February 22, 2013
Where in the world is Dick Spinelli?
Dick Spinelli has not been seen or heard from since he left his modest estate in Italy about a week ago. The rumor, reported here, was that he had been escorted by the Swiss Guard to Rome for Pope-candidate vetting. Right now, some are asking "where in the world is Dick?"
Family members, friends and colleagues around the world are concerned that agents of god's rottweiler may be holding him in a cold, dark, damp cell for some old school interrogation. Inquisitio Haereticae Pravitatis returns! Folks at Hein are so concerned that a Lutheran counsel who is an expert on catholic (read universal) canon law has been retained for "show me the body" purposes.
Why might Dick be held incognito by the Holy See? Well, you know, wanting folks to think for themselves may be viewed as a heretical perversity. Even, perhaps one should say, since the fossilization of the results produced by the Second Vatican Council which convened some 50 years ago. The current and retiring pope was not known as "god's rottweiler" for his immediate predecessor, Pope John Paul II, for no reason, right? (Being 50% Polish and 50% Italian I'll admit to some 100% American-born filtered pride in Karol Józef Wojtyła being elected Pope while not being surprised by his brand of orthodoxy. It would have become an issue with me had he taken the name Pope John, Paul, George and Ringo Too. But I digress.) Certainly Pope Benedict XVI's promotion of many fellow travelers to the rank of princes of the Church (eg here) is clear evidence that he is opposed to Catholics thinking for themselves.
If Dick flunked the Pope-vetting process, it is time to produce the body, battered and brused if that is the case. The deadline for suggesting candidates for the office of AALL VP-P-Elect to the Nominations Committee is fast approaching -- March 15th. It is unclear whether one may toss the name of someone into the hopper without knowing the suggested candidate's whereabouts under our association's bylaws. Not a criticism because even an alt-ways-and-means proposal did not contemplate this situation.
What the hell, just do it. Judging submitted candidates in absentia during the conclave known as Nominations Committee review is SOP. Of course, the first vendor AALL member, who could would win widespread rank-and-file support for the high elective office of VP-P-elect (for life, even like the Pope), might fluke AALL's vetting process because of Dick's heretical perversity.
And then there is the matter of AALL conducting its own Vatican II. I seriously doubt piecemeal or comprehensive reforms from AALL's princes and princesses and courtiers are going to stop rank-and-file members from taking prophylactic measures to protect themselves and who they represent from AALL's college of cardinals.
At the very least, I believe a bylaw amendment needs to be passed to require AALL's cardinals to wear at least a zucchetto during board meetings, telephone conference calls with board members, and appearances at AALL chapter meetings. Heads will have to be shaved to create a bald spot for those who don't already have one. I'm thinking our association's cardinals should be requried to wear the complete cardinal ceremonial garb during AALL's annual meetings. A clothing allowance?
Their courtiers, well, black is always in style, right? Vestments are the official uniform worn by priests when they are on the job. I guess a bylaws amendment should contemplate a clothing allowance for cassocks, etc. for them too. The cost can be offset partially by the elimination of name tags. But I don't think membership dues should be used to purchase rings for "kiss this" purposes. [JH]
February 19, 2013
When All Else Fails, Sue or Threaten to Take to Court the Publishing Industry Critic
In a recent post about the curious case of Edwin Mellen Press which alleges that Dale Askey committed libel (and McMaster University, vicarious libel) in a Canadian court, Mark Giangrande wrote "I can’t imagine a suit such as this making much progress in a U.S. court. Otherwise every bad book review ever written would be the subject of litigation" See Academic Librarian Sued For Dissing Publisher In A Blog Post on LLB. In Another informative item on the Edwin Mellen Affair (Leiter Reports: A Philosophy Blog) Chicago Law prof Brian Leiter comments that "Canadian libel law is a bit closer to the insane British model than I had realized, for example, in putting the onus on the defendant to establish the truth of the facts asserted and the reasonableness of his opinions."
Yesterday, Mark reported that the Canadian Center for Science and Education (CCSE) is threatening to file suit in a US court against Jeffrey Beall, associate professor and scholarly initiatives librarian at the University of Colorado Denver, over being included in Beall’s List: Potential, possible, or probable predatory scholarly open-access publishers based on his Criteria for Determining Predatory Open-Access Publishers (2nd edition). Both posted were published on Beall's Scholarly Open Access: Critical analysis of scholarly open-access publishing. Do note well the blog's subtitle.
