Western Pennsylvania Law Library Association

A chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries.


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Protecting Net Neutrality – AALL Advocacy Alert

AALL Horizontal Logo

American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Advocacy Alert – November 2017

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is scheduled to vote on December 14 to rescind its 2015 Open Internet Order to implement and enforce net neutrality. Under the leadership of the FCC’s new chairman, Ajit Pai, the new proposal would repeal rules that bar internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking, slowing access to or charging more for certain content. 

Equal access to information is a fundamental principle of the internet. Net neutrality ensures that everyone–whether a researcher, attorney, self-represented litigant, small business owner, or student–has a consistent and reliable way of accessing information online.Net neutrality protects intellectual freedom, which is critical to democracy. Law librarians strongly believe in the right of the public to be informed. Net neutrality provides all internet users with access to lawful content on the web, regardless of ISPs’ opinion of the material. AALL supports nondiscriminatory access to information for all library users. Read more in our advocacy one-pager.  

The FCC is no longer accepting public comments, so it is vitally important that you contact your members of Congress to voice your support for net neutrality. We need to be heard, and hope that Congress forces a delay of the December 14 vote.


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WPLLA Holiday Party – December 14th

YOU ARE INVITED TO WPLLA’S HOLIDAY PARTY!  R.S.V.P. TO MELANIE CLINE by Monday December 4th. 

Happy Holidays
WHAT: WPLLA HOLIDAY COCKTAIL PARTY  (graciously subsidized by Thomson Reuters)

WHEN: Thursday, December 14 from 5:30 – 8:30 pm

WHERE: LE LYONNAIS RESTAURANT (formerly Sonoma Grille) – 947 Penn Ave. (MAP)

COST:  $20 / PERSON (payable before or at the event. Cash bar)

Cocktail hour from 5:30 – 6:30; Hors D’Oeuvres served from 6:30-8

Hors D’Oeuvres Menu:

  • Ham and Emmenthal Cheese Croquette with Roasted Pepper Aioli
  • Smoked Salmon Rillette Crostini
  • Tartine Bourguignonne
  • Endive with House-made Boursin Cheese and Candied Walnuts
  • French Cheese Board with Five Points Baguette and Fresh Fruit
  • Dessert: Dark Chocolate Mousse or Crème Brulee


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Detecting Fake News

Invasion of Fake News Graphic by Free Press Action Fund

Invasion of Fake News by Free Press/ Free Press Action Fund – Licensed under Creative Commons License BY-NC-SA 2.0

The American Association of Law Libraries provides a down’n’dirty description of what a law librarian does, not the least of which is “… researching, analyzing, and evaluating the quality, accuracy, and validity of sources.”

In a world where it seems like even people who should know better are screaming #fakenews, it seems fairly intuitive that law librarians would want to seek out fair, unbiased, and professional news sources.

In “The Fate of Online Trust in the Next Decade,” a report released by the Pew Research Center on August 10, 2017, researchers tallied 1,233 responses to a nonscientific survey about future online capabilities and its effects on society and economics. Surveys were sent to a wide variety of expert engineers, scientists, policy experts, academics, technologists, and futurists – and invitees were encouraged to share to survey with fellow experts.

In the end, 48% believed that trust will be strengthened, but 28% believe that it will stay the same, and 24% believe that trust in online interactions and opportunities will be weakened in the next few years. Some respondents expressed hope in online security, like encryption and identity-verification systems.

Pew researchers identified six major themes from the respondents’ answers:

  • Trust will strengthen because systems will improve and people will adapt to them and more broadly embrace them;
  • The nature of trust will become more fluid as technology embeds itself into human and organizational relationships;
  • Trust will not grow, but technology usage will continue to rise, as a “new normal” sets in;
  • Some say blockchain could help; some expect its value might be limited;
  • The less-than-satisfying current situation will not change much in the next decade; and
  • Trust will diminish because the internet is not secure, and powerful forces threaten individuals’ rights.

Half of those themes are resoundingly negative (“trust will not grow;” “less-than-satisfying current situation;” “trust will diminish”). The blockchain theme could go either way.

If the experts are expressing reticence about the future of online opportunities, we need people capable of reviewing resources and disseminating accurate information. Law librarians can certainly be on the front lines.

Cross-posted on LLRX and the beSpacific blog, author Jenny Zook crafted a thoughtful article defining “fake news” and providing valuable fact-checking resources. Zook emphasizes the need to check sources, and offers thoughtful questions to ask yourself when reviewing a questionable online source:

When was it published? Who published it? Is this a primary or secondary source of law? Who is the author and what are his or her qualifications?

Zook cautions that even the best news source can post a story with “…sloppy reporting, misquoting of a source, or wrong attribution of a primary source.”

But all is not lost – Zook urges librarians to develop library research guides and to continue posting information on fake news and authentic resources.

