December 25, 2010
Where is the Legislation That Banned Christmas?
A republication of LLB's Dec. 25, 2007 post.
There is no sign that Cromwell personally played a particularly large or prominent role in formulating or advancing the various pieces of legislation and other documents which restricted the celebration of Christmas, though from what we know of his faith and beliefs it is likely that he was sympathetic towards and supported such measures, and as Lord Protector from December 1653 until his death in September 1658 he supported the enforcement of the existing measures.
I see. He was just a fellow-traveler. The Cromwell Association explains that it was "the broader Godly or parliamentary party, working through and within the elected parliament, which in the 1640s clamped down on the celebration of Christmas and other saints’ and holy days."
OK but where is this legislation? Nigel Jamieson, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Otago, New Zealand, has found it and his delightful tale of the research that went into locating the Ordinance 360 years after the fact is published in Oliver Cromwell—The Grinch That Stole Christmas, 26 Statute L. Rev. 189 (2005) [Westlaw (user account and plan coverage required)].
Although without royal assent, The Ordinance, bearing the date of 4 January 1645 and resolved upon before both Lords and Commons assembled in Parliament, provides in its 'Appendix touching Dayes and Places for Publique Worship':
There is no Day commanded in Scripture to be kept holy under the Gospel, but the Lord's Day, which is the Christian Sabbath.
Festival dayes, vulgarly called Holy dayes, having no Warrant in the Word of God, are not to be continued.
Jamieson explains that the application of this general prohibition against feast-days to the specific celebration of Christmas is clear from an earlier Ordinance, dated 19 December 1644, 'for the better observation of the monethly Fast; and more especially the next Wednesday, commonly called The Feast of the Nativity of Christ, Thorowout the Kingdome (sic) of England and Wales'. This Ordinance provided:
Whereas some doubts have been raised whether the next Fast shall be celebrated, because it falleth on the day which heretofore was usually called the feast of the Nativity of our Saviour. The Lords and Commons in Parliament assembled doe order and ordaine that publique notice be given that the Fast appointed to be kept on the last Wednesday in every moneth, ought to be observed until it be otherwise ordered by both Houses of Parliament: And that this day in particular is to be kept with the more solemne humiliation, because it may call to remembrance our sinnes, and the sinnes of our forefathers, who have turned this Feast, pretending the memory of Christ into an extreme forgetfulnessse of him, by giving liberty to carnall and sensuall delights, being contrary to the life which Christ himselfe led here upon earth, and to the spirituall life of Christ in our soules for the sanctifying and saving whereof Christ was pleased both to take a humane life, and to lay it down againe.
Probably only English legal historians and law librarians will appreciate Jamieson's research narrative. To them, I say, enjoy the pleasure of reading this article about the process of legislative research and legal authentication. Merry Christmas. [JH]
December 24, 2010
WikiLeaks Founder Assange's First Cable News Interview Since Being Released from Jail
Details with MSNBC interview video here. [JH]
December 23, 2010
Friday Fun of Thursday: Despite Budget Cuts, Public Libraries Still Rock
Here's a recent flashmob dance, involving people of all ages from the Greater Columbus Arts Council's out-of-school-time program, Art in the House, partner program TRANSIT ARTS, adults and seniors! It all happened at the Columbus Metropolitan Library and in the face of substantial budget cutbacks to public libraries in Ohio (and elsewhere) hopefully it reminds us all that public libraries are cultural institutions that are hell-bent of remaining vital to their local commuities. [JH]
Imagine No Web Servers: This December 25th Marks the 20th Anniversary of the World Wide Web Going Live
Contrary to popular belief and Christian celebration, the birth of the baby Jesus did not occur on December 25 -- more likely September 11, 3 BCE by the Gregorian calendar we use now. But the birth of the World Wide Web did happen on December 25 and in 1990 CE, yes, by the solar calendar system we still use, albeit with the aid of atomic clocks now. We are approaching the 20th anniversay of the WWW because on that date (a milestone in geekiness by being at work on Christmas Day, intentional?) Sir Tim Berners-Lee deployed the first web browser and he and his CERN colleague Robert Cailliau were both communicating with the world's first web server at info.cern.ch.
