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October 27, 2006

Blogger Outages - Telling It Like It Is

Legal blogging expert, Kevin O'Keefe had this to say about the recent Blogger outages:

I'd hate to be the law firm marketing professional telling the managing partner in a 500 lawyer firm with hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues that 'our 5 blog sites have been down for the day - but we got them for free.' Looks great to clients paying the firm $350 to $500 an hour.

Kevin certainly does tell it like it is - and quite often he's right. If you are running a professional blog, there are better hosting options than Blogger, even your organization isn't bringing in hundreds of millions in revenues.

AmLaw Tech Survey on Technology Trends in Law Firms

AELR Blog summarizes nicely a Law.com article on a recent AmLaw Tech survey. The results are based on a summer survey of 200 highest-grossing firms in the U.S. about technology trends and the products and services that they are using. AmLaw received 125 responses that offer insight into how firms are prioritizing their technology budgets and how they are using new technologies.

From the AELR post:

1. Firms desire e-mail programs that work with a variety of document management and client relationship management programs. However, since most e-mail programs currently being used by firms need to be upgraded to do this, there is a risk of jeopardizing confidential attorney-client materials in the conversion.

2. Firms are not only wanting remote access now, but universal access.

3. Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) is a hot trend for law firms.

4. 66% of the firms in survey stated that their IT department increased in size in the past two years.

5. Firms are finding that the capabilities of the firm's IT department are a selling point to clients.

6. Some law firm clients are beginning to require that the firm use an e-billing service.

7. In 85% of the firms, a majority of the lawyers used flat panel displays that were 17 inches or larger.

8. For the firms in the survey, Dell is the most common brand of both desktop and laptop computers.

9. Windows XP is used by 90% of those responding to the survey.

10. Almost 90% of the respondents supply BlackBerrys or Treos to both partners and associates.

11. 94% of the respondents have installed a wireless network in their law firm.

October 26, 2006

Ms. Dewey, Animated Librarian Search Engine

There's a new librarian in town... Ms. Dewey, who happens to be a fully animated search engine. As a source of amusement, it's worth a visit - especially if you don't mind being mocked. But if you are interested in quality search results, look elsewhere. Or you could ask a real librarian - and we won't even insult you.

For more on Ms. Dewey, see
- Forbes
- More from Forbes
- Phil Bradley's weblog

I particularly liked this comment from a Forbes reader: "An attractive brunette is no salve for a dysfunctional search engine."

October 25, 2006

Podcast: This Week in Law

"Join Denise Howell and the TWiL panel, including Cathy Kirkman, Ernie Svenson, and John Palfrey as they discuss breaking issues in technology law including patents, copyrights, and more." What's TWiL? This Week in Law, a new legal issues podcast.

Two New Law Blogs

Two new blogs:

LexLibris, University of Minnesota Law Library Blawg

Law School Innovation, A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

October 24, 2006

If Lutefisk Isn't a Seafood, Then What Exactly Is It?

Section 29.503(1)(d) of the Wisconsin statutes says quite clearly that many things, including crab, lobster, shrimp and a host of other delicacies, are in fact "seafood" under the law, "but not any canned fish or fish known as lutefisk."

From an interesting article in the Capital Times about how this law came to be. Nothing starts your day like a little legislative history about dried cod soaked in lye.

October 23, 2006

Wisconsin's First Election

Today's Odd Wisconsin describes Wisconsin's first election in 1836.

I thought that this was interesting:

That first census taken in August 1836 was performed in order to identify voters. It found only 11,683 non-Indian residents within the bounds of today's Wisconsin: Brown County - 2,706 Crawford County - 850 Iowa County - 5,234 Milwaukee County - 2,893. So when it was born, Wisconsin contained only about as many people as Cedarburg, Fort Atkinson, Hudson, or Plover do today.

ABA-CLE Content Preloaded on IPods

According to the October ABA Site-tation, the ABA is now selling iPods preloaded with CLE content.

Video iPods for the Business Law and Labor and Employment Law Editions include video CLE programs. iPod nanos include audio CLE programs in Litigation, Antitrust Law, Estate Planning, Health Law and Real Property Editions. ABA-CLE also offers audio downloads in MP3 format and a free monthly ABA-CLE Podcast series.