Both Askey and Beall were practicing critical analysis grounded in their professional expertise. Perhaps if the posts had been written by someone who was not a librarian, neither publisher would have given either post a second thought.
On Feb. 14, 2013, ARL and CARL issued a joint statement in support of Dale Askey and McMaster University.
The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) share a commitment to freedom of opinion and expression of ideas and are strongly opposed to any effort to intimidate individuals in order to suppress information or censor ideas. We further share the belief that a librarian must be able to offer his or her assessment of a publisher’s products or practices free from such intimidation.
“No academic librarian, research library, or university should face a multi-million dollar lawsuit because of a candid discussion of the publications or practices of an academic publisher,” said Brent Roe, Executive Director of CARL. “The exaggerated action of Edwin Mellen Press could only impose a chill on academic and research librarians’ expression of frank professional judgments.”
I haven't checked to see if ARL-CARL has issued a similar statement of support for Jeffrey Beall but it wouldn't take much text editing to do so.
If Askey had published a post along the lines of "the 2012 winner of best new title in academic publishing is X which was brought to market by Edwin Mellen Press" and/or Beall had posted "the best scholarly open-access publisher in 2012 was CCSE," the only people who might be questioning their street creds would be other librarians. I seriously doubt questioning librarians would sue the blog authors for injury to their and their profession's reputation. Differences in frank professional judgements based on the rigor of critical reasoning abound inside and outside the library community.
Apparently there are two publishers who fail to understand this. Alternatively, their lawyers fail to understand that not all publicity is "good." Think of the legal publisher community's private WTF reactions to the Land of 10,000 Invoices cocoon which resulting in the myopic arrogance of TR Legal washing its dirty laundry in the public forum known as Rudovsky. Question our editorial updating practices! Well, yes. And then there was the opps known as Whatever Happened To The Rudovsky Case? In the context of CCSE's lawsuit threat, Mark writes "I think this may be another be careful what you ask for situation." Yup.
End note. But for lawsuits, filed or threatened, I would not have been aware of either Askey or Beall's blogs. Of particular interest to me is monitoring dubious practices in the scholarly OA publishing industry. Taking the RSS feed for Beall's Scholarly Open Access: Critical analysis of scholarly open-access publishing is highly recommended because I don't know any librarian who is doing as good of a job as he is by thinking out loud in the librarian blogosphere about the sometimes too-good-to-be-true claims of OA publishing. For example, just read the following two posts:
Publisher Charges Authors for Retractions ("I am involved in a case of duplicate publishing — as the person who discovered and reported it to Springer, who published it the second time. I have been copied on many emails being sent among the authors, the editors, and Springer.") and
New Publisher Fakes Association with Reed Elsevier (If you want a really good example of a predatory publisher, have a look at KnowledgesPublisher. This brand-new publisher uses lies and deception to make itself look legitimate. The journal has a large logo on the left side of the page that says, “2012 Impact Factor 0.315!” The problem is that the 2012 impact factors have not been published yet and won’t be until summer. At the bottom of the page, the site has this statement, “Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.” This is deception; the journal is trying to associate itself with Elsevier. In fact there is no connection. (Emphasis in the orginal))
February 18, 2013
Playing Catch-Up: A Monday Morning 2-fer for This Presidents' Day Working Holiday
One of the benefits of being a public sector law librarian is getting some federal holidays off private sector law librarians don't. Typically, Presidents' Day is one of those federal holidays. I know I didn't get the day off. Courts might be closed but working of a day like today was one folks used to catch-up on outstanding assignments.
I may go to work at my little county law library today to catch up on some research requests because I had one of those days late last week where all I did was in-take assignments I couldn't otherwise dump on my very well qualifed staff. That rarely happens but when it does as in these instances, it will require this aging and decrepit law librarian to use print in concert with accessable from home online resources. Talk about old school!
So for my private sector colleagues who don't have to "rethink their ROFLMAOYSST value" today because they are at work even if today is a recognized holiday by their employer, here's a little 2-fer pick-me-up. [JH]
"It's green and often found .... ."
Nope, not onions found in the marshland of Chicago.
February 04, 2013
ALA Releases E-Book Business Models: A Scorecard for Public Libraries
From ALA's Digital Content and Libraries Working Group follow-up report, E-Book Business Models: A Scorecard for Public Libraries (Jan. 25, 2013).