No I am not implying like John Lennon has oftentimes been misquoted as saying that "the Beatles [Web] are bigger than Jesus." But using Lennon's words from a later interview while putting this is in a Web context: "the Beatles web server farms have more influence on young people than Jesus Christ. Kids are influenced more by us the WWW than Jesus, some ministers even stood up stand up today and agreed with it."
I doubt any iPad Christmas gifts will find their way to a bonfire like Beatles records did in reaction to Lennon's misquoted statement (and yes, I know, gizmos like the iPad are app-driven in a post-WWW world) but imagine the world without the web. I know commercial enterprises dominate the web space and Google et. al dominate search now, at least in countries that have some ties to European civilization, but even where commercialization drives all this, more useful and important information is readily available now than was ten years ago, let alone 20 years ago.
Time for the 1972 music video from Madison Square Garden which some of us who are so damn old remember. We also remember the world before info.cern.ch went live. It's quite amazing. While I have a good nose for some web communication developments being faddish, ones which will not be the Next Big Thing or will disappear after those afflicted with early adopter syndrome move on, I've usually been dead wrong when I've seen something that I think will have lasting impact. By lasting, I tend to think that widespread acceptance will be well established in 10 years. Not! Usually five years. [JH]
December 22, 2010
CRS on DADT
With President Obama signing the legislation repealing the military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, it's noted that there are two recent Congressional Research Service reports on DADT. The first is "Don't Ask, Don't Tell": The Law and Military Policy on Same-Sex Behavior by David F. Burrelli (October 14, 2010 R40782). The report combines a history of the policy with statistical information on such things as discharge rates, among others. The second report is "Don't Ask, Don't Tell": A Legal Analysis by Jody Feder (September 30, 2010 R40795). The report details a legal history of the policy and its implementation. [MG]
Raising the Bar for "Publisher's Staff" Content After Rudovsky? On some really bad decisions made by West and its many and varied consequences for not being "proud" of publishing a "sham" pocket part
As I am sure many recall, in Rudovsky v. West Publishing Corp.(U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, No. 09-cv-000727-JF), the authors of Pennsylvania Criminal Procedure -- Law, Commentary and Forms, law profs David Rudovsky (Pennsylvania) and Leonard Sosnov (Widener Law School), sued their publisher, West, claiming that the publication of the December 2008 pocket part to their work was so poorly researched that it harmed their reputations as legal authors and authorities on Pennsylvania criminal law. Since this litigation deserves a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for really bad corporate decision-making (and Guinness is my beverage of choice), let's recap with some commentary the current state of affairs.
"In a case that offers a rare glimpse behind the scenes in the world of legal treatise publishing," Shannon Duffy reported on testimony offered on December 13, 2010, the first day of the jury trial:
At the center of the dispute in Rudovsky v. West Publishing are events in 2008 when the professors say they proposed to completely rewrite the treatise — a third edition — and West refused.
According to the professors, West instead said it wanted to hire them only to write a pocket part and proposed to cut the professors' pay in half — from $5,000 each to $2,500.
When negotiations failed, the professors say they assumed their treatise would no longer be published, or that West would find new authors.
Rudovsky testified Monday that he was "shocked" when he learned that West went forward in December 2008 and published a pocket part that still carried his and Sosnov's names as authors — even though they had done no work and received no pay.
"I was stunned, and when I began to think about it somewhat angry and somewhat humiliated," Rudovsky testified.
He said he worried that anyone who received the pocket part and paid about $50 for it would potentially associate the professors with "a sham product."
Let's add that the law profs were first hired by West in 1988 to write Pennsylvania Criminal Procedure: Law, Commentary and Forms, and worked on annual updates since the first edition was published in 1991. A second edition was published by West in 2001. So in 2008, the authors thought it was time for a new edition. West not only refused but wanted to cut the profs' compensation in half for working on the update. The authors refused. So in its infinite commoditization of legal analysis and commentary wisdom, West turns over the work to its editorial staff.
Let's start counting the bad decisions West made at this point of the story. Invoice-paying law librarians know how West likes to spit out new print volumes of questionable value (except for producing revenue) instead of pocket parts but here are two law profs who think it is time to competely redo their treatise, and West says no. Am I the only invoice-paying law librarian wondering to what extent print volumes are published because the Company's editorial staff is ghost writing them with little or no involvement and/or payment to named authors? Doubt it. Well, we all know some named authors who have become "brands."
