Friday 16 December 2011

Holiday gift for bibliophiles..

The CB I Hate Perfume website (from a guy who hates perfume, at least brand name perfumes) offers a scent called "In the Library" capturing "the scent of books and of the libraries where they live." As CB says,    "There are few things more wonderful than the smell of a much-loved book."
Available as perfume, home spray, and "water perfume". 

Friday 9 December 2011

ebrary E-books Can Now Be Downloaded

The Pitt University Library System has announced that Ebrary has made their e-book collection downloadable for Pitt users. ULS has turned this feature "on" for all titles for which we have multiple user access. This includes all of the titles in our Academic Complete subscription as well as those individual titles that we have purchased with a multiple user license.
There are two download options. You can convert a book chapter (or page range) to pdf format OR you can download the full book using Adobe Digital Editions software (free download).  The books can be read with this software or transferred to compatible devices (Kindles are not compatible.) You then have access to the ebook for 14 days.  Note that there are some titles for which the full download option is not available; note also that you have to create an ebrary account to download material.

Bar Reciprocity dot com provides one-stop shopping for Bar information

There is a new website called that was created to help users navigate the convoluted process of attorney bar admission.  The site  collects and organizes  information about bar exams, bar admissions,  and reciprocity  for the entire United States. It has an interactive map to help navigate the information for individual states.  The site  includes information on special licenses for special attorney categories such as Military Attorneys, law professors, and students; it also provides the pro hac vice rules and procedures (allowing attorneys to practice law in a particular proceeding in a jurisdiction where the attorney is not admitted) for all the states.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Dept. of Justice investigates ebook pricing

Business Week reports that the United States Dept. of Justice has confirmed that it is investigating the pricing of electronic books  to look at whether there was improper collusion by Apple and publishers to prevent discounting.  This comes after the EU announced on Tuesday that it is investigating possible anticompetitive practices between Apple and five major publishers, including France's Hachette Livre, German-owned Macmillan, U.K. publisher Penguin, and U.S.-based Harper Collins and Simon & Schuster.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

TRAC webinar on "ICE Charging Practices in the Immigration Courts"

TRAC is offering a webinar on Weds. Dec. 7 at 2:00 p.m. on "Monitoring ICE charging practices in the Immigration Court". The webinar will include a short (approximately 15-20 minute) overview and demonstration of TRAC's newly released web monitoring tools for immigration courts, followed by a question and answer session. If you would like to join the webinar, please email TRAC.

Monday 5 December 2011

TRAC report on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activities

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) is a non-partisan research organization associated with Syracuse University. TRAC from has prepared a report on deportation proceedings in US immigration courts, with accompanying data tools which allow tracking by charge, nationality, and specific location. TRAC's findings, based upon very recent case-by-case data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from Immigration Court files, appear to contrast with the White House's announcement that under the President's direction DHS during the past year has prioritized the removal of people who have been convicted of crimes in the United States. The data shows that in ICE-initiated Immigration Court deportation proceedings during July-September 2011, only 7,378 individuals or 13.8 percent of the total were charged with having engaged in criminal activities. The proportion of alleged "criminals" of those targeted is down significantly from the already low level of 16.5 percent during FY 2010, and has been declining steadily throughout the past year.

Friday 2 December 2011

Want to know what plane is flying overhead?

CNET has a story about a feature that can be used with the iPhone 4S Siri app (Siri is a voice-activated assistant app built into the phone's operating system that allows users to interact with the iPhone 4S by voice). According to the article, if you tell your iPhone "Ask Wolfram what flights are overhead" it will retrieve the information and tell you the overhead airline(s), flight numbers, and altitude.
Wolfram is the database that does dynamic computations on a wide range of web-based objective data.
hat tip Ryan Vandegrift

Tuesday 29 November 2011

British Library announces historical newspapers site

The British Library has announced the launch of the British Newspaper Archive, offering access to 4 million pages from 200 18th & 19th Century newspapers from the UK and Ireland. The project is a collaboration between the British Library and Dundee-based IT firm Brightsolid. Over the next 10 years the project will digitize an additional 40 million pages spanning 3 centuries. The archive includes articles reporting on the Great Exhibition of 1851 plus stories on infamous murder trials and men, women and children being transported to the other side of the world for minor crimes. It also includes eyewitness accounts of social transformation – newspaper reports, commentary and letters to the editor on topics ranging from the railway mania of the mid-19th century to the extraordinary expansion of the temperance movement; as well as advertisements and illustrations. According to the press release, "Alongside first-hand accounts of historic events such as the wedding of Victoria and Albert and the Charge of the Light Brigade, these newspapers also provide countless vivid details of how our ancestors lived and died, how they went up and down in the world and how they fed, clothed and entertained themselves."

Canadian government data free

Embassy Magazine reports that all of Statistics Canada’s standard online products, including the census, socioeconomic and geographic data, will be offered to the public for free starting February 2012. While Statistics Canada has been working towards opening up more of its data for several years, it still currently charges for some online data, including some data sets inside its its “key socioeconomic databas”, the Canadian Socioeconomic Information Management System. Researchers, economists and other individuals buy these products, and several firms are also licensed by the agency to act as redistributors. Some of those firms charge for reselling the data, and some roll it into other value-added products they sell. Organizations currently buying the data from Statistics Canada will be “encouraged” to redistribute information under the government’s new open data licence agreement.

Monday 21 November 2011

Lawschools & Lawyering: front page news in the New York Times

Yesterday's Sunday New York Times had a lengthy  front page story titled "What they don't teach law students: lawyering."  The article discussed a lack of "practical training" in law schools, saying "Law schools have long emphasized the theoretical over the useful, with classes that are often overstuffed with antiquated distinctions, like the variety of property law in post-feudal England. Professors are rewarded for chin-stroking scholarship, like law review articles with titles like “A Future Foretold: Neo-Aristotelian Praise of Postmodern Legal Theory.”"  and "nearly half of faculty members (at top tier law schools) had never practiced law for a single day." 

Sunday 20 November 2011

Report on the status of digitizing vital legislative documents

The Sunlight Foundation has posted a review of the progress that's been made in digitizing 3 key legislative documents: the Constitution Annotated, the Congressional Record, and the Statutes at Large. A year ago the Congressional Joint Committee on Printing directed that these three sets of  documents be published online "as quickly as possible." According to the Sunlight Foundation review there's only been progress on one, the Statutes at Large. The review says that "Unlike with the other two publications, there is tangible evidence of progress. GPO has now publishing a digitized version that covers from 1951-2002, which is a significant undertaking. However, the documents have not been integrated into THOMAS, and are still somewhat difficult to use because of their large size. Moreover, GPO published another set of digitized documents, from 2003 to 2007, that are kept in a separate location on GPO's website and stored at a much greater level of granularity. This project is only partially complete, with a sizable gap in the public record from 1874 to 1951. Moreover, the documents haven't been integrated into THOMAS."

Friday 18 November 2011

Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act

The Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act, introduced in the House (HR 1974) and Senate (S 1411), would require the Public Printer to establish and maintain a website accessible to the public that allows the public to obtain electronic copies of all congressionally mandated reports in one place.

Law faculty criticize SOPA in letter to Congress

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that a group of more than 100 law professors have signed an open letter to Congress criticizing HR 3261, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), as well as similar legislation pending in the Senate ( S 968, the Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011, or Protect-IP.) The letter explains that the legislation would unfairly expand liability for online copyright infringement, allow the government to block access to Web sites that facilitate infringement, and permit private rights holders to block Web sites to host ads or conduct credit-card sales.

