November 12, 2011
The Role of Internet Access for the Freedom of Expression
From the absract of Nicola Lucchi's Access to Network Services and Protection of Constitutional Rights: Recognizing the Essential Role of Internet Access for the Freedom of Expression [SSRN]:
In January 2010, after a troubled process, the French law for "creation and Internet", commonly known as Hadopi 2, was finally adopted in an amended form. The enacted text was the result of corrective action undertaken by the Conseil constitutionnel (France’s highest constitutional authority), through Decision No. 2009-580 DC of the 10th of June 2009. The Conseil examined the mechanism of sanctions introduced by the regulatory measure assessing the compliance with fundamental rights and freedoms, such as the presumption of innocence, the separation of powers, the right of defense, the right to fair trial, the respect of the right to be heard and the necessary compromise between copyright and freedom of expression and communication.
November 11, 2011
Changes in Library of Congress Management
On Nov. 4, 2011, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced that Roberta Shaffer will assume the postition of Associate Librarian for Library Services on January 3, 2012 in an employee new release. In a second employee new release it was announced that David Mao has been promoted from Deputy Law Librarian of Congress to replace Shaffer by becoming the 23rd Law Librarian of Congress on January 3, 2012. Congratulations to both. [JH]
Friday Fun: 11/11/11 And The National Anthem
It’s Friday, 11/11/11. What, you thought we would ignore a once in a lifetime occurrence? Rather than take a stance on numerology, I’ll refer you to a number of articles that offer information about the unique number combination. Try these:
- What’s So Special About 11/11/11 from MSNBC.
- Turning It Up To 11/11/11: It's Nigel Tufnel Day from the Guardian (UK).
- 11/11/11: Luck, Mysticism and Conspiracy of Rare Perfect Palindrome from the National Post.
- 11/11/11: Is Date Tied to the Mayan Apocalypse? from Fox News.
- 11/11/11: One Little Number Adds Up To a Lot from the Seattle Times.
- Meaning of 11/11/11 Is Divine For Many Interested In Numbers from the Washington Post.
- Who’s Afraid of the Number 11? From the Philly Post.
I’ll be observing Veteran’s Day holiday (also 11/11/11) by screaming my lungs out during the National Anthem played before tonight’s Chicago Blackhawks game against the Calgary Flames at the United Center. It’s a tradition here. Check out an example on YouTube. For the record, the Blackhawks organ-I-zation honor members of the military before every home game. Tonight should be special. Go Hawks. [MG]
Friday Fun: fin dt tal,of,th,s and dp mich,jam,a - So what's that?
Those of you who have been around for a while might recognize what the title of this post says and does. Anyone?
How about fin dp flet,ste,w and st bow,to,ma,a?
What about fin sn 0036-8113 and dt sci,ab,,?
Am I hurting those memory cells yet?
For all you newer librarians, these are the commands of an OCLC past. A time when we used something called PRISM to find titles and lend materials. Those were the days! Only us geeky librarians knew the language and how we delighted in stringing those phrases along to the utter confusion of our patrons. Ah yes, those were the days before we went click happy.
I think you can still use this language somewhere on OCLC. Is anyone out there still using the old OCLC command strings?
I'll post the answers on Monday! Have fun figuring it all out...
(Why bring this up? Well, you find interesting things when you move into a new office...)
Veterans Day 2011: Most Every Family Has a Story to Tell as We Recognize Our Stakeholders in America
For this Veterans Day, I simply wish to remind readers that something like 20% of the US population consists of living war and peace-time vets and the dependants of living vets and survivors of deceased vets. See last year's Veterans Day post.
My grandfather dodged conscription in the Russian army as a Pole living in occupied Poland before WWI by immigrating to the US. That would have been a life "sentence" since conscription in the Czar's army at the time meant 20-years service. He ended up being drafted by the US Army during WWI but was never sent overseas. My father was a WWII vet. In his case, he enlisted in the US Navy once he graduated high school and became a Navy nurse. Good duty until some Marine Corp Lt. Col, called him during a roll call and said he looked like he was "full of piss and vinegar" so my father was assigned to a scout company of Marines at their medic. He participated in three first-wave island invasions in the Pacific Theater included the last combat he engaged in at Okinawa because of that assignment. After seeing the devastation of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, he mustered out of the Navy and returned to Chicago in 1946. During the Vietnam War, my lottery number was in the 300's so I has not drafted and did not enlist because I opposed the war.