Then West tries to cut the authors' compensation for their work in half. OK, business is business. But, am I the only invoice-paying law librarian thinking that "Plan B" -- dump the work on nameless editorial staff, might explain the deteriorating quality of TR Legal titles, particularly for state-specific titles in jurisdications where this Company isn't just a duopolist but borders on being a monopolist? Don't think so.
Back to the story. Now if the editorial staff produced content somewhat resembling if not close to the quality of work Rudovsky and Sosnov produced for annual updates, this behind the scenes glimpse at the author-West relationship might not have been presented to a federal court jury. But we know what can happen when editorial staff is left to produce legal commentary and analysis without author supervision. One illustration:
Although Rudovsky and Sosnov's annual updates routinely included about 150 new cases, [the professors' lawyer] told the jury that the 2008 supplement included only three new cases.
Quoting from Duffy in Trial Opens in Profs' Defamation Case Against West.
Don't know if any law librarians were on the jury, but it didn't take very long for the verdict to be handed down. On December 16, 2010, West was ordered to pay Rudovsky and Sosnov $90,000 each for defamation and $2.5 million each in punitive damages.
Back to bad decisions made by West. Well, besides publishing a piece of [expletive deleted] because we law librarians, unlike the jury, are so used to this because many institutional buyers in this Shed West era are, well, shedding West print, at what point in the litigation did someone think or not think, say or not say, it is time to make this go away by writing a big fat check acceptable to the authors because the bad publicity can do more damage than pursuing corporate interests? Are Eaganites in the executive suite so isolated from reality that the court of public opinion doesn't matter, that their law prof author pool won't care, that the intended audiences of their titles won't notice? When on Dec. 8, 2010, Senior U.S. District Judge John P. Fullam stated in the following order, did no one at TR Legal or its cadre of legal counsel say "whoa"?
It is for the jury to determine whether the intended audience of the pocket part would conclude that plaintiffs authored an inaccurate and out-of-date supplement to the treatise. If they so conclude, then I hold this would tend to damage the plaintiffs as legal authors and authorities on Pennsylvania criminal law and constitute defamation per se.
I doubt I am the only invoicing-paying law librarian thinking some other major legal publishing executives just might be wanting to b-slap the executives in the land of 10,000 invoices for not making all this "go away" after they quit chuckling over this and realize the potential consequences in the legal publishing industry. At the same time, smaller legal publishers trying to survive in the state-specific practitioners market have plenty of material for advertising their wares and can ratchet-up their price should TR Legal try to buy them out.
Note to West. Perhaps the best way to avoid this in the future is to stop asking outside legal experts to author secondary source titles or require they work as ghost writers like "Publisher's Staff" do. Not being a "money maker" as one of TR Legal's attorney told the jury is no excuse for proceeding in this manner and publishing [expletive deleted] in an information factory. Would the following have happened if the authors had not brought this matter to the light of day?
[A] lawyer for West told the eight-member jury that although West was "not proud" of the first version of the update, it quickly cured the problem — first by informing subscribers by letter that the professors did no work on the flawed update, and by issuing a new version of the update four months later, at no cost to subscribers, that included extensive case updates.
Quoting from Duffy's above-linked article.
On the Many and Varied Consequences: Questions buyers of West titles might want to ask. Is this an isolated incident? Are other West authors waiting in the wings? Will Rudovsky result in improving TR Legal's quality control of editorial staff who are ghost writing legal analysis and commentary? Is there so much at stake here that West must appeal?
And rhetorically, perhaps TR Legal's attorneys should have asked the sitting senior judge to recuse himself on the very likely basis that he has been around long enough to recall when West's editorial content was, well, better than what was exhibited in this litigation.
And issues AALL might want to address if our leadership isn't competely, utterly in bed with TR Legal. This litigation speaks volumes about the author-West relationship but it also speaks to TR Legal's publishing practices and the editorial quality of publications we acquire from West. Will we hear a public condemnation from our professional association about any of this? Is the quality of secondary sources acquired by the insitutional buyers we invoice-paying law librarians represent by belonging to AALL important enough for a public statement? Any chance an amicus curiae brief about West's pattern and practice from AALL will be forthcoming if West appeals this jury verdict?