BeSpecific posted Zook’s list of  Library Guides for Detecting Fake News, pulled from July 2017’s AALL Spectrum.

WPLLA members – have you developed a library guide to help thwart fake news? Have you used or forwarded any of the existing guides? If you’ve had to help verify resources or combat fake news in any way, we’d love to hear your story! Send us an email with your experience, or any tips and tricks you’d like to share as we work to combat #fakenews!


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Link Roundup – November

Select Demographic and Other Characteristics of Recent U.S. Circuit and District Court Nominees This document provides information related to select demographic and other characteristics of U.S. circuit and district court nominees whose nominations were submitted to the Senate by President Trump prior to August 1, 2017 (of the 26 total nominations submitted). The stats are compared to those of the first 26 individuals nominated to U.S. circuit and district court judgeships during the Obama, George W. Bush, and Clinton administrations.

 

Who Regulates Whom? An Overview of the U.S. Financial Regulatory Framework Discussion of the fragmented financial regulatory system; it was developed by “piecemeal” legislation following financial crisis. At the federal level, regulators can be clustered into specific review areas that control financial institutions, markets, and products using licensing, registration, rulemaking, supervisory, enforcement, and resolution powers.

 

GPO Launches New Federal Bookstore Website The U.S. Government Publishing Office’s (“GPO”) launched a newly designed, user-friendly U.S. Government Online Bookstore (https://bookstore.gpo.gov). The site features a simple, mobile-friendly navigation that connects the user to more than four thousand titles on topics from the Federal Government. Some of the new features include a mobile-friendly interface, improved search features, color book cover graphics, and product reviews.

 

We are Excited to Announce the Release of the Law Library of Congress Chatbot The Law Library of Congress is excited to announce the release of a new chatbot that can connect you to primary sources of law, Law Library research guides and foreign law reports. The chatbot has a clickable interface that will walk you through a basic reference interview.

 

Here’s How To Get Along With Your Most Annoying Coworker Though the article notes “… none of these suggestions are guaranteed to work,” the author offers a few mental and behavioral tricks to help improve interactions and reframe relationships with difficult co-workers.

 

New on LLRX – The State of Law Library eBooks 2017-18 Part One: The Landscape The Director of Information Technology at the New York Law Institute (and an award-winning editor and author of 36 books), Ellyssa Kroski hosts Part One of a three part series for LLRX. She describes the current landscape of eBooks relevant to the law library field, the benefits and challenges of offering eBooks in law libraries, the different ways to purchase law-related eBooks, and how to get started choosing a solution.

 

“What do you Actually Do?” 3 Analogies to Illustrate the Information Professional’s Work This humorous blog post asks, “Do you ever find it easier to explain your role by inventing parables or metaphors?” and provides cheeky examples of a few that seem to fit!

 

500 Free Online Programming & Computer Science Courses You Can Start in October Over 700 schools around the world offer thousands of free online courses. Dhawal Shah of Class-Central.com has compiled a list of 500 free online programming and computer science courses you can start this October.

 

The Blue Slip Process for U.S. Circuit and District Court Nominations Check out this CRS report, linked through beSpacific, to learn more about the blue slip process used by the Senate Judiciary Committee for U.S. circuit and district court nominations. Since the blue slip’s inception in 1917, different Committee chairmen have used it in different ways.

 

Guide on How to Transcribe YouTube Videos Automatically YouTube comes with many useful features, including translation for titles and description and YouTube keyboard shortcuts. Similarly, there are ways with which you can transcribe YouTube videos. Since speech recognition software has improve over the years, you can get a reliable automatic transcription that can be easily edited to perfection with little to no effort. Follow the links on the beSpacific post to Karrar Haider’s tutorial on Hongkiat to find out how!

 

Internet Archives Syncing Catalogs with thousands of Libraries in 120 Countries through OCLC The Internet Archive and OCLC have agreed to synchronize the metadata describing the Internet Archive’s digital books with OCLC’s WorldCat. When the synchronization work is complete, library patrons will be able to discover the Internet Archive’s collection of 2.5 million digitized monographs through the libraries around the world that use OCLC’s bibliographic services. OCLC databases will be enriched with records describing books that may not yet be represented in WorldCat.

 

The Preservation of Government Publications Roger C. Schonfeld recently testified before the House of Representatives’ Committee on House Administration, as part of a hearing entitled “Transforming GPO for the 21st Century and Beyond.” His blog post includes both video and transcripts of written testimony supplied by the speakers detailing the structural challenges facing the Federal Depository Library Program (“FDLP”) and other library issues.

 

Review of 5 free image compression tools Tom Demers of Search Engine Land tests the capabilities of five different free, standalone image compression tools that writers, designers or marketers can use to ensure that they’re keeping their image file size in check.

