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December 26, 2007

Historical Wisconsin Statutes in the News

Two news items involving historical Wisconsin statutes:

  • A Capital Times writer authenticates Wikipedia claim that the nation's first open records law was passed in Wisconsin shortly after it became a state.

    WI Revised Statutes, 1849 - Chapter 10, Section 137 required every sheriff, circuit court clerk, county board clerk, register of deeds and county treasurer in the state to "open for the examination of any person" all of their books and papers. Any officer who neglected to comply "shall forfeit for each day he shall so neglect, the sum of five dollars."

  • JS Online reports that "state inmates are using - and many say abusing - an unusual, 168-year-old law to spark often meritless investigations of correctional officers, tying up courts and creating new headaches for officers.

    Under the state's John Doe law, citizens can force judges to hold hearings by sending them letters alleging a crime has been committed."

December 21, 2007

Do Law Librarians Relish Anonymity?

A big manila envelope from the New York Times was in my mailbox today. Hmm, I didn't request anything from them lately. It was from none other than Robert Pear, NYT Washington Bureau reporter, whom I "met" a while back via his response to something I posted on WisBlawg. He was thoughtful enough to send me an article entitled "Law Librarians" which appeared recently in The Green Bag. What a good guy.

The article offers a historical perspective on the role of the law librarian, particularly in academia. It was written by University of Virginia School of Law Professor G. Edward White. Here is the citation:
G. Edward White. Law Librarians. 11 Green Bag 81 (Autumn 2007)

The article is quite thought-provoking, although I don't know if it was in the way that the author intended. In the last few pages, White offers an assessment of today's academic law librarians.

As the scholarly dimensions of occupying a law faculty position have proliferated, as law students themselves engage in more ambitious scholarship, and as digital research has dramatically expanded, the need for a cadre of sophisticated persons providing research services to members of a law school community has increased. Increasingly such persons enter the market as staff members of law libraries. It may not be much of an overstatement to suggest that such persons as the ganglia in a law school's scholarly networks.

But is was the next paragraph that struck me the most:

Interestingly, the law librarians who provide that help tend to labor under, and perhaps even relish, a posture of anonymity.... The position of research librarian seems to attract people who enjoy its anonymity. Marian the Librarian's selflessness has not wholly been lost in an area of relentless self-promotion.

Is that true? And if so, is it necessarily a good thing? It would seem that in the context of this article, it was a complement. It certainly helps to foster the sentiment that libraries, and by extension librarians, are one of the few "unambiguously good" institutions in society, as mentioned by the author.

But what of this selflessness? Sure it's good for our image - and for our hearts - but is it good for our survival? I don't know. While it's clear that Professor White values and appreciates the law library staff, can we safely assume that others will do the same? Can we afford to labor in relative anonymity waiting to be discovered like Lana Turner in a drug store? What about when library funding is on the line?

What do you think? I'd love to hear your comments.
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Update: 1/3/08

Julie Jones over at Law Librarian Blog has posted her thoughts on the Green Bag article. She was also taken aback by the anonymity bit. She writes:

While White is clearly supportive of the work and value of law librarians, I wasn't aware that we relished anonymity. In fact, I thought the profession has been trying for many years to raise our visibility and perceived value.

December 20, 2007

Postcards from Someone You Don't Know

This is one of those odd-ball posts that I like to sometimes share. It has nothing to do with law or libraries, but I just thought it was so awesome.

Boing Boing reports on a unique item up for auction:

"Brian Sack offers to drive a person of your choice crazy with mysterious postcards from Poland while he is vacationing there. The postcards will be laced with odd personal details about this person, supplied by you, and signed with an indecipherable signature. So far, Sack reports, some 73,000 people have bid on this since yesterday."

To add to the sheer confusion and genuine discomfort, one missive will be on an original promotional postcard announcing the 1995 television premiere of Central Park West on CBS.

Another will be a postcard celebrating Atlanta's disastrous hosting of the 1996 summer Olympic games.

Your mark will be at a complete loss, desperate for answers, debating contacting people he or she hasn't talked to in years.

New Library Surveillance Law Put to Use Already

From the Appleton Post-Crescent:

A new law that gives police quick access to public library surveillance video showing suspected criminal activity was put to use two days after the legislation took effect.

See the full article for details. See my earlier post for information about the new legislation.

