Retired Reference Librarian formerly at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago.

Interbrand released its annual survey of the top 100 of the most valuable brands.  Apple and Google hold the number 1 and 2 spots respectively.  Barnes & Noble is nowhere to be found, but Amazon comes in at number 10.  Lego broke into the list for the first time at number 82 (Ninja Go!!!!).  Facebook is listed as a top rise are number 23.  I guess having 1 billion users helps with brand awareness.  My old friend Jack Daniels makes the list at number 84.  Thomson Reuters comes in at number 63, though that represents a drop of 12% in brand value.  There must be some people out there still pining for Westlaw Classic I imagine.

Mark

It’s the end of an era certainly.  OCLC has produced its last printed catalog card.  We may take online catalogs for granted these days, but someone, somewhere has been using printed cards.  An article in the Columbus Dispatch noted that the last set of printed cards went to Concordia College in Bronxville, NY.  The peak total for cards within a year was 135 million in 1984.  That’s the year personal computers by Apple and IBM started hitting the mainstream.  At the end, some 1.9 billion cards had been produced.  There is a forest somewhere that is sighing a breath of relief.  What to do with the table and drawers that formerly held the carefully organized cards?  We use ours to hold snacks for the library staff.

Mark

Via Press Release:

This fall, our colleagues at HarvardX, a University-wide initiative supporting faculty innovation in teaching, are helping with those connections by bringing to life some of the library’s holdings in the open online course The Book: Histories Across Time and Space.   Harvard librarians have been essential partners in the development of this course, and we hope it will increase awareness about the value of libraries as well as enthuse people about learning more about books and their impact on learning and society.

The Book, developed by HarvardX and available via edX, is an interactive learning experience made up of nine modules that examine the world of books, scrolls, and manuscripts. The course highlights aspects of these materials – from their physical structure and history to the print and handwriting found within their pages – across time and across cultures.

The Book brings learners inside the collections of Harvard’s libraries, providing access to some of the world’s most extraordinary works through the use of digital tools (including a rich image viewer) and perspectives from leading thinkers. A group of distinguished faculty members leads the course, including Jeffrey F. Hamburger (History of Art & Architecture, Faculty of Arts and Sciences), Robert Darnton (History, Faculty of Arts & Sciences and University Librarian emeritus), and Thomas Forrest Kelly(Music, Faculty of Arts and Sciences).

Anyone with an internet connection can take this self-paced course. Sign up for free today, and please share this opportunity with others.

Mark

If one hates ads on the web, one would tend to use an ad blocker.  I don’t mind ads on sites.  I know I’m being tracked by Google and whoever.  As a librarian looking for information used by other people, I’m not sure if I’m confusing the trackers.  I get some very interesting ads as a result.  I sometimes get ads for fantasy baseball after I browse sites for sports law news.  Every time I look at a product on Amazon I’m certain to see whatever I viewed on various newspaper sites.  I’m sure everyone has similar experiences.  Don’t like it?  Get an ad blocker.

Advertisers and the large corporations that push products are not fond of this technology.  It threatens the eyeball count.  What to do then.  The Register is reporting that the Washington Post (owned by Amazon’s very own Jeff Bezos) has tried an experiment.  When the server encountered an ad blocker, it in turn blocked the Post content with a message that informs the reader to turn off the blocker to see the content.  The same article describes a Google effort to do something of the same thing with ads on YouTube.  The company even disabled the skip ad function for those who block ads.  But…but…I just wanted to see a cute cat video without the ad for comfortable underthingies I seem to keep getting.  Note:  I have no idea why this ad recurs.  None of my searches, including personal, have anything to do with these kinds of products.  Then again, Google profiled me as a NBA fan at one point.  It’s hockey you robot.  How many times do I have to visit NHL.com for you to figure that out?

