Thursday 30 April 2015

Members of Congress: preservation of files

The Library of Congress has an interesting article in "The Signal: Digital Preservation" newsletter, titled "Helping Congress Archive Their Personal Digital Files."  The article points out that "official records" are defined by House and Senate rules as any records, regardless of format, that are created or received in the course of the business conducted by congressional committees. These official committee records are eventually transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration and preserved. However, papers from a Member's congressional office are outside the scope of official records; Members maintain ownership of records created in the course of their congressional service, are responsible for effectively managing them, and determine the ultimate disposition of these papers. Members’ papers comprise both textual and electronic records and include things like personal notes, legislative research files, photos and correspondence with constituents. Members are encouraged to properly preserve these documents on their own, with guidance provided by the House and Senate archivists.

Wednesday 29 April 2015

LIPA launches digitization project registry

The LIPA (Legal Information Preservation Alliance) Digital Inventory Task Group has launched the Survey on Digitization Projects. The survey is available and open to all LIPA, NELLCO, and MALLCO members.
The information gathered from this survey will allow LIPA to build a registry of digitization projects in order to share expertise, avoid duplication of effort, and publicize and promote the work of LIPA members. Focused on member projects with existing ties, it hopes to enhance collaboration and identify ways to support the digitization efforts of LIPA members. Building an inventory of digitization projects will also position LIPA to participate and coordinate with other digitization registries. The Task Group's goal is to make initial data available this summer and to continue to work on the infrastructure.

Saturday 25 April 2015

Georgetown Law designs firm to help low-income individuals

Georgetown Law has announced that it has teamed up with law firms DLA Piper and Arent Fox to create a new nonprofit law firm designed to help low-income individuals with their civil law needs. Named the D.C. Affordable Law Firm (DCALF), it will be a nonprofit low bono law firm that will provide affordable, high quality legal services to D.C. residents who do not qualify for free legal aid and to small businesses and nonprofits in the District. The anticipated opening date is October 2015. The firm will be staffed by 6 Georgetown Law graduates; the law school will provide them with 15-month fellowships to work at the firm, and will offer a cost-free LLM program for them. The law firms will provide attorneys to act as mentors as well as free office space.

Friday 24 April 2015

Online Privacy: international report

A recent report from the Global Commission on Internet Governance states that online privacy protection should be built around a “social compact” that will safeguard the digital economy by boosting security and trust in internet services.  More specifically, the report suggest that a a balance between privacy and security should be struck by ensuring robust rules around surveillance, including adherence to the principles of necessity and proportionality, while promoting international cooperation in the face of cybersecurity threats. The Global Commission on Internet Governance is a panel of lawmakers, officials, academics and other specialists established by think tanks the Centre for International Governance Innovation and Chatham House, and led by Carl Bildt, a former prime minister of Sweden.

Thursday 16 April 2015

Update on HathiTrust govdocs

The latest Update on HathiTrust Activities  announces that the US Federal Government Documents Initiative report is now available, reporting on the status of the Hathi govdocs initiative as well as recommendations for future action and development of the govdocs program. This report, as well as the Program Steering Committee report, have been published online so that the wider community can be informed of discussions and planning.  More information on the US Federal Government Documents Initiative, including information about the Advisory Group and some Frequently Asked Questions , can be found on the HathiTrust website.

Wednesday 15 April 2015

ABA Techshow starts tomorrow

ABA Techshow takes place in Chicago April 16-18. For those of us who aren't able to attend, Attorney at Work has a "Scouting Report" on some of the highlights.  

Tuesday 14 April 2015

A brief history of technology and law

The ABA Journal recently had an article titled "100 innovations in law" that gave an interesting history of how the evolution of technology has changed the law, and the way law is practiced, over the years. The examples range from the earliest use of shorthand in 63 BC to cameras, DNA testing, the LSAT, computers, geolocation and space law!

