January 1, 2011
"And what have you done, another year over and new one just begun:" on the sixth anniversary of Law Librarian Blog
So this is 2011 (echoing John Lennon) and here LLB is. Launched on Jan. 1, 2005, today is this blog's sixth anniversary. Day in and day out, a hard working team of past and current co-editors and contributing editors who had plenty of other things to do have helped publish at least one post on LLB each and every day -- well over 11,000 posts. When launched, the intention was to provide a current awareness service to law librarians and members of the public interested in law and legal research-related news and developments.
Thanks to the the integration of social media features in websites, RSS feeds for eNewsletters and new social media platforms, particularly the use of Twitter, one might think there is not nearly as much need to publish a post as a current awareness feature, alerting readers to news, new resources, or something of interest posted elsewhere, unless one is covering a topic with links to multiple web destinations or is also adding commentary and analysis in the text of the blog post. In his 2010 Blawggies award post, Dennis Kennedy wrote "the biggest trend in blawgging in 2010 is the continuing movement of blawggers into social media. It’s definitely decreased the frequency of blog posting by many blawggers and changed what gets written about on a blog as opposed to distributed via social media." This is why Social Media, the Mobile Platform and Personal Portals was the 2010 Blawggie award winner in the most important trend in law-related blogging category. Kennedy adds
It used to be that websites and blogs made a great effort to drive people back to the website or blog and capture the reader there. The website or blog was the one central “home base” (as Chris Brogan and others call it). Now, I see our web presence as much more distributed and our audience finding us in a variety of unrelated ways.
Since launching our Law Professor Blogs Network in 2004, my advice to well over 100 blog editors and contributing editors has always been, if you publish regularly, viewers will come and some will stay as regular readers by taking the blog's RSS feed. This is certainly an effort to make a blog a "home base" where readers can expect to find something of interest on the topic covered by the blog. Certainly not every post published on blogs will be must-reads but hopefully there will be sufficient reader interest to retain a blog's RSS feed.
But blog posts of all kinds -- current awareness, analytical, commentary -- also do something that other social media platforms do not do very well. They feed our common web search engines with content, content that a searcher may find useful for the search topic-at-hand, one where discovering a blog as a "home base" is not necessarily the most important factor. While I completely agree with Kennedy's trend analysis, this is where I have a problem with Kennedy's comments about this trend. If content is king, the author's intention for publishing something on the web by alternative social media avenues may not matter as much as the information provided and found by Google, Bing, etc., searches if published in blogs. Blogging as a social media avenue is less micro-audience, less restricted to an author's original intention, than other social media platforms because of Search.
Content-Shift in the Law Librarian Blogosphere. The law librarian blogosphere has changed since 2005 and so has LLB. We do post less often than in the past and our content, as Kennedy noted above about law blogging generally and I noted in LLB's fifth anniversary post last year, has shifted at least with respect to frequency of types of published content -- more commentary and analysis and less news and developments for the purpose of current awareness although we still do some of the latter. One reason for less frequent posting may very will be the content shift Kennedy noted. It certainly takes more time and effort to write "think pieces" than current awareness alerts. Being an "aging and decrepit Boomer" law libarian-blogger, for example, I really only have one analysis and commentary post in me during any given week, LOL. "Think piece" by the way comes from the time when I worked for the Chicago Tribune and the article ID used to label contributions in the editorial and syndicated columists section of the newspaper. Blogging is akin to newspaper publishing in many respects, first and foremost being it is a publishing venture.
This is a web space for younger, more energetic, and in my opinion, more expert about current developments law librarian bloggers. Years ago, I gave up trying to be the first to publish in this web space -- that's utter madness for this 58-year old! I rely on my fellow-travelers by way of RSS feeds for both alerting me to new developments and their very well informed commentary and analysis about them. I just add my 2-cents like the old geezer that I am a little later in the blogosphere timeline. Perspective, albeit just mine and usually cranky, is the order of the day when I try to grind out an LLB "think piece" post.
Recently, a law librarian, one I have one hellva a lot of respect for, took time out from his busy workday to call me, essentially to say, "I've been looking for your post about X" the day the post was published. I appreciated the call and have had similar and not all that infrequent communications from other law librarians over the years whose implied message oftentimes is "I wish I could say that publicly." My response in this conversation was "well, it took me ten hours over the course of two days with a last minute update before heading off to the "day job" to get it done." Left unspoken by both of us was the silence from AALL about "X". What was "X"? Rudovsky, of course, which could not have been written without the excellent coverage provided by other bloggers.
Why Blog? Many excellent law librarian blogs also publish content for all of above purposes. Why? Could it be because we cannot depend on either our legal vendors or AALL for providing web-distributed information without a wee bit too much self-serving institutional spin when they decide not to simply remain silent. We certainly haven't ever seen AALL respond to anything in "blogosphere time." We can expect our legal vendors to gloss over matters since most of their blogging content is marketing-related. We know not to expect that their blog and website published information about products, services, how to use them, sales and pricing schemes, etc. will highlight flaws and traps. Just take all things WestlawNext and "assured pricing plans" pitched by West to individual consumers interested in a West print title as two examples from last year.
Should we expect the same sort of gloss-overs or silence on matters of import from our professional association in web communications? Unfortunately, yes. For example, instead of publicly stating for all to read that the current incremental nudging up of annual percent increases many institutional buyers are or can expect to be seeing on top of the not inconsequential percentage roll-up on prior year's fixed costs when institutional subscriptions for online legal search come up for renegotiation, we hear nothing from AALL officially about how and by whom online price increases are trending up higher than many institutional buyers' annual budgets in this economy. You don't need an official study to publicly issue an institutional buyer alert to watch out for something like this. In fact, no official study could be made if one takes the confidentiality clauses of WEXIS licenses seriously (which I do, until, well AALL does something about sharing some cost information by market sector without disclosing the identity of instiutional buyer). And about those NDAs TR Legal is tossing on the table before negotiating online renewals ... not a word from AALL.
