Legal abbreviations are not always easy to decipher. Fortunately, there are several good reference tools to help you do just that. Bieber's Dictionary of Legal Abbreviations is a print publication (also available on Lexis) and Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations is available free online.
With both sources, you can either search by abbreviation to get the full title, or search by title to get the abbreviation.
Thanks to Virtual Library Cat's Eye View for the reminder about Cardiff Index to Legal Abbreviations.
Today on Wisconsin Public Radio, host Kathleen Dunn talks with Ann Seidl, maker of the new documentary, "The Hollywood Librarian." You can catch it on The Ideas Network at 10:00 pm tonight, or listen online. The program is one hour long.
Thanks to my UW-Madison Libraries colleague, Steve Frye, for the tip.
When trying to explain a how to use a computer application, a screen shot (still photo) is worth a thousand words. A screencast (video recording) is worth a million. Librarians have been using screencast applications like Camtasia for a while to produce wonderful tutorials on database searching, etc.
I've often thought about trying my hand at one, but the cost of the software and the production time was too prohibitive. Well, not any more. I've just tried a new, free application called Jing and I just love it.
With Jing, you can record what's happening on your screen and either save it to your computer or share it. If you choose to share it, Jing uploads the video to Screencast.com and gives you back a URL which you can share with anyone.
Or, if you don't need a video, you can capture a still screen shot. Jing has built in arrow, text, and highlighter tools - much faster than editing it in Photoshop or Fireworks.
I tested it out and made a screencast of my own. This 29 second video of a me performing a search in our Wisconsin Briefs database took less than one minute to create - 29 seconds for the actual recording and about 15 seconds to begin and end the recording.
Of course, Jing isn't as full featured as applications like Camtasia. If I wanted to produce a high quality video with audio and annotations, I'd probably break down and buy Camtasia. But for simple screencasts, Jing works great.
Because it's so fast to create and share content, Jing seems ideal for reference librarians. Say I'm working with a patron via email or IM and I want to walk them through a database search. I simply record myself doing the search (like I did with the WI Briefs example above) and send them the link to the recording. Not only can I probably do all this faster than I could type out the instructions, but it will be much clearer to the patron.
I'd love to hear from anyone else using Jing, particularly librarians. Please share your experiences in the comments.
Source: Inter Alia
From UW Madison News:
If a piece of toast fell on the floor, would you pick it up and eat it? You probably would if you believe in the 5-second rule, which suggests that your spilled breakfast stays germ-free as long as you snatch it up in five seconds.
But while the 5-second rule remains a popular rule of thumb, there is no hard science to support it, says Glenn Chambliss, a bacteriologist at UW-Madison. In fact, if you dropped food in places harboring nasties like E. Coli bacteria, any contamination would happen instantaneously, the scientist says.
At our house we don't live by "The 5 second rule" for dropped food as much as we do by the "get it before the dog does" rule. And the dog usually wins.
JS Online reports that "'The Fonz' soon might be part of our downtown [Milwaukee] landscape, immortalized in a life-size bronze sculpture that city tourism leaders hope would be a stopping point for visitors."
From the article:
The Fonz, of course, is Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli, the character from the long-running TV show "Happy Days," set in a nostalgic version of Milwaukee, circa the late 1950s and early 1960s. Visit Milwaukee, a non-profit group that promotes the city as a tourism and convention destination, is leading an effort to raise $85,000 to commission the statue, which likely would be in the plaza south of E. Wisconsin Ave. and west of N. Water St., near the Chase Plaza office tower.
Aaay - I love it.
HeinOnline will soon be adding a new search feature called Title Lookup whereby you can locate a title anywhere in HeinOnline or you can use it to locate a title in a specific library.
Title Lookup is available on the HeinOnline "Welcome" page and in each HeinOnline library. You can enter any term you wish to search. Surrounding terms with " " will perform a phrase search.
Here's a screen shot from the HeinOnline blog:
Have you ever been bidding on something at Ebay and up until the last few seconds, you think you've got it - then someone swoops in at the very end and outbids you? Urgh! This is called sniping and Wikipedia defines it as watching a timed online auction (such as on eBay or Yahoo!), and placing a winning bid at the last possible moment (often seconds before the end of the auction), giving the other bidders no time to outbid the sniper.
