Monday 17 December 2018

article: "Law Schools are Bad for Democracy"

There is a lengthy article in the Chronicle of Higher Education Review today authored by Samuel Moyn, a professor at Yale Law School, with the title Law Schools are Bad for Democracy: They whitewash the grubby scramble for power.
The author spells out a number of shortcomings of what law schools do; he says "Law school allows for doing well. But does it allow for doing good?"
He then suggests that there are "two especially imperative fixes" that can help law schools change for the better:
The first involves how law schools prove to their newest entrants that the institutions really are the pluralistic spaces they nervously claim to be, rather than factories for mass conversion of pliant subjects into large-firm lawyers.... And for the sake of our national life, law schools must take up the duty of inculcating in their students and in the public a critical attitude toward the operations of "the rule of law" in general — including a critical attitude toward the routine exaltation of the judiciary...What is lacking in public discussions about law school is attention to what it means for legal elites to serve the democratic conversation about how the people rules itself. Rather than burnishing the credentials of law and its royal judicial stewards, we should insist on the centrality of the people in a democratic legal order."

Friday 14 December 2018

University of California takes on Elsevier journal subscription fees

Both the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Education have stories about how the University of California system is trying to leverage its massive amount of research output - almost 10% of the research output of the United States - to negotiate fees with academic publishing giant Elsevier. The UC system's five year subscription contract with Elsevier ends on December 31. In a letter to faculty, "campus officials asked faculty members to consider declining to review articles for Elsevier journals until negotiations 'are clearly moving in a productive direction.' The letter also asked professors to consider publishing research elsewhere, including in prestigious open-access journals. The California system wants to fundamentally alter how it pays for journal content from publishers like Elsevier and to accelerate open-access publishing in the process.

Data visualization: world population

The Pudding is a blog that uses visual essays to explain ideas debated in culture. A recent post is titled "Population Mountains" and looks at the population of the world in a 3D format so that big cities look like tall mountains. It's a very interesting perspective. As the author says, it can be "eye-opening to see how the world’s population is so unevenly distributed... What stands out is each city’s form, a unique mountain that might be like the steep peaks of lower Manhattan or the sprawling hills of suburban Atlanta. When I first saw a city in 3D, I had a feel for its population size that I had never experienced before."

hat tip: Pat Roncevich

Thursday 29 November 2018

Lexis announces Context on Lexis Advance

According to the announcement,
Context is a new kind of analytics tool that expands the power of legal research using industry-leading AI, language processing and data-mining technology to capture and analyze millions of case law documents so users can pinpoint the exact language a judge will find convincing and uncover an expert’s strengths and weaknesses through a few clicks versus hours of research.
And faculty now have early access to Context to check it out - in the hope that when faculty see how it works they will want to integrate it into the curriculum. Lexis suggests possible uses include advanced legal research, legal technology and skills related courses, clinics, judicial internships, moot court, and summer associate or prepare to practice workshops. Students will get access in January.
To access Context, sign in to Lexis Advance and select Context from the product grid in the upper left-hand corner. For an overview, you can download this flyer or watch this short video about the product on the Lexis YouTube channel.
In addition, Legaltech News has a review of Context with more info.

Friday 16 November 2018


GPO plans to retire GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) website and replace it with govinfo on Friday December 14, 2018. When the FDsys website is retired existing links will automatically redirect to govinfo. Other GPO websites will not be affected by the FDsys retirement.
There's more info about the transition on the govinfo website.

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Laws on Erasure of Online Information.

The Law Library of Congress has just published a report titled Laws on Erasure of Online Information (62 page pdf). This report describes the laws of twelve jurisdictions that have some form of remedy available enabling the removal of online data based on harm to individuals’ privacy or reputational interests, including but not limited to defamation. Six of the countries surveyed are within the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area, and therefore have implemented EU law. Five non-EU jurisdictions are also surveyed. A comparative summary is included. From the Summary:
"The right to erasure (right to be forgotten) forms part of the right to personal data protection, which is a fundamental right in the European Union. It is codified in article 17 of the General Data Protection Regulation, which intends to update and clarify the right to erasure for the digital age...The right to the protection of personal data is not an absolute right and must be balanced against other fundamental rights, such as the freedom of expression and information."

Friday 9 November 2018

A few Veteran's Day resources

Word War I documents from the Government Publishing Office (GPO):
The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) has digitized the 17-volume set, United States Army in the World War, 1917-1919, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the end of the conflict, and made it available on govinfo. Published in 1948, this publication compiles key documents, maps, and records for the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) from the start of the American involvement in World War I through the occupation of Germany. This publication offers a glimpse into the organization and operations of the AEF through primary source documents compiled by the Historical Division, U.S. Army.
WWII Office of Strategic Services maps website:
At Stanford University, the Branner Earth Sciences Map Library has mounted an exhibit about the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) maps that were created during World War II. the exhibit includes scans of 770 OSS maps as well as several reports and background and history regarding the OSS map making activities. The Office of Strategic Services was formed in June 1942 in response to the entry of the United States into World War II. This was a time of codification of efforts around the collection of intelligence information in order to more effectively understand and respond to the events of the day. This effort brought together a number of experts, many from academia including a large number of cartographers. These cartographers created maps on demand that either stood alone or were part of reports. The maps were eventually distributed through the Federal Depository Library Program to libraries throughout the United States. The best estimate is that 5,753 unique maps were produced of which Stanford Libraries holds over 700.