What about AALL taking a public position every law library institutional member is saying privately, namely that after years and years and years of annual print continuation price increases in the industry being far and away above annual institutional collection development budget increases, in our current budgetary climate, the trend has gone too far. Nothing. Instead we read "woe is us, times are tough" articles. If AALL thinks it needs an official study to base an official statement on this topic, there's the Price Index, right? Wrong.
In last year's most illustrative example of our association glossing over something it did for CYA purposes, our leadership did not simply state publicly "we screwed up big time for the latest Price Index because we did not specifically ask for print continuation pricing." (Citation omitted but regular LLB readers may recall this and it will be the topic of a forthcoming post.) For an association with credibility problems with many of its institutional members, trying to avoid this admission by saying that it was "discovered" that Thomson Reuters and then further "discovered" that other legal vendors did not provide this data is an obvious attempt at self-serving institutional spin.
The membership deserves and should demand better from AALL. As far as I am concerned until one of our elected AALL officers publicly states his/her opposition to less than frank web communications to its members, they all deserve to be tarred and feathered because nothing AALL does is so damn important that it trumps accountability and transparency. If accountability and transparency does not apply to the business conducted by AALL, we might as well quit pretending it applies as a fundamental principle of our profession. If we do not lead by example, we have no basis to claim leading at all.
2010, the Year AALL Continued to Maintain Its Blogosphere Silence About Significant Issues Faced by Its Institutional Members. In last year's fifth anniversary post, I stated that it was a fair assessment to characterize 2009 as the year the legal information professional blogosphere became the consumer advocate for legal resource users, individual and institutional. See also, Taking the Proverbial Bull by the Horns: AALL as an Agent of Change. This remains the case. It is a fair assessment to characterize 2010 as the year AALL failed to use the blogging platform for consumer advocacy after the example set by many law librarians in this web space, as if an example even needed to be set.
Blogging has been a mainstream web communications platform since at least 2006. I, for one, am not afflicted with early adopter syndrome, but after five damn years, the only reasons I am left thinking that AALL officialdom does not want to or has no intention of creating a "home base" for the vendor-buyer relationship in the blogpshere must be because either (1) they simply do not want to frankly address these matters which are important to the membership or (2) their inability to produce substantial results behind closed doors will come to light by addressing them publicly when no response is forthcoming from vendors.
I, for one, but I doubt I am the only one, think sunlight is the best disinfectant. Official statements publicly available for all to read in a timely manner can have positive consequences for institutional members, particularly those who have insufficient purchasing power to deal one-on-one with major vendors who view them as captive consumers. Need I mention that industry investment house analysts are also very interested in reading about the consumer-side's informed insights, trend perspectives, impact of new vendors, and actions taken by institutional buyers and that such content, if made publicly available in a timely matter, by AALL could have significant consequences our vendors cannot take lightly.
Our vendors can ignore, can pretend to be interested in AALL concerns without doing a damn thing, until their CFOs and CEOs say we damn well better address the concerns in our private sector market because it is impacting the investor community. We, well, at least our very expensive vendors' "base" (private sector law firms and corporate legal deparments and toss in larger federal government agencies) do have a voice that will be heard if it uses its vocal cords in a concerted way, that is to say, by speaking out as an institutional advocate. The rest of us outside this base will likely be beneficiaries once we realize that we are not major players.
AALL officaldom's actions so far only proves it is clueless about how this very serious "game" must be played. While some AALL blogs are worth taking their feed, most notably SIS/SIG groups, AALL's official "sanctioned" web content leaves a lot to be desired in content and timeliness. Will 2011 be the year AALL uses blogging as a means for timely consumer advocacy by way of vendor-related alerts as a current awareness service and analysis and commentary on vendor-buyer topics of interests to its members? The only thing stopping our professional association from doing this is our own elected officials on the Executive Board. AALL members who take to heart the fact that this is an association of institutional buyers are left questioning our association's real agenda.
There are some damn competent members on CRIV-Lite (by which I mean CRIV-AALL E-Board controlled) who have been dictated strict do's and don'ts with respect to addressing vendor-buyer issues and issuing any statements whatsoever. Why even have a CRIV-Lite if AALL is going to censor their actions and opinions based on the information committee members receive, investigate and apply their professional expertise to them? Just do away with the Committee. Or let the members address any and all specific issues with vendors one-on-one as they see fit and let CRIV solicit information from the membership by way of a blog to see if a problem or issue presented to the Committee is local or widespread without censorship in something resembling 21st turn-around time. Let CRIV-Lite become CRIV-Traditional to also address such issues and any and all general matters of interest and concern by way of their own blog without censorship in something resembling real time. The AALL E-Board should support, not hinder this Committee's efforts to do what the membership expects from it. Of course, this suggestion won't work unless current members of CRIV are allowed to select from the volunteer pool who they want to join the Committee or at least are allowed to veto who the E-Board has selected to populate the Committee when vacancies arise.
CRIV's current membership composition stacks the deck against responding to the only market forces that matter. Ah, I'm a county law library director but OMG, am I the only AALL member thinking four county law librarians of CRIV isn't really representative of our vendors' major "food groups." The ratio, based on AALL membership, is 2:2:1 (private sector, academic sector, pubic sector). The ratio based on spend is substantially higher where the private sector market eclipses the combined spend of the academic and public sector by an order of magnitude or two, or three. This is utter nonsense. This is why CRIV must be allowed to select and/or solicit law librarians to join as committee members to achieve some sort of balance and expertise when vacancies need to be filled on a CRIV-Unleashed committee. Note well, I know and respect a couple of the county law libarians on this committee but no matter how competent they may be, nothing trumps first-hand experience with dealing with the driving market forces in play and the longer term experiences dealing with them. It's the damn private sector and they simply do not have that expertise. They may understand but they do know in sufficient detail. But I digress... .
