Friday 31 August 2012

If you digitize books can you throw them away?

The Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections Blog has an interesting post that discusses the question of whether it is responsible to discard the print copies of books etc. after you have digitized them and saved them in digital format. The discussion brings up Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper, the Nicholson Baker book that is a must-read for every library & info science student. Some librarians do not agree with Baker's opinion that it was shortsighted for libraries to discard newspapers after they had been converted to microfilm, but the post's author agrees. As he explains, "what about the things we can’t predict? What if the next generation of computers is so different from what we’re used to today that the very idea of digital files changes completely? What if a specialized virus destroys every TIFF file in creation?...The best answer is to do what people have done since 200 BC: go back to the paper versions. That’s why we counsel our partners to use the process of digitizing materials to serve as a catalyst for rehousing materials in archival storage if they’re not stored that way already. That’s why we urge conservation of fragile materials before they arrive at our center. That’s why we never tell them it’s safe to throw something away just because it’s been scanned, cataloged and placed in a digital collection."
This opinion is shared by a British Library study that says "In summary, digital is not generally viewed as a suitable long-term preservation archival surrogate for print. It is currently regarded more as an access medium. As a preservation medium, digital was generally seen as unstable, experimental, immature, unproven on a mass scale and unreliable in the long term."

Is it ok to cite to websites in court documents?

There's an interesting post over at the West Reference Attorney Blog that addresses this question. We know that lawyers and law librarians, law students and faculty, frequently use Wikipedia and other non-legal websites for leads or ideas on research, but how accepting are courts of documents or materials from these types of websites? The author conducted a WestlawNext search (and includes the search phrase she used) to find this information. She concludes that courts are not very accepting of these cites, but despite the fact that many courts view this practice negatively, it is still frequently done.

Mind your online presence

It's a good idea to monitor the information that's available about you by following this infographic's advice: the Google Yourself Challenge. As it says, too many people don't take the necessary steps to protect the information they've shared online. The infographic provides a lot of statistics that really bring the point home.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

New Congressional (ProQuest) interface launched

Just in time for the start of school .... the new interface for the popular ProQuest Congressional database has been launched.  It has a completely new look. The link from the law library databases list has been updated, though you can still use the "old" interface if you go to the old link (I don't know how long that will last).
ProQuest has provided a LibGuide with information on search syntax and other information.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Hotmail accounts banned from CALI website

Due to a near-site killing influx of spammers and other internet ne'er-do-wells using Hotmail, CALI had to ban all accounts that are affiliated with a Hotmail email address. Unfortunately, this will cause a number of legitimate registered users to be banned from the CALI system. This is a small percentage of total users, but still a decent amount of people. If a student or faculty member complains of being unable to log onto the website, add "ask them if they use Hotmail" to your trouble-shooting checklist.


The Pitt University Library System has ended its subscription to RefWorks and is promoting the use of Mendeley, a free and open source  research management tool. Tech Crunch has an excellent post today that explains what Mendeley is and how it is affecting academic research.  Mendeley's open source, free software differs from other research platforms. The post says that "most academic online networks remain locked up by academic publishers (such as Elsevier) with expensive licensing agreements for universities... (T)he difference between the way it (Mendeley) and Elsevier approaches the academic world is thrown into sharp relief today with the news that Mendeley’s third-party app eco-system is fast approaching three times the size of Elseviers’. This amounts to the difference between an open and closed approach to apps." The story goes on the provide the statistics that Mendeley now covers 65 million documents, compared to Thomson Reuters' 49 million and Elsevier's 47 million.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

BIALL Legal Information Literacy Statement

The British and Irish Association of Law Libraries has published a "Legal Information Literacy Statement", which aims to help law students develop a comprehensive legal research skill set following a five stage model. The five stages are: 

  • Research skill 1 - Demonstrate an understanding of the need for the thorough investigation of all relevant factual and legal issues involved in a research task. 
  • Research skill 2 - Demonstrate the ability to undertake systematic and comprehensive legal research. 
  •  Research skill 3 - Demonstrate the ability to analyse research findings effectively. 
  • Research skill 4 - Demonstrate the ability to present the results of research in an appropriate and effective manner. 
  • Research skill 5 – Continuing Professional Development – refreshing the legal research skills required of a modern lawyer.

