Western Pennsylvania Law Library Association

A chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries.

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ACLL 150th Anniversary Celebration

ACLL 150th Anniversary

Photo courtesy of Pat Roncevich. L. to R.: George and Louise Beswick, Barbara Alexander-Klein, Melanie Cline, Karen Eriksen, Cindy Cicco, Karen Shephard, Ann Unger, Rita Young,  Joel Fishman, Tsegayue Beru,  Frank Liu, Paul Recht, and  Marc Silverman.

In November, WPLLA Members joined others from the Pittsburgh legal community to see the ACLL’s recent upgrades and renovations in honor of ACLL’s 150th Anniversary. Speakers included: Duquesne University President Ken Gormley, and Duquesne Law School Associate Dean/ACLL Director Frank Liu.


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Green Revolution in libraries?

If asked how libraries – public or academic – contribute to society, every librarian likely has a mental list available at the ready: libraries stimulate our children; libraries provide valuable public services, like resume-building or ESL classes; libraries bring people together, by hosting poetry readings or ex-pat societies or after-school clubs; libraries, by the nature of the very resources they house and supply, educate those who use them. Would you have thought to include “save the environment” on that list?

In “Leading the Green Revolution,” an article published by American Libraries magazine on November 1, 2017, author Liz Granger introduces the reader to eco-friendly programs instituted at the Michigan State University library, the Austin Public LibraryTwin Oaks branch, the Berkeley Public LibraryWest branch, and the Mason City (Iowa) Public Library.

The Twin Oaks branch of the Austin Public Library changed its water-thirsty landscaping over to more drought-friendly native xeriscaping, sunk cisterns to collect rainwater, and installed a computer system to help monitor weather patterns and conserve every last drop of available water – even condensation off the HVAC units! Berkeley, in what can only be described as “typical” given the reputation of the city and its inhabitants, went whole hog; the library is a “net zero energy” building and contributes to the energy grid, rather than draw off it, through the use of solar panels, a wind chamber, and other eco-friendly additions. Even Mason City, Iowa (population 28,079) worked installed solar panels. Though prompted by budget concerns, and aided by a private investor to help the city qualify for tax rebates, the panels were fully on board by 2016 and the city reduced its oil and gas energy dependence by 38% from 2008 levels.

Over the past few years, WPLLA’s academic law library members have described significant reductions to bound-volume collections. Though the Michigan State libraries described a number of innovative environmental practices, their sustainability measures regarding deaccessioning books stood out in light of recent WPLLA conversations. Specifically, the MSU library partnered with the University’s “surplus store” and offered the volumes available for sale to the public. The article notes that the Surplus Store has sold $150,000 of deaccessioned books, and the library and store work together to recycle any unsold texts.

Check out the “Green Your Library” section towards the end of the article. It offers several talking points to help librarians interested in pursuing eco-friendly programs for their libraries make a sound case to administrators or boards of directors.

Have any WPLLA members initiated “green” or “eco” programs with their libraries? Feel free to share your experience in the comments or email a WPLLA board member. We’d love to write a follow-up post!


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December Link Roundup

CRS – The Vacancies Act: A Legal Overview This CRS report first describes how the Vacancies Act operates and outlines its scope, identifying when the Vacancies Act applies to a given office, how it is enforced, and which offices are exempt from its provisions. It also discusses who may serve as an acting officer and for how long, focusing on the limitations the Vacancies Act places on acting service, and includes issues of particular Congressional relevance (primarily highlighting the Vacancies Act’s enforcement mechanisms).


How Lawyers Should Use Spreadsheets Here’s a podcast from Law Technology Today – the official technology blog of the ABA’s Legal Technology Resource Center. In this episode of Digital Detectives, hosts S          haron Nelson and John Simek talk to Ben Kusmin about the proper handling and format of spreadsheets, including a thorough review of all content before sending it.


Mindfulness in the Library A recent student of “Mindfulness for Librarians” shares her experiences with targeted, helpful, and calming mindfulness techniques.