Regardless of my personal opinions about the Vietnam War, the sacrifices our Vietnam vets and their families made then certainly require recognition from me. This, of course, includes our vets who served their county in the first and second Irag wars -- regardless of what some, include me, think about the justifications offered for second Iraq war -- as well the war in Afghanistan.
By serving our country, our Veterans and their families have and continue to make sacrifices for us at home. Thanks to all. [JH]
The Unknown 61.9% of the 99% Placement Claim
Hat tip ATL's Elie Mystal for the below photo (click to enlarge) from The Dissenter's We Are the 99 Percent’ Photo of the Day. At The 99 Percent’s Take On Law School Employment Statistics, Mystal writes:
Would it be so difficult for the ABA to require this kind of breakdown before students start law school? ... In any event, whatever you think of the Occupy Wall Street protests, it’s hard to defend law schools that purposely mislead students into taking on even more debt.
This summer's crop of law students who passed the bar exam don't have much to look forward to if they haven't already found gainful employment in their chosen profession. AmLaw Daily's Tom Huddleston Jr. reports at Legal Sector Added 400 Jobs in October, Down 3,000 Over Past 12 Months:
The legal sector added 400 jobs in October according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics's monthly employment report released Friday. The modest rise was not enough to counter two consecutive months of job losses in an up-and-down year that has left the industry with substantially fewer positions than it had in October 2010, the BLS reported. ... According to adjusted figures released Friday by the BLS, the legal sector shed 1,200 jobs in September and 300 in August.
Perhaps unemployed recent grads should Occupy the Legal Academy ... and ABA headquarters. [JH]
November 10, 2011
Short Takes On The News: Some Tech, Some Scandal And Outrage, And Some Law
CNET has a positive review of a new reader for Google Books that is not from Google. Called GooReader, the product is described as “is a desktop application that allows you to read Google Books online and offline, add Bookmarks, create a local Library and save books to PDF.” The 3D look at the virtual bookshelf and display are pretty nice. Saving books to PDF, by the way, means an image of the page from the PNG file that Google represents as the page from a scan. The saving function does not make text searchable.
Speaking of Google Books, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has the story on outraged individuals demanding the removal of Jerry Sandusky’s ironically titled autobiographical book, Touched, from Amazon. Sandusky is accused of committing horrific crimes against under aged boys at the Penn State University sports facilities. The article notes that Google Books has a limited preview of Touched. The back cover displayed on Google Books has a number of blurbs, including this one from Sports Illustrated writer Jack McCallum: “Here’s the best thing you can say about Jerry Sandusky. He’s the main reason that Penn State is Linebacker U … and linebackers aren’t even his enduring legacy.” Linebackers will absolutely not be Sandusky’s enduring legacy. Yuck.
The News-Gazette has a few more comments on the Paul Pless scandal that rocked the University of Illinois College of Law. Some of the details in the article show that Pless was hired by the Illinois COL two months after receiving his J.D. from Illinois. He worked for six years without a formal review and at one point was given a $20,000 raise. If the article is accurate, no one wants to talk about Pless’ tenure at the school.
United States District Judge Liam O’Grady granted the Justice Department access to non-content Twitter records for three individuals associated with Wikileaks. The story on the case, which was vigorously contests by the EFF and the ACLU on behalf of the targets of the Stored Communications Act provision, 18 USC 2703(d), is available at Wired. There are links to the 60 page opinion on Scribd. The case is now likely on to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals which is known for its conservative bent when it comes to law enforcement. [MG]
The Clinical Legal Association is Soliciting Contributions for Follow-up Book to Best Practices in Legal Education
The Clinical Legal Association, Best Practices Implementation Committee is planning a follow-up publication to Best Practices for Legal Education by Roy Stuckey and others. The vision of the book is to build on ideas for implementing best practices, and to develop new theories and ideas on Best Practices for Legal Education. If you are interested in authoring a section for the new publication, contact Professor Deborah Maranville at maran(at)uw.edu or Professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez at lopez(at)law.unm.edu as soon as possible. Then by Dec. 1, 2011, send one of the profs a 3-5 page abstract identifying the knowledge, skills and values as well as the learning objectives and methodology of your innovative teaching idea. The Editorial Board will meet at the AALS meeting in January to select pieces for inclusion in the book.
Hat tip to Jim Levy at Legal Skills Prof Blog. [JH]
November 9, 2011
Digital Access Isn't Everything
There is a great article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) by Brian Cowan, 'Digital Natives' Aren't Necessarily Digital Learners, which takes on the concept of digital natives as digital learners, and concludes that while technology may deliver information in convenient ways, it will not necessarily motivate individuals to learn. Cowan describes four myths of digital learning:
- Myth 1: Digital natives are automatically digital learners.
