Friday 22 November 2019

Friday: Is this good news?

In the "things that make you say hmmm" department: The Library of Congress has announced that they "are excited to share out a dataset of 1,000 random (PowerPoint) slide decks from U.S. government websites." If this appeals to you, you can download the entire 3.7 GB dataset of all the actual files (as a zip file).

Elsevier and CMU publishing agreement

Carnegie Mellon University , our neighbor up the street, has announced an agreement with publishing giant Elsevier that "marks an open access milestone." According to a story in Inside Higher Ed, the agreement will "radically change how the institution pays to read and publish research." The agreement prioritizes free and public access to research done at the university. "Instead of paying separately to access Elsevier’s catalog of paywalled content and publish open-access articles in Elsevier journals, Carnegie Mellon will pay one flat fee for both. The deal means that starting on Jan. 1, 2020, all principal investigators publishing in Elsevier journals will have the option of making their research immediately available to the public, at no additional cost. The “read-and-publish” deal is a first with a university in the U.S. for Elsevier and is the result of nearly yearlong negotiations."
To help Carnegie Mellon scholars navigate this agreement and its impact on their work, the University Libraries have created a website with helpful information for the community and answers to frequently asked questions.

Friday 15 November 2019

A UX review of the PACER website has an interesting post reviewing the usability of the Federal Court system's PACER website. The review tries to be fair and not overly critical of the site, but they also give constructive ideas on how the site could be more user-friendly. They focus on the main sections of the site:
  • The public landing page, originally designed in the early 2000's. The review says that there is too much clutter on the landing page, with key space taken up by secondary information - this could be cleaned up. Also, the page doesn't comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines in that the text does not have enough contrast and could easily be adjusted. 
  • The User Login and Dashboard is just a headache, with a lengthy registration process and unclear explanations for what is required. Once a user manages to get a login un and pw there are three different options for logging in and after logging in there are too many clicks to get to the case search screen.
The article goes on to critique the Search Results and the Case Record Detail. There is even a video of a particularly confusing web interface. The best part is that the article offers easy fixes for all of PACER's problems with graphic representation of what it could look like.

webinar on Legal Information Archive project

The Legal Information Preservation Alliance (LIPA) has announced that they are hosting an informational webinar on the Legal Information Archive Project hosted in conjunction with Preservica, the digital archive provider for LIPA, on Tuesday, November 19th at 11 a.m. (Eastern)/8 a.m. (Pacific). During the presentation, we will provide an overview of the project and answer any questions for members who may be interested in joining and preserving through the Legal Information Archive.
 In addition, Preservica will also cover how they:
 • Manage and safeguard institutional content and other legal resources.
• Enable you to easily upload and ingest new content into Preservica.
• Ensure permanent access to vital legal information through online publication.
You can register here for the webinar. 

Saturday 9 November 2019

HSDL Critical Releases in Homeland Security: The Crisis of Social Media

The most recent posting by the Homeland Security Digital Library includes a link to an interesting article titled Freedom On The Net 2019: The Crisis of Social Media (32 page pdf). It is subtitled "What was once a liberating technology has become a conduit for surveillance and electoral manipulation." (The report was prepared by Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world.) Freedom on the Net is a comprehensive study of internet freedom in 65 countries around the globe, covering 87 percent of the world’s internet users. It tracks improvements and declines in internet freedom conditions each year. The countries included in the study have been selected to represent diverse geographical regions and regime types. From the document:
"Internet freedom is increasingly imperiled by the tools and tactics of digital authoritarianism, which have spread rapidly around the globe. Repressive regimes, elected incumbents with authoritarian ambitions, and unscrupulous partisan operatives have exploited the unregulated spaces of social media platforms, converting them into instruments for political distortion and societal control. While social media have at times served as a level playing field for civic discussion, they are now tilting dangerously toward illiberalism, exposing citizens to an unprecedented crackdown on their fundamental freedoms. Moreover, a startling variety of governments are deploying advanced tools to identify and monitor users on an immense scale. As a result of these trends, global internet freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2019."

Friday 8 November 2019

Internet Archive & Better World Books are preserving books online

Against the Grain has a story about a partnership between Better World Books and the Internet Archive. It seems that BetterWorld Books is now owned by a non-profit affiliated with Internet Archive, called Better World Libraries. The Internet Archive will acquire, digitize, lend, store and digitally preserve millions of deaccessioned library books that go to BWB. At the same time, they will be sharing a major dissemination program for their digitized books through clickable citations in Wikipedia articles in 8 different languages. And any book that does not yet exist in digital form will go into a pipeline for future digitization, preservation and access.

Hat tip: Pat Roncevich

Wednesday 6 November 2019

1,300 Congressional Hearings dating back to 1958 now available on govinfo

The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) has announced that it has digitized more than 1,300 historical Congressional Hearings dating back to 1958 and made them available on govinfo. This project is part of a multi-year effort to digitize a collection of nearly 15,000 Congressional Hearings from Kansas State University Libraries; and is one of a series of recent projects in which GPO has worked to expand free public access to Congressional information in digital formats.