Western Pennsylvania Law Library Association

A chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries.


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September Link Roundup

New Mexico Law School Librarians’ Fight For Faculty Status And Equal Voting Rights A recent TaxProf Blog post highlights a new Law Library Journal article, published by AALL. “Based on research of over sixty years of archival records, this article presents a case study of the University of New Mexico School of Law librarians’ fight for respect, professional recognition, faculty status, and voting rights in the face of persistent opposition from law school administrators, faculty, and head librarians.” It poignantly acknowledges the “. . . challenges law librarians have confronted as they have sought to obtain rights and privileges within their institutions that their academic credentials and professional responsibilities warrant.”

 

Is Wikipedia A Reliable Legal Authority? (2018 Update) The answer, as any good lawyer would tell you, is “it depends.” But links from a beSpacific post to articles on Associates Mind and the Chronicle of Higher education provide a more nuanced analysis!

 

The Citeable Opinion: A Quantitative Analysis of the Style and Impact of Judicial Decision In a research paper available for download on SSRN, and linked in this beSpacific post, Nina Varsava provides a quantitative analysis judicial legal writing style and the “legal impact or precedential power.” Using regression analyses, Varsava suggests “. . . that readily measurable elements of style have strong associations with a decision’s precedential power.”

 

  WPLLA member Joel Fishman forwarded an email on August 8, 2018 from the Legal Office Guru. The post provides multiple helpful links on the basics of the relatively new Microsoft Word function, Styles. Check the email for more info!

 

AALL 2018 Recap: 25 Free Technologies for Law Libraries: Second Edition Avery Le (Emory University School of Law) and Eliza Fink (University of Tennessee College of Law) presented the top 25 free technologies they use, divided into three categories (instructional, practical, and cost). The list includes:
– KnightLab (to make timelines or side-frame comparisons),
– YouCanBook.me (appointment scheduler),
– SlickPie (accounting software),
– and our old favorite, Grammarly (corrects grammatical mistakes).
Check out the blog post for the full list!

 

Are Targeted Ads Stalking You? Here’s How to Make Them Stop Online ads have become “stalker ads,” as the tech piece from the New York Times claims. Ads are targeted and persistent. They use web cookies to collect information about our browsing activities; the data is compiled to target us across web-connected devices. This raises a host of privacy concerns. For ways to “sidestep” targeting ads, clear your cookies periodically and follow the rest of the suggestions in the article.

 

Automatically Create Website Citations For a Bibliography With This Chrome Extension LifeHacker (a great website; check it out if you’re not already a regular) reviews Cite This For Me. This Chrome extension “. . . automatically creates website citations in APA, MLA, Chicago, or Harvard style with a quick click on its icon on your browser’s toolbar.”

 

New Superintendent of Documents Classification Guidelines “Newly-revised Classification Guidelines for the Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) classification system are now available.” Updates include:
– updated SuDocs link to Catalog of U.S. Government Publications (“CGP”) catalog records,
– new Table of Contents structure,
– printer-friendly format,
– and more.
If you like what you see, or if you have any comments, questions, or concerns, send emails to Caroline Hassler or Fang Gao.

 

The Art and Science of Lawyering: Law 3.0 Law Technology Today, in a post highlighted by beSpacific, laments that “[l]egal organizations have a well-deserved reputation for using technology and implementing business processes ineffectively at scale.” The issues can be traced back to “partner-focused business entities.” Read on for more info!

 

New CRS Reports – Judge Kavanaugh’s Jurisprudence, Supreme Court Nomination, Records, Papers and Decision beSpacific links to five distinct articles analyzing not only the jurisprudence of Supreme Court Justice-nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh but also judicial ethics, fact-finding, and criminal sentencing. Click through each link for more detailed information.

 

Hardly living on a UC librarian salary The University of California’s librarians’ union (UC-AFT) and the university system are currently in the middle of contract negotiations. This op-ed details some of the struggles UC librarians live with as their salaries seemingly shrink in the face of rising cost-of-living expenses in some of the most expensive areas of the country.

 


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August Link Roundup

President’s Selection of a Nominee for a Supreme Court Vacancy: Overview Following Justice Kennedy’s departure from the U.S. Supreme Court, the website “Every CRS Report” provides info on the process for selecting a new Justice. It also links to CRS Report R44235, Supreme Court Appointment Process: President’s Selection of a Nominee.

