July 10, 2010
July 9, 2010
Did Google Breach Home Networks of Members of Congress?
Consumer Watchdog is claiming that Google could have breached unsecured Wi-Fi networks running from the homes of lawmakers when they ran their Street View service trucks near the residences. How do they know? Because Consumer Watchdog did it themselves. The organization did its own electronic sniffing to substantiate the claim. Google is under fire in a number of countries, most recently Germany and Australia, for the data collection. Google claims it was a mistake and has stopped the practice. Google is also cooperating with the various investigations.
The story about Google is relatively old news, but the wrinkle about Consumer Watchdog is new. I think this is an example of an organization trying to turn what Google could have done into something it did without having any real evidence of what Google actually did with the data collected by the Street View trucks. I'm surprised they haven't trotted out the meme that Google was invented by the CIA to spy on the world.
Whatever happened, some of the blame certainly belongs to members of Congress who run their home networks unencrypted. One of these is identified as Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) who is the chair of the Intelligence Subcommittee of the Homeland Security Committee. I wonder if agents of hostile foreign powers might be mad because they hadn't thought of the idea yet, or because they had and now they won't be able to continue collecting information. Blame Google for what it did, not for what it may or may not have done. More on this story is in the San Francisco Chronicle. [MG]
West and AALL Price Index
Guest post by Ken Svengalis, Rhode Island LawPress, and author of the annual Legal Information Buyer's Guide & Reference Manual
To follow up on Joe Hodnicki’s comments regarding Thomson Reuters of a few weeks back, we have all been witness to the devastation wrought by West's price increases since the 1996 merger. Driving profit margins to better than 32% from an already healthy 25% (i.e. 2.5 times that of corporations generally) has caused untold damage to law libraries nationwide. Although we may rail against West’s price and supplementation costs increases, we can’t, as an organization, tell West what to charge. Those determinations will ultimately be left to the market. But we can demand that West provide the Price Index Committee with supplementation cost data so that we can make informed decisions. They owe us no less.
Early on, West set its sights on the broader lawyer market and had decided not to let the interests or concerns of law libraries stand in the way of price increases that will be tolerated by gullible lawyers unaware of the dynamics of legal publishing. We're simply not important enough to them in the broad scheme of their business model. That's why they have continually stiffed AALL on the issue of providing supplementation cost data to the Price Index Committee. Once AALL stiffened its resolve not to tolerate West's intransigence any longer by refusing their sponsorship of the Annual Meeting, West seemingly relented and agreed to cooperate. But, in actuality, it was more of the same.
It should have been obvious to anyone who has been paying close attention that the Price Index tracks supplementation costs, not new set costs. Yet, when West seemingly relented and agreed to provide data to the committee, what did it actually provide? Not the supplementation costs that the Index has tracked since its inception in 1973, but NEW set costs as already provided on the West web site. One can only interpret this as a deliberate slap in the face to the law library community. It's hard to imagine that anyone at West could be so clueless as to not understand that supplementation costs are what the Committee, and the law library community, seek in order to make informed acquisitions and cancellation decisions. And they should have had enough sense to realize that inserting new set costs into an index designed to track supplementation costs would wreak havoc with the result.
After all, this issue has been batted about for at least ten years, or at least since the creation of the Price Index 2d in 2000. Repeated appeals have been made to West for their cooperation, all to no avail. Failing to secure their cooperation, the AALL Board finally decided to drop West from the Price Index entirely, rendering the whole project virtually useless. After all this unfortunate history, to now provide the Price Index Committee with new set costs is little short of bizarre.
The supplementation costs the Committee sought from West involved essentially the same titles I have been tracking in my “Legal Information Buyer’s Guide & Reference Manual” since 1996. Indeed, the current list of West titles in the Index closely tracks the titles in my book and represents my input into the process when the Price Index 2d was created in 2000, using 1998 as its new base year. So, naturally, I have viewed with dismay the difficulties the Committee has faced in attempting to collect supplementation cost from West. When the Price Index 3d was unveiled in 2006, using 2005 as its new base year, all the West titles were dropped without ceremony. This reduced the number of indexed titles from 914 to 584, or 36% of the total. It soon became obvious that the Committee could not continue its project with all titles of the world’s largest legal publisher removed, particularly when that publisher was responsible for the largest supplementation cost increases in history and was the cause of devastation to law libraries nationwide.
So, what is the Price Index Committee to do in light of West’s continued intransigence? Does it continue to publish its index on aallnet.org without West's representation? Or does it work with the AALL board to ensure West’s cooperation with the Committee’s work? Committee members have a difficult enough task as it is. Limited terms and membership rotation make it difficult to maintain the group memory necessary to keep the pressure on West and preserve the long-term viability of the enterprise.
I have been tracking West supplementation costs since 1996 when I published the first edition of the “Legal Information Buyer’s Guide & Reference Manual”, which now includes nearly 20 years supplementation cost history for many titles. Indeed your support of my book since 1996 has allowed this effort to continue. But such an effort should not be left to one law librarian/publisher, but should be an essential AALL activity that provides it with the attention, commitment and continuity it deserves.
The AALL board’s decision to refuse West sponsorship of the Annual Meeting was a salutary development after many years of dithering. But now, it is faced with confronting the same issue all over again. On the eve of the Annual Meeting, it is hoped that it will give this subject the attention it deserves and demand West’s genuine, not feigned, cooperation. Over the years, West has insinuated itself into the sponsorship of dozens of Annual Meeting luncheons, SIS functions, and parties which are simply extensions of their marketing efforts. Until they come across with the supplementation cost data, however, these are all meaningless exercises that fail to address our most pressing concern.
