Category Archives: Academic Law Libraries

On modernizing the FDLP’s statutory authority: Comments due by the end of the month

A push to revise Title 44 is in the works led by the Government Publishing Office and the Committee on House Administration.  It started on June 27, 2017 when GPO Director Davita Vance-Cooks charged the Depository Library Council (DLC) with making recommendations to her for changes in Title 44 of the U.S. Code. The scope for change is focused on Chapter 19 only, and she is looking for revisions that provide depository libraries more flexibility. The timetable calls for the DLC to submit draft recommendations for the fall 2017 Depository Library Council Meeting and Federal Depository Library Conference, October 16 – 18. The depository community will have an opportunity to comment before the final version is submitted to the GPO Director. [Press Release] For background, see James Jacobs’ Here we go again: GPO wants to change Title 44.

For Free Government Information, Jacobs has written a series of posts on this matter:

Strengthening Title 44 part 1: Modernize definition of “publications.”

Strengthening Title 44 part 2: Free Access

Strengthening Title 44 part 3: Privacy

Strengthening Title 44, part 4: Preservation

All are highly recommended.

August 31st deadline for contributions to the modernization discussion. AALL has issued a call for members to make their voice heard by contacting the AALL Director of Government Relations, Emily Feltren and submitting comments to the DLC [DLC Contact Form]. From the August 2017 Washington E-Bulletin issue:

There are many questions to consider when thinking about possible updates, including:

• What parts of Chapter 19 must remain in order to ensure the future success of the FDLP? What should change?

• What updates could be made to strengthen permanent public access to government information?

• What changes to Title 44 as a whole would benefit law libraries?

James Jacobs is promoting this Change.org petition: Protect the public right to govt information: help preserve and expand Title 44. Signatures will go directly to staffers on the House Committee on Administration and Joint Committee on Printing, as well as to GPO and ALA Washington Office. — Joe

Welcome back law students: Current awareness services reach out to incoming law students by way of two academic law library blogs

Yesterday the law blogoshere saw the publication of two brief but to the point current awareness posts on two timely topics. Duke Law Library’s The Goodson Blogson published a post on the 25th Amendment titled Pleading the Twenty-Fifth and UWashington Gallagher Law Library blog published The History and Law of Special Counsel. Both provide succinct summaries of their topics with links to relevant sources. Nice way to start off the academic year with these library outreach activities. — Joe

How wide is the perception gap between academic librarians and faculty members?

According to this infographic, the gap is pretty wide. For example, requests for access to materials are 28% higher than faculty think and librarians are 74% more likely than faculty to say access to technology is a crucial function to the library. The infographic is based on McGraw-Hill’s 2016 survey of more than 1,000 librarians and faculty members. Participants were asked questions regarding library use, budget, technology, and how they see libraries serving their communities. The survey results, found in McGraw-Hill’s white paper, The Changing Role of Libraries [free, registration required], reveal that librarians and faculty are not aligned as to what they believe makes libraries valuable. — Joe

Friday Fun: Halloween Pictures

The first batch comes from Miriam Murphy, Interim Director of the Ruth Lilly Law Library at IUPUI in Indianapolis.  Miriam writes:

My wonderful staff turned the library into a “Frozen” wonderland. We participiated in a law school wide trick or treat give away to the children of our students, staff and faculty.  We won best office décor, but lost out on the group costume to the Dean’s office where they were “A Christmas Story” with the Vice Dean as Ralphie in the pink bunny suit in the back right of the larger group photo.

image006 image007 image008

The next batch comes from Beth Applebaum at the Arthur Neef Law Library at Wayne State University in Detroit.  All I can say is one of them is a unique use for a print periodical.  You can’t do that online unless you hang a monitor from the ceiling.

Halloween _1 Halloween _2 Halloween _4

I’m writing this as I’m sweating it out in my Jake the Dog Costume. Yes, those are Shepards volumes on a cart behind me.  They are scheduled to go to that big Law Library recycling bin in the sky.  That is below with a few others from the Rinn Law Library at DePaul.  Keep sending them in and I will post them through next week.

