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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

Twitter and the Book of Kells: A Speculation

On May 12, 2010, I attended the San Francisco manifestation of Carl Malamud’s road show on legal information. Carl has criss-crossed the United States putting on programs about government information in general, and legal information in particular. The San Francisco/ Berkeley version of the program included luminaries from the world of information, law, librarians and information cowboys. If you want to see my bit, here is a link.

Questions like, “How can we organize a movement to determine exactly what types of information states already make available digitally?” sat side by side with questions like, “Can I get Twitter . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The State of Digitization of United Nations Documents

Almost two decades have passed since the United Nations began digitizing its documents. The UN started the Official Document System (ODS) as a pilot project in 1992, and officially launched it in 1993. Since then, there has been an explosion of UN documents and publications available in electronic format from a variety of sources, for free and via subscription. I recently checked the current status of UN documentation online, and here’s what I found. And what I expected to find, and didn’t. And some worrisome developments.

Discovery Tools

UNBISnet, the UN Dag Hammarskjöld Library bibliographic information system, indexes e-versions . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

A Little Light Weeding

Info, info everywhere, nor any place to shelve. (With apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.)

In a library, information overload can mean a physical overload as well as mental. Reporting series, annual statutes, conference papers all take up shelf room; how do you know what to keep and what can safely be turfed? One of my colleagues recently called and asked if I kept a particular item on my shelves. No, I didn’t, since it was officially available online. After all, shelves do eventually fill up, and if some other organization is willing . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Going Up?

“How are things in the library?” A door opens – not the elevator door, but the door of opportunity. Are you ready?

The concept of the “elevator speech” has been popping up all over the place lately. At the Ontario Government Libraries Council AGM, keynote speaker Farida Karim challenged us to come up with a 30-second synopsis of what our libraries do. Umair Haque, blogging for The Harvard Business Review, has dumped the elevator speech in favour of the Dumbwaiter Speech. In other reading, I’ve seen librarians chastised because they are unable to explain what their library does in . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Nova Scotia Rules!

At the awards luncheon at the recent CALL conference (Canadian Association of Law Libraries) in Windsor, ON, the Hugh Lawford Award for Excellence in Legal Publishing was presented to the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society Library & Information Services for their Nova Scotia Annotated Civil Procedure Rules service. CALL’s decision to present this award to this organization for this product is significant for two reasons: First, it justly recognizes an innovative and extremely useful new legal publication; second, and perhaps more important, it has been awarded by librarians to librarians for their publishing activity. As we move deeper into the digital . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Law Firms, Law Graduates and Training – Who Is Responsible, and Who Is to Blame?

Law firm librarians are often critical of the lack of research skills demonstrated by the annual crop of new graduates when they start working in law firms. The issue has been a bone of contention for many years, and can create a divide between academic and firm librarians. I think the issue is not one of training, but of understanding that the purpose of a university education and that of a law firm placement are fundamentally different, and legal research needs and experiences have little in common from one environment to the other.

I was back in my home town . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Speaking Out

At the end of September, four members of the Ontario Government Libraries Council (OGLC) presented a workshop at Showcase Ontario, the Ontario government’s enormous technology and information conference. The session was about how to use non-traditional media such as blogs and Twitter for current awareness, and included two practical case studies from the Office of the Fire Marshal and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Registrations for the session topped 400. Since then, various members of the panel have been asked to make presentations to other audiences, to contribute content to articles reporting on social media use in government, and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Context and Legal Informatics Research

The relationship of legal information to context is a key dimension of recent developments in legal informatics scholarship and innovation. These developments range from investigations in law and psychology to political and moral theory, from explorations in artificial intelligence and law to legal information theory, and from research on the legal Semantic Web to the creation of new applications that help nonlawyers contextualize legal information.

Professor Guido Boella, Dr. Guido Governatori, and colleagues are exploring ways to model legal contexts to aid automated legal reasoning. In their recent paper these scholars show how defeasible logic can be employed . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Recruitment 2.0

It’s March. Soon the doors of universities and colleges will be flung open, and a stream of students will emerge. Somewhat pasty, a little dazed from the efforts of final exams and papers, they have only one thing on their minds – JOBS. The University of Toronto’s i-School has already had its job fair. Governments are starting the hunt for summer students, and new grads are looking for that first job. It’s a heady time for students and employers alike. I thought it would be appropriate to offer some reflections and tips for job hunters and employers.

Are you in . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Mirror, Mirror

What is it about lawyers and librarians that we spend so much time thinking, talking and trying to change the way our professions are perceived? A search through the literature of both disciplines reveals what amounts to an obsession. I suppose that I shouldn’t be surprised, given that “client-focused” is a key characteristic of both groups. We worry about how we are perceived because otherwise we run the risk of losing business. If we don’t articulate our value, we’re expendable. 

SLAWyer Jordan Furlong has taken on the task of articulating the value of the legal profession in his Law 21 . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Speaking Out

At the end of September, four members of the Ontario Government Libraries Council (OGLC) presented a workshop at Showcase Ontario, the Ontario government’s enormous technology and information conference. The session was about how to use non-traditional media such as blogs and Twitter for current awareness, and included two practical case studies from the Office of the Fire Marshal and the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Registrations for the session topped 400. Since then, various members of the panel have been asked to make presentations to other audiences, to contribute content to articles reporting on social media use in government, and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Whether We Wither

I always laugh when I see the seemingly inevitable use of “whither” in library-related publications. It just as inevitably suggests “wither” and reminds me that we are a profession at some risk. It might seem unfair to pick on word choice, but “whither” always strikes me as being out of touch.

Law libraries are at risk of becoming similarly out of touch. Recent research on behalf of the Special Libraries Association by Outsell, Inc. and Fleishman-Hillard suggests that special libraries may be out of step with their organizations. While SLA’s Alignment project is focused on positioning the association . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information