Time to be reading something worthwhile about the vendor-buyer state of affairs in an AALL blog? Now, I expect the answer from AALL will be, "we've been considering having the Vendor Liaison write a blog." Bad idea on at least three counts. First is the issue of credibility when communications come from AALL's Board or one of its hand picked appointees. Second, why mediate, restrict, censor the activities of a duly sanctioned committee by wedging this compensated appointee between CRIV and our vendors and between CRIV and the membership. Third, solo blogging is oh so 2003.
Blogging is a publishing business and solo blogging is not and has not been the way to go about this. No less a law blogging authority than Dennis Kennedy recognized this when, on December 26, 2004, he explained his reasoning for characterizing Group Blogs as the "Best Legal Blog Trend of 2004." He wrote
... 2004 saw the appearance of a number of group blogging experiments by both new bloggers and long-time bloggers. I like this trend because it offers the potential of providing better content to a bigger audience ... .
In the law librarian blogosphere, I believe LLB was one of the first blogs intended from the start to be a group effort. This is the reason LISNews recognized LLB as one of the 10 Blogs to Read in 2008 on January 14, 2008:
We had a hard time picking a law librarian blog. Our "final cut" list included three choices, and each seemed worthy to be our single final choice. In the end Law Librarian Blog edged out the others for several reasons. For me the biggest reason was collaboration; Law Librarian Blog has 2 editors, and several contributors. They cover a wide range of topics in the law library niche, and point the way to good tools and resources.
My hunch is there may be a member or two in CRIV or outside CRIV, thinking "wiki, wiki, wiki" instead of using a blog platform. My answer is "no." A wiki is a fairly walled off garden. We may be a professional association of institutional buyers but we have a public responsibility to all consumers of purchased legal resources. Any of us who have been addressing the purchasing in the public sector by well-meaning public agency and court administrators, like we Ohio county law librarians have for the past year, have seen what can happen when vendors have the information advantage over them. Only blog posts accessible by Search can help us execute this responsiblity to all.
CRIV is sufficiently large in membership and stable in the duration of membership terms to keep a Vendor Relations group blog going as a long term collaborative effort informed by the opinions of many, not one. Of course, it needs to been more representative of all major market segments. Assuming that, if CRIV-Unleashed regularly publishing content that matters to institutional buyers in a timely manner is the objective, it will acquire an audience and will become a "home base." Today, the best example of group blogging in the legal information web space is, in my opinion, Slaw since its re-deployment which was assisted by a Law Foundation of Ontario grant. Slaw's editorial model, regular columnists and additional bloggers, is the way to do this blog publishing thing and the model a CRIV-Unleashed Vendor Relations blog should follow. As issues arise, blog about them to see how widespread they are. As trends begin to appear, write about them in posts to solicit reader input by way of the blog platform's comment function.
Our major vendors will read a CRIV-Unleashed blog. Perhaps vendors should be invited to guest write posts on topics CRIV requests them to address. Most vendors have an official policy of not commenting to individual blog posts directly very often. Perhaps they will after too many "vendor X could not be reached or refused to comment" when queried about the topic of this post before its publication.
When it comes to the vendor-official AALL relationship, there is an issue of credibility that can only be resolved by allowing CRIV to do its job and to take issues and matters they consider important to the membership publicly. The corrective to the current state of AALL-Vendor affairs is not to wedge a Vendor Liaison between (1) CRIV and vendors and (2) CRIV and the membership. It is to introduce transparency in the relationship and accountability for the relationship by unleashing CRIV to do its job and to do so publicly in a timely and uncensored manner. Unmediated blogging by the Committee's membership is the best way to do this. But I'm not holding my breath... . There is no doubt in my mind that many AALL members are thinking that the time is coming for an independent legal institutional buyer organization to address vendor relations because of the current state of affairs.
It's Not a "Mission from God" But the Law Librarian Blogosphere Remains the Best Watchdog Our Profession Has. Until something is done, the entire law librarian blogosphere remains the watchdog over all things legal information-related including our association, our vendors and activities going on beyond both of those spheres of influence that have or will have a significant impact on the provision of legal information.
I, my colleagues who write for this blog and "fellow-travelers" in the law librarian blogosphere are not on some "mission from god." I believe we all post because there is a vacuum of full and frank discussions of matters of importance. I'm sure we all believe that none of us have "the answer" but we give a damn enough to take the time to say something about the many and varied issues at hand from our individual perspectives. Hell, I tell every blogger who contributes to LLB that it is absolutely OK with me if you want to publish a "Joe, you ignorant bastard" post. I publish every comment to a post that says anything critical of what I have written. I believe my fellow law librarian bloggers do the same.
What does AALL do in the open for all to read using a publishing platform for timely statements? Here's what a CRIV-Unleashed blog post could have said recently:
While the contract between West and the authors of "Pennsylvania Criminal Procedure -- Law, Commentary and Forms" allowed West to use the authors' names on the title page of the pocket part, the editorial quality of ghost written legal analysis and commentary for this title's pocket part as documented in the court record of Rudovsky vs. West is unacceptable in this instance and may be an example of a pattern and practice on the publisher's part. CRIV calls on readers to provide examples of similar instances of questionable editorial content in sufficient specificity for further investigation by the Committee. Readers may do so by commenting to this post or by emailing ... .
Of course a CRIV-Unleashed blog post could have said must more than that. Do note that an incoming AALL Executive Board member has publicly stated in, you guessed it, a blog post, that he sent a message to the AALL Executive Board (and the SLA Legal Division Board) about Rudovsky. I do not know what that message said exactly but my hunch is it echoed in the question he posed in his blog post:
How can we, as customers, stress to the publishers that attempting to run schemes like these may help the bottom line in the current fiscal quarter, but will have long-term damaging effects for years to come?
