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December 30, 2004

Internet Archive to Digitize Library Collections

Google isn't the only one beginning to digitize library collections. The Internet Archive has joined the crusade with their Million Book Project in hopes of digitizing a million books by 2005. It appears that only non-copyrighted works will be included and that full-text can be viewed at no charge.

According to an Information World Review article, the libraries involved are Carnegie Mellon University library, the Library of Congress, the Canadian universities of Toronto, Ottawa and McMaster, China's Zhejiang University, the Indian Institute of Science, the European Archives and Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt.

Tips on Contacting Customer Service

Today's New York Times article, Customer Service: The Hunt for a Human, relates the frustration that many consumers feel when trying to contact an actual corporate consumer contact person.

According to the article, many people try to outwit automated phone systems by pressing zero, yet still fail to reach an operator. But some savvy consumers have learned that pressing zero multiple times will patch you through. Another individual was able to reach a company president directly when he pressed the star key and was presented with a company directory.

But what about when you can't locate a company's phone number at all? Try the government-run The Consumer Action Website's directory of corporations, with many phone numbers for customer service, along with e-mail and Web addresses. Definitely work bookmarking!

December 29, 2004

2004 Legal Blogging Awards

Blawger Dennis Kennedy has compiled a list of the top legal blogs of 2004 with Best Overall Legal Blog going to BeSpacific.com (I quite agree!) Other categories include:
  • Best Practice-Specific Legal Blog
  • Best New Legal Blogger
  • Best Legal Blog Sectors
  • Funniest Legal Blogs
  • Best Legal Blogging Experts
  • Best Legal Blog Trends
  • Legal Blog Trends to Avoid
  • Lifetime Achievement Awards

Mealey's Top Legal Headlines Via RSS

LexisNexis Mealey Publications and Conferences group now has an RSS feed for its top legal news headlines. There is no charge to subscribe.

Source: inter alia

December 23, 2004

Find Sources of US & State Law on the Web with ALSO!

On of my favorite sites for finding sources of primary law on the Internet is American Law Sources On-Line (ALSO!). In addition to providing a very comprehensive list of links to freely accessible sources of law for the US, the states, Canada and Mexico, ALSO! also has links to law reviews, briefs, and more on the Web.

Check out the list of Wisconsin sources. Through a series of nicely organized pull down menus, you can select the sources you need and choose whether to search or browse them. Rather than going to multiple sites for each source, ALSO! has compiled all of the sources you need on one page. Quite nice!

Article: Searching for Quick Answers To Odd Questions

Mary Ellen Bates has compiled a great list of suggestions for quickly finding the answers to strange research questions. In Searching for Quick Answers To Odd Questions, she instructs users to consult the topic-specific databases (a.k.a. the invisible Web) rather than using general search engines.

This is the same advice that I offer in my article, Searching Smarter: Finding Legal Resources on the Invisible Web. For example, if you are looking for the divorce rate by state, go right to the Statistical Abstract of the US from the Census Bureau. Makes sense, right?

Source: SearchEngineWatch

December 22, 2004

TIME Digitizes Complete Archive

TIME Magazine has made available its entire archive of articles since 1923 available via the Web. Although searching is free, the full-text of articles is only available with a subscription to the print edition of TIME.

But before you subscribe, remember that the full-text of TIME since 1990 is available free of charge to Wisconsinites via Badgerlink. And many public libraries in Wisconsin have a complete run of the magazine in microform. For a list of library holdings, see WISCAT.

Source: ResearchBUZZ

Another Video Search Engine

Quickly following the news of Yahoo! VideoSearch was the release of Blinkx TV Video Search. Despite its name, Blinkx also searches radio programs.

But Blinkx goes a step beyond Yahoo! and other video search engines by using speech recognition technology to transcribe the broadcasts, thereby enabling users to keyword search the entire clip. Although the transcripts are fairly primitive, this seems to offer a great step forward in accurately identifying the content of a broadcast.

According to SearchEngineWatch contains more than 47,000 hours of content from various content partners including Fox News, NPR, ESPN, and the BBC.

Source: inter alia

New Law Sites for 2004

Robert Ambrogi of Law Technology News has compiled a list of "some useful, intriguing law-related sites that launched this year." There is some good stuff here - many were new to me.

Source: The E-LawLibrary Weblog

What Are Your MS Word Documents Revealing?

This month's Site-tation from the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center has an informative article entitle, Lemon Juice, Cornstarch, and Microsoft: Invisible Ink And Your Documents. Originally published in the Summer 2004 issue of the Wisconsin State Bar Section of Law Practice's Law Practice News, the article warns that MS Word documents can unintentionally reveal sensitive information (a.k.a. "metadata").

