Wednesday 30 September 2020

Blacklight: A Real-Time Website Privacy Inspector

The Markup is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates how powerful institutions are using technology to change our society. They have a strong interest in online privacy. To that end, they recently developed Blacklight,A Real-Time Website Privacy Inspector. On Blacklight you simply enter the address of any website, and Blacklight will scan it and reveal the specific user-tracking technologies on the site—and who’s getting your data. Blacklight says: "Who is peeking over your shoulder while you work, watch videos, learn, explore, and shop on the internet? You may be surprised at what you learn."

GPO's Collection Development Plan Updated

The Government Publishing Office (GPO) has updated its Collection Development Plan and made it available on the FDLP website (as a downloadable 1.5 mb pdf). Of particular interest to law librarians are the Executive Summary on page 1, and Appendix B:Current govinfo Collections page 20 and Appendix C: Ingest Priorities for the System of Online Access, page 23.

In order to better meet the Government information needs of current and future users, GPO must increase the availability of historical content in the system. To this end ingest priorities include, but are not limited to, earlier editions of titles currently available through govinfo so as to have complete and historic holdings. The historical content of executive and judicial branch agency collections needs to be developed as well. Digitization of this content may originate from GPO, other Federal agencies, or from parties with whom GPO has formally signed agreements, such as Federal depository libraries.
Also on the FDLP website is a list of institutions that have a project or resource that would benefit the public/depository community and have formed partnetships with the GPO.

Tuesday 22 September 2020

All-Virtual 2020 FDLP Conference in October

The (free) 2020 Federal Depository Library Conference is going to be all-virtual this year and will be held on October 20-23, 2020. Register here. The final schedule shows the dates and times of events and the agenda has information about the presenters and presentations. There are lots of interesting presentations scheduled, including the Keynote Address: Enhancing Access to National Archives Collections and Services During the Time of COVID by David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States. Also an introduction to persistent digital identifiers titled "DOIs, PURLs, URIs Oh My! " by James Jacobs, and a discussion of FOIA requests:

"The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) FOIA Advisory Committee recently issued a recommendation encouraging agencies to release FOIA documents to the public on their FOIA websites and through FOIA portals in open, legible, machine-readable and machineactionable formats. Meanwhile, there is a flood of documents released every month in response to public requests. There are some superstars out there that are helping to make FOIA’d documents and other unpublished records more publicly accessible."
There's also going to be a joint presentation from GPO and the Library of Congress about digitization of the Serial Set as well a talk about new govinfo Content and Enhancements.

Wednesday 16 September 2020

The ascendance of worker bees?

Have you noticed shifts in who takes on leadership roles during the WFH pandemic? The BBC has an article on "leadership" titled "The surprising traits of good remote leaders."
"Strong in-person leadership skills don’t necessarily translate to being a good virtual leader. Instead, organisation and competency reign supreme."
They cite a study that shows virtual teams often trend to accepting leadership from workers who are organized, dependable and productive, rather than the usual "ambitious workers" in the "executive suite." The basis of the article is a report from the Journal of Business and Psychology titled "Who Emerges into Virtual Team Leadership Roles? The Role of Achievement and Ascription Antecedents for Leadership Emergence Across the Virtuality Spectrum" (link goes to SpringerLink).

Constitution Day 2020 - African-American Members of Congress and the Constitution During Reconstruction

The Law Library of Congress and the Library of Congress have announced the annual Constitution Day lecture for Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020 at 3:00 pm Eastern Time. This year's lecture will be an online lecture given by Michael J. Murphy, a Historical Publication Specialist in the Office of the Historian for the U.S. House of Representatives, entitled“The Bulwark of Freedom”: African-American Members of Congress and the Constitution During Reconstruction. Registration is free, but required in order to attend the online event. From the blurb:

"Mr. Murphy explains that in 1870, Joseph Rainey of South Carolina became the first of 14 African Americans elected to the U.S. House of Representatives before the end of Reconstruction in 1877. Following the Civil War, Congress amended the Constitution to outlaw slavery, extend civil and political rights to African Americans, and expand the power of the federal government. Rainey and the small cohort of Black Representatives who served alongside him were all elected from southern states and many were formerly enslaved. They saw the Constitution as a battleground in the debate over Reconstruction and the future of the country, arguing for an expansive vision of citizenship and legal equality. For Rainey, the Constitution was “the bulwark of freedom,” designed to provide “protection to the humblest citizen, without regard to rank, creed, or color.” During the 1870s, Black Members embraced the Constitution—the founding document which had long denied them their very personhood—as a tool to redefine American democracy and fully realize the promise of representative government."

Another interesting webinar from FDLP Academy

FDLP is offering another interesting, free, webinar, "Legal Instruction and Resources at the Law Library of Congress: Recent Developments." The webinar will be on Tuesday, Oct. 13 from 2-3 pm Eastern time. Register here.

"This webinar will introduce attendees to new and developing resources at the Law Library of Congress: the Legal Research Institute, Legal Gazettes, and Legal Reports. The Law Library provides instruction on legal research and on how to use its vast collections, and these services have been enhanced through the introduction of webinars on the Legal Research Institute website. Participants will be oriented to the Legal Research Institute site and discover the instruction offered on U.S., and foreign and comparative law. In addition, participants will learn of how the Law Library is making available its extensive collection of legal gazettes collected from around the world and of the legal reports that are created in response to Congressional inquiry. Furthermore, participants will receive an overview of the efforts to make available foreign legal gazettes and legal reports that are prepared by Law Library staff for Congress."

Monday 14 September 2020

Webinar: Subject Headings Behind the Scenes

The FDLP and GPO are offering another free webinar called "Subject Headings Behind the Scenes." The webinar will take place on Wednesday, October 14th, from 2-3 pm Eastern time. From the blurb:

Have you ever wondered how subject headings are chosen for catalog records or why they are worded the way they are? This session will dispel mysteries about how GPO selects and applies Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) and Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms (LCGFT). Topics include headings and terms commonly used for Government information dissemination products; how to interpret headings; quality control measures at GPO; and tips for searching the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (GGP).
Register for the webinar here.

Nostalgic for sounds of the office?

 MIT Technology Review has an article titled "People who really miss the office are listening to its sounds at home." It tells of an audio engineer who gave in to many requests to make "office sounds" available for people working at home. So he created "Calm Office," a soundstream with volume sliders where users can adjust the volume of office-like sound effects: clackety keys, fax machine whirrs, and distant strains of conversation. The Calm Office tagline: "The office noise, without the boss yelling at you."

Wednesday 9 September 2020

More copyright history

 The Copyright blog from the Library of Congress has a post titled "Historic Court Cases that Helped Shape Scope of Copyright Protections." From the post:

"As the Copyright Office celebrates its 150th birthday, we can look back more than 240 years through the history of copyright protections in the United States to see how the law has changed in response to changing technologies and economics... The federal courts have been crucial in looking at creative media and setting the boundaries of what is protected and what isn’t. This is a look back at some of the most important court rulings on what is and isn’t protectable throughout the years under U.S. copyright law. These cases reflect some of the landmarks for American courts for defining the scope of copyright protection: (1) Is a system of accounting and its ledgers protected? (2) Is a photograph protected when the law doesn’t explicitly mention photographs? (3) Is an advertisement protected? And (4) Is a creative work incorporated into a useful article protected?"