Can they do that? Technically, yes, it doesn't break any auction rules, although the practice is frowned upon by some. According to USA Today, a Korean study proved sniping to be the most effective method of bidding.
Although last second bidders could wait online at the close of the auction ready to pounce, a more efficient strategy is to use a sniping software application. One of these, BidSniper, offers a free service whereby it will place your bid in the last ten seconds of the auction. You can also get the premium service which will bid in the last three seconds.
Earlier this year, I reported on the lawyer documentary, A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar... which was showing at several film festivals. Now, it's been released on DVD and is available for purchase on Amazon and soon to be available for check out at the UW Law Library.
Here's the NYT review as it appears on Amazon:
Writer-director Eric Chaikin's feature-length documentary A Lawyer Walks Into A Bar. . . offers a witty, seriocomic look at myriad aspects of the American legal process and judicial system. It hones in on six individuals, all prospective attorneys at the time of the film's production, and follows them through trials and travails as they approach and take the formidable bar. Chaikin then uses the subjects' stories as springboards to broader digressions on U.S. litigation. The film features a myriad of celebrity guest appearances, from both well-respected attorneys and entertainers. Participants include: attorneys Alan Dershowitz, Mark Lanier and Joe Jamail; comics Eddie Griffin and Michael Ian Black; TV commentators John Stossel and Nancy Grace, and many others.
Source: Robert Ambrogi's LawSites
Update 9/26/07: The DVD is not currently available on Amazon, but you can still order through the A Lawyer Walks Into a Bar web site. Thanks to Charles Martin for the heads up.
From the Wisconsin Court System:
On September 27 in Neillsville, the Wisconsin Court System and the Wisconsin Valley Library Service will co-sponsor a special training session for librarians who provide assistance to people who represent themselves in court.
The project's goal is to foster communication between local courts and public libraries in an effort to better meet the legal service needs of self-represented litigants.
Leading the initiative is the Ninth Judicial District, which consists of 12 north central Wisconsin counties, and the Wisconsin State Law Library, located in Madison.
Traveling to another country and want to dine out or shop? You need a Language Translator! Madison Public Library now has a variety of hand-held translators to help you with on-the-spot translations. Just type in a word or phrase, and the translator will find the correct translation!
- 5-Language European (Dutch, English, French, German and Italian)
- 12-Language (Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish)
Features include: conversational phrases grouped in these categories: Doing Business, Travel & Directions, Eating & Drinking, Shopping, Hotel and Emergencies; games and exercises to enhance your grasp of the language; currency converters; and a world clock.
Contact a librarian at any one of the Madison Public Library branches to reserve a translator.
Thanks to Mary Koshollek for letting me know that the Wisconsin Solo and Small Firm Conference schedule is up. The conference will be held on November 29 and 30 at the Italian Conference Center in Milwaukee.
Attendees can choose from four tracks of programming covering Substantive Law, Practice Management, Technology and Ethics/Quality of Life as well as plenary sessions from state and national speakers. CLE credit will be available.
There will be several WI law librarians presenting, including Mary, Bev Butula, and myself. I'm speaking on day; my topic is Building Better Briefs: A Guide to Legal Research and Citation Tools on the Internet.
Another well known librarian, Catherine Sanders Reach, Director of the American Bar Association Legal Technology Resource Center, will also be presenting at a number of sessions on day one.
I've been to this conference a couple of times and it's always a good one, especially if you're interested in technology.
HeinOnline has launched a blog to provide product information to users.
According to Hein:
This blog will offer insight to our newest products, notify customers of our latest interface enhancements, and share tips to help improve customers research experience.
Anyone from students and librarians to professionals world-wide will be able to use our blog to communicate with our development team, share tips with other subscribers, or simply to read what other HeinOnline users are saying.
