Monday 30 November 2015

Amendments to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in effect 12/1/15

On Dec. 1, 2015, new amendments for the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure go into effect for the first time since 2010. The amendments will encompass changes to Rules 1, 4, 16, 26, 30, 31, 33, 34, 37, 55, and 84. The Supreme Court, through these amendments, emphasizes a policy of reducing inefficiency, transaction costs, time in litigation, and side litigation on discovery or other procedural issues. While the amendments are not major in the sense that they do not establish completely new procedures, they do encourage litigants and the district courts to reduce discovery abuses and costs. The amendments also further clarify issues regarding the proliferation of electronically stored information and its discovery. Law 360 has an article previewing the impact of some key amendments governing discovery. 

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Search engine for Wayback

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation has announced that it’s donating $1.9 million to develop a search engine for the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. The search engine will allow researchers, historians, and others to retrieve data and information from the billions of webpages and websites stored in the Wayback Machine and will ensure that there is a comprehensive, open record of the Internet that is accessible to all.

Tuesday 24 November 2015

LexisNexis buys Lex Machina

The legal research community is abuzz about the acquisition of Lex Machina by LexisNexis. According to Bloomberg BNA news, Lex Machina, founded in 2010, provides analytics primarily around IP litigation. It crawls PACER, the USPTO and the ITC's EDIS databases, capturing data about judges, lawyers, parties and patents to inform lawyers’ litigation strategy, according to the company’s web site. With the transaction, which closed on Friday, Lex Machina will retain its management structure and name. Effective immediately, it has become a wholly owned subsidiary of LexisNexis, according to Lex Machina CEO Josh Becker. Bob Ambrogi at Law Sites Blog has been following the story. He interviewed a VP at LexisNexis who says that Lex Machinas analytics technology will develop in several directions - likely areas of development include other areas of federal court litigation such as securities and bankruptcy. He also sees Lex Machina being used to help power and enhance other LexisNexis products like Lexis Advance and Patent Advisor. 

The Statutes at Large Modernization Act

On November 16, 2015, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass) and Rep. David Brat (R-VA) introduced H.R. 4006, The Statutes at Large Modernization Act, calling for the digitization of entire run of the United States Statutes at Large. According the Rep. Brat's press release the act is "essential in ensuring the federal government is accountable to the American people." The aim of the legislation is to "ensure that Americans have easy access to the entire legal history of the United States by putting it online." The legislation is an acknowledgement that our federal government is dependent on an informed public. The Law Library of Congress has already made a version of the Statutes at Large available, but, according to Rep. Brat's office blog post, "The Law Library of Congress has published the Statutes at Large in a text-over-PDF format. It does not, however, include adequately defined and embedded data elements that enable advanced search functions, machine readability, and other useful options. It's a good start, but it isn't the modern, authoritative version we need." The legislation call for the new digitization process to be overseen by the Archivist at the National Archives and specifies a budget of $5M per year for the next five years. Leading groups working to improve government transparency have endorsed this bill including the Sunlight Foundation, R Street Institute, Demand Progress, Liberty Coalition, Data Transparency Coalition,, and Niskanen Center.

hat tip:  Richard Leiter

Wednesday 18 November 2015

HSDL blog compiles informational resources on Islamic State

The Homeland Security Digital Library has prepared a collection of information resources called Paris and the Threat of the Islamic State: Background and Context.

GPO enhances Ben's Guide to the U.S. Government

The Government Publishing Office has completely updated the "Ben's Guide" website, which explains how the government works for children of all ages. The enhancements include a glossary that includes over 80 terms and definitions; downloadable, printable activities that include Word Searches and Crossword Puzzles; and a graphic that libraries can use to link to the site.

Tuesday 17 November 2015

SuDocs libguide (attention library cataloging nerds)

Librarian Kelly Smith at the U.C. San Diego has created a new LibGuide that she hopes will be of some use to other librarians and users. Called "Browse Federal Documents by Call Number", the guide’s primary purpose is to allow users to browse UCSD’s federal documents collection by call number. However, it goes beyond that by including call numbers that are not in UCSD's collection – essentially, it’s an historical list of SuDocs assigned to agencies over the years. There’s also a companion guide that sorts the agencies by name and leads users to the associated SuDocs number. If you find cataloging fascinating - and what librarian doesn't? - it's a great guide to finding SuDoc numbers but more importantly it's fun to browse alphabetically to see all the federal agencies that have put out documents over the years.