- Myth 2: Students prefer using technology to learn.
- Myth 3: Cyberspace is the new classroom.
- Myth 4: Today's students are multitaskers.
His examples under each suggest these statements are not universal truths of learning they purport to be. Students may be confronted with information options that technology offers, but these are delivery mechanisms. Technology doesn’t always offer the evaluative tools for that information. Cowan’s article is not aimed at legal instruction, though it resonates.
I’ve said to legal writing students over the years that downloading and printing cases is not a substitute for reading them. Perhaps WestlawNext and Lexis Advanced are out to change some of that by delivering “relevant and related” information to the query. The underlying technologies for these services still require some form of evaluation and application of the information they present. Cowan notes that making information conveniently accessible does not lead to understanding the underlying ideas they contain. The distractions of everyday life do not make consuming them any easier despite the delivery mechanism.
One of the comments to the article cites another piece recently published in Wired. The Wired story, Clive Thompson on Why Kids Can't Search, describes a number of studies involving student search habits. One showed that students accepted page ranks as authoritative in circumstances where the pages in a Google results list were falsely-ranked. We don’t expect Google to manipulate page ranks in real life, but that does not mean the top ranked information is always the best information.
Another study showed that students did not question the authority of the information presented when they did not bother to check the credentials of the authors. The Wired piece concludes with the idea that a broad understanding of how the world works is necessary to evaluate information presented by machines. “Question authority” is the old saw from the 60’s. It should apply no less to search results via popular technology today. [MG]
TR Legal's Format Switcheroos: From Loose-leaf Sets to Pamphlet Editions to Bringing ProView eBooks to Market
Shaun Esposito, CRIV Chair, 2011-2012 and Head of Public Services at the University of Arizona College of Law Library, asked about the format change TR Legal has been executing from loose-leaf to pamphlet editions because "Several AALL members have asked about this, and I have noticed the change in my own library."
Anne Ellis, Senior Director, Librarian Relations, responded:
I would like to thank Shaun Esposito for allowing me to speak to an issue raised by several customers concerned about the format of print product updates switching from loose-leafs binders to softbound pamphlets for some of our products.
This format change was based on customer feedback - a vast majority of customers across several pilot programs conducted last year stated that they clearly preferred the pamphlet for updates for certain kinds of products, citing reasons such as ease of use, ease of updating and greater convenience.
With this feedback in mind, we developed a set of criteria, based in large part on customer surveys, for determining when converting a print product update would be most helpful to our customers.
Currently, these criteria specify that print products that exist in one- or two-volume sets, and are updated only once or twice annually, are good candidates for conversion to pamphlet. Approximately 450 of our titles meet these criteria, and to date, 33 titles have been converted from loose-leaf to pamphlet updating. As part of our process, we notify customers whose subscriptions are converting to pamphlet updating prior to shipping.
We strive to provide our customers with the best products to meet their needs in the most convenient and user-friendly formats. If you have further questions about your subscriptions or the format of your print product updates, please contact us at 1-800-328-4880.
Senior Director, Librarian Relations
OK Anne, thanks for the information. Let's not even talk about the customer input thing unless TR Legal wants to provide the occupational demographics for the surveys and pilot programs.
Anne, got the list of the 450 or so candidates for this format switcheroo? Know when the titles' format changes are scheduled to be made? We all know that manufacturing is scheduled as far out as 18 months in advance. It is not done overnight. The only thing done overnight is notifying customers of the change. I don't recall any advance notification prior to receiving the handy dandy postcards that comes with the format-changed titles delivered to our little county law library's doorstep but perhaps that is because I have so few of the "candidates" left in my collection. I do recall receiving a nice form letter about the new edition of Graham's Handbook of Federal Evidence coming out soon. That was very, very informative. It included just about everything except for pricing information! Thanks for that "customer experience." (Note to readers: that letter did not come from Anne. The "author" was Robert Azman, TR Legal's Senior Vice President, Customer Experience & Education.)
I view this print format conversion in the context of West's forthcoming line of ProView eBooks. IMHO, all the titles that are being converted from looseleaf to pamphlet are being done as staging for licensing them as enhanced eBooks to individual practitioners. This pamphlet switcheroo for manufacturing will make it easier to move to coding for ProView eBook-ing. Coding for ProView is probably already underway for the pamphletized print titles. For all I know, ProView coding may have even necessitated the print format switcheroo.
