Category Archives: Electronic Resources

Fordham Law launches 25th Amendment Archive

Marking the 50th anniversary of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, Fordham Law School has launched the 25th Amendment Archive. The archive marks the 50th anniversary of the amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which deals with presidential succession. Many of the archive’s materials are unavailable elsewhere. “The archive offers an interactive timeline of the history and events that prompted Congress to create the amendment, which provides legal mechanisms for handling presidential inabilities and filling vice presidential vacancies. In addition, the archive provides access to the legal and scholarly discourse on the 25th Amendment since its ratification on February 10, 1967.”

H/T to Gary Price’s InfoDocket post. — Joe

Elsevier acquires Bepress

The story is in The Scholarly Kitchen.  It’s pretty stunning news, especially after the acquisition of SSRN and the controversy over licensing that occurred shortly after that takeover.  So, is the fate of successful open-access scholarly archives to ultimately turn into arms of large corporations?  —Mark

Supreme Court website redesigned

Take a peak here. On SCOTUSblog, Andrew Hamm writes:

The court’s Public Information Office boasts that the site update includes “a more consistent menu structure, a more interactive calendar, faster access through Quick Links, improved page load times, and reduced page scrolling.” For example, instead of indicating only that the court will hear oral argument on a given day, the updated calendar provides case names for each argument day, with links to the docket entries and the questions at issue in each case.

The homepage also provides access to transcripts, audio and other case information.

Judging from the Twitter reactions of multiple Supreme Court practitioners and commentators, the most appealing element of the update – what John Elwood called a “tantalizing glimpse” – may be the light at the end of this newly-opened tunnel. According to the PIO, “the improvements will better support future digitization and the addition of electronic filing, and will enhance mobile access to information on the site.”

— Joe

Is BOOC (Book as Open Online Content) the path toward the academic book of the future?

From the introduction to this very interesting development:

BOOC is not the answer to the question, ‘What will the academic book of the future be?’ – and it doesn’t claim to be. It is, however, the tangible result of a great deal of consultation, discussion, innovation, and perseverance. It represents some of the issues – contentious, complicated, deep-rooted, emerging, and provocative – that confront everyone who engages with academic publication. It will, hopefully, help deliver some practice-based answers to these issues, and in doing so, move the debates on. In Geoffrey Crossick’s report on Monographs and Open Access (HEFCE, 2015), he talks about the more ambitious ways open access allows authors and reviewers to interact. He talks about an ‘open-ended “living” document’, which is where BOOC takes its inspiration from. BOOC is a community ‘book’: a space where different approaches, different sorts of research, and different perspectives can be presented, read, and analysed together.

H/T to Gary Price’s Infodocket post. — Joe

LexisNexis adds ALM titles to LN Digital Library

LexisNexis announced yesterday that the company is adding 250 titles from ALM to the LexisNexis Digital Library.  From the press release:

As a result, the LexisNexis Digital Library will now feature titles from ALM’s publications including Law Journal Press, The National Underwriter Co. and analytical titles from respected regional brands such as The Legal Intelligencer, New York Law Journal, New Jersey Law Journal and more. These titles will provide in-depth information on the latest issues and insightful analysis from leading lawyers, practicing attorneys and experts.

–Mark

JSTOR Labs’ Reimagining the Digital Monograph

Here’s the abstract for the JSTOR Labs report, Reimagining the Digital Monograph: Design Thinking to Build New Tools for Researchers (June, 2017):

Scholarly books are increasingly available in digital form, but the online interfaces for using these books often allow only for the browsing of PDF files. JSTOR Labs, an experimental product-development group within the not-for-profit digital library JSTOR, undertook an ideation and design process to develop new and different ways of showing scholarly books online, with the goal that this new viewing interface should be relatively simple and inexpensive to implement for any scholarly book that is already available in PDF form. This paper documents that design process, including the recommendations of a working group of scholars, publishers, and librarians convened by JSTOR Labs and the Columbia University Libraries in October 2016. The prototype monograph viewer developed through this process—called “Topicgraph”—is described herein and is freely available online at https://labs.jstor.org/topicgraph.