The Statement describes each of these stages and then develops a set of subskills that are required for each stage.

Monday 20 August 2012

New Stanford Law site helps students navigate curriculum

The Sacramento Bee reports that Stanford Law School has launched an online tool to help students navigate curriculum and career choices to better prepare them to practice in specific areas of the law. The school spent three years developing the SLSNavigator, which is available for anyone anywhere to use. The content in SLSNavigator is based on extensive interviews with faculty, alumni, practicing attorneys, and other legal professionals about the substantive knowledge and skills they use in their careers. It includes not only law school courses but also courses from across the university that are pertinent to different areas of the law, furthering law school's goal of fostering interdisciplinary education.

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Feeling Lucky? Or Hungry? Or Doodly?

After 15 years, Google has made a change to the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button that has been on the Google homepage since its inception. If you hover your mouse over the Feeling Lucky button for a second or two, it now shows a rotating list of Google’s other products like Hot Trends, The Arts Project, Image Search, Google Doodles, Google Earth and Local Search. So the wording on the button changes from "I'm Feeling Lucky" to other words like "I'm feeling Hungry", or "I'm Feeling Playful". Depending on which set of words is visible on the button when you hit enter, the results will be affected; you can't be sure where the search will take you.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

ReDigi hopes to sell used ebooks

Publishers Weekly reports that internet company ReDigi, which currently sells pre-owned digital music, hopes to do the same with pre-owned ebooks. The question that arises, of course, is whether we consumers actually own the apps, music, ebooks, and other content we have paid for, and whether we can legally resell them. ReDigi is currently involved in a copyright infringement case filed by Capitol Records in the US District Court in Manhattan involving their resale of digital music and whether the first-sale doctrine applies to digital content. ReDigi claims that it is just the cyber-version of a used record store and everything it does is lawful because its technology first validates, then transfers your music to its servers without copying. If ReDigi prevails, it will "upend the way e-books and other digital products are sold, since such products would get a second life on the resale market and provide a new revenue stream for publishers and authors."

Judge issues order in precedent-setting GSU case

Publishers Weekly reports on the final order filed by Judge Orinda Evans in the Georgia State University copyright case in a story titled "Final Order in GSU E-Reserves Case Is a Rebuke to Publishers." The case, Cambridge University Press et al v. Patton et alfeatured three academic publishers (Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Sage Publications) alleging that GSU administrators systematically encouraged faculty to commit copyright infringement via GSU’s e-reserve systems as a no-cost alternative to traditional coursepacks. The judge had found for the publishers on just five of ninety-nine counts of copyright infringement claims. Now with her order she not only rejected the publishers request for relief on the five counts but also (in what PW terms a "stunning development") ordered the publishers to pay the defendants' attorney costs. Georgia State University has prevailed in what is seen as a precedent-setting lawsuit that will help determine the future of copyright law in the digital age.

Monday 13 August 2012

Google tweaks algorithms to include copyright removal requests

Information Week has an article,  "Google Joins Copyright Police Force", about Google's announcement last week that it will start demoting sites in search results that receive large numbers of valid copyright-infringement notices. A Google official is quoted as saying "Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results. This ranking change should help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily — whether it’s a song previewed on NPR’s music website, a TV show on Hulu or new music streamed from Spotify." The Information Week article, however, see this as a bad idea, saying that "Google Search should not participate in copyright enforcement any more than a hardware store should restrict the sale of hammers to prevent a potential crime. It should not circumvent the judicial process by passing judgment on websites just because someone complains. The legal system presumes innocence until guilt is proven; Google should make the same presumption."

