September 24, 2008
Stop the Presses for this Expose, Greta Van Susteren Calls Law School Grades a Fraud
Clay Shirky on It's Not Information Overload, It's Filter Failure
Clay Shirky is the kind of guy you would like to sit in a bar with discussing Internet developments over a few pints of Guinness because you will come away with new ideas and a fresh perspective on the evolution of the Internet. I discovered him when I read his Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations (Penguin Press, 2008) book (companion website) and now check his main website from time to time to see what he is doing and thinking.
At the Web 2.0 Expo in NYC recently he presented a talk entitled "It’s Not Information Overload, It’s Filter Failure" where he argued that the so-called "information overload" problem is actually little more than "filter failure" in the sense that we don't have the proper filters to sort the enormous amount of information now available to all of us. Here's the video of Shirky's presentation. See also Nicole Ferraro's story on Internet Evolution. [JH]
Top 10 Government Agencies Websites
Government Computer News has put together a top 10 list of agency websites that are putting the power of the Web to work by providing not just information, but services to their constituents. Here's who made the cut:
- National Library of Medicine's Medline Plus
- Washington, D.C.'s CapSt
- SSA's 'Help With Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs'
- Massachusetts portal page
- Merit Systems Protection Board’s E-Appeal
- USGS' Water Science for Schools
So who's in your top 10? [RJ]
The Power of Precedent and Dissenting Opinions
To what extent are the Supreme Court, Congress, and the executive branch constrained by precedent? To what extent should they be? Taking up a topic long overdue for comprehensive treatment in The Power of Precedent (Oxford UP, 2008), Michael Gerhardt (Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law and Director of the UNC Center on Law and Government at University of North Carolina Law School) connects the vast social science data and legal scholarship to provide the most wide-ranging assessment of precedent in several decades.
"Michael Gerhardt's The Power of Precedent is an impressive achievement. The book is Gerhardt's effort to bridge ... the divide between legal scholars who view precedent (and law more generally) as a substantial influence on judicial thought and action and social scientists who view precedent (and law more generally) as politics by other means. Spanning that chasm is a challenge no book can meet on its own, of course. But Gerhardt has made a real start. His book engages meaningfully with leading scholarship from social scientists and academic lawyers, without succumbing to reductionism or polemic. And he has written a book that is engaging, provocative, balanced and (I cannot emphasize this enough) a genuine pleasure to read. -- Reviewed by Douglas E. Edlin, Department of Political Science, Dickinson College, in Law and Politics Book Review.
Mark Tushnet (William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard Law School) reminds us that court decisions are not pronouncements issued by the utterly objective, they are in fact political statements from highly intelligent but partisan people. Tushnet introduces readers to the very concept of dissent in the courts and then provides useful context for each case his covers in I Dissent: Great Opposing Opinions in Landmark Supreme Court Cases (Beacon Press, 2008) filling in gaps in the Court's history and providing an overview of the issues at stake. After each case, he considers the impact the dissenting opinion would have had, if it had been the majority decision. [JH]
Should States Create Specialized Courts for Complex Commercial and Business Litigation?
Given that business entities play a significant role in our economy and society and their prevalence and influence justify the dedication of resources to their development and problems at all levels of government and the legal profession, should states create specialized courts for complex commercial and business litigation? According to Ann Tucker Nees at least eighteen states have done so. In her article, Making the Case for Business Courts: A Survey of and Proposed Framework to Evaluate Business Courts, 24 Ga. St. U. L. Rev. 477 (Winter 2007)[Westlaw] the author explores the historical origins, the perceived advantages, and the criticisms of business courts and proposes a model to review the current status of and to evaluate the “success” of business courts. [JH]
Opening: Librarian for Research and Bibliographic Instruction, Washburn University School of Law Library
Washburn University School of Law Library is seeking an energetic and experienced law librarian for the position of Librarian for Research and Bibliographic Instruction. The successful candidate will, among other duties, teach law school courses in specialized legal research; make research presentations to law classes, CLE, and other groups; develop a training program for faculty research assistants; serve as a library liaison to several faculty and to several Centers for Excellence at the law school; assist in the creation of web content for the law school web site and WashLaw Web (a nationally recognized legal research portal for Internet resources); conduct specialized legal research; assist with collection development; serve at the reference desk (including one evening or weekend shift per week); and assume selected administrative responsibilities.
- M.L.S. degree from an ALA-accredited library school.
