Western Pennsylvania Law Library Association

A chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries.

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OCLC and Wikipedia Content

WikipediaLike most WPLLA members, I remember a world before Wikipedia – a world before a web-based encyclopedia with articles on every conceivable subject, updated in real time, by hyper-focused lay experts devoted to their niche obsessions. As Wikipedia grew in popularity, it quickly became the first stop on a research expedition (or even just the go-to website to settle a debate amongst friends). But experts warned against using the site as an academic resource; after all, if anyone could edit a Wikipedia page, who knew what sort of unverifiable chaos was being presented as undeniable fact?

The OCLC Online Computer Library Center  recently announced that it has paired withOCLC World Cat the Wikimedia Foundation’s Wikipedia Library. Now, when Wikipedia editors identify a citation within a Wikipedia article, and that citation is represented by library material held in WorldCat, the editor can link the citation to WorldCat material. WorldCat is the world’s largest network of library content and services.

The partnership between the OCLC and Wikipedia Library allows editors to generate a full, official citation for the cited material in the individual Wikipedia article. With formal citations, Wikipedia articles gain more clout in professional and academic circles. OCLC also hopes that the links to library materials from Wikipedia articles will encourage Wikipedia users to more fully utilize in-person library services.

The partnership announcement on the Wikimedia blog includes detailed, step-by-step instructions for how to use the newly developed citation tool.

If any WPLLA members are active Wikipedia editors, we’d love to know if you’ve used this tool yet.  Any feedback would be fantastic – drop us a line and tell us all about your user experience!

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2016-2017 Annual Report

WPLLA continued to provide programming opportunities that included on-site and remote capabilities to accommodate members.   Roundtables continue to be popular with our members.  WPLLA hopes to offer more informal social events to help strengthen networking for members.

In 2016-2017, the Programming Committee chaired by Joel Fishman offered several well-attended programs.  These included: Honorable Judge R. Stanton Wettick – Lunch and Learn: Professor Douglas M. Branson – Holiday Party:   Current Problems and Concerns – Roundtable Discussion:  Current Problems and Concerns II – Roundtable Discussion:  Deep Dives in Legal Research – Webinar.  WPLLA continued its Holiday and Banquet events.

WPLLA was honored to have AALL incoming President Greg Lambert visit WPLLA members in May and to be the special guest speaker at the Annual Spring Banquet.  Greg met with several of members at their libraries as well as had several meals and meetings with Board Members.

WPLLA’s Legal Education Ad Hoc Committee continues to be interested in continuing our long held commitment to education held a membership meeting. The plan is to offer short webinars on key research topics to summer associates. This programming was once again postponed.

The WPLLA website redesign by Liz Whittington, featuring a public and members section was rolled out at the Annual Business meeting in October.  Board member Sarah Steers has assisted with providing content. As many members still utilize the listserv it was decided to maintain both services. The WPLLA Newsletter ceased publication following the retirement of Sallie Smith.

The WPLLA membership directory (pdf) was supplied to members.

The WPLLA Board Acknowledges that members feel increased demands on their time and energies at work and at home.   WPLLA offered a list committees with short descriptions and examples of “limited time” volunteer opportunities to increase participation. One of the goals for the 207-2018 term is a review and simplification of the bylaws.

WPLLA publicized among its’ members the 2017 AALL Member Registration Grant. Several applicants applied and incoming Vice President/President elect Melanie Cline was determined to be the most deserving applicant according to the criteria established by AALL.

WPLLA continues to provide networking and educational opportunities to its members and continues to promote itself to the larger legal community. The Board and its members reach out to mentor and welcome new members and look for opportunities to promote WPLLA membership.

The Executive Board for 2016-2017:  Pat Roncevich – President; Joel Fishman – Vice-President/President Elect; Kate Fry – Secretary; Liz Whittington- Treasurer; Ann Unger – Past President; Jamie Yancich and Sarah Steers – Members at Large.

The Executive Board for 2017-2018:  Joel Fishman – President;   Melanie Cline – Vice President/President Elect – ; Kate Frey – Secretary; Sarah Steers – Treasurer; Pat Roncevich, – Past President; Jamie Yancich and Karen Eriksen – Members at Large.

Pat Roncevich, President 2016-2017

June 23, 2017


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Members of AALL are “making a difference in a multitude of ways”

From the September 6, 2017 Law.com article Quiet No Longer: Law Librarians ‘Forgo the Status Quo‘ :

Law firm libraries are making a positive impact by promoting justice, combating misconceptions, and navigating change. And most importantly for the legal services sector, they are delivering value by conducting legal and business research, managing the procurement of critical research tools, and promoting the exchange of knowledge. Going forward, library managers and their staff will ensure that they never settle for the status quo if they continue to harness the same spirit of engagement and activism that punctuated the start of this year’s annual conference.