The author offers two solutions: 1) searching the Microsoft website and following the step-by-step to remove the metadata; or 2) simply convert the document to PDF before sharing it with others. Very valuable advice.

Source: Site-tation

December 16, 2004

Article: Judge Not for Sale, Despite eBay Listing

Disgruntled litigants are getting creative. According to an article in Findlaw, a Manhattan woman put her housing court judge for sale on eBay to attract attention to her case. "After four days on eBay, the best offer for the judge was $127.50."

Source: Stark County Law Library Blawg

Yahoo Beta Testing Video Search

Yahoo is beta testing a new video search engine. According to SearchEngineWatch, they are also introducing a new RSS-based video enclosure for producers to include with video content which will help Yahoo (and others) discover and index media content.

In the advanced search, you may limit by format, size, duration, domain, and safe search filtered. I did a few searches and turned up news broadcasts, movie trailers, and more.

Article: Using the Wisconsin Legislature Web Site

Amy Gannaway has written an informative article on Using the Wisconsin Legislature Web Site which appears in the December issue of The Wisconsin Lawyer. She offers guidance on "looking up and tracking legislative, statutory, and regulatory information, including bills, acts, statutes, and the Administrative Code, and on using the Wisconsin Legislature Web site."

Ms. Gannaway is a member of the Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin and her article is part of an on-going series of articles in The Wisconsin Lawyer written by LLAW members.

December 15, 2004

Wisconsin Equal Rights Decision Digest Available on Web

The Wisconsin Labor and Industry Review Commission has made the 2004 Equal Rights Decision Digest available on the Web.

From the site:

The Equal Rights Decision Digest is a digital resource containing summaries of significant administrative and judicial decisions arising under Wisconsin's equal rights laws. The summaries are organized according to their subject matter. Where full-text versions of the summarized decisions are available, they are linked to.

Summaries of decisions on particular topics can be located by using any of these methods:

Svengalis' Legal Information Buyer's Guide & Reference Manual Available on LexisNexis

Kendall F. Svengalis' Legal Information Buyer's Guide & Reference Manual 2004 edition is now available on LexisNexis (Library: BUSREF, LEXREF & File: LEGBGD)

Law librarians have long known the value of the buyer's guide which includes information on a variety of legal information products in both print and electronic formats. Divided by publication type and area of practice, Svengalis' guide offers information on coverage, strengths and weaknesses, current price and price history, and cost savings tips for major legal publications.

And here's a cost savings tip of my own - the Legal Information Buyers Guide is also available at the Wisconsin State Law Library (call number KF1 .S84 2004)

The table of contents is available at no charge on the Rhode Island LawPress Web site.

December 14, 2004

Categorized Search of the Federal Budget With Vivisimo

Searching the federal budget just got easier with Vivisimo's specialized search engine for the 1600 page+ United States Budget for Fiscal Year 2005.

Vivisimo is a clustering search engine which places your search results into categories. To see the usefulness of this feature, enter education as your search term. On the left, notice that the 200 hits are subdivided into categories such as Student aid, No Child Left Behind, Savings Accounts, etc. The number of search results is also provided.

Cluster search engines are also available for the 9/11 Commission Report and the CIA WMD Report.

Source: SearchEngineWatch

Madison to Establish Public Wireless Network

The Department of Administration is seeking vendors to build a public wireless network for downtown Madison and the airport. According to Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, the project won't use any taxpayer money. It will be installed by the winning bidder who will pay the state, county and city for the right to run the network.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal:

Regardless of who ends up building and operating the network, officials expect access will cost "substantially less" than most users currently pay for Internet service, and the initial coverage area will include the Dane County Regional Airport and anywhere within about 1 1/2 miles of the state Capitol - an area roughly bounded by the Yahara River in the east, the UW-Madison engineering campus in the west and the intersection of West Washington Avenue and Park Street in the southwest.

The wireless network will adhere to the Wi-Fi, or 802.11b, standard, which is the most widely deployed wireless networking protocol.

Source: Wisconsin State Journal (available to Wisconsinites via Badgerlink)

Google Works with Libraries to Expand Collection of Scanned Books

In what appears to be a major expansion of the Google Print service, Google is set to begin an ambitious project of scanning hard-to-find books from five major library collections: New York Public Library, Harvard, Stanford, Michigan and Oxford in England. It's estimated that the project could take more than a decade to complete given the volume of texts to scan.