The Digital Content & Libraries Working Group (DCWG) began documenting and describing attributes of various licensing arrangements libraries may have with publishers in the August 2012 report Ebook Business Models for Public Libraries. Now we are pleased to share The Ebook Business Model Scorecard, which more fully examines the variables often seen in ebook license agreements or contracts. At the same time, the variables, when considered as a whole, can help libraries conceptualize licenses holistically instead of fixating on one aspect of a contract in isolation.
It is worth noting that licensing models for ebooks are in flux. Many libraries are experimenting with the development of their own licensing schemes, some already entering into agreements with independent publishers and self-publishing groups. This document focuses on the kinds of licensing terms we see generally in the ebook industry at this time, and the kinds of variables libraries should consider when bargaining with publishers, or when libraries determine that they want to develop their own business models, as some proactive libraries already have done.
February 01, 2013
Pew: Americans Like Technology in Libraries
The availability of free computers and internet access now rivals book lending and reference expertise as a vital service of libraries. In a national survey of Americans ages 16 and older:
- 80% of Americans say borrowing books is a “very important” service libraries provide.
- 80% say reference librarians are a “very important” service of libraries.
- 77% say free access to computers and the internet is a “very important” service of libraries.
Moreover, a notable share of Americans say they would embrace even wider uses of technology at libraries such as:
- Online research services allowing patrons to pose questions and get answers from librarians: 37% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use an “ask a librarian” type of service, and another 36% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.
- Apps-based access to library materials and programs: 35% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 28% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.
- Access to technology “petting zoos” to try out new devices: 35% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 34% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.
- GPS-navigation apps to help patrons locate material inside library buildings: 34% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 28% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.
- “Redbox”-style lending machines or kiosks located throughout the community where people can check out books, movies or music without having to go to the library itself: 33% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 30% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.
- “Amazon”-style customized book/audio/video recommendation schemes that are based on patrons’ prior library behavior: 29% of Americans ages 16 and older would “very likely” use that service and another 35% say they would be “somewhat likely” to do so.
I’m intrigued by some of these such as the desire for GPS-navigation apps. I suspect the day can’t be far off when bar codes are either replaced or supplemented by RFD chips embedded in books. The technology may allow not only locating the book on the shelf but circulating them as well. Then there is the ability to find mis-shelved books via tracking technology.
Americans certainly see libraries as forward-thinking when implementing technology. In that regard, the American Library Association recently honored five libraries for technology based cutting-edge services. Some of these are quite novel. For example, the Goethe-Institut New York Library teamed up with the Pratt Institute School of Information and Library Science to develop German Traces NYC. The app overlays augmented reality images over images from a mobile device’s camera to show German cultural heritage in New York. Personally, I’m holding out for Google Glasses to take advantage of this kind of technology. I’ve been keen on the product coming to market since I first heard of the concept.More on the awards for other cutting-edge technology in libraries is available from ALA here. [MG]
January 30, 2013
What Law Librarians Should Know About Aaron Swartz
That's the title of Scott Frey's (Reference Librarian, Western State College of Law) AALL Spectrum blog post about "programmer, hacker, internet activist, and information activist" Aaron Swartz (1986-2013). Frey's post provides a concise review of Aaron Swartz's all too human but also far too brief life's work and concludes with the following summary:
Aaron Swartz was very interested in information and how people can access and use it. He worked to make books, academic articles, and legal documents more available, and to foster freedom on the internet. I think that these interests gave him much in common with law librarians. Of course, some librarians would disagree with particular positions or actions that Swartz took. Few would go as far as Swartz did to further access to information, which led to federal investigation and prosecution. A librarian might reasonably be nervous about allowing someone like Swartz to use the library's computers! Nevertheless, I think that law librarians can take inspiration from Swartz's goals of information access and internet freedom, and his willingness to work for them.
Highly recommended for that (as well as hopefully signaling an editorial turning point for AALL Spectrum).
For a tribute to Aaron Swartz as a transparency activist and a legal analysis of the the criminal charges that plagued him, see the links at this LLB post. [JH]
January 29, 2013
E-Books and You
Published on Jan. 15, 2013, here's ALA President, Maureen Sullivan's comments on the Association's eBook advocacy campaign and how librarians can help provide eBooks to their library patrons. [JH]
January 28, 2013
OMG-ing About Content No Longer Being King
An interesting coincidence is occurring tomorrow. On the very same day, in very different locations, the nation’s two leading legal publishers are both staging day-long summit meetings, to which they have invited a variety of legal bloggers, journalists, industry analysts and "influencers". -- Bob Ambrogi in his LawSites post published the day before the January 16, 2013 events.
