October 11, 2008
New Fact Sheets from the State Department
The U.S. Department of State has issued a flurry of fact sheets including:
- Financing for Development
- U.S. Commitment to the Millennium Development Goals
- Promoting Food Security Worldwide: A U.S. Commitment
- United Nations Management Reform
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- The United States' Response to the Darfur Crisis
- The United States' Commitment to Human Rights
October 10, 2008
ALA Launches Redesigned Website
ALA has executed a major redo of its website. Check out the new features. [JH]
Closing the First Week of the SCOTUS Term
Opening week of the SCOTUS term isn't as interesting and as the final week when the Court issues its last batch of decisions just before taking the summer off. So it took awhile to find something to close the first week of this term.
President Bush discussed his judicial accomplishments and philosophy this week, lamenting about the failure of the Supreme Court to deny human beings due process and to subscribe to his concept of the Rule of Law,
Not By Men in these words:
We saw the power of judges in Boumediene v. Bush. There, a 5-4 majority rejected the carefully crafted procedures Congress established for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay in response to a prior Supreme Court decision. And for the first time, the Court awarded foreign terrorists held overseas legal rights previously reserved for American citizens.
Looking to the future this week, the Wall Street Journal published articles trying to discern what sort of candidates presidential contenders Barack Obama and John McCain will nominate to the Bench. Unfortunately neither article is based on interviews with the candidates and relies solely on insider comments and quotes from old speeches.
"I appreciate the temptation on the part of Justice Scalia...to assume" that if the 18th century text is followed "without question or deviation...all good will flow," Sen. Obama writes in his book, "The Audacity of Hope." "Ultimately, though, I have to side with Justice Breyer's view of the Constitution -- that it is not a static but rather a living document."
In judicial nominations, Sen. McCain is likely to rely on advice from the Republican legal establishment, which has helped pull the court firmly to the right in recent years. Backers say that as president, Sen. McCain would use his "gut instinct" to make the final cut among qualified candidates.
In response to conservative criticism, Sen. McCain pledged to appoint only judges with demonstrated fealty to conservative doctrine.
Sen. McCain pledged he would "restore humility" to the judiciary with nominees like Justices Roberts and Alito and the late chief justice William Rehnquist.
Friday Fun: Defendant Pleads for His Freedom in This Classic Monty Python Court Sketch
It's a "bloody parking offense!" And is a good illustration of what not to do in moot court. [JH]
Will SSRN Ever Crowdsource Its Digital Depository Like Amazon?
Have you noticed that SSRN has some really exciting new features like simple submissions, a "more intuitive, user-friendly" sign-in "modeled after commonly used websites and forms," and redesigned author and abstract pages? You can also export SSRN paper cites into common bib apps like EndNote and share papers through Digg, Del.icio.us, etc. In other words, no-brainer
improvements add-ons, certainly nothing to write home about.
CiteReader, an Infometric Tool. I have been playing around with the Company's CiteReader, a work in progress, but useful should you get curious about the download count noise law schools and their profs like to generate. Take a look at the numbers to put some meat on bony claims based on clicking a mouse button: track (1) number of abstract views, (2) number of downloads of SSRN paper(s); and (3) number of citations of the paper(s) in the SSRN database by law school, by prof, by article. Oops!
Amazon-esque Features. The Company has added one useful feature. On a paper's Abstract Page you will find a "People who downloaded this paper also downloaded" display listing other SSRN papers. Full of hubris, the Company writes:
We love this feature, and many users have actually told us they “found” papers relevant to their research through this list. ... As you can see, it is similar to other features on popular sites like Amazon.
So when will SSRN implement a commenting function to Abstract Pages like Amazon does? It might help abstract viewers make more informed mouse click decisions.
