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February 28, 2007

Top 10 Largest Databases in the World

One of the Top Ten Lists You Don't Want To Miss from Jim Calloway's Law Practice Tips Blog caught my eye: Top 10 Largest Databases in the World. Number 1? the Library of Congress.

The post didn't give any sources for this information, however, which makes me wonder about its validity. I'm a librarian - I like to see sources.

For an interesting comparison, see the Sixty Largest Deep Web Sites as of 2001 in BrightPlanet's Deep Web White Paper (table 2).

Snow Sculptures on Bascom Hill

snowbucky2.jpg
spongebob.jpgThe recent snow has brought out the ice sculptors on Bascom Hill. Bucky Badger stands in front of Bascom Hall and SpongeBob is right outside the Law School.

February 26, 2007

Mind Maps Help Explain Complex Information & Relationships

Yet another one from the latest edition of Law Library Journal (Winter 2007). In her column, Technology for Everyone . . ., Diane Murley explains Mind Mapping Complex Information.
Abstract:

Ms. Murley introduces mind mapping as a technique for handling complex information, discusses its application to some functions of law librarians, and lists some of the software that can be used to create mind maps.

I was introduced to mind maps when I had the pleasure of presenting with Diane at the BlawgThink back in 2005. We were given a copy of MindManager and it didn't take long to get hooked. I've used it a number of times for presentations and find that it really helps me explain complex relationships. Mind maps are great for visual learners.

Diane has shared her legal research mind maps at Law Dawg Blawg.

Although I've not used it, Diane notes that FreeMind offers no-cost open-source mind-mapping software. Definitely worth a look if you want to get started with mind maps.

Wisconsin's Charles McCarthy & the Evolution of the Legislative Reference Movement

Here's another good article from the latest edition of Law Library Journal (Winter 2007).

In Go and Tell the World: Charles R. McCarthy and the Evolution of the Legislative Reference Movement, 1901-1917, Paul D. Healey writes of Wisconsin's other McCarthy.
Abstract:

Professor Healey describes the work of Charles R. McCarthy who, in the early twentieth century, almost single‑handedly created the legislative reference library concept. In doing so, he developed radical new forms of reference librarianship, tirelessly promoted the concept of special librarianship, and spread legislative reference services around the country.

Are Public Law Librarians Immune From Liability?

There's lots of good stuff in the latest edition of Law Library Journal (Winter 2007).

Are Public Law Librarians Immune from Suit? Muddying the Already Murky Waters of Law Librarian Liability by John Cannan look particularly interesting.
Abstract:

Public law librarians--academic law librarians at public universities and court and other government librarians--may enjoy public official immunities protecting them from lawsuits, but Mr. Cannan explains why librarian immunity is still of some concern. He analyzes several types of public official immunities available to law librarians.

February 22, 2007

Blue Book Citation Tools: Citrus & Citation Legal Edition

Citrus (think Cit-r-us) is a new legal citation tool which automatically corrects legal citations in Word as you type. "When you're ready to type a citation, press F2 and make an educated guess. Once you're done, press F2 again, and Citrus will generate a correct Bluebook citation." An individual license is available for $495 per computer.

Citrus cites to cases, federal and state statutes, CFR, Fed. Register, U.S. Constitution, court rules and more. According to the web site, it also includes parenthetical information, "such as whether a decision is per curiam, whether you need to cite the editor as well as the case reporter, or even whether an opinion in the U.S. reporter came from the court or an individual circuit Justice."

Has anyone used Citrus? I'd be interested in learning more about it. Can it handle law reviews and other more complex citations? There is a "tour," but it's nothing more than a couple of screen shots.

A similar tool that I have used is Citation: Legal Edition. Citation, however, is a bibliographic database management system (unlike Citrus which seems to be an add-on to MS Word). You enter (or import) your citations into a database, and it generates the proper blue book cites for you. It seemed to work very well. Great for scholarly research.

I've since moved to RefWorks which is available campus wide at the University of Wisconsin. Unfortunately, it doesn't support Bluebook citation style (which, I've been told, is because it is too complex).

Thanks to Conglomerate for the tip about Citrus.

February 21, 2007

ABA Books RSS Feed

The ABA Web Store is now offering a RSS feed with information about new books available from the ABA. News Feed will include new titles and other Web Store information.

UW Law Library to Host Older WI Legislative Council Publications

In response to the Wisconsin Legislative Council's decision to remove publications more than five years old from their Web site, the UW Law Library contacted the WLC and offered to host the documents on our Web site. WLC has accepted our offer and has provided us with the electronic publications back to 1996. We are currently processing the files and will make them accessible via the MadCat Library Catalog soon.

As our Assistant Director, Bill Ebbott said, "The Wisconsin Idea at work!"

WI Women's Law Journal Colloquium: "Our Workplace, Our Home"

The Wisconsin Women's Law Journal will be hosting their 2007 Colloquium at the Law School (Lubar Commons) this Friday, February 23. This year's colloquium, "Our Workplace, Our Home: Protecting our Families and Preserving our Dignity," highlights two authors the journal will be publishing this year.