Tuesday 15 November 2011

Trial of 2 BNA resources

We have a 30 trial of 2 BNA products that we currently don’t subscribe to: the Money and Politics Report and the Internet Law Resource Center. You can access both from the BNA main page dropdown box. The BNA MONEY AND POLITICS REPORT provides comprehensive behind-the-scenes coverage of campaign finance, lobbying, and government ethics issues at the federal, state, and local levels, including Full-text documents and summaries of Lobbying Disclosure Act filings. The BNA INTERNET LAW RESOURCE CENTER is comprehensive resource for case law, statutes, news, research, and analysis on Internet and e-commerce law all in one place. “Stay informed of the latest cyber law developments, quickly locate key legal primary sources, and benefit from the practical insights of experienced practitioners from a single integrated site.”

"Ten Top Tricks" from HeinOnline

As a part of Hein’s recent Customer Appreciation Week their "Support Guru" Tim Hooge presented his top ten tricks for using HeinOnline in two 15 minute webinars. Both are available on the HeinOnline webinars wiki. The tips are also available in pdf format on the HeinOnline website. The tips include how to use proximity searching in any HeinOnline library, how to find Supreme Court cases on a specific topic, and how to browse contents in the US Federal Legislative History Library.

PA unconsolidated statutes online

The librarian of the PA Legislative Reference Bureau has announced that Pennsylvania "unconsolidated statutes" are now on the General Assembly's website , joining the "consolidated statutes". They are listed under the category "Law Information".  You can search by "keyword" or "act number" or browse by "act name" or "year." The "chronological history" of each act is included and shows amendments, repeals, and certain decisions and rules of court by section.
 Also new under the "Law Information" category is a link to the Legislative Reference Bureau's  website for the historical Pennsylvania Session laws Preservation Project.  New to the site are the years 1802, 1803 and 1804. As time and manpower permit, the goal is to make all PA session laws available on this website.

Friday 11 November 2011

Have Women’s Law School Numbers Peaked?

The ABA Journal online has an article this morning about a report (22 page pdf) from the National Assn. of Women Lawyers finding that women make up 47 percent of first- and second-year associates, down from 48 percent in prior years- suggesting that "the pipeline may be shrinking". The report also shows that the highest percentage of law degrees awarded to women occurred in 2004 and has been declining ever since. “The percentage of women entering law schools may have peaked,” the NAWL report says. In 2009-10, women made up about 47 percent of the law school population and 45.9 percent of all law school graduates.

PITTCat+ Summon

Links to the new Summon version of PITTCat+ have been added to the Barco Law Library webpages. Summon, from Serials Solutions,  has replaced Aquabrowser as the online catalog for the University Library System, is more robust and provides a much more user-friendly experience. 

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Prof. Bridy on copyright, internet regulation

Visiting Associate Professor Annemarie Bridy has a couple of terrific blog posts that I found via LLRX - LLRX reprinted her post on The Digital Death of Copyright's First Sale Doctrine. This article discusses the implications of the Supreme Court's declining to review Vernor v. Autodesk, a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision involving the applicability of copyright's first sale doctrine to transactions involving software and other digital information goods. Prof. Bridy says that "As the transition from physical to streaming or cloud-based digital distribution continues, further divorcing copyrighted works from their traditional tangible embodiments, it will increasingly be the case that consumers do not own the information goods they buy (or, rather, think they've bought)."
A second blogpost, published yesterday, is titled Don't Regulate the Internet. No, Wait. Regulate the Internet. It talks about the RIAA's seemingly contradictory stances on regulation of the Internet.   Prof. Bridy says that "The RIAA’s political strategy in the war on piracy has been alternately to oppose and support government regulation of the Internet, depending on what’s expedient. I wonder if rights owners and the trade groups that represent them experience any sense of cognitive dissonance when they advocate against something at one moment and for it a little while later—to the same audience, on the same issue." 

Monday 7 November 2011

GPO Access sundowning

On Friday, November 4, 2011, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) draws one step closer to shutting down GPO Access.  GPO has now stopped  updating GPO Access in terms of both database content and HTML pages. This marks the start of the "archive only" phase of GPO Access;  new content will only be loaded to FDsys. During this phase, GPO Access will remain publicly accessible as a reference archive.
In order to make the switchover from GPO Access to FDsys as seamless as possible for users, GPO is in the process of creating one-to-one redirects from GPO Access content to the FDsys equivalent. This will ensure that bookmarks, Web links, URLs in print publications, and other GPO Access references point to valid Web resources. Once this has been completed, GPO Access will be taken offline. A date has not yet been established for the final shutdown of GPO Access; however, it is slated for fiscal year 2012.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Report to Congress on mandatory minimum penalties

The United States Sentencing Commission has released a Report to Congress: Mandatory Minimum Penalties in the Federal Criminal Justice System. The 645 page report says that the Commission "generally continues to believe that a strong and effective guideline system best serves the purposes of sentencing established by the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984," and also recommends a number of reforms of mandatory sentencing. "While there is a spectrum of views on the Commission regarding mandatory minimum penalties, the Commission unanimously believes that certain mandatory minimum penalties apply too broadly, are excessively severe, and are applied inconsistently across the country."  
An Executive Summary of the report (49 page pdf) is also available.

Publisher sues Bit Torrent pirates

Publishers Weekly reports that publisher John Wiley and Sons has filed a "willful infringement" copyright suit and a trademark infringement suit in  the Southern District of New York federal court  involving 27 “John Does” it claims are illegally copying and distributing the  "FOR DUMMIES®" books "through the peer-to-peer file sharing software known as BitTorrent". Though Wiley doesn't know the identities of the accused infringers, in its complaint, Wiley lists their IP addresses and ISPs.

National Law Journal's law school blog on legal education

There is an interesting post in the Law School Review blog written by a law professor at Indiana University.  The post discusses the challenges facing law schools, faculty, and curriculum given a number of factors that are changing the way law is practiced.  The post is very thoughtful and there are interesting comments following the post.  

Tuesday 1 November 2011

Grocery shopping in the subway (with your smartphone)

This doesn't have anything to do with law, but one of the people on the CALI listserv posted this cool video:
I wonder if library books could work the same way?

Federal Court opinions on FDsys

The office of the United States Courts has announced that more than 12,000 opinions from three federal courts – the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, the U.S. District Court in Rhode Island, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida – have been posted on the Fdsys website and made available to the public. By the end of 2011, 12 ofederal courts will have opinions posted on Fdsys and work is underway to bring the opinions from an additional 22 courts to Fdsys in early 2012.

Monday 31 October 2011

ACLU on photographers' rights

The American Civil Liberties Union has an online guide for photographers, with information about rights to take pictures and videos in public places. The guide says that "Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties."

Organizations oppose proposed new FOIA rule

The ACLU, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and announced that they have joined together to file comments opposing a provision of a proposed rule from the Department of Justice, which would amend the DoJ’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Regulations by adding section 16.6(f)(2). The paragraph states: “When a component (federal agency) applies an exclusion to exclude records from the requirements of the FOIA pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 522(c), the component utilizing the exclusion will respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist.” In their letter, the opposed organizations say that "Authorizing government agencies to lie to FOIA requesters by affirmatively denying the existence of agency records when they actually exist undermines the purpose of FOIA, obstructs judicial review of agency FOIA decisions, and destroys integrity in government."

