Western Pennsylvania Law Library Association

A chapter of the American Association of Law Libraries.

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December Link Roundup

New Way to Browse the Federal Courts Web Archive The Law Library and the Library of Congress Web Archiving team have new methods for users to browse the Federal Courts Web Archive. When a user heads to the browse page, the Federal courts are now arranged in a list; by clicking on a court in the table of contents at the top of the screen, the user will be taken to a link for the archive for that court.


26th Annual RIPS-SIS Legal Research Teach-In Kit From an email forwarded by Joel Fishman on 12/08/2017:
The RIPS-SIS Legal Research Teach-In Kit Committee is now accepting submissions for the 26th Annual Teach-In Kit.  We have an outrageous goal to have EVERY law library and information professional community (academic, firm, government) who is involved in providing any kind of legal research instruction to contribute to the Teach-In Kit.  We have set this goal because the Teach-In Kit and the instruction and information our members provide is so valuable to our profession and the diverse communities we serve.
Submissions should be sent to Gail Mathapo at “gmathapo@law.ufl.edu” by January 22, 2018.


New on LLRX – Virtual Chat Reference Services Research librarians would receive more reference questions from library patrons if the library linked to a virtual chat service; see this article for chatbot service recommendations.


University of Pennsylvania: Online Books Page The University of Pennsylvania maintains an Online Books page, which detailed a list of titles freely readable over the Internet.


POGO – Revealing the Lost World of Government Reports Recently introduced to Congress, a new bill would require a one-stop, easy-to-use, online location for all congressionally mandated reports. This may put an end to the world of lost and hidden government reports.


Congress’ Impeachment Power and the Case of Presidential Obstruction In multiple posts available as links through beSpacific, experts have developed rationale that a president firing an FBI director or other senior law enforcement official may not subject to impeachment for obstruction of justice.


Historical Versions of the United States Code Now Online After being acquired by the Library of Congress, the U.S. Code from 1925 through 1988 is available to the public online for free, in a searchable format.


KnowItAALL: Readers’ Picks 2017 In an email forwarded by Joel Fishman on 12/22/2017, AALL’s KnowItAALL e-newsletter details the Readers’ Picks for 2017.


New on LLRX – Legislation Alert: Worrisome Changes to Government Publications Are Possible In a thought-provoking post, Peggy Roebuck Jarrett writes about an issue that is significant to law librarians, federal documents librarians, and to the public: a proposed bill that proposes “to amend title 44, United States Code, to reform the organization, authorities, and programs relating to public printing and documents, including the Federal Depository Program.” Changes could alter the publication and distribution of official print and digital government information.


Paper – Failure, Risk, and the Entrepreneurial Library A blog post by Tom Wall (a University Librarian at Boston College) addresses the inspiring belief that “without a culture that accepts the inevitability of failure, and learns from it, innovation will remain elusive and/or nonexistent.”


Update on the Twitter Archive at the Library of Congress Effective Jan. 1, 2018, the Library of Congress will acquire tweets on a selective basis—similar to its collections of web sites.  This is a change from its previous endeavor to document all tweets from 2006 through 2010, and continuing with all public tweet text going forward.


Information for Submitting Articles to Law Reviews & Journals This paper, covering 203 different law reviews and last updated in July 2017, contains information about submitting articles to law reviews and journals, including the methods for submitting an article, any special formatting requirements, how to contact them to request an expedited review, and how to contact them to withdraw an article from consideration.



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Announcement: Roundtable 1/24/18

Please join WPLLA members for a roundtable event where we will discuss problems/solutions/experiences during Lexis/Westlaw/Bloomberg Law trials/negotiations/switches.

We will also discuss problems/solutions/experiences involving library moves/reorganizations.

It is being hosted by the Allegheny County Law Library in their conference room on Wednesday, January 24 from 12-1 pm.

Please feel free to bring your lunch.

Please let Melanie Cline know if you will attend and if you have any specific questions that you would like to see addressed.

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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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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


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!