Here's a blub from their Web site:
As part of the Law Library's transition to the digital future, a collaborative pilot project was undertaken with Google, Inc. to digitize the entire collection and make it freely available to Congress and the world. Three collections have been selectively compiled to provide users with a test experience:
These selected Hearings, presented as Adobe Acrobat PDF files, are samples of a larger group that will be digitized and made available as a result of this project. Ultimately, both the Library and Google will provide full-text access to the larger group of Hearings.
Although I love that the Google is working with libraries to make these collections available online, I'm baffled by the way that they are going about it. If the Law Library of Congress is working with them to digitize the entire collection of Congressional Hearings, why are they also digitizing copies from other library partners? See, for example Stanford and the University of MI.
Source: Lex Scripta
Soon NBC will be allow viewers to download many of their most popular programs free to personal computers and other devices for one week immediately after their broadcasts. NBC announced a few weeks ago that it was pulling it's shows off of iTunes.
According to the New York Times:
The files, which would be downloaded overnight to home computers, would contain commercials that viewers would not be able to skip through. And the file would not be transferable to a disk or to another computer.
The files would degrade after the seven-day period and be unwatchable. "Kind of like 'Mission: Impossible,' only I don't think there would be any explosion and smoke," [Jeff Gaspin, the president of the NBC Universal Television Group] said.
Update 9/21: Looks like ABC is also offering downloads.
Since January, we've had a chat box on our home page. Law School and other UW-Madison students, faculty & staff can use it to ask legal research questions of our reference librarians.
The chat box is courtesy of a service called Plugoo. The questions asked through the chat box are routed to our regular IM accounts which we monitor through Trillian. [To learn how to establish a virtual reference service with IM and chat, see my article IM a Librarian: Establishing a Virtual Reference Service with Little Cost or Technical Skill.]
For some reason, today our chat call volume has gone through the roof. Several times we had multiple simultaneous Plugoo chats. Wait a minute--Plugoo can handle multiple simultaneous chats??? That's awesome!
I checked out the Plugoo FAQ and it still indicates that "At the moment, Plugoo offers you to chat with one single visitor." But, thankfully, blogger Terrance Chang gives the run-down on how Plugoo multichat works - complete with screen shots.
US Courts has an interesting article on how PACER has altered the business of the courts. Here's a sampling from the article:
"Back in the paper world, we constantly had law firm runners who came to the clerk's office to make copies of case files. They'd have to drive to the courthouse, find a parking place, feed the meter, and pay 50 cents per copy. Helping them consumed a lot of staff time," she said. "Those days are gone."
"The level of camaraderie and shared professionalism incident to the delivery of paper files has been affected. Those sort of contacts are gone. The only person in our clerk's staff that many lawyers who practice before me know is our courtroom deputy, whom they see in court," Leonard said. "Things are more formalized now."
Source: Legal Dockets Online
Yesterday, the Judicial Conference of the United States voted to make transcripts of federal district and bankruptcy court proceedings available online through PACER.
According to the press release:
Under the new policy, transcripts created by court reporters or transcribers will be available for inspection and copying in a clerk of court's office and for download from PACER 90 days after they are delivered to the clerk. Individuals will be able to view, download, or print a copy of a transcript from PACER for eight cents per page.
During the initial 90-day period, transcripts will be available at the clerk's office for inspection only, or may be purchased from the court reporter or transcriber.
Source: Legal Dockets Online
Update: The corresponding Senate bill is 214.
My Wisconsin Legislative Notifications account picked up this bill, AB-433, relating to the disclosure of library records to law enforcement officers.
Under current law, public library records may not be disclosed to any person except in certain specified circumstances. This bill requires a public library to disclose to a law enforcement officer, upon his or her request, all records produced by a surveillance device, if the officer is investigating criminal conduct alleged to have occurred at the public library.
Wisconsin Legislative Notifications 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.
Beginning this week, The New York Times will stop charging for access to TimesSelect content. InfoWorld reports that, in addition to opening up its content to all visitors, The New York Times will also offer free access to its archives dating back to 1987, as well as access to stories published by the paper between 1851 and 1922. The site will still charge for access to stories published between 1923 and 1986. Print subscribers will get free access to the complete archives, however, the paper said.