Indeed, very interesting. Bob does an excellent job reporting about the Thomson Reuters event at Thomson Reuters Unveils New Tools for Litigators, Corporate Counsel and Small Firms. LTN's technology editor, Sean Doherty, does the same for the LexisNexis event at LexisNexis Overture for LegalTech New York. Neither account was "influenced" as questioned in Kevin O'Keefe's Theatrical of the Absurd post about both events at Who's Influencing Who. (Kevin, if you ever do get invited to one of these events someday and decide to attend, note well they can be an "uninfluenced" grind unless you consider being "influenced" to make the go-to decision because you are desperately seeking a real hot pastrami sandwich or want to visit Diamond Jim's the night before or after the day-long event.)
One statement at the Thomson Reuters meeting struck a cord (update oops -- I meant to write nerve) with some. Quoting from Bob's post:
"We have decided that our long-term vision is not information, it is software tools, solutions, ways to enable attorneys to practice in a more cogent way," Mike Suchsland, president of Thomson Reuters Legal
Jean O'Grady found that to be jaw-dropping. See Thomson Reuters Legal Announces New Strategic Direction: Content no Longer King, Shift to Client Centric Platform. Blogging with tongue-in-cheek, one may reasonably conclude that Jason Wilson was "OMG-ing" this "revelation" at Legal publishing is dead! Long live software solutions! See also Jason's follow-up post, The Cupcake: A new editorial paradigm for legal publishing? because he asked and Mike Suchsland responded to Jason's follow-up request for clarification.
The same long-term vision statement could have been made at the LexisNexis event too. It is nothing more than recognizing what have been WEXIS strategic objectives for a fairly long time now. As Outsell's David Curle said many years ago, our major vendors view themselves as being players in the professional legal services marketplace. They do not and have not for quite sometime self-identified as "legal publishers" in the 21st century "New Normal".
So why the OMG-ing shock? Core legal content and online search have been commodized. The WEXIS research platforms (i.e., WestlawNext and Lexis Advance) next current gen user interfaces and user experiences are so similar that a user population can be switched from one platform to another with relative ease -- meaning the Rx has turned from a brand name to a generic equivalent.
When "new" features are added to today's platforms, some in-house corporate prophets confuse that with "innovations." They are nothing more than tweaks. And some of those tweaks are nothing more than decades old wine being poured into new bottles. Hell, those software architects who have been around longer than their corporate prophets know that -- let's just call it in-house "reverse" software engineering.
About the only real difference between WEXIS is that one vendor has built its platform for the ground up in-house and the other's platform has not -- meaning one vendor's platform development cost is higher (and more costly to the subscriber base) than the other.
"Long live software solutions!" I feel Jason Wilson's professional pain. That's because he is not in the "professional legal services" business, Jones-McClure is a legal publisher that produces high editorial content in the form of annotated federal and some state code deskbooks. Hell, I buy Jones-McClure's federal code titles for our little county law library instead of TR Legal ones and would buy them even if they cost more than TR Legal's over-priced titles. Frankly, I just wish there were more annotated topical code deskbooks to buy from Jones-McClure including Ohio-specific titles because I would cancel all my WEXIS annotated (read regurgitated analytical content) Ohio code handbooks (with or without "free" eBook companions).
However whether WEXIS explicitly states or implicitly demonstrates by roll-outs that productivity and business-of-law solutions is their primary business plan focus, that is not "news." What once were just upsell opportunities for sales reps from the law library institutional buyer perspective simply is maturing at WEXIS to the point of consolidating their already-on-the-market many tools offerings with the addition of new tools. This will eventually lead to suites of solutions as being the primary focus of the professional legal services vendors once known many years ago as "legal publishers".
Here about the only current difference between WEXIS is one vendor's next current gen user interface for productivity solutions is a familiar screen display. Whether or not that is an important selling point for end users remains to be seen. Eventually WEXIS users will launch into their WEXIS suites from a "My WEXIS" integrated solutions interface which links to desktop and mobile vendor-specific licensed productivity, business-of-law, database search and eBooks products and services based on user population, practice-centric specific plans acquired by institutional buyers.
What about law library institution buyers? Both LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters are following the same game plan. Core legal content and online search are commodities. Their platforms are generic. Commoditized "Content+Search" is just one among many "solutions" and no longer is the most important one while some offered productivity solutions do embed "content+search" inside them.