P1020819 P1020820 P1020821 P1020822

Mark

 

“Free The Law:” Ravel and Harvard Law Team Up To Do Just That

There is so much to catch up on.  The recent news is that Ravel Law is teaming up with Harvard to scan significant portions of the primary law collection with the ultimate goal of placing the bulk online for use by the public.  The story in the New York Times mentions the fact that the librarians are cutting the books apart so the pages could go through high speed scanners.  The implication here is that there is no turning back for the project. Here is another story from the Harvard Law School News.

The interesting part for me aside from having as much primary law on the web is that this is the first major scanning project announced since the Google Book decision from October 16th.  Most primary law is in the public domain so there shouldn’t be any question about the legality of scanning.  Nonetheless, that decision should comfort the project managers.  I wonder if the decision will be giving impetus to any other large scale digitizing projects.

Mark

Friday Fun on a Monday: Law Librarians Visit the Stanley Cup

There was no Friday Fun last week because I was out having fun.  Specifically, my friend Virginia Thomas,  Director of the Arthur Neef Law Library at Wayne State University in…uh, DETROIT, and I went to the United Center here in CHICAGO to view the Stanley Cup.  This was a fan event celebrating the third Cup win in six seasons by the Blackhawks.  Fun was definitely had by all.  Maybe next year Red Wings.  Maybe next year.

_CAD2387 (3) Cropped 1

Mark

Study Examines The Shrinking Print Collection in Law Libraries

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

Librarians Are Here To Stay

I get asked every now and then about the future of librarians.  I work in an academic environment.  I get questions from students, faculty members, the general public, other librarians, you name ‘em.  The type of questions I get are contrasted, to some extent, with statements that with everything on the Internet we will be obsolete.  I’m sure many librarians, not just law librarians hear that.  Those with that attitude tend to think that because they never use a librarian’s services that no one else would need that assistance either.

All of you should know, for example, that Google offers free case law that extends back to approximately 50 years for state cases and 80 years for federal cases.  I have found unreported cases and slip opinions in the archive.  My point is that Google is hardly a secret to the Internet-going world.  At the same time, I get calls from non-law libraries about case law and the librarian or patron at the other end seems to have no idea that this archive exists.  They are delighted to know that exists once they find out about it.  Public patrons in particular seem happy to know that they don’t have to trudge to downtown Chicago to find accurate case law that isn’t behind a paywall.

I encounter students almost every day who seem not to have a clue as to how to read a result in a catalog search result.  They’ll flash their phone or tablet screens at me and ask me what to do to get a copy.  Sometimes the answer is as simple as pointing out the location on a paper map.  Other times it can be pointing out that there is a link on the record that can give instant access as an e-book.

Let me state categorically that I do not think these circumstances or the people asking them are dumb.  They obviously either do not have the knowledge that resources exist or have thought about how get the information on their own.  That is where we come in.  The public Internet has been around for at least 25 years if not longer.  There is so much out there and so many strategies for locating information that may or may not be behind a paywall.  There are scams to avoid.  I remember a phone call where an individual called and said she was contacted by phone from the IRS demanding a tax payment.  I looked up the IRS page and read the statement detailing how the Service contacts individuals.  It noted that the Service never contacts people by phone demanding money.  For those pondering the “unauthorized practice of law” angle, I read the text verbatim and let her draw her own conclusions.

Information is power.  We know how to find it and put it in context.  I would never claim to know everything there is to know about content online.  At the same time, there are no shortage of people who draw upon that experience and that of my colleagues.  For those who claim they don’t need us, fine.  But don’t assume that no one needs us.  Librarians will be here for a long time to come if my experience is accurate.

Mark

Short Takes On The News: Legal Writing is Dull, Tuition War, and Academic Library Stats

If readers haven’t seen the essay on legal writing by Bryan A. Garner published in the February issue of the ABA Journal, here’s a link to it on the Journal’s web site.  It’s hard to argue with the essay that begins with these words:

Legal writing is notoriously dull, slow, cumbersome, obtuse, roundabout and pedantic. There are many reasons: (1) unnecessary jargon, (2) overreliance on abstract nouns, (3) overlong sentences, (4) overlong paragraphs, and (5) the failure to differentiate between useful and useless details.