Mersky & Dunn's Index to Periodical Articles Related to Law to be Searchable in Hein Online

From the HeinOnline Weblog:

Next month, HeinOnline will release an enhancement that will allow you to search an Index to Periodical Articles Related to Law Database. The database was created from the Index to Periodical Articles Related to Law publication, which is compiled and edited by Roy M. Mersky and Donald J. Dunn and has been published since 1958. [Read more from HeinOnline]

December 19, 2007

Tax Notes and Other Tax Analysts Products Free to Professors Online

I learned today that full-time professors of law, economics, or accounting may sign up for complimentary access to Tax Analysts Campus. The purpose of Tax Analysts Campus is to provide professors an opportunity to teach with, and students to learn with, Tax Analysts' news and research products.

These products include:


  • Tax Notes Today (Daily)
  • Tax Notes (Weekly)
  • Federal Research Library
  • State Tax Today (Daily)
  • State Tax Notes (Weekly)
  • Worldwide Tax Daily (Daily)
  • Tax Notes International (Weekly)
  • Worldwide Tax Treaties

Professors will receive a user name and password via e-mail to share with their students. Web access provided under Tax Analysts Campus is solely for educational use and may not be used to replace professional subscriptions or be used for business purposes. Length of access is limited to the academic year; annual renewal is required.

To access, professors should return a completed application via fax (703-533-4444) or e-mail (cservice@tax.org).

Wisconsin Sentencing Commission to be Eliminated

I ran across this announcement today on the Wisconsin Sentencing Commission Web site:


The Wisconsin Sentencing Commission and its statutory provisions under 973.30 were eliminated in the State's 2007-09 Biennium Budget. Neither the Commission nor any other agency will continue to collect and analyze sentencing guidelines worksheets. Sentencing courts are still required to consider the guidelines under 973.017 (2)(a), yet will not need to complete or submit guidelines worksheets.

The website and its contents will remain in their current location until February 29, 2008, at which point the site will be archived and its relevant content moved elsewhere on the web. A notification will be posted on this site to redirect visitors to the new location of these publications.

If you need to speak to someone regarding the Sentencing Commission, please contact Kristi Waits at the Office of Justice Assistance at (608) 261-7525 or kristi.waits@wisconsin.gov.

EndNote Now Supports Bluebook Citation Style

A question about citation management software on the ALL-SIS listserv reminded me that I haven't yet posted about EndNote's addition of the Bluebook citation style. Previously, the only product of which I was aware that supported Bluebook was Citation Legal Edition. [What is citation management software?]

I learned about this back in August when Web of Knowledge started including EndNote Web in our campus subscription. Although the two products are designed complement each other, you can use them separately. So, despite the fact that there isn't a ton of legal content in Web of Knowledge, I can still make use of the EndNote Web piece.

According the to technician I spoke with at EndNote, the EndNote Web program comes with a standard set of output styles (which currently cannot be changed or modified like the desktop version of EndNote), which now includes the two Bluebook styles.

If you don't already have EndNote (desktop) or EndNote Web, you can get the free demo version of EndNote X1 and test out the Bluebook outputs.

Since I'd already built custom Bluebook styles in RefWorks (to which our campus also subscribes), I haven't felt the urgent need to play around with the Bluebook styles in EndNote. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone that has. Please share in the comments.

December 18, 2007

Movable Type Goes Open Source

Last week, the popular blogging software, Movable Type announced that they are now open source. This means you can freely modify, redistribute, and use Movable Type for any purpose you choose. Read more at the Movable Type blog.

Source: Boing Boing

December 17, 2007

Changes with the MBA Messenger

Beginning in 2008, the MBA Messenger will be published quarterly in a stand alone magazine format. Milwaukee Bar Association members will continue to receive it by mail, but it will no longer be included with the Wisconsin Law Journal.

Source: MBA Messenger, Dec 2007 - Thanks to Bill Ebbott for the tip.

Staffing Changes as Statute & Admin Code Responsibilities are Transferred to LRB

Deputy Revisor of Statutes Bruce Hoesly dropped me a line today letting me know that he'll be transferring over to the Legislative Reference Bureau. He'll be in charge of statute and administrative code and register production as the responsibility for those functions is transferred there in January. [See my previous post about the change]

He also shared that after 35 years as editor of the Administrative Code, Gary Poulson is retiring. Therefore, Bruce invites anyone who has code or register questions, about which they would have contacted Gary about in the past, to contact him at bruce.hoesly@legis.wisconsin.gov.

More on MPL's Decision to Discontinue Holds

Following up on my post last week about Milwaukee Public Library's decision to discontinue holds on media items, see the JS Online article about the decision.

From the article:

Milwaukee Public Library Director Paula Kiely said the change will save about $100,000 in staffing under the 2008 budget...