hat tip: James Jacobs

Tuesday 30 October 2018

GPO statute compilations

The FDLP has announced that the "Government Publishing Office (GPO) has released an initial set of 40 Statute Compilations as a pilot on govinfo, GPO’s website that offers public access to Federal Government information."
These are compilations of public laws that either do not appear in the U.S. Code or that have been classified to a title of the U.S. Code that has not been enacted into positive law. Each Statute Compilation incorporates the amendments made to the underlying statute since it was originally enacted.
When legislation cites or amends a statutory provision that is not part of a positive law title of the U.S. Code, the citation or amendment must be to the underlying statute, not to the U.S. Code. Statute Compilations are a useful drafting aid in these circumstances; however, they are not official documents and should not be cited as evidence of the law. The official version of Federal law is found in the United States Statutes at Large and in the U.S. Code, the legal effect of which is established in sections 112 and 204, respectively, of title 1, United States Code.
 Some public laws have more than one “short title” by which the law may be cited. In such a case, it may be necessary to scroll through a Statute Compilation to locate the portion that corresponds to the short title by which the Statute Compilation is listed in this collection.

Caselaw Access Project launched

From Adam Ziegler: "Thrilled today to announce the launch of , a free public access point for 6.4M+ state and federal court decisions spanning our nation's entire history! The Caselaw Access Project (“CAP”) expands public access to U.S. law." 
The goal is to make all published U.S. court decisions freely available to the public online, in a consistent format, digitized from the collection of the Harvard Law Library, with the help of Ravellaw.
At you'll find a browsable API that offers open access to descriptive metadata for the entire corpus. API documentation is at -- written to be friendly to experts and beginners alike.

Saturday 27 October 2018

Webinar on Presidential Research Resources

The librarians at "Help! I'm an Accidental Government Information Librarian" are offering a new webinar on Presidential resources.  The webinar will discuss digital and archival resources for Presidential Research with librarians and archivists from the Miller Center at the University of Virginia, the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington and Seton Hall University. The presenters will include Rebecca Baird, Archivist, Mount Vernon Ladies' Association (MVLA), Sheila Blackford, Librarian, Scripps Library, Miller Center, University of Virginia, Lisa DeLuca, Social Sciences Librarian, Seton Hall University, and Katherine Hoarn, Special Collections Librarian, The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon. The webinar is on Weds. Nov. 7th from noon to 1:00 pm. Registration is free; register here.

Friday 26 October 2018

A win for the open law movement

The ABA Journal reports that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has unanimously ruled that Georgia’s official annotated state code is not copyrightable and belongs in the public domain. The case was an appeal by well-known open law advocate Carl Malamud and his foundation In 2017 an Atlanta federal judge in the Northern District of Georgia had ruled that the state of Georgia can copyright annotations to its official state code and that cannot print those annotations on its website without a license (244 F. Supp. 3d 1350). The 11th Circuit court overturned that ruling. From the opinion:
Today, we are presented with the question of whether the annotations contained in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA), authored by the Georgia General Assembly and made an inextricable part of the official codification of Georgia’s laws, may be copyrighted by the State of Georgia. Answering this question means confronting profound and difficult issues about the nature of law in our society and the rights of citizens to have unfettered access to the legal edicts that govern their lives. After a thorough review of the law, and an examination of the annotations, we conclude that no valid copyright interest can be asserted in any part of the OCGA.
we conclude that the annotations in the OCGA are sufficiently law-like so as to be properly regarded as a sovereign work. Like the statutory text itself, the annotations are created by the Case: 17-11589 Date Filed: 10/19/2018 Page: 4 of 58 5 duly constituted legislative authority of the State of Georgia. Moreover, the annotations clearly have authoritative weight in explicating and establishing the meaning and effect of Georgia’s laws. Furthermore, the procedures by which the annotations were incorporated bear the hallmarks of legislative process, namely bicameralism and presentment.

Wednesday 24 October 2018

Open Access Week

To celebrate "Open Access Week," several events are scheduled at Pitt this week and next. Open Access @ Pitt will be hosting a number of events, beginning tomorrow with a program on “Preprints and the Future of Scholarship” at 4 pm. . On Tuesday of next week, another open access event, “Human Rights and Info Access in a Digital World,” will feature Mike Madison and two other distinguished panelists.
What is it? From the Open Access Week website:
"Open Access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. What makes it possible is the internet and the consent of the author or copyright-holder. OA is entirely compatible with peer review, and all the major OA initiatives for scientific and scholarly literature insist on its importance. Just as authors of journal articles donate their labor, so do most journal editors and referees participating in peer review. OA literature is not free to produce, even if it is less expensive to produce than conventionally published literature. The question is not whether scholarly literature can be made costless, but whether there are better ways to pay the bills than by charging readers and creating access barriers. Business models for paying the bills depend on how OA is delivered."
The website also has resources and materials of anyone interested in Open Access available in useful handouts:
What Faculty can do to support Open Access
What Librarians can do to promote Open Access
What Research Funders can do to promote Open Access
What Universities and Administrators can do to promote Open Access.

New Pitt Print Station in the law school!

Pitt Law's IT Department has announced that a new Pitt Print Station is coming to the Lobby of the Barco Law Building. Good news for students - especially since it will be able to do both B&W and COLOR printing!

Saturday 20 October 2018

IPUMS webinar

There will be a live webinar on Friday, October 26 at 10 am titled "An Introduction to IPUMS." Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) provides census and survey data from around the world integrated across time and space. IPUMS makes it easy to study change, conduct comparative research, merge information across data types, and analyze individuals within family and community context. The webinar was organized by the Organized by the Government Publications Librarians of New England government information group in partnership with IPUMS and the Government Publishing Office (GPO). No registration is required; you can just log in here.