As stated in the policies for Google Print, Google will only offer a glimpse of a book - the page matching your search terms plus two pages forward and back. There is also no way to copy or print text. However, unrestricted access will be provided to all material in the public domain which are no longer covered by copyright.

For more, see today's New York Times and USA Today

Correction (12/14 at 11:15 am): It looks like the new Google project won't be using the same policies as Google Print after all. According to a U of M News Service announcement:

A Google search returning results from a book in copyright will display three “snippets” of text from throughout the volume, a count of how many times total that search term appears in the book, bibliographic data associated with the book, and information on where to buy the book or find it at a local library. A “snippet” consists of approximately 3 lines of content.

December 13, 2004

Get Help with Your Search from Google Suggest

Boogle is Beta testing a new search tool called Google Suggest which suggests queries as you type in the search box. A drop down box open beneath the search box allowing you to choose a query. The suggestions may help you refine your search by adding additional terms to narrow, or perhaps broaden, your query. The number of potential results is also provided. Nice!

Source: Google Weblog

Article - Bloggers Beware: Debunking Eight Copyright Myths of the Online World

Anyone with his or her own blog should take a look at LLRX's Bloggers Beware: Debunking Eight Copyright Myths of the Online World. The author debunks eight common misconceptions about copyright as it pertains to blogs. They are:
  • Myth #1: It’s okay to use anything that doesn’t have a copyright notice.
  • Myth #2: It’s okay to use anything that’s online, because if it’s online, it’s in the public domain and up for grabs.
  • Myth #3: It's okay to use anything as long as I’m not making any money off it.
  • Myth #4: It’s okay to use anything as long as I give credit.
  • Myth #5: It’s okay to use anything as long as I include the creator’s copyright notice.
  • Myth #6: It's okay to use anything as long as I take it down when the copyright holder objects.
  • Myth #7: It’s okay to use something if I can’t find the copyright holder.
  • Myth #8: It’s okay to use something if I asked for permission and didn’t get a response.

National Do Not Call List for Home & Cell Phones

Update: According to the TVC Alert, the national cell phone directory will used to provide a wireless directory-assistance service and not sold to third parties. Cell phone owners will have to opt-in. --------------------------------------

It appears that a national directory of cell phone numbers is on the horizon. Luckily, the Federal Trade Commission has set up a do not call list that includes both home and mobile phone numbers. You may also call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone you wish to register.

Recently we reminded readers about the need to re-register for Wisconsin's Do Not Call Registry.

Thanks to my colleague, Sue Center, for the tip.

December 10, 2004

Blogging at Your Library Presentation

Today I'm giving a presentation entitled, "Blogging @ Your Library: Finding, Reading, and Creating Library Blogs" to the Fox Valley Library Council. For the first half of the session, I'll give a powerpoint presentation introducing blogs and their value to librarians, techniques for finding and reading blogs (using Bloglines), and finally, outlining the steps for creating a library blog.

The second part of the session will be hands-on during which participants may either choose to set up a Bloglines account and subscribe to some blogs or start a blog for their library using Blogger.

December 9, 2004

HubMed - Medical Research Delivered via RSS

If you ever have to conduct medical research, you are probably already aware of PubMed, the free medical literature database from the National Library of Medicine.

Now there is a new service called HubMed, an alternate search of the PubMed database that creates a custom RSS feed based on your search results. Simply click on the orange "feeds" button at the top rights and subscribe to the feed with your news reader (such as Bloglines). New results matching your search will be delivered to you as soon as they appear in PubMed.

Source: RSS in Government

Blogs on the Front Page of the Wisconsin State Journal

     Today's Wisconsin State Journal has a font page story about blogs. UW Law School blogs are featured prominently. According to the story, "At UW-Madison, the law school seems to be a leading force in blog development, with at least a dozen formed in the past year or two by professors and students."

Specifically mentioned are UW Law student blogs such as The Rising Jurist and faculty blogs including Althouse by Ann Althouse and Conglomerate by Gordon Smith. WisBlawg is also included in a print-edition-only sidebar listing of UW-Madison blogs.

Overall, it's a nice article that introduces blogs, explores their influence, and features some insightful quotes about why people (students and faculty in particular) choose to blog.

December 8, 2004

Law Firm Sues for Web Site Plagiarism

From the E-LawLibrary Weblog:

Brayton Purcell, a California law firm, filed a lawsuit against another law firm when it discovered that the defendant's Web site had posted a significant amount of content from the firm's Elder Abuse Information site. The complaint accused Recordan & Recordan of copyright infringement, false advertising, and unfair competition (Case No. C04-4995-EMC, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California).