Distributing Works-in-Progress, Why? On a more serious note, Online crowdsourcing might even contribute to improving the quality of legal scholarship. Any SSRN user can see that authors upload to SSRN revised versions of their papers. Perhaps the papers were revised because some downloaders have actually read the papers and emailed the authors comments. But wouldn't crowdsourcing these works-in-progress by online commenting be a plus too? Wouldn't it be a more timely and contemporary way to do this? Contemporary as in using social media, as in SSRN not even having to invent the necessary applications to do this ... [sigh of relief] ... (SSRN isn't exactly known for being a design and implementation coding powerhouse, evidenced once again by the new features listed above).
Remember the bad old days when scholars tried to obtain input from other scholars by circulating drafts in the US mail, hoping recipients would take the time to write back a letter with comments and criticism. In library school we learned about this "informal college" of review and its drawbacks -- unknown writers not getting responses from known experts in the field, useful suggestions and corrections received too late to be added before the article had to be published.
So one has to ask the question, what is the point of e-distributing works-in-progress in SSRN without crowdsourcing via something called the "World Wide Web"? To date it appears to be the narcissistic self-stroking of law prof egos based on absurd download counts. If their articles aren't being cited, at least they are being
read downloaded, right? Or from an infometric perspective, at least SSRN's CiteReader provides a psychiatric fix for the academic delusions produced by drinking that info-antic Kool-aid. [JH]
Is the US Supreme Court's Legal Influence Waning?
The New York Times American Exception series examines commonplace aspects of the American justice system that are virtually unique in the world. In a recent installment, Adam Liptak reports on the Supreme Court's fading influence worldwide.
A Blow to the Rule of Law Movement? Probably not. Reasons cited for the decline include (1) the rise of new and sophisticated constitutional courts in other nations, courts that are more liberal than the Rehnquist and Roberts courts, and (2) the diminished reputation of the United States attributed by some to the unpopularity of the Bush administration around the world. For more, check out U.S. Court Is Now Guiding Fewer Nations. [JH]
TS-SIS Awards Committee Seeking Nominations for the Renee D. Chapman Award
The Renee D. Chapman Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions in Technical Services Law Librarianship is presented at AALL's annual meeting to an individual or group in recognition of achievement in an area of technical services, for services to the Association, or for outstanding contributions to the professional literature.
All members of AALL are invited to submit names for consideration by the TS-SIS Awards Committee. Nominations should include the nominee's full name and address. If the nominee is retired, submit the name, last place of work, and home address. Someone other than the nominee should sign the letter of nomination. The letter should accompany a list of projects, programs, or publications of the nominee and should describe the nominee's work with respect to qualification for the Award.
The application deadline is February 1, 2009. Factors considered in selecting the recipients of the Award include such things as the publishing, presenting, or sharing of innovative techniques or research, analysis or commentary; the development of software, hardware, or other mechanisms that significantly enhance access to collections; and the contribution of service to the Technical Services SIS as a whole. Achievements may be in the area of acquisitions, cataloging and classification, materials processing, preservation, automation, or technical services administration.
For further information see the Chapman Award section of the TS-SIS Handbook
Please email your nominations to any member of the TS-SIS Awards Committee.
Linda M. Sobey
Chair -TS-SIS Awards Committee
Joyce M. Janto
TS-SIS Awards Committee Member
Melody B. Lembke
TS-SIS Awards Committee Member
September Edition of AALL's Washington E-Bulletin
The September Edition of the Washington E-bulletin is now online. Highlights include:
- New York Times on the Loss of Federal Electronic Government Information
- Senate Subcommittee Addresses Secrecy and the Rule of Law
- House Oversight Subcommittee Holds Hearing on FOIA Ombudsman
- Judge Orders VP Cheney to Preserve Records
- Senator Says Government Spending Site Fails to Post Updated Information
- Secrecy Report Card Shows Expansion of Government Secrecy
- Poll Finds Public Supports Constitutional Separation of Powers
- Government Printing Office Nominated for “Green” Award
October 9, 2008
Nominations for the LPSS Marta Lange/CQ Press Award Due by December 5, 2008
The annual Marta Lange/CQ Press Award recognizes an academic or law librarian who, through research, service to the profession, or other creative activity, makes distinguished contributions to bibliography and information service in law or political science. This award honors Marta Lange, 1990-91 Law and Political Science Sections (LPSS) Chair, whose exceptional talents as a leader were enhanced by a wonderful collegial spirit. Her bright career, cut short in a fatal automobile accident in 1992, was an inspiration to others and a model of professional service.