Regardless of what happens to the verdict in Rudovsky, TR Legal's admissions about the quality of the content produced by its ghost writing staff are a sufficient basis for a timely and public response from AALL if our professional association gives a damn. A message from an individual law librarian blogger to AALL ought not be necessary. Will it be received by official silence? Wait 'n see. Hell, let's see who responds publicly first and how strongly worded that response is, SLA's Legal Division Board or AALL's Executive Board? Perhaps this would signal which professional association our membership dues should go to.
Will This Unacceptable State of Affairs Be Corrected in the Near Term? Maybe, maybe not. But at least one in-coming AALL Executive Board member who is not afraid to express his professional opinion out loud in the blogosphere might be able to awaken AALL officialdom from its very long nap that ignores the power of 21st Century web communications.
There are plenty of law librarians waiting in the wings to contribute their time, energy and expertise, including some current members of AALL committees, ah, like, CRIV, for example. If not, we just might have to elect more law librarian bloggers in tune with the 21st Century into the E-Club.
Regular Blogging Can be Is a Grind. I was a lot younger in calendar years and "blog-years" when I launched LLB on New Year's Day in 2005, and, as the long-suffering Blog Widow likes to remind me frequently, "I'm not aging well." When LLB was about to hit 2,000,000 total pages views, I thought, "time to quit." Ditto at the 2.5 million page view milestone. Ditto as last year's fifth anniversary and as this one approached. Well ... in thinking out loud fashion, which is what I think blogging should be at least sometimes, this senior citizen, both in calendar years and blogosphere presence, isn't quite ready to call it quits.
I don't know what if any influence LLB has had over the years but it is good to see that the light of much younger, certainly much more energetic law librarian bloggers burns brightly in this web space. Their blogs have acquired readers because we all need multiple "home bases" for their current awareness posts to call attention to matters of significance and their analysis and commentary posts informed by their professional expertise.
On behalf of an also aging Boomer law librarian, my co-editor Mark Giangrande, and our past and current LLB contributors, we wish you all the very best for 2011.
"[A]nd what have you done, another year over and new one just begun." -- John Lennon.
December 31, 2010
'Tis the Season for Year in Review Blog Posts
My favorite year in review post has to be Sarah Glassmeyer's 2010 Was an Interesting Year. She writes (and I intentionally omit the context):
I got nailed by a lot of balls in 2010.
I’ll wait for the #Iam12 crowd to stop giggling. Ready? Okay.
See her 2010 Was an Interesting Year for details. About 2010, Sarah writes
I stretched myself and didn’t take the safe route. Some things I even deliberately did because the thought of it terrified me. So, even though everything didn’t work out perfectly, I can’t say that I really regret too much. I did the best I could and stayed true to myself.
And adds "There’s supposedly a Chinese curse that goes 'May you live in interesting times' and 2010 was definitely…interesting. The goal for 2011 is to have a more boring year." I doubt she will achieve that goal. In fact, who would want that for Sarah! Continue to stretch and stay true to yourself is a far better goal for 2011. [JH]
December 30, 2010
President Obama Announces Recess Appointment for Public Printer: CWA Senior Vice President, William J. Boarman
From yesterday's White House Announcement:
About William J. Boarman:
Boarman recently served as President of the Printing, Publishing & Media Workers Sector of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the Senior Vice President of CWA. He has been associated with the printing industry, its labor relations and personnel management for over 40 years starting with his four-year apprenticeship at McArdle Printing in Washington, D.C., succeeding to Journeyman Printer (Practical Printer by Trade) in 1971. In 1974 Boarman accepted an appointment as Printer to GPO. In 1977, Boarman took a leave of absence from GPO to serve in various elected posts within the International Typographical Union, which merged with CWA in 1987. He served as chairman of the CWA/ITU Negotiated Pension Plan, a multi-employer defined benefit pension plan with assets of $1 billion; President of the International Allied Printing Trades Association; and President of the Union Printers Home, a 122-bed skilled nursing facility in Colorado Springs, CO. Boarman served three terms as co-chair of the Council of Institutional Investors (CII) and as the first-ever public member of the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities.
eBook Trends That Will Change the Future of Publishing Sooner Rather Than Later (excluding, perhaps, WEXIS eBooks)
Philip Ruppel, president of McGraw-Hill Professional, identifies five eBook trends that will change the future of publishing:
- Enhanced E-Books Are Coming and Will Only Get Better
- The Device War Is Nearly Over
- The $9.99 E-Book Won’t Last Forever
- The Contextual Upsell Will be a Business Model to Watch
- Publishers Will Be More Important Than Ever
About the last listed trend Ruppel writes
Despite the hype around self-publishing via the web, publishing houses will play an even greater role in an e-book world. Commodity content is everywhere (and largely free), so high-quality vetted, edited content — which takes a staff of experts — will be worth a premium.
Well, I can think of one major legal publisher who needs to ratchet-up edited content by its "publisher's staff" if it wants to offer something more than very expensive commodity content in its current sales catalog of titles in print and electronic form.
Rupple also writes that "The e-book of the not-too-distant future will be much more than text. Interactivity has arrived and will change the nature of the e-book." Ah, well, not yet in the eBooks offered by traditional legal publishers. By and large TR Legal, LexisNexis and CCH law ebooks today are not much more than digital editions of their print versions. See, e.g., TR Legal eBooks Available in Kindle Editions: Run with the pack strategy trumps claim of being "ahead of the curve" and CCH Launches eBooks for Tax, Estates and Accounting Titles; Law Journal Press Launches Online Editions for Supplemented Treatises.
In the legal academy market, imagine Rupple's "contextual upsell" for law student eCasebooks and eTreatises where study aids can be sold by way of in-book app purchases. Of course, first sources cited in those eTextbooks have to be embedded with links to each publisher's online search service.
