Wednesday 30 January 2013

Google maps North Korea

Yesterday Google revised its Google Maps app to add information on North Korea. Using crowdsourcing -the assistance of "citizen cartographers" with knowledge of North Korean geography - Google was able to fill in some of North Korea's streets... and prison camps. No Street View is available, however.

New, revised American FactFinder

The new online version of American FactFinder was released this week with some big improvements. There are two new search tools designed to make searching easy: 1) Community Facts, which lets you find data about a single geography (city, town, county, etc.), and 2) Guided Search, which lets you choose, in this order a) topics, and/or b) geographies, and/or c) race/ethnic group for People, Housing, and Business/Industry. For users who've had experience using the previous Factfinder it also has the options of d) search by dataset and e) search by table number or table title. Users who've had experience using the previous Factfinder will recognize Advanced Search as the previous Factfinder; and advanced users who download data have the option of using Download Options. The information and help links are very informative.

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Thomson Reuters Legal Solutions

Law Librarian Jason Wilson and the Law Librarian Blog have both pointed out that Thomson Reuters appears to be rebranding Westlaw as "Legal Solutions".  The tipoff came from a url redirect from that now goes to; watch the rather anxiety-producing video to learn more about how they provide a "better way forward" in dealing with "the new reality".  

LexisNexis Academic webinars

LexisNexis Academic has been redesigned with students in mind, and is providing the following upcoming webinars in February and March:
1. LexisNexis Academic: general training

2.  LexisNexis Academic - Business:  This seminar focuses on business resources and Company Dossier.  

3. LexisNexis Academic - Legal Research: This session will concentrate specifically on conducting legal research.

 LexisNexis Academic - News This webinar will show how to search current hot topics in the news, as well as archival news information and tailor search results to fit your needs.

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Bookscanner updated

The library's Zeutschel Zeta bookscanner has been updated with new software so that it provides even better scans and an easier interface. The Zeta is available for any Pitt Law student or faculty to use at no charge; all you need is a flash drive for saving your scans. Chris Todd has provided updated instructions with screenshots. But - if you want to scan flat documents - the flatbed scanners, located near the ref desk, are probably a better option. These scanners are connected to the internet so you don't need a flash drive, you can email the scans to yourself. If you need help with the scanners any of the library staff can assist you.

Friday 18 January 2013

New article asks: should law profs have a CPE requirement?

A new article available on SSRN poses the question "Should Law Professors Have a Continuing Practice Experience (CPE) Requirement?". The article, by Emily Zimmerman of Drexel University, points out that lawyers in most jurisdictions have CLE requirements. She says that perhaps, in the face of recent criticism of legal education and the esoteric research done by legal scholars, law profs should be required to have Continuing Practice Experience. She also considers what types of activity would count towards CPE requirements and how much should be required.

Wednesday 16 January 2013

Library catalogs and fiction

The U. Chicago Magazine recently had an article called "The Problem With Metadata" - a topic close to every librarian's heart. The author talks about the inadequacies of the Library of Congress Classification System in finding subject terms to describe fictional works. These terms are meant to distill the "aboutness" of a book; not easy to do elegantly when you are trying to describe a novel in a few words. But the author also points out that the more expansive brave new world of using keywords as metadata to help locate fictional works has its problems as well. He's been following how the New Yorker attaches keywords to its articles to make them findable: "On a weekly basis, I’m amused and baffled by the metadata attached to the short stories on the New Yorker’s website... The task of trying to reduce the ineffable qualities of fiction to streams of keywords feels at once charming and childish, like trying to capture moonlight in a jar." As an example, he says, "The three keywords for Alice Munro’s “A Wilderness Station” (Canada; Letters; Murder) are comically insufficient at summarizing a story about guilt, accusation, and suppres-sion that stretches across decades."

Lexis to shutter MB plant in Albany

The Albany Times Union reports that LexisNexis plans to close its Matthew Bender publishing plant in Albany by the end of 2014. The Matthew Bender company was founded in Albany in 1887 and "has long been a centerpiece of the Capital Region's business and philanthropic community." The article says that Matthew Bender publications will continue to be offered to customers.

Monday 14 January 2013

Pitt to begin password change requirement

Attention Pitt readers: the University Times reports that beginning soon all Pitt account holders will be required to change their passwords every 180 days. That is twice a year if you do the math. Also, passwords will now be required to contain 8-14 characters, and must include one number and one special character. Pitt's computer people recommend using of KeePass Password Safe, a tool that allows you to keep a database of all your passwords guarded by one master password.

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Help with New Year's resolutions

TechCrunch offers an article on the best health and fitness gadgets and apps for helping with New Year's resolutions. These range from fancy watchlike devices that track your heartrate etc. to apps that motivate you to diet and exercise. These run from the Beekeeper app makes you pay $ if you don't reach goals you set for yourself to Zombies, Run, an app that has zombies chase you while you are jogging or using a treadmill. Unfortunately they haven't figured out a way around the need to eat less, exercise more yet.

2012 Year End Report on Federal Judiciary

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has issued his "2012 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary," focusing on efforts by the federal courts to contain costs. Justice Roberts says "The Judiciary has been doing its part to carefully manage its tiny portion of the federal budget. Because the Judiciary has already pursued cost-containment so aggressively, it will become increasingly difficult to economize further without reducing the quality of judicial services. Virtually all of the Judiciary’s core functions are constitutionally and statutorily required. Unlike executive branch agencies, the courts do not have discretionary programs they can eliminate or projects they can postpone. The courts must resolve all criminal and civil cases that fall within their jurisdiction, often under tight time constraints. A significant and prolonged shortfall in judicial funding would inevitably result in the delay or denial of justice for the people the courts serve."

Improved site for History, Art & Archives of the U.S. House of Representatives

The (U.S. House of Representatives) House Historian and the House Clerk's Office of Art and Archives have a redesigned website. Together, the offices serve as the House’s institutional memory, a resource for Members, staff, and the general public. The site contains a wealth of information about the House of Representatives. For example, there is a page dedicated to the famous Bean Soup served in the House restaurant, including its history, the recipe from 1955, a video in which a former House page talks about his first encounter with the soup, and images of the entire 1955 House menu. Images, videos, oral histories, as well as plenty of pdf fact sheets about Congress are all available. There is an interactive map of the U.S. where you can find out facts about state representation. An information specialist at the CRS points out that it is "a great source for lists such as "Saturday and Sunday Sessions" and "Presidential Vetoes"."
The site has a basic search box and excellent finding aids and options allowing the user to recommend, share, print, and cite the content.