It's on the public record. About the damages awarded to Rudovsky and Sosnov, Louis J. Sirico, Jr., Professor of Law and Director of Legal Writing, Villanova Univ. School of Law, wrote on Legal Skills Prof Blog, "[a] big holiday present!" As an invoice-paying law lbrarian, I, for one, would like to thank Rudovsky and Sosnov for not putting up with TR Legal's shenanigans (and would be happy to pick up the tab for rounds of Guinness should our paths ever cross).
I don't have any opinion about whether the actual and punitive damage awards will stand up but it looks like this "rare glimpse behind the scenes in the world of legal treatise publishing" isn't over. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer:
West issued a statement [after the verdict] saying "there is no basis in fact, law, or equity for this outcome."
"We intend to pursue every available avenue, including motions before the District Court to set aside the verdict, and appeals to the United States Court of Appeals," the statement said.
Two final questions. Was the cost of using Classic Westaw by TR Legal's outside legal counsel waived by their client -- OMG, did they use WestlawNext to get to this dubious milestone in legal publishing history? Am I the only invoice-paying law librarian who is thinking it might be worth the expense of buying one share of TRI stock as the price of admission to TRI's FY-end shareholders meeting?
Hat tip for the excellent coverage provided by Legal Research Plus, Legal Skills Prof Blog and 3 Geeks; implying, of course, that the above consequences and their costs will have to be addressed and paid by TR Legal some way, some how, if the Company wants to silence this matter and AALL wants to publicly ignore it. [JH]
December 21, 2010
FCC Adopts Basic Net Neutrality Rules
The FCC voted 3-2 today to implement so-called net neutrality rules for the Internet. The rules were resisted by industry and their political allies as unnecessary while public advocacy grounds were disappointed that they did not go far enough in regulating Internet service providers. The backdrop of implementation includes an appellate court case that struck down a previous Commission attempt at regulating network management practices by Comcast.
The rules, as described, give wired subscribers access to all legal web sites and services including those that compete with a provider's own content. There are allowances, however, for paid prioritization of some traffic and services in some circumstances. The rules allow reasonable network management practices as well, along with a requirement that those practices be transparent to consumers. Wireless networks are included in the no-blocking and transparency requirements but have looser restraints on network management practices.
A good question is what happens next. A court challenge questioning the Commission's authority at the very least is expected. Some members of Congress are threatening to cut off funding for implementation and/or definitively limiting the Commission's authority to regulate. I don't think a divided Congress will act without a substantial and costly lobbying effort. The Courts may be a better and first alternative for those opposed to regulations. For those that wished the Commission went further, I can't see the future of the Internet as a strongly regulated public resource, in the U.S., anyway. The leeway for network management built into the rules suggest that any future changes to them have to start from this point, whether or not they survive a court challenge. Absent some outrageous business practice drawing the Commission's ire, this, with slight variations, will be the Internet we know. [MG]
Stanford Law Launching Major Study of the Legal Profession: Too Late for the ABA's Current Review of Accreditation Standards
Stanford Law School recently announced that it has launched a comprehensive empirical study of the state of the legal profession supported by financial support from the Sidley Austin Foundation. Excerpts the press release:
The objective of the multi-year study is to describe and understand the state of the profession, including trends and emerging developments. The study will seek to develop policy recommendations to help law firms adapt their business models to better meet the needs of their clients and of a rapidly changing legal market. It will also consider the implications of these changes for legal education. ... The Study of the Legal Profession is part of Stanford Law School’s ongoing efforts to transform legal education to meet the evolving demands of a 21st century legal practice.
Research for the Stanford Law School Study of the Legal Profession will focus first on gathering data to draw an accurate portrait of the new industrial organization of the legal profession for the purpose of analyzing the evolving structure and organization of firms, the effects of globalization and global competition, and the consequences and opportunities created by new technology, new forms of firm management, billing structures, employee training, changes in firm/client relations, and more. With this more accurate and comprehensive understanding of the state of the profession, the research will move in the next phase to identify problems and recommend solutions.