Friday 28 October 2011

Study shows rise in spending on state court races

A report just released by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law school shows an increase of 60% in independent spending on state supreme court elections by state parties and special interest groups in 2009-10 over spending in elections four years earlier. A total of $38.4 million was spent on state high court elections in 2009-10. The most expensive high court elections were in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, where the courts are closely divided by party or judicial philosophy. According to the report's Introduction, "(t)he story of the 2009-10 elections, and their aftermath in state legislatures in 2011, reveals a coalescing national campaign that seeks to intimidate America’s state judges into becoming accountable to money and ideologies instead of the constitution and the law. In its full context, the most recent election cycle poses some of the gravest threats yet to fair and impartial justice in America."
The report can also be viewed online at Scribd.

Sustainability: ideas for using computer heat

MIT's Technology Review has an interesting article about ideas for using all the heat generated by data center computers and servers. According to the article, about half of the massive amounts of energy used by computing and data centers goes toward cooling down the computer chips. How can all that waste heat be used? There is a lovely photo of a botanical garden at the South Bend Conservatory, which is heated by University of Notre Dame servers sitting at the rear of the conservatory. According to the article, the servers are connected to the university’s main computing cluster and are given more processing tasks if higher temperatures are needed. This is just one example of creative reuse of the waste heat generated by computers.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

law review articles: Really ?

The Wall Street Journal law blog has a post about a recent "study" on how the titles of academic papers affect their rate of citation and download. The study showed law review articles containing a question mark in the  title were downloaded more but cited less; and articles containing a colon in the title had fewer downloads and fewer citations.  Hmmm. 

redesigning the eBook

Technology Review has an articlediscussing how some publishers are experimenting with creating new kinds of reading experiences with ebooks, rather than simply digital versions of text on a page. The author talks about Pottermore, a website where JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, has hired a team to create a new way to read her books. "Over time, the site will weave the books together with interactive and social features that allow readers to connect with one another and with the characters in Row­ling's world."
 The article goes on to discuss a second example of redesigning the eBook, Principles of Biology, published by Nature Publishing Group. It is written as a series of more than 200 self-contained modules; the publisher has suggested an order for the modules, but instructors who use the book in their classes can freely drop or shuffle them. Instructors can also choose settings that increase or decrease the difficulty of the material. Principles of Biology links related modules as well as journal articles, summaries of those articles, and other online resources. This is not the sort of e-book familiar to users of the Kindle or iPad but is fundamentally a website designed for interactivity and can be "read" on any device with a Web browser.

University of Cincinnati Law Review

The University of Cincinnati Law Review has launched its online full-text version hosted on Digital Commons. The student editors have put the current issue as well as several earlier issues online, and are working to add older issues.

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Wikileaks temporarily suspends publishing

Wikileaks, the whistleblower website,  has announced that it is temporarily suspending publication because of financial constraints. It claims that several large financial institutions have made it difficult to receive donations as the result of "aggressive retaliation" for publishing classified State Dept. documents last fall. 

Thursday 20 October 2011

DOJ proposes change in rules governing historic grand jury materials

Attorney General Eric Holder has written a letter to the Advisory Committee on the Criminal Rules of the federal judiciary in which he recommends amending the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure to allow federal judges to release historically significant grand jury materials in cases that are 30 years old or more. Currently, the federal rules do not recognize any "temporal end point for grand jury secrecy".  The proposed amendment of Rule 6(e) "would accommodate society's legitimate interest in securing eventual public access to grand-jury materials of significant historical interest while at the same time defining the contours of that access within the text of Rule 6(e)."
The proposed amendment includes three parts:
1. Define the term "archival grand-jury records" by adding a new Rule 6(j):   (j) "Archival Grand-jury Records" Defined. For purposes of this Rule, "archival grand-jury records" means records from grand-jury proceedings, including recordings, transcripts, and exhibits, where the relevant case files have been determined to have permanent historical or other value warranting their continued preservation under Title 44, United States Code.
2. The following addition to Rule 6(e)(3)(E) to permit district courts to grant petitions for the release of archival grand-jury records that have exceptional historical importance after 30 years in appropriate cases:
(E) The court may authorize disclosure-at a time, in a manner, and subject to any other conditions that it directs--of a grand-jury matter:
(vi) on the petition of any interested person if, after notice to the government and an opportunity for a hearing, the district court finds on the record by a preponderance of the evidence that:
(a) the petition seeks only archival grand-jury records;
(b) the records have exceptional historical importance;
(c) at least 30 years have passed since the relevant case files associated with the grand-jury records have been closed;
(d) no living person would be materially prejudiced by disclosure, or that any prejudice could be avoided through redactions or such other reasonable steps as the court may direct;
(e) disclosure would not impede any pending government investigation or prosecution; and
(f) no other reason exists why the public interest requires continued secrecy.
An order granting or denying a petition under this paragraph is a fmal decision for purposes of Section 1291, Title 28.
3. Finally, they propose  to make the following addition to Rule 6(e)(2) to establish the authority of NARA to release archival grand-jury materials in its collections after 75 years.
(2) Secrecy.
(C) Nothing in this Rule shall require the Archivist of the United States to withhold from the public archival grand-jury records more than 75 years after the relevant case files associated with the grand-jury records have been closed.

hat tip: Blog of the Legal Times 

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Uniform Electronic Legal Materials Act

Prof. Barbara A. Bintliff of the University of Texas School of Law has posted "The Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act Is Ready for Legislative Action,"on the Legal Information Institute's VoxPopuLII Blog.
Prof. Bintliff  is the Reporter for the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) and in her post she explains the provisions of UELMA : a new, proposed, uniform, U.S. state statute requiring states that enact it to authenticate, preserve, and provide permanent public access to legal information that those states publish in electronic formats. The statute is intended to “ensur[e] the trustworthiness of online legal resources and preserv[e] … electronic [legal] publications to provide for continuing accessibility.”
Her post also examines the policy principles that inform the Act, especially the Act’s “outcomes-based” approach, intended to accommodate technological change and to afford states substantial flexibility in complying with the Act, as well as the origins of the Act in the American Association of Law Libraries’ 2007 National Summit on Authentication of Digital Legal Information.  The UELMA is scheduled to be introduced into a number of U.S. state legislatures in January 2012.

hat tip: Rob Richards

PA Supreme Court is tweeting opinions and rulings

 The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania announced yesterday that it has established a new Twitter feed to increase online ease and access to its rulings and decisions. The feed will provide instant notification of the online posting of most Supreme Court information, such as orders, new rules, opinions and concurring and dissenting statements written by the justices. The link will appear on the state court system’s website.
All new rulings posted to the Pennsylvania Judiciary Web site will be linked to a Tweet, and available immediately on a follower’s personal home page.Each tweet will have a link to the Pennsylvania Judiciary's website.  The new service complements and expands the Pennsylvania Judiciary’s online offerings through cell phones and other devices.

Tinker v. Des Moines podcast from the Supreme Court

A new podcast in the Supreme Court Landmarks series is available. This episode focuses on the 1969 U.S. Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines, which involved student protests during the Vietnam War. In each podcast  landmark case is discussed,  with a law professor covering the case’s background and why it is important today. You can access more episodes at the Supreme Court Landmarks page .

Sunday 16 October 2011

Federal Court Opinions Beta Collection Now Available on FDsys

The Federal Depository Library System Desktop reports that at the request of the Judicial Conference, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) has been working closely with the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AOUSC) on a pilot project to make lower Federal court opinions available through FDsys . The pilot currently is in the public beta test phase and GPO and the AOUSC are very interested in any comments or suggestions anyone may have regarding the U.S. Courts Opinions Collection.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Federal coloring books

A big shoutout to Carlos Diaz, the gov docs librarian at Central Washington University, for creating a webpage with links to all the coloring books published by Federal government agencies. 