Award: $1,000 cash and a plaque donated by CQ Press.
Criteria: Nominees should have achieved distinction in one or more of the following areas:
- Planning and implementation of a model bibliography/information services program in a law or political science library.
- History of contributions to the field through research, publications and other activities displaying active participation in the advancement of law/political science librarianship.
- Service to the profession through ACRL or related regional and national organizations.
- Promotion or development of an education program for law and political science librarianship that has served as a model for other courses and programs
Submissions: Electronic submissions are required. Nominations should include a letter of nomination including the name, address, and phone number of both the nominating party and the nominee as well as a narrative supporting the nomination, and a current vita. E-mail the nomination documentation to the award committee chair, Leslie Homzie, Boston College, at email@example.com
Does Anyone Understand the Financial Industry Bailout Act?
Apparently the ABA doesn't. The National Law Journal is reporting that the Association has asked Carlton Fields to draft a "white paper" on what the bailout plans means. The analysis will be completed this week by Carlton Fields partner Sandra Porter, and the firm will do weekly updates. Research tip: start with the resources compiled at USA.gov. [JH]
Is the Palin E-Mail Hack Indictment Legally Flawed?
According to WSJ's Law Blog, David Kernell, the 20 year-old son of Mike Kernell, chairman of Tennessee’s House Government Operations Committee pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he hacking into Sarah Palin’s Yahoo email account yesterday. See LLB's earlier post, Hacked Email Account: Was Palin Conducting Official State Business Using Personal Yahoo Email Account?
But is the indictment legally flawed? Check out what Orin Kerr (George Washington) has to say on The Volokh Conspiracy. One commenter to Kerr's post observes, "In this case, the indictment alone is probably sufficient punishment. It'll cost the young man's family at least $50-$100,000 in legal fees to get the case dismissed." [JH]
ELS: More Garbage In, More Garbage Out
Empirical legal studies has become the fasting growing research trend in legal scholarly circles these last few years. Will it fall into the dustbin of scholarly fads that get law profs tenure but have no other consequences like critical legal studies, or will it actually produce results beyond the barracks of the legal academy like the law and economics movement?
Don't know but one thing is clear, much of the work is the product of amateur number-crunchers whose statistical skills don't extend much beyond Excel 101. "This enthusiasm [in quantitative empirical analysis] has not always been accompanied by careful analysis of what the tools and resources of quantitative analysis can tell us about law and legal doctrine," writes Carolyn Shapiro (Chicago-Kent). Case in point, in Coding Complexity: Bringing Law to the Empirical Analysis of the Supreme Court [SSRN] (a critical analysis of the U.S. Supreme Court Database created by Harold Spaeth) Shapiro demonstrates that some studies unwittingly reflect the limitations of the tools and resources used rather than providing insight into the workings of courts. For more on garbage in, garbage out, see also LLB's earlier post, Tulane Law Review's Flawed Empirical Study.
Most universities has stats profs don't they? Harvard's Law School Library is on the right track, see Statistical Consulting Now Available at the Law Library. [JH]
Survey of Library Innovators Exposes Profession's Pressure Points
In What We Need Chrystie Hill and Meredith Farkas survey examines the challenges many librarians face as they look for innovative ways to serve our constituents. The survey examined 300 LJ's Movers & Shakers recognized between 2002 and 2007. Time, money and management appear to be the biggest hurdles faced. Hill and Farkas end with three thought provoking chanllenges:
- We'd like to challenge the Movers & Shakers themselves to find their own ways toward creativity, innovation, and path-breaking while tackling the routine.
