Wednesday 27 April 2011

Thomas is Tweeting!

The Law Library of Congress has announced a new Twitter account for Thomas: @THOMASdotgov .
The @THOMASdotgov account will provide alerts on THOMAS updates,and bills being considered on the floor of Congress; it will also serve as a venue for feedback on You can read more about it on the LLOC In Custodia Legis blog post.
The LLOC can also be found online at:
- LLOC Twitter account.
- iTunes U
- Facebook
- YouTube 

Tuesday 26 April 2011

British Library buys poet's emails

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the British Library (sort of the UK version of the Library of Congress) has purchased the emails of critically and popularly acclaimed poet, Wendy Cope. The archive of emails, dating from 2004 to the present, comprises about 40,000 emails for which the British Library paid £32,000 (over $50,000). The emails are part of a "hybrid archive" of Ms. Cope's work which has both paper and electronic materials and contains poetic and literary drafts, personal and professional correspondence, and other content. Ms. Cope told The Independent that many of the emails “are not interesting at all.”

Monday 25 April 2011

What do you call a librarian?

(Former) librarian Michelle Mach has created an online list of  Real Job Titles for library & information science professionals. The list came from jobs that have been advertised in professional organization publications and job titles that employed librarians have sent her.
There are a lot of them. 

Regulation Room project and airline passenger rights

We told you about Regulation Room when it was in beta testing in 2009.   The positive effects that the project is having can be seen in the final version of the Dept. of Transportation’s recent airline passenger rights rule study, where DOT refers to the Regulation Room project throughout the final set of rules. The Preamble mentions that the Regulation Room website contributed a summary of the public discussion of the proposed rule(s)  and that DOT’s research partnership with the Cornell project is meant to advance public participation in the rulemaking process.
Not only does DOT discuss Regulation Room comments almost every topic covered by the rules, but on the topic of Full Fare Advertising, Regulation Room comments directly influenced the DOT decision to make a policy change on advertising disclosures (Regulation Room commenters felt that current airfare advertising amounted to, in the commenters quoted words, “a bait and switch” tactic; airline companies commented that they did not want this policy change). Regulation Room sees this as an example of its success at helping ordinary people get their voice heard by an agency and the agency following the ordinary commenters wishes over business interests.
The final Airline Passenger Rights rule is available here.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Report shows recent law grads satisfied with real-world training

The  National Association for Legal Professionals (NALP) has published report (41 page pdf) of a survey that they conducted with 930 law firm associates recently graduated from law school.  The survey looked at the experiential learning opportunities - clinics, externships and pracitical skills courses - offered by law schools, and at how valuable these opportunities were for law students. The survey indicated that clinics and externships are gaining in popularity, as newer associates reported higher rates of participation in those courses than did earlier associate classes. The results showed that while many students don't take clinics or externships most of those who do participate considered the experience valuable. Externships and field placements had an especially high level of student satisfaction, with 60% of the associates involved calling the experience "very useful" - the highest ranking on the survey's scale of answers. 

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Chronicle: Can technology save legal education?

The Chronicle of Higher Education's Wired Campus blog has a post titled "Can technology save legal education?" about the recent Future Ed 3 conference attended by law-school deans and faculty.  One of the deans is quoted as saying that “Legal education significantly lags the rest of higher education in integrating online learning and other educational technologies into its programs.”  At the conference, the Apps for Justice proposal  (created by a team  including Professor Ronald W. Staudt of the Chicago-Kent College of Law and John Mayer, Executive Director of CALI) to “expand programs in which [law] students write software as part of their [legal] education,” was recognized  with an award.  The proposal includes further development of law-school clinical programs that use the A2J Author software created by CALI and the Center for Access to Justice and Technology.

A better link shortener

OK, maybe finding a better link shortener is low on your priority list. But Technology Review reports on a new link shortener that not only shortens links but also alters webpages for good readability.  The service, called, cleans all the junk ads etc. out of websites to make them blessedly easy to read. The abovementioned Technology Review article features a good example. 

Wednesday 13 April 2011

ULS libguides by subject

If you are searching for an article in the University Library System's digital library, and want to search in a specific subject area, you may notice there has been a change in how the interface directs your search. Instead of just listing relevant databases for the subject, ULS has developed LibGuides in the subject areas, that give more information about where to look for information. For example, the libguide for Law and Legal Studies databases is here

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Craigslist Foundation launches LikeMinded, hoping to inspire voluntarism

The Craigslist Foundation today launched LikeMinded, a project that aims to use the power of online organizing to help people volunteer to improve their communities. The Foundation wants to “empower people to strengthen their communities by connecting them to the resources they need to effectively engage in community building.”  LikeMinded is conceived as a database of successful civic projects that can assist and inspire people in farflung communities facing similar problems to develop their own successful projects.
There is a series of video tutorials on the LikeMinded site that explain the project's goals in more depth. 

Copyright troll Righthaven drops lawsuit after judge blasts tactics

The Denver Daily News reports that copyright infringement firm Righthaven and the Denver Post have dismissed a $150,000 lawsuit they filed after a blogger used a Post photo on his website. The notice for dismissal was filed after the judge in the case denied Righthaven a motion for an extension.   In this case, Righthaven had filed a $150,000 suit against Brian Hill, a 20 year old, chronically ill, mildly autistic blogger. According to the Denver Westword blog, "Typically, Righthaven obtains copyrights for material that's already been used in unauthorized fashion (like a Post photo of a TSA agent Hill published on his site), then sues for big bucks in the apparent hope of a speedy settlement. For instance, Righthaven offered to let Hill off the hook for $6,000 - an enormous sum given that he and his mom are both subsisting on disability payments. He has brittle diabetes, and she has to monitor him at night to make sure he doesn't lapse into a coma."
Judge John Kane, in denying the motion for extension, blasted Righthaven's tactics, saying "Plaintiff’s wishes to the contrary, the courts are not merely tools for encouraging and exacting settlements from Defendants cowed by the potential costs of litigation and liability."
 Techdirt says, "it's looking like more and more judges are recognizing that the new found love of copyright trolls, to use the US judicial system as a shotgun to force people to pay settlement fees, is not a proper use of the courts".