Publishers may be more important than ever in the law eBook market but "high-quality vetted, edited content" for enhanced eBooks in this market may be products by publishing houses whose names we have never heard of. Check out Rupple's post on Mashable for his commentary on eBook publishing trends. [JH]
Friday Fun on Thursday: Law School Fear Reckoning (Or wake up, it's almost 2011)
Want to be the Next Public Printer of the United States?
Sounds like there is an opening but I didn't see an ad for the gig, at least not yet.
From the GPO press release:
Public Printer of the United States Bob Tapella announces his resignation as head of the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO). Tapella has led the men and women of the 150-year-old agency the last three years. He was nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2007 to become the 25th Public Printer of the United States. Deputy Public Printer Paul Erickson becomes the Acting Public Printer effective immediately
Prior to becoming Public Printer, Tapella served as a senior executive at GPO for five years. He was part of the team that took GPO from a survival mode to the thriving operation it is today. Tapella helped turn GPO’s financial situation from years of significant losses into the positive net operating income the agency enjoys today. Fiscal year 2010 marked the seventh consecutive year of positive results. The agency also launched GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) during Tapella’s tenure, giving the American people a one-stop site to authentic, published government information.
Using eBooks and eReaders in Your Library
The Creekview High School Library (a/k/a The Unquiet Library) staff in Georgia have been documenting the library's process of acquiring and lending Kindles and Kindle book editions on The Unquiet Librarian blog and in a series of YouTube videos, which are listed below.
- Arrival and Setup of The Unquiet Library's New Kindles
- Preparing Kindles for Circulation
- Cataloging the Actual Kindle eReader Device
- Interview with the First Student Who Checked Out One of the Library's Kindle
ALA TechSource Workshop: Using E-Books and E-Readers in Your Library. From the blog post announcement:
With the recent explosion in the popularity of eReading devices, many librarians are grappling with how to effectively integrate these devices into their services and collection. In two 90-minute sessions on January 25th and February 1st, 2011 at 4:00pm Eastern, Sue Polanka [Head of Reference and Instruction, Wright State University Libraries] will provide practical guidance on how to begin purchasing eBooks for your library to lend electronically and how to purchase eReader devices for patron use.
End Note: Jennifer Wondracek, Instructional Services Reference Librarian, Univ. of Florida's Lawton Chiles Legal Information Center, provides an overview of law eBooks and apps on RIPS Law Librarian Blog. See her Ebooks and Apps in the Legal Realm (Nov. 30, 2010) and this follow-up to her initial post, Ebook Apps update (Dec. 8, 2010). [JH]
Opening: Reference Librarian, Drake University Law Library
Drake University Law Library is seeking a Reference Librarian with a strong service orientation to help provide patron services to members of the Law School, Drake University, the local bench and bar, and the public. Located in Iowa’s capital city, the library enjoys a relationship with other local special libraries, including the State Law Library, and other local academic libraries, including the main library of Drake University. This is a full-time tenure-track position with faculty rank. The Reference Librarian reports to the Associate Dean for Information Resources and Technology.
Responsibilities: The Reference Librarian provides reference services (including one evening per week during the regular academic year), coordinates reference operations, provides instructional sessions to groups and classes, team-teaches a one-credit advanced legal research course , prepares and updates research guides and other library publications, supervises the Public Services Administrative Assistant, oversees interlibrary loan and document delivery services, schedules Information Desk staffing, and is responsible for other administrative duties as assigned.
Required: MLS degree from an ALA-accredited institution; library and reference experience; knowledge of print and electronic information resources; demonstrated administrative and organizational ability; excellent oral, written, and interpersonal communication skills.
Preferred: J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited institution; relevant experience in an academic law library.
Salary and Benefits: Salary commensurate with qualifications and experience. Excellent fringe benefits, including TIAA/CREF and tuition waivers for employee and dependents.
Applications: The position is available on March 1, 2011. Applications will be accepted immediately and until the position is filled; however, applications submitted by February 1, 2011 will receive priority consideration.
A full job description and further information about Drake University Law School is available at http://www.law.drake.edu/library/referencePosition.html
For consideration please email a cover letter, a resume, and names of three references to david.hanson(at)drake.edu: Associate Professor David Hanson, Search Committee Chair.
December 29, 2010
Voting for the 2010 ABA Journal Blawg 100 Will End COB Tomorrow
"The Blawg 100 is compiled by ABA Journal staff and is largely a favorites’ list. Most are blawgs that are regularly updated, contain original content, opinion and/or analysis. Many are also on our radar because the Journal staff finds the posts useful in terms of tipping us off to news or generating posts we consider worthy of coverage." Quoting from the Blawg 100 FAQ.
This is the fourth annual ABA Journal Blawg 100 and the second year one of my favorite blogs, 3 Geeks and a Law Blog, has been nominated. As of this morning, 3 Geeks is leading in the Law Biz category but let's make sure this must-read blog by members of our profession gets the recognition it deserves. Head over to the 2010 ABA Journal Blawg 100 site, register to vote, hit the Law Biz category and click on your mouse for 3 Geeks! Winners of the popular vote will be announced in January.
Vote leaders in each category as of this morning:
- Law Biz: 3 Geeks and a Law Blog
- Court Watch: SCOTUSblog
- News: Above the Law
- Law Prof Plus: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog
- Torts: Abnormal Use
- In Labor: Work Matters
- IP: IPWatchdog
- Criminal Justice: What the Judge Ate for Breakfast
- IMHO: The Legal Satyricon
- Niche: TheCorporateCounsel.net Blog
- For Fun: Law Law Land
- Legal Tech: iPhone J.D.