[But] critics say the policy will disproportionately hurt the poor, disabled and elderly...

"A lot of folks in Milwaukee don't have the transportation to jump from library to library," Whitefish Bay Library Director Cathy Peterson said. "And there are branch libraries, but they have nothing compared to the big library downtown."

The situation is more complex than I had realized. Because the suburban Milwaukee libraries have no such hold limitations in place, patrons can still place holds on their materials. Critics say that this could cost suburban libraries more as Milwaukee residents turn to them for items they can't get delivered from their neighborhood branches.

And, according to JS Online, because libraries cannot distinguish between patron types, city vs suburban, this causes a "conundrum for suburban librarians, who say they could block holds for Milwaukee residents, but not without limiting access to their own residents. And, so far, none is ready to do that."

So if money is the issue, why can't MPL just impose fees for making holds requests?
Because according to the FAQ prepared by MPL, "imposing fees for this service would violate Wisconsin state statutes which maintain that public libraries cannot charge for this service." Presumably, this refers to Wisconsin Statute 43.52. More illustrative, however, is Wisconsin Attorney General Opinion 26-84 (73 Wis. Op. Atty. Gen. 87).

Coincidentally, see LibrarianInBlack for a treatise on the problem of charging for holds.

According to the FAQ, MPL welcomes all comments and suggestions to determine how best to serve customers given today's limited resources. Please complete a comment form online and/or in person at any MPL location. Customers may contact Library Director Paula Kiely at 414.286.3000.

December 14, 2007

Barnes & Noble Sales to Benefit Madison Public Library Sequoya Branch

From Check It Out @ Madison Public Library:

If you read books, you probably buy them as gifts for the holidays, too. Shoppers who frequent the west side Barnes & Noble (7433 Mineral Point Road) this season between December 19 and December 22 can also benefit the library.

On these days, any purchase made with the presentation of a special voucher results in a gift to the Sequoya Capital Campaign. You can even have your purchases wrapped by Foundation members and supporters on December 19 or December 22!

December 12, 2007

New WLJ Blog, Research and Resources, by Law Librarian Bev Butula

It's my pleasure to announce a new blawg from the Wisconsin Law Journal. Research and Resources, authored by fellow law librarian, Bev Butula, will "introduce quality websites and search tips to improve your online research experience."

Bev's inaugural post highlights several of the resources available from the Wisconsin State Law Library.

Milwaukee Public Library Reduces Hold Options

Due to budget shortfalls, the Milwaukee Public Library has reluctantly changed their policy regarding holds:

Effective January 2, 2008, most media items can no longer be reserved and held for pick-up.

This includes feature films and TV programs as well as music CDs. Educational and children's CDs, however, can still be placed on hold. Other items such as books, audio books, and CD-ROMs will continue to be holdable as well.

In addition, the maximum number of all items that may be requested at any one time is now 20 per library card holder, down from 40.

See the FAQ on Policy Change Affecting Media Holds Requests for more information.

Source: Now at MPL

December 11, 2007

Skybus Offers $10 Flights from Mitchell

JS Online reports that earlier this month, Skybus began offering service from Mitchell International Airport to Columbus, Ohio. This no-frills airline offers 10 seats on each flight for only $10. And even if you miss one of the $10 flights, many of the remaining flights were priced under $100.

According to JS Online:

Tickets are sold only online at www.skybus.com. They cannot be bought at the airport or on the phone, and Skybus flights also do not show up on common Internet airfare search engines such as kayak.com.

The carrier does have a desk at Mitchell, but only to accept luggage - at $5 a bag for the first two, more thereafter....

The airline also does not sell connecting tickets. Passengers who want to go on to the other airports Skybus serves must get off in Columbus, claim their baggage and check in again. The airline does not recommend it.

So, the question is - how much hassle you be willing to endure for a $10 flight?
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Update: Skybus Airlines will cease all operations effective Saturday, April 5, 2008.

PACER US Party Case Index Includes All Federal District & Bankruptcy Courts

Legal Dockets Online Blog reports that the PACER U.S. Party Case Index now includes all Federal District and Bankruptcy Courts. It does not, however, include the following courts:

  • U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, SECOND CIRCUIT
  • U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, FIFTH CIRCUIT
  • U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, SEVENTH CIRCUIT
  • U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, ELEVENTH CIRCUIT
  • U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, FEDERAL CIRCUIT

December 6, 2007

Free Services to Help Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

I went to an excellent program the other day by the Wisconsin Office of Privacy Protection about protecting yourself from identity theft. It was very enlightening.

