library System has notified us that we now have access to a new database called IBISWorld.  It is a business database containing research reports on over 700 U.S. industries. These industry reports are searchable by the 5 digit North American Industry Classification System (NAICS code), keyword or company name. There is also a browse feature organized by industry name and NAICS code.  For example, this page has a report on the search engine industry and includes information on the current state of the industry, the future outlook for the next five years, the major search engine companies and their market share, key industry statistics and a helpful "Jargon and Glossary" section.  The report also has some hyperlinks to "Additional Resources For additional information on this industry".

Tuesday 28 September 2010

Library liaisons for students?

Inside Higher Education today reports that some academic libraries are setting up programs in which students are assigned their own personal librarians. According to the story, Drexel and Wesleyan universities are starting "personal librarian" programs for undergraduates, following the lead of the University of Chicago and Yale University, which began a program for undeclared majors aafter providing a similar service to medical and law students. 

Heavy hitters file amicus briefs in Wal-Mart class-action case

Bloomberg news reports that 19 companies have filed amicus briefs supporting Wal-Mart's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to limit class-action lawsuits by workers by blocking female Wal-Mart employees from suing on behalf of 1.5 million women.  The companies filing amicus briefs include Microsoft, GE, Intel and Bank of America; they argue that judicial approval of a class action puts too much pressure on defendants to settle even frivolous claims. One brief argues that “Because the specter of potentially enormous class-wide liability compels defendants to settle even meritless claims, class certification decisions are often tantamount to a decision on the merits.”

Crime in the United States 2009

The FBI has released a web-only publication titled Crime in the United States, 2009.  It countains 81 tables, as well as charts and graphics, based on information privded by nearly 18,000 city, university and college, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies from all 50 states and Washington D.C., as well as from law enforcement in Puerto Rico and other outlying areas.  You can download excel spreadsheets of the data.

Google Transparency report

Google has added a "transparency report" page to the Google website, which links to an interactive map of government requests for Google to take down or censor content.  Google says that transparency is an important value for the company, and their goal is to maximize transparency around the flow of information through their web products. They say that "We hope this step toward greater transparency will help in ongoing discussions about the appropriate scope and authority of government requests."

Monday 27 September 2010

Optimize your cellphone photos

Digital Inspiration blog has a useful post today with tips for taking good photos with your cellphone's camera. As the author says, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.”  A couple of the tips are:  if possible, turn off the flash if you don't absolutely need it; and avoid using the zoom feature because The built-in zoom in most phone cameras are not optical but digital and you aren't really zooming - you're better off moving closer to the subject or cropping after the fact.

Sunday 26 September 2010


A fascinating article in today's New York Times magazine section describes the bizarre legal battle surrounding the papers of Franz Kafka - giving new dimension to the term "kafkaesque".  The second most troubling piece of information contained in the article (after the fact that "during his lifetime, Franz Kafka burned an estimated 90 percent of his work") is that an unknown amount of the Kafka papers reside in an apartment in Tel Aviv with Eva Hoffe (secretary of the friend Kafka entrusted his papers to) and "between 40 and 100 cats. ...members of the scholarly community have expressed concern regarding the effects of these cats on their surroundings."

Saturday 25 September 2010

Ithaka and GPO project will develop model for the FDLP

The Government Printing Office is working with Ithaka (Ithaka is the not-for-profit organization that manages the Portico electronic archiving project) to lead a project that will develop a model for the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) to more efficiently accomplish its mission in a rapidly changing digital environment. According to the project website, "GPO has defined the objectives and structure of this project. There will be no reassessment of the fundamental mission of the FDLP, which is to ensure that the American public receives no-fee ready and permanent public access to federal government information. In this project, Ithaka S+R will conduct an environmental scan, examine other library networks, identify a practical and sustainable model (or models) for the FDLP going forward, analyze the value proposition for the FDLP in the 21st Century, and provide regulatory and legislative recommendations to guide possible implementation."