Monday 9 November 2015

webinar: Learn to navigate UN data information sources

There is a webinar this Wednesday Nov. 11, 2015 from noon - 1 pm called Making Peace with United Nations Data: Learn to navigate UN data information sources. This comes to us from the "Help! I'm an Accidental Government Documents Librarian" folks in the North Carolina Library Association. The description: "Learn where agencies and key initiatives store their data in the United Nation’s many repositories. This program will examine and differentiate between information sources at the United Nations Statistics Division,, UN Libraries and Information Centers. We will discuss where to find country, demographic and trade data in addition to how to field basic UN-related reference questions. The program will also briefly discuss the UN’s data visualization efforts in Comtrade and statistics promotion through World Statistics Day. Join this webinar to learn new reference sources for data and programming ideas for your college and university community."
 Register at this link. If you can't make the webinar they will send the recording to all registrants.

Friday 6 November 2015

Open access and subscription database skirmishes

Two kerfuffles pitting subscription databases against open access academia took place over the last week. First, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports, in an article titled "Subscription Scare Fuels Worries Over Who Controls Data That Scholars Need," that database giant ProQuest was involved in a controversy with the Renaissance Society of America. Scholars who make up the Society were upset when ProQuest suddenly cancelled their subscription to an important collection of early Englist texts. Access was eventually restored but "it was also clear that the episode had touched a nerve among those who think about the future of scholarly research. 'What really enrages me about this is not that ProQuest is for-profit," said one English scholar. "The problem is that by prioritizing profits over access it is really contributing to major barriers for the research in the field".
A few days later, Inside Higher Education had a story titled "Elsevier Battle Escalates", reporting that the entire editorial board and editorial staff of the journal Lingua had resigned to protest Elsevier's policies on pricing and its refusal to convert the journal to an open-access publication that would be free online.
Inside Higher Ed reports that "While Elsevier has faced protest resignations in the past, this one has people talking, including people in the corporate world, not just the academic world"... evidenced by the fact that Fortune magazine has a recent story called Elsevier Mutiny: Cracks Are Widening in the Fortress of Academic Publishing.'"

Friday Fun: Pronunciation Quiz

The ABA Journal has a Pronunciation Quiz to help you find out if you've been pronouncing some difficult-to-pronounce words properly or improperly all you life (chicanery, anyone?).

Law Librarian of Congress discusses Harvard/Ravel Law Project

In Custodia Legis, the blog of the Law Librarians of Congress, recently posted that Roberta Shaffer, who is currently Acting Law Librarian of Congress, has praised the recently announced collaboration between Harvard Law and Ravel Law. The "Free the Law" project plans to make over 40 million pages of US caselaw available for free online, according to Robert Ambrogi. Ms. Shaffer said that "she looked forward to exploring ways the Law Library of Congress can contribute to innovative projects such as this one", adding that "greater collaboration among institutions on projects like this would not only avoid duplication of effort, but also provide an opportunity for institutions around the world to contribute content from their unique, multi-faceted collections to create a “coral reef of knowledge” that encompasses a variety of subject-matter disciplines."

Wednesday 4 November 2015

New Bloomberg Law Privacy & Data Security center

Bloomberg Law has a new Privacy and Data Security practice center available on its website, with interesting new ways of presenting information with interactive tools and visually attractive graphic displays. Legal research on the topic can be challenging because privacy and data security are global issues. The Bloomberg Privacy & Data Security product offers tools to simplify the research. Each country has very different regulatory schemes. BBNA uses big data technology to aggregate and normalize regulations and laws from around the globe, "attempting to shrink the problem of global research and add transparency". The product is organized into four main functional areas Stay Current for news, Research for primary sources, Advise for specialized insights , Plan & Execute for drafting policies. The product offers some terrific On the home page there is an interactive news “heat map” which shows were specific issues are “hot” around the globe.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Amazon opens physical bookstore

The Verge reports on Amazon opening its first physical bookstore in Seattle this week. The store's name - wait for it - Amazon Books. It's in Seattle, near the University of Washington. The store will rely on Amazon's website data, including customer reviews and popularity, to decide which books to stock; and books are displayed "cover out" rather than "spine out". The store also carries Amazon devices: Kindle, Fire TV, Fire tablet.

Monday 2 November 2015

NYT major story on arbitration in the US

The front page story in the Sunday New York Times yesterday was a lengthy article titled "In Arbitration, a Privatization of the Justice System". The article says that "Over the last 10 years, thousands of businesses across the country — from big corporations to storefront shops — have used arbitration to create an alternate system of justice. There, rules tend to favor businesses, and judges and juries have been replaced by arbitrators who commonly consider the companies their clients, The Times found." The article has a great deal of supporting stories and information that leads them to conclude that "it has meant that tens of millions of Americans have lost a fundamental right: their day in court."