The indoctrination model is and increasingly will be addicting law school students to productivity solutions some that to repeat and repeat again and again offer commoditized "Content+Search" embedded within them. That's because legal skills training is "hot" in the legal academy now and WEXIS has (finally) realized that is the case.
The traditional "stuff" of law librarianship in this regard is not and has not been "king" because it is and has been nothing more than a pawn for years. That makes law librarians nothing more than pawns too. So where does all this leave those law librarians and their professional association who are in denial about this? In the dustbin of history unless law librarians and AALL decide they don't want to be watching the game from the bench.End Note. I seriously doubt Jean O'Grady is a law librarian in denial. Her post, however, does speak to not being influenced by Thomson Reuters, Kevin. It's not like any of the Land of 10,000 Invoices or Garden of Eden Big Apple attendees have either the Shower Drain or Knowledge Bubble Burst corporate logos tattooed on their butts. Well, at least none of non-WEXIS employed ones. [JH]
January 25, 2013
It's Time for AALL's Annual "Make a Difference" Ritual by Nominating Leaders Pack Followers to Elected Office
According to AALL's Jan. 2013 eNewsletter, if you want to make a difference, then consider running for election to an AALL national office:
AALL is looking for the next leaders of the Association.
If you or someone you know has proven leadership experience, commitment to law librarianship, and the demonstrated ability to think strategically, please consider serving on the AALL Executive Board.
The Nominations Committee is asking members to nominate individuals for the 2013 AALL Executive Board election. The committee is looking for strong candidates for the offices of vice president/president-elect, secretary, and two Executive Board members. The election will be held in November for three-year terms beginning July 2014.
If you or someone you know is ready to serve on the AALL Executive Board, let the Nominations Committee know. The chair of this year's committee is Catherine Lemann of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit Library. You can email her your nomination. The committee is accepting nominations through March 15.
(Email link omitted because ...)
OK, to quote REM, "here we go" again. Of course the chair of the Nominations Committee is well within the E-Board's status quo comfort zone for screening out "trouble makers" because she is a former AALL President. This year's Nominations Committee chair was featured performing one of her official presidential but not necessarily leadership duties in a circa 1991 shiny happy people holding hands video with "Jenny Westlaw" at Denver 2010.
Besides wondering where "Jenny Westlaw" is today, my hunch is (1) any "trouble making" elected AALL president would not be featured in this sort of vendor AALL member sponsored pablum without substantial editing of the video; and (2) nor would a former "trouble making" AALL president be chair of the Nominations Committee. It would take the concerted actions of the rank-and-file to get to either (1) and (2) but that is not likely to happen anytime soon. At best, see if the Nominations Committee even permits a "rogue" law librarian this year to be on the ballot. Even if that happens, there is no doubt in my mind that AALL's old boys-girls club will campaign behind closed doors for the "safe" candidate(s) also on the ballot for the same offices.
Absent the election to national offices of law librarians who have a proven track record of being willing to stick their neck out to make a difference, our association's leaders are nothing more than followers trying to catch up to the rank-and-file. [JH]
Friday Fun: The Corporate Amplication Device of AALL's "Vendor Partners" and Their (But Not Our) Business Plans
If loudness equals power (and it does), how do law library institutional buyers get loud enough to drown out the nonsense of our association's so-called "vendor partners" while AALL officially knees down before the altar of vendor business plans to offer sacrifices as well as to alter, as in to castrate, to spay, their own library, not vendor, member institutions' business plans? Both are something other library associations refuse to do because they neither sacrifice nor try to silence castrate their member insitutional buyers' business plans. They loudly advocate for their institutional buyers and patrons.
Our so-called vendor partners are "whales." So far AALL is nothing more than "whale louse". [JH]
January 24, 2013
A Follow-up on the CRIV Conference Call with LexisNexis about the Company's Free eBook Companion Business Plan
In CRIV Conference Call with LexisNexis on eBook Plans, CRIV Chair Michelle Cosby lists the questions in topical order submitted to LexisNexis about the Company's free eBook-for-CD companion substitution plans. Several questions submitted by rank-and-file members that pertained to "pricing details" were not asked by CRIV. Hopefully they were forwarded unofficially to LN.
Alternatively, Michelle recommends that AALL-represented members (obviously library, not vendor, members) contact their LN reps about questions regarding their accounts. Many (as in most) in-house LN pBook-and-eBook reps for sales and customer service work in the Company's Albany office. As reported in an earlier CRIV Blog post, many (most?) Albany staffers will be experiencing staggered layoffs until the office is completely shut down by the end of 2014.