One of the main arguments is to place citation in footnotes rather than in the text.  The result will be a clearer writing style that communicates appreciably better.  Naturally, there is pushback in the comments.  I have to admit that reading cases, memoranda, and other legal documents when I was in law school pretty much killed most any desire on my part to read long form.  Putting it another way, I don’t read for fun at this point.  I suspect I’m not alone, which may explain why cat videos are so popular on the Internet.  I still have dreams featuring never-ending Civil Procedure I lecture where I’m trying to fathom in rem and in personam jurisdiction.

In other news, the Kansas City Star reports on the tuition war going on between the UMKC School of Law and the University Of Kansas School Of Law.  The border position of both schools between Missouri and Kansas offer options for in-state tuition rates for potential students from either state.  Yes, it’s come to this.  While we’re at it, here is the latest application statistics from the LSAC:

As of 2/7/14, there are 227,912 fall 2014 applications submitted by 32,532 applicants. Applicants are down 11.1% and applications are down 12.2% from 2013.

Last year at this time, we had 62% of the preliminary final applicant count.

Last year at this time, we had 67% of the preliminary final application count.

Not good.

Finally, the National Center for Education Statistics released its annual report on academic libraries called Academic Libraries: 2012 First LookInside Higher Ed has short commentary on the report.  – Mark

Short Takes on the News: Speed Traps and Protected Speech, Justice Scalia, and Law School News

There is an interesting case out of Missouri where a federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction forbidding the town of Ellisville from prosecuting individuals for flashing their lights to warn of speed traps.  The town has an ordinance which restricts flashing lights.  The judge, however, said that individuals flashing their lights as a warning was expressive conduct and likely protected by the First Amendment.  The ABA Journal has more information on the case with a link to the opinion.  I’ve made lengthy road trips in the past with a CB radio in the car.  Among the usual trucker chatter were warnings of where “bears” were operating including mile marker details.  That isn’t much different from this case in my opinion, other than how the warning was given.

Justice Scalia was out and about earlier in the week.  He spoke at the University of Hawaii law school and suggested that while the Korematsu case upholding the internment of Japanese citizens was wrong, he wouldn’t be surprised in the Court issued a similar ruling in the future.  Quote the Justice:

“Well of course Korematsu was wrong. And I think we have repudiated in a later case. But you are kidding yourself if you think the same thing will not happen again.”

I understand that Guantanamo Bay has a warm climate at the very least.  CBS News has a report on the visit.  He also commented that the Court will have the last word on the NSA data collection.  As he said in his own charming way:

“The executive knows very well what’s going on and what the threats are. Congress can have hearings for accessing threats and find out what’s going on,” Scalia said. “We can’t have hearings. We sit back and let them bring stuff to us.”

This reminds me of the old saying that if one wants to know the truth about a disputed issue at trial, just ask twelve people who weren’t involved.

In a little bit of law school news there is a report that the Charleston Law School is up for sale.  The prospective buyer is for-profit InfiLaw.  Some legislators in South Carolina want to bring the law school to the College of Charleston or the University of South Carolina as a public institution.  How this transaction goes down will depend on local politics.  The State has the full report illustrated by a nice picture of the law library.

The New York Law Journal reports on the downsizing of the Albany Law School in New York.  Layoffs and buyouts are on the table.  There was apparently a discussion between the administration and the faculty on how to reduce costs and increase revenues.  One idea floated by the faculty was to admit lesser qualified students to increase enrollment and revenues.  From the article:

One Albany Law professor said a “small but vocal minority” of faculty want the school to lower its standards to boost its tuition revenues and lessen the chances of layoffs.  “It is a very selfish, selfish endeavor,” the professor said. “They are really trying to save their jobs, but they’ve ginned this up to make it look like we are denying academic rights.”

Faculty members are self-serving?  That never would have crossed my mind after some 36 years in legal education.  No.  Never.