I guess the world isn’t going to work that way if this technology becomes popular with sites.  Papers are starting to distribute content directly via social medium, which, as this article in The Verge points out, offers some immunity from blockers as well.  Apple offered a blocker app in the App Store for a short time.  The company took it down and even made the unprecedented move of offering refunds because it worked too well.  Ads in Safari did not come through. The app threatened one of Apple’s revenue streams and that is a no no.

As I said above, I don’t block ads.  I treat them as a game to see how my searches and other web content I use generate ad subjects.  I’d like to think I can make that Google Robot serve up ads for a me that doesn’t really exist.

Mark

I love cartoons pretty much.  One of my favorites is Regular Show on Cartoon Network.  There is one episode called Go Viral which concerns characters Mordecai and Rigby’s attempt to create a viral video as part of a bet with two other characters, Muscle Man and High Five Ghost.  I like the show because it solves common problems in incredibly off the wall circumstance.  As a friend of mine is fond of saying, “I like it when it goes weird.”  In this episode, weird is when the guys break into the Internet which is run by a warden who looks and sounds remarkably like the stereotype of a librarian.  Even if that is culturally “wrong,” or insensitive, it still is funny.  Moreover, it suggests that librarians should run the Internet.  They should.  With that, enjoy Go Viral.

 

Mark

I’ve written before on the supposed death of libraries and print due to the creation of the Internet.  The thinking goes that if someone can do something on their own that is a service normally provided by a librarian or library, that person would opt for self-service.  The fallacy in that thinking is that everyone has the same skill sets, needs, and access to the same materials.  Does everyone live on the Internet these days?  Does everyone have a tablet and/or smartphone?  Maybe, maybe not.

At the same time, not all of these devices, even with cloud support, are appropriate for all tasks.  I hate typing on a smartphone screen because the on-screen keyboards are so small.  I keep making corrections more than half my time even with word suggestion.  I would opt for a desktop or a large screen laptop with a real keyboard if I had to do some serious Westlaw or Lexis research.  But that’s me, one of the six billion people in the world without a Facebook account, or an account on Twitter or LinkedIn.

So how do people view libraries against 20 plus years of the Internet and increasingly more and more sophisticated technology?   The Pew Research Center released the results of a survey yesterday that addressed this topic.  It’s called Libraries at the Crossroads.  The subtitle is telling:  The public is interested in new services and thinks libraries are important to communities.  The survey results indicate that while some uses of the library are down by small amounts compared to the last survey, libraries are an important public resource to a lot of people.

Individuals used a public library to access the Internet, look for jobs, look for information to upgrade their skills, and as a source to learn about new technologies.  There is also a social component where the library is used as a meeting and teaching center.  “Additionally, two-thirds of Americans (65%) ages 16 and older say that closing their local public library would have a major impact on their community. Low-income Americans, Hispanics and African Americans are more likely than others to say that a library closing would impact their lives and communities.”

American Library Association (ALA) President Sari Feldman released the following statement regarding the survey’s findings:

 “Public libraries are transforming beyond their traditional roles and providing more opportunities for community engagement and new services that connect closely with patrons’ needs,” said Feldman. “Today’s study shows that public libraries are far from being  just ‘nice to have,’ but serve as a lifeline for their users, as the survey shows more than 65 percent of those surveyed felt that closing their local public library would have a major impact on their community.

“Libraries are not just about what we have for people, but what we do for and with people. Today’s survey found that three-quarters of the public say libraries have been effective at helping people learn how to use new technologies.  This is buttressed by the ALA’s Digital Inclusion Survey, which finds that virtually all libraries provide free public access to computers and the Internet, wi-fi, technology training and robust digital content that supports education, employment, e-government access and more.

“Although the report affirms the value of public libraries, the ALA recognizes the need for greater public awareness of the transformation of library services, as the report shows library visits over the past three years have slightly decreased.  In response, libraries of all types are preparing for the launch of a national public awareness campaign entitled ‘Libraries Transform.’

“Libraries from across the county will participate in the campaign and will work to change the perception that ‘libraries are just quiet places to do research, find a book, and read’ to ‘libraries are centers of their communities: places to learn, create and share, with the help of library staff and the resources they provide.