- J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school.
- Reference or teaching experience in a legal setting.
- Demonstrated interest in teaching and a strong commitment to student learning and the application of technology in the design and delivery of instruction.
- Ability to make effective oral presentations.
- Strong service orientation with effective interpersonal, written and online communication skills.
- Ability to work independently and as part of a team with law school staff and faculty.
- Familiarity with current trends, standards, and technologies utilized in academic law libraries and law school classrooms.
- Experience in providing instruction to law students in the use of print and electronic legal and law-related research resources.
This position is a twelve-month non-tenure track position. Librarians at Washburn University are members of the general faculty. The law library faculty elect a representative to the university's faculty senate and serve on university committees.
Washburn University School of Law Library has been consistently ranked high among law school libraries because of its extensive collection of print, microform, and digital resources and its innovative use of technology. For many years Washburn has ranked in the top quarter of all law school libraries for new titles added each year. The library is known nationally for WashLaw Web and for its service to legal education in providing electronic discussion groups for academic and legal professionals. The staff has a strong service orientation and seeks a colleague with that perspective.
Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas (the state capital), has been educating lawyers since 1903, was ABA-accredited in 1923 and has been a member of AALS since 1905. The school has 6,000 alums in 50 states. It has been a leader in clinical legal education and has Centers for Excellence in Advocacy, Children and Family Law, Business and Transactional Law, and Law and Government. Joint degrees (JD/MBA) and (JD/MSW) were recently approved. For more information about Washburn University , the law school and library, visit our websites at www.washburn.edu and www.washburnlaw.edu.
Salary is commensurate with qualifications and experience. Applicants should send a letter of application; resume or curriculum vitae; names and contact information of three professional references; and copies of transcripts for undergraduate, law, and library schools to Prof. John Christensen, Law Library Director, either by regular mail (Washburn University School of Law, 1700 SW College Ave., Topeka KS 66621) or electronically, preferably in PDF format, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Review of applications will begin October 20, 2008 and will continue until a suitably qualified candidate has been selected. Applicants may be required to submit to a background check prior to hire. Arrest information is not considered in the selection process.
TO ENRICH EDUCATION THROUGH DIVERSITY, WASHBURN UNIVERSITY IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER. CANDIDATES FROM UNDER-REPRESENTED GROUPS ARE ENCOURAGED TO APPLY.
September 23, 2008
Android-Driven G1: Video of T-Mobile Press Conference and Early Reviews
The first commercial handset running Google's Android operating system, will be coming to T-Mobile as the G1 for $179 on October 22nd. Here's the video of today's T-Mobile press conference and the first few of a zillion reactions to the "iPhone buster." The following Gizmodo articles include plenty of G1 images:
- T-Mobile G1: Full Details of the HTC Dream Android Phone
- T-Mobile G1 Android Phone Hands-On
- Android and T-Mobile G1's Five Most Obnoxious Flaws
Judge Orders Cheney to Preserve His Papers
The Washington Post and WSJ Law Blog are reporting that U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly issued a preliminary injunction ordering Vice President Cheney and the National Archives to preserve all of his official records. The Bush administration’s legal position “heightens the court’s concern” that some records may not be preserved, said the judge.
The order came in response to a lawsuit filed this month by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics. The suit stems from Cheney’s position that his office is not part of the executive branch of government under the Presidential Records Act. See LLB's earlier post: CREW Sues to Keep Cheney Papers Open to the Public. [JH]
USTR Sued for Release of ACTA Records Under FOIA
EFF and Public Knowledge have sued US Trade Representative under FOIA seeking release of records pertaining to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). [Text of Complaint] ACTA parties are the US, the EU, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand. The stated goal of the agreement is the international enforcement of strong intellectual property rights through increased cooperation and coordination among international governmental agencies. [USTR Fact Sheet] In May 2008, a leaked "discussion paper" was posted on Wikileaks. Hat tip to Public Knowledge. [JH]
Geeks are Guys: Is the Re-Feminization of Law Librarianship Coming?
In The Feminization of Librarianship, Tawny Sverdlin calls attention to the well-known fact that library work has been associated with women since the late nineteenth century when the proliferation of American public libraries began and library education was professionalized to meet library needs for trained staff. She observes:
In the late nineteenth century without many jobs available to educated women, male library administrators often accepted the employment of women as librarians and assistants as a means of allowing their organizations to survive financially. Access to alternate types of employment proved to be an important factor in attracting women to the profession. Male librarians at the time were accepting of incoming women simply for the cost-effective opportunity that they provided.