- We'd like to challenge library directors and administrators to lead us and our colleagues better in strategic, succession, restructuring, or reorganization planning.
- We challenge all of us to acknowledge how much more we are alike than different in our desires to help, serve, and make an impact on our colleagues and in our communities.
Remember, the deadline to nominate librarians for LJ's next round of Movers & Shakers is November 10. [RJ]
Google's Project 10^100
To mark Google's 10th anniversary, the search engine giant has launched Project 10^100, a call for the best ideas that can change the world by helping as many people as possible. Google has set aside $10 million to help fund the five best ideas as voted on by the people and an advisory board. Here's the Project 10^100 video:
Google Circa January 2001: And a little more self-congratulatory fodder from the Company, Google's oldest available index. No Gmail. No Gchat. No Gmaps. Oh my.
Endnote. Compare LLB's earlier post on the event, Search is Google, Google Is Search: The Corporate SE Giant Will Be Ten Years Old on Sunday, September 7th, with the Company's 10th anniversary page. [RJ]
Law Professor Blogs Network Launches Native American Law and Clinicial Law Blogs
Last month, the Law Professor Blogs Network launched two new blogs:
- Native American Law Blog is edited by Timothy Pleasant and Deena DeGenova (both are Concord Law School profs). Note, for example, the blog's recent post, Native American law research - where do you go?
- After a long hiatus, Clinical Law Prof Blog is back online and is now being edited by Amy Graham and Naima Manley (both are Public Interest Fellows & Staff Attorneys at Michigan State) with the help some great contributing editors.
I hope you take a moment to check them out. See also the Network-wide RSS feed page for the latest posts pubished by our Network's 50-plus blogs. Several new blogs are in the works and the Network's RSS feed page is the first place to see them when they go into production. If you would like to propose writing a blog for the Network, please contact Paul Caron (Cincinnati) and me. [JH]
Opening: Human Rights Archivist, University of Texas Libraries, Austin
The Human Rights Archivist is responsible for planning and coordinating the work of the University of Texas Libraries program for the collection and preservation of analog and digital archives and manuscript collections that document human rights conflict worldwide, and for providing access to the collections. Tasks include: managing special projects for the identification and acquisition of digitized print and audiovisual materials and of web-based human rights resources; building a digital archival repository for human rights resources; processing of traditional archives and manuscript collections; appraising and acquiring human rights archives and published content; providing reference service and building access tools; supervising student assistants. The position is based at the University of Texas Libraries' Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection , and reports to the Benson Collection Archivist.
Through service to international human rights scholars, activists and students, the University of Texas Libraries identified a need to preserve and make accessible the historical record of genocide and human rights violations. To this end, the Libraries will expand traditional archival programming as well as collect and preserve in digital form the record of genocide and human rights conflicts worldwide. Collecting and cataloging fragile or transient Web sites of human rights advocacy and genocide watch, and audio and video documentation, formats that are especially endangered, will form two cores of the Libraries' digital archival preservation programming.
Required Qualifications: MLS or equivalent graduate degree from an accredited program. At least two years of formal experience in processing and management of archival collections. Experience with Encoded Archival Description (EAD), MAchine Readable Cataloging (MARC), and Describing Archives Content Standard (DACS). Reading knowledge of Spanish, French, or other languages. Availability for international travel. Supervisory experience.
Preferred Qualifications: The Human Rights Archivist should be an experienced and motivated archive professional with a demonstrated record of innovation and public service. This position will focus strongly on digital archival content, so knowledge of and familiarity with XML-based metadata standards (such as MODS, PREMIS, METS, etc.) are highly desirable. Certification by the Academy of Certified Archivists is preferred. Demonstrated leadership, ability to work within a team, and cross-cultural experience are necessary, as is the ability to work with library and academic professionals at the University and with international scholars and activists in the human rights community. The successful candidate will have significant experience processing archives and manuscript collections and be familiar with both analog and digital preservation. Knowledge of national and international human rights history is preferred to accomplish the successful identification and appraisal of valuable content. Demonstrated initiative, creativity, flexibility, and the ability to facilitate change and to meet deadlines are all desired in order to break new ground in information service to the scholarly and activist communities. Demonstrated public speaking, teaching, interpersonal, and writing skills will enable the archivist to accomplish effective outreach and public service for the Libraries innovative human rights programs.