And while we are on the subject of declining enrollments, let’s take a look at the latest statistics from the LSAC:

As of 1/24/14, there are 187,726 fall 2014 applications submitted by 26,379 applicants. Applicants are down 12.6% and applications are down 13.7% from 2013.  Last year at this time, we had 51% of the preliminary final applicant count.  Last year at this time, we had 57% of the preliminary final application count.

As George Takei might say, “Oh my.”  — Mark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thomson Reuters responds to CRIV’s request for assistance about West Academic titles

CRIV has published Lori Hedstrom’s (TR Legal’s National Manager for Library Relations) response about the transitioning of titles from Thomson Reuters to West Academic:

During the transition, we have worked closely with West Academic to provide information to customers regarding their individual accounts. Any new orders placed through Thomson Reuters for West Academic titles prior to Dec. 31, 2013 have been or will be fulfilled by Thomson Reuters. Orders placed on or after Jan. 1, 2014 have been or will be fulfilled by West Academic.

We have spoken with Chris Parton, president and CEO of West Academic, and as the product owner, West Academic can answer the specific questions about their products, structure of accounts and any discontinuation of products. For questions related to West Academic, customers may contact their representative at (800) 782-1272 or inquiries@westacademic.com. For questions related to Thomson Reuters, customers may call us at 1-800-328-4880.

I think that sums up TR’s interest in the academic law library market for print resources, don’t you. Building “upon the century-plus heritage of West Publishing,” Lori Hedstrom did, however, provide this link to a complete list of divested West Academic titles. — Joe

Lexis/Lexis Advance: “Dear Library Directors,” Bloomberg BNA content is out, Law 360 is in

From the January 6, 2014 notice sent to academic law library subscribers:

We’re writing to ensure you are aware of a change regarding access to BNA (Bureau of National Affairs) publications available through LexisNexis®.  BNA was acquired by a new publisher and at their request, BNA sources will no longer be available on Lexis Advance® and lexis.com® after December 31, 2013. BNA documents saved to a folder or included in an Alert on Lexis Advance, will no longer be accessible.

We understand the value of this content which is why I’m thrilled to inform you that we’re providing access to Law360 content at no additional charge under your current LexisNexis subscription.  Law360 content will be available within Lexis Advance in late January.  Law360 is a premier current awareness publisher providing legal professionals with non-stop coverage of high-stakes litigation across  35+ practice areas. Faculty and students will benefit from the latest news and developments on topics and cases of interest.

In addition to Law360, Lexis Advance continues to have one of the largest collections of secondary content to meet your research needs including

[Yadda yadda]

And there you have it. Really, this isn’t a surprise, right? — Joe

Are traditional academic law libraries doomed?

Hat tip to Out of the Jungle for James Milles’ Legal Education in Crisis, and Why Law Libraries are Doomed [SSRN]. Here’s the abstract

The dual crises facing legal education—the economic crisis affecting both the job market and the pool of law school applicants, and the crisis of confidence in the ability of law schools and the ABA accreditation process to meet the needs of lawyers or society at large—have undermined the case for not only the autonomy, but the very existence, of law school libraries as we have known them. Legal education in the United States is about to undergo a long-term contraction, and law libraries will be among the first to go. A few law schools may abandon the traditional law library completely. Some law schools will see their libraries whittled away bit by bit as they attempt to answer “the Yirka Question” in the face of shrinking resources, reexamined priorities, and university centralization. What choices individual schools make will largely be driven by how they play the status game.

Joe

ARL librarians’ salaries narrowly keep up with inflation

From the press release for ARL’s Annual Salary Survey, 2012-2013:

The 2012–2013 data show that Canadian ARL librarians’ salaries kept pace with inflation, but US ARL librarians’ salaries did not. The median salary for US ARL university libraries in 2012 was $67,257, an increase of 1.2% over the 2011–2012 median salary of $66,467. The US CPI rose 1.4% during the same period. The experience of academic librarians in Canada was more favorable: while the Canadian CPI rose 1.3%, median salaries in Canadian university libraries increased from $85,551 (Canadian dollars) to $87,120 (Canadian dollars) a rise of 1.8%.