 

The Longform Guide to the Supreme Court beSpacific links to a cache of in-depth stories on the Supreme Court hosted by Longform.org. Article authors include Jill Lepore, Thomas L. Dybdahl, Justice John Paul Stevens, and Jeffrey Toobin.

 

14 editing tips Wayne Schiess shares fourteen editing tips on his blog, legalwriting.net. They include “build in ample time for editing” and “employ an editing checklist—a list of mistakes you make, of required parts the document needs, and of formatting and other matters to check.”

 

Explaining the First Citation in Every Supreme Court Slip Opinion This statement is at the top of the original form of every Supreme Court opinion:
NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued. The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader. See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337.
Why? Orin Kerr on reason.com explains; it stems from a 1906 property dispute. Click through to the blog post to learn more.

 

Getting a password manager is the most important way to improve your online security The Washington Post recommends Dashlane, used by over 10 million people, as the best password manager available today. Free for use on a single device, and $3.33 per month for multiple devices, it can securely sync your passwords across computers, phones, and tablets; it also sends you a new password via an app each time you try to log into a password-protected program. It hasn’t been hacked since 2015 – and even then, no passwords were stolen. This beSpacific blog post links to both the Washington Post article and the Dashlane website itself.

 

13 New Exhibitors at AALL Annual Conference: ILS Software, Data, Training Vendors Jean O’Grady of the Dewey B Strategic blog highlights the 13 “first time exhibitors” who attended the AALL Conference in Baltimore, held July 14-16th. Companies included Gobi (a web-based acquisition tool for managing both print and e-books) and Tyler Technologies (court workflow and records management services).

If you attended the AALL Conference, let us know if you chatted with reps from any of these companies! We’d love to get your opinion and schedule a Fall 2018/Spring 2019 lunch-and-learn program with anyone who knocked your socks off!

 

Win for Public Right to Know: Court Vacates Injunction Against Publishing the Law A win for those dedicated to preserving public, equitable access to information: “A federal appeals court today ruled that industry groups cannot control publication of binding laws and standards. This decision protects the work of Public.Resource.org (PRO), a nonprofit organization that works to improve access to government documents. PRO is represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the law firm of Fenwick & West, and attorney David Halperin.” Click the link for more info and the full opinion.

 

The last 22 years of UK politics just became searchable online In an email from WPLLA member Joel Fishman, the new UK politics archive “contains over 1.4 billion web pages, documents and social media posts, from the ‘dodgy’ Iraq dossier to ministers’ tweets.” Though the main link requires a user account, the links in the body of the email to the UK Government Web Archive and GOV.UK are free and open to the public.
Congress.gov New, Tip, and Top for July 2018 The second set of enhancement to Congress.gov went live in June 2018; one area of focus “is on enhancing committee data.”

 

Beware the Hidden Costs of Bad Formatting “The Legal Office Guru has heard every excuse in the book for why law firms skimp on training, and reader Roberta Gelb forwarded an article illustrating how firms could be losing up to $400,000/year on basic editing mistakes that need to be painstakingly corrected. The post also includes a downloadable Word Skills Checklist so you can make sure you’re one of the competent, capable ones in the office!

 

One more time – No, Amazon Cannot Replace Libraries After Forbes magazine published the article, “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money,” the world erupted. Folks were especially upset with the author “. . . picking Amazon—notorious for its horrible treatment of employees, and accusations of ruining the cities it opens warehouses in—as a potential replacement.” “[T]he notion that libraries aren’t worth their value to taxpayers—one that fails to take into account the financial returns of a library and expenses of buying these items on one’s own—fails to address the vast importance a library has on its community as a physical space open to anyone in the public.” Forbes has since removed the anti-free-libraries article from its website.

 

The Librarian And The Astrophysicist As WPLLA member Rita Young noted, Forbes quickly followed up their anti-free-libraries article with a pro-library article; “[a] bit of an ‘oops, we’re sorry.” This new mea culpa was written by an astrophysicist/library-enthusiast.

 

Three Technologies Transforming the Legal Field “Thomson Reuters’ 2018 Report on the State of the Legal Market surmised that declining profit margins, weakening collections, falling productivity, and loss of market share to alternative legal service providers are chipping away at the foundations of firm profitability.” But there are ways to “counteract these market pressures and to differentiate . . . from competitors.” Review this beSpacific post linking to a Law Technology Today article to learn more about analytics, blockchain, OCR, and other cost-effective services.