Friday Fun: Dirty Books Song
Perfect for Monday's Karaoke Night in Denver! Hat tip to Mark Giangrande. [JH]
Yes, Turn Annual AALL Meeting Programming on Its Head But Professional Interests Are Not So Institutionally Myopic to Totally Negate Crossover Appeal
A recent NLJ/LTN article promotes the expertise law firm librarians offer for CI work. Law Librarians: An Untapped Resource for BI by Louis Abramovitz, librarian at Washington-based Wilkinson Barker Knauer, Scott Bailey, Washington-based research and information services director at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey and Cameron Gowan, library manager at the Groom Law Group in Washington, unintentionally highlights the divide, but bridgeable gap, between the two largest membership groups in AALL, academic and firm law librarians. A snip:
Today, law librarians bring a wide array of skill sets to the table, reaching well beyond identification of sources and document retrieval. Many law librarians have one or more advanced degrees in addition to a master's in library science. While the J.D./M.L.S. combination is well-known, particularly in academic settings, law librarians working in private firms often hold an M.B.A. or other business-oriented degree.
For trends that have shaped law firm libraries in ways that differ substantially from academic law libraries, see Eleanor Windsor and Ron Friedmann"s LLRX article Law Libraries Transformed.
With differing skill sets in play in differing work environments, the crossover appeal for AALL annual meeting programming most definitely is and has been lacking. It may be a reflection of our individual professional interests in many cases. I agree with Rich Leiter that the "cause of the complaints can be traced to the peculiar nature of the membership structure of the association itself." See his Time for change at AALL? for his recommendations on restructuring AALL along the lines of institutional interests which are similar to my suggestions for restructuring the Executive Board along the lines of the major types of institutional members. Let's remember, this is an association of law libraries, not law librarians.
Perhaps, having started out as a BigLaw firm librarian my interests, even when working as a academic law librarian, have always tended toward programs that focused on law firm librarianship. Attending the obligatory academic law library management sessions would usually drive me up the wall, most memorable being the great "volume count" debate at a NOLA session. Perhaps my library school education from U of Chicago Graduate Library School's primarily information science-theoretical and IT-oriented curriculum still leads me to attend some IT sessions that are typically run by academic law librarians who are experimenting in interesting ways with information and web technologies. Perhaps my less than straight-line work history -- BigLaw firms, academic law libraries and now public libraries -- is more atypical than most annual meeting attendees. However, I simply do not believe (or want to believe) members' professional interests are so utterly institutionally myopic that crossover appeal is non-existent. It's the on-going abysmal programming trend that simply isn't generating interest, so much so that many regular attendees have come to expect utter boredom when they review the schedule each year, desperately seeking one hopefully interesting session each day.
Tom Boone's observation in Three suggestions for improving AALL program selection that "AALL's well-intentioned push to appeal to all of the people all of the time, which results in watered-down [annual meeting] programming that has limited applicability to everyone but inspirational functionality for no one" is pretty dead on. It's the dumbed-down programming that leads to far too many snooze-worthy sessions. They challenge no one to be exposed to new ideas, which is, after all, one of the important, if not most important, reason for these so-called professional education and development sessions.
Absent kicking up the content -- perhaps. OMG, by bring in non-librarians for many sessions -- there still are two significant areas of crossover appeal for all law librarians:
- Preparing law school grads with legal research and applied legal tech skills for the real world, a chronic issue that has existed as long as I have been a law librarian. Let's not, however, lay blame on academic law librarians because they do not control the curriculum, do not know real world costs, have little if any hands-on exposure to applied legal tech used in firms, in-house corporate legal departments and courts (but could make an effort to move beyond WEXIS to systematically include BNA and CCH online services in legal research instruction). Private and public sector law librarians could help rectify this situation by providing cost information, instruction in how WEXIS license-driven pricing works, actually works, in the real world of cost-effective legal research, participating in teaching legal research by featuring the use of non-Wexis professional grade resources and applied legal tech skills; and
- Library-vendor relations where the differences between types of law libraries could enlighten everyone by specificity on how business is really conducted by each market segment. Librarians in each market segment compare notes privately amongst themselves on what discounts off-list for print and online are available based on buying power, what concessions in licensing have been made, what amendments to boilerplate contracts have been accepted by WEXIS, what real vs nominal print pricing has been achieved each year. These hushed exchanges among directors and invoice-paying law librarians would be of interest and beneficial, I think, to all invoice-paying librarians in all market segments each and every year.
Boone offers a number of suggestions for improving AALL annual meeting programming, all worthy of consideration. In a comment to his post, Anne Myers, 2011 AMPC chair, writes:
I think we all agree that annual meeting programming needs to be turned on its head and changed in all sorts of ways. I, too, have heard arguments and advocates for such changes for years. I've been an AALL member for 30 years and look forward to seeing significant changes come in the near future. ... It's a lot easier to air discontent about what IS without coming up with workable suggestions for how to change things, keeping in mind that the association comprises librarians from different environments and with different job responsibilities. I've been pleased to see suggestions coming on blogs and spreading like wildfire on listservs, and hope that some/many of the ideas can be incorporated as we move forward. Your suggestions and comments are good ones.
I whole-heartily concur. No one says a workable corrective to the long-standing current state of affairs will be easy. As Boone writes about his suggestions:
They would involve major alterations to how the Annual Meeting's content is selected, requiring personnel, administrative and technological overhauls to be implemented. So what? AALL is our organization, and if we don't shape it and the Annual Meeting into something that meets our needs, we have no one to blame but ourselves.