 

Report – Supreme Court Errors Aren’t Hard to Find A ProPublica review “… found seven errors in a modest sampling of Supreme Court opinions written from 2011 through 2015. In some cases, the errors were introduced by individual justices apparently doing their own research. In others, the errors resulted from false or deeply flawed submissions made to the court by people or organizations seeking to persuade the justices to rule one way or the other. Some of the mistakes were technical or arguably minor, and it is difficult to determine with certainty if they played a vital part in the court’s reasoning and final judgments. But the NASA case was not the only one where a mistake involved a core aspect of the court’s ruling on an issue with widespread ramifications.”

 

Will Wikipedia exist in 20 years? Foundation Director discusses with Harvard Law Prof Follow the links provided by the beSpacific blog post to watch Katherine Maher (Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation) chat with Professor Yochai Benkler (Harvard Law School).

 

AALL Legal Website of the Month Click on this beSpacific link to engage with past winners of AALL’s “Website of the Month;” the file contains 218 MARC records and is current through the August of 2017 Website of the Month.  Going forward, it will be updated quarterly.

 

BeSpacific nominated as one of Best Legal Tech Blogs 2017 – please vote The link, sent with a message from Joel Fishman (“Congrats to one of the best.”):

BeSpacific has been nominated again this year in the The Expert Institute’s – Best Legal Tech Blogs category.

 

New on LLRX – Stay Up To Date With These Legal Technology Blogs Available through a link on beSpacific, noted attorney, legal tech expert, blogger and author Nicole Black suggests reading and subscribing to subject specific blogs to both stay abreast of growing changes in legal technology and to meet attorney ethical obligations specific to 28 jurisdictions.

 

GPO Issues Digital Release of Historical Congressional Record for 1911-1921 The U.S. Government Publishing Office (“GPO”) and the Library of Congress have released the digital version of the bound Congressional Record from 1911-1921 on GPO’s govinfo (see: https://www.govinfo.gov/app/collection/crecb_gpo/_crecb). This release covers the debates and proceedings of the 62nd through the 66th Congresses.  This era covers issues like the 18th Amendment (Prohibition), the election of the first female to the House of Representatives, and the sinking of the Lusitania.

 

One-Stop Resource for Federal and State Trade Secrets Research, Checklists and Forms In this edition of TL NewsWire, released October 18, 2017, editors cover a specialized legal research service for trade secrets, including coverage of the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 and tools for comparing jurisdictions.

 

Signing Statements and Presidentializing Legislative History The National Bureau of Economic Research recently published a working paper by John M. de Figueiredo and Edward H. Stiglitz. It examines a novel dataset of judicial opinion citations to presidential signing statements in an effort to conduct the most comprehensive empirical examination of how courts have received presidential legislative history.

 

7 Ways to Use Your Spare Smartphone Time Productively What do you do when you look at your phone out of boredom?  As the article says: “Rather than browsing through a long list of inane tweets or matching jewel colors up against each other, you can actually be using that time productively.”

 

GOING DEEP: BASEBALL AND PHILOSOPHY Take a peek at this article if musings like this one interest you: “Baseball is the most philosophical of games because, like philosophy at its best, it harmonizes meaning with meticulous analysis.”

 

Here come the drones – by Executive Order! From the FAA’s Press Release: “President Donald J. Trump directed U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao today to launch an initiative to safely test and validate advanced operations for drones in partnership with state and local governments in select jurisdictions.” The results from the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) Integration Pilot Program will be used to accelerate the safe integration of UAS into the national airspace and to realize the benefits of unmanned technology in our economy.

 

FDLP webinar series “How Laws Are Made” The FDLP Academy recently hosted an excellent three-part series of webinars: How Laws are Made: The Legislature; How Laws are Made: The Administrative Agencies; and How Laws are Made: The Courts.  Check out the blog post for links to the webinars! Each lasts about 45 minutes and provides well-organized information about the law-making functions of each of the three branches of government.

 

New mobile app puts you in touch with legal help A new app out of Toronto, Canada called “DAABA” that connects people who cannot afford a lawyer with Legal Service Providers (“LSP”). LSPs can be law students, paralegals, or licensed attorneys, and they help DAABA app users by providing advice or pointing them in the right direction of legal services.

 

Step Back to Vintage Internet With New Search Engine Wiby From the article: “If you’d like to take a step back in Internet time, to when Web pages were smaller and less advanced, check out Wiby.me, a search engine that launched at the beginning of October. It’s designed to find only smaller Web pages (which usually means older Web pages.)”

 

Non partisan resources on tax code reform for researchers The Committee for a Responsible Budget has published several resources on recent tax reform plans, policies that may be included, gimmicks lawmakers may use, the status of the current tax code, and other tax issues. The publications will be updated as new analyses are published.