 

Judicial Opinions of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh and his very bigly paper trail Coordinating three articles from the Congressional Research Service, The Hill, and the Washington Post, this beSpacific post analyzes Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh and the nearly 1,500 decisions he has adjudicated. Some suggest his paper trail “tops a million pages.”

 

 


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July Link Roundup

Bye, Chrome: Why I’m switching to Firefox and you should too In an interview with Madhava Enros, the senior director of Firefox UX, and Peter Dolanjski, a product manager for Firefox, the two explain how Mozilla’s browser builds privacy into its architecture.

 

Bringing Harassment Out of the History Books Anne Ford, in a long form article posted on the American Libraries Magazine website, “address[es] the troubling aspects of Melvil Dewey’s legacy.” Ford’s research highlights troubling aspects of Dewey’s career and personality, calling it “tainted” by sexism and racism.

 

5 Tools to Help You Search the Archived Internet As Adam Rowe of Tech.Co noted, “keeping the internet a stable and reliable network isn’t all about data security – it’s also about data preservation.” This article reviews five websites, apps, and tools to help “preserve, protect, or search through your online footprint.”

 

What got breached this week? The List Keeps On Growing A beSpacific post links to a weekly cybersecurity column detailing corporate, social media, government, academic, e-commerce, and health care breaches.

 

Casetext Survey Finds ‘Shocking’ Level of Missing Relevant Cases in US Courts Artificial Lawyer (an AI and Legal Automation news and opinion blog), in conjunction with Casetext, found that ” that 83% of US judges and their clerks find that lawyers’ briefs are missing relevant cases that could impact the trial ‘at least some of the time’.” Click through the link to learn more statistics and info.

 

Librarians: Embrace the Career Revolution! Following the recent British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (“BIALL”) Conference, attendees have decided to continue discussing its theme: “Designing our Future.” Because people should now plan for “plan for five careers in a lifetime,” this post discusses changes to the law librarian profession and things you can do to keep succeeding (or pivot).

 

Best web browsers 2018: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Opera go head-to-head PCWorld reviewed various web browsers to make sure you’re using “the best tool for the job,” Read this post to find out if you should be using Edge, Chrome, Firefox, or Opera.

 

Breaking News: Practicing Law Institute and Fastcase Alliance Adds Case Law Links to PLI Plus Platform Starting in July 2018, the PLI Plus platform user will have access to all United States federal and state case law citations; they will be linked to Fastcase documents as the result of a new alliance between the Practicing Law Institute (PLI) and Fastcase.

 

 


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June Links Roundup

Gmail’s Smart Compose will write emails for you Smart Compose, a feature now available in the new Gmail re-vamp, “suggests complete sentences in your emails so that you can draft them with ease.”

 

Use Google Scholar’s Advanced Search for Narrow Case Law Searching This Texas Tech Law Library’s blog post provides interesting “tricks” for getting the most out of Google Scholar, a free case law search tool. These tricks “will help you narrow your search results to relevant cases.”

 

From Slip Law to United States Code: A Guide to Federal Statutes for Congressional Staff A CRS Report released on May 2, 2018 “provides an overview of federal statutes in their various forms, as well as basic guidance for congressional staff interested in researching statutes.”

 

3 Easy Ways to Convert Webpages Into PDFs If you could convert a webpage into a .pdf, “you could read any webpage offline in no-internet zones, making it easy to read articles and other pages offline.” This blog post details three easy, user-friendly ways to complete such a task! (Now, we can take even more reading home with us when we leave the office each weekday!)

 

Guide to Gmail’s new ‘confidential mode’ According to Business Insider and beSpacific, “[c]onfidential mode is available to users with personal accounts who opted into the new version of Gmail last month, when Google announced the latest changes to its email application.”

 

How To Improve Pennsylvania’s Tax System As noted by a professor at George Mason University, “Pennsylvania ranks near the top in tax burden and near the bottom in business friendliness in the nation. While much good can be said about the state’s personal income tax rate and relatively low sales tax rate, Pennsylvania’s business taxes are in serious need of reform.” This blog post reflects on potential improvements.

 

New on LLRX – 2018 New Economy Resources and Tools Linked by beSpacific, this guide “provides researchers in multiple disciplines – law, economists, academia, government, corporate, and journalism – the latest, most reliable web resources for discovering sources to meet the multifaceted needs of time sensitive, specific, actionable work product.”

