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September 29, 2006

Top 10 Uses for RSS in Law Firms, or Why You Can't Afford to Ignore RSS

Steve Matthews of Vancouver Law Librarian Blog has an excellent list of the Top 10 Uses for RSS in Law Firms. There are some wonderful ideas here on how to leverage this technology for current awareness, marketing, image monitoring, communication and more.

If you are new to RSS, see my article in the August Wisconsin Lawyer entitled, RSS: Making the Internet Subscribeable.

Wisconsin Fall Color Report


My family's favorite season is fall. From apple picking to corn mazes to watching the leaves turn, we love to get outside and enjoy the season. So I was pleased to discover that the Wisconsin Tourism Department Web site has a very nice Fall Color Report.

It will tell you when colors are at their peak in each county. You can even sign up for updates by email. Click the "view" button in the Drives and Events columns to see information about special upcoming events, or particularly scenic drives.

Thanks to the Madison Public Library What's New blog for the tip.

September 28, 2006

UW Madison Experts Database

I recently discovered that the University of Wisconsin-Madison maintains an Experts Database. This database consists of over 1700 UW Madison faculty and staff who have agreed to talk with reporters on selected topics.

There are two different ways to search the database: by keyword search and by expert name. If you have trouble finding the expertise you need, you can contact one of campus public information offices for further assistance.

September 25, 2006

"Old and Worn Out Question" from 1883 Is Still All Too Familiar

David Null, our UW-Madison University Archivist shared this familiar sounding passage from the University Press dated Jan. 27, 1883:

Why don't students make more use of the libraries? This is an old and worn-out question, but for all that is of practical interest to us. ...Comparatively few of the students know the opportunities afforded them by our University library; they don't even know what periodicals and papers are at their disposal.

If this was an "old and worn-out question" 123 years ago, what does that make it today?

September 22, 2006

New York Times Archives Back to 1851 Now Available

According to a press release, The New York Times announces that "all articles dating back to Sept. 18, 1851, when the paper started publishing, are now available online at NYTimes.com."

"Searches for articles published before 1981 will produce PDF files showing pages or articles exactly as they appeared in the newspaper. Articles published in 1981 and thereafter will continue to appear online in the familiar scroll-down screen format."

"The Archive is accessible through TimesSelect, an online feature that is available for free to all regular subscribers of the paper, or for $49.95 for an annual subscription. Non-subscribers will be able to purchase individual articles for a fee per download."

This is pretty sweet. We've had access to the old NYT articles for a while through our subscription to the ProQuest Historical NYT Database. It's wonderful for digging up history on a person or business and for understanding the popular thought about an issue at a particular time in history.

Looks like you can do a search of the archives at no cost. (Change the pull down to "NYT Archive 1851-1980") You will be able to view the first paragraph of the article, but will be charged $4.95 to view it if you don't have a subscription.

Source: beSpacific

Looking For a Few Good Books?

Looking for a few good books to curl up with now that the weather is getting cool? Here are a couple of tips on where you can get them for free or low cost.

1. Take a trip to your local public library. Enough said.

2. If you'd rather buy than borrow, check out the upcoming book sales from the Milwaukee Public Library and Madison area libraries. You never know what you'll find at these sales, but if you have time to browse, you'll probably find a treasure or two.

If you have kids, this can be a great place to pick up some awesome (and inexpensive) party favors - much better than the usual goodie bags of candy and cheap toys. Thanks to Parent Hacks for the tip.

3. If you have specific titles or authors that you want, try a book swapping Web site. These online marketplaces allow you to trade your books with others. No money is exchanged - only shipping costs apply. Some of them include Whatsonmybookshelf.com; SwapSimple.com; BookMooch.com; PaperBackSwap.com; and FrugalReader.com.

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had a good article on book swapping. (Normally, WSJ Online requires a subscription, but today content appears to be free). Thanks to TVC Alert for the tip.

September 21, 2006

Something More Than Average

This semester, I'm taking a course on management. One of our first projects was to think of a great manager we've worked with and describe what made that person so special. While a number of people in the class sadly had a hard time thinking of anyone, one person did come to my mind.

As a young person, I'd always been fairly average. My grades were ok but not great - mostly Bs. I participated in a few extra-curriculars, but was never the star. I stayed out of trouble (for the most part) and did what was asked of me. Average - and average was ok.

As an undergraduate history student, I fell into a position at the university archives. It was my job to process the backlog of archival materials that hadn't yet made it into the library's automated catalog. And this I did as best I could. It wasn't long before my work had earned praise from the archivist who remarked at how quickly and accurately I was able to do the job. Really? I thought. Me? Gee, that's nice to hear.