 “This is an exciting time for libraries, as institutions transform to meet the digital and print needs of their users, and to continue to fulfill their role in leveling the playing field for all who seek information and access to technologies.”

For those who can work without libraries, feel free.  Just don’t denigrate the services libraries provide as anachronistic.  A lot of people like libraries and the help librarians provide.  That’s not going away no matter how many devices one owns.

Mark

Wikipedia decided to dance with the devil when certain editors were given complementary accounts to Elsevier’s ScienceDirect.  Ars Technica is reporting that the company is donating 45 accounts to top editors at the online encyclopedia.  This doesn’t sit well with some open source advocates like Michael Eisen.  He’s shocked that people who use the encyclopedia will click on links that will only lead to an abstract and an option to buy.  Of course, that’s not quite true for us in academics, at least for us employed at an institution with a subscription.

The debate pits those who believe in open access only against those who believe that links to pay walled articles share useful information in understanding a topic.  Count me in the latter group, not because I can get to the “download PDF” link, but because there is a world of useful information that exists beyond open source.  Libraries and not just those from universities are a big help in getting this kind of information into the hands of researchers or the general public.  Hey, we bought the subscription so none of you had to.

In another report concerning information freedom, it looks as if the Department of Homeland Security has taken a dim view to the Kilton Public Library in Lebanon, New Hampshire becoming a node on the Tor network.  DHS sent a stern email to the Lebanon Police Department who then contacted the Library.  The net effect (no pub intended) was to temporarily halt the project until the Library could gather community input.  Pro Publica has the story.

In other news, the Library of Congress is acquiring a large archive of material documenting the career of comedian Jerry Lewis.  Lewis is donating some of the material while other parts of the collection will be purchased.  The archive will document some 70 years of Lewis’ career and include rare recordings that do not exist anywhere else.  The Fort Wayne New-Sentinel has the story.  Speaking of Fort Wayne, the city will host the 2015 meeting of the Ohio Regional Association of Law Libraries (ORALL) on October 21-23.  Details are available from AALL and the organization’s web site.  Early registration discounts end on September 15.  The registration form is here.  The Program looks pretty good in my opinion.

Mark

Short Takes on the News

The Governor of Maine is promoting legislation that would revise how representation for indigent criminal defendants is organized in that state.  Rather than organizing a public entity to perform the work, the State would contract with lawyers for individual cases.  The story in the Bangor Daily News doesn’t mention this directly, but this would likely save a cat box load of money that would go to government pensions for state employed Public Defenders otherwise.  I wonder if Maine would be willing to try this same approach with the Prosecutor’s Office.  Probably not.

Has anyone ever wondered about the political ideology of the legal academy?  I’d say the answer is no only because the bias anecdotally appears to be liberal.  Well, someone took the time and effort to measure that bias in multiple contexts.  A new paper called The Political Ideologies of the American Lawyer by Adam Bonica, Adam S. Chilton, and Maya Sen seems to confirm just where that bias lines up on a spectrum of left and right.  The legal profession collectively lines up somewhere center left close to where Bill Clinton would be (he’s a marker on the chart along with other well-known politicians).  Medical doctors and bankers tend to be more to the right.  Go figure.

Graduates of elite law schools tend to be more liberal:

The most striking result in Figure 6 is that all 14 top law schools have distributions that lean to the left. That is, there are more liberal alumni from those schools than there are conservative alumni. Not only do all of the schools lean to the left, the skew is fairly extreme in several of the schools. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the University of California, Berkeley has the most liberal leaning distribution of alumni of all the elite law schools. That said, although the ideology of Berkeley graduates skews the furthest to the left, it is obviously not the only school with a heavily left skewed distribution. In fact, all of the top six law schools—Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Chicago, and NYU—have a relatively small number of graduates with conservative CFscores.

There’s a joke in there somewhere but I’m not the one who is going to make it.