The study will be conducted over the next three to five years through the school’s Center on the Legal Profession. It will be a collective effort, drawing upon the resources of the Stanford Law faculty, the Stanford Law alumni network, faculty from economics and the Graduate School of Business, and a broad spectrum of practicing lawyers, including managing partners and in-house counsel.
Too Late to Inform ABA Accreditation Standard Review Activities? Ah ... about time for this study. Will the on-going ABA Accreditation Standards Committee review work use this as a justification for holding off on making substantial changes? Perhaps. It certainly sounds like a very timely and convenient reason to do so (NB: absolutely no implication that the announced Stanford's study is intented for this reason; the research project is needed "in and of itself" to borrow from Hegel and, hopefully, will provide useful, accurate data for all concerned).
The ABA Accreditation Standards Committee reviewing process has been criticized for being overly influenced by the cliquish American Law Deans Association at the expense of others, including members of the bench, bar and legal academy stakeholders who have been offering some damn good suggestions, see LLB's post, CLEA Criticizes ABA Accreditation's Standards Review Committee for "Shallow Engagement" With Stakeholders Other Than Law School Deans. As mentioned in a previous LLB post, I have little hope for substantial law school curriculum reform unless the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States chairs a blue-ribbon commission intent on structurally reforming legal education. See Why Can't Johnny Research Practice Law? The legal education system has broken the Social Contract. Well, perhaps Plan B will be some sort of blue-ribbon commission after the results of the Stanford Law finding are published in the "next three to five years."
There is a historical cyclicality to these reform movements that in the past has resulted in producing the absolutely most minimal nominal changes in the entrenched legal academy in response to the "hue-and-cry" from those outside the cosy confines of university campuses -- that would be the "consumers" of the legal academy's "output" -- graduates utterly unqualified to practice law. In the 21st Century "new normal," shifting the burden to employers for training these debt-laded newbie attorneys is an "old normal" practice that isn't likely to return. [JH]
In the "New Normal" of Institutional Buyers' Diet, Protein Content Matters
Check out the video posted on 3 Geeks here. Greg Lambert writes "this video ... lays out where we seem to be with client vs. vendor relations right now. Bad economies, bad relations, and unrealistic expectations (on both sides) lead to what's being said... ." The video starts off with "we didn't budget for this" upon receipt of a restaurant bill.
Unrealistic expectations on both sides? Sure there has been some of that but I'm also sure that it isn't and hasn't been equally the case. Some of the folks on the vendor side only started to realize that their expectations about past pricing practices are, well, past history. Of course that took recognizing that the Shed West era really is a pivotal point in print and the pricing of sugar-coated shiny new online legal search systems aren't being consumed like candy as they expected they would be.
We still await seeing if our very expensive vendors realize we are on a sugar-free and fat-free diet. It's all about the protein content. [JH}
December 20, 2010
Montana Considering How To Handle Privacy In Family Law Cases
The Montana Supreme Court is considering revamping privacy rules that would limit the amount of sensitive personal information contained in documents filed in family law cases. Private information can include social security numbers, dates of birth, financial account numbers, medical and school records, and other personal identifiers for children. Some of this information may be in a clerk's office and available to the public. The concern, here, is that more and more litigation documents will become available over time via archives on the Internet, and this could be the source of fraud.
The Court's concern is to balance the right of the public to know what's going on in the courts against the individual's right to privacy. As the Court states:
To be clear, our concern is not that a child's information should be protected merely because his or her parents are divorcing, but because of some of the allegations and evidence that may arise during a parenting plan proceeding. For example, a parent may allege the other parent is a drug addict, the child needs treatment for severe acne, and the child should have adult supervision around an uncle who molested her when she was 3 years old. The judge may well need to consider this information and any supporting evidence in adopting a parenting plan. In addition, if the child is later placed under the state's temporary investigative authority, the assigned social worker may need access to the information in the court records. But placing this information on the Internet with the child's name and address so that the child's peers, potential employers, and predators can easily and anonymously access it could be very damaging, and even dangerous, to the child.