As time went on, the praise continued. And the more it did, the harder I tried, and more importantly, the more I took on. New projects were accepted with pleasure and eventually sought out. With the praise (and constructive criticism when needed), always came the credit. My name was consistently added to reports along with a description of the work I'd done. Somewhere on this journey came the realization that maybe I could be something more than average.

Although it was long ago, I still look to this experience as one of, if not the defining moment in my career (even though it didn't really become a career until after graduate school). Several cliches run through my mind about learning to fly, but what this mentor taught me was something more. He didn't just encourage me to fly - he helped me to realize that I even had wings at all. That's pretty powerful stuff.

It's amazing what a healthy dose of respect and appreciation can inspire in someone. Now that I'm a manager, I'll try to keep that in mind. Shouldn't be too hard since I work with a very talented group of people.

Berring's Legal Research Podcast

Thanks to Jim Milles for the post about Bob Berring's podcasting project.

From the site:

In the Berring on Legal Research DVD set, Professor Robert C. Berring provides expert, holistic instruction on the core principles of effective legal research. Now, Professor Berring, in conjunction with West, will be producing rich supplemental podcasts, which will explore the finer points of the key legal research topics already touched upon in the DVD set. Designed to be interactive, Professor Berring will respond to listener questions, discuss new research tools, and expound upon the essential "deep principles" that guide both experienced and developing legal researchers.

So far, there are three podcasts: Legal Periodicals and How to Find Them; Legislative Histories, and Topics; and Key Numbers and Searching for Cases By Subject.

From Jim: "From I haven't had a chance to listen yet, but if anyone can make audio lectures on legal research interesting and entertaining, it's Bob."

PowerPoint in the Classroom - A Criticism

AELR Blog points to ULCA law student's harsh view of PowerPoint in the classroom.

"Based on the best available data, [the student notes,] I'm prepared to theorize that Powerpoint-based classes are always boring." He identifies several problems with using PPT in the classroom, including this one: "In all three of my Powerpoint experiences, the prof was plenty smart and interesting. But the Powerpoint was so bad that it infected them, and made them seem much duller than they were."

Point well taken. I tend to use PPT for one shot presentations, but I can see his point that in a course setting, they could easily become tiresome. As the student admits, though, using PPT can help organize the lecture for the professor. This is certainly true for me.

Perhaps a hybrid approach might work best for me. Have the PPT, but just display it on my own laptop with the projector off. Then if I have something in particular that I wanted to illustrate, I could turn on the projector for just those slides. We'll see how it goes.

September 20, 2006

Cyberweek E-Conference on Online Dispute Resolution

If you are interested in Online Dispute Resolution (ODR), you may wish to participate in Cyberweek 2006 (week of September 25th). Cyberweek is a free all-online conference featuring both asynchronous and real-time events related to ODR.

Organized by the University of Massachusetts Center for Information Technology and Dispute Resolution (CITDR) and InternetBar.org, Cyberweek consists of many different kinds of activities and opportunities, from Skypecasts to meetings in virtual worlds to Podcasts to discussion forums and more.

Source: ABA Site-tation

September 19, 2006

Mapping the Diversity of the Blogosphere

A few weeks ago I was invited to participate in a survey on the diversity of niche bloggers. The results of the survey appear at Mapping the Diversity of the Blogosphere: A Bloggasm Case Study. Interesting stuff.

Here's a sampling of the results:

The Blogosphere as a whole: (These are the results if you add all the niches together)

Male: 74%
Female: 26%
White/Caucasian/European: 73%
Black/African: 9%
Asian: 10%
Middle Eastern/Arab: 1%
Latino/Hispanic: 6%
Native American: 1%

Law/Legal Blogs:

Male: 74%
Female: 26%
White/Caucasian/European: 94%
Latino/Hispanic: 6%

Interesting that both categories show an identical ratio of male to female - 3 to 1. I wonder how many other law library bloggers were surveyed. Given that librarianship is a female dominated profession, I suspect that many - at least half? - of law library bloggers are women.

The author finds that the only niches where females outnumbered males were Sex Blogs, Gossip/Fashion Blogs, Feminist Blogs, and Food Blogs. The first category comes as a surprise to me.

Article on the Legality of RSS

EContent has an interesting article on the legality of harvesting content from RSS feeds for publication on your own site. The author explores both sides of the debate about whether it's legal/ethical for "non-content creators reap some of the value of others' content-creation labor."