Tuesday 11 October 2011

New Institutional Repository for federal agencies

The National Technical Information Service (NTIS) has announced that they have recently formed a Joint Venture (JV) partnership with Information International Associates (IIa) to develop an Institutional Repository Service for federal agencies. Institutional Repositories (IR) are collections of agency scientific and technical information documents and other content that represent the work and mission of the agency, provided as a searchable, digital collection. Individual IRs will be developed for agencies based on a core set of services including those based on Web 2.0 technologies.  Agencies will be able to respond to growing Administration Open Government requirements for transparency and citizen involvement. The Insitutional Repositories will provide a framework through which federal agency content can be made available, providing users with increased ease of access and agencies with cost savings.

Monday 3 October 2011


FreeLegalWeb is  a new UK-based project that hopes to connect the multitude of separate and unorganized free legal resources currently residing on the web, including legislation, judgments, guides and articles.  Initiated by Nick Homes of infolaw, the project is supported by many who are involved in the publishing of legal materials, including attorneys, law students, and legal information specialists. Among its many aspirations, the project plans to link its articles to primary law resources, maintain a comprehensive citations database that is automatically updated from free resources, and provide a Citator. There are at present two main sections of the website: Discover and Create.  "Discover" is for browsing and searching the site’s contents; primary materials are organized by source, while articles are organized by subject. "Create" is for contributing articles and commentary to the site.

hat tip: Jean Pajerek

Tuesday 27 September 2011

NLRB Report on social media

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently issued a report (24 page pdf) detailing how the NLRB has been addressing cases involving employees' use of social media and .employers' policies about the use of social media. The report uses 14 cases to illustrate how the NLRB General Counsel’s office determines that use of social media qualifies as protected activity, and when the contents of an employer’s social media policy can give rise to liability under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), even if the employees are not represented by a union. In 4 cases involving employees’ Facebook use,  the employees were engaged in "protected concerted activity" because they were discussing terms and conditions of employment with fellow employees. In five other cases involving Facebook or Twitter posts, the NLRB found that the activity was not protected.
In one case, it was determined that a union engaged in unlawful coercive conduct when it videotaped interviews with employees at a nonunion jobsite about their immigration status and then posted an edited version on YouTube and the Local Union’s Facebook page. In five cases, some provisions of employers’ social media policies were found to be unlawfully overly-broad; in one case the employer policy lawfully restricted use of social media.     

Monday 26 September 2011

Bloomberg Law to sponsor SCOTUSblog

Bloomberg Law and SCOTUSblog have announced that they have entered into an exclusive sponsorship agreement. SCOTUSblog was established in 2002 by Tom Goldstein and Amy Howe (who remain as the blog’s Publisher and Editor, respectively) is devoted to comprehensive information about the Supreme Court of the U.S. It provides coverage of individual cases, a daily aggregation of Supreme Court writings, archives, and analytic features to a readership of attorneys, law students, academics, business leaders and the general public. 

Palsgraf cited in 9/11 case

A federal judge in the Southern District of New York has dismissed negligence claims by electric utility Con Edison over the destruction of 7 World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.  A Con Edison substation was destroyed when 7 World Trade Center collapsed, and Con Edison claimed that the builder and developer of the building had been negligent.  In his opinion in the case In re September 11 Litigation, Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein cites the famous ruling of Palsgraf v. Long Island R.R. Co., 248 N.Y. 339 (N.Y. 1928), where the New York Court of Appeals dismissed a negligence claim based on a sequence of event in which train guards allegedly pushed a man carrying a package of fireworks onto a train, he dropped the package, and the fireworks exploded, causing a set of scales at the other end of the platform to fall over, strike and allegedly injure a passenger. The Palsgraf Court said the "risk reasonably to be perceived defines the duty to be obeyed, and risk imports relation; it is risk to another or to others within the range of apprehension."
Judge Hellerstein said, "It was not within 7WTCo.'s, or Citigroup's, 'range of apprehension' that terrorists would slip through airport security, hijack an airplane, crash it suicidally into one of the two tallest skyscrapers in New York City, set off falling debris that would ignite a building several hundred feet away, cause structural damage to it, destroy water mains causing an internal sprinkler system to become inoperable, kill 343 firemen and paralyze the rest so that a fire within a building would not be put out and the building would be allowed to burn an entire day before it consumed itself and collapsed." He said that said the chain of events that led to the destruction of 7 World Trade Center was "much too improbable to be consistent with any duty" toward Con Edison by builder and developer Larry Silverstein and Citigroup, the successor-in-interest to the building's primary tenant, Salomon Brothers.

Sunday 25 September 2011

PACER training site

The Administrative Office of U.S. Courts has announced the availability of a training site for the federal judiciary’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). The site is free of charge and has been populated with real case data from New York Western District Court from cases filed between 1/1/2007 and 7/1/2007. You can use your PACER account or the following credentials to login:
Login: tr1234    Password: pass123
Once you have logged in, you will see a page that walks you through some simple searches on PACER and provides tips on constructing a search.

Bluebook videos

The law library at Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, N.C. has created a series of online YouTube videos that show how to construct citations in accordance with the 19th edition of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation.  The project is still underway; currently there are 18 videos available.  

Friday 23 September 2011

GPO publications touching on the paranormal

The Government Book Talk blog has a post today about a couple of government publications with a hint of SciFi..  The first is a diplomatic memo instructing yeti-hunters in Nepal.  The memo says that "there are, at present, three regulations applicable only to expeditions searching for the YETI in Nepal", and goes on to list the regulations, including the adjuration that "In case 'Yeti' is traced it can be photographed or caught alive but it must not be killed or shot at except in an emergency arising out of self defense".
The second publication is the 231 page book "The Roswell Report: Case Closed", a well-documented study that "was to determine if the U.S. Air Force, or any otherU.S. government agency, possessed information on the alleged crash and recovery of an extraterrestrial vehicle and its alien occupants near Roswell,N.M. in July 1947.” There are pictures. 

New BNA features

A few bits of news from BNA that might be useful to Barco users:
- The new "My Folders" tool allows you to create  folders in BNA where you can store and annotate BNA articles, analysis, and source documents. "My folders" is on the upper menu of BNA pages, and there is a "Quick Tour" available where you can learn more.
- BNA has a new  page called "Fast answers: Federal Tax", with answers to 3,000 common tax questions.
- BNA has developed some Mobile Apps for Blackberry and iPhone; they include 'Mobile Highlights" and the "Directory of State and Federal Courts, Judges and Clerks, 2011". 

Consolidating library & IT

Inside Higher Education has an article today about plans at Southwestern University to integrate information technology and the library into one administrative unit in order to improve information services while saving money.  The article discusses how such integration has been tried and accomplished at a variety of colleges and universities, and closes by saying that "In the long run there has got to be close collaboration" between the library and the information technology office. 