One possible implementation of privacy rules would be for parties to file a "sensitive information sheet" which contains accurate information that courts a parties could use while redacted documents would be available for public access. An alternative would be to restrict access to all documents except final orders. Family law is one of those areas where relationships can be so damaged that parties resort to court actions as a way of waging war on their opponent, even to their own detriment. Publicly available filings can include false allegations that can be taken out of context by the general public.
The potential court privacy rule amendments began with a petition filed by State Law Librarian Judy Meadows and Elaine Dahl of Montana Legal Services. The text of the Court order setting forth two alternative proposals is here. The AP is reporting on this development which has been picked up by any number of news services. One of those sources is the Washington Post. As a side note, the Court has invited the Appellate Defender's Office and the Criminal Appellate Bureau of the Montana Attorney General's Office to submit comment on whether these rules should apply to criminal cases as well. [MG]
Passing of a Giant: Morris L. Cohen, 1927-2010
Morris Cohen, one of the most influential law librarians of the 20th century, died Saturday. His funeral will be held today. Former AALL President (1970-71), Cohen was Professor Emeritus of Law and Professorial Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School since 1991. He served as Professor of Law and Director of Yale Law School's Lillian Goldman Law Library from 1981 to 1991, after having served from 1971 to 1981 as the Librarian of the Harvard Law School Library. Cohen also served as director of the law libraries at the University of Pennsylvania (1963-1971) and SUNY-Buffalo (1961-1963).
"One of the great law librarians and book collectors of the twentieth century" (quoting Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian, Yale Law Library), Cohen began purchasing rare books for SUNY-Buffalo's collection in 1962. That collection is now known as the Morris L. Cohen Rare Book Collection. In 2008, Cohen donated some 200 law-related children's books to Yale Law Library; it must be the largest collection of its kind. For what became a shared hobby, Cohen and his son started accumulating the books around 1960. Here's the link to the bib record for the Juvenile Jurisprudence Collection from Yale Law Library's online catalog, a/k/a MORRIS. In 2009, Harvard Law School established the Morris L. Cohen Fellowship in American Legal Bibliography and History in his honor.
One of the country’s leading authorities in legal research and bibliography, Cohen's published works that include the most complete record to date of the monographic and trial literature of American law published in this country or abroad, from its beginnings to the end of 1860, the Bibliography of Early American Law (1998, Supplement, 2003), A Guide to the Early Reports of the Supreme Court of the United States (1995, with Sharon Hamby O'Connor), How to Find the Law, (8th and 9th editions, with Robert C. Berring, 1983 and 1989), and Legal Research in a Nutshell (1st edition, 1968, to 10th edition, 2010, 5th to 10th editions with Kent C. Olson).
Morris Cohen's contributions to our profession by his scholarship and professional association activities, the leadership he provided at two of our nation's great law schools, and the support and encouragement he offered so many young law librarians will be his enduring legacy to law librarianship.
Donations in Morris Cohen's memory can be made to Congregation Beth El Keser Israel, American Jewish World Service, or the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. [JH]
The Problem of the One and the Many: On Taking Giant Steps Forward Like LAW.GOV and the National Digital Library Initiative Recently Announced by the Berkman Center
"I don’t want to minimize [the] problems [of creating a national digitial library], but I think we should approach them with a can-do spirit. After all, we have acquired a great deal of experience with digitization. Every research library has developed digital projects, some of them on a very large scale. And libraries have cooperated with one another and with outside agencies in all sorts of initiatives that could be useful and instructive in the creation of a National Digital Library." So stated Harvard's Robert Darnton back in October of this year in his NYR Blog post, A Library Without Walls. See also LLB's post, Not Just True but Tried: Darnton on the Prospects for a National Digital Library.
On December 13, 2010, that can-do spirit for a NDL materialized in the Berkman Center for Internet and Society announcement that the Center will host an initiative for a "Digital Public Library of America." We are not talking about one of those all too human solo meetings without follow-up. Funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the objective is to "convene a large and diverse group of stakeholders in a planning program to define the scope, architecture, costs and administration for a proposed Digital Public Library of America." Borrowing from another ad hoc group's model, LAW.GOV, for taking the next giant step, the announcement explains:
Planning activities will be guided by a Steering Committee of library and foundation leaders, which promises to announce a full slate of activities in early 2011. The Committee plans to bring together representatives from the educational community, public and research libraries, cultural organizations, state and local government, publishers, authors, and private industry in a series of meetings and workshops to examine strategies for improving public access to comprehensive online resources.
