Sunday 17 June 2012

Comparing congressional bill versions

A query on the LLSDC listserv asked if anyone knew a good resource that would allow you to compare side by side amendments to a bill passed by Congress. One answer said that that while THOMAS does not yet have this feature, but CQ Roll Call's "Bill Compare" shows the version changes (unfortunately we don't have this resource because it is expensive). Then someone at Lexis chimed in with this helpful hint: "You can find bill text version on Lexis from 1989 forward (these are from CIS and are also in ProQuest Congressional, but only government, public, non-profit and law school libraries can access them on that platform), and then you can use a redlining program or even Word to highlight differences or changes in the versions from introduced through enrolled- you just get plain html text though, no interlineations or italics. The file is BLTEXT for current Congress, or the archives are BTX111, or BTXxxx back to 101. PQ Congressional is digitizing bills & resolutions back to 1789 as a new PDF collection."

Thursday 14 June 2012

Legal Information Institute releases first US Code ebook

Our friends at the Legal Information Institute at Cornell (LII) have announced that they have released their first title in eBook form: United States Code Title 17 – Copyrights. It's available for download from the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook stores for $5.99. The LII plans to offer full-featured primary legal materials in these two popular eBook formats. All LII titles will feature livelink cross-references with fully-functional navigation between references within each title. Out-of-title cross-references and references to supporting notes and documents link directly to the LII web site. Each eBook title is updated annually, but links to the LII web site put the most recent official version and an array of updating and research tools at your disposal. The text of LII eBook editions is beautifully formatted and indented, making it far easier to read than other e-book editions.

Hat tip: Katie Nye

Wednesday 13 June 2012

Social Media simplified

This says it all.  Thanks to Pat Roncevich for passing it along. She got it from her friend Lisa Santucci, librarian at Miami University of Ohio. Before that, we're not sure.  

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Changes to Google Scholar search interface

The Internet for Lawyers website reports that Google is testing a new interface design for their Google Scholar service. And according to the report, the redesign reduces the user's ability to do successful case law research because it's more difficult to find what you need. Fortunately, they point out, you can still access the "old" (better) interface either via the direct url or by clicking the link in the lower lefthand corner that says "revert to old venerable look".  

Friday 1 June 2012

"Dr. Livingstone I Presume"'s field diary

The Chronicle of Higher Ed reports that a group of scholars and archivists have been working to make legible an 1871 field diary kept by Dr. David Livingstone in Africa. Apparently Dr. Livingstone ran out of writing equipment and wrote some of his diary on old newspaper sheets with ink he made from berries. It has taken more than two years but with fancy scanners they have succeeded in making 99 percent of the diary legible. The article includes before-and-after images of one of the pages, and has a link to the entire Livingstone Spectral Image Archive which includes TIFF images, XML transcriptions, and metadata for the diary.

Supreme Court affirmative action case amici briefs

Inside Higher Education has an interesting article about an upcoming affirmative action case before the Supreme Court.  The case, Abigail Noel Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, challenges the right of the University to consider race and ethnicity in admissions when it has been able to achieve diversity through the race-neutral "10 percent" rule (assuring all graduates in the top 10 percent of high schools in Texas admission into any public university in Texas).  Now amici briefs have been or will be filed by Asian-American groups for both the plaintiff and the defendant. A brief supporting Ms. Fisher and arguing against race-based admissions was filed by a group including the 80-20 National Asian-American Educational Foundation and the National Federation of Indian American Associations. Four other groups including the Asian American Justice Center plan to file an appeal backing the University of Texas; they filed a joint brief when the case was considered by the Fifth Circuit. The Inside Higher Education article discusses more fully the Asian-American perspective on race-based admissions. 

Most cited law reviews

The Michigan Law review has published a new study (36 page pdf) of the most-cited law review articles of all times. The article (the abstract is also available) is an update by Yale law librarian Fred Shapiro, who first published such a survey in 1985,  and Harvard law librarian Michelle Pearse. The study compiles law review citation information in a variety of ways, and the authors say that "New research tools from the HeinOnline and Web of Science databases now allow lists to be compiled that are more thorough and more accurate than anything previously possible." The authors give a detailed and thoughtful analysis of trends in the data over the years. For example, they note that articles about law and economics have "been plentiful among the citation elite", continuing a trend seen in previous surveys, while articles about critical race theory and critical legal studies have "faded in acceptance" over the last decade.  The subject of intellectual property has also been increasingly the focus of scholarship, but the authors say that "this field's ascendance is more attributable to technological developments than to personal ones".