As in past years, members of our Law Professor Blogs Network were nominated for this year's ABAJ Blawg 100. Sentencing Law and Policy was nominated in the Criminal Justice category, and, in the Law Prof Plus category, Legal Profession Blog, TaxProf Blog and current category vote leader, Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog. Congratulations to all. [JH]
US News Rankings Czar Urges Prospective Law Students to Use Rankings "Wisely"
According to a recent Kaplan Test Prep survey 30 percent of test takers say that a law school's ranking was the most critical factor in selecting a law school to apply to. US News rankings czar Bob Morse says this is "the absolutely incorrect usage of the rankings" if "prospective students or their advisers are using the U.S. News law school rankings as the only basis to choose one law school over another. ... rankings should only supplement—and not replace—careful thought and emphasis on all the factors that really matter. The rankings can inform a person's thinking, but they shouldn't be used as the easy answer. We urge everyone to use them wisely."
Morse observes that "many other factors that cannot be measured need to go into such an important decision, including the overall cost, location, course offerings, school culture, job prospects, advising or mentoring opportunities, and campus life." Wait a minute, aren't "job prospects" measured by way of law schools unaudited placement data a factor used to produce the US News law school rankings? Isn't "overall cost" (when defined as law school expenditure per student) the most important underlying factor in Morse's ranking methodology? [JH]
Putting the iPad to Work
Tablet Legal's Josh Barrett is posting a series of iPad apps reviews for lawyers which also may be of interest to law librarians who want to put their iPad to work for them. Here's Barrett's introduction to the series. So far four of the planned posts have been published:
More to come covering:
- File Management and Use
- Microsoft Word and Excel Compatibility
- RSS / News
- Remote Desktop Connection
Check out the Tablet Legal's Apps category link for future posts.
See also Business Insider's 10 Ways People Are Using The iPad To Create Content, Not Just Consume It and The 10 Best iPad Apps for Business. [JH]
Opening: Assistant Director for Faculty Services, Univ of South Carolina School of Law
The Coleman Karesh Law Library, University of South Carolina School of Law, seeks motivated, experienced candidates for the position of Assistant Director for Faculty Services. The Law Library is an academic research library with the primary goal of supporting the work of the 45 faculty and over 700 students of the School of Law, but which also actively serves the University community, state government, the Bench and Bar, and citizens of South Carolina. The Law Library is independently administered with a collection of more than 500,000 volumes, ever-increasing technological sophistication, and a staff of 19.
This position coordinates library services for all full-time and visiting faculty of the School of Law. The incumbent is responsible for planning, implementing, and coordinating the delivery of research and document delivery services to Law School faculty and supervises a team of law-student research assistants. The Assistant Director for Faculty Services also participates in teaching legal research to law students. For complete information on duties and qualifications for this position, and to apply, please see the University website at http://hr.sc.edu/employ.html (search for Requisition # 003136).
Find out more about the library at http://www.law.sc.edu/library/ and more about Columbia, South Carolina, at http://www.columbiasc.net/.
December 28, 2010
Earl Borgeson: Passing of a Respected Best Friend to Many in the Law Library Community
In We Love to Help Each Other, 91 L. Libr. J. 195 (1999) Earl Borgeson wrote "everything you might want in a 'best friend' you will want to find in a mentor." Many who knew Earl Borgeson fondly remember him as a caring and giving mentor, in Borgeson's words as a "wise and loyal advisor, a teacher, a coach, a trusted counselor, a guide ... a warm and sharing personality who had a developed a body of expertise, who had unique skills for which [he or she did] learn[ed]." Earl Borgeson passed away on December 25, 2010 at the age of 88.
A past president of AALL (1968-69), Borgeson's career including serving as Professor of Law and Director, Southern Methodist University (1978-88), Associate Librarian, Los Angeles County Law Library (1975-78), Associate Director, Stanford University Library (1970-75), and Law Librarian, Harvard Law Library (1954-70). In 1988, he received AALL's Marian Gould Gallagher Distinguished Service Award. The Earl C. Borgeson Research in Law Librarianship Award at the University of Washington Information School's law Librarianship program was named in his honor in 2001.
I never met Earl Borgeson but his living legacy certainly includes all who benefited from his mentoring. No doubt he helped many law librarians by being "continuing accessib[le] for discussions of new and vexing problems and, when needed, comfort and reassurance when one has to pay the price for error." As law librarians who enter our profession seek out a professional advisor and confidant, Borgeson's advice is timeless.
Just keep in mind that while there are structures for establishing such relations, the best way is to pick out a law librarian you respect. From reputation, position, writings, or whatever, take the initiative to make contact and ask your question.
91 L. Libr. J. at 197. (Emphasis added.) [JH]
Dennis Kennedy's 2010 Blawggies
Few have been as close a watcher of law blogging developments for so long as Dennis Kennedy has. His first Blawggie awards was published in December 2004. Over the years, awards categories have changed to reflect the changing landscape of the law blogosphere but law librarian blogs have been recognized, oftentimes, as in this year, in the Best Legal Blog Category. In 2004, law librarian blogs were runner-up to group blogs in the Best Legal Blog Trends.
The most important trend in law-related blogging category has always been a very interesting feature of Kennedy's annual Blawggies posts. This year the winner is Social Media, the Mobile Platform and Personal Portals. About this trend Kennedy writes
Social media has had a huge impact on the frequency and types of posting blawggers do. If you take my blog as an example, my frequency of blogging might be the lowest ever (about once a week or so) and many of the things I probably would have blogged about in the past now appear as links on DennisKennedy.Microblog, my blog’s Twitter account.
It used to be that websites and blogs made a great effort to drive people back to the website or blog and capture the reader there. The website or blog was the one central “home base” (as Chris Brogan and others call it). Now, I see our web presence as much more distributed and our audience finding us in a variety of unrelated ways. The key thing is not to “drive and capture,” but to recognize the different routes people take and the different audiences, and make each location a “personal portal” that lets your audience easily find and get to your other presences, if they choose to do so. This means more repurposing, more linking and a more open and fluid web presence than in the past. It’s challenging, but it’s exciting. It will be interesting to see how much longer blogging awards like the Blawggies still make sense in the dynamic world of social media, apps and new developments.