Source: Real Lawyers Have Blogs

September 18, 2006

Database of Articles by Law Librarians

PIC, the AALL Publishing Initiatives Caucus, is pleased to introduce a new and improved database of articles published by law librarians. These articles appeared in legal publications that are read by practicing attorneys, legal administrators, law professors, judges, and others in organizations that employ AALL members.

Note that you can resort this list by author, article title, publication, etc. by clicking the field name at the top. You can also do a search by author, title, publication, etc. (see link at top).

If you are a law librarian and have written any articles that you would like to share, send me an email. As PIC Co-Chair, I'll see about having them added to the database.

September 15, 2006

A More Pefect Union Authors to Speak at Wisconsin Book Festival

Earlier this week, I posted about the Wisconsin Humanities Council's statewide discussion series entitled, A More Perfect Union: To Establish Justice. It appears that the series' authors will be also appearing at the Wisconsin Book Festival.

From the Festival web site:

The authors will read from books in the AMPU: Justice series and, along with the film, raise relevant questions about the roles both elected officials and common citizens must play in the quest to bring about the oft-mentioned but painfully elusive American ideal of "justice for all."

Events for A More Perfect Union at the 2006 Wisconsin Book Festival feature the authors of four AMPU titles and one film screening:

* Anthony Grooms
* Jonathan Harr
* Marge Piercy
* James Yee
* Red Hook Justice: A film provided by WPT and Independent Lens

September 13, 2006

Statewide Discussion Series, A More Perfect Union: To Establish Justice

Once again this year, the Wisconsin Humanities Council is sponsoring a statewide discussion series entitled, A More Perfect Union: To Establish Justice.

From the web site:

This year's A More Perfect Union theme, To Establish Justice, once again comes from the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. The phrase reminds us of our early founders' commitment to a fair and accessible legal system, but also raises relevant questions about the roles both elected officials and common citizens must play in the quest to bring about the oft-mentioned but painfully elusive American ideal of "justice for all."

Discussion items include:

  • A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr
  • Bombingham by Anthony Grooms
  • For God And Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire by James Yee and Aimee Molloy
  • Sex Wars : A Novel of the Turbulent Post-Civil War Period by Marge Piercy
  • Red Hook Justice, a film by Meema Spadola

The Wisconsin Humanities Council offers a "pre-packaged" DISCUSSION KIT for libraries, book clubs, campus and school groups, UW-Extension programs, or any not-for-profit or ad-hoc group.

September 12, 2006

NLJ Article on Judges Citing Blogs

There is an interesting article in the National Law Journal about judges citing to blogs. The article notes that since 2004, judges have cited blogs 32 times in 27 different cases, including Justice John Paul Stevens' dissent in U.S. v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005).

From the article:

"I'm not sure I have any cosmic theories about why it's happening," [9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Diarmuid] O'Scannlain said in an interview from his Portland, Ore., chambers.

"I am sure most judges, when they see carefully articulated logic in whatever form, in a law review or published lecture or electronic form, are inclined to evaluate it and if relevant cite it," he said. He predicted that the practice would continue to grow.

September 8, 2006

Free Loislaw Workshop at MLRC

The Milwaukee County Legal Resource Center has announced that their is still time to sign up for "Using Loislaw.com!"

From WSLL @ Your Service:

This class will be presented Thursday, September 28, 2006, from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. in the Milwaukee County Courthouse. State Law Librarian Jane Colwin will help you become familiar with the various Loislaw.com databases provided on the MLRC's public access computers, and demonstrate how they can save you research time and money. This is a free class, but advance registration is required.

To sign up or learn about other MLRC workshops, please call (414) 278-4900, or e-mail Rebecca.Knutson@wicourts.gov.

LegalTrac Interface Changes

The Wisconsin State Law Library newsletter recently ran an article describing the interface changes to the LegalTrac database.

What's LegalTrac? A database containing citations for articles in law reviews, specialty law publications, bar association journals, legal newspapers, etc. from 1980 to the present. And it's freely available to WSLL library card holders from their home or office. If you aren't using it yet, you should be.

Early Bookmobiles & Traveling Libraries

Today's Odd Wisconsin pays homage to Wisconsin's earliest bookmobiles and traveling libraries. This 1910 International Auto Wagon loaded with books is undoubtedly one of the earliest bookmobiles.

There were also the mobile libraries of the state's Free Library Commission during the Progressive Era. There are som interesting old photos of these large wooden crates packed with books that opened up to stand erect as book shelves. Also mentioned is the town of Adams' 1930s-era library housed in a refurbished rail car.