 

Paper – Cutting through the Fog: Government Information, Librarians, and the Forty-Fifth Presidency Reflecting on “an increasingly polarized electorate, concerns about ‘fake news,’ and a greater use of social media” as well as the Trump Administration’s utilization of “disintermediation of information consumption by communicating directly to the public and going around the ‘experts,'” this new book examines the impact on government information librarians especially  their concern “with the production, distribution, consumption, and preservation of government information, and impact the public’s understanding of—and trust in—government information.”

 

Public can now search UK government’s entire digital archive For the first time, “[t]he British government’s entire online presence comprising billions of web pages has been indexed and digitally archived to the cloud for the first time. Manchester tech firm MirrorWeb has devised an all-new indexing to create an accessible, searchable and user-friendly resource for the public.” This web archive collection is 120TB and includes every government department website and social media account from 1996 to the present.

 

  In a May 21, 2018 email, Rita Young shared her response from the Office of the Mayor of Philadelphia regarding the redistribution of civil filing fees (thus imperiling the Jenkins Law Library). The stinging message read, in part, “law libraries, including Jenkins, do not serve the same function today as they did years ago.”

 

CRS – False Statements and Perjury: An Overview of Federal Criminal Law The Mueller investigation’s interest in potentially investigating President Trump begs the question: “whether a sitting President, consistent with the separation of powers and Article II of the Constitution, may be required to comply with a subpoena for his testimony as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.”  This CRS Report goes into detail about the type of subpoena Mueller could issue and thoughtfully questions issues regarding separation of powers between the various branches of government.

 

INSTANTLY CREATE AND SHARE A BIBLIOGRAPHY WITH ZOTEROBIB – EVEN IN BLUEBOOK A helpful post from the WisBlawg (the University of Wisconsin’s Law Library Blog) recommends “Zotero,” “an incredibly powerful citation manager that helps you collect, organize, cite, and share research.” The site is open source (so it’s free!), “perfect for large research projects where you’re researching over a period of days, weeks, [or] months,” and supports multiple citation styles, including Bluebook. The post also includes info on other citation sites, including EasyBib and ZoteroBib.

 

New edition of Zotero: A Guide for Librarians, Researchers and Educators published by ACRL

 

Follow the links provided in this Law Librarian Blog post for a “thorough introduction to Zotero.”

 


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Library Postcards Collection @ the ALA Archives

The Sjoerd Koopman Library Postcard Collection at the University of Illinois’ ALA Archives Collection includes pictorial and photographic postcards of libraries throughout the United States and Europe. Subjects include public libraries, private libraries, academic libraries, library interiors, reading rooms, and bookmobiles. Carnegie Library Postcard

Currently, the collection contains 30 Pennsylvania libraries.

Check out our Carnegie Library circa 1910. Too bad they missed the ‘h’ in Pittsburgh!

Thanks to Sjoerd Koopman for letting us know about this fantastic collection!

 


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May Link Round Up

FDLP MODERNIZATION ACT OF 2018 WOULD ENSURE GREATER ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT INFORMATION The April 2018 AALL Washington EBulletin, forwarded by Joel Fishman, reviews the FLP Modernization Act of 2018 and provides a section-by-section analysis of the bill as well as information on how the GPO, Copyright Office, Congressional Research Service, and Library of Congress budgets will fare under the Omnibus spending bill.

 

Judge Declares Some PACER Fees Illegal but Does Not Go Far Enough On March 31, 2018, Judge Huvelle of the US District Court for the District of Columbia rules that approximately $200 million will likely be returned to people who paid PACER fees from 2010 to 2016. The author of the linked blog post believes that this is a first step towards determining that PACER fees are prohibitively expensive and/or unconstitutional – though Judge Huvelle does not approach that ideological decision in the opinion.

 

Can Law Librarian/Vendors Relations Ever Be a Win-Win Relationship Again? In a 3 Geeks and a Law Blog post forwarded by Joel Fishman (and linked within the email), the current AALL president muses on the current state of the relationship between “legal information providers (vendors) and legal information professionals (law librarians)” and how it’s going to change in the future.

 

Massive restructuring at the ABA will rehouse entities under 9 centers An announcement from the executive director of the ABA details a “major restructuring of the organization,” complete with the creation of nine new Centers falling under one of the four main goals of the ABA umbrella: “serving members; improving the profession; eliminating bias and enhancing diversity; and advancing the rule of law.” Read the article for a full list of the names and aims of the new Centers.

 

Why RSS Still Beats Facebook and Twitter for Tracking News RSS hasn’t gone away; according to a beSpacific link to a Gizmodo article, it’s “faster, more efficient, and you won’t have to worry as much about accidentally leaking your news reading habit to all your Facebook friends.”