The opportunity for women to enter library school at Columbia College, later known as Columbia University, in 1887 proved to be a double-edged sword in terms of women’s opportunity for advancement. Melvil Dewey (right) championed women as librarians and library school educators but placed caps on their achievement in terms of gender straight away. According to Dewey’s blatant double standard, women had to demonstrate truly remarkable ability or be relegated to perpetual underling status. [emphasis added]
Professionalization in Law Libraries. If we looked into law library staffing in the late nineteenth century and its eventual professionalization in leadership roles I think we know what we would find were we to examine the appointment of directors in academic and court law libraries where the growth of legal reporting coupled with Langdell's "law library is a laboratory" mantra first signaled the need for full-time, if not professional, librarians. First, someone who "knew where the books where" was appointed to run the library full-time. For example Henry DeForest Clarke became the first in a line of full-time librarians to serve the US Supreme Court in 1887 when the Court Clerk found his library chores a burden. A porter for the US Supreme Court, Clarke knew where to find the books in the joint Congressional and Court library and in the homes of the Justices. He served until his death in 1900.
A pool of readily available and convenient law school and court staffers serving full-time to run law libraries was followed by a candidate pool of male attorneys because female law school grads were few and far between. These male attorneys turned librarians rarely had professional library training but may have been supported by female clerks with some training. They, in turn, oftentimes were succeeded by a male law library director with law school and library school training, a rare commodity considering law school grads were usually male and library schools students were predominately female.
I think we would find that the glass ceiling in law library administration was finally cracked when deans and court administrators recognized that their professional prejudice (or arrogance) that a lawyer was needed to run a law library because only another law-trained person would understand lawyers, law profs and judges "unique" information needs was a mistake. The structure of legal literature and the glut produced by the legal publishing industry required a professional librarian's skills. If one checked closely, I think one would find that cracks began to open when male attorney-law librarians skilled in legal bibliography were replaced as head law librarians with female librarians professionally trained and experienced in all aspects of technical services.
Glass Ceiling in Law Library Administration. Cracked but not shattered even to this day. As the desired skill set for law library administrators turned from technical services to public services, the window of opportunity to smash the glass ceiling completely was narrowed. Sure female public services law librarians moved up the ranks to run law libraries. The career path of one of Clarke's successors, Judy Gaskell, the current Supreme Court Librarian is one of many examples. Judy Gaskell worked her way to her current position after serving first in public services at the University of Chicago's law school library and then as director of DePaul's law school library.
But if the promotion track to law library administration has shifted to the pool of practicing public services law librarians, there should be substantially more female law library administrators than there are. Why aren't there? Probably because female law librarians have had a tougher time proving their credentials as front-line public services librarians to those members in the law library's patron group who make the law library director hiring decisions. In my opinion, the hurdle has been, may still be, much higher. It was probably easier for deans and court administrations to appoint as library director a female librarian skilled in the so-called "back office" and "mechanical" skills of technical services. Ordering and cataloging books, organizing and maintaining a library collection, is relatively mindless work, right? (NB: this is not my opinion about tech services; the best reference and research law librarians are those who took every damn cataloging and classification course available in library school.)
Bias? Yes, even as late as the 1980s, I knew that I, as a law firm reference librarian then, had a much easier time working with attorneys than my equally or better qualified female law firm librarians. My female colleagues were still being asked to make photocopies, cite-check briefs, and were reporting being quizzed to the point of questioning their competency about their research results. Nothing like that every happened to me. My hunch is female public services librarians in law schools and courts had similar experiences. I'm not saying it was impossible for women to prove their street creds, just harder than men.
"Fixing" the Cracks in the Glass Ceiling. Have attitudes changed much since the 1980s? Maybe but watch out for the hiring trend of the next generation of law library administrators. Historically, the shifting professional skill set desired by those who appoint law library directors has moved from (1) technical services followed by (2) public services to (3) today's information technology and services, and we all know that "geeks are guys," right?
"Come on, Joe, people don't think like that anymore!" Wanna make a bet. [JH]
AALL Launches Spectrum Blog
The AALL Spectrum Blog has joined the law librarian blogosphere "to continue the conversation about law librarianship and the opportunities we face." Hopefully some material currently published in the magazine's print version and Association news distributed via AALL's website and email-based alerts will find a home there. [JH]
Law Library-Produced Research Guides on the Web: Who Would Win If We Held a State-by-State Contest?