— Joe

Digital library collaborations

Here’s the abstract for Anne Klinefelter’s Reader Privacy in Digital Library Collaborations: Signs of Commitment, Opportunities for Improvement, 13 I/S: J.L. POL’Y FOR INFO. SOC’Y 199 (2016):

Libraries collaborate to digitize collections large and small in order to provide information with fewer geographical, temporal, or socio-economic barriers. These collaborations promise economy of scale and breadth of impact, both for access to content and for preservation of decaying print source material. Some suggest this increased access to information through the digital environment comes at the expense of reader privacy, a value that United States librarians have advanced for nearly eighty years. Multiplying risks to digital reader privacy are said to weaken librarians’ commitment to privacy of library use and to overwhelm libraries’ ability to ensure confidential access to information. This article reviews some recent national and international organization statements on library privacy and finds continuing commitment to library privacy but varied approaches to balancing privacy with other goals and challenges in the digital environment. The article also evaluates privacy protections arising from libraries’ digital collaboration work with Google Books and the related HathiTrust project, and finds a number of vulnerabilities to confidential library use of these resources. These reviews confirm that reader privacy is increasingly at risk even as librarians’ confirm their commitment to protecting reader privacy through organizational statements. The article concludes that libraries can use their collaborative traditions to develop better approaches to protecting privacy as they develop digital collections. Even if libraries have limited success negotiating for or creating digital spaces for perfect digital reader privacy, much can be gained by making privacy an important feature of digital library design. Incremental but meaningful improvements can come from user authentication systems with privacy features, wider adoption of encryption, and innovations in website analytics tools. Reader privacy pressures and compromises are not new to libraries, and incremental solutions in the digital environment are worthy efforts that honor the tradition of libraries’ commitment to reader privacy.

— Joe

OverDrive announces new cost-per-circulation pricing model

Late in 2017, Overdrive will launch a cost-per-circulation pricing model for eBooks and audiobooks that will enable libraries to provide a patron-driven acquisition model for select titles from OverDrive’s Marketplace catalog. When selecting a book under the cost-per circulation model, libraries will be charged only when a patron borrows a title. For more, see OverDrive’s blog post. — Joe

It’s about time: LexisNexis publishes first multimedia secondary work

Since the foreshadowed demise of Lexis and Westlaw classic versions back in 2010 and 2011, I’ve been expecting to see the use of multimedia by our very expensive digital legal publishers in their newer search service platforms because it could be a transformative value-add-on for the traditional text-only electronic delivery of legal information. LexisNexis’ The Wagstaffe Group Practice Guide: Federal Civil Procedure Before Trial embeds 150+ short videos within the content of the work when you subscribe to the publication on Lexis Advance. LexisNexis press release. It appears, however, that the videos may not be embedded in a standalone eBook edition of this work. The work’s blurb notes “The eBook versions of this title feature links to Lexis Advance for further legal research options. Video content and links are exclusively available with a subscription to this title on Lexis Advance.” That’s disappointing but not unexpected; both Thomson Reuters and LexisNexis require a subscription to their search service to access resources linked to in their eBooks.

H/T to Bob Ambrogi’s LawSite post. See also Jean O’Grady’s Treatises are not dead they are just being transformed. Lexis Launches First Video Treatise. Can the Gamified Treatise Be Far Behind? — Joe

LawARXIV, a free, open access, open source archives for legal research, is now live

Launched on May 8, 2017 LawArXiv is an open access repository for legal scholarship. The repository was developed by LIPA, MALLCO, NELLCO and Cornell Law Library. “Our partnership in the LawArxiv project is a reflection of Cornell Law School’s deep and enduring commitment to open access principles, and the availability of legal information to all,” said Femi Cadmus, Edward Cornell Law Librarian, in this press release. — Joe

In a battle between ROSS AI and WEXIS, ROSS wins but who will win the war?

“ROSS Intelligence, the artificial intelligence legal research platform, outperforms Westlaw and LexisNexis in finding relevant authorities, in user satisfaction and confidence, and in research efficiency, and is virtually certain to deliver a positive return on investment” wrote Bob Ambrogi about the findings of a benchmark report by Blue Hill Research. For details, see ROSS AI Plus Wexis Outperforms Either Westlaw or LexisNexis Alone, Study Finds. — Joe

Opening the eBook for the print-disabled

Paul Harpur’s new book, Discrimination, Copyright and Equality: Opening the e-Book for the Print-Disabled (Cambridge UP, March 31, 2017) explores how restrictive copyright laws deny access to information for the print disabled, despite equality laws protecting access. From the book’s blurb:

While equality laws operate to enable access to information, these laws have limited power over the overriding impact of market forces and copyright laws that focus on restricting access to information. Technology now creates opportunities for everyone in the world, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, to be able to access the written word – yet the print disabled are denied reading equality, and have their access to information limited by laws protecting the mainstream use and consumption of information. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the World Intellectual Property Organization’s Marrakesh Treaty have swept in a new legal paradigm. This book contributes to disability rights scholarship, and builds on ideas of digital equality and rights to access in its analysis of domestic disability anti-discrimination, civil rights, human rights, constitutional rights, copyright and other equality measures that promote and hinder reading equality.