Once again he is dead on about what will be required. This rapidly aging and decrepit Baby Boomer director will not be participating by making suggestions on how to reform our annual programming. My generation is probably responsible, to paraphrase Greg Lambert, for screwing up our association by letting this state of affairs go on far too long. If there is one thing I have learned in the last 30 years, it is that those who create the problem are less likely to be the ones who come up with an innovative solution to it. Problem-creators tend to tweak the existing state of affairs; wiping the slate clean is what is needed here to fix this mess. I do, however, think everyone should chime in while handing over this mess to the Gen X-Yers to solve. As Anne Myers has noted, above, it's time to turn annual meeting programming on its head. Good luck with that.
Turn AALL's Executive Board on Its Head, Too. It's also time to turn the structure of association membership and our executive board on its head, too. That's going to need more that just luck. However, we have no one to blame but ourselves if we don't.
End Note: This has been blogging-before-Denver week for LLB and this LLB post is the last one by me before heading off to Denver Sunday afternoon, hopefully. No, I will not be "live blogging" while in Denver. I'll leave that up to all the younger and much more energetic law librarian bloggers. Live blogging also requires attending sessions, doesn't it? [JH]
Opening: Librarian (Law), Library of Congress
Librarian (Law) Vacancy #100142
GS-11 - Law Library- $62,467.00- $81,204.00
Opening Date: 01-JUL-10
Closing Date: 30-JUL-10
Availability: Open to all
The Law Library of Congress seeks a legal information professional with education and experience (1) providing legal and legislative information services to diverse and demanding clients in a large law library or similar legal information organization; and (2) creating, organizing managing and promoting content using Web 2.0 and other technologies for dynamic websites. Qualified candidates with both Juris Doctor and Masters in Library/Information Science degrees from accredited universities with appropriate training and experience are strongly encouraged to apply.
The successful incumbent will demonstrate progressively responsible work experience or combination of education & work experience and proficiency in (1) providing concise and thorough oral and written research guidance utilizing creative methodologies to respond to complex inquiries; (2) applying a strong public service demeanor when providing legal and legislative information services to diverse and demanding clientele; (3) developing, organizing and managing legal and legislative collections (websites, blogs and online resources); (4) creating, organizing and managing legal and legislative content for dynamic websites; and (5) using time management skills to complete multiple time-sensitive assignments and projects.
To view the vacancy announcement and to apply for the position, visit: http://www.loc.gov/law/about/jobs.php#avail100142. Questions should be addressed to the Library of Congress Employment Office at (202) 707-5627.
FOR AALL 2010 DENVER ATTENDEES: Members of the Law Library of Congress staff will be available at the AALL Annual Meeting to discuss the position. Please check the AALL Placement Office for days and times. However, interviews will not be conducted at AALL and applicants must apply according to the instructions in the vacancy announcement.
July 8, 2010
Going Green with LLJ and Spectrum: At Least End Going in the Red Before AALL Wastes Another $1 Million Publishing Both Titles in Print
Do we really need LLJ and Spectrum in print? Both are available electronically and by the time the latest issue of each has made it to my office in print, I’ve already read whatever I intend to read by way of the e-versions. You? If not, perhaps an economic argument will persuade you that maintaining print versions of these titles in the 21st Century offers no benefits for the financial well-being of our association.
Past and Projected Deficits for Print. From 2001/02 – to Approved 2009/10 Budget LLJ and Spectrum have lost over $1 million -- $686,668 for LLJ and $498,315 for Spectrum = $1,184,983 to be exact. Balance sheets for each title are published below. This madness is going to continue. According to the Proposed 2010/11 Budget, LLB and Spectrum will produce a combined deficit of $140K. At this rate AALL will lose another $1 million in seven or eight years if our association continues to publish these titles in print.
2010/11 LLJ. According to the Proposed 2010/11 Budget, the projected deficit for LLJ will be $88,400. Postage, printing and typesetting costs will run $96K. Just eliminate those costs and upload author-supplied PDFs of submitted articles into one of those whatca call it things, digital repositories. Better, perhaps one of the Durham Statement signatories will offer to host the data while using LLJ as a crash test dummy for a metadata-rich XML test bed. Duke Law? Certainly Duke's Dick Danner is pointing in the right direction. See his The Durham Statement on Open Access One Year Later: Preservation and Access to Legal Scholarship [SSRN] (background paper for the July 13th Denver program on the preservation implications of the call to end law review print publication).
LLJ turns a modest profit of $7,600 by going electronic-only. Eliminate the projected $25K in subscription revenue, $10K in advertising and $5K in royalty payments, meaning make it free because even law librarianship scholarship ought to be free, and the net loss for LLJ would be about $32K.
2010/11 Spectrum. According to the Proposed 2010/11 Budget, the projected deficit for Spectrum will be $54,280. Eliminate the projected $122,360 in print production costs (postage, mailing house expense, printing and typesetting) and the net income for Spectrum would be about $68K.
$68K in the black, $32K in the red, sounds like a modest better than break-even proposition to me if our association went digital only for LLJ and Spectrum. Sounds a lot better than $140K in the red for print production.