The Ellis announcement does not state but indicates to me that TR Legal is including smaller secondary source sets for ProView eBook-ing in an effort to turn all practitioners into individual licensees like we law library institutional buyers already are. From what I've seen "pamphletized" so far the titles appear to cover federal law topics and are well-recognized works in their specialities by practitioners. Note that if, really when, they are eBook-ed by way of ProView, we can expect to see embedded links to WestlawNext for primary source cites (that's what I saw in the beta? version demo at Philly). This means you will need a WLN user account to access the linked resources -- smart way to try to increase adoption of WLN, isn't it? Just think of the practitioner who pushes his or her firm to buy into WLN because he has acquired one or more ProView titles. Imagine the ProView tie-ins offered at discounted prices for multi-year WLN licenses. Watch out for ProView embedded links to increase to WLN secondary sources that will eventualy encompass out-of-plan WLN resources available only on a transaction or hourly additional cost. Will this lead to in-app upsell opportunities for individual practitioners to access blocked WLN resources by way of their licensed ProView agreements?
TR Legal has realized that practitioners do not acquire each and every annual edition of an office copy because of (1) not wanting to pay the cost for nominal change in updated content; and (2) not wanting to lose their margin notes in the editions they already have. All the typical office copies of handbooks and secondary sources will be eBook-ed via ProView to reduce buyer reluctance due to #2 because ProView is capable of carrying over user notes from one eBook edition to the next edition automatically while hiding nominal changes in #1 by way of e-formatted editions to reduce buyer remorse by making it harder to see the obvious.
Even with its limited enhancements in the beta(?) version of ProView I saw, it was impressive in terms of being more competitive than the current eBook formats being marketed by Lexis, Wolters Kluwer and the ABA. I do not think the ProView-ing of the 450-or so "candidates" will lead to the elimination of their pamphletized print editions soon. In fact I believe the print editions will stay around awhile as a selling point for and justification for higher pricing of ProView editions. The sales pitch can focus on the increased functionality of the ProView editions vis-a-vis their print cousins. The folks in the Land of 10,000 invoices Licenses are very smart people. I do believe they know that their ProView line of eBooks can win the second round of the Law eBook slugfest if they can get enough of their enhanced Law eBooks to market ASAP. [JH]
Digital Revenues as a Percent of Total Book Sales by Major Publishers
paidContent's Laura Hazard Owen charts the digital revenue of major publishers based on the latest earnings report season at How Book Publishers' Digital Revenues Stack Up. [JH]
November 8, 2011
University of Illinois Issues Report on Admission Data Manipulation
The University of Illinois has issued its report on the Law School’s revelation that it reported of false student profile data to the ABA and US News. A copy is available here. Principle findings from the Executive Summary show these discrepancies:
- COL reported and/or publicly disseminated erroneous GPA data for the Classes of 2008 and 2010 through 2014.
- COL reported and/or publicly disseminated erroneous LSAT data for the Classes of 2008, 2010 through 2012, and 2014.
- COL reported and/or publicly disseminated erroneous acceptance rate data for the Classes of 2008 and 2012 through 2014.
Some of the specifics include details such as these for the class of 2014:
- Changes were made to the LSAT scores of 109 students and to the GPAs of 58 students;
- Twenty-five students had both their LSAT score and GPA changed, while 42 students had neither changed;
- Every change was upward;
- The largest LSAT score change was 12 points, which occurred five times (all from 156 to 168);
- One hundred LSAT scores were increased by at least two points, while 64 scores were increased by at least seven points;
- The largest GPA change was 1.03 points (from 2.59 to 3.62); GPAs of 4.0 were ascribed to eight international students, even though under ABA reporting rules none of these students should have been treated as having had any GPA for purposes of computing the class’s median GPA;
- and Thirty-six GPAs were increased by at least one-tenth of a point.
All other discrepancies for other classes, including some not raised at the time the scandal broke are documented in the report. The blame falls to former assistant dean Paul Pless who the report identifies as the party who manipulated and reported the data. The College of Law administration is faulted only by failing to have administrative controls in place that would have prevented such manipulation. The report states that administrators placed a lot of confidence in Pless, who was perceived as an outstanding employee, who, in hindsight, turned out to be not so outstanding.
I’d say from my own experience in law schools that Illinois is not the only school that likely lacks those secondary controls. Admission committees rely on information supplied by the admissions office for statistical analysis. Perhaps independent members of the law school should have access to the raw data for their own use. I can imagine law schools implementing a form of those controls after this episode. We still await the ABA response.