Books from 1923 to 1941 Now Liberated! In Joel Fishman’s email, sent November 4, 2017, he sent a link with information that the Internet Archive is relying on Section 108h to now provide materials published from 1923-1941 if they are not being actively sold. Take a look at the links either in Joel’s email, or reproduced at Humanities and Social Sciences Online (must have user account to view)
GPO Audit on FDPL BeSpacific links to the US Government Publishing Office’s (“GPO”) report on the Federal Depository Library Program (“FDLP”). A selection from the report:
“The transition to digital information raises a number of issues resulting in more diverse responsibilities for GPO. In that context, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted a review to determine the steps GPO took for ensuring information developed at the expense of taxpayers was made available to the public through the FDLP. To address our objective, in general, we tested compliance with select sections of Title 44, reviewed program goals and achievements, and tested processes used to capture Government publications at a select agency—the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).” 
New on LLRX – The State of Law Library eBooks 2017-18 Part Two: Brass Tacks Ellyssa Kroski discusses the range of eBook pricing models that are currently available along with the pros and cons respective to each.


On Trial: GRE v. LSAT Some law schools are experimenting with using GRE scores for admission rather than LSAT scores; follow the link to try sample questions from both!


Some “Acting” Officials in the Federal Government Will Authority Some government officials who have been serving on an “acting” basis because a permanent replacement has not yet been named will lose their ability to function in November 2017 when their legal authority is nullified under the terms of the Vacancies Act; the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 specifies that “acting” officers can fill positions requiring confirmation for no more than 210 days. If the position is vacant at the start of a new Administration, an extension of 90 days is allowed, for a total of 300 days – this 300 day period for “acting” officials designated by the Trump Administration will thus end on November 16, 2017.


GPO and LC release digitized version of Congressional Record 1891-1911 The U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO) partners with the Library of Congress to release the digital version of the bound Congressional Record from 1891-1911 on GPO’s govinfo. This release covers the debates and proceedings of the 52nd through the 61st Congresses. This era of covers issues like the Spanish-American War, the first flight by the Wright Brothers, and the Pure Food and Drug Act and Meat Inspection Act.


The Magical Law Library Staff Fun link sent by Cindy Cicco: In a tongue-in-cheek guest post by a UK law librarian on the blog, Vable, the author asks the questions, “Did you know that law firm librarians are magicians?”


Things I would tell my younger self In an email forwarded by Joel Fishman, a veteran attorney gives advice to some new kids on the block, including “dream big,” “save money,” and “no regrets.”


Building for the future of free knowledge – Keynote by Wikipedia CEO at OCLC Meeting “Katherine Maher, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, provided information on in-depth research into the future of literacy and learning and shared insights into how we can apply these principles to the current trends in technology.


Dr. Carla D. Hayden, Librarian of Congress: Featured Keynote at OCLC ARC17 Dr. Carla D. Hayden, the United States Librarian of Congress, served as the keynote speaker at the inaugural OCLC Americas Regional Council (“ARC”) meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA on 30 October 2017 and discussed the history of library innovation and the role that libraries can play as trusted, smart sources in the information ecosystem.


U.S. Web Design Standards + DigitalGov The U.S. Web Design Standards moved to the Office of Products and Platforms (“OPP”) and joined the new DigitalGov team (effective October 1, 2017). Digital.gov has become an authoritative destination to learn about the methods, practices, policies, and tools needed to create effective digital services in government. It helps users deliver smart, effective digital services in the government, and seeks to set an example for how government learns, builds, delivers, and measures digital services in the 21st century.


EASILY DISTRACTED? HARNESS TECH TO BE MORE EFFICIENT Cindy Cicco forwarded information and a link to an AALL webinar scheduled for 12/13.  Check out the email for more information!


One More Time: Law Firm Libraries Are Not About the Space 3 Geeks and a Law Blog muses on the difference between a law library as a physical space versus a law library as an ephemeral institution of information and knowledge.


A Growing Open Access Toolbox Legal methods to retrieve paywalled articles for free are on the rise, but better self-archiving practices could help improve accessibility.


Congress.gov Tip, Top, and New for November 2017, Part 2 New enhancements to http://www.congress.gov during November 2017 include a variety of search upgrades. The Advanced Search Legislation page was updated during the release, the default sort for House Communications for a blank search was switched to be newest to oldest, and a developer researched ways to enhance our email alerts.


How to Deal With a Negative Co-worker Who Can’t Stop (Won’t Stop) Venting This article provides a list of helpful tricks to assist a negative co-worker.