Recommended. — Joe

Free Law Project plans to harvest all free opinions and orders from PACER

From the announcement:

[W]e are launching a new project to download all of the free opinions and orders that are available on PACER. Since we do not want to unduly impact PACER, we are doing this process slowly, giving it several weeks or months to complete, and slowing down if any PACER administrators get in touch with issues. … In this project, we expect to download millions of PDFs, all of which we will add to both the RECAP Archive that we host, and to the Internet Archive, which will serve as a publicly available backup.1 In the RECAP Archive, we will be immediately parsing the contents of all the PDFs as we download them. Once that is complete we will extract the content of scanned documents, as we have done for the rest of the collection.

H/T to Gary Price’s InfoDocket report. — Joe

Bloomberg Law gets a make-over

Spurred by customer complaints about the difficulty they experienced navigating BLaw, Bloomberg Law has rolled out a streamlined user interface for conducting searches and finding specific types of content. For much more, see Bob Ambrogi’s In Major Redesign, Bloomberg Law Streamlines Its Search Interface. — Joe

Going digital only: CALL responds to possibility that print publication of annual Statutes of Canada may be discontinued

From Connie Crosby’s, (President of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL)) letter to Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada wherein she explains the concern Canadian law librarians have about the possibility that the annual Statutes of Canada will stop being published in print:

Recordkeeping is an important foundation of any advanced democracy. In Canada, the Publication of Statutes Act and its regulations were designed to ensure that all Canadians were provided with long term access to archival versions of our statutes. This law was necessary at the time to ensure that the medium chosen (paper) conformed to the best standards known at the time for archival formats. In a common law system history matters; this means that all citizens are entitled to long term access to our statutes, and the government must keep this squarely at front of mind at all times.

The question is, what law is necessary today to ensure that the medium chosen (digital) conforms to the best standards known at the time for archiving?

And on CALL recommendations in the Crosby letter:

If the government continues on the path towards “digital only” publication of the Statutes of Canada, we would encourage you to REPLACE the Publication of Statutes Act with a comprehensive plan that considers:

  • maintaining a small print run for long-term preservation purposes;

  • the future of the Canada Gazette, and in particular the Canada Gazette Part Three which provides our only official online version of annual statutes, as well as the helpful Table of Proclamations;

  • the future of the Table of Public Statutes. This Table was published as a stationary publication in the Statutes of Canada each year. The online version on Justice Laws is not sustainable in its current format – an annual archived version could be contemplated;

  • what will be the official version of our Statutes of Canada moving forward in a digitalage?

  • a way to maintain the side-by-side, English/French comparison, which can be an important part of some statutory interpretation exercises, while still meeting accessibility requirements.

H/T to and for more, see Michel-Adrien Sheppard’s Slaw post. — Joe

Ensuring President Trump “shall take care that the Laws be faithfully executed:” There’s a blog for that

Take Care, a blog monitoring Trump’s adherence to the law of the land under Article II of the Constitution, has been launched and is staffed by an impressive list of contributors that includes Larry Tribe, Erwin Chemerinsky and more than 20 former Supreme Court clerks and numerous former senior Executive Branch officials. Recommended. — Joe

Want to search an out-of-date version of the National Survey of State Laws? There’s a very expensive online legal search service for that!

Westlaw carries the full text of the sixth edition of the National Survey of State Laws online. Therein lies the problem. In addition to not stating online that the sixth edition has been superceded by the much more recent seventh edition (which Westlaw is going to publish online), the compiliers of the State Laws Survey have released two updates and four (or is it five?) new chapters that are not online. Bottom line: if you are using the National Survey of State Laws on Westlaw, you are searching eight-year-old topical state laws surveys. Make a note of that, researchers, at least until the seventh edition is online.

Time for the folks in the Land of 10,000 Invoices to get the seventh edition of this valuable resource uploaded and to keep it updated once it is. Perhaps Lexis or BNA can do a better publishing job for this title.– Joe

PS: A reader has commented that the seventh edition of the National Survey of State Laws is available, apparently since Jan. 12, 2016, on HeinOnline.

10,000 documents: Is there a flaw in West Search?

10,000 documents is an awful lot. Truly a low precision, high recall search. But sometimes, one starts off searching very broadly because Westlaw and Lexis Advance provide a “search within results” option to narrow down initial search output. While I do not perform many broad searches in Westlaw, I have never once seen a figure higher than 10,000 documents in my search results. I have, however, seen “10,000+” documents in equally broad Lexis Advance searches on the same topic.  Unfortunately 10,000 documents appears to be a search results limit in Westlaw.

If an initial search pulls up 10,000 documents in Westlaw, there is no reason to believe all Westlaw documents identified by one’s search are really all the potentially relevant documents in the Westlaw database. Searching within the initial 10,000 documents search results would be, therefore, based on a seriously flawed subset of the Westlaw database, one defined by West Search, not one’s search logic. This is not the case in Lexis Advance where a broad search may yield 10,000+ documents for searching within initial results. If this is indeed a flaw in West Search’s output, one must conclude that Lexis Advance offers more comprehensive searching of its database than Westlaw. — Joe

What The [Bad Word] Is This Supposed Be?