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Link Roundup – September

Digitized Bound Congressional Record 1941-1950 Now Available The U.S. Government Publishing Office, in partnership with the Library of Congress, has made digitized versions of the Congressional Record (Bound Edition) from 1941-1950 available on govinfo. This release covers debates and proceedings of the 77th through the 81st Congresses.


JSTOR launches updated design and navigation JSTOR has a new look, and the logo has also been modernized to better suit the variety of digital environments in which users interact with the service.


Elsevier acquires bepress – leading showcase of academic research Elsevier, the global information analytics business specializing in science and health, acquired bepress on August 2, 2017, a Berkeley, California-based business that helps academic libraries showcase and share their institutions’ research by allowing institutions to collect, organize, preserve and disseminate their intellectual output.


JournalTOCs current awareness service for updates on latest subject matter specific articles JournalTOCs is a Current Awareness Service (CAS) where users can discover the newest papers coming directly from the publishers as soon as they have been published online. Useful for researchers, librarians, and students, it highlights papers published in the scholarly literature with international coverage and is free for individual users.


School property tax elimination doesn’t mean it’s over If a planned voter referendum passes this fall and the Pennsylvania Legislature does away with school taxes, it doesn’t mean property owners would stop paying all school taxes immediately. And a pending Pennsylvania Senate bill — The Property Tax Independence Act — calls for increasing personal income and sales taxes as replacement revenue for school districts.


Can Law Librarians Help Law Become More Data Driven? An online presentation describing new innovations in legal research, with an emphasis on data collection and analytics.


Free Law Project details vulnerability and possible exploits of PACER PACER/ECF is a system of 204 websites that is run by the Administrative Office of the Courts (AO) for the management of federal court documents.  In February 2017, the Free Law Project reported a major vulnerability in PACER/ECF to the AO. This issue has been properly addressed, and  the Free Law Project’s investigative report has more more details about the issues.


ALCTS e-Forum: The State of eBooks in Libraries An email from Cindy Cicco directed WPLLA’s attention to an e-forum held on August 15-16, 2017 discussing the complexities of e-books and the requirements of new workflows. While the date(s) for this forum have passed, a recap of the presentation may be available through ALCTS.


Another view on the Google book scanning project New information on the “Google Books corpus” and how to conduct computational analysis (e.g., looking for patterns in large amounts of text, etc.) without breaching copyright.


Report – Disruptive innovation in the courts A new paper, recognizing courts will not remain untouched by disruptive innovation, advocates for embracing (rather than resisting) the opportunities to improve business processes and make justice more readily available to a wider audience.


Massive new searchable database of federal court opinions, including ones that haven’t been formally published The Free Law Project, famous for its RECAP browser extension for PACER users, has now scraped all the federal court opinions available for free on PACER, and put them in a free database with a fairly powerful search engine: https://www.courtlistener.com/recap/


GPO and LC partner on release of digitized Congressional Record 1931-1940 The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) has partnered with the Library of Congress to release the digital version of the bound Congressional Record from 1931-1940 on GPO’s govinfo. This release covers debates and proceedings of the 72nd thru the 76th Congresses.


“Vroom” Is Researchers’ Answer To ‘Blazing Fast Internet’, Loads Pages 50% Faster Vroom, new software developed at the University of Michigan and MIT, is designed to reduce the time required for mobile devices to load web pages.  During tests, researchers have observed pages loading almost two times faster.


Podcast – Interview with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden An interview with Carla Hayden, the 14th librarian of Congress.  She is the first African American and first woman to hold the position.


CRS – Presidential Pardons: Frequently Asked Questions – Along with news updates Legal Sidebar, published by the Congressional Research Service, states in part: “… The Framers did not debate this question at the Convention, and it unclear whether they considered whether the pardon power could be applied in this manner. No President has attempted to pardon himself…Accordingly, this is an unsettled constitutional question, unlikely to be resolved unless a President acts to pardon himself for a criminal offense.”


Fisher on the Supreme Court’s Expansion of Presidential Power Professor, scholar, and prolific author Louis Fisher’s latest book analyzes Supreme Court decisions from 1936 to the present time, helping the reader understand how the Court  has greatly expanded independent executive power in external affairs.  Fisher posits that the result is a weakening of the basic system of checks and balances, and damage to the principle of self-government.


GPO issues digital release of Federal Register for 1980s The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) and the National Archives’ Office of the Federal Register (OFR) has released digital issues of the Federal Register from 1980-1989. The complete collection of issues of the Federal Registers from 1980 to present is now available digitally on GPO’s govinfo.