Wednesday 27 March 2013

FDsys access: is "cost recovery" a possibility?

The folks over at the Free Government Information blog report that Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks has written a letter responding to  the group CASSANDRA about the recent report Rebooting the Government Printing Office: Keeping America Informed in the Digital Age by the National Association of Public Administration (NAPA) (166 page pdf). The report recommends that GPO should consider "cost recovery" for access to FDsys . The Response from Vance-Cooks says that GPO has "no intention of charging public users a fee to access content available through FDsys. GPO remains committed to no-fee access to FDsys for the public as part of our mission of Keeping America Informed." FGI says that this is good news, "but we have to temper our enthusiasm with the realization that GPO's ability to meet its intentions will inevitably be dictated by Congress and its budget."  See also FGI's post NAPA releases report on GPO.

Teaching students to still the mind cultivate attention

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting article about a course offered at the University of Washington Information School called "Information and Contemplation".  Taught by Professor David Levy, the course description says that it explores contemplative practice techniques such as meditation and contemplative reading to help students learn about "stilling the mind and cultivating attention", and to critique the speedy, fragmented, and inattentive mind states that digital technologies seem to encourage.

Wednesday 20 March 2013

Maps for librarians

ALA's MAGIRT (Map & Geospatial Information Round Table) recently held its first webinar called "Care and Feeding of Maps: Tips for Managing Your Map Collection". The webinar, which has a lot of information on map librarianship, is now available online. An excellent bibliography/resource guide on storing and managing maps is also available online (2 page pdf). 6 month review

The Law Librarians of Congress have posted a review/update about the website that was launched in beta 6 months ago. Since that time they have made a number of improvements and updates, including the addition of the Congressional Record and a "status of legislation" graphic that lets you know what's going on with your favorite bills. The review is well worth reading (not least because it was written by Andrew Weber, one of the law librarians of Congress and a Pitt Law grad).

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Mobile device charger

The Barco Law Library now has a charging station for mobile devices like cellphones and tablets. There are 8 different charging ends that work with most mobile devices. The station is in the Fawcett Student Commons on the 4th floor, right next to the Panther Funds machine.

Laptop locks now available in Barco

At the suggestion of students, the Barco Law Library now has laptop locks available for students to borrow. These Kensington laptop locks utilize the security slot found on most laptops, and have a strong cable to secure laptops to a heavy stationary object (most of the study tables and carrels in the library have laptop anchors designed for this purpose). The locks are available only to Pitt Law students and can be borrowed for a 4 hour period.  For more info, ask at the library desk.

Thursday 7 March 2013

New JSTOR beta search

Today JSTOR released a new “Beta Search,” with a redesigned interface and a new search engine. The new search is also accessible from a link on it is in beta testing it is in parallel with the existing search options to avoid disrupting regular research workflows on the site. During the beta period JSTOR wants to gather feedback and make further improvements, focusing development efforts in these areas:
 • Refining the new interface: facets that allow easy narrowing/broadening of searches
• Improving relevance rankings: results that more closely match your search terms
• Incorporating new features, including auto-suggested search terms and spell checking
• Enhancing the search results view to support evaluation of relevance: preview article and book details directly from the search results list
 One  feature of the new Beta Search is the application of “topic modeling” to enhance discovery of content. Unlike standard searching on JSTOR where searches can be focused only within disciplines assigned at the journal level, the Beta Search uses text analysis techniques to automatically assign one or more topics to an article. The goal is to help searchers find relevant content that may be outside of their main disciplinary area.
There's more info about Beta Search on the JSTOR website

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Livening up presentations in the courtroom

Law Technology News has an interesting article about how lawyers can make their presentations in the courtroom more interesting and "interactive".  The problem is that jurors get bored sitting in their box  "as the day drags on you can see it weighing on the jurors, as more and more of them slouch or stare at the ground or cast repeated glances at the courtroom clock." The author has several tips about techniques lawyers can use to keep the attention of everyone in the room. These include using everything from magnetic boards to ELMOs, barcode readers, and using an iPad in conjunction with AppleTV and trial presentation apps. Even more advanced (and expensive) options include the Magic Wall, a Microsoft screen with a touchscreen and other hightech options.

Legal Work of the War Department, 1 July 1940 - 31 March 1945

The Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress has just posted an interesting new (but historic) document to their website. The document is called "Legal Work of the War Department 1 July 1940 - 31 March 1945: A History of the Judge Advocate General's Department" (382 page pdf) and was prepared and published by the Office of the Judge Advocate General. The report tells of how the Office worked during WWII, with increased duties and responsiblities, reorganization of the office, and the addition of new divisions and branches. It includes chapters on Contracts, Litigation, Patents, Tax Problems and International Law. And it even includes a subchapter on the expansion of the law libraries during the war (see page 27/382).