Training United States law students in the skills of legal research has never been easy. It is hard to do well, but that is not the heart of the problem. The lack of institutional support for the effort has always presented the most basic of challenges. Like regular exercise or avoiding sweets, research skills are much praised but seldom actualized. At most law schools legal research is part of the first year curriculum. It is almost inevitably taught by non-tenure track instructors. In the hierarchy of U.S. legal education, and hierarchy is a major theme for law schools, non-tenure track . . . [more]
Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns
I was poised to write about change when I found Kate Simpson’s post: The Speed of Change. I agree with her that ‘change’ is the buzzword du jour and I have been encountering the word almost everywhere. Recently I listened to the keynote speeches and attended a track on change at Computers in Libraries 2014 and I took a MOOC about Library Advocacy which stressed that libraries need to change the way they do their advocacy. I want to share some of what I have learned.
My focus here is on change in libraries, which are viewed by non-librarians . . . [more]
In the past, traditional diplomatic protections and customary international law seemed to provide inadequate and uncertain protection for foreign investments. In the middle of the twentieth century, countries in need of investment by citizens of other countries, and countries whose citizens had resources to invest and a willingness to invest in foreign enterprises, devised bilateral investment treaties (BITs) or traités bilatéraux d’investissement (TBIs) to protect the rights of foreign investors on terms the enterprises in need of investment could accept. By promoting investment by citizens of one country in enterprises in a different country, BITs solidify diplomatic ties between the . . . [more]
Over the last few years most law libraries have cancelled loose-leaf and periodical subscriptions as a way of dealing with reduced budgets and the ever increasing cost of materials. As a result, libraries are less likely to buy materials “just in case”. In the days of less constrained budgets, this “just in case” model made sense; lawyers tend to need materials urgently and if the library does not already own these materials, getting them from another library can take too much time.
However, the increased number of materials available electronically, along with the ability to do document delivery online, has . . . [more]
Over the past decades the publishing industry has developed standards to provide unique identifiers to text products. The most well known is the ISBN, the International Standard Book Number, which now comprises 13 digits, and ensures the same titles published in different parts of the world can be identified separately. The version used for periodicals is the 8 digit ISSN – International Serial Serial Number. Then there is the International Standard Text Code (ISTC), a numbering system for the unique identification of text-based works, which links different text works within books, audio books, etc. All of these standards ensure . . . [more]
When I was working on my masters of library and information studies degree it was (and may still be) fashionable for libraries to discontinue use of formal classification schemes (like Dewey, Library of Congress, or my favourite KF Modified) and switch to a bookstore model of organization by topic. This was described as being an improvement over other options because the majority of people using libraries don’t understand what the numbers mean, and this helps them find books on subjects they are interested in without having to learn the scheme first. Of course there were both those . . . [more]
This topic was inspired by Lyonette Louis-Jacques’ post on Homebrewing Laws Worldwide. Shortly after reading her post, I found an article about a Wisconsin law in effect in the 1930’s that required restaurants to serve a small amount of butter and cheese at every meal. This law was probably meant to support dairy farmers recovering from the Great Depression and was only in effect for two years. Since I am a part-time Wisconsin Cheesehead, I set out to do some research on the law of cheese and cheese making. Prior research had confirmed that cheese and beer are . . . [more]
Increasingly law librarians are asked not just for help with legal research but also with business research. One of the most frequent requests is to find information on a company. There are some fantastic paid databases that you can use for this kind of research, but not all legal professionals have access to these resources. Fortunately, there are also a number of free online resources that can used to research Canadian companies.
Step 1: Determine what information are you looking for
The first thing to determine is why are you looking for company information? Are you looking for this information . . . [more]
Professor David Post’s 2009 book , In Search of Jefferson’s Moose, is one of my favorites. Professor Post juxtaposes ideas about creativity and risk-taking as embodied both in the thinking of Thomas Jefferson and in the development of the Internet. It sounds like an odd pairing but it works. Post tells the reader at the beginning that the book represents ideas he has juggled throughout his career, so he writes freely. Reading it brought home to me important truths about the Internet. Post’s thesis is that the band of engineers who created the end-to-end freeway that is the Internet, . . . [more]
It’s awards season in the law library community. Associations are asking us to nominate our colleagues for excellence in writing, marketing, service, leadership, and law librarianship in general. We have occasion to reflect on who among us is deserving or has stepped up to the plate. And who we want to encourage to lead us. It’s caused me to ponder why being chosen, recognized, and praised on large and small scales is important to the health of the legal information profession.
Mainly, it inspires us. We are professionals. We all strive to provide excellent service, but it’s nice when our . . . [more]
[This is the second of a two-part column on open access and public access to Canadian legal scholarship. The first part is available here.]
There is an overwhelming public good and social benefit to be obtained from open access publishing. The principle that the results of research that has been publicly funded should be freely accessible in the public domain is itself a compelling one, and fundamentally unanswerable. Arguments in support of mandatory open access publishing are even more compelling when the university is a public one and the researcher’s salary is supported by public funds. The US National . . . [more]
During a recent presentation on developments in knowledge management, I found myself at a loss about what generalized recommendations for technological solutions to give, because I have observed ongoing and growing divides among organizations in their adoption of technology. These divides combine with differing organizational goals to create an environment where that there are fewer applications that are sufficiently generalizable to be recommended to a group, which aren’t already in widespread use. Word processors, web browsers, library systems, file management systems, and others are easy to recommend to most organizations of a certain type and size, and there was a . . . [more]