The first speaker, Jill Maxwell of Brooklyn Law School, will be discussing her article, "Sexual Harassment at Home: Altering the Terms, Conditions, and Privileges of Rental Housing for Section 8 Recipients." In her article, Ms. Maxwell addresses the necessary changes in policy initiatives and litigation strategies to decrease the vulnerability of low-income women to sexual harassment at home.

The second speaker, Pam Gershuny, is an assistant professor at Southeast Missouri State University. Ms. Gershuny will be addressing her article, "Family Values First When Federal Laws Collide," as she proposes a public policy exception to the employment-at-will doctrine to allow parents to care for their children without the risk of employment termination.

The Colloquium will be held in Lubar Commons from 1-4, and food and drinks will be provided.

February 20, 2007

American Assoc. of Law Librarians Annual Mtg Blog

The Second Line Blog is the official blog for the American Association of Law Libraries' (AALL) 2007 Annual Meeting in New Orleans. It features current announcements, news, photos, informal reports from conference goers, and all sorts of important items of interest. Both a RSS feed and email subscription are available.

If you wish to contribute to the blog, contact the editor for an invitation.

WILJ Symposium: Islamic Law in a Globalized World

The Wisconsin International Law Journal announces the 2007 Symposium open to all UW students, faculty and the legal community

Islamic Law in a Globalized World: Implications for Contemporary Finance Law
Friday, March 2, 2007
9:00 am -5:00 pm
Godfrey and Kahn Hall (Room 2260)
University of Wisconsin Law School

Overview:

Islamic law has become an intense area of interest and debate in recent years. Not only does Islamic law present questions of pluralism and governance in one's private life, but it also has profound implications for the ways in which both domestic and international business transactions are conducted. The goal of this symposium is to call attention to the role Islamic law, particularly Islamic finance law, has come to play in the United States. This event will focus both on Islamic law generally as well as on various details of Islamic finance law.

Registration deadline Feb. 20, 2007. Registration is free and walk-ins are welcome, but registration is strongly recommended to facilitate planning.

Continuing Legal Education Credits: CLE credit approval pending for Wisconsin attorneys. Sign up on site - No fee.

February 19, 2007

American Law Sources Online, An Excellent Legal Research Portal

One of my favorite sites for researching law on the Internet is American Law Sources Online (ALSO).

ALSO has compiled an outstanding, well organized collection of links to freely available primary and some secondary legal resources for federal and state law. It includes case law, statutes, local ordinances, administrative code, forms, research guides, and more. See the Wisconsin Sources page.

Links to some Mexican and Canadian sources are available, as well. There are also links to Uniform State Laws, Amicus Curiae briefs, law reviews and more.

February 16, 2007

LRB's Governing Wisconsin Series Explains State Government

The Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau publishes Governing Wisconsin, a series of brief discussions of how government works in Wisconsin. The guides explain such things as legislative rules, the Wisconsin Idea, forms of local government, open meeting law, redistricting, due process and more.

February 15, 2007

March of the Librarians Mockumentary on YouTube

Thanks to WI Ct of Appeals Judge Daniel Anderson for alerting me to March of the Librarians on YouTube.

A parody of March of the Penguins, this mockumentary follows librarians at the ALA Midwinter conference. I especially liked the part about the male librarians with their "fabulous facial plumage," the "tote-rollers," and the occasional "hipster librarians."

If you've ever been to a convention, especially a librarian convention, check this out! I know I'm going to be thinking about this at the next AALL Annual Meeting.

February 14, 2007

Comparing Wisconsin's Current Budget to Its First

In contrast to Governor Doyle's recent budget proposal, Odd Wisconsin has a bit about Wisconsin's first budget.

So, let's see... $25 billion in 2007, for a single year's operation of state government, works out to be $63,493,150 per day; or about $12.37 per day per person (using the U.S. Census Bureau's population estimate of 5,536,201).

The year 1849's expenditures of $52,845.96 works out to $144.78 per day; or (using the 1850 Census figure of 305,391) about $0.00047 - about 1/20th of a cent -- per day per person.

Read the full article for more.

Comparing Loislaw and Versuslaw

Electronic legal research can be very expensive. Fortunately, there are a few lower cost options out there, including Loislaw and Versuslaw. There is a nice short article comparing the two in the February 2007 edition of The CRIV Sheet (which is an insert in AALL Spectrum).

When looking at your research options, Loislaw and Versuslaw are definitely worth considering. The amount of information available in these databases is much less than Lexis and Westlaw, but sometimes you don't need all that information, and a smaller database may provide just enough of what you seek. They are both reasonably priced and provide a good service to their users.

February 13, 2007

Above the Law Looking for Law Librarian Hotties

Above the Law has launched its latest hotties contest - this time their are looking for hot law librarians. I love it.