Public Resource awarded Google prize

Google has announced the winners of their Project 10^100, awardomg 10 million dollars in total to ideas, chosen by the public, that will help change the world. One of the $1 million winners is Carl Malamud's Public Resource dot Org.  From the Google announcement:
Idea: Make government more transparent
Project funded: Public.Resource.Org is a non-profit organization focused on enabling online access to public government documents in the United States. We are providing $2 million to Public.Resource.Org to support the Law.Gov initiative, which aims to make all primary legal materials in the United States available to all.
Google also has a pretty fabulous one minute video that shows all the winning ideas. It's on YouTube.
Carl also has posted on O'Reilly Radar about the prize and what a difference it will make to his organization. This is great news as well for those of us working on the AALL's National Inventory of Primary Legal Materials.

Thursday 23 September 2010

FERC pamphlet about natural gas lines for property owners

This may be a bit of timely information for property owners concerned about Marcellus shale underlying their land. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has created an online booklet (24 page pdf) called An Interstate Natural Gas Facility on My Land? What Do I Need to Know? that explains property owners' rights, now the FERC procedures work, what safety and environmental issues might be involved, etc.  The booklet discusses addresses such issues as the legal rights and responsibilities of all parties, archaeological sites, safety issues, pipeline installation procedures, how long a pipeline might stay in place and many other questions.

Wednesday 22 September 2010

PA county reports

It seems that LLMC Digital, one of the consortiums to which we belong, has recently digitized many state legal materials including many PA county reporters that go back to the nineteenth century.

Monday 20 September 2010

Streaming Video of films or clips to enhance course content

NELLCO (New England Law Library Consortium) recently offered a web-based demo of Digital Campus, the Swank Streaming Video solution for the curriculum.You can see the Swank Streaming Video demo online at your convenience.  This service will allow faculty to legally stream video content from more than 17,000 movies and tv shows to students, along with annotations and questions, via course websites.

BEPress offers free webinar on Institutional Repositories

BEPress (Berkeley Electronic Press) is offering a free webinar called "Kick-Starting IR Success at Any Stage" which will discuss how to create the foundation for successful institutional repositories.
Courtney Smith, Manager of Outreach and Scholarly Communications at bepress, will be the presenter on October 12th, 2010 at 1:00 PM EDT.
According to the blurb, "Drawing from the knowledge and best practices across the Digital Commons community, Courtney will look at how libraries are developing strong repository teams and expansive repository collections, and are using these to create strategic and sustainable connections on campus."

You can register for the free webinar at: register/674051714.

Sunday 19 September 2010

Children's Privacy Online

The Wall Street Journal has conducted an investigation into  online privacy in which they found that sites popular with children and teenagers install more "tracking technologies" (like cookies) than websites popular with adults. They examined 50 sites popular with U.S. teens and children to see what tracking tools they installed on a computer and found that as a group, the sites placed 4,123 "cookies," "beacons" and other pieces of tracking technology- 30% more than were found in an analysis of the 50 most popular U.S. sites overall, which are generally aimed at adults.  The WSJ Digits Blog has a new post about "How to Protect Your Child's Privacy Online" that lists some steps parents can take to protect their children's computers.

Thursday 16 September 2010

Loislaw news...

FYI I was having difficulty getting online with Loislaw yesterday and had to contact their tech support.  It turns out that Loislaw only works well if you are using either Firefox or InternetExplorer as your browser.  It doesn't work with Google Chrome and it also doesn't work with Safari, so Mac users are out of luck.  Tech support said they are working to make it compatible with more browsers.  So if you want to use Loislaw remember to use Firefox or Internet Explorer!

Thursday 9 September 2010

e-personation may become a crime in California

Business Week reports that if Gov. Schwarzenegger signs a new "e-personation" bill anyone who poses as another person online with malicious intent may be hit with fines of up to $1,000 and a year in jail. The law would also allow victims to file civil suits.