I think that this is a great idea for someone who likes the idea of CLE via an iPod but either lacks the time or know-how to upload the content. And if they like it enough, chances are that they will figure out how to upload more.

October 20, 2006

Screencast Tutorial on RSS for Legal Professionals

From Real Lawyers Have Blogs:

Jason Eiseman, Computer Automation Librarian at Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt, has produced an excellent 3 part screencast tutorial on RSS:

1. Introduction of RSS discusses importance of RSS and looks at an RSS feed.
2. How to set up an RSS aggregator and subscribe to RSS feeds.
3. Specific tools law librarians may use to set up RSS feeds.

Jason says it's for law librarians, but anyone learning RSS would benefit from his instruction.

I agree and highly recommend this tutorial to any legal professional interested in learning more about RSS. It's one thing to read about a technology like RSS, but following along as someone walks you through the tools is even better. You can see just where to click and why. I thought that screencast #3 was particularly useful - I even learned a thing or two myself.

Presentation on Blogging in Libraries & LRL Conference Blog

I give a lot of presentations and have learned that the receptiveness of the audience has a big outcome on the success of the presentation. This morning, it was my pleasure to speak at the Legislative Reference Librarians conference on the topic of Blogging in Libraries. They were a great audience who seemed genuinely interested in the topic and who asked lots of insightful questions.

I explained blogs and RSS feeds and showed how librarians can use them for research. During the second part of the presentation, we explored why and how librarians can become blog authors. Despite some technical glitches, we were able to go live and demo both Bloglines and Blogger. I've posted my handouts online.

I was very pleased to learn that the staff of the WI LRB Library has set up a conference blog and have been blogging about each of the sessions. Nicely done, indeed.

October 19, 2006

Succession Planning and Workforce Transformation Foundation for the Future

This afternoon at the Legislative Reference Librarians conference we heard from Donna Scheeder, Director Law Library Services Library of Congress on Succession Planning and Workforce Transformation Foundation for the Future.

She gave some excellent tips on planning for the intellectual capital needs of the organization over time. Five steps were identified:

1. Identify critical positions and functions within the organization
- how is your customer base changing the way it does business?
-what are their changing expectations?
-what other trends will affect the organization?
-is organizational culture changing?
-what functions will be affected?
-what functions might you no longer need?
-what positions perform those functions?

2. Identify competencies required by staff
-what knowledge skills and abilities will be need to perform each function?
-are there position titles and series for all functions and competencies that will be required?
-project the volume of work needed in the future

3. Identify gaps - compare future needs with projected supply
-are there excess staff performing obsolete or declining functions?
-are there an inadequate supply of qualified people in positions likely to remain the same?
-are there an inadequate supply of people with needed skill sets for new projects?

4. Prioritize and develop a staffing plan
-what gaps can be handled with a minimum of resources?
-analyze costs before for addressing and not addressing each
-are your priorities aligned with the goals of the organization?

5. Know your solution toolbox
-position classifications - rewriting position descriptions one vacancy at a time or a taking wholesale approach
-staff development strategies for those not leaving to help them prepare for the future
-supervisory coaching and mentoring - show staff how to mentor

Electronic Government Publication Preservation Programs Session at LRL Conference

This morning I'm attending the Legislative Research Librarians' Professional Development Seminar here in Madison. I'm excited about the great line up of presentations.

First up was Chi-Shiou Lin doctoral student at UW Madison SLIS who spoke on Electronic Government Publication Preservation Programs. His research addresses the question of how selection and review of gov docs is done.

Lin compared three different models for state level preservation programs, although he noted that only about ten states even have a such a program.

  • In the Bibliocentric model, which Wisconsin and several other states employ, librarians select documents to be preserved in an externally developed digital repository service.
  • In Texas' Technocentric model, agencies themselves provide the metadata for their own documents which are stored in a homegrown repository.
  • Unlike the previous two models which focus on documents, Arizona's Archival Model focuses on preserving certain sections of a state agency's web site. It's based on archival organizational structures.

There was a very interesting discussion of the issues raises by these models. Lin noted that in the bibliocentric model, the power of selection is shifting away from government agencies to the digital depository librarians who now decide what to preserve. And no one has yet developed a process for systematic selection. In the technocentric model, the quality of metadata varies by agency which makes access inconsistent.