Thursday 22 September 2011

HeinOnline One Box Search

Hein online has released a new One Box Search in BETA. This new enhancement is found at the top of the subscribed libraries page once you get into HeinOnline.  It will allow you to search all collections you are subscribed to. This search box will function as an advanced search, so that you can use Boolean operators, quotes, wildcard, and proximity searching. You will also be able to narrow your search results by facets, such as collection/library, date, section type, and etc. They are looking for feedback; you can email your feedback to

Monday 19 September 2011

Carolina library school provides lifetime data storage for students

The Wired Campus blog reports that the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina has provided this year's new library students with a special new perq: the LifeTime Library, with free data storage for their lifetimes. The idea is to create a personal digital archive maintained by the university that will last as long as the student does: a collection of coursework, transcripts, photos, music, videos, medical records and anything else people might want to preserve. The Dean of the School, Prof. Gary Marchionini, says "We're really developing digital lives that are paralleling our real, or analog, lives. What if we actually helped students when they're here at UNC think about this more seriously by giving them more storage space where they could manage their own digital lives and keep that available to them after they graduate?" Server space is a precious resource at universities, and most universities delete the data files of students once they graduate or leave to make room for their successors. Many students preserve their college experience, from class notes to photos, on laptops or social networking sites, but hard-drive crashes are routine, and data backup habits are not widespread. Ultimately, Prof. Marchionini hopes the LifeTime Library will be available to all UNC students, but a number of logistical hurdles, cost foremost among them, stand in the way. "The issue is, how do we support it?" he said. "If you think of it over 20 or 30 years, it's an enormous undertaking."

Lexis sites Martindale, have new editor in chief

Law Technology News, an American Lawyers Media website, reports that Larry Bodine, a former law firm marketing consultant known for his LawMarketing Blog, has been named the new editor-in-chief of the LexisNexis websites and Mr. Bodine has 15 years of experience as a journalist, serving as editor and publisher of the American Bar Association Journal, associate editor at The National Law Journal and as a reporter for the New York Daily News and New Jersey's Star Ledger. Bodine also practiced law in Madison, Wisconsin. He said that he will first work on improving the site, which currently aggregates news from other websites; he wants the site to generate its own material. He then hopes to work on the Martindale site, which is a resource that provides information about lawyers and law firms. He is quoted as saying "We need to weave in and reach out to the legal marketing community ... We need to do it in a way so it's their sandbox to play in."

Website for foreign students from Dept. of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security has launched a new website called Study in the States designed to provide information for international students who are interested in studying in the United States. The site is intended to be a "one-stop shop" for questions about visas, visa renewals and qualification requirements for foreign students and for academic officials. According to the site, "The Study in the States Initiative will examine the existing student visa and exchange visitor programs, as well as related programs for students after they have completed their course of study, to identify problem areas, and to consider possible improvements."
The site is attractive and user-friendly. Each page of the site has a background photo of a US university, and clicking on the upper right of the photo "What's this background?" link reveals the entire photo and information about the subject of the photo as well as the university where the photo was taken.

Friday 16 September 2011

Bing Maps improved imagery

Bing Maps (from Microsoft) has updated its aerial imagery for many locations, resulting in higher quality and more recent images. Their aim is to have coverage of (initially) the continental U.S. and Western Europe completed by June 2012. Bing Maps has added new user interface and text labels. For browsers with geolocation, a Locate Me button takes searchers directly to their current locations in Bing Maps. The new street-side view enables easier panning along streets.
Compare the Bing Maps improved aerial view of the Barco Law Building with the Google Maps satellite image version.

Thursday 15 September 2011

report on the migration of the Congressional database to ProQuest

ProQuest has sent out an email update on the progress of moving the Congressional database from Lexis to ProQuest.They tell us that "For the last 8 months, engineers and content matter experts have been busy planning for the migration of the Congressional suite of products to the ProQuest platform. This is a gargantuan task, encompassing a myriad of entitlements, separate products, and different "flavors" of many different document types, from the US Code to Hearings, to the publications and maps published within the U.S. Congressional Serial Set... As of now, ProQuest has loaded roughly 9 million (out of approximately 12 million) documents."
The email goes on to announce that they are planning to launch the new ProQuest Congressional in June 2012, to give librarians a chance to look it over before the next academic year. And they say that "there will be great improvements!", including faceted searching. 

Tuesday 13 September 2011

US Courts announce changes

The Judicial Conference of the United States has announced some changes:
 First, they have adopted a national policy to encourage federal courts to limit the sealing of civil case documents and files.  The policy emphasizes that a case should only be sealed in "extraordinary circumstances and the absence of narrower feasible and effective alternatives".  An order sealing an entire case should contain findings justifying the sealing.
Secondly, they approved raising the fees for federal courts, including raising the electronic public access fee for PACER document views from $.08 to $.10 per page. PACER users who do not accrue more than $15 a quarter will not be charged (the current exemption is $10).

Monday 12 September 2011

Adobe Flash support for iPad, iPhone from Adobe

CNet reports that Adobe has announced the introduction of Flash Media Server 4.5, a platform that allows publishers to deliver Flash content to Apple i Operating System (iOS) devices, including the iPod, iPad and iPhone. However, this only enables Flash video streaming to iPhones and iPads. Flash-based games, animations and advertisements still won't work on such devices.

International look at antitrust issues: Competition Law Institute

The Competition Institute is an international think tank, based in Paris and New York, that cultivates scholarship and discussion about antitrust issues through publications and conferences. According to the webiste, "The Institute focuses government, business and academic attention on a broad range of subjects which concern competition laws, regulations and related economics. This dedication to the antitrust field allows the Institute to match legal expertise with political acumen."
Some information on the site is free, with registration; other is through subscription. Free access includes the Glossary of Competition Terms with some links to caselaw; a list of antitrust law websites by country; and the Antitrust Encyclopedia, which compare the national competition policies in European countries, with an interactive map. The Encyclopedia also has a list of questions about competition law, with answers for each country in Europe. For example, one important question it asks and answers (for each of 32 European countries) is “What is the relevant legislation dealing with anticompetitive practices? What is the main wording?”

hat tip: Jean Pajerek, Cornell Law Library

Friday 9 September 2011

Amazon sales tax deal in CA

Amazon seems to be changing tactics in its battle against collecting sales tax on purchases by Californians. Amazon  has been supporting a ballot initiative in California to reverse a new state law requiring online retailers to collect taxes on Amazon sales. But the Los Angeles Times reports that there is a tentative deal between Amazon and the California legislature in which Amazon will back down from the initiative to repeal an online sales tax in exchange for a one-year moratorium on collecting the tax.

Let me Google that for you.

There's a website called "let me Google that for you" (, which explains "This is for all those people who find it more convenient to bother you with their question rather than google it for themselves." When someone asks you a question you type it into the lmgtfy box and it creates a link that you can send - the link goes  to the lmgtfy website, types in the question, and gets the Google results of the question, if that makes sense.  It might be easier to see it work; for example check out the lmgtfy for:  What does res ipsa loquitur mean? 

Thursday 8 September 2011

Google buys Zagat

Surprising news today: Google has purchased Zagat, the restaurant guide company. The price has not been disclosed

Wednesday 7 September 2011

UK will allow cameras in courts

British Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke has announced that bills will be introduced in Parliament to overturn prohibitions on cameras in UK courtroom in order to to improve transparency and public understanding of the courts. The media will only be allowed to film judges’ summary remarks; victims, witnesses, offenders and jurors cannot be filmed.  In addition to allowing broadcasting,  more information about the performance of courts will be published in future to allow everyone to see how their local courts are working.

Tuesday 6 September 2011

CALI & LII make Federal Rules books available for free

CALI and the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School have partnered to publish three widely-used Federal Rules collections as eLangdell ebooks online: the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, and the Federal Rules of Evidence. The books are in .epub format, compatible with iPads and other devices that accept .epub files (a Kindle version is in the works).
You can find more details and download the books for free on the CALI eLangdell website.
These federal rules ebooks include:
The complete rules as of December 1, 2010.
All notes of the Advisory Committee immediately following each rule.
Internal links to rules referenced within the rules.
External links to the LII website's version of the US Code.