In Ohio, the clear winner by a very wide margin would be Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Library. The library's in-house collection of research guides far surpasses the online collection found in any other Buckeye state law library in coverage of topics and addressing the needs of both their school's law students and Ohio practitioners. The library's blog, CM Law Library Blog, is an excellent vehicle for announcing new guides and news of interest to the local bar and law school community. See, e.g., the blog's recent post on its new litigation research guide. Check out Cleveland-Marshall's guides: Topical List and Alphabetical List. What about in your state? [JH]
Resources for Wannabe Law Profs
Know someone who wants to become a law prof? Or someone who should be exiled to the "real world" of legal academia? (Firm librarians know what I mean, that associate who simply can't craft practical legal advice for a client.) The Legal Scholarship Blog has created a page of articles and resources that may be useful for prospective law professors and Paul Caron (Cincinnati) has updated his list of teaching fellowships. [JH]
Opening: Access Services Librarian, Florida International University College of Law Library
Under the general supervision of the head of Public Services, the Access Services Librarian provides leadership and management for all operational aspects of the department. This position is responsible for developing, interpreting, and implementing policies and procedures that foster quality library services.
Major responsibilities include: supervising, training, and evaluating circulation support staff members and student circulation workers; collecting and analyzing user statistics; monitor the physical facility; serving as a contact between the Law Library and law faculty, students, other departments within the University, and members of the public, including attorneys, judges, and visitors.
Access Services Librarian will also ensure availability of the Law Library’s reserves collection; serve as a resource on copyright compliance; and, oversee the Law Library’s document delivery/interlibrary loan program.
90% Circulation Department
- Oversee stack maintenance.
- Plan, implement, and direct circulation department of the law library.
- Hire, evaluate and supervise USPS and OPS employees.
- Supervise workflow and continuing education of circulation staff.
- Plan and direct the technical aspects of the Law Library’s document delivery/interlibrary loan program.
- Demonstrate awareness of current developments in Circulation, Interlibrary and Intercampus Loan, Reserves, and service desk management including systems, equipment, and copyright issues.
- Demonstrate continuous effort to improve operations, decrease turnaround times streamline work processes, and work cooperatively and jointly to provide quality seamless customer service.
- Monitor circulation module of the integrated library system (ILS).
5% Non-scheduled activities
- Represent circulation staff and issues in library staff meetings.
- Participate in projects assigned, delegated, or desired including but not limited to library administration assignments.
- Serve on law school and law library committees.
- Participate in university-wide librarians’ activities and meetings.
- Collaborate with University librarians on ILS policies and oversight of the circulation modules.
- Depending on experience, may provide reference services.
5% Other duties
- Perform other duties as assigned by the Director of the Law library or the Head of Public Services.
- MLS from an ALA-accredited school is desired (an advance degree combined with significant progress toward an MLS will be considered).
- At least three years of supervisory experience in an academic library setting.
- A commitment to a high level of patron service.
- Strong interpersonal and excellent written and oral communication skills, initiative, and the ability to collaborate with others.
- Demonstrate knowledge of current and emerging trends and technologies related to circulation and reserves.
- Familiarity with copyright compliance issues.
- Familiarity with document delivery/interlibrary loan.
- Experience with integrated library systems, modules dealing with circulation and reserve functions.
Applications and supporting documentation are accepted at: https://www.fiujobs.org , please submit cover letter, resume, and three references by October 15, 2008, refer to Position # 33800.
FIU is a member of the State University System of Florida. / FIU is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
September 22, 2008
Sarah Palin Beware, LJ Staffers Have Got You in Their Sights
Norman Oder and the Library Journal staff are monitoring developments in the Sarah Palin library book banning controversy on LJ's website. [JH]
Today is OneWebDay
Called the "Internet's Earth Day", the theme for the third annual OneWebDay is online participation in democracy. Check out OneWebDay's e-Democracy Time Capsule and press release for information about this year's activities. See also OneWebDay's About page for backgound information. [JH]
President Signs New Federal Rule of Evidence on Attorney-Client Privilege
President Bush signed new Federal Rule of Evidence 502, S. 2450, into law on September 19, 2008. [Thomas | White House Announcement] The rule applies to the inadvertent disclosure in discovery of information protected by the attorney-client privilege and work-product doctrine. [LLB's earlier post] Check out the very good Federal Evidence Blog for the text of the rule, analysis and links, including this one to Statement of Congressional Intent Regarding Rule 502 of the Federal Rules of Evidence (154 Cong. Rec. H7818-H7819 (Sept. 8, 2008)). [JH]
Law Librarians Putting Wikis to Good Use
Principles of Legal Research Course. Cecilia Tellis (Law Librarian, University of Ottawa) has created a legal research wiki for her Principles of Legal Research course. It’s for all first-year students in the Common Law English program at University of Ottawa. Check out the legal citation tutorial Tellis created using Adobe Captivate.