Our profession's adopted son, Harvard Law School and Berkman Center Faculty Co-Director John Palfrey, will lead the Steering Committee. Like in the late 19th Century era of law librarianship, the time has arrived again to re-define academic law librarianship. Here is where Palfrey's contribution to our profession may reside -- Gen X and Y-er rank-and-file law librarians in the professional academic law library community hopefully may see that they just might have a future to look forward to.
The Berkman Center's NDL Steering Committee members include:
- Paul Courant, Harold T. Shapiro Professor of Public Policy and Dean of Libraries at the University of Michigan
- Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the Harvard University Library
- Charles Henry, President of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)
- Brewster Kahle, Founder of the Internet Archive
- Michael A. Keller, Ida M. Green University Librarian, Director of Academic Information Resources at Stanford University
- Carl Malamud, President, Public.Resource.Org
- Deanna Marcum, Associate Librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress
- Maura Marx, Berkman Center Fellow and Executive Director, Knowledge Commons
- Jerome McGann, John Stewart Bryan University Professor at the University of Virginia
- Donald Waters, Program Officer for Scholarly Communications and Information Technology at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
- Doron Weber, Vice President, Programs at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Bridging the Information Professions Community Divide. In the context of legal information professional communities and the challenges law librarians face in collaborating with other stakeholders because of differences in professional cultures and institutional missions, Sarah Glassmeyer, Faculty Services and Outreach Librarian, Valpo Law, recently wrote in a thoughful and highly recommended VoxPopuLII post, The Loris in the Library:
[A fear of failure] has become so ingrained in the [library] culture that innovation and progress are inhibited. Contrast that with the tech sector - home to many future library partners - where trial and error are encouraged and participants have a freedom to fail. It behooves librarians to embrace this culture of innovation and develop a respect for failure lest they become completely stagnant and, as a result, obsolete
Everyone - librarians, computer scientists, legal publishers, government bureaucrats, etc. - needs to work towards a greater cultural understanding of the other players so that mutually beneficial and important projects - for instance, law.gov - are not lost to petty infighting and simple misunderstandings that devolve into huge clashes.
From Baby Steps to Giant Steps. I agree with Sarah's fear of failure analysis with the understanding that the caution librarians exhibit resides in having, first and foremost, an institutional mission to execute. The larger the institution, the slower moving it tends to be and this risk aversion is by necessity, as least for residents of law library directors' offices. Yet history has also shown that the larger the institution, the more likely it will have the financial, technological and human capital to initiate innovation on a project by project basis. These small steps eventually evolve into ever increasing complexity requiring collaborative efforts involving members of the library, documentation and publishing communities. It has taken many, many years for libraries to move to this stage where we can say collectively like Danton has said, "we have acquired a great deal of experience with digitization" in the context of a NDL.
In my years of watching these developments, when it is time to take a giant step forward, as it now is, that leap forward tends to come from ad hoc groups which successfully bridge essential professional and institutional divides. (Can you tell how I'm trying to avoid references to China's Giant Leap and its associated terrible cultural revolution consequences.) Commerical enterprises individually and collectively through industry associations and professional associations can impede such movements, ignore them at their own risk, or actively join them to influence their development if and when they recognize that there is a damn good chance of being left in the dust that will result in becoming known as "old normal" also-rans. For example, do think you that after years of concerted opposition by way of market domination and the internal tech specs of its products, Microsoft joined the international standards community out of the goodness of its heart? Do you think AALL would have gone any further than applauding the Library of Congress's registration of the law.gov domain if our association leaders didn't realize they had better catch up to the initative taken by individual law librarians and one local chapter?
In re LAW.GOV. LAW.GOV as a facet of GOV. 2.0 is one example of an ad hoc group taking the giant step forward because the time is ripe for structural change that will transform the provision of eLaw. Sarah and I have discussed the LAW.GOV-AALL relationship or lack thereof several times. I don't believe we disagree on anything of material significance but I don't share her concern about misunderstandings and petty infighting developing into major clashes if she thinks those clashes could lead to the failure of LAW.GOV. I don't believe she does think that but I don't want to put words in her mouth.
