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The Reference Libraries of Toronto

What do the Great Library, the Legislative Library, the Toronto Star Library, Hydro Library and the County of York Law Library have in common? Well they were once open to all.

By serendipity, in searching for sources on the Riddell Collection at the Great Library, I stumbled upon a 78 year old overview of the libraries of Toronto, which is quite fascinating in the extent to which private collections were prepared to welcome patrons. See the Annual Programme for the SLA in 1927 at pages 13-20: http://www.sla.org/speciallibraries/issn00386723v18n5.pdf

I haven’t seen a more recent listing. Can anyone provide one? . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Commercial vs. Free Databases

I’d like everyone’s feedback on an issue that arises from time to time when I talk with other research lawyers in Calgary. Until recently, it was our view that the free websites (eg. CanLII) were not very useful; their search capabilities were clumsy, their coverage was limited, and/or the scope and coverage of the database was not known. While it is likely the free databases of legal materials are improving, it is my impression, and my practice, to use the commercial databases for most of my comprehensive legal research. I would like to know what others are doing in their . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Open Access and Disintermediation

Michael Geist’s Law Bytes column in today’s Toronto Star [freely available version] tells of Canadian national science advisor Dr. Arthur Carty who argued that scientific success increasingly depends upon fostering a “culture of sharing” based on open access models of communication that leverage the Internet to disseminate research quickly and freely to all. Michael echoed my mantra that while researchers rarely receive compensation for their contributions, publishers have enjoyed a financial windfall by charging thousands of dollars for journals filled with the free content generated with the financial support of the public purse through millions of dollars in . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

What Is a Search Engine?

What is a Search Engine?

Three pieces in the last 24 hours have left me wondering about whether what we think of as a tool for retrieving information might not be much more than that.

They concern the extension of platforms, the ability of distributed information to enable competitive comparisons, and the potential of community-based searching – think about a search engine that knows the preferred sources of legal researchers.

This morning’s RoB has a piece from the Wall Street Journal on how Google results can now be texted to a mobile phone. An open link to the facts behind . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

It’s My Party

Back in the day, did you ever admire the Rhino party for their chutzpah? Or perhaps you have a serious socio-political agenda to promote? Well, if we go into our next federal election soon, your time may never have been better to start your own political party!

Yes, my friends, we’ve all heard that it takes a minimum of 50 candidates to create an official political party in Canada. Well, not any more!

Currently we have a window of opportunity to create a new party with only one candidate! That’s right, you heard me correctly. . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

There Is No Such Thing as Anonymity on the Web Any More…

The Globe and Mail carried a story on the front page (Wed Nov 3, 2005) that illustrates the power of the Internet. A 15 year old boy who was conceived with the help of a sperm donation set out to find his birth father. He submited a swab of saliva from the inside of his cheek to the web based FamilyTreeDNA.com paying $298 USD to register on the site. Within nine months, and with his permission, he is contacted by two men with similar DNA profiles … both with similar sounding names (but different spellings). Using this possible family name . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Google Print Redux

While I’m on my Google kick, I thought I’d point to the rejuvenated Google Print that will begin scanning and publishing work again any day now… soon… probably. As Joe Hodnicki says, “Sounds like Google is lawyering-up.” But in the meanwhile, there are interesting things to be found in the material available from contributing publishers, especially, perhaps, in the tables of contents.

An unsophisticate search for law AND Canada OR Canadian turns up a good bunch of interesting material, starting with Marc Ribeiro’s 2005 book, Limiting Arbitrary Power: The Vagueness Doctrine in Canadian Constitutional Law (Vancouver: UBC Press), ISBN 0774810513, . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Kuhlthau’s Stages of Research Anxiety

I saw an unrelated reference today to something that reminded me of the research by Professor Carol Kuhlthau on research anxiety and the various stages that the typical student or researcher needs to pass through when conducting research. Many students are not aware of the phases they must pass through as part of the research process, so I sometimes find it useful to discuss these stages of research anxiety. . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

Google News Aggregator

Like most of you, I’m sure, I’ve known for some time about Google’s customizable “home page.” When I first learned about it I set up some items giving me BBC news and the New York Times, some bookmarks for a couple of sites I like, the weather for places I’d rather be… And I really never went back.

Only today (blush) did it dawn on me — and then only because a friend showed me something nearby — that this thing is, or could be, an RSS news aggregator that works out better than Google Reader, certainly for those . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous

More on Digitization of Libraries

Further to Neil Campbell’s post of last week about the Open Content Alliance project to digitize libraries…

Brewster Kahle has produced an e-book called The Open Library to describe the Alliance’s process and to hash over some of the problems about copyright and reading on line. Kahle, through his foundation, is a main benefactor of the Internet Archive, and has long championed making out-of-copyright works available to everyone (especially poor children) through digitization and print-on-demand.

Now that the main Canadian universities are part of the Open Content Alliance, it’ll be interesting to see whether any of our law libraries . . . [more]

Posted in: Miscellaneous