Friday 19 October 2018

Students in CA draft legislation to tackle textbook costs

Inside Higher Education has a recent article about a class project by political science students at California Polytechnic State University. "They drafted legislation to see if they could get it passed by the state Legislature. The bill became law this past summer. In the process, the students learned how lawmaking works and got invaluable experience on using the political process to push for change -- even if it's only incremental change -- on a higher ed issue close to their hearts."
The issue they tackled was the high cost of textbooks. Initially, the students wanted to write legislation that would prevent publishers from publishing new editions of textbooks unless they genuinely contained new material. The class decided instead to draft a bill urging publishers to specify the differences between textbook editions and to do so prominently on their websites. Their proposal was an update to an existing bill urging publishers to take steps to reduce costs for students.
The result was California Assembly Bill 2385, which was unanimously approved by the state legislature and signed into law at the end of August.
The professor who taught the class acknowledges that the impact of the bill may be small because there aren't legal consequences for publishers who don't comply. On the other hand the bill lays out best practices for publishers and nudges them towards greater transparency.

FDLP : the Patent Office and Its Publications

The FDLP Academy recently held a webinar, “The Patent Office and Its Publications.” The webinar discussed the modern utility patent document and its architecture, as well as USPTO historical publications and open source patent search tools. The PowerPoint slides and a helpful visual "Patent and Trademark Documents Timeline: A visual History of Major United States Patent and Trademark Office Documents" handout are both available from the FDLP.

Thursday 18 October 2018 Browser Extension

New from the Law Library of Congress: an experimental, open source Google Chrome browser extension that will provide you with enhanced access to from third-party webpages, such as news sites. The extension was created by Syed Tanveer, an intern at the Library of Congress, and it does two things:
and it does two things.spacer 1. If you highlight a bill citation on a webpage (ex. H.R.5515), it links the citation to the bill summary landing page in the current legislation collection of
2. The extension also allows you to highlight text and export it to search against a collection of your choice. For example, you could highlight “John McCain” in a news story, click the “c” in the top, right-hand corner of your browser, and then search that text in the member’s profile page collection in
You can add the extension to Chrome Browser by following the simple instructions on the LOC Labs page.
And the Law Library of Congress is soliciting feedback on this project; they would like to know whether this makes accessing primary source legislative data more convenient for you, and which features you would like to see added to the extension in the future.

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Serial Set on HeinOnline

HeinOnline has announced the release of the U.S. Congressional Serial Set in HeinOnline (Phase I). The Serial Set is a bound series of over 14,000 volumes containing nearly all of the hundreds of thousands of numbered congressional reports and documents published since 1817. The numbered documents and reports include many executive branch and legislative branch publications and until 1953, the Serial Set also included the official House and Senate journals. HeinOnline is releasing the Serial Set in phases because it is such a massive collection. The content in Phase 1 includes part of the serial set that is in the HathiTrust digital library. Specifically, the content of Phase 1 includes:
• Complete indexing of the more than 17,000 volumes of the Serial Set;
• Forty years (1978-2018) of content archive in HeinOnline’s image-based PDF format;
• Complete coverage of the American State Papers;
• 86% of the Serial Set in HeinOnline or via HathiTrust Digital Library;
• 27% of the volumes in HeinOnline’s image-based PDF format.
Pitt users also have online access to the Congressional Serial Set  from Readex, which covers the time period from 1817 through 1994. 

Paper: Adding transactional law to the 1L curriculum

Tax Prof Blog has a link to an article on SSRN titled "Transactional Skills Education: Mandated by the ABA Standards." The author, Tina L. Stark, who is a Professor of Practice at Emory Law School, discusses the ABA Standards requirement that law schools provide every student a foundation to practice transactional law. She recommends that law schools add a credit or credits to the 1L Contracts course:
"I suggest that if a school were to add a credit or credits to the Contracts course, professors not use the time to teach interpretation, negotiation, and drafting. Instead, I propose that we allocate that time to teaching foundational knowledge that builds the infrastructure for additional transactional education...
1. students should learn about contract structure and the commonality among contracts.
2. Students should learn the translation skill, the ability to determine which contract concept or concepts should be used to memorialize a business term. This core analytical skill undergirds all deal work."

Tuesday 16 October 2018

Big changes at Bloomberg BNA

Jean O'Grady at Dewey B Strategic has the scoop on happenings at Bloomberg BNA. There have been noticeable changes in the past year as Bloomberg began to incorporate BNA into Bloomberg Law and the old BNA platform for the many BNA Reporters is phasing out. Now it seems that they are completely reorganizing the BNA news business resulting in layoffs of 46 staff. A link to a news article that reprints the email sent out by the editor-in-chief of Bloomberg BNA describing the reorganization. The email says that they are "creating an exciting team focused on redefining how we tackle case summaries, court opinions and the daily decisions that our customers need most, across all our legal beats" and "entralizing our Insights commentary for BLAW." With the 46 layoffs, the email says that "Those teams will be lean and mean and focused on creating new ways to do what we do." There will be five teams of reporters and editors focused on the 4 areas of labor & employment, healthcare & benefits, securities, bankruptcy & trade, IP & privacy, and one "first move" team that will "masterfully produce all the newsletters and highlights for BLAW in one umbrella group." A few years ago BNA was publishing up to 100 different legal news reports online; these are all being streamlined into just a few major areas.
Editor-in-chief Cesca Antonelli concludes the email by saying "Our journalism – whether it is scoops or case-law analysis or investigative work – has to be indispensable. I am excited that we are moving the newsroom to the next level after a long and storied history."

Friday 5 October 2018

2018 Faculty Services Handbook is online

The Barco Law Library 2018 Faculty Services Handbook is now available online through the Pitt Law website. Users will need to authenticate through the Pitt authentication system; the Handbook is a pdf that is stored in Box.

