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]
Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns
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]
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]
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]
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]
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.
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]