Another issue raised was the definition of "government publication." While librarians prefer the PDF format, research has found that agencies are moving toward HTML which poses not only preservation problems, but may not be considered "official" in terms of legal research.

October 18, 2006

Taking Cell Phone Photo of QR Code Offers Instant Information

Photo from SlashPhone

There is a very interesting article in the International Herald Tribune about QR, or quick response codes. It begins with a young woman snapping a picture with her cell phone of QR code on a movie poster and instantly retrieving show times and a review of the film.

From the article:
QR, or quick response, codes are a similar to bar codes except they are square, look a bit like an ink blot and contain much more information. In Japan and South Korea, QR codes are used to link directly to a Web site, as in the case of the subway poster, saving the user the need to type an address on the tiny keypad of the phone. As marketers seek an edge on competitors, QR codes are appearing practically everywhere in Japan.

Source: Library Marketing

October 16, 2006

Remote Access to Library Databases

I'm a firm believer that public libraries are one of the best deals around. Besides the books, music, and movies available for checkout, many libraries offer card holders remote access to their collection of databases. If you are a regular WisBlawg reader, you know that I often mention those available through the South Central Library System (Madison-area) and Milwaukee Public Library, as well as through Badgerlink.

But if you live outside of the Madison or Milwaukee area and find that Badgerlink doesn't have what you need, there are a couple of other options. Both the New York Public Library and the Godfrey Memorial Library of Middletown, CT offer library cards to non-residents for a fee. With a card, patrons are allowed remote access to many of their databases.

New York Public Library Card
$100 annual fee for non-residents
Databases available from home

Godfrey Memorial Library "Scholar's Card"
$35 annual fee for non-residents

October 13, 2006

Article: Taking Passwords to the Grave

CNET News has a very thought-provoking article on the challenges of accessing online accounts of deceased family members.

"As more and more people move their lives, address books, calendars, financial information, online, they are taking a risk that some information formerly filed away in folders and desks might never be recovered. That is, unless they share their passwords, which poses security threats."

It appears that e-mail providers won't typically offer access to accounts of deceased unless without relevant documentation. One attorney recommends that his clients include their passwords to e-mail, photo, music and other online accounts in an estate planning document.

Thanks to Mary Koshollek for the link.

October 12, 2006

Bucky READ Poster Now Available

BuckyREAD.jpg As previously posted, Bucky Badger is the latest READ poster celebrity. The poster, cosponsored by the UW-Madison Libraries and the Wisconsin Center for the Book, features Bucky standing against a bookcase reading about great moments in the history of Camp Randall Stadium, the home of the Wisconsin Badgers football team.

According to a UW-Madison Libraries press release, the libraries are teaming up with the UW-Madison Athletic Department to use the poster to encourage reading in Madison schools. Bucky READ posters and bookmarks will be provided to students through Bookin' It With Bucky, a program in which Bucky and members of the university's athletic teams visit classrooms and read to fourth-grade students.

For a copy of the poster, contact bucky@library.wisc.edu.

UW-Madison Joins Google Book Search Project

On Wednesday, UW-Madison announced that it has entered into an agreement with Google to provide access to hundreds of thousands of public and historical books and documents from the holdings of the UW-Madison Libraries and the Wisconsin Historical Society Library.

The eighth library to participate the Google Book Search project, UW-Madison will share the operating costs of the project with Google. The university will select and ship the volumes and Google will do the scanning.

According to Ed Van Gemert, interim director of the UW-Madison General Library System, the university has decided to share only those volumes and materials that are in the public domain, unlike some of the other libraries participating in the project. Specifically, this would include books published before 1923, state and federal documents, as well as, works whose authors have consented to the process.

The university has not yet decided whether it will provide access to the 1.3 million pages it has already digitized.

Sources: UW Madison Press Release & Wisconsin State Journal article

October 11, 2006

Half of All Federal Gov Docs Are Born Digital and Will Stay That Way

"We estimate that as many as 50 percent of all federal government documents are now born digital, published to the Web, and will never be printed by the GPO," says GPO CEO Bruce James. Read more in the FCW.com article.

Thanks to my colleague, Bill Ebbott, for the tip.