Tuesday 2 October 2018

Women much less likely to ask questions in academic seminars

Inside Higher Education has an article titled "Women Ask Fewer Questions Than Men." It discusses a new study that reveals a stark disparity between male and female participation in asking questions during academic seminars, and offers recommendations to ensure all voices are heard. The study, by a researcher at Cambridge University, observed 250 talks at 35 institutions in 10 countries. The study also reported significant differences in self-reported feelings towards speaking up in seminars. Women rated ‘internal’ factors such as ‘not feeling clever enough’, ‘couldn’t work up the nerve’, ‘worried that I had misunderstood the content’ and ‘the speaker was too eminent/intimidating’, as being more important than men did, which may help explain the difference. Alyssa Croft, one of the co-authors of the study, said “While calling on people in the order that they raise their hands may seem fair, it may inadvertently result in fewer women asking questions because they might need more time to formulate questions and work up the nerve.”
The study concludes by making a number of recommendations for "r creating an environment that makes everyone feel more comfortable to ask questions, thus promoting equal visibility for women and members of other less visible groups."

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Chronicle of Higher Education webinar on Open Educational Resources

The Chronicle of Higher Education is hosting a webiner on Oct. 11 at 2 pm called "Helping Students Get Access to Textbooks." From the blurb:
"As textbooks become more expensive, academic leaders are turning to inclusive-access deals and open educational resources (OERs) to reduce costs for students... learn more about these new approaches to textbook access and explore how to implement them on your campus. We will discuss:
• How to negotiate access deals with publishers at the institutional and class level
• What it takes to get faculty and students on board with new textbook arrangements
• The opportunities OERs provide to cut costs and craft materials for individual courses."
The webinar is free; you can register here.

Tuesday 25 September 2018

New, updated FDLP Academy training repository

GPO has announced that they are pleased to bring you the new FDLP Academy Training Repository.
Features include:
* Subject and agency tags (to assist in finding training by subject or presentations by Federal agencies)
* Recordings in MP4 format (no longer requiring a plugin to view)
* Sorting options (by date and title)
* A search box
* Conference recordings and webinar recordings in one location
Past webinars, webcasts, and conference recordings are still being migrated from the old FDLP Academy Webinar Archive platform to the new repository. All conference events will eventually be migrated; however, recordings for webinars from FDLP community and Federal agency presenters will only be retained in the new site for up to two years. LSCM staff have identified older content that is in need of refreshing and will be reaching out to individuals to revisit the content.
This new repository was created in response to Depository Library Council Recommendation # 3 from the Fall 2017 Depository Library Council Meeting & Federal Depository Library Conference.

Monday 17 September 2018

Dickinson/PennState law review confusion

The latest issue of the weekly Current Index to Legal Periodicals includes indexing for 122 DICKINSON LAW REVIEW, NO. 2, WINTER, 2018. The only problem is that the links to HeinOnline, WestlawNext and Lexis Advance don't take users to the Dickinson Law Review, they all go to the Penn State Law Review, which is now a separate publication but (confusingly) uses the same numbering as the Dickinson Law Review. Searches for the recent Dickinson Law Review in all 3 databases turn up nothing but links to the Penn State publication. This is presumably the result of the mixed-up history of Dickinson & Penn State law schools and their law reviews(?). If you would like to access the Dickinson Law Review, for now you need to go to their website where you can find all the articles published in Volume 122 of the Dickinson Law Review.

Friday 14 September 2018

Purdue blocks video streaming during classes

Inside Higher Education reports that Purdue University in Indiana has a "pilot program" that blocks access to several popular video streaming sites in specific lecture halls during classes.
The reason? "The new restrictions are an attempt to free up much-needed bandwidth in four lectures halls... A 2016 study of internet use (in the lecture halls)...revealed that 4 percent of internet traffic went to "academic" sites, 34 percent went to sites that were "likely non-academic," such as Netflix, Steam and Hulu, and 64 percent went to "mixed" sites like Google, Apple and Amazon."
When the pilot program was begun, users noticed "immediate relief" in the speed and bandwidth of the wireless network.

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Report from ABA on race and gender bias in law

The ABA Journal has an article about a new report titled "You Can’t Change What You Can’t See: Interrupting Racial & Gender Bias in the Legal Profession." The report is based on a survey by the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco on behalf of the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession and the Minority Corporate Counsel Association. It discusses the widespread bias that women and minority lawyers continue to face in the legal profession.From the report:
"The first part of this research report details four main patterns of gender bias, which validate theories that women lawyers long have believed and feelings they long have held...The second part of the research report offers two toolkits, one for law firms and one for in-house departments, containing information for how to interrupt bias in hiring, assignments, performance evaluations, compensation, and sponsorship. Based upon the evidence derived from our research, these bias interrupters are small, simple, and incremental steps that tweak basic business systems and yet produce measurable change. They change the systems, not people... Through sharing, we are reminded that we are not alone in our experiences in the workplace, and that is an important first step in making the work environment more inclusive and welcoming."

Tuesday 4 September 2018

Print or Electronic textbooks?

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting article titled "Hard Copy or Electronic Textbooks? Professors Are More Concerned About Keeping Them Affordable," that discusses this frequent topic of conversation in light of the recent textbook price kerfuffle at the University of Louisiana Lafayette. A student in an accounting course there discovered that the hard-copy version of the course textbook and the access code for online materials would run about $250 in the university’s bookstore - but the e-book version of the text, available through the online learning portal WileyPlus, was priced at $999. The university tweeted that it was all a misunderstanding. The Chronicle reports that faculty have mixed feelings about etextbooks. Some use them, especially if they are less expensive, though "Online texts are often cheaper than hard-copy books but can come with other challenges." A variety of professors interviewed by the articles author offer their opinions.