I was helping a cite checker with Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes when I came across this free site called WestlawNext State Government Sites.  I’m not sure what TR is trying to do with this as FindLaw still exists.  The collection features a small but haphazard collection of primary and quasi-primary materials from what I would describe as all over the place.  The limited number of states represented are far from comprehensive.  The materials presented are just as puzzling.  Each collection has different ways to conduct searches.  Take a look.  Anybody with reactions please let me know.

Mark

Legal Analytics, A Legal Writing Conference, and Bats Turn Into Turkeys

Yes, it’s been a while.  Between the ever present health issues and building and teaching a set of lesson plans on legal research to our first year students, it’s been tough to get back to the blog.  Well, the teaching part is essentially over until the first week of classes in January.  Let me catch up with a few things, a couple of business and one essentially fun.

The first business item is the announcement I received recently noting that Lexis has purchased Lex Machina:

Today LexisNexis announced that it has acquired Silicon Valley-based Lex Machina, creators of the award-winning Legal Analytics platform that helps law firms and companies excel in the business and practice of law.

A look into the near future. The integration of Lex Machina Legal Analytics with the deep collection of LexisNexis content and technology will unleash the creation of new, innovative solutions to help predict the results of legal strategies for all areas of the law.

With its acquisition, Lex Machina becomes part of the ongoing LexisNexis commitment to offer modern, next-generation solutions that help legal professionals work more efficiently, make better-informed decisions and drive success for their clients, practice and business.

The acquisition is described as a “prominent and fresh example of how a major player in legal technology and publishing is investing in analytics capabilities.”  I can understand that.  As we grew up with Lexis and Westlaw we were taught (or taught) the utility of field searching.  The available information in a document allowed us to search particular judges or attorneys to do our own analysis of their involvement with topics and issues.  We have the ability today to make more detailed analyses.

Expert witness reports are where Lexis and Westlaw mostly provide background information and the track record of particular witnesses.  Both companies offer comprehensive details because there is quite a market for experts in litigation.  Lex Machina is identified with analytics associated with copyright and a few other forms of intellectual property.  I can imagine Lexis and Westlaw expanding analytics for other litigation prone subjects such as medical malpractice and products liability.  I can see this as a new area of competition between the major research databases.

The second business item is a one day conference at Ohio State University:

OSU reference librarian Ingrid Mattson is co-chairing a great one-day conference for the Legal Writing Institute.  I’m sharing the announcement just in case you’d like to attend.  There are several presentations by ORALL members.

Join us in Columbus, Ohio, on December 11 for our one-day workshop, “Collaboration In and Out of the Legal Writing Classroom.” Topics include collaborating with legal writing colleagues for successful scholarship; students working together in the classroom; librarians and legal writing faculty joining forces for more effective research instruction; and connecting with casebook and clinical faculty, the community outside the law school, and university offices to provide meaningful, resource-conscious instruction.

Our workshop website, which includes program details and hotel information, can be found here. Workshop registration can be found here.

Columbus offers a number of unique experiences year round and particularly during the holiday season. Consider staying through the weekend to enjoy a dessertcoffee, or beer tour of a city with a dynamic food scene. Those who are more literary-minded will enjoy a Dickens of a Christmas and a Dickens Dinner at the historical Ohio Village. If you have an interest in politics, history, or architecture, touring the Ohio Statehouse is fun and free. A short walk from the workshop site you can explore the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum. Finally, for anyone visiting with children or who fondly remembers Jack Hannah and the Columbus Zoo on David Letterman, check out the zoo’s extraordinary holiday light tradition, Wildlights. For more information on the exciting goings-on in Columbus, visit Experience Columbus.

Columbus truly is the heart of it all. We are driving distance from places like Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Lexington, Chicago, Charleston; and a non-stop flight away from pretty much everywhere else.
We hope to see you in December! For more information about the conference, please feel free to contact us at Kelly.864@osu.edu or Mattson.30@osu.edu.

The conference cost is a very reasonable $45 aside from any lodgings.  I’m not expecting to sample the charms of Columbus while I’m there.  I was interested in going to a Blue Jackets game but it turned out the team is on the road in Winnipeg on December 10th.  The Islanders come in to Nationwide Arena on the 12th but unfortunately I can’t stay over.

And now the fun part.  As part of the Halloween picture extravaganza, I shared costumes and decorations from a number of libraries.  One of those picture sets from Wayne State included periodicals turned into bat decorations.  Well, it seems the bats have turned into turkeys for the coming holiday.  See the pictures below.

Thanksgiving 2 Thanksgiving 3 Thanksgiving 1

Well, I hope to publish more frequently now that my major semester project is effectively over.

Mark