Category Archives: Library Associations

Why did Lexis Advance never receive AALL’s New Product Award?

AALL’s annual New Product Award gives the recipient vendor free fodder for an advertising campaign and a dose of much needed good press each year. “This award honors new commercial information products that enhance or improve existing law library services or procedures or innovative products which improve access to legal information, the legal research process, or procedures for technical processing of library materials. A ‘new’ product is one which has been in the library-related marketplace for two years or less. New products may include, but are not limited to, computer hardware and/or software, educational or bibliographic material, or other products or devices that aid or improve library workflow, research, or intellectual access. Products that have been reintroduced in a new format or with substantial changes are eligible.” Quoting from AALL’s New Product Award page.

Thomson Reuters won the award for WestlawNext in 2011 and Bloomberg Law won for BLaw in 2012. What ever happened to Lexis Advance? Launched in 2011, Lexis Advance would have still been eligible for the award in 2013 but PLI’s PLI Discover PLUS received it that year. PLI Discover PLUS is an excellent service but…it’s not from a major vendor of what was then a next-generation search service like, for example, WestlawNext was at the time Thomson Reuters received its award. Besides, I believe, PLI Discover PLUS would have been eligible for the award in 2014.

Lexis Advance was no better or worse than WestlawNext and arguably better that BLaw back in 2011-2013. So I’m left wondering why LexisNexis never received AALL’s New Product Award. For that matter, why didn’t LexisNexis receive the New Product Award when it launched the first professional grade, enhanced law eBooks and/or the first law eBook lending platform, the LexisNexis Digital Library? If LexisNexis systematically enhances its secondary works accessed on Lexis Advance with videos as it did with one title, the Company might be eligible again because “products that have been reintroduced in a new format or with substantial changes are eligible.” — Joe

List of Previous AALL New Product Award Winners

2017: Casetext, Pablo Arredondo, Vice President, Legal Research, San Francisco, CA, CARA

2016: Ravel Law, Daniel Lewis, CEO and Co-Founder, San Francisco, CA, Judge Analytics

2015: Lex Machina, Josh Becker, CEO, Menlo Park, CA, Legal Analytics®

2014: William S. Hein & Co., Inc., Getzville, NY and Fastcase, Inc., Washington, D.C., HeinOnline/Fastcase Integration

2013: Practicing Law Institute, New York, NY, PLI Discover PLUS

2012: Bloomberg Law, New York, NY, Bloomberg Law

2011: WestlawNext Team, Eagan, MN, Thomson Reuters – WestlawNext

2010: Fastcase, Inc., Fastcase Legal Research iPhone App

2009: William S. Hein & Co., Inc., Subject Compilations of State Laws (HeinOnline)

2008: Cassidy Cataloging Services, Inc., WLX Cataloging Record Service (WLX E Treatise Collection, Lexis II Primary Sources, and Westlaw IV Journals & Law Reviews)

2007: No award

2006: No award

2005: Thomson Gale, The Making of Modern Law

2004: Jenkins Law Library & American Lawyer Media, http://www.palawlibrary.com

2003: No award

2002: No award

2001: W.S. Hein & Co., Inc., Hein-On-Line

2000: IndexMaster, Inc., IndexMaster

1999: West Group, Key Cite

1998: Congressional Information Services, Inc., CIS Congressional Universe

1997: BNA, Inc., Health Law & Business Series

1996: No award

1995: Shepard’s McGraw-Hill, Inc., How to Shepardize

Learning analytics implicates ALA’s Code of Ethics

In Learning Analytics and the Academic Library: Professional Ethics Commitments at a Crossroad, College & Research Libraries, Forthcoming, Kyle Jones and Dorothea Salo discuss learning analytics and the ways academic libraries are beginning to participate in wider institutional learning analytics initiatives. The authors address how learning analytics implicates professional commitments to promote intellectual freedom; protect patron privacy and confidentiality; and balance intellectual property interests between library users, their institution, and content creators and vendors. From the article’s conclusion:

Though pursuing  LA [learning analytics] may lead to good outcomes for students and their institutions, higher education and the library profession still face an ethical crossroads. LA practices present significant conflicts with the ALA’s Code of Ethics with respect to intellectual privacy, intellectual freedom, and intellectual property rights. We recommend that librarians respond by strategically embedding their values in LA through actively participating in the conversations, governance structures, and policies that ultimately shape the use of the technology on their respective campuses.