There is an in depth write-up of the paper in Quartz.  It can be downloaded here.

Finally, the EEOC has investigated pay discrepancies between male and female faculty members at the University of Denver and wouldn’t you know it, there is a pay gap.  Moreover, it’s been going on for at least four decades.  The story is in the Chronicle of Higher Education and the Denver Post.  I guess liberality stops at the paymaster window, at least at UD.

Mark

I get press releases. Oh do I get press releases from publicists on some of the wackiest topics out there.  I’m not going to go into that because there is one that actually relates to something in which I’m interested.  I’ve written about the shrinking print collection before, especially when it relates to primary materials.  I have advocated cancelling reporter subscriptions because there is so many alternative sources for it in subscription and free databases.  Mind you, it should be a thoughtful cancellation considering how well the online alternatives can be a solid substitute.  The same applies to secondary sources where the treatise is available through an electronic subscription via Lexis, Westlaw, or another electronic library package.  I believe we at DePaul are not unique in considering the issues.

Well, back to the press release part.  The Primary Research Group has issued a commercial study on the shrinking print collections.  It’s called Law Library Plans for the Print Materials Collection, ISBN 978-157440-353-4.  Here’s a sample set of stats from the publication:

  • The cumulative 2-year drop in spending on print resources from 2014-2016 by the law firms in the sample is expected to be 22.6%.
  • For small law firm libraries the number of subscriptions to print journals went from 66.67 to 51.67 and then to an anticipated 45 over the three year period, a cumulative 2-year drop of 32%.
  • Primary works accounted for a mean of 35.53% of spending on print legal materials with a median of 30% and a range of 5% to 90%. For law school libraries, print primary materials accounted for 54% of the total print materials budget, a much higher percentage than for law firm libraries 28%, or government law libraries, 32.86%.

The last one is interesting.  We in the academic business try to prepare students for the tools that they can expect to use in practice.  If law firms are buying less print, and I’m assuming a firm in this situation is using an online database, why are academic libraries still buying at a much higher percentage?  But, hey, that’s just me wondering that.

Here is more information about the report:

The study is currently available as a PDF and will be available in book format on September 9, 2015 and can be ordered now. The price for either version is $135.00; site licenses are also available. To view the table of contents, an excerpt, questionnaire and list of participants, view our website at http://www.PrimaryResearch.com or visit the product page for this report at http://www.primaryresearch.com/view_product.php?report_id=561.

The question I’m thinking about now is how to utilize the space that will become available.  I’ll write my thoughts about that later.

Mark

I’m teaching orientation classes this week.  Got to have 1Ls signed up for Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg Law after all.  Posting may be a bit more spotty that usual because of that.  Nonetheless, there are a few interesting things going on in the law school world aside from the crush of students trying to figure out what the heck they’ve gotten themselves into.

It’s not exactly a secret that the Western Michigan University Cooley School of Law enrollment dropped from 4,000 students in 2010 to 1,880 for the current academic year, at least as reported by Crain’s Detroit Business.  That’s been the trend for many law schools with varying degrees of lower enrollment.

What’s more interesting is where the trend is right now.  Here are the latest LSAC statistics:

As of 8/8/15, there are 343,251 fall 2015 applications submitted by 55,702 applicants. Applicants are down 1.9% and applications are down 4.0% from 2014.

Last year at this time, we had 100% of the preliminary final applicant count.

I have to believe that that the drop in applicants and applications this year is in tolerance for most law schools.

In other law school news, the Indiana Tech Law School has snagged Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoller to teach a class on Indiana constitutional law in the Fall Semester.  The class is aimed at second and third year students.  I wonder how they managed that one.

Mark

There is an article posted this morning on Bloomberg BNA worth reading.  It’s called “Are Lawyers Getting Dumber?” and it considers the apparent drop in passing the bar exam in 2014.  The President of the NCBE, Erica Moeser, tends to blame the preparation of law students and, generally, the quality of law students sitting for the bar.  That’s one plausible assessment, what with the decline in law school applications, or should I say quality law school applications.