According to the conference call follow-up CRIV Blog post:
Lexis will make its own response to these questions, and CRIV will notify AALL members when that response is available. In the meantime, Lexis has created a website that addresses some of the questions submitted by AALL Members available at http://www.lexisnexis.com/ebooks/resources/ . The eBooks FAQ is available at http://www.lexisnexis.com/ebooks/questions/ .
CRIV deserves our thanks for addressing this matter in a timely manner. As previously observed, I doubted LN would be prepared to answer all the questions being submitted during the conference call because of the number of questions rank-and-file members asked and specificity of details that were asked in their questions. We'll just have to wait for the Company's response.
While I am disappointed that all questions submitted to CRIV were not including, I'm not surprised. "Free" apparently is being construed by AALL national elected office holders and their hired hands as pertaining to "pricing details." One could make the case that "free" is one among many "pricing structures for e-books." Apparently only AALL's Vendor Liaison can talk to our so-called vendor partners about eBook pricing structures in the context of AALL's official vendors-know-best "business plans" policy for fair business practices. [JH]
January 23, 2013
A Review of the Recently Revised Guide to Fair Business Practices
In November, AALL’s Executive Board approved a revised, third edition of the Guide to Fair Business Practices. A Task Force oversaw the revision, adding substantive examples or clarifications, and making other, non-substantive changes, as identified in the July 2012 Board Book. The Task Force responded to legal publishing developments since the last revision in 2008. Substantive changes include:
- a recommendation - ultimately based on the former FTC Guides For the Law Book Publishing Industry [at § 256.2(e)] - that publishers provide, upon request, at least the current and last two years of supplementation costs;
- emphasis on training for all customer service employees;
- provisions to notify customers of pending changes in ownership of publications or internal restructurings affecting subscriptions (though without reference to timely notice);
- clear and conspicuous display of the scope and coverage of electronic and print publications (though without definitions of “clear” and “conspicuous”);
- deletion of language recognizing a right of publishers to circumvent disclosure pursuant to contractual confidentiality or "proprietary information";
- instruction to minimize use of confidentiality clauses; and
- clarification of the terms of trial subscriptions, including those offered as negative option plans (though without guidance of the kind informed by AALL’s own comments on negative option plans.)
The Task Force deserves praise for offering these welcome changes, and the Board deserves praise for adopting them. However, the Fair Business Practices Guide remains a disappointment, especially due to two related problems. First, under the Guide, we concede that "the publisher is in the best position to fully implement the guidelines in a manner suitable to its business plan." As a result, a publisher need not "fully implement" - and perhaps may effectively disregard - the guidelines for any unfair business practice "suitable to its business plan." Moreover, institutional buyers also have business plans. But we acknowledge no harm to their business plans from unfair business practices, notwithstanding our duty to "to obtain the maximum value for our institution's fiscal resources." (AALL Ethical Principles)
Second, we missed an important opportunity. The Consumer Advocacy Caucus recommended sweeping changes to strengthen consumer protections. See July 8, 2012 Comments by the Consumer Advocacy Caucus submitted to the Fair Business Practices Guide Task Force. Our Caucus sought a rigorous system to monitor Guide violations, with an annual report to the membership of complaints that CRIV could not resolve. We also proposed using data in the annual reports to identify and pursue needed government interventions or regulation, particularly where unfair business practices have become "suitable to" the business plans of industry participants.
Of course, our proposed system of oversight would likely require changes. We therefore asked the Task Force to host a membership-wide forum about our recommendations. We hoped to explore room for compromises, so that we could move AALL closer to consensus over how to advocate for consumers of commercial legal publications. Unfortunately, the Guide still falls well short of the advocacy consumers might otherwise expect from AALL.
Consumer Advocacy Caucus Chair, 2011-2012
January 22, 2013
"A book about boilerplate?"
That's Colorado Law prof Robert Nagel's lead-in sentence for his Dec. 20, 2012 WSJ book review of Boilerplate: The Fine Print, Vanishing Rights, and the Rule of Law (Princeton UP, Nov. 25, 2012) [Amazon] by Margaret Jane Radin (Michigan Law). Quoting from Negal's highly recommended Devil's in the Small Print:
The absence of real agreement [according to Radin] means that boilerplate contracts are inconsistent with the moral basis of contract law, which, after all, uses the power of the state to enforce the transfer of one person's property to another on the ground that both agreed to the transfer. This degradation of the moral basis of contract law, in turn, undermines the classical liberal justification for the state, which rests on the need for a public entity that enhances freedom by enforcing private agreements.