— Joe

AALL awards Casetext’s Case Analysis Research Assistant product of the year

I must be getting old because when I read that AALL gave its annual product of the year award to Casetext’s CARA I didn’t know what it was. But Bob Ambrogi does. He reviewed the service last summer in New Casetext Feature Finds Relevant Cases For You, But Along With It Will Come New Pricing. CARA, which is short for Case Analysis Research Assistant, is a productivity enhancement tool for document review which automatically finds relevant cases to any document you upload into the system. Bob writes “[w]hat CARA is actually doing is comparing the cases in the uploaded document to the cases and articles in its database. For every case in the document, it is looking for other cases that are usually cited together with that case. It uses various indicators to weigh relevance, including how often two cases are cited together and how often they are discussed together in third-party articles contributed by Casetext users.” CARA’s output is a list of relevant cases not mentioned in the uploaded legal memorandum, brief, opinion letter or other document containing legal text.

Kudos to Casetext for creating what sounds like a useful tool. — Joe

Register of Copyrights: ‘Why should the Librarian [of Congress] have unilateral authority over an appointment that impacts so many livelihoods in the United States?’

Currently the Register of Copyrights is appointed by the Librarian of Congress. That would change if H.R. 1695, Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act of 2017, passes. The bill would make the Register position a presidential appointment with confirmation by the Senate, with 10-year term limit. It would create minimum standards for those who hold the Register of Copyrights position by requiring the officeholder to be a U.S. citizen who has professional background and experience in copyright law. Under the proposed legislation, the President will select a nominee from a list of names identified by a Congressional leadership panel that includes the Librarian of Congress.

H.R. 1695 was reported out of committee [H. Rept. 115-91] and placed on the Union Calendar on April 20th.  The Hill’s Dina LaPolt and John Meller in H.R. 1695: A vital first step towards Copyright Office modernization opine that this change makes sense:

The Register advises Congress and accordingly, Congress should have a hand in who holds this position.  It makes sense to appoint the Register via a standard nomination process involving our elected representatives, same as most other high-ranking government officials. Why should the Librarian have unilateral authority over an appointment that impacts so many livelihoods in the United States?

AALL opposes the bill, stating that our association believes it is unnecessary and would create management conflicts within the Library of Congress. But LaPolt and Meller report that two former Registers support it.

This bill is also supported by two previous Registers of Copyright, Marybeth Peters and Ralph Oman. They point out that the Act would address issues that have escalated in the relationship between the Copyright Office and the Library, which they state are “structural, not personal or political”, and explain that Congress should be able to obtain “independent copyright advice straight and true from the expert agency” rather than “filtered through the lens – and shaped by the perspective – of the head of the national library”.  Their opinion should carry great weight here—especially since they were themselves appointed unilaterally by the Librarian.

What do you think? — Joe

ALA’s top ten most challenged books in 2016 includes series written by Bill Cosby

Out of 323 challenges recorded by ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, the “Top Ten Most Challenged Books in 2016” are:

  1. This One Summer written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki. Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, drug use and profanity, and it was considered sexually explicit with mature themes.
  2. Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier. Reasons: challenged because it includes LGBT characters, was deemed sexually explicit, and was considered to have an offensive political viewpoint.
  3. George written by Alex Gino. Reasons: challenged because it includes a transgender child, and the “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels.”
  4. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas. Reasons: challenged because it portrays a transgender child and because of language, sex education, and offensive viewpoints.
  5. Two Boys Kissing written by David Levithan. Reasons: challenged because its cover has an image of two boys kissing, and it was considered to include sexually explicit LGBT content.
  6. Looking for Alaska written by John Green. Reasons: challenged for a sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation.”
  7. Big Hard Sex Criminals written by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky. Reason: challenged because it was considered sexually explicit.
  8. Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread written by Chuck Palahniuk. Reasons: challenged for profanity, sexual explicitness, and being “disgusting and all around offensive.”
  9. Little Bill (series) written by Bill Cosby and and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood. Reason: challenged because of criminal sexual allegations against the author.
  10. Eleanor & Park written by Rainbow Rowell. Reason: challenged for offensive language.