Locating Attorneys, Law Firms, Corporate Counsel & Judges

My colleague, Jenny Zook, has created a guide on Locating Attorneys, Law Firms, Corporate Counsel & Judges for our UW Law School newsletter. She's included some useful tips, although, please note that some of the resources mentioned may only be available by subscription or in a library.

UW Madison Featured Images Collection

slis.jpg Featured Images is a new photo collection from the University of Wisconsin - Madison Archives. According to Archivist, David Null, each month the site will feature interesting historical campus photos about which little is known. Viewers are invited to contribute comments and identifications. A new subject or department will be featured each month.

This month, the site features the School of Library and Information Science since they are celebrating their 100th anniversary. There are some very neat images here including this one from 1912.

October 10, 2006

The "Ultimate Time Capsule," A Lunar Library

According to Boing Boing, a scientist at NASA believes that the moon may be an ideal place for a digital archive of earthly information. He calls it the "ultimate time capsule."

From Boing Boing:

The benefits of lunar storage are that there is no oxygen to erode the material, constant sub-freezing temperature and the Moon is currently free of all of the havoc wreaked by humankind...

How do you go about documenting an entire planetary civilization? What kind of info would make it into the archive?

October 9, 2006

State Blue Books

Cullom Davis Library of Bradley University in Peoria, IL has compiled a wiki listing Blue Books for every state. Where available, links to the online sources are available.

Source: V.U.Lawcity - The Valpo Law Blawg

October 6, 2006

2006 Wisconsin Book Festival Schedule

The 2006 Wisconsin Book Festival schedule, an annual Madison-area tradition, is now available online. Note the special category for law related events.

From the festival Web site:

Peruse nearly 150 free public events ranging from spoken-word poetry jams to a dramatic reading from Beowulf to a fashion show of wearable books. From hipster to highbrow, there is something here for you.

Other highlights include:

  • A lively evening with Robert Sapolsky, the author of A Primate's Memoir as he ponders the "Un-novelty of Aging."
  • Conversations with beloved Wisconsin treasures Jacquelyn Mitchard and Michael Perry.
  • A live show from WPR's To the Best of Our Knowledge, featuring dynamic interviews with renowned poets Ted Kooser and Linton Kwesi Johnson, graphic artists Chris Ware and Marjane Satrapi, and political pundits Andrew Sullivan and Brian Mann.
  • A panel discussion on the origins and effects of hatred, featuring Tim Miller, an internationally acclaimed performance artist and gay rights activist; Rachel Brenner, the author of Inextricably Bonded: Israeli Arab and Jewish Writers Re-Visioning Culture; and esteemed poet Marilyn Nelson, author of A Wreath for Emmett Till.

WSLL Newsletter

The October issue of the Wisconsin State Law Library newsletter, WSLL @ Your Service, is now available. Articles include:

*What's New: New staff, MLRC News, Google Search Class update
*This Just In: Selected recent library acquisitions
*Tech Tip in Brief: Google Toolbar updates; Inserting symbols in Word documents
*Learn @ the Law Library: Federal law news and updates

October 5, 2006

Lawsuits Against Bloggers

From BoleyBlogs:

The Media Law Resource Center (MLRC) provides a unique list of lawsuits against bloggers. The list comes complete with annotations, links to decisions, case documents, related web sites and news stories. The range of cases is impressive, from Apple suing over trade secrets, to actresses protecting their reputations, to judges taking on local critics, and to principals suing over false MySpace pages.

October 4, 2006

New PACER Functionality

From a PACER press release:
(What is PACER?)

The latest versions of CM/ECF include a number of notable changes that were requested by PACER customers. PACER customers can now choose whether the client code field should be mandatory when logging into CM/ECF. In addition, formatting requirements of the client code can be set. The new preference settings allow customers to turn off viewing of transaction receipts if desired. To implement these new features, login to the Account Information section of this website, then select "Set PACER Preferences."

A new "Court Information" utility is available in CM/ECF. The option provides general court information such as hours of operation, court location and phone number, as well as filing information such as the maximum size of PDF files, the court's version of CM/ECF, case flag definitions and more. "Court Information" can be accessed in most courts at the bottom left hand corner before logging into the system. While logged into PACER, click on the "Utilities" menu option to get to "Court Information."

