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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

A Library Association by Any Other Name?

I have been a member of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) since 1975 when I graduated from the University of Chicago Graduate Library School. That school was dissolved in the 1980’s. Now it looks like my profession of law librarianship may be disappearing as well.

AALL is in the midst of a major rebranding project. I am not averse to change and I empathize with those librarians who need to call themselves information professionals or specialists in order to gain respect in their organizations. But I had hoped that AALL would take the approach of organizations that have . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Negotiating Contracts: Not Fun, but Necessary

At the 2014 Special Libraries Association conference there was a session on “Win-Win Contract Negotiation”. During this session one of the speakers stated that if you didn’t like what the vendor was offering, you could always walk away. The audience’s reaction was that walking away was not always a realistic option in the library world.

So if walking away if not an option, how can law librarians approach negotiations to get a result they’re happy with?

Research the product. Fortunately for librarians, one thing they are good at is research. Before starting negotiations the first thing to do is to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Book Is Not Dead (Reprise)

It gladdens my heart to write this note. News reports – the general, ordinary, public news that has no vested interest in books or libraries or any of the things that are the bread and butter of those of us who are embedded in the biblio world – continue to report on the flattening or decline of the e-book market. The latest item I saw was in Connexion which reported the phenomenon is not limited to the Anglo world – France (with 6% e-book sales) and Germany (5.6%) also report a similar trend, though from a much lower base. In . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Preservation of and Access to Historical Case Law: Who Cares?

The news making waves in law libraries lately has been the announcement of Harvard Law School Library’s “Free the Law” initiative (also reported in the The New York Times). By digitizing their comprehensive collections of printed law reports, Harvard will make publicly available free, open and wide-ranging access to American case law for the first time. The Harvard Law School Library is to be lauded for this initiative, another in a series of projects from their Library Innovation Lab, including The Nuremberg Project to digitize their collections of source materials on the Nuremberg Trials; the H2O project to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

What Do You Mean the Law Is Closed?

In October, the Harvard Law Library announced that it is digitizing its entire collection of United States case law. Coincidentally, I am spending a year with the Harvard Law Library Innovation Lab (the part of the law library responsible for the digitation project) as a Research Fellow, so I’ve had a front row seat to their digitation efforts. (Literally. The shelves where they store books for scanning are right by my cubicle.) I’m not directly involved with the digitation efforts – thus far I’ve been spending my time researching how state governments publish their law online. An excruciatingly detailed . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Library Services and the Mobile Lawyer

Technology, mobile devices in particular, has reduced the need for lawyers to be in a specific physical location. Lawyers can do their work from home, at a client’s workplace, or while on vacation. This mobility does have its downside: a lawyer of my acquaintance claimed to have holidayed in North Korea simply because no-one would expect him to check his email there.

The ABA Legal Technology Resource Center’s 2014 survey found that 91% of lawyers used smartphones (with the majority using iPhones) and 49% used tablets (with the vast majority using iPads). While these lawyers were primarily using their mobile . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Big Changes at the Library of Congress

Fall has arrived again and I have migrated back to Washington, DC. I had read that Dr. James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, retired at the end of September and that David Mao, former Law Librarian of Congress, was appointed as Acting Librarian of Congress. Mao shared his vision for the Library of Congress in this online interview.

When I checked back in at the Law Library of Congress, I learned that Roberta Shaffer, former Law Librarian of Congress before David Mao, was back as the Acting Law Librarian of Congress. I know the Library and Law Library . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

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