Source: ALA. — Joe

AALL supports passage of the OPEN Government Data Act, S. 760

From the April 5, 2017 letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs:

We support the OPEN Government Data Act for several reasons. First and foremost, this legislation would institutionalize the federal government’s commitment to open data and allow the United States to remain a world leader on open data. Second, adopting a policy of open by default for government data would ensure that the value of this public resource would continue to grow as the government unlocks and creates new data sets. Third, a firm commitment to providing open data as a public resource would encourage businesses, non-profits, and others to invest in innovative tools that make use of government data. And, according to the Congressional Budget Office’s review of the 2016 unanimously passed Senate bill, taking these steps would not have a significant impact on agency spending.

Here’s the text of S. 760. — Joe

AALL announces new product award

Congratulations to Ravel Law for winning AALL’s New Product Award for its legal analytics service. Ravel FAQ here. — Joe

Candidates for AALL Executive Board announced

And here they are:

Vice President/President-Elect

Kathleen (Katie) Brown
Associate Dean for Library Services
Charlotte School of Law

Femi Cadmus
Edward Cornell Law Librarian &
Associate Dean for Library Services
Cornell University Law Library

Secretary

Luis Acosta
Law Library of Congress
Chief, Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Division II

Scott D. Bailey
Global Director of Research Services
Squire Patton Boggs LLP

Board Members (pick two)
 
Beth Adelman
Director of the Law Library &
Vice Dean for Legal Information Services
The University at Buffalo
State University of New York

Katherine M. Lowry, JD
Director of Practice Services
Baker Hostetler LLP

Catherine M. Monte
Chief Knowledge Officer
Fox Rothschild LLP

Jean P. O’Grady
Director of Research & Knowledge Services
DLA Piper

The election will be held September 30 to October 31, and successful candidates will begin their terms of office in July 2017. — Joe

We’re worth it, really we are!

In an earlier post I asked “since AALL is not changing its name, why does our association need to rebrand?” Perhaps I should have asked “since AALL’s The Economic Value of Law Libraries report failed to quantify in economic terms the ROI of law libraries, why does our association need to rebrand?” The latter question is more to the point than the former because the 2015 report is one of the drivers behind the rebranding initiative. Since the naming debacle, it’s best to view AALL’s rebranding project from that vantage point. You read that report, right? See Jean O’Grady’s review, AALL Releases “The Economic Value of Law Libraries” Report– Long on Rubrics– Short on ROI. She writes:

The bottom line is that AALL and HBR have produced a report that says ‘we couldn’t figure out how to measure your value – we hope you have better luck on your own.’ […] Of course we will all continue to try to hone our own metrics but we expected a report that reached well beyond what we are able to do as individuals. We expected AALL and HBR to do some heavy lifting and instead they have passed the problem back to the members.

With the value problem back in members’ laps, rebranding AALL is moving forward because it is “member driven” according to the February 23rd virtual town hall meeting conducted by AALL’s three presidents, past, present and future. Members, apparently, have asked our association to help us communicate our worth to our employers even though we don’t know how to calculate our economic value in these dollars and cents times. We are not going to preserve our budgets simply by saying “we’re worth it, really we are”. Yet that’s the sort of marketing pablum we are going to get from the rebranding project.

Perhaps we need to redo our homework. By that I mean, redo the ROI report. Why? Because it is doable! Because we are way behind the curve on this one. Our law librarian colleagues down under quantified Australian special libraries’ ROI in 2014. They found that “special libraries have been found to return $5.43 for every $1 invested — and that’s a conservative estimate of their real contribution.” Quoting from Putting a Value on ‘Priceless’ at 3. I’m reluctant to say just use the Aussies’ average benefit cost ratio because their survey covered all sorts of special libraries, not just law libraries.