Monday 13 April 2015

National Bridge Inventory

Pittsburgh is sometimes called the City of Bridges, so you might think that bridges are a topic of interest here. Unfortunately, the Federal Highway Administrations webpages about bridges are eye-glazingly boring - though with some effort you can find an excel spreadsheet that tells you that Allegheny County has 1,267 bridges, which is way more than any other county in PA.
However, Congressional Quarterly has kindly provided an interactive map called "National Bridge Inventory - Deficient Bridges"  that takes the data and makes it interesting and easy to see where the worst bridges are located, state-wise. The good news is that Massachusetts and Rhode Island have more deficient bridges than PA (the annual National Bridge Inventory identifies deficient bridges across the nation. According to the FHWA, structurally deficient bridges, though not inherently unsafe, have been identified through inspection and rated to be in poor condition. Functionally obsolete bridges are those that do not conform to updated design standards.) The bad news is that PA is in the second-to-worst of 5 categories.  

Sunday 12 April 2015

National Holidays and the national pasttime

The Law Library of Congress has a recent blogpost about how national holidays come to be... and whether Opening Day of baseball season for any team might become a national holiday. The short answer is: probably not, unless you could somehow get everyone behind the idea. Even with the Pittsburgh diaspora the Pirates probably don't have enough support...

Saturday 11 April 2015

JSTOR now has ebooks

JSTOR, the well-known database for academic journals in many subject areas, now has books available to Pitt users for a limited time. To see what they have, go to the main JSTOR page and click on the link at the top for BROWSE, by Subject. The list of Subjects includes General Law, and you can access an alphabetical list of titles available by clicking on the "Law" link. You can read the books on line or download them.
JSTOR is also offering online webinars for librarians on using the JSTOR ebooks platform as well as purchasing options for libraries. These half-hour webinars will be held on 4-27-15, 5-12-15, and 5-27-15; registration is free on the JSTOR website. 

Thursday 9 April 2015

Report on privacy laws and student data

A new report from the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) has found that the computer technology that enables school districts to aggregate, collate, analyze and store massive amounts of student information – and the heavy reliance on private contractors to help manage that information collection, analysis and storage – pose significant concerns about the privacy rights of students. The report concludes that there need to be guidelines and policies to provide stronger privacy protection for students and their families.
The entire report, titled On the Block: Student Data and Privacy in the Digital Age (49 page pdf), can be downloaded from the NEPC website. 

Barco Librarian is Where in the World Winner!

Congratulations to Karen Shephard, Barco's Information Services Librarian, for winning Hein's monthly "where in the world" contest this month! Her prize: a Hein Where in the World t-shirt.

Monday 6 April 2015

Three random cool things

These cool tools might be useful for the law school community.... in a tangential kind of way.
1. Volvo's Life Paint for bikers.  If you bike, watch the video.
2. Periscope, an app for your phone, was recently bought by Twitter.  It's a live-streaming video app that lets you see what anybody in the world is looking at. Read about in MIT Technology Review. Give it a whirl.
3. If you're thinking of binge-watching on a rainy day, Slashgear provides Nielsen infographics on how long it will take to binge-watch some of the favorite binge shows. 

Saturday 4 April 2015

The law school library/laboratory

Sarah Glassmeyer (CALI) has written an excellent blog post for Slaw, the legal online magazine from Canada. Titled "The Law School Laboratory", she wrote it in response to an article on Above the Law that basically dissed law school libraries as obsolete money sinks. Aargh!
Sarah's response includes some basic facts:
- "While, in the above example, the library budget is increasing by 2%, I can almost guarantee that its material costs are going up 10% or more. Annually.
- The subscription databases that are “replacing libraries” are actually paid for from the library budget. They are not a competitor to the library, but rather they are a digital branch of it.
- Yes, even books are on the databases. But not all are. Also, depending on the agreement with the database vendors, they may or may not be accessible to members of the public. As many academic law libraries are open to the public and are a filler of the Access to Justice, it’s important that the library has resources available to them.
- Everything is not on the Internet. Not even close."
She also points out that librarians work very hard to make legal research as smooth and seamless as possible - which unfortunately means what we do doesn't get noticed - because we want it to be invisible!