Friday 26 August 2011

Tracking Hurricane Irene

As the east coast of the United States battens down the hatches in preparation for Hurricane Irene, you can follow the progress of the hurricane on a Google map app called crisislanding that lets you add layers to a US map and provides links to information. 

Thursday 25 August 2011

Bloomberg buying BNA

The ABA Journal reports that  Bloomberg has announced a deal to acquire BNA (Bureau of National Affairs), the  legal, tax and regulatory research firm for $39.50 per share in a cash offer for a total purchase price of approximately $990 million. The transaction is expected to bevcompleted in 2011.  The acquisition is expected to strengthen Bloomberg’s offerings in the legal information market by complementing the relatively young Bloomberg Law research system with BNA’s trusted legal, tax and regulatory content.  In addition, the combination will enhance Bloomberg’s news coverage and analysis of tax and accounting, labor and employment, health care, intellectual property and telecommunications issues.
The acquisition is also going to significantly expand Bloomberg’s presence in the Washington, D.C. area, where BNA is located,  to provide coverage and analysis of U.S. policy and regulatory issues for its customers.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Statistical Abstract

The Statistical Abstract of the United States isn't dead...yet; though the Census Bureau says that the 2012 edition will be the last, because of budgetary considerations.  For what it's worth, the American Association of Law Librarians, Special Libraries Assocation, and Medical Library Association have sent letters to the House and Senate about this issue. And this weekend, the Washington Post published a lengthy editorial by Robert J. Samuelson titled "Don't kill America's databook" in which he says "Without the Stat Abstract, statistics will become more hidden, and our collective knowledge will suffer."  And yesterday on his New York Times blog Paul Krugman agreed, saying "The Statistical Abstract is a hugely important resource; experts in a particular field may not need it, but it’s invaluable to non-experts in need of basic information."  

Monday 22 August 2011

Speaking of Google...maps

Google Maps has added a new Weather feature; you can now add information about the weather to any Google map you are looking at, according to their blog. Google Maps now displays current temps and conditions around the globe, and will hopefully make travel and activity planning easier. To add the weather "layer" to any map, hover over the widget in the upper right corner of Google Maps and select the weather layer from the list of options. When zoomed out, you’ll see a map with current weather conditions from

A Google a Day

AGoogleADay.comis a Google campaign aimed at improving your ability to retrieve information with a search engine. Each day you answer a reference question posed by Google, and you can time yourself or not for how long it takes you to find the answer.
The Atlantic online magazine mentions AGoogleADay in a recent article titled "Crazy: 90 Percent of People Don't Know How to Use CTRL+F", in which the author bemoans the lack of what he calls "electronic literacy" in the population. He says that the Ctrl+F factoid "blew my mind"; though no librarian would be surprised; keyboard shortcuts are something that you have to discover on your own, for the most part.

Friday 19 August 2011

LLMC Digital recent updates

The Law Library Microform Consortium (LLMC) Digital has announced the most recent additions to their digital collection, available on their website.  They've added 147 titles in the last month. As always, many of the additions are historic primary law, both domestic and foreign. Much of it is pretty obscure,  like the Italian penal code from 1890 and the Barbados Law Reports from 1903. There are also a few treatises; several from the 1800's about Blue Laws and Prohibition, and a sort of early Nolo book called "Wells' Every Man His Own Lawyer, 1860, Being a complete guide in all matters of law and business negotiations, for every state in the union; Containing legal forms".  (note that LLMC is only available on computers in the Barco Law building and the Sennott Square clinics.)

Friday Fun: The Batmobile does the 'Burgh

They've been filming a Batman movie in Pittsburgh for the past couple of weeks, which is fun except for the traffic gridlock when they shut down half the streets in the Golden Triangle. Anyway, here's some amateur footage of the Batmobile trundling around down by Kaufman's and Cherry Way (we think) in the snow, no less. We hope that in the movie it will be zipping along a bit faster than that; and also that Pittsburgh's notorious snow removal (or lack thereof) won't inconvenience the Caped Crusader.
You can also see Anne Hataway's stunt double riding a snazzy cat motorcycle around Liberty Avenue here.

Thursday 18 August 2011

WestlawNext webinars

West has scheduled a series of 6 webinars that offer an introduction to WestlawNext for law faculty and law librarians.  
Weds. Aug. 24, 2011  1 p.m. ET  Faculty and Librarians #1: WestlawNext Introduction: This introductory session will provide you with an overview of WestlawNext.
Weds. Aug. 31  2:30 p.m. ET  Faculty and Librarians #2: Adding WestlawNext into your Curriculum for Students:  Join guest speaker, Tim Kelly, Head of Public Services at Williamette College of Law as he discusses how you can integrate WestlawNext into your curriculum.
Fri. Sept. 9, 1 p.m. ET Faculty and Librarians #3: WestlawNext and KeyCite:  How KeyCite works on WestlawNext including Graphical KeyCite for Cases and Statutes.
Weds. Sept. 14,  1 p.m. ET  Faculty and Librarians #4: Folders and Productivity Tools on WestlawNext
Learn about folders and all you can do with them, as well as other productivity and efficiency tools including Highlighting and Annotations, Copy with Reference and much more.
Tues. Sept. 20, 1 p.m. ET, Faculty and Librarians #5: WestlawNext Cost Effective Tips:  Learn how WestlawNext makes research more cost effective and how you can prepare your students to research on WestlawNext in the most cost effective ways.
Mon. October 3,  3 p.m. ET  Faculty and Librarians #6: Integrating WestlawNext into your TWEN courses
Join guest speaker, Tim Kelly, Head of Public Services at Williamette College of Law as he discusses how you can easily integrate WestlawNext into your TWEN courses.
To register for any of these webinars go to the Faculty Webinar page on Westlaw

Wednesday 17 August 2011

free Supreme Court apps

Prof. Jerry Goldman from Chicago-Kent law school and the Oyez Project has created two great free apps for anyone researching and monitoring what’s happening at the US Supreme Court. They are available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices; you can find them at the App Store and Android Market, just search for them by name.
OyezToday tracks the current business of the U.S. Supreme Court in the form of abstracts in all cases granted review. It shares SCOTUS audio in a searchable format linked to transcripts. It is possible to identify and create clips of segments or turns to share and repurpose. The app also makes written opinions available shortly after release. This means that you needn't besitting at a computer to read the latest decisions. The Oyez Project will transcribe and add opinion announcements from the 2010 Term shortly after the Court releases them to the National Archives in October. The iPad version of this app offers additional features for note-taking and highlighting.
PocketJustice focuses on the Supreme Court's constitutional jurisprudence. The free version provides abstracts, voting data, searchable arguments& transcripts, and opinions in the top 100 most frequently employed cases found in con law casebooks. The FULL version of the app costs $4.99 for iPhone & Android, $8.99 for the HD iPad version (All income supports the Oyez Project.).  It covers the entire corpus of 600+ cases  identified through a survey of major constitutional  law casebooks. Here's a screenshot of the Pocket Justice app for iPad :

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Freedom of Information Act contact information

The Department of Justice has a link to "FOIA Contacts"  on the website that allows you to find FOIA contact information for all the federal agencies. You can also download the entire FOIA contacts list, by agency,  in Excel spreadsheet format here (784 rows; has name, title, address, phone, email, and website information). The FOIA website also has an easy interface that allows you to create data reports by federal agency, year, and type of report.