Only district version 3.0 and bankruptcy version 3.1 and later include the enhancements listed above. Customers may set their preferences now, but they will not appear in a court until the court installs the new versions of CM/ECF. For a complete listing of changes, review the CM/ECF Release Notes.

Source: Legal Dockets Online Blog

Top 10 Hidden Features of PowerPoint for Litigators

TechnoLawyer Blog has a very handy guide to the Top 10 Hidden Features of PowerPoint for Litigators. Author Timothy Piganelli explains how to:

  • easily add and images and video to a presentation
  • customize backgrounds
  • display your presentation on a projector while having the edit screen display on your laptop
  • advance to any slide out of sequence
  • blank the screen during a presentation
  • highlight something in the presentation
  • save the presentation with all accompanying images & video on to a CD

Lots of great tips here - and not just for litigators. I know that I learned a few tricks.

October 3, 2006

Legislative Research Librarians Conference Open to Area Librarians

On October 18-21, 2006, the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau library staff is hosting the fall professional development conference of the Legislative Research Librarians' section of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

For the first time ever, the conference is being opened to attendance by local librarians. Programs are scheduled for Thursday and Friday, October 19 and 20. They've lined up an outstanding group of speakers - and I'm not just saying that because I'm one of them. It includes:

  • Prof. Kristin R. Eschenfelder, U.W. Madison SLIS speaking about Government Web Site Evaluation and Management of Web Content
  • Mr. Chi-Shiou Lin, U.W. Madison SLIS on Electronic Government Publication Preservation Programs
  • Ambassador and former Wisconsin Legislator Tom Loftus speaking about WisconsinEye
  • Donna Scheeder, Director, Law Library Services, Library of Congress on Succession Management
  • Bonnie Shucha (that's me), Head of Reference, UW Law Library discussing Blogging in Libraries
  • Cris Marsh, Content Manager, WDIN, USGS National Wildlife Health Center speaking on the development and Management of the Wildlife Disease Information Node
  • Legislative Editors Laura Kunkel and Wendy Jackson discussing the LRB Podcasting project

The day fee is $95 per day and includes any scheduled meals. The conference sessions will be held at The Concourse Hotel (on Thursday); and in a Capitol Hearing Room and at the Legislative Reference Bureau (on Friday). More information is available on the conference Web site. The registration deadline is October 9th.

Show Your Librarian Some Love

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting article on why faculty should Show Your Librarian Some Love. The author describes how a collaborative relationship between faculty and librarians can be beneficial, especially for students.

From the article:

Just as children raised in a loving environment tend to fare better in life than those from broken homes, so students trained by professors and librarians who cooperate and affirm each other's role fare better than those forced to bear the brunt of troubled relations. . .

So if you are a teaching faculty member, why not respond to that librarian who e-mails you every fall with an offer to meet you and your students for research-education (or "information literacy") sessions at the library and take him or her up on it?

Your librarian will feel regarded as a partner. Your students will get a leg up, learn how to approach an information problem, and write better-informed essays -- in all likelihood not just for you but for all of their instructors. Through research education, students are learning to help themselves learn, and that can't help but pay off in our information age.

October 2, 2006

Executive Summaries Added to CCAP

A press release from the Wisconsin Courts outlines some of the recent changes to the CCAP case management system. The changes are in response to criticism that the information contained on CCAP could be misinterpreted.

The changes include:

  • Executive summaries that help viewers to interpret case information. (Available for criminal, traffic, forfeiture or civil cases filed with a restraining order.)
  • A glossary of legal terms
  • A change in the length of time that certain records remain accessible on the site. (Will follow the minimum records retention rule developed by the Supreme Court)

See also the article in today's Badger Herald

A Big Day at the Law School

Friday was a big day at the Law School. First, we were treated to a viewing of the hit film, "Buckystein." Ok, maybe not "hit", but it was.. umm.. interesting - and fun. And it featured the Law School's own Bethany Pluymers, Associate Dean for Administration.

Friday evening we celebrated the dedication of the Library's Habush Habush & Rottier Reading Room, otherwise known as the grand reading room. After a welcome by Law School Dean Ken Davis, we heard remarks from Robert Habush and Daniel Rottier, as well as, Governor Jim Doyle. With its towering glass exterior, the HHR Reading Room truly is one of the most impressive structures on campus. hhr.jpg