Wednesday 26 September 2012

Gov Doc wins the 2012 Ig Noble Prize for Literature

The Ig Noble Prizes are awarded each year by Improbable Research Inc. The winners are announced at a gala ceremony at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre and prizes are physically handed out by genuinely bemused genuine Nobel laureates. This year's Ig Noble Prize for Literature was awarded to: the US Government General Accountability Office, for issuing a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports. The winning title: "Actions Needed to Evaluate the Impact of Efforts to Estimate Costs of Reports and Studies," (32 page pdf, including a helpful link where you can report fraud, waste and abuse in federal programs)  US Government General Accountability Office report GAO-12-480R, May 10, 2012.

Tuesday 25 September 2012

New site in beta

Last week, the Library of Congress (LC) announced that the LC, the U.S. Congress and the Government Printing Office (GPO) launched the new beta, which combines Congress's internal LIS system with THOMAS. The site includes bill status and summary, bill text and member profiles and some new features:

  • Effective display on mobile devices; 
  • Ability to narrow and refine search results; 
  • Ability to simultaneously search all content across all available years, with some files dating from the 93rd congress; 
  • Easier identification of current bill status; 
  • Members’ legislative history and biographical profiles; 
  • Maintenance of existing features such as links to video of the House and Senate floor, top searched bills and the save/share feature. 

 While the site is in beta, it’s important that the Library of Congress hear feedback from legal researchers. The Library is releasing as a beta site to enable a period of time for collecting user feedback and refining functionality while other content is incorporated. The Library anticipates will operate as a beta site for approximately one year as this work is completed. During that time, both THOMAS and LIS will continue to operate as usual.

Thursday 20 September 2012

JSTOR goes (more) mobile

JSTOR has announced improvements to using JSTOR on a mobile device. Rather than a device-specific app or a separate mobile site, they have used responsive design to implement an under-the-hood overhaul that enables the JSTOR interface to adapt to the screen size of a device automatically. This means that areas of the pages on the site are "reflowed", moved, or hidden to present a simpler but fully functional experience for researchers.  The new mobile design works well on a wide variety of mobile phones and tablets. Via mobile devices, researchers may now use the Institution Finder to log in from remote locations, complete advanced searches, save and manage citations and alerts, and access full-text content. There's a video explaining Institution Finder on the JSTOR video tutorial page. They are also offering a free webinar, called "Learn How to Get the Most from the JSTOR Platform", on October 19, 2012. 

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Blue Book comparison

Law librarian Mary Whishner, at the University of Washington, has written a comparison of the 3 formats of the Blue Book: print, online, and iPad/Phone/Pod app. Her article is on LLRX.  The cost of the print Bluebook is now $34 from the publisher, and it weighs 1 lb, 6 oz. A subscription to the online version, available at, is $32 for one year, $42 for two years, and $50 for three years. The app is a very recent option.  Users need to download the app Rulebook and then purchase the Bluebook content for $39.99.  

Friday 14 September 2012

PA Supreme Court one judge short

The Legal Intelligencer published an editorial this week, titled "Absence of Seventh Justice Impairs Court's Ability to Act," commenting on the current situation of the PA Supreme Court since Justice Joan Orie Melvin was suspended earlier this year. This leaves the Court with 6 justices, which is a concern because it is very possible that there will be 3-3 split decisions and default affirmation of appellate court rulings.  The editorial points out that the result of this is that the PA appellate courts - Superior Court and Commonwealth Court - may be the last stop in the state judicial process. Says the Intelligencer: "This is madness. Members of the appellate bar and law professors agree that the votes will effectively neutralize the Supreme Court in many cases and leave in place rulings that litigants believe are dubious at best."

hat tip:  Joel Fishman

Thursday 13 September 2012

State Employee Labor Laws

The teachers' strike in Chicago has prompted a post on the The Thicket blog called "Education Labor Laws in Light of Chicago Teachers' Strike".  The Thicket is a blog that is maintained by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), and the post talks about differences in state labor laws that affect teachers.  The author also links to a database maintained by the NCSL called the Collective Bargaining and Labor Union Database that tracks state legislation on unions and collective bargaining. 

Mobile Apps for Law Students

A law librarian at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law has put together a great research guide called "Mobile Apps for Law Students". Many are free; others range in price from a few dollars to as much as $499.99 for a bar prep app.  The apps are categorized as:

  • Study Aids
  • Reference
  • Productivity 
  • News
  • Career
  • Bar Exam
  • Practice
  • Ohio
  • Federal
Thanks to Karen Schneiderman at CSU for creating the resource. 

Monday 10 September 2012

New and Improved Legislative Source Book

The Law Librarians' Society of Washington D.C. (LLSDC) has provided the terrific online resource "Legislative Source Book" since 2000.  Now the site has been restructured and updated to make it even better; the content has been divided into more manageable general categories: Research Guides and Explanations, Resource Lists & Links, Tables of Information, and Other. It's a thorough guide for any sort of legislative research.      

Friday 7 September 2012

Online Academy of Teaching and Learning Law

Vickie Eggers, a librarian who is the Director of Faculty Support & Distance Education at Cooley Law School in Michigan, has developed an excellent website called the ONLINE ACADEMY of Teaching & Learning Law. This valuable resource collects videos and articles about legal education in the categories teaching, learning, thinking, outcomes, assessment, skills, law practice, and technology.  The site focuses on law school pedagogy and curriculum, with a focus on educational methodology.  

Wednesday 5 September 2012

sundown for Ref Works

A note from the University of Pittsburgh's library system has reminded us that they are not renewing their RefWorks subscription. Here's what they say: "After much consideration, the University Library System (ULS) has decided to not renew its subscription to the RefWorks citation management tool. The ULS subscription to RefWorks will end on September 30, 2012. Citation managers have evolved, and there are new, powerful tools available. The University Library System (ULS) looked at what citation management tools were used by the University of Pittsburgh faculty and students, and tested several other tools to see which might help our patrons make the most out of our resources for their research. The ULS will be offering training for two of these tools, Endnote and Mendeley, beginning in September 2012. The ULS will be reaching out to RefWorks account holders in several ways. The ULS will contact account holders via email to let them know of the subscription deadline. If you have already exported your citations or completed your research, please disregard this message. If you are still using RefWorks, the ULS is prepared to provide support during this time of transition in the form of online guides and one-on-one support." The ULS has created an online guide with instructions helping users to save and move their RefWorks collections to other citation management tools. The online guide Transitioning from RefWorks @ Pitt is available at"