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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

Indexes: Still Necessary in the Age of E-Books

One of the challenges for legal librarians is making sure that library users get the most out of the resources available to them. There is an incredible amount of legal information available, but if a researcher cannot find the information he or she needs, the information might as well not exist. Fortunately there are a number of tools out there to make the process easier. On a wider level, these tools include library catalogues and bibliographies, and on a narrower level these tools include tables of contents and indexes.

A good index can be worth its weight in gold, helping . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

New International Legal Biography

The latest issue of Legal Information Management focuses on legal biography – sources thereof and methods of compiling. The wonderful articles raised some intriguing questions for me. How do you locate biographical information about non-prominent persons? What can we do to facilitate more biographies about legal scholars and lawyers whose ideas fall outside conventional legal thinking? Who was the first lesbian lawyer in the UK? You can write a legal biography of a book or building!

You can write biographies of judges, lawyers, law professors, law students, law librarians, publishers, courts, international organizations, associations. Sources for compiling and locating them . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Internet Legal Research on a Budget

This month I chose to write a brief book review of an extremely useful new book – Internet Legal Research on a Budget: Free and Low-cost Resources for Lawyers by Carole A Levitt and Judy K. Davis (2014, 321 pages, $89.95USD). Published by the Law Practice Division of the American Bar Association, the main focus of the book is on United States law. However several of the chapters, such as that on Foreign, International and Comparative Law, could be relevant for any legal practice. I am reviewing the print edition of the work and cite to it, but an ebook . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

What Technical Skills Should We All Really Be Learning?

A great deal has been written about what technical competencies the legal community should learn in order to move forward professionally. It seems that much of this, while well meaning, overstates the level of knowledge needed to excel in legal practice and other jobs in the legal industry both in the present and the future. I am not trying to imply that there isn’t opportunity for those who would like to explore the technical side of the legal industry, but that doesn’t mean there is room for the advancement of all individuals in this area or that all careers will . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Stage-Struck! Do Our Legal Research Habits Limit the Evolution of Legal Information Products?

In the early 1980s, I lived for several years in Germany, pursuing post-graduate studies in the history of printing at the University of Cologne, thanks to a generous scholarship from the German government. I made many friends there, and we still telephone and visit regularly; and through these friends I made many acquaintances across Germany. Among them were several interesting and amusing individuals in East Berlin, whom we made a point of visiting whenever we could, despite the indignities of having to pass through the Wall. We’d bring them gifts from the West, especially things that were unavailable and sometimes . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Legal Research Training in 2014: Lapped Again

Training United States law students in the skills of legal research has never been easy. It is hard to do well, but that is not the heart of the problem. The lack of institutional support for the effort has always presented the most basic of challenges. Like regular exercise or avoiding sweets, research skills are much praised but seldom actualized. At most law schools legal research is part of the first year curriculum. It is almost inevitably taught by non-tenure track instructors. In the hierarchy of U.S. legal education, and hierarchy is a major theme for law schools, non-tenure track . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

‘Change’ Is Everywhere and How This Relates to Libraries

I was poised to write about change when I found Kate Simpson’s post: The Speed of Change. I agree with her that ‘change’ is the buzzword du jour and I have been encountering the word almost everywhere. Recently I listened to the keynote speeches and attended a track on change at Computers in Libraries 2014 and I took a MOOC about Library Advocacy which stressed that libraries need to change the way they do their advocacy. I want to share some of what I have learned.

My focus here is on change in libraries, which are viewed by non-librarians . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information


In the past, traditional diplomatic protections and customary international law seemed to provide inadequate and uncertain protection for foreign investments. In the middle of the twentieth century, countries in need of investment by citizens of other countries, and countries whose citizens had resources to invest and a willingness to invest in foreign enterprises, devised bilateral investment treaties (BITs) or traités bilatéraux d’investissement (TBIs) to protect the rights of foreign investors on terms the enterprises in need of investment could accept. By promoting investment by citizens of one country in enterprises in a different country, BITs solidify diplomatic ties between the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Challenges of Managing Resources in a “Just in Time” World

Over the last few years most law libraries have cancelled loose-leaf and periodical subscriptions as a way of dealing with reduced budgets and the ever increasing cost of materials. As a result, libraries are less likely to buy materials “just in case”. In the days of less constrained budgets, this “just in case” model made sense; lawyers tend to need materials urgently and if the library does not already own these materials, getting them from another library can take too much time.

However, the increased number of materials available electronically, along with the ability to do document delivery online, has . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Dealing With Link Rot – Are DOIs the Cure?

Over the past decades the publishing industry has developed standards to provide unique identifiers to text products. The most well known is the ISBN, the International Standard Book Number, which now comprises 13 digits, and ensures the same titles published in different parts of the world can be identified separately. The version used for periodicals is the 8 digit ISSN – International Serial Serial Number. Then there is the International Standard Text Code (ISTC), a numbering system for the unique identification of text-based works, which links different text works within books, audio books, etc. All of these standards ensure . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

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