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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

Getting the Most Out of Online Usage Reports

(This article is based on a talk that I gave at this year’s Canadian Association of Law Libraries conference.)

With online services accounting for an ever-increasing percentage of libraries’ budgets, it is important to be able to keep an eye on the usage of these services. Fortunately, a number of these online services offer usage reports. These reports allow the account administrators to get a clearer picture of how these services are used and how to get the most out of them.

Where to get usage reports

The availability of usage reports varies greatly from publisher to publisher, and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Indian Kanoon: Sushant Sinha on Innovation and Free Law in India

Indian Kanoon, Dr. Sushant Sinha‘s innovative free-access-to-law service for India, has recently received attention from several sources in the technology world.

First, Indian Kanoon (the Hindi word “kanoon” means “law”) has been included by La Chaire en information juridique de la Faculté de droit de l’Université de Montréal in its IDRC-funded global study of the sustainability of free-access-to-law services. Second, MIT’s Technology Review India in March 2011 cited Indian Kanoonin its recognition of Dr.Sinha as one of India’s “Top Innovators Under 35.” Most recently, Indian Kanoon was the topic of Dr. Sinha’s VoxPopuLII post entitled “Indian Kanoon: . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Privacy v Information: Who Has a Right to Know?

The UK has faced a barrage of information-related news recently, from how it is obtained, to how it is restricted, and how it affects individual rights of privacy and freedom of expression. When you come from a country such as Australia, with robust defamation laws, the intense media coverage by the British tabloid press of anyone in the public eye can be quite a shock. It is the scurrilous nature of much this information, the level of detail revealed, and the distortion of facts in salacious headlines that still surprises me, despite living here for more than seven years.

Recently . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Maritime Law Book, Javascript, HTML Forms and the Post Method

Maritime Law Book has been re-designing its website. As of the date of writing, I hadn’t seen an announcement. It was just something I happened to notice on May 3, 2011.

The change I’m going to talk about isn’t the most obvious one to a casual observer, but it is a very welcome one. The change I particularly want to notice is that people can now create links like this one to cases reported by Maritime Law Book:

http://search.mlb.nb.ca/?IW_BATCHSIZE=20&IW_SORT=-11&IW_DATABASE=OAC&IW_FIELD_TEXT=271+O.A.C.+135+\\+MLB

The best way to cite a case is to provide a hyperlink. Because of that, the people who report cases on . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Rebuilding a Law Library, Part 5: Library as Place

[This is the fifth in a series of columns about the trends, theories, principles and realities that have influenced the redesign of the new library of Osgoode Hall Law School – part of the renovation and rebuilding of the School currently underway.]

The topic of this column was suggested to me when I read Karen Sawatzky’s interesting column on “Future Ready Libraries”. In her column, Karen refers to The ARL 2030 Scenarios (Washington, DC: Association of Research Libraries, October 2010), which imagines four possible futures for our research libraries. I find such exercises interesting and a good catalyst . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Nontraditional Indexes to Law Journal Articles

Users sometimes want to find law journal articles on a particular subject. Other users know the title of the article they need, but they don’t know what law journal published the article. And sometimes users want to find all the articles an author has published, when the author has published articles in many journals and even in a variety of languages. They can consult standard journal indexes, but other, nontraditional indexes such as the OPACs and databases described below can be useful for more comprehensive and/or up-to-date searches.

The Peace Palace Library at the Hague, the Netherlands, has made its . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Developing a KM Strategy

I recently celebrated five years working in a law library. I graduated with my library technician diploma eight years ago, and yet I still feel new to the library world. I think part of the reason for that is I have a relentless curiosity about everything, so I’m always asking questions. My latest wonderings today are about Knowledge Management

My knowledge of Knowledge Management is self-taught; what I’ve read on blogs and white papers, and what I’ve gleaned in conversations with KM practitioners. I’ve been thinking about it a lot more lately, since I recently left one firm to join . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Public Libraries and Legal Research

No matter how good a library is, space and economic constraints mean that it simply cannot carry everything a researcher might need. As a result, libraries rely on other libraries to help fill in the gaps in their collection. (This practice has its flaws, most notably being what happens when the other libraries stop carrying the materials you need, but that’s another column.) I run the library of a Vancouver law firm so my “go to” libraries (as you might expect) are the B.C. Courthouse Libraries and the University of British Columbia’s Law Library. However, I also use the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Information: Libraries & Research

A Tinkerbell in Buffalo

Over the past year, I have been working on a book about the evolution of legal information in my lifetime. It is probably one of those projects that will never be finished but it is worth trying. The vagaries of time and fate placed me in an excellent position to observe the shift in the tectonic plates of legal research. When I graduated from law school in 1974, the world of printed legal information was at the end of its golden age. The West National Reporter System, the American Digest System and Shepard’s Citators were ascendant. The cutting edge of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Crowdsourcing Lawmaking With LexPop

A key trend in eGovernment today is enabling more public participation in policy- and law-making. One very meaningful way to increase the public’s involvement in lawmaking is by crowdsourcing the drafting of legislation, as the Brazilian Câmara dos Deputados has done through its e-Democracia platform.

Now, crowdsourcing of legislation has come to the U.S., through LexPop, a new wiki created this month by Matt Baca and Olin Parker, both students at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. [Baca is also a law student at New York University.]

As its first effort, LexPop is hosting the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Kicking Into (Over)drive

A storm broke on February 26th when word got out that publisher HarperCollins had unilaterally decided to limit the “shelf life” of its ebooks catalogue. Overdrive, a major distributor of ebooks in the public library world, found itself caught between the publishing powerhouse and a furious library community when it was announced that library loans of ebooks would be capped at 26. After that, the book will disappear from the library’s collection automatically. If the licensing library wished to keep the title, another virtual book would have to be purchased.

I was attending Podcamp Toronto at the time, so . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

PL 111-314 Rocks My World

On December 18, 2010 with a stroke of his pen, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law Public Law 111-314, creating Title 51 of the United States Code. Title 51 gathers together all in-force federal law on the topic of National and Commercial Space Programs. Since the Title was enacted as a single piece of legislation, it serves as positive law. There will be no need to refer back to the underlying publication of the statutes that make up its component parts in the Statutes at Large. Though I have had difficulty finding colleagues who find this event as earth . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information