Do note, the Proposed 2010/11 Budget projects $120,000 in advertising revenue for Spectrum, down by the way from $140,000 in the approved 2009/10 budget. Since the original newsletter-current awareness mission of Spectrum has degenerated into way too much happy face fodder to serve as an advertising carrying medium, it might be expeditious to go electronic only for each issue in its entirety so readers can eyeball the ads. Think one big PDF download; forget expending any effort for XML enhancement for this hardly worth preserving title. The damn thing can still be desktop published in-house for electronic-only distribution.
Alternatively, Spectrum could go digital only by way of the Spectrum Blog; maybe more members will take the blog's feed if it carried this content. We might miss all the pretty stock photo inserts in the articles but ad space can still be sold on the blog – just set the rate based on AALL membership numbers, not blog traffic, certainly not click-thru counts! As co-owner of a commercial network of 40-plus law blogs for over five years now, I know a thing or two about blog advertising.
Let's Save a Few Trees (and Association Funds). Isn’t it a tad schizoid to be promoting the electronic-only distribution of law reviews while we continue publishing LLJ and Spectrum in print at a loss year after year after year? See the below balance sheets for just how much each title has cost the membership each and every year since 2001/02.
Sources of Ad Revenue and How to Increase Revenue. BTW, am I the only one who would like to see a break-down of ad revenue paid by vendor by print and web-distributed mediums, one that identifies revenue received by name of vendor every year in our association’s financial reports? Don’t think so. Note also how little ad revenue our print publications generate when our association goes light, as in CRIV-lite, on our vendors.
If we need more ad revenue, here’s a thought; let’s institute vendor-specific increased ad rates by the nominal annual percentage increase each vendor charges for print using Ken Svengalis' annual Legal Information Buyer's Guide & Reference Manual as our ad rate benchmarking book. Why Ken's manual? Because there is just no reason to believe our association will audit print pricing information supplied by their advertisers. Will they even insist on annual print supplement pricing for the AALL Price Index? [JH]
|LLJ Balance Sheet: 2001/02 to Proposed 2010/11|
|Source: Page 62 of the AALL Board Books PDF file|
|Spectrum Balance Sheet: 2001/02 to Proposed 2010/11|
|Source: Page 63 of the AALL Board Books PDF file|
|Click on images to enlarge.|
Bloggers Get Together in Denver Set for Monday Evening
I've lost track of the number of annual Bloggers Get Togethers there have been at AALL. I know I went to one ... St. Louis? I know it wasn't New Orleans because I think that was the night Cincinnati Law's and then LLB co-editor Ron Jones was getting his butt spanked after belly shots at Coyote Ugly. At least this year's blogger event doesn't conflict with Karaoke Night which will start later the same evening.
Bloggers Get Together
Time: 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. (see comment for start time change)
Date: Monday, July 12th
Place: Katie Mullen’s Irish Pub– Downtown Sheraton (off the 16th Street Mall, 2 blocks from the Convention Center)
Details here. Be there or be square blogging!
LLB contributing editor, Vicki Szymczak wrote in a comment to the above linked LLB post that "Karaoke Night is AWESOME! Everyone should go. Much better than any vendor sponsored event." That a good enough endorsement for me but since I can't carry a tune, I'll take a pass on Karaoke Night. Bloggers Get Together is a definite maybe. I certainly will need a Guinness by 5 PM Monday night so an Irish pub should fit the bill. 5 PM Monday night will be hour 24 of the long march that is attending our annual meeting this year. [JH]
July 7, 2010
Borders Gets Into The eBook Business
Borders Group has announced its entry into eBook sales with its own online store powered by Kobo, Inc. Kobo manufactures the reading device sold by Borders. The company is using a more generic version of the ePub format which makes offerings directly compatible with a variety of devices. The company also offers reader app downloads for the iPad, IPhone, Mac and PC desktop computers, Blackberries, and Android devices. Borders says it has 1.5 million titles available, including plenty of free downloads. A FAQ on the new store is here, and general access to the store with other details is here. Borders, what took you so long?
While we're on the subject, the last we heard about Google Editions was that the Google ebook store would open some time in June or July of this year. June's gone and the clock is still running, not just on that, but the Google Book Settlement. Editions is not constrained by the Settlement as it will only carry titles Google has licensed for sale. Amazon and others may yet stop Google from expanding its offerings to orphan works under the settlement, but it won't stop competition from Google. The eBook market is getting mighty crowded. That development might actually work in favor of Google in the settlement orders. [MG]
Funding for the AALL Vendor Liaison and Vendor Colloquium: $13,000 and $27,500 Respectively in Proposed 2010/11 Budget
Two HeinOnline update sessions at AALL are scheduled They are:
- Monday, July 12 from 9:00am to 10:00am in Room 610 at the Colorado Convention Center
- Monday, July 12 from 12:15pm to 1:15pm in the Hyatt-Capitol Ballroom 5/6
And Hein is giving away an 8GB iPad. Take that very expensive WEXIS vendors! Details on both here. This, however, is just a lead in to the topic of this post as a follow-up to LLB's recent series of CRIV posts -- wasting $40K on the AALL Vendor Liaison and Vendor Colloquium.
Dick Spinnelli for AALL Vendor Liaison! I do believe the consensus view is that institutional buyers find Hein trustworthy and responsive to law librarian concerns, perhaps even more so than our association leadership. In fact, if Dick Spinnelli would ever really retire from the Company -- doubtful, I expect to see him 20 years from now in a Hein-branded scooter flying past me in my scooter in the Exhibit Hall -- he is the one and only person I would want to see fill the recently vacated position of AALL Vendor Liaison since our association's Executive Board remains hell bent on eviscerating CRIV. Dick would not allow that to happen and I'm not worried about any potential conflict of interest.