Friday 27 July 2018

Scheduled Maintenance on GPO Websites This Weekend

The United States Government Printing Office (GPO) has announced that it will perform scheduled IT maintenance on Saturday, July 28, 2018, between 7:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (ET). During the maintenance period, the following GPO services may experience brief, intermittent downtime:

  • The Digitization Projects Registry 
  • Ben’s Guide to the U.S Government

Monday 23 July 2018

New Lexis webinar on "Ravel View" feature

LexisNexis is hosting a free webinar on the new Lexis feature called "Ravel View" on Friday, July 27, 2018 from 12:30-1:00 pm.
According to the announcement, "Ravel™ View is a visualization technology that allows you to bypass hours of scanning search results lists and reading case summaries to find the case law you need. Ravel View does the laborious work for you by visually surfacing the most influential cases from your search results by court level, citation frequency and Shepard’s® treatment—helping you extract the case law you need to support your argument. Join the webinar to see how Ravel View can change the way you research."
You can register here if you would like to attend the webinar.

Friday 6 July 2018

LLMC adds state legislative journals to digitized content

The Law Library Microform Consortium (LLMC), of which Barco is a member, has announced that they have completed a 6 year project to digitize the legislative journals of all 50 states. The project was completed with the help of the Center for Research Libraries. Included in this digital collection are the Pennsylvania Legislative Journal of the Senate from 1827 to 1988 and the Pennsylvania Journal of the House of Representatives from 1826-1942. This is good news for any researchers interested in Pennsylvania legislative history.

Tuesday 3 July 2018

HeinOnline has much new content

HeinOnline's latest update says: "We’re pleased to provide our subscribers with another monthly update containing more than half a million pages of new journals, government documents, legal treatises, and other exciting material!"
• Updated databases: 51
• New titles: 1,798
• New volumes: 2,378
 •13 new journals, including six journals from Cambridge University Press and three journals that are indexed in Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (IFLP).
 •A new volume of Hague Academy Collected Courses Online / Recueil des cours en ligne has also been added with three new titles in the volume. 
•The Legal Classics Library received 105 new titles this month, 
•Religion and the Law received 27 new titles
 •Slavery in America and the World: History, Culture & Law grew by 22 new titles
•The Session Laws Library indexing project continues: all 50 states are already indexed to the chapter or act level from 2000 to date. In 2017, we announced an amended tactic: states would be indexed back to inception one at a time, beginning with the most accessed states. Last month, the indexing for Minnesota was completed back to inception. Other states that have been indexed back to inception include California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Texas. Moving forward, the focus will be on Pennsylvania.
 • U.S. Statutes at Large has been updated to include Public and Private Laws of the United States. The addition of these laws combined with the U.S. Statutes at Large bound edition now provides comprehensive coverage from inception to date of all Public and Private Laws of the United States.
*AALL attendees: "the Hein team will  be announcing an exciting surprise about the U.S. Congressional Serial Set at the meeting. Stay tuned for details! "

Wednesday 13 June 2018

President Trump announces intent to nominate new GPO Director

The White House has announced that President Trump intends to nominate Robert C. Tapella of Virginia to be Director of the Government Publishing Office. "Mr. Tapella serves as professional oversight staff of the Committee on House Administration of the United States Congress with expertise in the areas of printing, publishing, and security credentialing. Mr. Tapella led a review of Title 44 of the U.S. Code, which outlines the role of public printing and publishing of documents in the Federal government, as well as the Federal Depository Library Program. Mr. Tapella served as the 25th Public Printer of the United States under President Bush and continued his service under President Obama. He began his career as calligrapher, illuminator, and bookbinder, and later ventured into print brokerage and direct mail businesses. Mr. Tapella, a 1991 graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a B.S. in graphic communication, was designated as an honored alumni in 2008 and presently serves as chairman of the Dean’s Council on the library, and is also a member of the graphic communication department advisory board."

Sunday 10 June 2018

Federal Judiciary Workplace Conduct Working Group report

The Federal Judiciary Workplace Conduct Working Group consisting of federal judges and senior Judiciary officials was set up last December at the request of Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. after an Appeals court judge was accused of sexual harassment. The group examined the procedures to protect the judiciary's 30,000 employees from inappropriate workplace conduct and has now issued its Final Report, with an Executive Summary. The group found that "Inappropriate conduct is not pervasive in the federal judiciary, but it also not limited to “a few isolated incidents... There is room for improvement in terms of both accessibility and transparency, but the most significant challenge to accountability lies in the understandable reluctance of victims, especially law clerks and other temporary employees, to report misconduct.”
The report's recommendations include clarifying workplace standards and communications about how employees can raise formal complaints, removing barriers to reporting complaints, providing additional and less formal avenues for employees to seek expert advice and assistance on workplace conduct issues, and utilizing enhanced training on these subjects for judges and employees.

Saturday 9 June 2018

Full Watergate coverage available online

The Library of Congress and Boston public broadcast station WGBH announced that gavel-to-gavel television coverage of the Senate Watergate hearings of 1973, donated to the Library by WETA Washington, D.C., has been digitally preserved and made available online. Produced by the National Public Affairs Center for Television, the hearings were taped during the day and rebroadcast every evening on public television for 51 days in 1973, from May 17 to Nov. 15. These broadcasts became one of the most popular series in public broadcasting history. For the first time in 44 years, those  historic moments  are available to the American public through an online presentation-"Gavel-to-Gavel: The Watergate Scandal and Public Television"-on the American Archive of Public Broadcasting website.
The American Archive of Public Broadcasting is a collaboration between the Library and WGBH to preserve and make accessible significant at-risk public media.