Why? According to the NYT article,
...Many more readers started coming to the site from search engines and links on other sites instead of coming directly to NYTimes.com. These indirect readers, unable to get access to articles behind the pay wall and less likely to pay subscription fees than the more loyal direct users, were seen as opportunities for more page views and increased advertising revenue.
TimesSelect has been free to print subscribers to The Times and to some students and educators. Those who have paid in advance for access to TimesSelect will be reimbursed on a prorated basis.
According to my rep, LexisNexis Fifty State Surveys of Statutes and Regulations are now available on the Law School menu. The LexisNexis 50 State Surveys deliver an easy to access, easy to understand overview of legislation, regulations and even court rules, all organized by topic.
Use the following path:
Legal > States Legal - U.S. > Combined States > Statutes & Legislative Materials
I love that 50 states surveys are available on LexisNexis - and Westlaw, by the way. I used to cringe when I'd get a request for a 50 state survey of state statutes because they are fairly difficult and laborious to compile. But, now, it's quite easy - assuming that Lexis or Westlaw has one on topic.
From a US Courts news release:
The federal Judiciary is seeking comment on the privacy and security implications related to public Internet access to certain documents in criminal case files...
The committee is interested in comments on a proposal to restrict public Internet access to plea agreements in criminal cases, which may contain information identifying defendants who are cooperating with law enforcement investigations.
See the full news release for information on how to submit comments.
"The older demographic has a bunch of interesting characteristics, not the least of which is that they hang around."
This prospective and relative stickiness is helping drive a wave of new investment into boomer and older-oriented social networking sites that offer like-minded (and like-aged) individuals discussion and dating forums, photo-sharing, news and commentary, and chatter about diet, fitness and health care.
That's a quote from a New York Times article examining the use of social networking applications for older Web users.
The sites have names like Eons, Rezoom, Multiply, Maya's Mom, Boomj, and Boomertown. They look like Facebook -- with wrinkles.
According to Boing Boing, "It's a self-serve frozen custard machine that doles out portion sizes based on the amount of misery it detects in a voice-stress analysis. The sadder you are, the more ice-cream you get."
This morning I had the opportunity to use a conference call service called FreeConference.com. As the name implies, it's free to use the service. You will, though, probably have to dial long distance since you don't get a toll free number. Normal long distance charges would apply - there is no markup.
We used the Reservationless Standard system and it worked great. There is nothing to set up at all and no registration necessary. Just choose one of their dial in numbers and an access code, then communicate this info with all parties. At the appointed time, just dial the number and enter your chosen access code.
You can also use the Web-Scheduled Standard system if you prefer to schedule the call and invite participants. For this you'll need to register for an account.
Both systems can support up to 150 callers.
FreeConference.com has received a slew of awards from such organizations as Small Business Technology, PCWorld and others.
Tomorrow (Wed, Sept 12), Walgreens is offering inkjet printer cartridge refills for free. Customers can bring one empty b&w or color cartridge to the Walgreens photo counter and get it filled for free. Pick up a coupon in the weekly ad.
To find a the nearest Walgreens that offers refill service, search the Walgreens store locator. Be sure to check the box that reads "Printer cartridge refills".
Source: Research Buzz
From the New York Times article, Prisons Purging Books on Faith From Libraries:
Behind the walls of federal prisons nationwide, chaplains have been quietly carrying out a systematic purge of religious books and materials that were once available to prisoners in chapel libraries....
Traci Billingsley, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of Prisons, said the agency was acting in response to a 2004 report by the Office of the Inspector General in the Justice Department. The report recommended steps that prisons should take, in light of the Sept. 11 attacks, to avoid becoming recruiting grounds for militant Islamic and other religious groups. The bureau, an agency of the Justice Department, defended its effort, which it calls the Standardized Chapel Library Project, as a way of barring access to materials that could, in its words, "discriminate, disparage, advocate violence or radicalize."
In addition to the password protected LexisNexis, there is also a campus wide product called LexisNexis Academic to which the UW Madison Libraries subscribe. Anyone may use this service at no charge at any campus library. Although it doesn't offer everything in full Lexis, most of it is there.