We’re left with this: for $185,000 AALL will get “messaging” (read marketing pablum), a branding manual, a website refresh, a new logo and a tag line. I’m thinking the tag line should be “We’re worth it, really we are!” – Joe

End Note: Putting a Value on ‘Priceless’ (2014) (h/t to Jean O’Grady) and the Financial Times-SLA report, The Evolving Value of Information Management (2013) are far more informative reads than AALL’s The Economic Value of Law Libraries (2015).

Some suggestions for improving transparency and accountability in the Executive Board’s conduct of association business

The recent renaming debacle got me thinking about ways and means to raise rank-and-file member participation for the purpose of improving our association’s transparency and accountability in the conduct of association business by the Executive Board. Some easily doable reforms for increasing association transparency by encouraging direct member involvement could be:

  • Allowing rank-and-file members to participate in Executive Board meetings by asking questions and offering comments;
  • Scheduling the summer Executive Board meeting during the annual conference, not days before it, so rank-and-file members can attend in person;
  • Broadcasting all board meetings with a feedback loop so that members in the audience can ask questions and offer comments and a moderator can contribute selected questions and comments to the Board’s discussion; and
  • Conducting pre-election virtual town hall meetings for nominated candidates standing for election to the Board so that members can solicit answers to questions they have submitted.

Some structural reforms requiring bylaw changes to provide for enhanced association accountability by increasing member participation could be:

  • Restructuring the Executive Board to automatically include the elected chairs of the academic, government and private law libraries SISs as voting members;
  • Replacing the Nominations Committee with a Nominations Caucus open to all interested AALL members; and
  • Including “none of the above” in the ballot for the election of VP-President Elect, Secretary, Treasurer and at-large board members.

Increasing the opportunities for rank-and-file member involvement through a more bottom-up approach to conducting association business as outlined in the above suggestions may motivate more AALL members to become active contributors to our association’s affairs. AALL’s official business would become more relevant, more transparent, and more accountable, if members were more directly engaged in the selection of candidates to national office and in the Executive Board’s conduct of association business. —  Joe

Since AALL is not changing its name why does our association need to rebrand?

Odd isn’t it that there were no dissenting votes on renaming AALL at the Executive Board level. Considering how the vote turned out, one would think there might be some representation of rank-and-file interests on the Executive Board (read some opposition to the proposal). My hunch is that some officers were not initially in favor of the name change but were persuaded by something – the merits of the case, peer pressure, etc. – to vote for the renaming. So the question remains — Whose interests does the Board represent?

AALL remains “top-down,” not “bottom-up” in the handling of association affairs. Sometimes that can’t be helped. Sometimes it can. In the case of the renaming proposition, I think the Board heard loud and clear that members wanted more direct participation before the Board takes any action whatsoever. Will that lesson be institutionalized in the Board-Membership relationship?

What about the rebranding initiative (with its $185,000 price tag)? It sounds like rebranding is moving forward but is rebranding needed now that AALL is not changing its name? I, for one, think rebranding was only necessary if AALL’s name changed; it doesn’t seem necessary after the renaming debacle.

To the best of my knowledge, the rank and file will not vote on whether or not rebranding should proceed. But there is an opportunity for members to express their opinion about rebranding, including the desirability of moving forward. AALL has scheduled a virtual town hall for Tuesday, February 23, from 2:00-3:00 p.m. (CST) “to provide time for further discussion and to answer any questions you may have.” First question: Since our association is not changing its name, why does AALL need to rebrand? — Joe

AALL is not ready for ALI: Membership rejects association name change proposal by a very wide margin

AALL’s rank-and-file turned out to vote down the Executive Board’s unanimously recommended rebranding of AALL as the Association for Legal Information (ALI). The “I am a law librarian and I work in a law library” argument opposing the initiative apparently resonated with many voters. The vote wasn’t even close:  80% opposed to 20% in favor. By AALL standards, voter turnout was extremely high at almost 60% of the membership, indicative I think of the collective nerve the Executive Board struck with its proposal. Rare indeed it is for the rank-and-file to stand up to be counted in opposition to the Executive Board. This aging and decrepit law librarian cannot remember the last time the membership so forcefully slapped around the Executive Board.