Friday 8 June 2018

Free online films from the LOC

The Library of Congress has films from the National Film Registry available for free online. The collection is available on the LOC website and is also available for streaming on YouTube. All of the films have been preserved because of their cultural, historical and aesthetic significance and are in the public domain. The collection includes:
“Memphis Belle” (1944)—William Wyler’s remarkable World War II documentary about the crew of a B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber
“The Hitch-Hiker” (1953)—a gritty film noir directed by Ida Lupino
“The House I Live In” (1945) starring Frank Sinatra in a plea for religious tolerance that won an honorary Academy Award
"St. Louis Blues" (1929) Legendary blues singer Bessie Smith finds her gambler lover Jimmy messin' with a pretty, younger woman; he leaves and she sings the blues, with chorus and dancers.
"A Corner in Wheat" (1909) D.W. Griffith's short silent film about a greedy tycoon who tries to coerner the world market on wheat.
You can read more about the marvelous LOC collections featuring the performing arts- including theater and music - in the May/June issue of the Library of Congress magazine.

Thursday 7 June 2018

University of Virginia library renovation plans include stacks reduction; faculty concerned

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article  describing how faculty members are circulating a letter asking the University's Board of Visitors to withhold approval of plans for a $152.5 million renovation because the plan calls for a  40 percent to 70 percent reduction in the library’s shelf capacity. The letter says that the proposed reduction "would directly undermine our core mission as a nationally recognized research university." Where will the books go? They will "most likely be stored at the Clemons Library next door, and at the university’s Ivy Stacks storage facility. That’s an unsatisfying solution for the open-letter authors, who say being able to browse the stacks is a crucial part of their scholarship."

Saturday 26 May 2018

Zotero bibliographies in Bluebook format

New! ZoteroBib is a new free, tool from the makers of Zotero. It’s like EasyBib but quicker, more powerful, and sans the obnoxious ads. As you’re researching, just enter in your url, isbn, doi, etc., and click cite. It automatically grabs the citation and adds it to your list in just one click. Like Zotero, it supports Bluebook and many other citation styles. And ZoteroBib works on any device.

hat tip: Karen Shephard and Bonnie Shucha

Friday 11 May 2018

smartphone travel tips

If you're travelling this summer, the NY Times has a helpful article about what you need to do before you leave to prepare for travelling with a smartphone. They include a checklist

Wednesday 9 May 2018

Graduate access to Lexis and Westlaw

Here is the information for students who are graduating.
LexisNexis Graduate program
Lexis has created this program for recent law school graduates, who can sign in as usual with their Lexis IDs and passwords. On July 1, graduates will see changes on the LexisNexis Law School Home Page. Graduates have:
 • Access to the top legal news from around the web and Law360®
• Career tips to help  build your resume, interview smarter, and network
• Resources to sharpen research skills and start a practice
• A valuable graduate gift to help  start their careers.
Graduates have free access to Lexis Advance through December 31, 2018.
 BTW—Be sure to redeem  LexisNexis Rewards points before they expire on June 30, 2018.
And please note, there is a way to redeem your Lexis points and use them towards your hotel for the bar exam should you choose to.

Graduates have access to Thomson Reuters products, including Westlaw and Practical Law, for six-months after graduation.  “Grad Elite” access gives  60-hours of usage on these products per month to gain understanding and build confidence in  research skills. While it can't be used in situations where you are billing a client, Thomson Reuters encourages grads to use these tools to build  knowledge of the law and prepare for the bar exam. In addition, graduates get access to job searching databases on Westlaw and TWEN for 18-months after graduation for 1-hour a month. Students must extend access by logging into .

Tuesday 8 May 2018

New Law Deans

Tax Prof Blog reports that there have been 18 new Deans of law schools appointed recently, and that 61% of them are women, including Pitt Law's Amy Wildermuth. The numbers come from the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

Wednesday 2 May 2018

Visualizing census data: upcoming workshop

On Friday, May 11, Andrew Batt of the UCONN-based State Data Center will lead a streaming workshop on visualizing Census data (both American Community Survey data and National Historical Geographic Information System data) with the Tableau Public software app. Tableau Public is free for PC or Mac. The streaming service is being offered through FDLP Academy. You can access login 15 minutes before the webinar starts (appx. 10:15am EST) at this link. The workshop is expected to run for about 90 minutes. You can see some of the visualizations that the presenter has created for Connecticut here.

Friday 20 April 2018

New database in HeinOnline: McGill Air and Space Law

Our HeinOnline subscription contains a new database: McGill Institute of Air and Space Law Publications. It includes complete coverage of the Annals of Air and Space Law, nearly 50 titles and 50,000 pages. The McGill Institute and Centre of Air and Space Law is a leading authority on air and space law: the Institute of Air and Space Law (IASL) is the world’s premier academic setting for teaching and research in the dual disciplines of international air law and space law, and the Centre for Research in Air and Space Law (CRASL) publishes leading literature in both disciplines including the Annals of Air and Space Law (founded in 1976), treatises, monographs, and occasional papers. The Annals, which began publication in 1976, is devoted to fostering the free exchange of ideas and information pertaining to the law applicable to aerospace activities. The Annals publishes original articles, drafted in English or French, covering the entire spectrum of domestic and international air law and the law of space applications. The contributors are academics and leading practitioners from all parts of the world.