About the impact of other social media web communication avenues on law blogging, Kennedy writes:
As I predicted in my 2009 Blawggies post, the biggest trend in blawgging in 2010 is the continuing movement of blawggers into social media. It’s definitely decreased the frequency of blog posting by many blawggers and changed what gets written about on a blog as opposed to distributed via social media. As I considered the 2010 Blawggie awards, I was surprised by how many well-known blawgs were not very active this past year because the authors were using social media as their primary daily outlet.
Check out Kennedy's 2010 Blawggie Award Categories and Winners ("[T]his seventh edition of the awards makes them the longest running annual awards list for law-related blogs selected by a lawyer named Dennis Kennedy living in St. Louis, Missouri. It’s difficult to keep a blog going for that length of time, let alone maintain an ongoing feature on blog for so long. I’ve enjoyed seeing how what once was just a crazy idea has turned into a bit of an institution in the world of law-related blogging.") [JH]
Command and Control at DePaul University: Is DePaul Law's New Dean a Glutton for Punishment?
"Announcing the new Dean three days before Xmas when no one is around actually is *Not* normal......but that's what DePaul University has done," wrote Chicago Law prof Brian Leiter about the timing of the announcement that Gregory Mark, Vice Dean, Professor of Law and Justice Nathan L. Jacobs Scholar, Rutgers-Newark, was appointed the new dean of DePaul Law. Well, it certainly was politically expedient, if DePaul University Provost Helmut Epp wanted to leave the building quietly and quickly to avoid expected criticism from the DePaul Law community over this appointment. You see faculty and staff at DePaul University are on Christmas break. Essentially, DePaul is not "open for business" right now.
Why expect criticism? In DePaul Names New Law School Dean, Rejecting Choice of 90% of the Faculty, Cincinnati Law prof Paul Caron reports:
DePaul Provost Helmut Epp repeatedly assured the faculty over the past two years that he would honor its wishes in the selection of a permanent Dean. The dean search committee presented four finalists to the faculty, and the faculty voted two of the candidates as acceptable: Dean Mark and current DePaul Associate Dean Brian F. Havel. The faculty then voted 35-4 in favor of the universally respected and admired Associate Dean Havel, who is ideally situated to heal the rift between the administration and law school.
The timing of the announcement of Dean Mark's appointment three days before Christmas, when most faculty and students are away from the law school, appears designed to quell protest of the decision and to make the appointment a fait accompli when classes resume Jan. 10. The DePaul administration's actions are especially disheartening for a Catholic university, dedicated to the Vincentian ideal of loving God through serving others: "the DePaul community is above all characterized by ennobling the God-given dignity of each person."
For one illustration of the fallout over DePaul University's heavy-handed actions during this still on-going fiasco, see the DePaul Law faculty resolution upon the announcement of the interim dean appointment after DePaul fired its by all accounts very popular and productive Law Dean here.
No one is saying or implying that incoming Dean Gregory Mark is not qualified for the appointment or that the appointment violated ABA requirements but as Dan Fuller, Senior Associate Dean for Academic and Faculty Affairs and Professor of Law, Drexel Law, wrote in DePaul Law Hires New Dean, Reignites Agita:
[W]hile some universities can get away with ignoring a mere preference, DePaul...having been through the ringer in the past couple of years might have benefited from being a little more deferential towards its faculty.
Chicago Law prof Brian Leiter adds:
It would have been prudent, of course, for the DePaul Provost to have deferred to the faculty preference in this instance, given the sordid history, but Provost Epp is not notable for his prudence or his judgment. As Caron notes (and as we expected), several DePaul faculty are weighing outside offers. Incoming Dean Mark will have his work cut out for him, to put it mildly.
Caron writes "[Mark] presumably did not know the full facts about the situation at DePaul before accepting the deanship. Now that several faculty have provided him with more information, he hopefully will work with the administration and faculty to find a solution." I have to think Mark knew enough about the situation to conclude that his acceptance of this appointment is indicative of being a glutton for punishment. Perhaps that's what it is going to take. Good luck.
Anyone have any idea when Provost Epp will retire? Since the position of university provost is oftentimes filled by someone tasked to do a university's dirty work, would a change in DePaul University's command and control structure at the provost level even matter? As an alumnus of DePaul (not Law) and former full-time library employee (also not Law) at DePaul, I hope but am not holding my breath that the relationship between the University and its Law School will improve any time soon. We will just have to wait and see what the University promised its new Law dean to accept this appointment and whether it fulfills its promise to the new dean. [JH]
For some background on the DePaul Law fiasco, see these earlier LLB posts:
- Honesty Not the Best Policy at DePaul: Law Dean Fired for Disclosing Required Information to ABA Accreditation Committee; Associate Dean Resigns in Protest (June 22, 2009)
- Interim Dean of DePaul Law Appointed (June 22, 2009)
- Another Shoe Drops at DePaul: How Many More to Come? (July 30, 2009)
- Another Chapter in the "Papist" Administration of DePaul Law (Sept. 10, 2010)
December 27, 2010
Addressing U.S. National Interests in Cyberspace Security
"The United States’ overriding national interest in cyberspace is to preserve and extend the Internet as a tool for economic efficiency at home and as a facilitator for economic exchange internationally. The current level of criminal activity, espionage, and preparation of the battlefield in cyberspace threatens to stall if not wipe out the economic gains produced by the networking of systems over the past two decades. Moreover, an overreaction to these threats could be equally devastating. In seeking to improve security in cyberspace, the United States must work to preserve the core attributes of the network that make it so valuable for economic exchange: innovation, openness, and limited governance. These attributes make the network flexible, so that new uses can be developed rapidly, and scalable, so that millions of new users and devices can be connected each year, expanding the free flow of ideas and the reach of international commerce. Addressing problems of security in cyberspace at the expense of these attributes would not serve U.S. national interests," writes Robert K. Knake in a Council on Foreign Relations special report entitled "Internet Governance in an Age of Cyber Insecurity."
