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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

Are We Trying to Close the Barn Door After the Ship Has Sailed?

The concept of knowledge management can expand to encompass many things. Theoretically it includes influence over the social aspects of the organization, such as ways people relate to each other, as well as managing explicit information in the form of written information. Practically it is often carried out by staff in a particular department with varying degrees of influence, who may not be involved in the wider workings of the organization. This means that some of the most important ways people in an organization communicate and transfer knowledge are difficult for knowledge management staff to change.

Many knowledge management programs . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

When the Publishers Won’t Play Ball

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have raised an issue of great concern in Sub-Saharan Africa. The most effective anti-venom used there to treat cases of snakebite, Fav-Afrique , is no longer being produced by the manufacturer, French pharmaceutical company Sanofi. The existing batches will run out in 2016. Even if another company took up production, it would be two years before replacements would be available. The company says it is no longer profitable to make the drug.

Why am I writing about this in a law blog? In a way it follows on from my previous blog which outlined my case . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Are There Still Gaps in International Law Scholarship?

I challenge international law scholars to write about the unpopular, the weird, the old, the outside, the unexpected, the obscurities buried in ancient tombs, and the unsafe topics that do not make headline news. – -Lyonette Louis-Jacques, 1 CJIL 108 (2000).

The very first issue of the Chicago Journal of International Law featured articles on “What’s Wrong with International Law Scholarship?”. In my piece therein on “Gaps in International Legal Literature,” I bemoaned the prevalence of the expected and the mainstream and challenged scholars to look for difference, to leave the beaten path, and find gaps that can . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Training Users to Get the Most Out of Electronic Resources

The number of electronic resources in libraries is steadily increasing, despite the fact not everything is available electronically and it is unlikely that will ever be the case. However, while books are generally easy to use, this is not always the case with online resources. Lack of consistency or clarity in interface design means that there may be content or features that are not immediately obvious to the casual user. Librarians employ a number of tools to help users to get the most of these resources, with training being one of the most important.

Training is not one size . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Moving Closer to Organizations’ Core Businesses

I somewhat shamefacedly enjoy reading professional advice books (and fashion advice books, but I wrote that column already), and one of the most memorable pieces of advice I recall was that regardless of what career path one chooses, in order to have the best career prospects, one should aim to work in an organization’s main line of business. There is generally have more room to advance as an accountant in an accounting firm than in the accounting department of a company that primarily does something else. This is reflected in the different career paths and experiences of lawyers who . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Launch of New Legal Innovation Centre

On June 22, 2015, I attended the launch of what is described as an “industry cluster,” LegalX. The launch took place at, and was sponsored by, the MaRS Discovery District. Based in Toronto, MaRS “is one of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs… It provides expert advice and market research, and makes connections to talent, customers, and capital.”

The official announcement of the launch states that LegalX is “dedicated to moving the legal sector forward through enterprises — whether startup or established corporates and law firms — LegalX at MaRS will connect the technologists, designers, coders, engineers and lawyers . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Asleep at the Wheel

In 1987, those roseate times before social media and Google searches, Dr. James Billington was appointed the United States’ Librarian of Congress. The appointment did not bode well. My voice was part of the outcry over the fact that at a crucial juncture for the role of libraries in the world, a person was taking the helm who was neither a librarian nor an information professional. The New York Times, which I had always viewed as the sage voice of national reason, opined that the job was too big for a librarian. It called for a scholar like Dr. Billington. . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Libraries – the Value of Just in Case, Not Just in Time

I am using the column this time to explain my anxiety that society risks losing too much as the materialism of ‘value’ replaces the experience of centuries of unquantifiable practice and purpose.

It is my concern that too many libraries are under threat from the bean counters. Libraries have always existed as places for the ‘just in case’ event, providing the go-to location when you want sustenance of the mind in some way – knowledge, leisure, curiosity, information, entertainment.

However the world is in thrall to the ‘just in time’ mentality of financial wunderkinds who do not value those ‘old . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Curse of Loose­-Leaf Law Books

At the annual meeting of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries last May in Moncton, one of the keynote sessions was on The Future of Legal Publishing. The keynote speakers were Robert McKay and Jason Wilson, moderated by Gary Rodrigues – all fellow Slaw columnists. The opinions offered by these legal information industry experts were informed, insightful and fascinating, and the audience – a roomful of law librarians – was completely engaged. Though each of the speakers had his own vision of law publishing’s future, all were unanimous on one point in particular: there is no future for loose-leaf . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Locating Current Constitutional Texts

In 2014, Egypt, Thailand, and Tunisia adopted new constitutions. On June 1, 2015, Norway amended its constitution to codify judicial review. Recent constitutional developments and events like these generate documents that can be hard to find. The texts of proposed amendments to constitutions, draft constitutions, and recent constitutions can be published in a variety of sources. These documents might not exist in English translation, but only in the original language or vernacular. Herewith some tips for locating new constitutional texts.

The standard sources for constitutional texts are regularly or continuously updated, yet they can be at least a year out . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Summer Updates: MOOCs, and UELMA

Summer is just beginning and I have a little extra time to follow up on some of my earlier columns. As usual I am focusing on open access resources for the frugal learner and researcher. I wrote about massive open online courses (MOOCs) two years ago and have been taking these free courses ever since.

My favorites so far have been the University of California at Berkeley’s Science of Happiness and Harvard University’s Poetry in America series. I most recently completed Poetry in America: Emily Dickinson. Both of these courses are offered by edx and I recommend them as . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

How Will We Find What’s Outside Our Walled Gardens?

I have been thinking about discoverability of legal information materials for some time and worrying that in many cases it isn’t as good as it could be. At the Canadian Association of Law Libraries in Moncton last month the exhibitor hall was full of people with the goal of selling attendees information products in various forms. There were fewer people there with the goal of helping make those purchased materials accessible once they are acquired.

Legal information materials’ primary users have generally been subject experts (of various degrees), and this has meant that there has been less pressure to improve . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information