Wednesday 11 April 2018

Federal Register digitized in entirety by GPO

The Government Publishing Office and the National Archives' Office of the Federal Register announced that they have digitized every issue of the Federal Register back to its beginning in 1936, when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued the first document, an Executive Order.  The complete digitized set is available at the govinfo website.
The announcement included some highlights from the early issues of the Federal Register:
  •  The first Executive Order published in the Federal Register on March 14, 1936, enlarged the Cape Romain Migratory Bird Refuge in South Carolina. 
  • The first war related Presidential proclamations following the Declaration of War on Japan was published in the December 10, 1941 Federal Register issue. 
  • The August 25, 1958 issue contains the Executive Order outlining changes to the flag following the admittance of Hawaii as a state.

Friday 6 April 2018

ABA announces major restructuring

The ABA journal has an article titled "Massive restructuring at the ABA will rehouse entities under 9 centers" that outlines the soon-to-be effected changes in how the organization is structured. The ABA website still reflects the "old" structure: click on "ABA Groups" and you see a list of links to commissions, committees, task forces etc. But Executive Director Jack Rives says:
“Our current structure of divisions, committees, commissions, task forces, working groups, and other creatively named entities makes the Association extraordinarily difficult to access and costly to manage,” Rives wrote. “Our organization’s complexity has also impeded effective resource allocation. We must live within our means; we must prioritize; we must focus our resources on the programs and issues that matter most to our members, the profession and society.”

The new structure has nine centers organized around the four goals of the ABA: serving members; improving the profession; eliminating bias and enhancing diversity; and advancing the rule of law. The restructuring will help the ABA operate more efficiently and cheaply; staff cuts will occur by the end of April.

Monday 2 April 2018

Court says PACER fees misused

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has issued an opinion in the class action case National Veterans Legal Services Program, et. al., v United States (docket available here). In her opinion, Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle said that the federal judiciary misused millions of dollars in PACER fees to fund programs that are not allowed. However, she wrote that "the Court rejects the parties’ polar opposite views of the statute." She rejected the plaintiffs' reasoning that PACER fees can only be used to cover the "marginal cost" of running PACER, but also rejected the government's "other extreme" reasoning that the E-Government Act allows PACER fees to fund any dissemination of information through electronic means. Under her reasoning, the federal judiciary must return approximately $200 million to people who paid PACER fees from 2010-2016.
The Freedom to Tinker blog has an extensive discussion of the decision:
"The law says that the Judiciary “may, only to the extent necessary, prescribe reasonable fees… to reimburse expenses incurred in providing these services.” The lawsuit centered on the meaning of terms like “only to the extent necessary” and “these services.” During the litigation, the Judiciary provided a spreadsheet showing how PACER fees were spent across different categories (categories invented by the Judiciary). About a quarter of these fees were spent on things that related to public access tangentially at best (for example, “courtroom technologies”). The judge decided that these were illegal. About 15% of fees were under a different heading: “Public Access Services.” The plaintiffs did not allege that these were illegal even though ~$25m per year seems an awful lot for serving digital documents to the public. Only the middle set of categories—about $100m per year—was seriously in dispute."

Friday 30 March 2018

CRS Reports to be made available to the public

The GPO reports that a provision called "Equal Access to Congressional Research Service Reports" is included in the Consolidated Appropriations Ace of 2018. The provision makes all non-confidential Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports freely available online to individuals, schools and universities, researchers, and libraries. According to the GPO announcement, "The Librarian of Congress, in consultation with the CRS Director, shall establish and maintain a public website containing CRS Reports and an index of all CRS Reports contained on the website." This is big news for librarians, as distribution of CRS reports was historically limited to members of Congress, and were outside the scope of the Federal Depository Library Program. According to GPO, "Once CRS Reports begin to be publicly-disseminated, these reports will be in scope of the FDLP. These reports will then be cataloged and made available via the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP) with links to the CRS website."
Vermont Business Magazine has more information on the provision which was sponsored by Vt. Senator Patrick Leahy, and which has been an issue that Leahy and Sen. John McCain of Arizona have worked on for 15 years.

Wednesday 28 March 2018

More on "The FDLP Moderization Act of 2018"

The Government Publishing Office today published the GPO Statement on H.R. 5305, The FDLP Modernization Act of 2018." The statement says that "The GPO is pleased to support the FDLP Modernization Act of 2018. We appreciate the consultation the Committee engaged in with us as well as with other key stakeholders during its development. The bill affirms the principle that the free flow of Government information is fundamental to the health of our democracy, and acknowledges the important role Federal depository libraries play in ensuring free public access to that information."
On the other hand, the Free Gov Info blog has some misgivings about the bill that are summarized here under the heading "Loopholes.":
1. Fugitives
2. Agency Websites and
3. A Digital FDLP.
Free Gov Info suggests that Congress can make the bill even better; the meeting to discuss the bill is scheduled for Thursday April 12 at 11 am.

Friday 16 March 2018

Title 44 big news

The announcement came from the Government Printing Publishing Office (GPO) today:  On March 15, 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives filed H.R. 5305 IH, the FDLP Modernization Act of 2018, the amend Title 44, U.S. Code. They included a link to the FDLP's Title 44 Revision Page which has links to the Depository Library Council's Title 44 recomndations, Congressional testimony, and other related resources.
As you may know, concerned gov docs librarians have been writing about the proposed amendation of Title 44 for several months. Two of the best-known gov docs librarians, both named James Jacobs, have published an article in Library Journal discussion their concerns. They also encourage interested readers to check out a special issue of Against the Grain titled Ensuring Access to Government Information to read up on the issues involved.

Pennsylvania congressional redistricting

There's an excellent blogpost titled "Exploring Pennsylvania's Gerrymandered Congressional Districts" that provides very detailed, granular geospatial data to illustrate the congressional district issue in Pennsylvania. The blog is hosted by Azavea, a Philadelphia-based company that makes "geographic data more valuable by creating beautiful and scalable web and mobile applications, and by creating analytics that uncover insights in your data."

hat tip: Pat Roncevich, our Pitt Law geospatial expert

Friday fun...

