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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

Current Awareness Services in Law Libraries

One useful service that libraries can provide is current awareness. This service lets lawyers know about new or proposed developments in legislation, case law of interest, and articles relevant to their practice. It can also function as a business development tool by keeping lawyers up-to-date with what is happening in a specific industry or by letting them know if a client (or competitor) has been mentioned in the news.

Journals and newsletters

Traditionally libraries have routed a periodical or a photocopy of its table of contents around the firm. Routing a physical copy has problems: it is fine for the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Be Careful What You Wish for – the Pitfalls of Electronic Legal Deposit

Legal deposit

‘We all start out with hope and end with experience’

I wrote in the past about our role as a legal deposit library, and the joys and frustrations this brings. Things have moved on a lot since then, and the changes that have come about have created a whole new range of issues for us to consider.

For a law library the downside of paper legal deposit was that not all publishers deposited as a matter of course; that parts of loose leaf services often were missed and unable to be claimed; and the law report and journal . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Tension Between Library Collections and Other Work in Law Libraries

There has been an interesting trend in law firms recently of gradually reducing staff in libraries, but adding information specialist positions with various job titles to business development groups. It seems like a missed opportunity for firm libraries to redefine their roles, and for library staff to explore interesting work that increases the return on investment of the library budget. Wondering why this is happening in this way, I started to think about what work takes the majority of library staff time in a firm. It seems that the likely target is the commitment to maintaining print collections, which still . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

New, Changed, Dead, and Dying FCIL E-Resources

We had many exciting developments in the foreign, comparative, and international law (FCIL) e-resource landscape in recent years. The newest one was the launching of the United Nations iLibrary in February 2016. It’s described as “the first comprehensive global search, discovery, and viewing source for digital content created by the United Nations.” I’m still waiting to explore the iLibrary fully and have some many questions about it. The OECD also has an iLibrary – will the UN one serve the same purpose? How will the UN iLibrary play with the UN’s Official Document System (ODS), the UNBISnet UN catalog, and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Weeding and the Half-Life of Books

Weeding is a process in which librarians remove books from the library. (Karen Sawatzky wrote previously for SLAW on the subject.) Reasons for weeding include to remove materials from the collection that are no longer useful or that are actively dangerous. Weeding is also a good way of reclaiming shelf space, a particular concern in the era of shrinking library space.

Typical questions that librarians ask themselves when weeding a collection include:

  • Is there a newer edition of this title and do we own it?
  • Do we own anything more current on the subject?
  • Is the information available electronically?
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information

Change and Tradition: Identity and the AALL

2016 began with a strange drama in the world of law librarianship in the United States. The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) held a referendum on changing the organization’s name to the Association for Legal Information (ALI). The name change was unanimously approved by the Executive Board of the AALL at a meeting in November of 2015. To make the change official, the AALL’s bylaws had to be amended. Amendment of the Bylaws necessitates the approval of the membership, hence the referendum. Voting was conducted online between January 12 and February 10, 2016. The Board explained its rationale, even . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The American Association of Law Libraries’ Name Change Was Voted Down: What’s Next?

AALL members voted in record numbers to reject being rebranded as the Association for Legal Information. On February 10th these results were announced by AALL President, Keith Ann Stiverson:

“The proposal to change the name of American Association of Law Libraries to the Association for Legal Information has failed by a vote of 1998 (80.11 percent) opposed, to 496 (19.89 percent) in favor. A record number of members voted on this proposal, with 59.51 percent casting a ballot.”

It is unclear as to whether this rejection was due more to opposition to changing the name or opposition to the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Judging Twitter

“Treated” is not quite the right word, but for purposes of this article I’ll say avid Twitter users were treated in early February to innumerable passionate pleas tagged #RIPTwitter that Twitter not change its algorithm and containing warnings that if Twitter dare mess with reverse chronological tweet delivery, the company would have drawn on its last measure of goodwill.

Before continuing, let me first acknowledge that the preceding statement likely sounded like nonsense to most of you. Not many Canadians have Twitter accounts (~25%), and only a tiny fraction of subscribers engage with sufficient frequency to notice small changes . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information, Legal Technology

Some Thoughts on the Accessibility of Legal Information and Legal Records

In a time rapidly retreating into the past, I flirted with the idea of becoming an archivist and devoted thought to the nature of records, their legal status, and how they reflect reality. I was recently reminded of this when I heard the opinion that the official versions of legislation should no longer be published in annual volumes with amendments and periodic revisions as they are now. Instead it was proposed that a yearly annual revision be published as the official version with annotations indicating amendments as a way to simplify the process of research and to make the laws . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Revisiting the Legal Publishing Market

The shrinking of options in the legal publishing world has been a pretty constant theme in my years in law librarianship. Just when you think it has settled down a little, along comes another consolidation/merger/takeover.

In December it was announced that Bloomsbury Press had bought RELX law assets. These include 6 Family Law titles held by LexisNexis and Jordan Family Law publishing. This came about because Lexis (ie, RELX) has purchased Jordan’s Family Law, and part of the deal with the CMA was that some titles be sold elsewhere to ensure competition. J

It’s a bit like ping pong match . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

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