For more see: "Law Firm Files Suit for Plagiarism of its Web Site." 29 November 2004. Available at eMediaWire, http://www.emediawire.com/releases/2004/11/emw182573.htm.

Wisconsin Wetlands - New Tap the Power from LRB Library

Wisconsin wetlands is the topic of the latest Tap the Power from the Legislative Reference Bureau Library.
Wisconsin's wetlands serve many important functions, including fish and wildlife habitat, water quality protection, flood storage, and erosion control. . . . Wisconsin has lost more than five million, or approximately half, of its original wetland base since European settlement. Wisconsin's remaining wetlands are critical to the ecological health of the state. . . . [2001] Wisconsin Act 6, Wisconsin's isolated wetland protection law, authorizes the Department of Natural Resources to administer the water quality certification program for projects in those isolated wetlands that are currently not protected under the federal Clean Water Act. The DNR also administers Wisconsin's wetland mitigation program.

Wisconsin Legislative Notification Service Announcements

A couple of notices regarding the Wisconsin Legislative Notification Service:
  • It will be unavailable from December 10th, 2004 till January 3rd, 2005.
  • With the start of the 2005-06 legislature session, all subscriptions for notification from the 2003-04 session will be cleared. If you wish to continue monitoring, you will need to resubscribe to items again after January 3rd.
Wisconsin Legislative Notification Service is a state legislative bill tracking service available from the Wisconsin Legislature. Receive daily or weekly email notification of specified legislative activity including actions affecting a specific proposal, bills introduced by a particular legislator, activities of a specific committee, or introductions relating to a particular topic.

If you have any questions, please contact the Notify Support team at Notify.Support@legis.state.wi.us.

Source: Wisconsin Legislative Notification Service subscriber email

December 6, 2004

Madison Named to Top Ten Digital Cities of 2004

This month, Madison, Wisconsin was awarded fourth place in the Center for Digital Government's Top 10 Digital Cities for the 125,000-249,999 population category.

The annual study examines how city governments are utilizing digital technologies to better serve their citizens and streamline operations.

From the CDG site:

Top 10 Digital Cities

250,000 or more population category:
1st Place: Virginia Beach, Va.
2nd Place: Tucson, Ariz.
3rd Place: Los Angeles, Calif.
4th Place: Tampa, Fla.
5th Place: Aurora, Colo.
6th Place: Phoenix, Ariz.
7th Place: Honolulu, Hawaii
8th Place: Nashville, Tenn.
9th Place: Washington, D.C.
10th Place: Colorado Springs, Colo. (tie)
10th Place: Corpus Christi, Texas (tie)

125,000-249,999 population category:
1st Place: Des Moines, Iowa
2nd Place: Hampton, Va.
3rd Place: Winston-Salem, N.C.
4th Place: Madison, Wis.
5th Place: Norfolk, Va.
6th Place: Torrance, Calif.
7th Place: Chesapeake, Va.
8th Place: Hollywood, Fla.
9th Place: Chandler, Ariz.
10th Place: Naperville, Ill.

75,000-124,999 population category:
1st Place: Denton, Texas (tie)
1st Place: Ogden, Utah (tie)
2nd Place: Pueblo, Colo.
3rd Place: Santa Monica, Calif.
4th Place: Richardson, Texas
5th Place: Roanoke, Va.
6th Place: Bellevue, Wash.
7th Place: Westminster, Colo.
8th Place: Olathe, Kansas
9th Place: Independence, Mo.
10th Place: Orem, Utah

30,000-74,999 population category:
1st Place: Redmond, Wash.
2nd Place: Blacksburg, Va.
3rd Place: Manchester, Conn.
4th Place: Lynchburg, Va.
5th Place: Charlottesville, Va.
6th Place: Wellington, Fla.
7th Place: Flower Mound, Texas
8th Place: Walnut Creek, Calif.
9th Place: Sarasota, Fla.
10th Place: Palo Alto, Calif.

Source: ResourceShelf

"Blog" Is Most Looked-Up Word of the Year

It seems that a lot of people are asking - "What's a blog?"

Recently, Merriam-Webster Inc announced the top ten Words of the Year 2004 and number one on the list was "blog"

The list is a compilation of the most researched words on the Merriam-Webster Web dictionary sites each year. It is estimated that since July the word received tens of thousands of hits per month.

Source: The Scout Report

BBC Falls for Web Hoax

Sometimes it's hard to tell if a Web source is legitimate or not - even for the BBC. According to the TVC Alert:
On Friday, the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal chemical plant accident that killed 3800 people, the BBC reported that Dow Chemical--the current owners of the plant--would establish a $12 billion compensation fund.