When books go digital

Emily Williams, who blogs over at Digital Book World, made an interesting observation in a recent post: she says "Stripping away the paper form has revealed the true nature of books: they are complicated bundles of copyrights.  It is this fact even more than the centuries-old maturity of the print book market or the robust codex form (look ma, no plugs! no compatibility issues!) that has slowed the transition from print to ebooks." 
She goes on to talk about how the images associated with a book, like the cover art, must be licensed both for digital use and international distribution.  And for nonfiction books that have photos and illustrations it's a headache for the publishers who have to deal with not just author copyrights but the rights to all the images.

Tuesday 7 September 2010

Pirate law

The Law Library of Congress recently announced that it has digitized its collection of pre-1923 piracy trials. According to their website, "this historical collection of piracy trials is critical for understanding how the various nations of the world handled piracy issues before the year 1900". Full text of the collection is available on the Law Library of Congress website.

Monday 6 September 2010

Comparing eBook stores

Digital Inspiration blogger Amit Agarwal has posted the results of his look at how many titles are available at the various eBookstores for the various eBook readers. The Kindle store at offers around 700,000 electronic titles which also includes public domain works that are free. Sony's  eBook store has  around 60,000 titles.  Barnes & Noble’s eBook store  claims to have more than a million books for the Nook but the number of titles available in the store is around 26,000 – the rest are public domain  works that you may download through Google Books.  Apple’s promotional material says that “tens of thousands” of book titles are available on their iBookstore but the exact numbers are unknown. However, a simple Google query reveals that iBookstore is the smallest of them all with a collection of around 22,400 titles.

Google Beat video channel

Google has launched a separate YouTube channel called The Google Beat, which presents the latest search trends on Google like a news broadcast. The channel reports on the week's hottest Google Search trends from around the US, with a map (a Google map, of course). For example, searches featured last week: glenn beck rally, hurricane earl, ufc 118, paris hilton, and the emmy awards. It's weirdly interesting.

Federal court sides with Eminem

The Wall Street Journal's law blog has a post today with the title "Federal Court Sides with Eminem in royalty dispute; Record Business does not Implode." In reviewing a decision in a suit brought against Universal Music Group by producers affiliated with rapper Eminem, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that iTunes downloads (even the DRM-free variety) are encumbered by enough restrictions that they can’t be considered sales at all; the songs are instead being licensed by the "purchaser".  The opinion is available here.

Blawnox woman posts videos of borough council meetings

There is an article in today's paper about Melina Brajovic, a Blawnox woman who is annoying some Blawnox Borough elected officials with her videos of borough council posted on YouTube. In her video, "Obama and Ron Paul Told Me I Can Record Public Meetings of Local Government…," resident Melina Brajovic argues with council President Sam McNaughton. The debate was sparked over council's requirements of people videotaping to sign in before council meetings.McNaughton blurts out: "You weren't even born in this country. You can't even speak English."To which Brajovic, a native of Serbia, responds, "You're saying I'm not as American as you are? I am as or better." McNaughton replies, "I don't think so."
According to the article, "the video, filmed and produced by Brajovic, has been viewed more than 200 times on the website YouTube since it was posted last week. Another video featuring Blawnox Borough Council disagreements with residents entitled "Constitution Versus Tyranny, Give Me Liberty or Give me Death, Patrick Henry 1776" has racked up more than 11,500 views since it was posted in early June."

Wednesday 1 September 2010

NEW ULS database trial during September

Through September 24 the University Library System is trying out the database "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Online." Of course the "national" refers to Britain, not the US, but still. It features "the people who shaped the history of the British Isles and beyond, from the earliest times to the end of the year 2000." The database contains, according to its website, 57,348 biographies and 10,671 illustration. Also 65 million words.
State-of-the-art search options, extensive internal cross-referencing, access to articles from the original DNB, and navigation by "themes" combine with rigorous research and scholarship to make the Oxford DNB one of the most innovative and important reference sites available online.