LexisNexis Academic recently underwent a redesign and the layout is now quite similar to full LexisNexis. But in addition to the layout changes, it seems that some new sources were added. Most significant is the full availability of Shepards. Previously, Shepards was only available for US Supreme Court cases, but now it's comprehensive. Another addition are selected municipal codes.
Also, according to product manager, Alistair Morrison, American Law Reports and American Jurisprudence on available on LN Academic, but probably only until the end of the year. That may have something to do with the removal of ALR from all Lexis products.
To see what's available for Wisconsin, go to the "sources" tab and then "find sources" Do a search for the keyword "Wisconsin". You might find something else you didn't know what available. I did - the Wisconsin Administrative Code archive. I'm not sure if that's new or not.
Here's the description:
Blogs can be used to inform, communicate and network. How can you use a blog to connect with clients? Learn how attorneys and law firms are using blogs and how easy it is to maintain a web presence without a website, or enhance an existing website. Attend this two hour session to learn how to create and market your blog. Watch a demonstration of how to set up a blog using a popular blogging tool.
Deliberations has an interesting post on jurors who blog. The part that caught my librarian's eye was the collection of tips on setting up searches to find juror blog posts.
Summarized, they are:
More goodies from Justia - they expanded their Federal District Court Filings database. They've gone back a few more years and now cover from 2004 to the present. And now, in addition to just seeing information about the case, for some cases you can actually view the opinions, orders, and complete filings. This is awesome!
Cases for which opinions and orders and available have a gavel icon. Cases for with complete filings are noted with a star icon. I suspect that the latter must be very new since I've not seen it mentioned anywhere yet.
To see a case with opinions and orders, run a search and select the Only Case Filings with Downloadable Opinions or Orders button. There doesn't seem to be a button yet for complete filings, but I did happen to find some - run a search for Tivo - the two most recent cases have stars.
Justia is pulling the content from PACER. Although the opinions and orders are available on PACER at no charge, you need an account to access them. With Justia, no account is needed. And for the cases with complete filings, you're getting a real bargain since normally you'd have to pay for those on PACER. Plus Justia offers more search options than PACER. And, of course, every search is RSS subscribe-able in Justia.
Mary Minow of LawLibrary Blog posted an interview with Nick Moline, programmer at Justia a few weeks ago. Although the database currently goes back to 2004, he said that Justia has plans to add more.
As part of its Litigation Support Guide, the Wisconsin Law Journal explores the use of wikis in the legal environment. The article is available in the August 27th print edition and will eventually make it's way online.
I was interviewed for the article, along with librarian and wiki expert, Debbie Ginsburg from Chicago Kent College of Law Library. The article lists several wikis of interest to legal professionals, including:
Indie Pop Band SNMNMNM pays homage to librarians in it's new song, "Addy Will Know." It's about a real librarian who helps a patron find four books for which he is looking. The names of the books are never mentioned, but as a kind of puzzle, the song itself includes call numbers that correspond to the books hinted at in the verses. The first ten librarians to correctly identify them will win a copy of the CD.
And since the song is about real librarians, the band wants to feature them in the video. Librarians should send in a video of yourself singing the song.
This is really cool. The song is great, as is the message.
Source: Tame the Web
WisconsinEye announced yesterday that it will begin gavel-to-gavel broadcast coverage of oral arguments in the State Supreme Court beginning with today's with three scheduled cases.
WisconsinEye President & CEO Chris Long said the network plans to cover all oral arguments on the Court's 2007-2008 calendar either live or tape-delayed on Charter Channel 200 and Time Warner Channel 163. All hearing coverage will also be broadcast and permanently archived at WisconsinEye.
If you were a book, what book would you be? Answer just six questions to find your exact literary match! My match is To Kill a Mockingbird.
Hat tip to my colleague, Mary Jo Koranda.
Legal Conference Watch, the blog announced last month from the Gallagher Law Library, has remade itself as the Legal Scholarship Blog. This blog is a collaborative service from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and the Gallagher Law Library at the University of Washington School of Law.
The blog features law-related calls for papers, conferences, and workshops -- with links to relevant websites and papers as well as an event calendar -- along with scholarly resources for Research Deans and current and prospective law professors.