Salary and Benefits: $45,000 negotiable depending on qualifications and experience. No state or local income tax. Standard state benefits package including annual vacation and sick leave, paid holidays, retirement plans, and health insurance options (comprehensive major medical, dental, vision, life, and disability). Deferred compensation and tax sheltered annuity programs also available.
Recruiting Schedule: To receive full consideration, complete application materials are due by October 24, 2008. Interested candidates must complete an online Application of Employment . Please refer to job posting # 08-09-23-01-0080 and follow applicant instructions given online which include submitting the following additional materials: a letter of interest, a full resume, a statement of salary requirements and the names, addresses (including email) and telephone numbers of three professional references. Send these additional materials to Alma Rodriguez (firstname.lastname@example.org) via email. An email confirmation will be sent within 1-2 working days to candidates who have submitted both the online application and who have emailed the additional materials as instructed.
The University of Texas Libraries has a strong commitment to diversity and encourages applications and nominations from traditionally underrepresented groups. An Equal Opportunity / Affirmative Action Employer
October 8, 2008
It's International Professional Legal Management Week
Promoted by the Association of Legal Professionals and co-sponsored by related associations like AALL, the objectives of the Professional Legal Management Week, Oct. 6-10, 2008 are to provide awareness, understanding and education about the legal management profession, and to increase knowledge of the diverse roles within the profession. Promotional Materals.
Hat tip to AALL Spectrum Blog. [JH]
The Key Word is Thinking: Google-Generation Law Students Get Search Logic Lecture from CJ Roberts
Chief Justice John Roberts has issued a warning to law students -- do not rely unthinkingly on Internet sources for legal research. To illustrate his point, CJ Roberts criticized the use of simple word searches to find "precedents" that have little or no doctrinal connection to the issues at hand.
"There is, I believe, a lot of value in thinking outside the box, but the key word is thinking. ... You cannot think effectively outside the box if you don't know where the box is." -- Chief Justice John Roberts.
In other words, don't "cut and paste analyses right into your briefs." Quoting Westlaw ad copy for one on it's practice library products.
Is the Orphan Works Bill Dead?
Yup. Public Knowledge's co-founder Gigi Sohn gives a a blow-by-blow account in her very interesting post, The Orphan Works Bill: "Wait Til Next Year!" [JH]
HeinOnine Introduces Drill-Down Citation Indexing and Linking to It's Law Journal Library
HeinOnline is introducing a new feature to help researchers assess the relative influence of law review articles based on citation frequency. Start with a topic search in the law journal library. Results will display the number of times each retrieved article has been cited by other law review articles in HeinOnline. From there, select the citation list for a cited article because you can drill down into that search subset to perform a case name search. From there, you can view the cases in articles that cite the influential article you selected to research. Check out HeinOnline's screencast. Hat tip to Jan Novak and her Cleveland-Marshall Law Library's very good CM Law Library Blog.
The Power of Persistence. Back in 1980, I sat in a meeting with Bill Hein and a technologist from the Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute in Chicago. Bill was describing what he wanted to do to digitize his product line and provide access to digital collections. At the time, the media under discussion was "video disk" technology. The hurdle was the sad state of OCR software applied to imaged text. I left the meeting thinking that even if the issues were resolved, online vendors like Lexis would so dominate the market that Bill's investment in time and financial resources would end up being a net loss to his company's bottom line. Here's another great HeinOnline service that proved me wrong.
Just a personal note of appreciation for Bill's persistence. His vision and his company's employees are providing options that one supposedly bright young thing just out of an forward-looking IT-oriented library school thought, "this ain't gonna fly." [JH]