You can see where this is heading. Nagel adds:
Ms. Radin is aware of the possible dangers of restricting boilerplate. Consumers, especially poorer ones, benefit from the price reductions that it makes possible. Many established commercial practices could be disrupted by increased regulation. She even briefly considers the possibility of tolerating boilerplate as a useful legal anomaly. In the end, however, she cannot overlook the incompatibility between boilerplate and the rule of law.
In this respect, Ms. Radin's book betrays how tidy is the intellectual world inhabited by many legal academics.
As an intellectual exercise, Boilerplate: The Fine Print, Vanishing Rights, and the Rule of Law sounds like it may make for stimulating reading. If purchased from Amazon, you can "start reading Boilerplate on your Kindle in under a minute." Just remember to read the fine print. See also Omri Ben-Shahar's compilation in Boilerplate: The Foundation of Market Contracts (Cambridge UP, 2007) [Amazon].
However, in the real world of boilerplate, I recommend law librarians buy a copy of Lipinski's The Librarian's Legal Companion for Licensing Information Resources and Services (Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2012) [Amazon] to deal with the devil in the fine print. OK, OK, so quoting myself:
While Lipinski does not include major legal publishing vendor licensing clauses, the specificity of the addressed licenses analysis, the answers to over 100 questions about specific licensing agreements, and 20 key issues in licensing agreements, accompanied by sample clauses, makes the work a must-read at least until AALL produces something as detailed. OK, OK, that's probably wishful thinking on my part.
I seriously doubt but I hope to be pleasantly surprised if AALL's Library Procurement Process Improvements Task Force turns out to be up to the task of grappling with boilerplate clauses by way of a detailed analysis and a wide range of sample alternative clauses that address in specificity the many institutional buyer issues law libraries face. Could that be why the Task Force hasn't released and/or the E-Board hasn't approved the revision of AALL's 2004 edition of Principles for Licensing Electronic Resources yet? [JH]
January 18, 2013
Leadership Traits from Lincoln to Law LibrariansHat tip to John Edwards, Associate Dean for Information Resources and Technology and Professor of Law, Drake University Law School, for this heads-up. In the context of Steve Matthews' Top Ten Traits of Great Library Leaders (21st Century Library), featured a couple of days ago on LLB, John wrote "Amazing how those top 10 match Lincoln. [I] heard Doris Kearns Goodwin speak on Tuesday. [The] Des Moines Register article below hits some of those top 10 points." And here is the article, Doris Kearns Goodwin offers leadership advice from Lincoln (Jan. 15, 2013). [JH]
January 17, 2013
What Are the Top Ten Traits of Great Library Leaders? (Where will you find today's law librarian leaders?)
Late last year in a 21st Century Library blog post, Steve Matthews wrote:
As we approach the end of 2012, I thought I’d get back to my theme for the year – Library Leadership. In order to be a great leader, a person must possess and demonstrate certain characteristics, or traits of leadership. Here are 10 [link to post] that should be at the top of anyone’s list who is striving to become a great library leader.
Ranked as the number one trait according to Matthews is:
1. Great Leaders Have High Character
Think about a situation in which you knew you could do something and no one would EVER know about it if you didn’t tell. Good or bad, doesn’t matter, your actions would never be found out. There would be no evidence of your actions linked to you. There would be no repercussions to you or anyone you knew. That’s not to say that your actions would have no impact on anyone, actions always have impact on someone or something, just no one you know who could trace your actions back to you. What would you do? The answer to this question is what constitutes a person’s character.
“The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.” Thomas Macaulay
Matthews closes his post with the following statement:
Library leaders should be striving to be “great” leaders. It’s what the profession needs to flourish in the ambiguous future and regain the library’s relevance in the community. It is what’s needed for survival.
Who exhibits real library leadership qualities? I believe the lesson to be learned here is that library leadership is not defined by elected library association national office holders. Leadership is not an "official status." Nor is it something one can learn from the pablum of educational and professional development programs about "your value" cranked out by AALL. As the saying goes, if you have to tell people you're valuable, you're probably not. Do note well, there was (hopefully no longer) a time when that saying had to be qualified with "as long as you are a male law librarian" because of a rampant sexist perpective.