More is in the Daily Illini. [MG]
Time to Start Writing: The 2012 AALL/LexisNexis Call for Papers
The AALL/LexisNexis Call for Papers Committee is soliciting articles in four divisions this year:
Open Division: for active and retired AALL members and law librarians with five or more years of professional experience;
New Members Division: for recent graduates and AALL members who have become law librarians since July 1, 2007;
Student Division: Participants in this division need not be members of AALL. To be eligible in this category, you must have been enrolled in law school, or in a library school, information management, or an equivalent program, either in the Fall 2011 or Spring 2012 semester.
The winner in the Open, New Member, and Student Divisions will receive $650 generously donated by LexisNexis, plus the opportunity to present the winning paper at a program during the 2012 AALL Annual Meeting in Boston! Winning papers are also considered for publication in the Association’s prestigious Law Library Journal.
New for 2012 - Short Form Division: Articles in this category will be shorter than a traditional scholarly article, and appropriate for publication in AALL Spectrum, a bar journal, or a chapter or SIS newsletter. Participants must be AALL members. The winner will be awarded $300 from LexisNexis.
Application Information and Article Submission Deadlines:
- Articles in the Open, New Members, and Short Form Divisions must be submitted by March 1, 2012.
- Articles in the Student Division must be received by May 15, 2012.
- Application form and details, including word limits, can be found at the Call for Papers website.
If you have any questions, please contact a member of the AALL/LexisNexis Call for Papers Committee:
Jennifer Lentz, Chair, lentz(at)law.ucla.edu
Mark Podvia, Vice Chair, mwp3(at)psu.edu
Benjamin Keele, bjkeele(at)wm.edu
James P. Kelly, jim.kelly(at)vanderbilt.edu
Shawn Nevers, neverss(at)law.byu.edu
ACRL Calls on GPO to Work with Depository Libraries to Develop Multi-State Collaborative Models
On Nov. 2, 2011 ACRL president, Joyce L. Ogburn, Dean, J. Willard Marriott Library and University Librarian, Univ. of Utah responded to recent GPO rulings that rejected new multi-state partnerships within the FDLP. From the letter to William Boarman, Public Printer of the United States, and Mary Alice Baish, Superintendent of Documents:
ACRL believes that the future of libraries will be based in innovative uses of technology and intensive collaboration across geographic boundaries. The multi-state models for managing federal documents that libraries have developed address the pressing issues of the economic climate, the imperative for wider collaboration, and the improvement of access to these critical resources. We view these as necessary and viable partnerships that will sustain library collections and services and will create enduring programs of access and preservation
We understand that many people in the library community are concerned about the long-term quality of government information services, and ACRL is convinced that the quality of services associated with collaborative efforts will be stronger than stand alone efforts. ACRL urges the GPO to work closely and openly with depository libraries to explore and establish new models. It is essential that we leverage the possibilities inherent in 21st century practices to serve our citizens now and well into the future.
November 7, 2011
After The Lawyers, Let's Get Rid Of The Librarians
There was an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times last week titled Saving libraries but not librarians [Blowback]. The author, Dan Terzian, is identified as a fellow at the New Media Rights legal clinic and a lecturer at Peking University School of Transnational Law. He argues that the Internet has effectively replaced librarians and we should just get on with collecting our unemployment checks and finding new careers. Everything is available through Google. Here is the heart of his argument:
The digital revolution has made many librarians obsolete. Historically, librarians exclusively provided many services: They organized information, guided others' research and advised community members. But now, librarians compete with the Internet and Google. Unlike libraries, the Internet's information is not bound by walls; from blogs and books to journals and laws, the Internet has them all. And Google makes this information easily accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.
All but the most heady research can be performed by a Google, Google Books or Google Scholar search. Have a question about whether you should be paid overtime? Just Google "overtime pay California" without quotes, and the first result is a California government website with an answer to your question. Even many college students' first -- and often last -- source for research is Google. Only after Googling fails would the students seek a librarian's guidance.
The Internet can even advise community members. For example, Goodreads assists you in finding books to read, Penelope Trunk teaches you how to write a resume, the Berkeley Parents Network advises you how to raise teens, pre-teens and young adults. Whatever your question, you can find an answer through the Internet (and Google).
I think the author is missing something, or at least assumes that there is always an answer available through the Internet and that answer is good enough. I think anyone who offers reference advice, and not merely legal reference, knows better. I don’t know how many times I’ve been told “I’ve tried Google and I couldn’t find anything.” The answer usually comes from proprietary material locked behind a pay wall (and conveniently unlocked by library subsidized licensing) or material not easily located online, or in print. Google’s good for what it’s good for, but my day is not filled with cipher-like searches on behalf of people who could simply do it themselves.