The survey also found that “gender-based salary differentials persist in ARL libraries in 2012–2013. The overall salary for women in the 115 ARL university libraries is 95.9% of that paid to men.” For more, see ARL’s press release. — Joe

If, then, unless: How many law libraries belong to the American Association of Law Libraries?

Sounds like a simple question that can be easily answered, right? Well, not according to a review of a recent “report” provided to our elected leaders at their November board meeting. See Membership Statistics 2019-2013 (Numbers as of May 31 of each year) behind AALL’s paywall.

The report includes a table for the “number of entities with AALL members” and itemizes AALL member entities in the follow categories:

  • Law School
  • Private Firm
  • Government & Court
  • Corporation
  • Other
  • Non-Affiliated

A couple of data definition questions. Did any member of the E-board seek clarification about the categories used? For example:

  • Does the “Corporation” category report data just for member corporate legal departments, etc., or does it include vendors?

Whatever it includes, “Corporation” membership declined from 80 in 2008-09 to 52 in 2012-13.

  • “Other” probably includes a couple of library consortia, non-profit, non-library-types but god knows what else. Vendors here?

Whatever this category’s stats capture, “Other” declined from 169 in 2008-09 to 133 in 2012-13.

  • As for “Non-Affiliated,” a footnote explains that the category covers those who “have not indicated an affiliation.”

Does that mean individual human beings are being included as institutions or entities in this head count? It’s kind of hard to draw any other conclusion.

Just the “facts”, please. Excluding the mysterious categories a/k/a “Other” and “Non-Affiliated,” but including “Corporations” under the assumption, right or wrong, that it captures corporate legal departments and the like, total law school + private firm + government and courts + corporations membership declined by 191 institutions, from 1,595 in 2008-09 to 1,404 in 2012-13. That’s only a 12% decline. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Oh wait, that’s about half the percentage decline for similar reporting periods reported in  “Table 5: AALL Libraries Estimated Information Budgets” published in the online editions of AALL’s Biennial Salary and Organizational Characteristics Survey.

There also is a substantial difference in the absolute number of AALL member libraries, institutions, entities, whatever, for similar reporting periods when the above reported stats are compared to stats used to estimate AALL member libraries total information budgets. Compare the below chart sourced with the data supplied to the E-board this month (which includes “Corporations” in the Private Sector category)

aall member entities 08 13

with the below chart compiled from AALL biennial survey data that was reported at Has AALL lost more than 50% of its institutional membership since 2001? (Nov. 4, 2013):

aall member libraries stats

What’s up with this? Hell if I know. I lean toward having more confidence in the committee that has been responsible for collecting and reporting AALL’s biennial survey findings. But  if  the data reported to the E-Board is correct,  then  AALL’s estimated total information budget stats for AALL member libraries are wildly inaccurate,  unless  someone recently decided to count “affiliations” at some sort of internal local level, like, for example, counting each branch office or each functional unit of a law firm as a unique institution, entity, whatever.

— Joe

Has AALL lost more than 50% of its institutional membership since 2001?

According to a review of “Table 5: AALL Libraries Estimated Information Budgets” published in various online editions of AALL’s Biennial Salary and Organizational Characteristics Survey, the answer appears to be “yes.” AALL institutional membership (by which I mean law libraries, not vendors) declined by 57.5% since 2001.

I seriously doubt that 756 AALL member law firm libraries + 333 AALL member government law libraries + 51 AALL member academic law libraries for a total of 1,140 former AALL member law libraries shut down since 2001. So why such a very large, huge really, decline? That was the first question I had when reviewing the recently pay-walled release of the 2013 edition of The AALL Biennial Salary and Organizational Characteristics Survey this weekend.

And the second question I asked myself this weekend was “can AALL remain sustainable when institutional membership declines from 1,984 to only 844 law libraries in a little over a decade?” My hunch is the answer lies in becoming relevant. — Joe

aall member libraries stats