In addition to a lot of best practices, like not carrying around your social security number in your wallet and shredding all unwanted personally identifiable documents, I learned about several free services which can help you protect your privacy. And you can register for of them all right now from the comfort of your computer or phone.

You may already know about these, but they are definitely worth repeating.

  • Stop pre-approved credit card offers by calling 1-888-5OPTOUT or visit www.optoutprescreen.com. Complete the registration to opt out for five years. You can also opt out permanently by mailing the Opt-Out Election form available through the website.

  • Wisconsinites can register their phone numbers for Wisconsin's No Call list which limits the calls received from telemarketers. Call 1-866-9NO-CALL or sign up online at NoCall.Wisconsin.Gov. Your number will remain on the list for two years. It was suggested that you put a reminder on your calendar to re-register annually so you don't ever risk falling off the list.

  • Check your credit report regularly. You can get one free report per year from each of the three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You may request them by calling 1-877-322-8228 or going online at www.annualcreditreport.com.

    It was recommend that you not request them all at once form all three agencies, but rather, that you stagger them every four months. So, for example, you'd request one from one company in Dec, another from the second company in April, and another from the third company in August.

There are lots of other good tips on the Office of Privacy Protection web site at www.privacy.wi.gov. They also have tips on what to do if you are ever a victim of identity theft.

December 5, 2007

Lots of Cool 2.0 Apps for Libraries

Lots of cool Library 2.0 applications have come my way recently.

  • LibX is a browser plugin for Firefox and Internet Explorer by which libraries can create a customized toolbar to directly access their library's resources. It also installs a direct catalog search link into search results from Amazon, Google, and more.

  • The University of Ohio Libraries are using Skype for reference. See Library Success for other library online reference projects.

  • The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library has added a Meebo widget to unsuccessful keyword searches in our library catalog. Blogger David Lee King writes:
    This way, when a customer searches our catalog and doesn't find anything, they can contact us via IM and ask for help (we also display our phone number if they want to call).

  • Jason the Content Librarian reports that the University of Oregon Libraries have a new feature that allows you to send a text message from a library catalog record.
    This is great. Instead of students walking around with scraps of papers with call numbers written on them, they can simply text themselves and use that texted information to locate items in the library.

Thanks to All-Purpose BiblioBlawg, my UW Madison Libraries colleague, Nancy McClements, and Librarian in Black for the tips.

Blogs Cited in Change of Venue Arguement

In what is believed to be a first, a defense attorney in Tennessee is arguing for a change of venue citing blog posts along with newspaper and television reporting.

According to Law.com:

Attorney Philip Lomonaco of Knoxville, Tenn., called the Internet "the largest unregulated source for information" in the community, and said it had been used to "outrage and taint any jury pool" that could be seated to hear the case....

Source: Lex Scripta

December 4, 2007

Simplified Small Claims Forms

The Wisconsin State Court system has recently introduced new, more-user-friendly forms designed for people who are representing themselves in small claims actions. The forms are accompanied by plain-English instructions and are available both on the web and in hard copy.

See the Supreme Court press release for more information.

Source: Proof and Hearsay

December 3, 2007

Origins of the "Bubbler"


The Milwaukee Public Library traces the origin of the term "bubbler" back to the original 1888 Kohler trademark of that name.

To those readers outside of our great state: many Wisconsinites use the term "bubbler" in place of "drinking fountain".

Photo from Portland State University.

Hein Online Offers Live Help

Hein Online is now offering live chat search and tech support. Live help is accessible through the "Help" button found in the upper right hand corner, on the welcome screen, and in the technical and training sections of the home page.

If you aren't familiar with Hein Online, it is made up of several libraries, including law journals, CFR, Federal Register, codes, session laws, and much more. PDF page images are available. For more information, see Cheryl O'Connor's article in the Law School Newsletter.

Hein Online is available at the UW Law Library, Wisconsin State Law Library, Dane County Legal Resource Center, Milwaukee Legal Resource Center and Marquette Law Library. The Hein Online Law Journal Library is also available remotely to legal professionals with a Wisconsin State Law Library card.

Source: Hein Online Weblog

Revisor of Statutes Bureau Will Cease to Exist on January 1st

Did you notice the announcement on the top of the Revisor of Statutes Bureau's pages:

On January 1, 2008 the Revisor of Statutes Bureau will cease to exist and the Legislative Reference Bureau will assume responsibility for the Revisor's duties. This web page will continue to exist after January 1, 2008.

See my earlier post for more information about the change. Thanks to Vicky Coulter for pointing out the announcement.