 

“The Board will be gathering more facts in order to determine how to effectively respond” to LexisNexis’ tying ultimatum Read this post on the Law Librarian Blog for information on “recent LexisNexis tie-in attempts”: “the Company refuses to sell print or ancillary products in retaliation for cancelling Lexis Advance as if this may be a new company sales policy.”

 

CRS – Sexual Harassment and Title VII: Selected Legal Issues The CRS report, linked through beSpacific, to examine Supreme Court precedent addressing Title VII sexual harassment claims, the statutory interpretation and rationales reflected in these decisions, and examples of lower federal court decisions applying this precedent. The report also discusses various types of harassment recognized by the Supreme Court (such as “hostile work environment,” quid pro quo, constructive discharge, and same-sex harassment) as well as sexual harassment in the context of retaliation.

 

CRS – Statutory Interpretation: Theories, Tools, and Trends A link on beSpacific to a CRS paper explaining the tools judges use to gather evidence of statutory meaning.

 

An email forwarded by Cindy Cicco explains House Bill 1937: a proposal to divert court filing fees from funding the Jenkins Law Library to the First Judicial District’s general fund. The Philadelphia Bar Association is considering a resolution in support of this legislation. The message provides additional information to help concerned citizens oppose the Philadelphia Bar Associations potential resolution and the House Bill.

 

4 Ways to Deal With a Toxic Coworker If you’re having a rough day (or if someone in particular is really getting on your nerves), take a look at this Harvard Business Review study to identify toxic team members and come up with constructive ways to deal with him/her.

 

GPO COMPLETES DIGITIZING ALL ISSUES
OF THE FEDERAL REGISTER
In an April 11, 2018 Press Release, the U.S. Government Publishing Office announced it, along with the National Archives’ Office of the Federal Register have “digitized every issue of the Federal Register, dating back to the first one published in 1936. A total of 14,587 individual issues, which is nearly two million pages, has been digitized.” See the email forwarded by Joel Fishman for an attachment of the Press Release and the URL for the new home of the digitized works.

 

This is the new Gmail design Check out the new Gmail redesign before its implemented!

 

House Committee Markups: Manual of Procedures and Procedural Strategies A recently released CRS report “examines procedures and strategy related to committee markups and provides sample procedural scripts.”

 

GOODBYE FDSYS, HELLO GOVINFO This blog post notes (with unanticipated gusto, I might add) that sometime in late 2018, Fdsys will be officially and formally replaced by Govinfo. Read the full post to learn the differences and nuances between the two, and get ready for the switch.

 

New on LLRX – Can Legal Research Be Taught? Part 3: Pushing Ourselves Further Legal research experts conclude “to be the experts in legal research we must also be leaders in developing knowledge in our field, furthering the understanding of the legal domain and of our own place within it.”

 

Papers of Benjamin Franklin Now Online In an email forwarded by Joel Fishman, Benjamin Franklin’s papers are now posted online. Visit the Library of Congress’ website to peruse at your leisure!

 

First Draft and fake news Forwarded by Joel Fishman, this email links to a project from the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center; it includes a PDF download of A Field Guide to Fake News and Other Information Disorders and a free online course to help readers better identify misinformation.

 

Navigating through Wikipedia articles on desktop just got a lot easier The new “page previews” feature allows users to get a quick grasp of what’s behind a link without committing to a click-through.

 

Five Books To Help You Be More Productive And Organized Tips, tricks, and newfangled apps only go so far. For more detailed info on organization and productivity, check out the books listed in this Fast Company article.

 

Points of Law Wins 2018 AALL New Product Award Excerpted from the beSpacific blog post:
“The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) has named Points of Law as its 2018 New Product Award winner. Introduced in 2016 using artificial intelligence and machine learning to assist in legal research, Points of Law is a product of Bloomberg Law. Points of Law allows users to quickly identify and analyze language in a judicial opinion. The product adds a layer of automated indexing to its 1 3 million—and counting—library of published and unpublished state and federal court opinions to provide users with a decision’s legal points and identify legal precedents. In addition, researchers can conduct keyword searches across all case law or specific jurisdictions within the content library.”
Library of Congress Posts U.S. Supreme Court Cases collection The Library of Congress has posted “more than 225 years of decisions” and this beSpacific blog post also links to other helpful sites where a reader can translate citations from a nominative reporter to a volume of the U.S. Report.