Search engines have limits. They never say anything about the quality of the information, the reputation of the source, or, as reference librarians sometimes do, guess what the real question is. They provide links to unstructured information. That’s it. There are a lot of empty information calories out there, if the author hadn’t noticed. Speaking of which, Homer Simpson’s quote comes to mind, “Donuts, is there anything they can’t do?” Yeah, they can’t formulate a Google search that gets you everything you could want every time you want it.
I’m all for people being information self-sufficient, but it’s an illusion to think that the Internet is everything the world has to offer. Librarians do not simply point to information and look away. They help create a context for information. That function transcends technical and scholarly questions. According to the ALA, a survey showed that public libraries served 87 million people in 2009. There were 216,872 reference transactions on average per library. I guess Google by itself wasn’t good enough. Or possibly another Homer Simpson quote applies: "Me use brain? Uh oh." Either way, Google isn't driving librarians out of a job, wishful thinking aside. [MG]
Confusing Trends in e-Books
I am not sure what is holding up the transition to the stackless library. Is it standardized formats, pedagogical uncertainty, copyright, cost, or perhaps it is content? Perhaps it is just mass confusion about what to do about e-Books. I do not think I will be getting rid of my stacks anytime soon!
Last week, ebrary revealed a surprise finding from its 2011 Global E-book Survey of 6,500+ college students. The report was presented on Friday as part of the Charleston Conference. The full report will be available in January 2012, but the ebrary press release summarized some key findings which include:
- E-book usage and awareness have not increased significantly since the last E-book survey done in 2008.
- The preference for print over electronic has not changed.
- End users hope for fewer restrictions on eBooks and more functionality.
The press release seems to suggest to action points. We (as in aggregators, publishers, librarians, etc.) need to provide more relevant e-content and also rethink our approach to making that content visible.
Amount of Content
There is already a lot of e-content out there. Almost at the same time as the 2011 ebrary survey was presented, Amazon made rumors of its e-book lending service a reality with an initial launch of 5,000 titles. Of course there are restrictions examples of which are listed below (HT INFODockets):
- The Kindle Lending Library is only available to Kindle owners who subscribe to to the Amazon Prime Service.
- Books cannot be read on reading apps (Android, iOS, PC, Mac, etc.)
- The service is only available for U.S. customers
- One book can be borrowed at a time, and there are no due dates (huh?)
- You can borrow a new book as frequently as once a month directly on a registered Kindle, and you Will be prompted to return the book that you are currently borrowing. If you have already borrowed a new book in that month, you are not eligible to borrow a new book until the next calendar month. No roll-ver minutes here. In essence, this means 12 lends a year.
Yikes! Its worse than the rules of hearsay!
There are other alternatives that avoid the aforementioned hearsay rules, and are free to boot:
- Project Gutenberg is the grand daddy of the free downloadable book world. It offers more than 36,000 free e-books for download to your PC, Kindle, Android, iOS or other portable device.
- Manybooks has more than 21,000 titles that can be downloaded to your PDA, iPod or eBook reader.
- Or how about MobiPocketthat provides fiction and nonfiction eBook downloads to multiple devices using the free MobiPocket eBook reader.
The list for access to popular and special topics can go on for a long time (see 20 Best Websites to Download Free EBooks). And, if your provider of choice doesn't serve your particular reader device, you can always use a converter like Hamster. Converters remove barriers for e-Book users by crossing platforms and devices.
So, the quantity or cost of content might not be the problem, but could it be the quality of material available for the post k-12 crowd. I'm not sure we can go down that road to get an explanation for stagnating appreciation of e-Books in higher ed.
Like Amazon, Cambridge also chose the same week as the release of the survey to launch University Publishing Online making thousands of front and backlist titles available electronically - complete with Marc records and an invite to trial the product. http://wbooks.cambridge.org/upo.
These are not free.
According to its web site:
University Publishing Online provides access to eBooks from the world-renowned publishing programmes of our partner presses, covering subjects from all disciplines across science, technology and medicine, as well as humanities and social sciences.
Making a unique contribution to the world of scholarship, University Publishing Online sets new standards for the integration of key academic content and offers all levels of user a new dimension of access and usability, supporting and enhancing research.
