Friday 25 June 2021

How have law student perceptions of online learning changed over the past year?

 Professor Victoria Sutton of Texas Tech School of Law has published the results of a study she has done comparing law student perceptions of online learning in May 2020 and May 2021.  Her article, titled "Perceptions of Online Learning and COVID-19 Countermeasures Among Law Students in a One-year Followup Study" is available on SSRN.  From the abstract:

..."preference for online courses is increasing by 17%, despite the fear that burnout or frustration from the COVID-19 transition to online learning for law schools would create a general dislike for online courses. There are still a significant number of students who have difficulty with online learning of as many as 25%. About 72% of the respondents feel safe returning to class with no pandemic precautions, but accommodations should be considered early in the planning stages for the semester for those 15% who still do not feel safe enough to return to the classroom. In general, the survey dispelled a wide concern that online courses would sour students to online teaching, but it had the opposite effect, resulting in a significant increase in interest in online learning in law schools."

Prof. Sutton conducted her study via an email survey that was reviewed by the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center Institutional Review Board. She had a 42% return rate, which is "exceptionally high" for an email survey.   

Wednesday 23 June 2021

Library of Congress: new finding aid for RBG Papers

 The Library of Congress (LOC) website has a new finding aid for the Ruth Bader Ginsburg papers, 1897-2005
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was, of course, a U.S. Supreme Court justice, judge, lawyer, and educator. The LOC collection contains "correspondence, memoranda, case files, speeches, lectures, writings, reports, interviews, briefs, orders, opinions, motions, depositions, and other papers relating chiefly to Ginsburg's efforts as an advocate for women's rights, particularly through her speeches and writings and her endeavors as general counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union and director of its Women's Rights Project. Documents her work as a proponent for the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, as law professor at Columbia University, and as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, 1980-1993. Also includes family papers and material relating to Ginsburg's travels." The finding aid includes a list of the the collection contents, an Index of the creators, collectors, and other individuals and families associated with this collection, and information on copyright and restrictions on use of the collection.

Tuesday 22 June 2021

Copyright Public Modernization Committee announced by the Library of Congress

 The Library of Congress has announced the members of the new Copyright Public Modernization Committee (CPMC), which includes several librarians:  

Todd CarpenterNational Information Standards Organization
Susan ChertkofRecording Industry Association of America
Brewster KahleInternet Archive
Roy KaufmanCopyright Clearance Center
Keith KupferschmidCopyright Alliance
Melissa LevineUniversity of Michigan Library
Pamela MalpasAssociation of American Literary Agents; Copyright Committee co-chair
Micah MayDigital Public Library of America
James NealColumbia University Librarian Emeritus, ALA, ACRL
Kathleen RodriguezWarner Media
Jeff SedlikPicture Licensing Universal System (PLUS) Coalition
Scott WeingartCarnegie Mellon University Libraries

The reason the Committee is being convened is "to expand and enhance communication with external stakeholders on IT modernization of Copyright Office systems" and "to enhance communication and provide a public forum for the technology-related aspects of the U.S. Copyright Office’s modernization initiative."   
The first public meeting of the committee is a virtual meeting scheduled for Thursday, July 22 from 1-4 pm. The meeting is free and open to the public, but participants must register here in advance
According to the announcement, "Register of Copyrights Shira Perlmutter and Library of Congress Chief Information Officer Bud Barton will provide opening remarks and Library subject-matter experts will provide an update on the development of ECS and other modernization efforts. Attendees will have an opportunity to hear directly from CPMC members and participate in a live Q&A. The meeting will be recorded and made available for viewing after the event."

Tuesday 8 June 2021

Book discusses bias in algorithms, searching, and library "discovery" systems

The beSpacific blog today featured a post about a book titled "Masked by Trust: Bias in Library Discovery" by librarian Matthew Reidsma, who works at Grand Valley State University Libraries. He starts by discussing how most librarians develop, on their own, a favorite search that they use to evaluate "the dizzying array of search tools that are a part of modern librarianship." But as he studied the way variations in search terms can pull up results that can vary significantly, he decided to look more closely at the inner workings of search and the sorts of biases that can happen.

For this research, I investigated four library discovery systems, with varying degrees of access to each: Ex Libris’ Summon and Primo, OCLC’s WorldCat Discovery, and EBSCO’s EDS...Because these systems bear a remarkable resemblance to one another, it is easy for users to assume that they will all give the same results for similar searches. But in fact, the combination of di#erent centralized indexes, varied collection development practices at subscribing institutions, and competing relevancy algorithms means that it is unlikely that these systems will return the same results for the same searches.

The book is full of great examples and provides many useful  citations to other articles. It is written in plain language without a lot of technical terminology, and is available both from Library Juice Press and as a PDF download under a Creative Commons license.  

Hat tip: Sabrina Pacifici

Sunday 6 June 2021

Bar exams will be in person next year

The ABA Journal has an article titled "Online bar exams axed by NCBE beginning next year," in which it reports that law school graduates planning to take the bar exam next year should expect to take the exam in person. According to the article, the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) has announced that its test will be made available to jurisdictions only in an in-person form beginning in February 2022. The NCBE develops licensing tests for lawyers that are used by most U.S. jurisdictions. Since October 2020, states could choose either an in-person or an online exam developed by the NCBE. Twenty-nine jurisdictions are planning a remote bar exam in July, while 24 jurisdictions are planning in-person exams. Pennsylvania is one of the states that will administer the July 2021 bar exam remotely.

Friday 4 June 2021

New Maryland state law supports library e-book usage

The Association of Research Libraries has a great (for libraries) story reporting that Maryland is the first state in the nation to enact a state law ensuring that libraries can license e-books and audiobooks under the same terms available to consumers. The law, House Bill 518 in the MD legislature, was enacted by the Governor on May 31. It begins:

"FOR the purpose of requiring a publisher who offers to license an electronic literary 4 product to the public to also offer to license the electronic literary product to 5 public libraries in the State on reasonable terms that would enable public libraries 6 to provide library users with access to the electronic literary product..."
The article points out that  while the bill specifically names public libraries, academic and university libraries will also benefit from improved terms and business practices. The Maryland public libraries expect that the legislation will cause publishers to bring down the prices they charge libraries for e-books, although some price discrimination likely will remain. Additionally, the legislation will result in Maryland public libraries obtaining access to titles now available only to consumers. Similar legislation is pending in other state legislatures, and the adoption of the law in Maryland can be expected to accelerate this legislation.