The big debate in the last several years is whether law schools would shrink enrollment to protect the rating of the class.  No schools like to see their average class LSAT and GPA aggregates drop.  On the other hand, someone has to pay for those tenured faculty salaries and that may mean admitting a few students who wouldn’t necessarily be admitted in “normal” times.  Deans, naturally, blame the test as being harder.  The article examines the tension between these two points of view.

I’ve said in other forums that the bar exam is hard and that it is not an interesting or particularly engaging test.   It’s orientation time, so new students can put off these thoughts for three to four years.  I would recommend that those in their final year of law school take preparation for the exam seriously.  I say that from watching graduates prepare over the years.  It’s the type of draining experience that no one would want to go through twice, especially for something that directly affects a graduate’s legal career.  Either that, or go to school in Wisconsin where law school graduates there are not required to take the Wisconsin Bar Exam.

Mark

At least in the Academic version.  I received an email yesterday promoting new features in Westlaw for the coming academic year.  One of them is:

Share Your Uploaded Documents

This exciting new feature will let you share user uploads with professors, students, study groups, research assistants, journals and law reviews, moot court and clinics.

  • Upload your own documents into your WestlawNext® folders.
  • Add citations, hyperlinks, and KeyCite flags to online documents.
  • Annotate (add highlights and notes) to your own content.

Previously one could only designate and share items that were flagged from Westlaw content.  It certainly is an interesting play to get students and faculty to spend more time on Westlaw.  More information is in an audio tutorial here.

Mark

There is a post on Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports from last week that analyzes negative coverage of law schools.  The first paragraph sets the tone:

In a recent column, the New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof confessed, “One of our worst traits in journalism is that when we have a narrative in our minds, we often plug in anecdotes that confirm it.”  The quote is timely, given recent controversy surrounding New York Times’ coverage.

The decline in law school enrollment and available jobs for graduates is one such narrative.  Michael Simkovic’s analysis of newspaper coverage is worth a read.  The Wall Street Journal, for example, is far and away the paper that publishes the most negative stories about law school(s).  Other fun facts include that the negativity peaked somewhere around 2011 and slowly declined to almost nothing today.  I’m guessing that journalist got bored with the story.  Check out the charts and other data Simkovic gathered for the piece.  Read it here.

Mark

I wrote a post about three years ago for the old Law Librarian Blog on why new law students should make friends with a law librarian.  That post was deleted along with all the other LLB posts after the “trouble.”  I found a copy recently, and given that this is the time of year for orientation, I thought it would be worth it to post again.  I think it’s still relevant today.  Here goes:

U.S. News & World Report has a short post out for new law students who will start their law school career in the next few weeks. It offers four points for navigating law school:

  1. Come prepared
  2. Focus on finals
  3. Make friends
  4. Remove distractions

I’d like to focus for a moment on the third one.  The author suggests making connections within the law school and the wider university through activities and other diversions as a break from the law school routine. That’s great advice as law school can be a highly competitive grind.  I’d like to make one other suggestion that may help the new student:  get to know a librarian.  Why? Because we know stuff that students do not.

We know the cycle of the law school academic year. It normally doesn’t shock us when 1Ls invade the library for the legal writing treasure hunt.  It’s not exactly the running of the bulls, but there are certain parallels.  For students it’s a new experience.  For us, it’s “been there done that.”  Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even for the simple stuff.  There’s usually a ready answer that can make a student’s life easier.

We also know the resources.  It may be nice to have all of those apps on tablets and phones. And I’m sure there are plenty of new law students who have a lot of experience doing research in college. Legal research, however, is a different animal. Lexis, Westlaw, and Bloomberg Law are not free in the wild. The mechanics can be a challenge despite the trend to provide Google-style interfaces. Librarians understand how this stuff works and can help.