Wake Forest’s Advanced Legal Research Wiki. Sally Irvin and Jason Sowards (both at Wake Forest) report on their experiment in giving ALR students the option to use a wiki for drafting instead of writing a more traditional paper for their pathfinder assignment in ALR 2.0: When Advanced Legal Research Met Wiki (AALL Spectrum, June 2008 issue). The article follows Wake Forest’s Advanced Legal Research Wiki from conception and implementation to evaluation and reconsideration.
Forced Migration Guide. Elisa Mason, who has worked at the UN High Commission for Refugees and the Refugee Studies Center in Oxford, has created Researching Forced Migration: A Guide to Reference and Information Sources using wiki software. The guide offers descriptions of resources for the study of refugees, internal displacement and human trafficking. Hat tip to Slaw's Michel-Adrien Sheppard. [JH]
Dissenting Judge's Suggestion That Police Video Introduced Into Evidence Be Published Leads to Video's YouTube Upload
When federal judge Beverly Martin (N.D. Ga.) could not convince her colleagues in Buckley v. Haddock (11th Cir. 2008)(unpublished opinion) to agree with her view that "the Fourth Amendment forbids an officer from discharging repeated bursts of electricity into an already handcuffed misdemeanant -- who is sitting still beside a rural road and unwilling to move -- simply to goad him into standing up" she suggested in her dissent that the court publish the opinion and the video of the taser incident to make the facts of the case more widely known. The court refused but the implied suggestion prompted someone to post the video to YouTube (see below).
No one is claiming responsibility for the YouTube upload but, on Legal Blog Watch, Carolyn Elefant asks: Is Judge Martin's decision the start of a new precedent? Will courts start making available all of the underlying evidence in a case online? And is it appropriate for a litigants to make the material available where the court won't? [JH]
GPO Seeking Volunteers for FDLP Promotional Video and CD-ROM Assessment Project
Grab Your 15 Minutes of Fame at the Fall DLC Meeting. GPO is looking for volunteers to take part in brief, taped interviews about the FDLP at the Federal Depository Library Conference and Fall Depository Library Council meeting. Volunteers will receive the interview questions in advance. These questions will focus on the wealth of free information that can be found in a depository, the expert assistance available to assist the public, and the wide variety of products and services available. GPO is searching for volunteers from public and Federal libraries, but would welcome volunteers from all depository libraries. The interviews will be conducted onsite at the Doubletree Hotel in Arlington, VA and will take approximately 15 - 30 minutes each.
The interviews will be used, with others, in the creation of the next FDLP promotional video. The first FDLP promotional video will be available soon from the FDLP Desktop and will be shown at the Federal Depository Library Conference and Fall Depository Library Council meeting.
To sign up to participate, visit http://www.fdlp.gov. For more information on the promotional videos, the new "Easy as FDL" marketing campaign, or the FDLP Marketing Plan, please visit http://www.fdlp.gov/promotion/marketingplan.html
Volunteers Sought for GPO CD-ROM Assessment. GPO is currently seeking volunteers to participate in a project to assess depository CD-ROMs and identify discs at risk for content loss. The deadline to volunteer for the CD-ROM assessment project is Friday, September 26, 2008.
The project will involve reviewing CD-ROMs in depository library collections for system requirements, file formats, proprietary software, and other factors that could jeopardize access to the content. GPO has begun an initial assessment based on GPO catalog records, but assistance is needed from Federal depository libraries that have the discs in their collections in order to get a complete assessment and categorization of at-risk content.
Once high risk discs have been identified, GPO will use this information to approach content originating agencies to discuss how the content of these discs can be made available for permanent public access. GPO will coordinate with Federal agencies to assure permanent public access to the content.
Anyone interested in participating should contact Heidi Ramos at email@example.com