I voted for the name change. It offered the admittedly long-shot chance at presenting additional opportunities for reforming AALL so I wanted to see this recommendation pass. I just wish the Executive Board had brought this issue to the attention of the rank-and-file in a more direct way.

While the Executive Board and HQ staff did a good communications job — emails, enewsletters, videos of Executive Board members, AALL communities, etc., I would have preferred to see the issue also debated at our annual meeting’s members open forum before the Executive Board took any action whatsoever. Had the Executive Board heard the hue and cry calling for adding the word “professionals” to the proposed name, the Association of Legal Information Professionals (ALIP) might have persuaded many of the “I am a law librarian and I work in a law library” voters to accept changing AALL’s name.

I, however,  would have voted against renaming AALL ALIP because this matter should be about what we work with — legal information — and who we work for — private, government and academic sector employers — not about our professional self-identification be that as law librarians or legal information professionals. While I will keep paying my membership dues to Ye Olde AALL, I also would pay membership dues to an Association for Legal Information, if some of the 496 rank-and-file members and Executive Board members who voted for the name change were to take it upon themselves to establish ALI. That, however, seems highly unlikely; I think the carpe diem moment may have passed.  – Joe

NB: AALL has scheduled a virtual town hall for Tuesday, February 23, from 2:00-3:00 p.m. (CST) “to provide time for further discussion and to answer any questions you may have.”

Eighth Annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition Opportunity

The Legal History and Rare Books (LH&RB) Section of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), in cooperation with Cengage Learning, announces the Eighth Annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Competition. The competition is named in honor of Morris L. Cohen, late Professor Emeritus of Law at Yale Law School.

The competition is designed to encourage scholarship and to acquaint students with the AALL and law librarianship, and is open to students currently enrolled in accredited graduate programs in library science, law, history, and related fields. Essays may be on any topic related to legal history, rare law books, or legal archives. The winner will receive a $500.00 prize from Cengage Learning and up to $1,000 for expenses to attend the AALL Annual Meeting.

The entry form and instructions are available at the LH&RB website: http://www.aallnet.org/sections/lhrb/awards Entries must be submitted by 11:59 p.m.,April 18, 2016 (EST).

AALL via Mark.

Mission minded or mission impossible: Is AALL ready for ALI?

It’s almost time to vote on the Executive Board’s unanimous recommendation that our association change its name to the Association for Legal Information (or “ally,” not “A”, “L”, “I”). But it is going to take more than mere rebranding (with its $185,000 price tag) to transform AALL into a vital organization for legal information consumers today and into the future. I wonder if we are up to the task of creating a new normal for providing leadership in the field of legal information and information policy.

Will we see a membership drive that reaches out to legal information professionals who work outside of the law library if the name change proposal is accepted by the rank-and-file? Of course, it is hard for many law librarians to justify paying AALL dues. Will non-law librarians working in the legal information field find the cost worth it to join under the big tent to be known as ALI? Non-traditional legal information professionals have been able to join AALL with full membership privileges for a couple of years now with no perceptible growth in membership rolls. While AALL doesn’t need money from new dues-paying members, our association does need to grow a non-traditional legal information membership base to change the negative connotations associated with “libraries” and “librarians.” If we change our name without also expanding our membership base, we will not be able to promote the value of all legal information professionals in any substantive way.

Will we see the rationale for this name change begin being realized with something other than the same old programming typical of most of our previous annual meetings? Hell if I know if AALL is prepared to “make it new.” I doubt an annual meeting programming initiative will happen without an influx of new, non-traditional members who, like the rest of us, are tasked with the professional mission of putting content in context. If we change our name without acquiring experts in the fields of knowledge management, competitive intelligence, legal analytics, search engine engineering and artificial intelligence as ALI members, we will have lost an opportunity to foster the development of the legal information profession.

