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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

There Is No Simple Way to Organize 12,000,000 Titles

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]

Posted in: Legal Information

A Brief Foray Into Cheese Making and the Law

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]

Posted in: Legal Information

Researching Canadian Companies for Free

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]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Future Is Being Mapped Without a Reliable Compass: Net Neutrality

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]

Posted in: Legal Information

Recognition and Praise

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]

Posted in: Legal Information

Open Access, Free Access to Law and Access to Canadian Legal Scholarship (Part 2)

[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]

Posted in: Legal Information

Some Musings on Software in the Legal Field

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]

Posted in: Legal Information

Free European Sources Online

Free resources can be great – the revamped Eur-lex in operation
When we use e-resources in the law, there has been a tendency to value the paid resources over the free ones. Sometimes the free resources are not seen as truly comprehensive collections, whereas the purchased ones are; sometimes the linking and cross referencing is more sophisticated in the commercial databases; often the value-added editorial content of headnotes prepared by legal editors has been enough to justify the outlay for these reports and legislation online.

However as more and more bodies such as governments make their resources freely available online, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Is KluwerArbitration the Best?

Every year I re-evaluate existing e-resources for researching international commercial arbitration law. Every year, I’m not entirely satisfied. KluwerArbtration seems to provide the best, most comprehensive accesss to resources, and students, faculty, librarians, and practitioners mention it most. But every year, I double-check. Does KluwerArbitration pass the Vis Moot test?

The Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot is an annual competition open to law students worldwide. Over 250 law schools participate. “The Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot is a competition for law students. Students from all countries are eligible. The Moot involves a dispute arising out of . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

2013: A Retrospective With No Top Ten List

As I write this column, 2013 is winding toward its close. Like most years in the 21st Century, it was filled with innovations in information. The changes accelerate as time passes. Current undergraduates view the world before the coming of WiFi, iPhones and social media like for those born after electricity was brought to the masses. How did people live before the change? Who cares? Much is being gained, much is being lost. As Charles Dickens put it, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I will recap the year with one gray story, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Unreported Decisions: A New Challenge

It used to be that either a decision was “reported” (i.e. published in a print reporter) or it wasn’t (an unreported decision). Unreported decisions were hard to find; generally, you needed to get a copy from the court or from one of the parties involved. The situation started to change as publishers began to offer summaries of cases:

The WLP Decisions, along with the All-Canada Weekly Summaries led to the rise of ‘unreported decisions’ being readily available for lawyers to use in their research. The heyday of print law reports as the only official record of legal decisions had peaked,

. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information

Another Valuable Virtual Conference

During two weeks in mid-December the U. S. Government Printing Office (GPO) held a virtual meeting, “Expanding the Forecast Framework: Engage & Discuss,” which focused on ways to map the future of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). GPO has been distributing federal documents to a variety of libraries, including law libraries, since the program was established by the Depository Library Act of 1962. Currently there are over 1,200 libraries participating in the program. 

Over the years the FDLP has shifted from distributing only print publications to some microfiche and finally to digital formats. Now print distribution is limited to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information