Webinar: The Federal Election Commission (FEC) and Federal Campaign Finance Law

The FDLP Academy is offering a live training webinar, "The Federal Election Commission (FEC) and Federal Campaign Finance Law." The webinar will be held on Wednesday, October 7, 2020 from 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. (EDT).  Recording and closed captioning are available. The speaker at the webinar will be David Garr, Communication Specialist, Federal Election Commission The webinar will discuss the history of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and its role administering and enforcing Federal campaign finance laws. You can register for the free webinar here

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on Coronavirus on Campuses

The Chronicle of Higher Education has been providing excellent coverage of how colleges and universities are handling COVID-19. They have an article "Here’s Our List of Colleges’ Reopening Models" that presents the reopening models of nearly 3,000 institutions, in useful graphical format. They also have an article that is updated frequently "Live Coronavirus Updates: Here’s the Latest," with news from all over of COVID effects. You need to have access to a Chronicle of Higher Education subscription to see these; the links in this post will take you to the University of Pittsburgh's subscription so Pitt users can authenticate.

HeinOnline adds sports law publications

 Database HeinOnline has announced that they have added additional Sports Law publications to their legal journals collection. These are published by Hackney Publications, and "provide in-depth legal analysis of sports law issues, mission-critical information to sports industry professionals, and practical advice..."

Note, however, that "All titles are included in HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library with an embargo;" meaning that indexing only is available for the most recent journals. The title list, however, is interesting, and includes:

  • Legal Issues in Collegiate Athletics
  • Professional Sports and the Law
  • Concussion Litigation Reporter
  • Sports Facilities and the Law
  • ESports and the Law
  • My Legal Bookie
  • Sports Medicine and the Law
All of these titles are available in our HeinOnline subscription but you must be a Pitt user to access.

Monday 7 September 2020

150th Anniversary of the US Copyright Office

The latest edition of the Library of Congress Magazine is a celebration of 150 years of the U.S. Copyright Office or "150 years of promoting creativity and free expression through the administration of the nation’s copyright laws." Since it's founding, Congress has passed two major revisions of copyright law: the Copyright Act of 1909 (President Theodore Roosevelt) and the Copyright Act of 1976 (President Gerald Ford). The magazine goes on to say that "The 1976 act is still in effect today, with several amendments, including the landmark Orrin G. Hatch–Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act of 2018."
Articles in this issue of the LOC Magazine have some great historic images: early workers in the Copyright Office; the copyright submission from French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi registered his “Statue of American Independence” (aka the Statue of Liberty) on Aug. 31, 1876; blues singer Bessie Smith's submission for copyright for the song "Wasted Life Blues;" and many others. The magazine says.

"Copyright deposits capture milestones, even if they aren’t recognized as such until years later. The Copyright Office holds the unpublished deposit for a 1980 “Star Wars” Christmas album that marks the recording debut of Jon Bon Jovi, who sang lead vocals on “R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” (Sample lyric: “If the snow becomes too deep, just give a little beep. We’ll go there by the fire and warm your little wires.”) They reveal new dimensions to famous folks — an unpublished composition by a 14-year-old Aaron Copland, for example, or unpublished plays written by Tennessee Williams and Zora Neale Hurston. The Manuscript Division holds 13 such plays by Mae West, the actress and sex symbol whose ability to impart suggestive meaning to any line onscreen is immediately apparent in her writings, too."

There is a treasure trove of information and stories about copyright in the United States in this edition of the LOC magazine.  

hat tip: Pat Roncevich 

Reopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums (REALM) Information Hub: A COVID-19 Research Project

Everyone who works in or uses libraries is concerned about how to handle library materials during the COVID-19 pandemic. OCLC, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and Battelle are conducting research on how long the COVID-19 virus survives on materials that are prevalent in libraries, archives, and museums. This cooperative project, called the Reopening Archives, Libraries, and Museums or REALM Project, has issued 4 reports on tests conducted with library and archival materials infected with the COVID-19 virus. The reports are available on the REALM news page. The most recent report, from Project Test 4, tested stacked hardback books, softcover books, protective covers, and DVD cases. Test results show that after six days of quarantine the SARS-CoV-2 virus was still detected on all five materials tested. In previous tests, where the materials were not stacked, the SARS-CoV-2 virus was not detectable on the materials after three days of quarantine.