Funding the Vendor Liaison. I would even agree that the so-called “part-time volunteer position with an honorarium” budgeted at $13K next year, up from $12K with $6,346 spent from the General Fund this fiscal year as of COB March 2010, would be well spent if Dick would be willing to take on the task. Of course, that's assuming I am reading our association’s financial reports and proposed budget correctly. Image, right.
There may be more to this – there usually is more to what our association’s board is up to because AALL doesn’t really subscribe to the notion that sunlight is the best disinfectant when it comes to how business is actually conducted. AALL only subscribes to that objective when it applies to public agencies.
Funding the Vendor Colloquium. According to AALL's Executive Director report entitled "Association Year 2009-2010: Highlights":
an important outcome [of the Vendor Liaison program] is the creation of a planning committee to develop a Law Librarian-Vendor Colloquium to be held sometime in 2011.
According to the now former AALL Vendor Liaison's June 14, 2010 report submitted to the Executive Board:
Colloquium – the vendors are looking forward to this and it can provide the basis for much good information to share with our members, as well as solidify our working relationships.
Emphasis added in both instances. Sources: Page 37 of the PDF file for Executive Director, page 93 for AALL Vendor Liaison at http://www.aallnet.org/members/boardbooks/20100708.pdf
OMG, we sure do spend a lot of time on planning and now AALL is planning to spend $27,500 for the Vendor Colloquium which probably won't take place until February of 2011. Here's a thought for saving $27K of our funds; make the "Vendor Colloquium" an open meeting at next year's annual meeting. The vendor reps can pick up their own tab. Instead of having "good information to share with our members" we can hear what is said by being in the audience without it being filtered by our association. Attendees can also ask questions from the floor afterwards.
Gate-Keeping Can Be an Expensive Proposition. $40K for the Vendor Liaison and Vendor Colloquium budgeted for 2010/11. Not one penny needed for either.
Unless Dick is appointed the AALL Vendor Liaison, this "experiment" needs to be eliminated forthwith but our association's Board continues to stonewall. Despite all the objections to gutting CRIV; despite continuing to remain silent about the very questionable nexus between advocating institutional buyer interests while accepting ad revenues from vendors; despite the less than completely transparent activities that resulted in a vendor relations czar accountable only to the Executive Board -- from selection of the consultant to the internal distribution of the consultant's report to the selection of the AALL Vendor Liaison for this paid position to public excuses "from the desk of" our President for this being a bring-it-up-to-speed year for the gatekeeper (read, no action plan ahead of implementation ready?) -- that got us to this dark moment in time, our association leaders have to be "right" because they are our leaders. They, not the membership, know what really is in our institutions' best interests.
More likely, our leadership thinks it knows what is in the best interests of our association. The track record leads some to form a different opinion. When association interests as defined by our leaders conflict with institutional members interests, when members have too many doubts about mixed motives in play as the CRIV situation illustrates, its time to let the sun shine in. It's time to introduce some real time accountability. And that's not hard to do in the 21st Century.
Perhaps all Executive Board meetings need to be streamed live without executive sessions because there is nothing so important in the conduct of association business that it needs to be conducted sub rosa. The advance distribution of all association documents by RSS feed alerts ahead of streamed board meetings too, so every interested member can be informed in a timely manner and before any Executive Board action is taken. Let's add the solicitation of consultants from the membership open to the entire membership because expertise exists outside the "club." And the availability of "volunteer" positions for an "honorarium" being advertised like any other employment opportunity because there are plenty of unemployed law librarians looking for work.
The Vendor Colloquium is just another example. No doubt someone will say the vendors will be more willing to be forthright in some sort of secluded assembly to discuss matters that will lead to "good information to share" with the membership. Private airing of systemic public grievances is not how the vendor-library relationship should be conducted and then filtered to the membership, particularly not in the CRIV-Lite era. No doubt, if the vendors faced the membership in an open meeting, they might not like what they hear during a Q&A session from the floor following the open proceeding. But I think they can handle it. At the very least, they will return to corporate headquarters with an understanding of the situation that will be far more representative of the entire spectrum of the membership instead of one based on law library representatives hand picked by our association leaders to serve on the Colloquium Committee for a less than open meeting at the budgeted expense of $27,500 in association funds. This was the same way the entire Vendor Liaison business was conducted and that has cost members $12K from FY 2008/09 to COB March 2010 with $6K more budgeted for the current fiscal year yet to be reported.
No, I'm not implying that the Colloquium Committee appointees are AALL sock puppets. It's fine if they lead the discussion from the podium, althought like Caren Biberman I find no one from BigLaw appointed to the Committee to be a glaring and in my words, not Caren's, asinine oversight. Perhaps the June 28th appointment of in-coming chair of CRIV, Rob Myers, to the Committee can lead to another quick appointment. Who? How about Caren! Having served on TR Legal and Lexis advisory councils, she's got the "street creds." (No, I didn't ask her in advance ... my bad ... sorry Caren.)
However, since it looks like the vendor colloquium will take place 7 months from now (!) -- apparently no one thought to make room in the jammed-with-stimulating programming to schedule this pressing issue as an open meeting in Denver -- we might as well wait an additional 5 months to address these matters in the sunlight. Our association's Executive Board has little, if any, credibility left when it comes to dealing with the library-vendor relationship. The Vendor Colloquium as proposed does not improve this one iota.
Kill the Vendor Liaison position; quit making excuses for one very bad idea.