The story was based on a cruel hoax, which lured a BBC researcher to a fake Dow Web site. The researcher then contacted an "employee" listed on the site, who provided the false information. Some sources are reporting that the hoax was the work of the Yes Men, a group responsible for some elaborate hoaxes against governments and corporations.

For more Hoaxes and Other Bad Information in the News, see the The Virtual Chase.

GPO To Digitize Complete Collection of U.S. Government Publications

From GPO's Administrative Notes:
GPO is working with the library community on a national digitization plan with the goal of digitizing a complete legacy collection of tangible U.S. Government publications held in libraries participating in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).

The objective is a digital collection available, in the public domain, for permanent public access through the FDLP. The legacy collection of what has been distributed since the beginning of the Federal Depository Library Program includes approximately 2.2 million print documents.

GPO conducted a survey of our depository partners to determine which tangible U.S. Government documents are most important to digitize and in which priority. Results of the Digitization Ranking Survey indicate the five most urgent titles, including the Congressional Record (Bound), the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, the Statistical Abstract of the U. S., the U.S. Statutes At Large and the Code of Federal Regulations.

More detailed information is available at GPO Access

Thanks to NYT's Robert Pear for the tip

December 2, 2004

Future Trends in State Courts 2004

The National Center for State Courts has a collection of articles in its report, Future Trends in State Courts 2004.

Edison Ellenberger of The E-LawLibrary Weblog offers a nice summary of the highlights:

+Web Logs: Increasing Courts' Ability to Quickly Communicate with Constituents, by Walter Latham. The author discusses some court blogs and concludes that "Blogs are one of the tools that courts can use to become more accessible...If your court is contemplating how to increase accessibility to, and interaction with, court users and the broader public, then you should consider the benefits of setting up a blog."

+Time for Electronic Court Records, by Roger Winters. The concept of making the "official record" electronic was central to the conversion process at the court where the author is employed. When "the court record is electronic, most of the problems caused by having paper 'official' records are ameliorated or eliminated."

+Reaching Out to Self-Represented Litigants Through Virtual Reference and Education, by Gail Warren. The author begins by noting a finding from Beyond the Boundaries: The Report of the Special Committee on the Future of Law Librarians in the Digital Age: The number of attorneys using court and county law library services is decreasing while the number of patrons from the general public is increasing. Though much more material is online, patrons still need assistance in understanding and evaluating what is available. The article mentions some efforts in live online chat reference service and legal research instruction. Ms. Warren concludes that court law libraries' use of virtual reference sessions and other educational initiatives are trends "that will continue to grow."

LexisNexis Adds New Legislative Histories Research Tasks Page

If you've ever had to do one, you know that compiling a legislative history is no picnic. But LexisNexis has made things a little easier with their new Legislative Histories Research Tasks Page. What makes this so nice is that it gathers together on one page search boxes for commonly used legislative history resources.


According to the Lexis Nexis InfoPro Spotlight:

The new LexisNexis Legislative Histories Research Tasks page combines source selection and searching on one page. That means Congressional Record coverage, full-text bills, bill-tracking reports, and detailed legislative history reports are at your fingertips. Plus find the most current news, executive orders and documents, regulation tracking, and more.
Read more on InfoPro

December 1, 2004

Free Annual Credit Reports Required by Law

Starting today, consumers in some states will become eligible for a free annual credit reports under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). Wisconsinites, however, won't be eligible until March 1, 2005.

According to a release from the FTC:

FACTA, which was enacted on December 4, 2003, amends the FCRA and requires, among other things, that the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) – Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union – provide to consumers, upon request, a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months.

Consumers will become eligible on the following schedule: Western states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming) will become eligible on December 1, 2004; Midwestern states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin) will become eligible on March 1, 2005; Southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas ) will become eligible on June 1, 2005; and Eastern states (Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia), Puerto Rico, and all U.S. territories will become eligible on September 1, 2005.

Babelplex - A Bilingual Search Engine

Babelplex is a new bilingual search engine which searches the Web in two languages at once. Search results are displayed side by side. A total of eleven languages are available in Babelplex.

To search, simply type in a few keywords and select a language pair (the language of your query and the language you want your query translated into).

Source: inter alia

New Blog - Dane Co Legal Resource Center Blawg

The Dane County Legal Resource Center just released DCLRC Blawg. According to DCLRC Librarian, Paula Seeger, "there's lots of local legal and court information that doesn't make it into our regular newsletter. By checking our blog, you'll be able to keep up to date with the latest announcements and information on the local legal and court scene."

Great work, DCLRC!