Leadership is or needs to be defined by the content of one's professional character and the actions taken by individual law librarians who assume that risk. This is particularly clear in uncertain times like the structural transformation underway today. Eventually the cumulative impact of those actions does wake up AALL officialdom as they try to catch up to the pack to "assume" a leadership role that has been defined by the concerted activities of the rank-and-file who are leading law librarians towards a direction needed for survival. [JH]
January 14, 2013
AALL RIPS Issues Call for Book ReviewersSince the last time the Research Instruction Committee of RIPS issued a call for voluneers to review new legal research textbooks, about 10 new books or editions have been published. If interested, details and contact information in this RIPS Law Librarian Blog post. [JH]
January 09, 2013
"Borrowing" Language from Another Library Association's Strategic Plan for a "Big Audacious Goal" Statement ...
... but intending to execute any tactics based on that?
I doubt I was the only law library AALL member who thought that AALL's Strategic Plan for 2013 - 2016 (or 2015? or 2017?) sounded familiar for its stated long-term goal. The Strategic Plan's "Big (Hairy) Audacious Goal" statement is a pastiche from ALA's Strategic Plan, 2011-2015 except for the "(Hairy)" thing.
Hey, no problem. Those of us who have been in the legal practice business for sometime, know there is no point in reiventing the wheel. We all grab content for briefs, memos and opinion letters because the sig line only represents that the authors certify statements made are "good law" arguments, not that the content is original.
In the case of AALL's current Strategic Statement, however, one has to wonder if our association intends to back-up borrowed words from ALA with certified actions like ALA has executed since that library association adopted its big audacious goal in 2010. For just one example, take a look at what ALA has been doing to advocate for eBooks for their member institutions and user populations recently. Similar but independent actions by AALL-represented institution buyers would be deemed as "going rogue" unless AALL actually intends to match words with deeds in 2013 for all to see.
At the moment it sounds like AALL's Vendor Liaison intends to "advocate for transparent and library-friendly policies and pricing structures for e-books" with "our current vendor partners."
- Flying solo?
- Behind closed doors?
- Only our association's so-called "vendor partners" based on their business plans per the Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers (2012 ed.) ("The AALL Guide does not explicitly cover publishers' internal operations, understanding that the publisher is in the best position to fully implement the guidelines in a manner suitable to its business plan.")?
- What about private, public and academic library institutional buyers and their business plans?
January 07, 2013
AALL's Vendor Liaison Announces Goals for 2013
Goals include "work[ing] with our current vendor partners to secure their commitment to support the principles outlined in the Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers" (emphasis added; see Not Yet There) and "advocat[ing] for transparent and library-friendly policies and pricing structures for e-books" (emphasis added; what about rank-and-file members discussing and advocating "pricing structures" by way of official AALL web community rules?).
Plus one additional self-determined AALL employee or AALL E-Board -- but not necessarily rank-and-file defined -- goal is presenting a final draft of the Vendor Relations Policy at the spring 2013 Executive Board meeting for adoption after soliciting comments from AALL members and "our current vendor partners". My hunch is AALL officials would like to either sweep the entire "antitrustism" policy fiasco under the rug or it will reappear in the form of a "vendor relations policy" statement. For more, see the January 2013 Vendor Liaison Update. [JH]
January 03, 2013
Reminder: Lexis eBook Follow-Up Questions Due to CRIV by Jan. 4
Later this month, CRIV will be conducting a conference call with LexisNexis representatives concerning the Company's plans to replace CDs with eBooks as companions to their pBooks. Details and contact info on the CRIV Blog. For a little background, see Becoming Mini Me to Doctor Evil (Nov. 28, 2012) and Lexis to Migrate pBooks with Companion CDs to pBooks with Companion eBooks "Over the Next 18 Months" (Dec. 17, 2012) on LLB.
Based on the number and specificity of questions law librarians are or intend to submit to CRIV, this could be one very long conference call. My hunch is there will be some questions, LN representatives may not be prepared to answer immediately, even if they are all submitted in advance of the conference call. However, I hope CRIV submits all the questions to the Company for a final follow-up to this forthcoming follow-up. And hopefully, Lexis will provide detailed responses to all questions unlike the sort of responses we typically receive from the folks in the Land of 10,000 Invoices.
Let's not receive the sort of responses which tend to remind many law librarians of Coneheads trying to live amongst the Blunt Skulls until they are rescued. [JH]