If you're bored there's a fun online game called "Click That 'Hood Pittsburgh" - it tests your knowledge of where all the neighborhoods in the 'burgh are located.

Tuesday 27 February 2018

FDLP webinars in March

Webinar: Federal Government Databases and Websites: A Surprising Source of State and Local Data March 14, 2018 2:00 pm EDT According to the GPO and FDLP, his webinar will present an "exciting variety of state and local resources" which can be found by searching Federal Government websites. Resources range from health and nutrition to science and education as well as legislative and judicial information. Websites that provide a surprising wealth of state and local resources include, the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (CGP),, ERIC, and PubMed. Participants will learn strategies for searching for state and local resources using Federal Government databases and websites. Register here to attend the live training webinar.

They are offering a second webinar of interest to librarians: "Digital Content Contributors: Increasing Access to Digitized Content." This one will be held on March 13 at 2 pm. The description: Digitizing parts of your depository collection or considering starting a digitization project? Join us as members of the GPO Partnership Team share information on how your digitized content can be widely accessible through GPO’s govinfo. During the webinar, learn more about the Digital Content Contributor partnerships, how GPO makes decisions on priorities for ingest of content into govinfo, as well as tips on how to package your content for ingest. Register here.
And if you aren't able to attend a webinar the FDLP has all of their webinars and webcasts archived and available on their website.

Saturday 10 February 2018

Congressional Data Challenge

The Library of Congress has announced it is sponsoring the "legislative data challenge" to advance the discovery, use, and exploration of the collection of legislative information it has available on From the announcement:
"The Library is inviting submitters to use a variety of Congressional publications and data sets available on to create new meaning or tools to help members of Congress and the public explore it in new ways. This could take the form of interactive visualizations, mobile or desktop applications, a website, or other digital creation. Submissions must be entered at by April 2, 2018; please see the challenge rules for more information. Per the challenge requirements, submitters must use at least one congressional data set from Submitters may access the data directly from or though GPO’s govinfo, which, in partnership with the Library of Congress, the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Office of the Secretary of the Senate, hosts bulk data from for download."

Wednesday 7 February 2018

FDsys to retire

The GPO has announced that in December 2018, GPO plans to retire FDsys, and govinfo will take its place as GPO’s source for official Government information. FDsys has been the GPO's online portal to information since 2009; the more modern and mobile-friendly govinfo debuted in 2016.
 While FDsys will remain available until its "retirement", users are encouraged to transition to govinfo. Immediately before FDsys is retired, redirects from FDsys to govinfo will be enabled, but GPO advises that users should prepare for the FDsys retirement by proactively updating their systems and links to point to govinfo instead of FDsys. govinfo offers many enhancements over FDsys including:
• Optimization for display on mobile devices
• More relevant and precise search results
• Integrated social media sharing
• New Related Documents feature
• Curated content and new ways to browse
• Developer tools and data feeds
• Expanded help and resources
There's more information about the transition on the govinfo website

Friday 12 January 2018

Changes to BloombergBNA Labor & Employment And Benefits News

Bloomberg Law has announced that effective January 16, 2018, your Bloomberg BNA Premier labor, employment, and benefits news products will be available on an improved news delivery portal. This updated news portal comes with a host of new features and functionality, including: delivery of timely and concise news, custom alerts for monitoring developments, a better mobile experience, and more. Several of the news publications will be combined on the updated news services but Bloomberg promises that w "will continue to benefit from the same breadth and depth of coverage that have been the hallmark of all of our labor and employment news services."
A few changes:
• Labor Relations Week™ will be renamed Labor Relations News.
• Construction Labor Report™ will be renamed Construction Labor News.
• Pension & Benefits Daily™ and BNA Pension & Benefits Reporter™ will cease publication as stand-alones and combine to become Benefits & Executive Compensation News.
• BNA’s Employment Discrimination Report™, Workplace Law Report™, and Workplace Immigration Report™ will cease publication as stand-alones and combine to become Employment Law News.

CALI QuizWright

Our friend Elmer Masters from Computer Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) has just published an article on CALI Spotlight called Zero to Quiz in 5 Minutes: Getting Started With CALI QuizWright in 5 Quick Steps. QuizWright is CALI's new web-based formative assessment tool and is available now through the CALI website. Anyone with faculty-level access to CALI can use QuizWright. After logging in at go to the dropdown menu called your "CALI Dashboard" in the upper right and select QuizWright from the menu. The site says that "QuizWright is a web app that lets law faculty write individual Multiple Choice, True/False, and Yes/No questions, saves the questions in a personal question bank, allows law faculty to bundle the questions into quizzes, uses CALI AutoPublish to instantly and securely publish the quizzes to the CALI website and lets students take the quizzes as formative assessments, either live in class or as homework, right on the CALI website, where most students already have an account. Faculty can view the basic results or access advanced analytic reporting from an online dashboard. Download of results to Excel for further analysis is available."

Wednesday 3 January 2018

Digitized Historical Congressional Record now complete

The Government Publishing Office (GPO) today announced that with the release of the years 1873-1890 they have completed the digitization project of the Historical Congressional Record. These documents are freely available to the public on the GPO's govinfo website. The Library of Congress collaborated with the GPO on this project. The LOC created the digital images of the pages and the GPO devised the metadata for the project, so that the collection is accessible and searchable "across a wide variety of digital platforms."
The first date for which the Congressional Record is available is Tuesday, March 4, 1873, when the Senate held a "special session" for the second inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant as President of the United States.