Tuesday 30 September 2014

Congress dot gov out of beta

The Library of Congress has announced that the Congress.gov website is officially out of beta. There are also several new features and improvements:
Congress.gov Resources A new resources section providing an A to Z list of hundreds of links related to Congress
An expanded list of "most viewed" bills each day, archived to July 20, 2014
House Committee Hearing Videos Live streams of House Committee hearings and meetings, and an accompanying archive to January, 2012
Advanced Search Support for 30 new fields, including nominations, Congressional Record and name of member

Friday 26 September 2014

Bestlaw extension for Chrome browser

A new browser extension for the Chrome browser has been developed by a Berkeley law student. It's called Bestlaw and it "adds features to Westlaw Next to make legal research more efficient, cost-effective and enjoyable".  Once you install it on your Chrome browser, it adds an unobtrusive toolbar to your Westlaw Next.  Then when you pull up a case, it offers some features that are useful:
Copy a perfect Bluebook citation with one click
Clean, readable view
Automatically-generated table of contents
Quick link to jump to footnotes
One-click copying for citations, titles, and full text
Collapse and expand statutory sections
Find the document on free sources like CourtListener, Cornell LII, Casetext, and Google Scholar
Prevent getting automatically signed off
Share the document by email or on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
It's a neat little extension and the creator, Joe Mornin, says he is working on one for Lexis.

hat tip: Sallie Smith

Fastcase partners with Clio

Fastcase, the legal research database, has announced that it is partnering with Clio, the time tracking practice management software.  By integrating the two,  legal professionals can track time spent researching without focusing attention away from the task at hand. From inside Fastcase, you can now select from clients and matters in Clio, start a timer for your research session, and record the activity automatically in Clio. According to the announcement, "In addition to the smarter research already provided by Fastcase, this partnership means more billable time and less administrative time, more accurate invoices, and more time for you".

Thursday 25 September 2014

Title 52 of the US Code

The Office of the Law Revision Counsel recently announced new Title 52 of the United States Code (U.S.C.),  Voting and Elections. According to the OLRC, provisions relating to voting and elections are being transferred from Titles 2 and 42 into the new Title 52. The transfers are necessary and desirable to create a well organized, coherent structure for this body of law and to improve the overall organization of the United States Code. No statutory text is altered. The provisions are merely being relocated from one place to another in the Code. The transfers in the online version of the US Code occurred on Sept. 1, 2014. For the printed version, the transfers will occur with supplement II of the 2012 edition of the US Code. Westlaw's US Code Annotated included the changes online on Sept. 3, and Lexis and Bloomberg Law online also have the new Title 52. 

Wednesday 24 September 2014

More on laptops in the classroom

The Chronicle of Higher Education Conversation blog has an interesting post titled "Don't Ban Laptops in the Classroom."
The theme of the post is this:   "In the classroom as everywhere else, we must learn how to exercise control over our distraction impulse—not by some imposed rule, but by our own choice. Banning laptops—removing our choice to distract ourselves—is giving up on students, isn’t it?"

Tuesday 23 September 2014

law student annual technology survey

Every year for the past 11 years Rich McCue at the University of Victoria (BC) law school conducts a survey of law students asking about their use of technology. Here are this fall's results:
• Smartphones: 100% of incoming law students surveyed own "Smartphones" that can browse the internet (up from 96% last year and 50% four years ago), with 56% of the total being iPhones, 30% Android and 0% Blackberry. New law students are primarily using their mobile devices for directions, email, and looking up schedules & contact information.
• Tablet & eBook ownership has doubled in the past two years with 59% of students owning tablet devices or ebook readers, up from 31% two years ago. iPads make up 53% of those tablets. 35% of tablet owners bring it to school every day. Faculties should endeavour to provide course pack and textbooks in eBook formats for students.
• Videoconferencing: 100% of students use Skype for real-time audio/video calls and collaboration. 48% use Apple Facetime and 17% use Google Hangouts.
• Email: 62% of students use Gmail as their primary email account, and 4% use UVic email. To check their @uvic.ca email, 56% forward their email to another service, and 28% use the UVic webmail interface. Over the past few years many students have complained at lack of storage space and antiquated @Uvic.ca email interface for students.
 • Document Sharing: 77% of students use Google Drive for collaborative document editing, and 62% use Dropbox, both up significantly from last year.
• Social Media: 92% of students use Facebook (down from 97% two years ago), 31% user Twitter, 19% LinkedIn, and 3% don’t use online social networks. In spite of some negative comments about social media, 79% of students used social media to connect with other students before the start of the school year.
• Laptops: 100% of students own laptops. 54% of laptops are Macs, up from 49% two years ago. 46% use Windows. 54% of students bring their laptops to school on a daily basis and 8% never bring them to school.
• Note Taking: 71% of students use laptops to take class notes, 92% use pen and paper, 8% use tablets and 8% use cell phones.
Consideration should be given to discussing the potential drawbacks associated with using laptops for transcription style class notes in a first year class, and faculty members should explore ways to creatively use personal technology to engage students more deeply during class time.
The full report is available online. 