September 7, 2006

Search 200+ Years of News & Magazine Articles

The big news today is Google News Archive Search, a searchable archive of articles that, in some cases, date back 200+ years.

Some publishing partners include The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, Guardian Unlimited, Factiva, Lexis-Nexis, HighBeam Research and Thomson Gale. See New York Times article for more.

I did a test search for "Wisconsin Law School." The left side bar of the search results page contains a list of dates and publications in which articles were located. I'm a history buff, so I clicked on the "Before 1950" link. One of the more interesting articles is a Time magazine article from 1937 about the dean of the UW Law School, "good-natured, baldish, ruddy-cheeked Lloyd Kirkham Garrison."

On the right, you can select "show timeline" to have the articles sorted by date. However, I found that the list of articles it produced was only a very small portion of the total articles.

Yeah - this is really cool, but the downside is that many of the articles you find are fee-based and come from multiple vendors. Before you go opening your wallet, write down the citation and see if the article is available elsewhere - i.e. your local library.

I agree with Dan Giancaterino's (Jenkins Law Library Webblits) advice not to forget about the subscription databases available freely to you. In Wisconsin, it's called Badgerlink.

Thanks to my colleague, Eric Taylor, for the tip about Google News Archive Search.

Summary of the 2005-2006 Wisconsin Legislative Session

The Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau has created a handy Summary of the 2005-2006 Wisconsin Legislative Session.

From the introduction:

This bulletin provides an overview of the acts and joint resolutions of the 2005-2006 Wisconsin Legislature. Legislation is organized by topic with acts described under the appropriate subject heading or headings. Significant acts and joint resolutions are highlighted by shading. The bulletin also includes summaries of enrolled joint resolutions that propose amendments to the Wisconsin Constitution under the heading "Constitutional Amendments".

September 6, 2006

Free Webinar on RSS for Legal Professionals

I received a postcard in the mail today for a free Webinar from Newsgator entitled, "RSS: The Future of Legal Information Delivery" It is scheduled for September 26th at 2:30 pm and September 27th at 12:30 pm.

- Learn more about RSS
- Discover how leading law firms and legal departments are using it to improve information delivery and collaboration
- See a demonstration from both the library and the attorney's perspective

To register, contact clairf@newsgator.com. (The URL listed on the postcard to register by Web was wrong and I couldn't find it on their web site. Not so good.)

Not sure what RSS is? See my article in the Wisconsin Lawyer this month, RSS: Making the Internet Subscribeable.

Bucky Badger READ Poster

Inspired by the Law Library's successful READ poster campaign last year, the UW-Madison campus libraries have teamed up with the UW Athletic Department to create a READ poster and bookmarks featuring Bucky Badger.

They will be made available starting this fall in campus libraries, Madison schools and Madison Public Library. One thousand posters, co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Center for the Book, will be distributed in Washington D.C. at Library of Congress' National Book Festival in September.

Source: Minutes from GLS Library Management Group Meeting

September 5, 2006

Scanned Books & Gov Docs Available via MBooks

You may have seen the news that the University of Michigan has partnered with Google to scan library materials. The project is called MBooks.

According to the FAQ:

  • Access to MBooks is through Mirlyn, the online catalog for the University of Michigan libraries. Conducting an "Advanced Search" and restricting the Format to "Electronic Resources" will return only electronic materials.
  • Public domain materials will be available instantly through the Pageturner application, while copyrighted materials will be readily accessible through the library's conventional processes, such as circulation and interlibrary loan.

The University's extensive federal government document collection makes up a large portion of the public domain materials. According to the Govdoc-l listserv, this includes approximately 2,200 Congressional hearings from the 1970s and 1980s, as well as, the diplomatic correspondence of Benjamin Franklin and John Adams.

September 1, 2006

Ross Kodner's New Legal Tech Blog

Ross Kodner, legal tech guru and founder of Milwaukee-based MicroLaw, Inc., has a new blog called Ross Ipsa Loquitur.

In the blog, Ross and colleagues Renee Kodner and Abraham Liebsch will blog about:

  • law practice management and technology issues
  • product reviews
  • latest articles and CLE materials
  • Renee's Techno. Updates
  • corporate legal department technology
  • mobility lawyering
  • Paper LESS Office(tm) developments
  • case/practice management system comments/tips/ideas
  • document management
  • legal billing
  • interesting utilities
  • product announcements
  • a place to find out what's happening at MicroLaw