Schedule the "Vendor Colloquium" as an open meeting in Philadelphia; want to improve programming, this will be one big step in the right direction
Unleash CRIV to execute its mission; the Committee has the reputation of not being mere vendor shills so give CRIV some of the budgeted $40K to execute its traditional charge in 2010/11.
I’m a born and bred Chicagoan so I’m pretty accustomed to this sort of politics, meaning none of this surprises me. Perhaps we need a watchdog for AALL. Oh, wait, we have one; it is the entire law librarian blogosphere. [JH]
"Saving" Ohio County Law Libraries: An AALL "Case Study" By Selective Omission Produces Something Less Than an Accurate Depiction
The June 2010 issue of AALL Washington E-Bulletin reports that the "ORALL County SIG [is] receiving this year’s AALL Robert L. Oakley Advocacy Award for their remarkable efforts." Deserving? Yes, particularly when compared to what happened to county law libraries in Florida. Remarkable? Well, perhaps not in the way the announcement was intended. The bulletin, however, links to an AALL "case study" entitled ORALL Protects Future of County Law Libraries that is so full of self-congratulatory happy talk that it fails to inform readers.
By way of background, I came into this situation near the tail end of the legislative process that resulted in the statutory reformation of the Ohio county law library system. In fact, I wouldn't have accepted the offer to serve as the director of our little Ohio county law library if I hadn't thought the statute would be enacted.
Before Ohio county law libraries were "saved," they were operated by that 19th century anachronism known as the non-profit library association. For Ohio county law libraries these were funded by public monies -- fines and forfeitures -- plus in some instances by sizable annual contributions by county law library associations associated with local bar associations directly or indirectly. While library associations served a very useful purpose in the 19th century for the creation of general public libraries, most were replaced in the 1920s. They lingered on in Ohio for county law libraries until Jan. 1, 2010. They operated by statutory requirement under a spend-it or refund-it annual mandate for public monies received. Many spent it even when, for a few, refunding might have been a less wasteful alternative.
The situation presented in the AALL "case study" hardly represents what actually is happening. Several of the major Ohio county law libraries are struggling to survive and will end up being substantially less than what they once were. Many will survive only because one county law library solicited and received an Ohio attorney general opinion that prohibited county governments from charging county law libraries crippling rental fees, a ruling that also instructed Ohio legislators how to redraft the statutory mandate. Some county law library associations that once provided substantial financial resources to supplement public revenues are refusing to continue doing so. Saved? If barely surviving is your definition of saved, sure.
The AALL case study notes the following:
Some CLLRBs [County Law Library Resources Board appointed by representatives of County government, County and municipal courts] coordinate the purchase of legal resources county-wide and pay for them themselves, which has allowed for some bulk purchasing discounts; others coordinate the purchase, make the initial payment and then charge each agency their share (still allowing for the bulk discounts); and others simply deny the purchase of any legal resources not housed in the library.
The verb tense is wrong. Future tense would be more accurate. As of now, not much "bulk purchasing discounts" is taking place, perhaps in a year or two or three and then depending on the vendor. At the moment, WEXIS vendors are still grappling with the reality that different reps who once dealt with county law libraries, county agencies, county courts and municipalities now have to deal with professionals, ah that would be law librarians, across these segmented markets for purchasing. I, for one, have told some reps for accounts now under my management that I will be be dealing only with my reps, "sorry about any sales commission losses." Our little county law library is one of the very few who can afford to pick up the tab for purchasing resources used in-house by county agencies and courts and municipal courts and law departments. Most simply cannot.
The AALL case study notes that a statewide a county law library consortium will be created:
The consortium has until January 1, 2011 to hire an executive director and find a location for their operation. Starting in early 2011, CLLRBs will be required to turn over 2% of their 2010 revenue to the consortium.
The mandatory 2% contribution to this consortium is a major point of contention with some county law libraries. Will this consortium ever get all county law libraries on the same page for potential volume discounting? Do we need to provide infrastructure services like cataloging to smaller county law libraries? Is staff really needed to be hired?
I, for one, do not see the need for full or even part-time employment for anyone associated with this consortium -- let the appointed members do the work. Our little county law library, along with Cincinnati and Columbus are one of the three best funded from public funds in the state. Next year we will pay something like $20K to this consortium and by the time it is up to speed, we are not likely to see a return on our investment. Other county law libraries are substantially less well funded and need every penny they receive to fulfil their statutory mandate at the county level. Maybe the first order of consortium business should be to reduce this mandatory contribution. The Consortium can by ask county law library resources boards to vote to ratify requests to increase the annual percent contribution. Will that ever get a thumbs up? Doubtful. The Consortium can also request by vote to ratify reduction of the annual percent contribution. That would probably get a thumbs up approval but are we likely to see that happen in the Buckeye State?
"Saved" means the county law library is first and foremost an in-house law library for county government that coordinates purchasing county-wide, provides libraries services to county offices and courts while being open to the public. "Saved" in the context of Ohio county law libraries means substantial collection downsizing, employee terminations, and the redirection of county public funds for purchasing legal resources for in-house use by county offices and courts if funds are available and for a micro-bureaucracy at the state level even if funding is not available.