And UW Law School folks: take a look at the familiar face on the Law School Dean hotties.

Source: Depraved Librarian

Justia Launches Free Federal District Court Filings Database Search

Justia has launched a database of recently filed Federal District Court civil cases. You can browse by browse by state and/or type of lawsuit or view all recent cases. Search by party name, jurisdiction, type of lawsuit, and within a given date range.

BeSpacific reports that according to Justia's Tim Stanley, there are currently "over 300,000 case titles since January 1, 2006, and they are updating [the database] daily."

Search results contain the party names, jurisdiction, date, and docket number. There is a link to the docket via paid PACER subscription. Links to blog, news and web searches for each party name are also available.

RSS feeds are also available for search results. This is very cool. If I want to monitor all cases with party name "Harley Davidson", I can subscribe to that feed. If I want to monitor all Wisconsin cases on IP law, I can subscribe to that feed. That's just the tip of the iceberg for the searches you can set up.

Although the content doesn't appear to have anything over PACER, the advanced search capability and powerful alerting capability make Justia a very valuable resource.

Introducing the Book - A Very Early Help Desk Interaction

A colleague sent me a link to this awesome YouTube video, Introducing the Book. Think early - really early - help desk. I laughed out loud.

February 12, 2007

Consortium: The Journal of Legal Nonsense

Consortium is a new law journal that "aims to explore the less-than-scholarly side of the law in an entertaining and hopefully humorous way. You're not going to find long diatribes about the recent disposition of some obscure case in some far-off jurisdiction. Instead, the diatribes focus on the social aspect of the law, law school, and lawyering." Source: LexLibris

February 7, 2007

Courts Not Using CM/ECF for Electronic Filing and Access to Court Documents

Paul Bush of Legal Dockets Online has compiled a list of the courts not using CM/ECF. CM/ECF allows courts to accept filings and provide access to filed documents over the Internet via PACER.

He writes:

Since CM/ECF systems have been successfully implemented throughout the U.S., some researchers incorrectly assume that all case dockets and filings can be located and downloaded using CM/ECF. It's important to recognize that certain court case information is not presently contained within a CM/ECF database.

Note that the Wisconsin Western District Court is one of the courts listed. I have, however, heard that Western District will connect to the CM/ECF later this year. It will be the last federal district court in the US to do so.

Law Library Buzz Aggregates Law Library Blogs

A while back, I was contacted by Chick Markley, VP/Engineering of The Personal Bee, Inc. about a new site called Law Library Buzz, an aggregator for law library blogs. I agreed to sign on as the "Bee Keeper."

There are a couple of pretty neat features of Law Library Buzz. First, there is a single RSS feed for all the law library blogs included in the Buzz. This is nice if you want to follow what's happening in the law library community and don't want to subscribe to all the blogs individually.

A list of all of the blogs in the Buzz appears on the left in the "In This Beehive" section. Only the first few in alpha order appear, but you can hover over "show all" to see the full list. If you click on one, you can see just the posts from that blog. [As Bee Keeper, I'm in charge of adding blogs to this list. As you'll see, there are 84 of them. You may wonder why not all 112 of them - as compiled in my Law Library Blogs list - appear on Law Library Buzz. It's because I have excluded those which seem to have mostly announcements about the library or parent organization. If you have suggestion about other blogs to include in the Buzz, please contact me.]

Another cool feature is the "Top Buzz" section on the left. This is a tag cloud of the most frequently blogged about subjects by law library blogs. It gives you a quick take on what's making news. If you click on "Jump to the Full Buzz," you'll see a big tag cloud.

As for the entries themselves in the main part of the page, notice that there is a "vote" icon to the left of each entry. You can vote for what you consider the best posts and they will rise to the top of the list. Note that posts only go back one month in Law Library Buzz.

February 2, 2007

LISZEN, a Search Engine for Library Blogs

LISZEN is a new search engine devoted just to library blogs. It's brought to you by the good folks at Library Zen.

Although I don't envision myself using it too often, it will be useful when I want to know what librarians think of something - like a database, a vendor, a way of approaching a problem, use of a new technology, etc.

February 1, 2007

ABA's List of Free Library Databases by State

Kudos to the ABA for compiling a list of state public Library Databases.

Many public libraries now offer extensive database collections free to their patrons. For most libraries these databases can be accessed from a remote computer with a library card ID number. Which means research can be conducted at home or at the office utilizing these powerful resources. Check with your local library and see if a library card combined with free database access can supplement your law practice.

I noticed that the Milwaukee Public Library's wonderful collection of databases were not included, so I emailed the ABA with an update. I encourage others to do the same for other public library databases which should appear on this list.

All About Wisconsin Briefs

This month's WSLL @ Your Service newsletter from the Wisconsin State Law Library centers around Wisconsin briefs. It contains tips on accessing briefs (including the UW Law Library's Wisconsin Briefs database) and some interesting information on the history of briefs.