To actively combat cyber crime, industrial espionage, and cyber warfare threats "while it works to protect U.S. national interests in the preservation and extension of the Internet as a platform for increased efficiency and economic exchange," Knake suggests the federal government should be guided by the following three principles:
- The United States should take a networked and distributed approach to a networked and distributed problem.
- The United States should move toward holding states accountable
- "The United States should lead by example."
About leading by example, Knake writes:
[The federal government] should take steps to clean up its national network, work to stop its systems from being used in international cyberattacks, prioritize criminal investigation of cyberattacks with foreign victims, and make clear that the primary goal of its military efforts in cyberspace is to defend the United States and preserve international connectivity.
For a brief review of the CFR special report which includes a link to download a free copy, see Internet Governance in an Age of Cyber Insecurity. [JH]
Ralph Nader, Really? Congressional Hearing on the Espionage Act and the Legal and Constitutional Issues Raised by WikiLeaks
On December 16, 2010, the House Committee on the Judiciary conducted a hearing on the Espionage Act and the legal and constitutional issues raised by WikiLeaks. The link to the video webcast is available of this page. The witness list identifies the following participants:
- Abbe D. Lowell, Partner, McDermott Will & Emery LLP, Washington, DC
- Kenneth L. Wainstein, Partner, O'Melveny & Myers LLP, Washington, DC
- Geoffrey R. Stone, Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor and Former Dean, University of Chicago Law School, Chicago, IL
- Gabriel Schoenfeld, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute, New York, NY
- Thomas S. Blanton, Director, National Security Archive at George Washington University, Washington, DC
- Stephen I. Vladeck, Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law, Washington, DC
- Ralph Nader, Legal Advocate and Author, Washington, DC
Ralph Nader, really? That's the best independent legal advocate the Committee's staff could think of? [JH]
Opening: Law Librarian, Supreme Court of Nevada
Under the general direction of the justices of the Supreme Court, the Law Librarian administers and manages the law library. The Law Librarian performs highly responsible administrative and legal research functions in directing professional level law library service to the Nevada Supreme Court, to all branches of state and local government, the state bar, other libraries and the general public. The Law Librarian also performs non-administrative duties as needed for the operation of the law library. Specific duties will include but are not limited to the following: Establish objectives, policies, goals and programs for the law library in order to provide professional level law library service to all branches of state and local government, the state bar, other libraries, and the general public; Plan, prepare, present and control budgets and manage all financial resources of the law library; Seek appropriate funding to support library programs; Administer the operational activities of the law library, including legal reference, technical services, accounting and fiscal management, collection development, public relations, education programs in legal research and bibliography, public programs, and property controls and inventory; Perform legal research for the Supreme Court and other clientele of the law library; Apply the latest computer and other technological developments to law library organization and legal research. Provide and oversee electronic research for court legal staff; Coordinate growth and development of legal research collections and databases for the law library; Ensure the optimal use of the library facility to accommodate the evolving needs of customers and staff; Strategically plan for future growth and development of the law library; Serve on commissions and committees as required by the chief justice. This position is located in Carson City, Nevada.
Entry Level Knowledge, Skills and Abilities: (Applicants will be screened for possession of these through written, oral, performance or other evaluation procedures.) Have detailed knowledge of modern principles and practices of professional law library administration, the bibliography of basic and specialized legal literature and the research methodology to use those materials; methods of supervision, budgeting and fiscal management; employee and public relations. Must also have the ability to: organize, direct, coordinate and evaluate activities of library staff; effectively develop and incorporate new programs to carry out the goals of the law library; develop and implement education programs in legal research and bibliography for court personnel, members of the bar, paralegals and legal secretaries, and librarians of state institutions, public libraries, and county law libraries; establish and maintain effective relationships with public and private officials; express ideas clearly and concisely, orally and in writing.
Education and Experience: Statutory requirements (NRS 2.440) for this position are: Graduate of a library school accredited by the American Library Association and have at least 2 years of library experience in an administrative capacity and have at least 1 year of training in a law school or 2 years of experience as an employee in a law library. Preferred requirements are: Master’s degree in Library Science from an American Library Association accredited library school and 5 years of professional level library work including a minimum of 2 years in a supervisory and/or administrative capacity and/or a Juris Doctorate with 4 years experience in a law library.
Salary Range: $95,633 - $101,276 DOE, employee/employer paid retirement.
Application Process: In order for you to be considered for this position, you must complete a Supreme Court of Nevada Employment Application, a cover letter, and a resume. It is your responsibility to provide specific, accurate and complete information describing how you meet the minimum qualifications in your original application materials. Applications are available at www.nevadajudiciary.us under the Administrative Office tab, where the application may be completed online, printed and mailed or delivered to:
Cynthia Sampson, Personnel Analyst
Administrative Office of the Courts
Supreme Court Building
201 South Carson Street, Suite 250
Carson City, Nevada 89701-4702
You may also submit your application packet via e-mail to lawlibrarian(at)nvcourts.nv.gov or via fax to (775) 684-1777
Deadline. The deadline to submit applications is Monday, January 31, 2011. Applications received after January 31, 2011, will not be accepted.
The Supreme Court of Nevada is an equal opportunity employer. If accommodation for a disability is needed during the application or examination proce/ss, contact the Personnel Analyst at 775.684.1744.
December 26, 2010
20 Gadgets, Gizmos (Including Some Former Christmas Gifts), Services and Products That Became Obsolete During the Last Decade
See HuffPostTech's look back at the things that have become obsolete. And what did you open under the Christmas tree that will become just as obsolete in a couple of years? [JH]