University Publishing Online is available to libraries worldwide under a number of attractive and flexible models, ensuring instant access to the best research available. (emphasis added to express my disbelief)
This looks like it is a PDF repository though the web site claims extensive user functionality and personalisation features. I need to sign up for the trial and test it out for myself!
Cambridge joins Oxford Scholarship Online which covers about 6,500 titles across 10 subject areas (including Law). Oxford, of course, jumped on the band wagon early so the 2011 survey takers should have had exposure to these e-titles.
Similarly, the phenominal HathiTrust(PDF) Digital Library has been up and running since 2008, the year that the first survey was completed. HathiTrust has great content and cataloging records to match, but usability is very basic. It does not have the bells and whistles offered on ePub, Kindle or other eReader formats.
It looks like to me that these high end quality publishers and aggregators may be the object of the survey takers wishing for fewer restrictions and greater functionality. I hope these publishers and aggregators read the survey.
Perhaps it is not so much about the content, but about the instructor and what the instructor is using in class. I have seen many Blackboard and TWEN course pages that assign chapters to treatises loaded on those platform. This is sort of like an electronic course pack without the lending or copyright restrictions put in play by entities like Amazon, Cambridge and Oxford. Granted, the wexis titles are not e-Book resources per se, but I think the motive behind using them is similar. The point is that they become popular because they are easily linked, required by the professor, and come hassle free (unless you forgot your log on credentials).
Could this be the way that we grow the use of e-books in acadamia? Could I actually be saying that other publishing houses and aggregators can learn something from the wexis online academic model? Well, maybe they can but so can CALI and LII.
CALI and LII's e-Langdell project is providing an innovative platform to promote e-books (more specifically, casebooks) in legal education. The books and chapters from this project are available for download to multiple device types, published under a creative commons license, and are free. eLangdell, Lexis and Westlaw all have models for a specific type of e-Book - these are casebooks which have a much shorter life span than a regular scholarly monograph, but the models they are offered under (leasing, creative commons, purchase) are popular.
But, the average academic law library is not really so interested in e-casebooks, I think. We need to know what to do about e-monographs.
The truth is, we do not really know why e-books are slow to be adopted in higher ed - much less legal ed. Or exactly what we should be doing about adding them to our collections and "making them visible."
OAPEN-UK is a new JISC project that will explore the issues impacting the publication of scholarly monographs in the humanities and social sciences, including usage patterns and preferences by students. This approach, at least, will provide some scientific basis to move ahead in one or another direction. Unfortunatley, it will be at least three years before we see results from the project pilot.
After all of this, my opinion is that there is plenty of high quality content and much of it can be accessed for little or no unit cost. Many of the titles are true e-Book titles, though many are high functioning PDF files.
In a classroom setting, I think the problem lies with faculty who need assistance integrating e-Books into their courses. The role of the library in this situation differs from institution to institution - though all libraries should be concerned wtih getting the product to the end user.
For the researcher surfing/walking into your library, the problem gets a bit stickier. We have built so many access points to the different types of e-materials that even I find it bewildering. I can only imagine that the library user is really confused. Some material is represented in the library catalog, some of it is not. Some titles are in PDF, some are not. Some let you check one title out at a time, some do not.
The lack of uniformity needs to be overcome but a lot of that work is not in the hands of the librarian to control. Sadly readers, I have no magic bullet. The trends are truly confusing.
Stagnating use of e-Books may be the best news to force aggregators and publishing houses to work more closely on uniform standards. Perhaps they will even ask us to help! A girl can dream can't she? (VS)
Creating Video Tutorials of Today's Online Search Services: The example of Fastcase endorsing best practice videos authored by law librarians
Got to hand it to Fastcase for calling attention to video tutorials created by law librarians:
We recently came across a series of well-crafted Fastcase Video Tutorials created by our partners at the Jenkins Law Library. We were impressed with their work and we think you will be too.
Based on this statement plus my personal experience with some of the folks at Fastcase, I'm assuming the Jenkins Law Library is the independent author of the tutorials listed below. They were intended for the Jenkins Law Library's Fastcase user population. The videos take a no nonsense approach to the topics covered. The fairly visible hand of product promotion offered in some vendors' in-house tutorials is not seen here. One may say Fastcase has "adopted" these videos because they have been endorsed as "best practices in Fastcase search."
I'm thinking the folks at WestlawNext, Lexis Advance, Bloomberg Law and IntelliConnect might learn something about providing law librarian created video tutorials of their very expensive online legal search services that are not tainted by their marketing departments. My hunch is there are law librarians "out there" willing to do this for free (except for waiver of any search charges) to help fill in the huge gaping hole in reliable instructional materials for those new search services.