Will we see a major revision of AALL’s bylaws? To give this rebranding effort teeth to take a bite out of negative, limiting, narrow perceptions about “libraries” and “librarians,” constitutional reform of AALL is needed. That reform, in my opinion, ought not to be put off. A case can be made that the Executive Board’s rebranding initiative should have been postponed until substantive bylaw reforms are made and voted on by the membership. If we change our name without restructuring our association, we will be in no better position to serve a leadership role than we were during the Great Recession; our association needs more than a name change to respond to the forces of change being thrust upon legal information professionals and their employers in the 21st century.

What we do see so far is that AALL has done a good communications job. There are plenty of resources available to members to read more about the proposed name change, including:

End Note: I have no illusions about membership drives, annual meeting programming and bylaw revisions but I will be voting in favor of the name change because of the opportunities it presents. I have not seen an argument opposed to the name change written in the blogosphere but an excellent post in favor can be found here. Voting opens Tuesday, January 12th, and results will be announced on February 11th. – Joe

“Your vote will not only help select future Executive Board members, it will also help shape the future of AALL!”

It’s time to get your drink vote on again. Online voting for this year’s crop of Executive Board candidates begins today and ends on October 31st. Check out the candidates’ statements to see if any of the candidates express anything that can be construed as indicative of having an agenda for reforming AALL. See also the Q&As with the candidates featured in the latest issue of AALL Spectrum. There you will find out what the candidates’ favorite comfort food is!

Vice President/President-Elect:

Gregory R. Lambert, Chief Knowledge Services Office, Jackson Walker LLP

Diane M. Rodriguez, Assistant Director, San Francisco Law Library

Treasurer:

Elaine M. Knecht, Director of Information Resources, Barclay Damon, LLP

Jean L. Willis, Assistant Director for Support Services, Sacramento County Public Law Library

Executive Board Member:

Pauline M. Aranas, Associate Dean, John Stauffer Charitable Trust Chief Information Officer, Director of the Law Library, and Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Southern California

Madeline Cohen, Director & Circuit Librarian, U.S. Courts Library for the Tenth Circuit

Mary Jenkins, Law Librarian & Director, Hamilton County (Ohio) Law Library

Meg Kribble, Research Librarian and Outreach Coordinator, Harvard Law School

— Joe

Pew Survey Asserts Vitality of Public Libraries

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

Upcoming Workshops Of Interest

First of all, there is this from Washington University in St. Louis:

Conducting Empirical Legal Scholarship Workshop 2015

The 14th annual workshop on Conducting Empirical Legal Scholarship, co-taught by Lee Epstein and Andrew D. Martin, will run from June 15-June 17 at Washington University in St. Louis. The workshop is for law school faculty, lawyers, political science faculty, and graduate students interested in learning about empirical research and how to evaluate empirical work. It provides the formal training necessary to design, conduct, and assess empirical studies, and to use statistical software (Stata) to analyze and manage data.

Participants need no background or knowledge of statistics to enroll in the workshop. Registration is here. For more information, please contact Lee Epstein.

As a side note, I won’t be posting this Thursday or Friday as I will be attending the MichALL Spring Conference titled “Technology in Law Libraries: Where We’re At and Where We’re Going.” The event will be held on Friday, April 17, 2015, in the Wayne State Univ. School of Law’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights lecture hall. The program flier is here:

http://www.aallnet.org/chapter/michall/meetings/Spring_Event_Flier_031215.pdf.

Electronic registration is at http://goo.gl/tT89ar.  The conference fee is a very reasonable $20.

Mark

HathiTrust Wins On Appeal

I haven’t read the decision yet, so I can’t comment about it yet.  The opinion is here.  The Court’ summary states:

Plaintiff‐appellant authors and authors’ associations appeal a judgment  of  the  United  States  District  Court  for  the  Southern District  of  New York (Harold  Baer, Jr., Judge)  granting  summary judgment  to  defendants‐appellees  and  dismissing  claims of copyright infringement. In addition, the court dismissed the claims of  certain plaintiffs‐appellants for lack  of  standing  and dismissed other copyright claims as unripe. We hold, as a threshold matter, that certain plaintiffs‐appellants lack associational standing. We also hold that the doctrine of “fair use” allows defendants‐appellees to create a full‐text searchable database of copyrighted works and to  provide those works in formats accessible to those with disabilities, and that the claims predicated upon the Orphan Works Project are not ripe for adjudication. We vacate so much of the judgment as is based  on the district court’s holding related to the claim of infringement predicated upon defendants-appellees’ preservation of copyrighted works, and we remand for further proceedings on that issue. Affirmed, in part; vacated, in part.

