January 10, 2011
HeinOnline Earns Choice's Outstanding Academic Title for World Constitutions Illustrated: Contemporary & Historical Documents & Resources; Webinar Set for Jan. 27th
Congratulations to HeinOnline for its World Constitutions Illustrated: Contemporary & Historical Documents & Resources being selected one of the year's Outstanding Academic Titles by the editorial staff of Choice. Out of 7,292 titles reviewed during the past year only 668 publications made Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles list this year. The list appears in the January 2011 issue. World Constitutions Illustrated: Contemporary & Historical Documents & Resources was reviewed in the October 2010 issue of Choice.
World Constitutions Illustrated was released last April and was HeinOnline’s first library delivered by its new platform that brings together documents, books, articles, bibliographic references, and web sites all related to a subject area in one database. The World Constitutions Illustrated collection includes the current constitution for every country in their original-language format, substantial constitutional histories, more than 1,600 classic books about constitutional law with specific chapters tied to specific countries, more than 1,800 links to scholarly articles about constitutional development, links to online resources related to political development and a bibliography of select constitutional books. Product Description.
Webinar. HeinOnline is conducting a World Constitutions Illustrated webinar on January 27, 2011. From the webinar announcement:
Since our last Webinar in May, we have added thousands of additional pages, hundreds of books, more links, and expanded the constitutional hierarchies for several countries. From browsing the various country resources available, the bibliographies, links to articles, to search options available, we will explore these and various other features embedded throughout the resource. We will also briefly talk about our approach to expanding the breadth and depth of material available.
Details here. [JH]
How to Scrap Internet-Delivered Data for Conversion into a Database-Usable Format
"There is no data on the Internet that is actually impossible to download," writes ProPublica Nerd Blog's Dan Nguyen in The Coder’s Cause in “Dollars for Docs”. The post's intention is not to signal how easy it is to violate copyright but to present "public records gathering as a programming challenge" for journalists. The post is also the introductory lead-in by way of an illustration pointing to ProPublica's Dollars for Docs: What Drug Companies are Paying Your Doctor for a series of how-to guides for data scraping content off of web pages, Flash sites, and text-based or image-only PDF files to organize the obtained data into searchable databases.
With the exception of Adobe Acrobat, a must-have IMHO, all the identified tools in the guides are open-source. There are five guides:
- Using Google Refine to Clean Messy Data
- Reading Data from Flash Sites
- Parsing PDFs
- Scraping HTML
- Getting Text Out of an Image-only PDF
While intended for journalists, the audience for the guides certainly extends well beyond journalism. Many tech-savvy law librarians may know all the tools and techniques identified (perhaps even better ones). While being tech-inclined, I am always in catch-up mode.
In a time where requests for assistance in data scraping for lawful purposes for many and varied research projects is not an uncommon occurance, the ProPublica Nerd Blog's guides are (1) a good place to start if you do not already have the required skill set; (2) a great place to point a patron to if that's as far as your institution's mission allows; and (3) an excellent place for an overview before deciding whether you are up to the challenge to do it yourself, need to route the request to in-house tech staff, or should throw some $$ at the project by hiring someone to do the tech work. As stated in Nguyen's cover post, Scraping for Journalism: A Guide for Collecting Data, "The guides assume some familiarity with your operating system's command-line." This is the post to head to because it links to all five guides and suggested tools. Highly recommended (unless you already know all this stuff!). [JH]
January 9, 2011
Day 4 at AALS
Before I relate important events about today, I need to amend my Day 3 post. After the presentation of papers by law librarians yesterday, the section on law librarians held a brief business meeting. At the meeting we voted for a new president elect and executive board member. I apologize for the oversight yesterday.
Congratulations to Michelle Wu as incoming chair of the section, and to Darin Fox who will serve on the board!
For many law librarians, the day started with a 7 am CALI breakfast. Thanks to CALI we had a wonderful hot breakfast (or cold if you preferred, or both!). During the breakfast, Executive Director John Mayer reviewed many of the highlights of the 2010 CALI season, including:
- Over 1,000,000 lesson downloads (WOW!) this year
- Improved CALI lesson interface
- Linking casebooks to corresponding CALI lessons
- QR Code project
- Migration of Classcaster to WordPress
- Success of the e-Langell CALI Casebook Series
Executive Director Mayer indicated that, after 3 years of stable dues for law schools, that they were considering a raise in dues. This would be discussed at an executive board meeting. Personally, considering all the excellent work that CALI does, with such a limited staff, I think a dues increase is perfectly reasonable.
The breakfast ended about 8:30 which left the rest of the day for random attendance at the conference, or some sightseeing. Since it is really very cold in San Francisco, I stuck it out in the conference for the rest of the morning.
Following the CALI breakfast, I attending a program on the "Challenge of Empirical Work in Law." My motivation for attending this session was two-fold. First, I am tring to figure out how librarians can support the trend of empirical research in law schools. Second, I was hoping to learn a little bit about issues in conducting original empirical research. The session did not disappoint.
In particular, Daniel Ho at Stanford, and Andrew Martin at Washington University, gave offered particularly interesting comments on empirical work in the legal academy. The comments ranged from how to visually present the information to how to compile the information. Professor Martin comes from a political science background. During his comments he stressed the importance of using librarians in the organization of datasets and databases, and advised researchers to make better use of their librarians. Go Martin! Can I introduce you to Dean Polden?
Following the session on empirical research, I attended a session on "Book Publishing for the Legal Scholar," which really did not offer me much new information. They talked about how to select a publisher, how to switch from article writing to book writing, what publishers looked for, etc... These considerations seem automatic for me as a librarian, but I suppose to those unfamilar with the publishing industry, it was informative. I had hoped that they would discuss the problems and benefits associated with e-publishing in more detail, but that did not happen.
After that session, the conference was over for me. My head was saturated and I finally took off my badge and got ready to watch the Jets game!
That is the news from San Francisco tonight... (VS)