The glitch here, however, is law librarians have to understand how the search engines work. The crux of that matter is that today's search engines embed propretary information. My suggestion to very expensive online legal search vendors is that they reveal enough of that information to law library staffers who are willing to author their independently produced tutorial videos.
No one is under the illusion that the recipes for the secret sauces of the unseen algorithms are going to be disclosued by our vendors to the public at large. However, only the naive will believe vendor claims about "how great" their new SEs work. And vendor published testimonials are simply absurd. Further, no one is going to believe vendor hand-picked law librarians for some wacky sort of testimonial "tutorial" video series.
There is a fairly simple solution for starting to address the problem of vendor SE programming gurus knowing how today's crop of SEs work while their user populations don't. If law librarians offer to create a series of "best practices" videos, offer them sufficient details of the secret sauce under a NDA. Then let them create their video tutorials with the sole restriction that the secret sauce cannot be explained in specificity in the videos they produce. At least this would be a step in the right direction.
In the Fastcase tutorial videos that were produced by Jenkins Law Library, my favorite is the one that goes over Fastcase's Authority Check feature. I doubt the Jenkins Law Library staff were given the secret sauce but Fastcase has provided enough of a description of how Authority Check works already, at least for my aging and decrepit brain to understand (perhaps not so for must smarter law librarians who specialize in legal research).
For folks who want some no nonsense video tutorials on Fastcase, see below. For vendors of very expensive online search, the challenge is open to them to let some sunlight in by what I consider would be a "best practices" for independent development of tutorial videos by law librarians based on the terms and conditions above. Reasonable?
Jenkins Law Library Video Series as described by Fasecase
- In part one, get the basics on the next generation of legal research offerings within the Fastcase database and where to start based on your search requirements. It's a great refresher course!
- In part two, learn the basics of a Boolean keyword and natural language search to yield more accurate search results.
- In part three, learn how to get the most of the results page using Fastcase's smarter sorting tools.
- In part four, learn about viewing a case and generating an Authority Check report to find later citing cases.
OK, I know, Fastcase couldn't resist the urge to toss in some promotional language in their brief descriptions of the videos but ... that's as far as that goes. All of the videos can be viewed on Fastcase from this link. [JH]
November 6, 2011
Browsing On A Sunday Afternoon - Copyright and Captcha
Here are a few things to note on a Sunday afternoon. One is an article in CNET where Jennifer Pariser, RIAA senior vice president of litigation complained that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) may need overhaul as the courts were interpreting it in favor of Internet sites. She cites the suits where Universal sued Veoh and Viacom sued Google as examples.
She is annoyed by the way the courts have interpreted the red flag requirement, the evidence that a site knew about or encouraged users to illegally upload copyrighted materials. Viacom wanted an interpretation that red flag evidence should be the kiss of death (or liability) no matter what. The judge basically said that Google complies with the DMCA’s takedown requirements.
Her other complain is that it’s just too gosh darn hard for copyright owners to constantly scan the web for illegal copies of their content. I don’t know. Wouldn’t hiring a few more copyright cops create jobs in a down economy? What, the PRO-IP Act and the Stop Online Piracy Act giving the power to the industry and the Attorney General to shut down access to parts of the web for a commercial interest is not enough?
The second item comes from a fascinating story in Fox News about the reCAPTCHA technology various web sites use to distinguish between a human and a computer in delivering services. Google owns the technology and uses scans from Google Books where the text is hard to read. The result is crowd-sourcing the spelling of the word which improves Google OCR capabilities when the company creates text files from the scan. How many times does Hein Online warn us that some law review text files come from uncorrected texts of their scans? Google has the same problem with books, and reCAPTCHA is their way of dealing with it. Some 200 million text snippets in multiple languages are deciphered every day, taking about 10 seconds each. Should we expect lawsuits from some copyright holders that this is an illegitimate use of their content? [MG]
Round-Up of Law Practitioner Blogs
Santa Rosa Family Lawyer Blog
Discusses family law cases, news, and related matters in Santa Rosa, California. Published by Beck Law, PC
Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers Blog
Examines nursing home abuse cases, news, and related matters in Illinois. Published by Pintas & Mullins Law Firm
Portland Injury Attorney Blog
Discusses personal injury cases, news, and related matters in Oregon. Published by Robert Le, PC
Charlotte Criminal Lawyer Blog
Examines criminal cases, news, and related criminal defense matters in North Carolina. Published by Arnold & Smith, PLLC