I’ll offer related word of advice: not everything is online. More important, not everything is online and is free.  It’s more often than not a pay for play world.  Luckily the law library has licensed a lot of the good stuff.  We can tell students what information is easily accessible and what is not.  We can also ex plain how to get remote access to stuff, like articles, hard to find documents, exams, and other materials.

Librarians know the law school. We’re not the concierge for the school, but we know how it works. We can tell you generally which office likely handles what responsibility.  We can tell you where are public copiers, scanners, microform readers (yes, they are still necessary) and other useful resources may be.  We can also tell you generally what your expectations should be in using them. The library is probably the friendliest location in the law school.  Students use the library facility regularly in spite of the integration of technology into the curriculum. We try to make the place a comfortable and quiet space to study.  Take advantage of that.

So, make friends with a librarian.  We won’t break the rules for you. But our institutional knowledge of the law program and legal information can make a student’s life easier. We even know where the bathrooms are located.  Don’t be afraid to ask.

Mark

Lex Machina issued a report last Tuesday that analyzes copyright litigation trends over the last five years.  The report is impressive for the level of detail in the statistical analysis and charts presented in the 37 page document.  The report is designed to highlight legal analytics in copyright litigation.  The target audience appears to be plaintiffs with a heavy interest in protecting their media assets, firms that are considering taking on copyright cases, and those with an interest in the mechanics of copyright litigation.  As the report indicates, it is the first survey of its kind.  I’ve followed file sharing and other IP cases which I have reported on in this forum from time to time.  I found the report interesting for its snapshot of how litigation progresses through the courts.

Highlights from the press release include:

  • Top plaintiffs include music (Broadcast Music, Sony/ATV Songs, Songs of Universal, UMG Records, EMI, and more), software (Microsoft), fashion (Coach), and textile patterns (Star Fabrics) industries.
  • Top defendants include retailers (Ross Stores, TJX (TJ Maxx), Amazon, Burlington Coat Factory, Rainbow USA, J.C. Penny, Sears, Forever 21, Wal-mart, and Nordstroms), music labels (Universal Music, Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings), & publishing / education, (Pearson Education and John Wiley and Sons).
  • Doniger Burroughs, a California fashion, art, and entertainment boutique leads among plaintiffs firms with 741 cases, more than double the next firm.
  • Copyright litigation is heavily concentrated in the Central District of California (2,496 cases, 26.2% of all since 2009) and the Southern District of New York (1,061 cases, 11.1%).
  • Fair use is usually decided on summary judgment.
  • The majority of infringement findings happen as a result of default, and almost all default findings are for infringement.
  • Top parties winning damages include companies in movies and entertainment (Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, Universal, Paramount Pictures, and more), software (Quantlab, Foundry Networks), and music (UMG Recording).
  • In file sharing cases, about 90% of cases settle. Top plaintiffs include movie production companies. And an erotic website leads the list of Internet file-sharing plaintiffs with 4,238 cases – about 15 times as many cases as the next most litigious plaintiff.

The report registration and download link is here.

Mark

Or is the correct term “wither?”  I was wondering, at least.  I was in the process of putting together a handout for a lecture I was giving to law review cite checkers on sources and strategies when I thought I’d include Microsoft Academic Search as an alternative to Google Scholar.  A Search in Google brought up links to the page which turned out to be unavailable.  I hadn’t used Academic Search in a while as it was light on law and law related sources.  As it turned out, the site was shut down.  A page in Wikipedia basically stated that the service was folded into Bing.  Pity that as the model Scholar uses is ad free and limits itself to scholarly items.  Bing, of course, is a general search.  That’s not to say it can’t bring up specific articles and their sources.  A scholarly search site would be a more efficient way to find this stuff.  More information on the decline and fall of MS Academic Search is available from Newsblog.

Note:  Let me know if anyone is interested in the guide I referred to earlier.  It is DePaul centric in terms of databases and electronic strategies.  I’m sure the guide could be adapted to any library if one wanted to edit it.  I need to make a few minor changes to it based on the lecture questions.  I could send out copies within a day of request.

Mark