The American Library Association issued a statement on the case:

Today, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling in Authors Guild v.HathiTrust, deciding that providing a full text search database and providing access to works for people with print disabilities is fair use. The court also ruled that the Authors Guild lacked standing, and therefore could not assert infringement claims against the HathiTrust. The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA), of which the American Library Association (ALA) is a member, filed an amicus brief in support of the HathiTrust.

ALA President Barbara Stripling released the following statement in response to the ruling:

“The Second Circuit today affirmed more than a lower court decision—it affirmed that the fair use of copyrighted material by libraries for the public is essential to copyright law. ALA is pleased that the court recognizes the tremendous value of libraries in securing the massive record of human knowledge on behalf of the general public and in providing lawful access to works for research, educational, and learning purposes, including access for people with disabilities.

“The continued acknowledgement of the importance of fair use to enable learning and support for the development of a well-informed citizenry makes the U.S. copyright law unique and well-functioning.”

This decision affirms that libraries can engage in mass digitization to improve the discovery of works and provide full access to those works to students with print disabilities enrolled at the respective HathiTrust institutions.

The general public can search the database using keywords and locate titles held in 80 member institutions. Full text access to the underlying works is allowed only for students with print disabilities enrolled at the University of Michigan and certified as disabled by a qualified expert. Students with print disabilities are blind or have a handicap that prevents them from reading printed text. Because of the full conversion of the texts to digital format that is accessible, these students can use adaptive technologies, such as text-to-speech, to read.

ALA will continue its defense of fair use in the HathiTrust case, should additional appeals be filed.

I expect that some of the reasoning in this case may affect the Guild’s case against Google.  We’ll see.  — Mark

A Peek Inside the Inbox

As a writer for the Blog I get a tremendous amount of press releases and other publicity information in my inbox.  Sometimes the subjects are interesting enough to lead to a post.  Other times the subject is interesting but not viable to publish.  I obviously act as the filter here.  Since it’s Friday, usually the day I can wander subjectively, I thought I would share some of these items with readers.

For example, Senator Barbara Boxer tells us that she testified before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee on the 10th of March on the LINE Act.  She introduced the legislation with Senator Ben Nelson.  It would require states to minimize waiting time at polls for voters by developing contingency plans when lines are long.  It targets states where long lines frustrated voters. Her video testimony is here, and more details about legislation are here.  I should mention that I am an avid reader of political stories though I tend to keep my opinions mostly to myself when it comes to the Blog.  I reserve my snarky comments to the comment sections for these stories.

I get offers to review books or articles that go somewhat afield of the law but are interesting nonetheless.  Here are several titles I could have received as review copies:

  • World War I For Kids by R. Kent Rasmussan (Chicago Review Press, 2014).  The release notes that this is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WWI.  The book description:  With vibrant illustration and original images, hands-on activities, and clear explanations on everything from how the war began to how United States’ entry into the war helped end it, World War I for Kids pinpoints the war’s impact on later historical events and encourages critical thinking. Instead of offering a laundry list of battles, names, and dates, Rasmussen notes that “it is more important to know what events were truly significant, why they happened as they did, and how they were connected with one another.”  I love watching stuff about World War I on what used to be the History Channel.  I watched one of the Channel’s documentaries on the Battle of Jutland on DVD recently.  Great stuff.  It’s a pity they don’t do more of it.
  • As I write this piece, Oxford University Press sent this to my inbox:  Oxford University Press recently published Dealing with Losers: The Political Economy of Policy Transitions, by Michael J. Trebilcock. This book explores the political economy of transition cost mitigation strategies in a wide variety of policy contexts including public pensions, U.S. home mortgage interest deductions, immigration, trade liberalization, agricultural supply management, and climate change, providing tested examples and realistic strategies for genuine policy reform.
  • Routledge sends this:  There is a threat to preserving the historical record of the Northern Ireland Troubles which may be as hazardous as any fire or flood. In a new article published in the journal Archives and Records James Allison King warns that the fallout from a recent intervention by the British Government risks silencing people’s accounts that would otherwise have been put on record.  In his paper, “‘Say nothing’: silenced records and the Boston College subpoenas”, King examines the ‘Belfast Project’ at Boston College, a ground-breaking oral history endeavour in which interviews gave valuable and previously unheard accounts of the Irish conflict. Those contributing were promised that the recordings wouldn’t be released until after their death. However, investigations by the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Historic Enquiries Team into the 1972 murder of Jean McConville intervened. This resulted in the relevant interviews being subpoenaed by the US Federal Government at the request of the UK. An ongoing court battle has succeeded in limiting the number of oral histories to be released for now.  Read the article online here.  Readers know that I’ve covered the troubles at Boston College’s archive on this issue.
  • West Academic Publishing sent this:  Graduation time is just around the corner!  Coming next month is an indispensable volume of wisdom and advice for law students of all ages written by Paula A. Franzese, a nationally-acclaimed educator and unprecedented ten-time recipient of the Professor of the Year Award.  A Short & Happy Guide to Being a Law Student (West Academic Publishing March 2014) is a daily companion for school, work and life, Franzese shares essential wisdom on how to be one’s best and features five guideposts for success as well as priceless advice on how to succeed in class, on exams, on job interviews, at work and in relationships.  March 3, 2014 | West Academic Publishing | ISBN-978-0-314-29107-3 | Paperback | 293 pages | $17.00.

There is a press release that announces that  George Washington University created a highly informative infographic detailing a paralegal career titled,  “Changing the Legal Landscape: The Evolution of the Paralegal”  The over-saturation of the legal landscape is leaving eager law school graduates struggling to find suitable positions. With the decreasing employment rate for lawyers, one facet of this field is on the rise—paralegals. Due to their flexibility in working in a variety of areas of law and affordable starting salary compared to lawyers, paralegal careers are rising exponentially. Many attorneys thrive in the roles of managers, planners, and strategists, while paralegals tend to be very detail oriented and succeed as technicians and fact experts.

Readers may not know that I have lectured in commercial CLE programs aimed at paralegals.  The ABA and others have discussed the idea that law schools should consider creating programs that educate students in aspects of the law without leading to a J.D.  I believe law schools should be naturals at educating paralegals rather than leaving it to a separate program.

Finally, our friends at the American Library Association make this announcement:

On Friday, March 14, 2014, the American Library Association (ALA) will award President Barack Obama’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies the 2014 James Madison Award during the 16th Annual Freedom of Information Day at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The Presidential Review Group will receive the award for calling for dozens of urgent and practical reforms to the National Security Agency’s unlawful surveillance programs.

“The Review Group’s recommendations are aligned with the American Library Association’s commitment to maintaining public access to government information,” said Barbara Stripling, president of the American Library Association. “Thanks to the steadfast commitment of this group, impractical reforms to the government’s unconstitutional surveillance practices may soon be on the horizon.”

The full press release is here.

Thanks for reading.  And to all the press officers out there, keep sending the stuff.  I may do more of these posts every now and then.  – Mark

A Smidge More on Network Neutrality

ALA, ARL and EDUCAUSE are calling on the FCC to take action on net neutrality.  They assert:

  • Libraries, colleges and universities depend on the intellectual freedom afforded by the Open Internet to develop content and applications that serve the public interest;
  • Libraries and higher education institutions are prolific providers of content, services and applications on the Open Internet;
  • Research libraries and institutions rely on the Open Internet as end-users to collaborate with and obtain content and services from outside sources; and
  • The ability to access library, college and university services should not depend on location.

I can understand the concerns.  While much of the public discussion focuses on how consumers are affected, libraries certainly have a stake in whether their e-content is blocked or slowed down somewhere along the network.  It may seem an unlikely outcome, though in the world of commerce anything is possible.  The full statement is here. –Mark