Thursday 9 August 2012

Digital legal resources: India

The Foreign, International and Comparative Law (FCIL) SIS of the AALL has posted an interesting and useful PowerPoint presentation given by Priya Rai at the recent AALL Conference in Boston. Ms. Rai is is the Deputy Librarian In-Charge at the Justice T.P.S. Chawla Library, National Law University Delhi, India. Her presentation,  Access to Legal Information in the Digital Age: A Comparative Study of Electronic Commercial Databases and Public Domain Resources in Law, was made possible by a grant from FCIL. The presentation contains information about the use of digital legal information resources in India, the commercial and public domain resources that are available for Indian law and an evaluation of the competing commercial and public resources.

St. Louis Law dean resigns in protest

The Wall Street Journal law blog has a post about the abrupt resignation of Annette Clark as Dean of St. Louis University School of Law. Her scathing letter of resignation was posted to the Above the Law Blog and has pretty much gone viral.  In her letter she accused the president of St. Louis University, Rev. Lawrence Biondi of taking law school money and using it for general university purposes, contrary to agreements made with the law school. She also complained about being left out of key decisions and said that she has no confidence the university's president or vice president for academic affairs.
She remains a tenured faculty member of the law school.

Monday 6 August 2012

Online training in the new ProQuest Congressional

ProQuest Congressional is rolling out a new user interface, and they are offering free online sessions with ProQuest trainers "for a first look at the new interface and to discover what is NEW, BETTER, and DIFFERENT. We will also answer any questions about contacting technical support, accessing online help, and more."  The list of scheduled trainings is available on the ProQuest website; the webinars are free but they do ask that you register ahead of time. 

OR judge says inmate can choose to be executed

The ABA Journal reports that An inmate in Oregon who was sentenced to death after his second murder conviction,  and who has asked to be executed, has won a round in court.  The governor of Oregon, John Kitzhaber, had vetoed the death penalty for inmate Gary Haugen. Marion County Civil Court judge Timothy P. Alexander said in handing down his opinion that " "clemency is an act of grace, and the recipient is not obliged to accept it."  The state is expected to appeal the ruling. 

Friday 3 August 2012

Digital Preservation made easier

The National Digital Stewardship Alliance Outreach working group (an initiative of the Library of Congress)  has created a helpful website called "Digital Preservation in a Box", a "gentle" introduction to the concepts of preserving digital information. It provides a set of resources to support introductory-level information and education for those who may have little to no knowledge of digital preservation and digital curation issues, to help them with stewarding their digital information. It provides resources for preserving digital info in a variety of formats:  Photos, Audio, Video, Email, Personal documents, and Websites. There are links to other useful  digital preservation websites as well.  

Survey looks at smartphones and perceived/real privacy

A fascinating article in Technology Review looks at a recent study done by researchers at the University of California -Berkeley law school and published on SSRN. The paper is titled "Mobile Phones and Privacy" and the researchers report that there is a disconnect between user perception of the security and privacy of cellphones and the reality. For example, over 75% of people surveyed for the study believed that law enforcement needs special permission to access cellphone information; in fact, In fact, law enforcement can guess a password to unlock a confiscated device, and can impersonate the phone's owner by sending texts if the phone is unlocked. Neither activity has been struck down by the courts.

Storing files in the cloud

In his Personal Technology column this week, Walter Mossberg compares four of the leading online file storage repositories: Dropbox, SugarSync, Microsoft SkyDrive and Google Drive. As he says, "this type of service is useful for anyone with many computers and devices, either for personal or group use".  

Summer reading?

Are you all caught up on your reading and looking for something new?  There are still a few weeks to go in the summer. Publishers Weekly has some challenging reading suggestions for you: The Top 10 Most Difficult Books

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Mind Mapping Software demonstrated

Are you interested in mindmapping software but you're not sure what it is? Does the word "mindmapping" make you a little leery?  Here's a clever little demo from Lucidchart, a mindmapping software company, that demonstrates how you can use mindmapping to diagram ... Hey Jude. 

We're not pushing this particular product but props to whoever thought up this video.