The legislation was passed to make county law libraries more "accountable." Some county law librarians think that means, "well, we were audited every two years, that's accountability, isn't it?" That wasn't the point. The point was to use public funds to provide legal resources to county government as directed by public appointees instead of a board of trustees elected by a non-profit law library association that was not accountable to county government for the decisions it made. County law libraries could have been providing legal resources and purchasing services under the former statutory mandate. Most were not. I can think of only one county law library that served its county government under the former statute as systematically as is now more explicitly mandated. Now we all must do what that county law library had been doing for years and I whole-heartily subscribe to this although the downside is being felt across the state as each county law library addresses this reform in its own way. Like I said, I wouldn't have accepted the offer if I hadn't thought the statute reforming the Ohio county law library system wasn't going to be enacted into law. See The Shed West Era in Execution.
In some respect, the Ohio statute "saved" county law libraries from an archaic structure, the non-profit law library association that used most of the public monies it received for the benefit of the local county bar and members of the general public while having benefited for decades by receiving a public facility free of charge and employment costs being covered by a separate statutory mandate for up to three law library employees. In those instances where county law library associations supplemented public funds in a substantial way but now are reluctant or refuse to do so, "get over it."
Unfortunately the back-story is not revealed in AALL's way too pat-on-the-back so-called case study. In other words, it is a case study that misleads more than informs. [JH]
Openings: E-Resources Librarian and Reference Librarian at Stanford Law Library
E-Resources Librarian: Manages the evaluation, acquisition, licensing, cataloging, maintenance, training and promotion of electronic and serial resources. Collaborates with the library and law school staff in various team-based efforts. Coordinates electronic resource acquisition with other Stanford campus libraries for optimal resource sharing.
Reference Librarian: The reference librarians provide premier level reference desk service, and librarians receive a flood of requests for assistance from an accomplished faculty and student body. The reference team collaborates on a wide range of academic projects and instructional resources.
Full descriptions of the positions can be found at: jobs.stanford.edu
Stanford Law's Erika Wayne and Paul Lomio will be in Denver. If interested in discussing either/both of the opportunitiess, the best way to reach them is via e-mail:
July 6, 2010
Law librarians are underutilized information management and data gathering resource
Law librarians bring skill, talent, creativity, and nonconventional resources to the firm, all of which greatly assist in serving the needs of clients and the firm. As the legal landscape has changed, by developing innovative ways to find and gather firm intelligence and information, law librarians have kept pace and provided a valuable resource to attorneys.
As competition for client representation increases, the need for valuable competitive business information and analysis in firms has drastically increased. Experienced law librarians are ideally situated to manage and deliver the quality intelligence that is critical in this economy. This has been the case for several years; a 2006 National Law Journal feature noted that law firm recruiting efforts were largely focused on the law librarians and other information professionals. See Jan Rivers, "More Firms Create CI Positions," National Law Journal, June 12, 2006. As attorneys continue to use law librarians as their primary resource for research, it becomes increasingly clear the important role law librarians play in the development of the firm.
You can read the rest here.
A big hat tip to Law.com.
Another example of the dangers associated with posting classroom videos on YouTube
Earlier this year I posted a story about a Florida college professorwho was fired after one of his lectures was posted on YouTube during which he appeared drunk (coincidentally, a former law student of mine was also in the class depicted on the video and told me the prof's behavior was even more bizarre than the video shows). Now comes this story reported by Inside Higher Ed about a professor at the Naval War Academy who was unfairly, according to him, placed on administrative leave when a portion of his lecture taken out of context was posted on YouTube.
The headline on the YouTube video clip of Karl Walling's lecture in May says simply: "U.S. Naval War College Professor Advocates Rape."
As a result of some of the comments in the clip, the Naval War College placed Walling, a professor of strategy and policy, on paid administrative leave. He was told to apologize to the college, which he did. But in an interview, Walling said that he never advocated rape, and that the 3 minute, 40 second video of one part of a serious academic lecture -- by leaving out the context before and after what was shown -- distorted his views. To understand what he was saying, he said, requires someone to understand his pedagogy, to have heard the entire talk and to understand a little bit about Machiavelli. (If you want to read the text of the entire lecture, you can find it here.)
What Professor Walling is now experiencing has been an argument used by those opposing the use of cameras in the U.S. Supreme Court on the grounds that the resulting videos could be edited in a way that distorts, misrepresents or disparages the words of the Justices or advocates. Based on this incident, that seems like a very legitimate concern and certainly something every professor should consider when deciding whether to videotape one's classes.
You can read more about Professor Walling's predicament here.
Federal Government Offers Mobile Apps For DownloadNeed services from the federal government? There's a small but growing collection of apps for that. The feds are now aggregating mobile apps through a link via the redesigned USA.gov. Find out about product recalls, travel tips from the TSA, the FBI most wanted and more. The majority of apps seem to be written for the iPhone and Android operating systems. The download pages have "customer" reviews where available. Will Steve Jobs approve? [MG]
Books Are A Faster Read Than Electronic Devices, But Not By Much
Jakob Nielson, expert on web usability, has tested comparable reading speeds on the Kindle, the iBook app for the iPad, and the printed page. The results are in, and the printed page wins by a technicality. The test had 24 subjects reading stories by Ernest Hemingway on each platform with comprehension tests following. The stories took an average time of 17 minutes and 20 seconds to read. The iPad readers had a 6.2% lower reading speed, and the Kindle readers a 10.7% lower reading speed. The technicality for the book is that these times represent slightly over a minute slower for the iBook app and slightly less than 2 minutes slower for the Kindle. From a practical standpoint these time differences are negligible.