Same-sex couple Census data

The Charles R. Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Policy at the UCLA School of Law has partnered with the federal Census bureau to present the most detailed information to date on gay and lesbian households.  According to the Williams Institute's Census 2010 website, the Institute will be releasing Census Snapshot: 2010 reports throughout the summer. These Snapshots will provide demographic and geographic information about same-sex couples and same-sex couples raising children for all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. The site has an interactive map of the United States; when you click on a state, such as Pennsylvania, you pull up a detailed report (2 page pdf) of  same-sex couple data for that state. 

Friday 12 August 2011

Rocket Lawyer attracts Google $$

The ABA Journal reports that Google Ventures  is part of a group that infused $18.5 million into Rocket Lawyer, a website that calls itself the “fastest growing online legal service.”  Founder Charley Moore is quoted as saying that Rocket Lawyer has 70,000 users a day and has doubled revenue for four years straight, to more than $10 million this year.
Rocket Lawyer provides online legal forms, such as  wills, Powers of Attorney, leases and rental agreements, etc. that non-lawyers can fill out and store and share on the internet. For $19.95 a month, consumers can  have their documents reviewed by a real lawyer and  get legal advice at no additional cost.

ABA recommended apps for iPad

Simon Fodden at Slaw reports on a dozen iPad apps for lawyers that were recommended at a session at the recent ABA conference.  Prices range from free to $89.99.  Briefly, here are the apps:
Dropbox, for storing and synching files (free).
GoodReader for reading and annotating most types of documents ($4.99).
Documents to Go for creating and editing various types of documents, including MS Word (9.99).
NoteTakerHD lets you write on your iPad with your finger or a stylus.($4.99).
SignMyPad lets you have someone look at a pdf doc and sign it right on the tablet ($3.99).
MindMeister is the tablet version of this popular mindmapping tool (free)
Atomic Web Browser offers an alternative to Safari on the iPad, with tabbed browsing ($0.99).
Deponent App is a deposition question and exhibit app for lawyers ($9.99).
idocumentREVIEW lets you tag, annotate and redact docs for discovery ($29.99).
iJuror lets you make notes about jurors as a trial progresses ($9.99).
TrialPad is a useful and powerful trial presentation app ($89.99).
AppAdvice keeps you informed about what's new in iPadd app releases ($1.99).

Thursday 21 July 2011

Information on the FDLP

There is a new document available from the GPO that is both concise and clear, titled the "Legal Requirements and Program Regulations of the Federal Depository Library Program".(16 page pdf)  This booklet has all the basic information about the program presented in a readable, user-friendly format.  It is one of the first efforts by our new Superintendent of Documents, Mary Alice Baish, who had worked at AALL for a number of years.  Kudos to Mary Alice and the GPO. 

Tuesday 19 July 2011

Magical law librarians

For a more upbeat read, check out this blogpost by "A UK Law Firm Librarian" on the "magical" law library staff. It points out that law librarians are magicians, quietly working behind the scenes to make sure that the books, databases, legal news, and legal research needs of the lawyers (and law faculty) are accessible and everyone is happy.
Of course everybody knows that.

Dispriting New York Times article on law school economics

You can pretty much tell from the title of the article in the Sunday NYT, "Law School Economics: Ka Ching!" that this isn't going to be encouraging for potential law students. Sure enough, the report focuses on the broken incentives that lead law schools to constantly raise class sizes and tuition costs despite a massive recession in the legal market. The article uses New York Law School, the stand-alone law school in lower Manhattan, as an example of what's wrong with law school economics.
Today Dean Matasar, who is mentioned frequently in the Times article, posted his response on the New York Law School website.  In his reply he refutes or explains a number of the points made by the NYT reporter. His argument is that:
"The article is misleading because it fails to acknowledge that:
1. Costs are outside of the control of any one school.
2. A legal education provides lifelong value.
3. Students can and do make informed decisions.
4. NYLS provides one of the most student-centric and innovative programs in the country."

Monday 18 July 2011

Microsoft announces project to assist scholarly empirical research

Microsoft has announced a new project, Daytona, that is designed to give scholars better tools for manipulating and analyzing empirical data. According to a post in the Chronicle's Wired Campus blog, the announcement was made during Microsoft's annual Faculty Research Summit, which focused this year on research around natural user interface technology, cloud computing, and machine learning. More information is available on the Microsoft Research website.

Libraries opting out of subscription "packages"

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article about academic libraries deciding to opt out of "packages" (termed "Big Deals") of journal subscriptions that publishers/vendors customarily offer.  Instead, libraries are going through and making individual decisions about keeping or cancelling journal subscriptions, resulting in overall cost savings.   The article says: "As publishers point out, Big Deals put an abundance of information at researchers' fingertips. More and more, though, librarians respond that a lot of that material doesn't get used. "'We were getting a lot of titles, but a large number of them were getting little or no usage.'" And, according to the article, "the consequences many libraries have feared—loud objections from faculty members and financial penalties from publishers—have not come to pass."

Nauru launches comprehensive legal database

Nauru, the world's smallest island nation, located in the South Pacific, has just recently launched a comprehensive legal database containing the country's legislation and court opinions, according to a report from Radio New Zealand International. The database is called RONLAW (, and is the result of an eighteen month effort by the Legal Information Access Project, funded by New Zealand and overseen by the Nauru Office of Parliamentary Counsel.  Over the course of the project Nauru's legislation was consolidated - a huge task, given that the last consolidation was in 1937.  RONLAW, which stands for Republic of Nauru Law,  contains the Constitution, Nauruan legislation, court decisions, gazettes and other relevant documents; over time, according to the website, "RONLAW will grow to house historical versions of legislation, all subordinate legislation and court decisions. As new legislation is passed in Nauru RONLAW will be updated to include that material, and amendments will be incorporated into consolidated versions of legislation within 24 hours of of being made. Superseded versions of legislation will progressively be added to the collection of historical legislation."

Friday 15 July 2011

Digital Preservation Courses and Workshops

The Library of Congress has created a national calendar of digital preservation courses and workshops as part of its Digital Preservation Outreach and Education (DPOE) initiative, an effort  "to foster national outreach and education to encourage individuals and organizations to actively preserve their digital content."  LOC is keeping the calendar current by scanning the web daily for new class postings. They also ask providers to submit information about their courses. Many of these courses are online and some are free.

Hat tip: Margie Maes at the Legal Information Preservation Alliance (LIPA)

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Universal Citation meeting during AALL

A group of law librarians and legal educators interested in pursuing the goal of a uniform legal citation format  is convening for the first time during the AALL annual conference. The group has a website,, that explains the purpose of the meeting and has a link where you can register to attend (at no cost). The meeting will be held on Monday, July 25, from 9am to 12 noon, at the Rutgers-Camden School of Law, Room E112. Yes, it's in another city in another state, but it is an easy and very short subway ride from the convention location in Philly, just across the Delaware River, so the location shouldn't be a barrier to attendance.
From the webpage: "As legal research shifts to a digital environment, there is a growing need for a new way to refer to court decisions and other documents on which the law depends. With the potential for great increases in the availability of legal information, there needs to be a citation style that does not depend on the increasingly outdated print editions that form the basis for legal reference. As of this date, several American jurisdictions have adopted a Universal Citation format, but most have not. There are a variety of reasons why courts have hesitated to adopt Universal Citation, but given its success as a citation form in the jurisdictions that have adopted it, and the ease with which it has been adopted in Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and elsewhere, its value and utility are hard to deny.  Given this continued reliance on print citations, and the restrictions that this places on open access to the law.... Universalcitation.Org is being organized to fill the gap."