As far as I'm concerned, LAW.GOV will succeed with or without AALL institutional support because individual law librarians will contribute to the project's success regardless of what AALL does or says. If AALL doesn't want to play second fiddle in this orchestra, the music will still be performed. Sure, I would like to see better communications and concerted efforts between LAW.GOV and AALL but that is not a necessary contribution to LAW.GOV's success.
In re NDL. On a much broader scale, the NDL initiative launched by the Berkman Center is another example of an ad hoc group taking the necessary giant step forward because the timing is ripe for a structual transformation. This one faces even more substantial obstacles in its path than GOV 2.0. It is far to soon to predict where the “Digital Public Library of America” program may take us, if anywhere. If it does go anywhere, a national digital library is many years away. As long as all stakeholders stay on the same page, the professional and institutional interests which divide us ought not trump the collaboration needed to get the task at hand completed because the future depends on working together to take this next step.
But note well, just like AALL is a secondary player in LAW.GOV, no one representing ALA in an official capicity is on the Berkman Center's Steering Committee. This is not a criticism. The Council on Library and Information Resources is represented because CLIR's more narrow-focused mission compared to ALA's wide-ranging professional association mission dovetails into the NDL project's objectives and makes CLIR an indispensable contributor at this stage of the NDL project.
An Old Geezer's Perspection on the Problem of the One and the Many. Over the past 35 years starting out as a Serials LTA in an academic law library (scratch that, the LTA jargon was implemented in my job classification just before I went to library school in 1978) to now, I've seen a thing or two during my career. I also missing plenty (e.g., would I even recognize a BigLaw firm library having not practice in that sector for 20 years?). I entered at the beginning of the transformation that was fee-based full-text online legal search but will leave before the "new normal" of 21st librarianship is in place.
My professional career will be over before we see the fruits of LAW.GOV and a national digital library. But one way or another, both will happen. These are instances where the solution to the problem of finding the one thing that lies behind all things is readily apparent. It's progress and it cannot be stopped. Sarah's career will not be over before we see this happen and she is actively engaged in making it happen. So with the hope that she will not mind me adding two bracketed insertions, let's close with the following quote from her post:
The projects that we can (and should) be collaborating on are new and different and will completely change the way people access their law [and other resources]. As such, they will be met with resistance and suspicion and push-back from commercial vendors and government agents. Presenting a united front and creating a system that benefits from all of our areas of expertise from the beginning will go a long way towards legitimizing our cause. We have one chance to make a first impression, one opportunity to make free law [and a national digital library] an accepted resource in this generation. Don’t mess it up.
End note on the Great Ultimate. Oops, not quite done! While the problem of the one and the many has been and continues to be the dominate issue in Western intellectual history since the birth of thinking thinkable thoughts on a theoretical plane by Pre-Socratic philosophers, in China, tai chi or the Great Ultimate unifies all. Tai chi is divided into two opposite forces, yin and yang (and five material agents). Beyond this, tai chi is undefined. Tension is to be expected; one might say it will produce the Big Bang that will be the 21st Century's information universe. [JH]
December 19, 2010
Pew Internet Survey on Internet Use in Higher-Income Households
Pew Internet reports that higher-income internet users are the most active participants in a range of online activities, when compared with those who have less income. From the report:
- 93% of higher-income users use email
- 80% access news online
- 71% pay bills online
- 48% have used their cell to send or receive email
- 88% conduct online product research
- 37% have donated to charities online
The internet users in higher-income households are more likely than others to go online multiple times a day, both at home and at work. Some 86% of internet users in higher-income households go online daily, compared with 54% in the lowest income bracket.
In many cases, the most noticeable difference in online engagement between various income groups relates to their intensity of use. On any given day, the internet users in the higher-income bracket are more likely than the internet users in lower-income brackets to be doing various online activities. Compared with internet users in other income cohorts, higher-income internet users go online more often compared with other groups: For instance, 55% are on the internet or are using email several times a day from home. Moreover, the more well-to-do internet users, on any given day are more likely get online news, conduct online research for a product or service, and go online to search for maps or directions.