The study, of course, is limited given the small number of subjects taking part and the type of literature used as part of the test. One possible reason for the speed differences may include the page refresh rate on both devices which is slower than simply turning the page of a physical book. For those who suggest that the speed differences can affect text book reading, consider how dense legal subjects can be. Students read and re-read paragraphs constantly to figure out the point of a case. I don't know if a slower rate on an electronic device would make any difference in that situation. I think a law student would happily trade off the reading speed differential with the need to carry five text books at the same time. Of course, legal publishing has yet to hit either device in any significant form. It will come, though. More details on the study are here. [MG]
Update on Some Thoughts About Interesting Meetings to Attend--AALL Committee Meetings
I have been informed that all AALL members are welcome to attend all AALL committee meetings. Naturally, visitors do need to observe the agenda and protocol of the committee.
Some Thoughts on Some Interesting Meetings to Attend at the AALL Conference
I have been in the process of trying to finalize my schedule for the Conference. As I have blogged, the programming, for the most part, is not of interest. So I have been thinking about all the alternate things I will be doing: Exhibit Hall, vendor one on one conversations, and meetings. Meetings of various committees, SIS meetings and meetings of AALL, So if you are, like me, bored by the programming and looking for a way that you can perhaps contribute to the future, here are some suggestions for some meetings to attend:
1. AALL Members Open Forum
This will be held on Monday, July 12 at 3:15 pm in the Colorado Convention Center ("CCC') Four Seasons Ballroom 4. I have to confess I have never gone before but its evidently our opportunity to discuss what's on our mind with the Executive Board in person. They only allocate 45 minutes but perhaps they don't usually get many people there? Anyhow, I plan to attend and hope you do as well. Please note it follows the AALL General Business Meeting which starts at 2:15 pm which I also plan to attend.
2. Meet the Candidates for AALL Executive Board
This will be held on Tuesday, July 13 at 1 pm in Exhibit Hall A/Member Service Booth. This is our opportunity to meet and talk with the candidates and ask them questions about areas of interest to us. For me this will be my chance to ask about views on CRIV, Vendor Liaison and Programming.
3. CRIV Committee Meeting
This will be held on Saturday, July 10th at 3 pm in the Hyatt Hotel--Agate C. Now last year this meeting was open to non-CRIV members. I do not know if that will be the case this year. I did try to find on the AALL site whether committee meetings in general were open to all members but did not find anything. Does anyone know? In any case, I will not be attending this as I will be at the PLL Summit on Saturday, but if you do attend and want to share please feel free to contact me.
4. Annual Meeting Program Committee Open Forum
This will be held on Monday, July 12th at noon in CCC Room 606. Its your opportunity to meet the committee and ask questions about programming and perhaps even make a few suggestions. The committee itself meets at 7:30 am on the same day in the Hyatt-Limestone but again I do not know if this is an open meeting.
5. PLL-SIS Education Committee Meeting
This will be held at 8 am on Monday, July 12th at the Hyatt in Capitol Ballroom 2. This is an open meeting where you can meet the committee (of which I am now a member) and talk about programming ideas and find out more about how to submit a program for sponsorship by PLL.
6. Research Roundtables.
There are several. For academics there is the ALL-SIS Legal Research Roundtable on Monday, July 12th at 10:45 am in the Hyatt Centennial Ballroom C. For RIPS-SIS members there is the Research Instruction Roundtable on Sunday, July 11th at 5:30 pm in the CCC-Room 608. Which brings me to question of why isn't there a PLL Legal Research Roundtable? But I will leave that to another day.
I know these are but a few of the meetings that might be of interest. I want to make a difference, to change things for the future and this is one way I am going to try. Please feel free to suggest other meetings by commenting. See you in Denver!
Disability Accommodations from Legal Publishers in the Provision of Print and Online Resources: A Call for AALL to Make Rhetoric Resonate by Taking Action for All of Us
We, meaning law librarians if not our association, advocate for equality of access to information in principle for all information resources and specifically for legal information resources, but when was the last time you ever heard AALL once take our vendors and bar associations to task publicly for failing to provide access to primary and secondary sources in print and electronically for the disabled? We might not be able to do much with national and state bar associations, but we certainly have options when it comes to commercial vendors – accept no advertising revenue, ban them from the Exhibit Hall, b-slap them in press releases until they are shamed into making all their legal resources as readily and conveniently available to law students and practitioners with disabilities as they are to the “rest of us.” “Us” includes everyone.
In the Legal Academy. Have you ever tried to obtain law school texts needed by law students with disabilities from WEXIS? I have. There is no direct route for law students with disabilities to obtain them from their web stores and no direct route for law school libraries to obtain these materials from our vendors either. After phone calls, lots of them, you may obtain a PDF file that is not properly tagged or chapter-by-chapter Word documents for a print document that is not paginated so that students can find their reading assignments. If you get a PDF, it has to be converted to Word and cleaned up by hand page after page after page. If you get multiple Word documents, pagination for the print edition has to be added by hand. Getting this all done properly so that students with disabilities can prepare for class, based on my experience, is always a very close call. This is utterly unacceptable and yet AALL has done nothing to get vendors to correct this situation.
Making Rhetoric Resonate. It’s time for AALL to step up to the plate and condemn current publishing practices that deny equal access to primary and secondary sources in print and online. There is absolutely no reason why any law student or practitioner with a disability should not have equal access to legal information in the 21st Century; the technology is readily available and has been for years. This includes materials distributed on the Web by federal, state and local governments which, I believe, LAW.GOV addresses with its call for XML-enhanced distribution. The real culprits here are our commercial vendors and our national and state bar associations. Our association does not lead nor executes any sanctions whatsoever to at least attempt to force changing this situation. Rhetoric without taking substantive action is just empty words that do not resonate. [JH]