West Publishing history featured in the Green Bag

The latest edition of  The Green Bag has an entertaining look at a 1901promotional pamphlet published by West publishing called "Law Books by the Millions: An account of the largest law-book house in the world, the home establishment of the National Reporter System and the American Digest System".  An introductory essay by Ross E. Davies discusses this historic artifact and how it illustrates that the more things change, the more things remain the same. For example, the pamphlet describes the lawyers working on theditorial staff : "as a body there is not another to match it. The tests given applicants make it certain that only lawyers of West Publishing Co.
more than average ability, and with special mental aptitude for this class of work, are engaged in this very important position. A lawyer of scholarly tastes and abilities finds a more attractive field in legal literary work than in the competitive struggle which awaits him if he enters the practice, and the rewards, if less dazzling, are more assured."

Monroeville restaurant makes the news by banning young children

Many news outlets are carrying the story of a Monroeville restaurant that has announced it will no longer allow children under age 6 to dine at the establishment. McDains Restaurant, located at 4440 Broadway Boulevard in Monroeville, started as the "19th hole" for the McDain's Golf Club and proved so popular that it developed into an "upscale, quiet and casual" restaurant with outdoor dining. Owner Mike Vuick announced the ban on children under 6 after he'd received noise complaints from customers about crying kids at neighboring tables. In an email to customers, Vuick explained: "We feel that McDain's is not a place for young children. Their volume can't be controlled and many, many times, they have disturbed other customers." The Reuters story asks if this is legal, and answers Yes; while restaurants can't discriminate against race, color, religion or national origin, "Nowhere in that list is there a category for "kids."

Tuesday 12 July 2011

World Statistics visualization project

The World of 100 is an interesting visualization project that looks at world statistics.  Artist Toby Ng looks at various statistics asking the question:  "If the world were a village of 100 people, how would the composition be?" He has built a set of 20 posters visualizing various world statistics.  For example, the "Languages" poster shows that  if the world were a village of  100 people, 17 would speak Chinese, 9 would speak English, 8 would speak Hindi, 6 would speak Russian, 6 would speak Spanish, 4 would speak Arabic, and 50 would speak "other languages".

Law Technology News: web tools

A recent article in Law Technology News by Louis Abramovitz, a Washington D.C.-based law librarian, provides a list of free and low-cost online resources now available to lawyers, including websites for Pubic Records searches.

Database: Gender Law Library

The Gender Law Library is a collection of national legal provisions impacting women's economic status in 183 economies (it is hosted by the World Bank, and supported by the World Bank’s Gender Action Plan and the Norwegian Trust Fund). The database can be used for comparative analysis of legislation affecting women. It serves as a resource for research, and contributes to reforms that can enhance women’s full economic participation. The materials are generally organized into categories including geographic region, income level grouping, legal topic, and type of law. The collection is updated regularly.

hat tip: InSITE

Monday 11 July 2011


The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse recently published a report titled Social Security Awards Depend More on Judge than Facts: Disparities Within SSA Disability Hearing Offices Grow. Embedded in the report is a special interactive table giving the public access to extensive counts and rates that further document the degree of the disparities among individual judges in a Social Security hearing office as well as disparity measures for each office as a whole.
In response, the Social Security Administration published a statement sharply criticizing TRAC's study on several different grounds. TRAC has now issued a point-by-point refutation of the SSA's sweeping statement regarding TRAC's original report.
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse is a non-partisan research organization associated with Syracuse University.  Using Freedom of Information Act requests, the organization gathers highly detailed but easy-to-access information on selected federal enforcement agencies, special topical reports, and "bulletins" about federal enforcement, staffing and expenditures.  .

2011 National Strategy for Counterterrorism released by White House

The White House recently released its new counterterrorism strategy, the National Strategy for Counterterrorism (19 page pdf). They also released a Fact Sheet that summarize the strategy, saying that "this strategy builds upon the progress we have made in the decade since 9/11, in partnership with Congress, to build our counterterrorism and homeland security capacity as a nation. It neither represents a wholesale overhaul-nor a wholesale retention-of previous policies and strategies... This Strategy stands to testify to our friends, our partners, and to our terrorist enemies: Here is our plan of action to achieve the defeat of al-Qa‘ida and its affiliates and adherents . It is this outcome we seek, and indeed it is the only one we will accept ."
Contents include:
  • The Threat We Face
  • Principles That Guide our Counterterrorism Efforts
  • Overarching Goals
  • Area of Focus
  • Other Terrorist Concerns Requiring Focus and Attention
  • Conclusion

Wikipedia Higher Education Summit

Inside Higher Education reports that Wikipedia, in its efforts to improve and expand its relationship with academia, held the first Wikipedia in Higher Education Summit last week. Attendees were professors who have actively incorporated Wikipedia into their teaching, as well as faculty who are interested in doing so. According to the report, over two dozen universities now have courses where students are working on Wikipedia as part of their formal coursework, and many of these campuses have “Wikipedia ambassadors” tasked with helping professors weave writing and editing Wikipedia entries into the syllabus. David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, was the speaker who gave the opening address, saying that his office at the National Archives and Records Administration now employs a “Wikipedian in residence” in charge of fostering relationships with galleries, libraries, archives and museums.
At the Summit, Carnegie Mellon University researcher Rosta Farzan demoed a set of new course software tools aimed at making it easier for professors to assign and evaluate Wikipedia-related assignments. The free software includes a dashboard for instructors to track student work and provide private feedback on edits, as well as a new course page builder to help instructors create useful and well-structured course pages.

Chief Justice John Roberts on relevance (or irrelevance) of legal academia

A recent post on the Legal Skills Prof Blog points to an interview with U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals' 77th annual judicial conference. A video of the 47 minute interview is available on C-Span.
The blogpost specifically talks about Justice Roberts' comments on the relevance of legal scholarship to the practice of  law,  as evidenced by law review publications. You can watch this part of the interview by forwarding the video to minute 28:50. Dean Raymond C. Pierce of the North Carolina Central University School of Law in Durham, N.C., poses this question to Chief Justice Roberts:
“Your comments earlier about the use of your law clerks caused me to think about a comment by Judge Harry Edwards of the D.C. Court of Appeals where Judge Edwards strongly suggests that our judiciary on all levels, and the practicing bar, are unfortunately too disconnected from our academies, from our law schools. I want to know your thoughts on that as to whether or not you agree with that or whether you think the relationship between the practicing bar and the bench, and our legal academy, our lawschools is fine, or whether or not there is some impact on instruction as it relates to the good future of our profession.”
Chief Justice Roberts replies:
"Judge Edwards and I are on the same page on that point. There IS a great disconnect between the academy and the profession. Pick up a copy of any law review… and the first article is likely to be (on an abstract topic) that I’m sure is of great interest to the academic who wrote it, but isn’t of much help to the bar. Now I hasten to add, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. If the Academy wants to deal with the legal issues at a particularly abstract and philosophical level that’s great, that’s their business, but they shouldn’t expect that it would be of any particular help or even interest to members of the practicing bar or judges. At the same time we’re not looking for vocational guidance like “this is how you fill out the form for an entry of appearance”. At the same time, I do think that if the academy is interested in having an influence on the practice of law, on the development of law, they would be wise to stop and think, “Is this area of research going to be of help to anyone other than other academics?”. It’s their business, but people ask me what the last law review article I read was, and I have to think very hard before coming up with one."