Friday 19 September 2014

First digital-only Federal Depository Library

The Government Printing Office and the Federal Depository Library Program recently welcomed the newest Federal depository library, Sitting Bull College, of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, serving the people of North and South Dakota. The library is the Federal Depository Library to opt for digital-only publications. Sitting Bull College is building a digital collection to meet their community's need for access to Federal information. Any selective depository now has this same option. GPO recognizes the number of libraries interested in hosting and providing access to digital content continues to increase as the information community moves toward more digital collections. Libraries that participate in the FDLP are required under law to provide free public access to and assistance in using depository resources.

PACER documents news

The Washington Post reports  that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has a plan to restore online access to the PACER documents that were removed. The AALL is following this closely and will be following up to clarify the Post's information, including whether or not the restoration will include entire case files or just the docket sheets. 

PA legislators pass UELMA

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved SB 601, a bill adopting the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA). The bill's purpose is:
"Amending Titles 44 (Law and Justice) and 45 (Legal Notices) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, modernizing publication of Commonwealth legal materials; providing for uniformity in electronic legal materials in the areas of designation, authentication, preservation and access; conferring powers and duties on various Commonwealth agencies; and, in publication and effectiveness of Commonwealth documents, further providing for definitions, for the Joint Committee on Documents, for general administration, for payment for documents, for distribution of publication expenses, for effect of future legislation, for publication of official codification, for deposit of  documents required, for processing of deposited documents, for preliminary publication in Pennsylvania Bulletin, for permanent supplements to Pennsylvania Code, for pricing and distribution of published documents, for automatic subscriptions, for required contractual arrangements, for official text of published documents, for effective date of documents and for presumptions created."
The bill is now on to Governor Corbett's desk, where hopefully it will be signed into law. Kudos to Patricia Fox, the Western Pennsylvania Law Library Association (WPLLA) and the Greater Philadelphia Law Library Association (GPLLA) for their successful advocacy.
 To keep up with the status of UELMA bills in the states,  see AALL's bill tracking chart.

Wednesday 3 September 2014

CALI Time Trial II

Did you enjoy playing with your CALI Time Trial cards last year? Or did you go directly to the fiendishly captivating online version, available on the CALI website?  Well there is an all new set of Time Trial cards - available for free at the Barco Law Library desk. And it's also available again online.  From the description:
Each card represents a significant case, amendment or Supreme Court Justice. From the clues on the card determine the year of the case or the year the Justice was first appointed. Put the cards into ascending date order from left to right by dragging and dropping them to the left, right or between the cards in the top row. If a card turns red you've put it in the wrong spot. Shift it to the correct spot before placing the next card. The oldest played card will be discarded once there are five cards in play.
It's Educational and fun! And the music is pretty good too. 

More on the PACER brouhaha

There has been a fair bit of negative commentary about the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts recent announcement that a whole bunch of case dockets have been removed from PACER in preparation for their move to a new, updated system.  Jim Jacobs of FreeGovInfo has pointed out that "Neither PACER nor the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, which runs PACER, claims that the removal of court cases from PACER was accidental. There are always reasons and excuses and these are usually used to make it sound as if the agency responsible for the removal had no choice (or intention), but that is rarely the case. So far, we have heard two excuses from PACER: The "backwards compatibility" excuse and the "reason" that "the cases that were removed were closed and that many had not been accessed in several years.""
He also provides a link to an interesting article in Tech Dirt titled "PACER Officials Give Weak, Nonsensical Excuse For Why PACER Deleted Tons Of Public Court Records With No Notice" .  He closes by saying
Although digital preservation certainly does require attention and resources and skills, it is not *only* a question of skills or technologies. It is a question of who wants to save information and who does not. This is often a question of who will use the information. Agencies may have a different perspective on who their users are (or who their users might be) than libraries do. For me, and I hope for all of us, there should be one simple lesson from the removal of the PACER court case files: If a library wants to ensure preservation and access for digital information it can do so (can *only* do so) by getting that information and preserving it. Relying on the government to provide perpetual, free access to everything our users want is always going to fail at some point. The question is not "when" or "if" it will fail. The questions are "how much?" and "how soon?" and "who will be hurt by the loss?"