Monday 11 April 2011

In England, legal services offered at WH Smith newsstands

Legal Week reports that UK law firm franchise QualitySolicitors (QS) has agreed a deal with WHSmith to offer legal services via hundreds of the newsagent's national branches - a move that has been hailed as a ground-breaking initiative for the retail legal market.  QualitySolicitors will place 'legal access points' in 150 WHSmith stores this summer with a plan for eventually providing 500 locations.
The 'access points' will be staffed by local QualitySolicitors firms. Solicitors will offer advice on a range of consumer legal matters including conveyancing (real estate transfers) and will writing. There will also be a television advertising campaign to promote the product. Staff solicitors will use iPads and iPad  applications to book appointments, provide conveyancing quotes, sell will packages and give advisory sessions for a fixed fee. QS chief executive Craig Holt said ‘This move represents the future of legal services. It is a game changer, providing both the key elements required for market dominance – accessibility and visibility.’ The goal of the partnership is to provide more accessible, consumer-friendly legal advice.

Wednesday 6 April 2011

FOIA Project website

The folks from Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) have started an all new website called The FOIA Project.  TRAC gets a lot of their data through filing FOIA requests to government agencies and courts. The new project is designed to bring more transparency to FOIA withholding decisions and  enable users to track all instances in which a federal agency's decision to deny government records has become the subject of a suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) since October 1, 2009. The site, supported with a grant from the CS Fund/Warsh-Mott Legacy, is updated daily with the latest court FOIA filings and provides extensive information about the names of withholding agency, the names of the plaintiffs, the location where the action was brought, along with the actual complaint and attachments that were filed.
TRAC was established at Syracuse more than two decades ago to obtain detailed information from various federal agencies under the FOIA, check its accuracy and completeness and make the data available to the public through its two web sites, TRAC and TRACFED. Over the years, this effort has required TRAC to file suits in federal court against the Internal Revenue Service, the Office of Personnel Management, the National Archives and Records Administration, and various components of the Justice Department including the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys and the Civil Division. If you visit their websites you will see that they are still litigating a number of FOIA requests for information. 

Federal Citizen Information Center partners with Google Books for free access to publications

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has announced that it is working with the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) and GPO’s relationship with the Google Book Partner Program to make popular Government publications available for free electronic download through Google. Savvy citizens know that since 1970, GSA’s Federal Citizen Information Center has been distributing  consumer publications from the Public Documents Distribution Center in Pueblo, Colorado. Publications range across all sorts of topics, from hiking maps of national scenic trails to restaurant safety tips to how-to guides on buying a used car. In the last 40 years, the program has distributed more than 800 million publications. Now the FCIC is making the 100 most popular government publications available for free download to your desktop, laptop, e-reader or smartphone.

ThomsonReuters sued by Findlaw bloggers

The San Francisco Weekly reports that a lawyer/journalist who blogged for Findlaw is leading a class action lawsuit against Findlaw owner Thomson Reuters, claiming the employees were overworked and underpaid.  Attorney Jason Beahm says that he and his fellow Findlaw bloggers worked more than 8 hours a day without getting paid any overtime or getting proper meal breaks. 

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Professor arrested over laptop confrontation with student

The Wired Campus Blog reports that A college professor at Valdosta State University teaching a class on Law and the Ethics of Media has been charged with battery after a student told police the prof shut her laptop on her hands.  According to the Valdosta State newspaper, the Spectator, Asst. Prof. Frank Rybicki, who was teaching a class on The Law and Ethics of Media in the Mass Media department, closed a laptop on the hands of student Dorsena Drakeford because he thought she was looking at non-class-related websites. The student argued with Prof. Rybicki about closing her laptop and about the websites she looked at while in class; the professor became upset and dismissed class early. The student went to the Valdosta State University Police Department and reported an assault.
The Spectator report said that many students in the Mass Media department are concerned about the status of Prof. Rybicki's classes and about losing the professor, who is, according to one student interviewed "one of the best teachers in the mass media (department)."

Monday 4 April 2011

Proposed legislation would eliminate printing of the Congressional Record

The Government Relations Office of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) has sent out an alert about a newly-introduced bill, Congressional Record Printing Savings Act of 2011 (S. 674).  The bill, introduced by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), would eliminate the print Congressional Record, except for a small number determined necessary for archival purposes. The Congressional Record would only be available electronically for most purposes.
The Congressional Record is on the Government Printing Office’s Essential Titles List, and the AALL strongly believes that federal depository libraries must continue to have the option of receiving it in print. The AALL has an online action alert with more information. 

Friday 1 April 2011

SUV crashes into Moot Court Judges' Chambers

From The Pitt News:
A woman crashed a vehicle into the Barco Law Building yesterday shortly after 10 p.m., leaving her dark Ford SUV embedded in the concrete wall...Witnesses said the vehicle came out of the Towers garage, heading straight toward David Lawrence Hall and the Barco Law Building.The scraps of black plastic left behind made it look as if the woman had driven between two concrete pillars about 15 feet apart, straight through a narrow space between the curve of David Lawrence and another pillar about 10 feet away, and then down the nearby stairs before making impact with the Barco Law Building.
(The woman driving the car) was conscious and alert when paramedics carried her out on a stretcher at about 10:30 p.m...She was taken to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital. Her condition was not made public by midnight last night.