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July 30, 2008

SSRN Improves Article and Author Pages

It appears that SSRN (Social Science Research Network) has made some interface improvements to its author and article pages. Very nice. For those that may not be familiar with it, SSRN is an open access repository of scholarly papers.

Article page:
Notice the large download buttons at the top of the article page. They appear when you "Choose Download Location" link. This is a nice improvement since it wasn't entirely clear how to download on the old format. If you click on the "Share" link at the top, you'll see links to save/share the url on Digg, Del.icio.us, etc. At the bottom of the page, you have the option to export the cite to EndNote, BibTeX and RefMan. That may or may not be new, but I've never noticed it.

Author page:
The author page also has some nice options. At the very top, notice the RSS feed which will notify you of all new papers and revisions by that author. (This isn't new, but it's worth repeating.)

In the listing of articles, statistics to number of downloads and citations appear on the right. In the actions bar across the top, you can email or export citations to selected articles in the list. You can also choose to view or hide abstracts in the article list.

July 29, 2008

Slydial Connects You Directly to Voicemail

A new service called Slydial connects you directly to to someone's mobile voicemail - without ever having the phone ring. Sneaky.

Here's how it works:

  1. Dial 267-SLYDIAL (267-759-3425) from any landline or mobile phone.
    (It doesn't work if you have caller id blocked on your phone)
  2. At the voice prompt, enter the U.S. mobile phone number of the person you want to slydial.
  3. After a brief ad, you will be directly connected to their voicemail.

I tried this out on my husband's cell phone and it really works. It put me right in his voicemail with no indication that I'd done anything differently. I can think of a few good uses for this. Can you? Here are some from Slydial.

The Virtual Chase Comes to an End

Genie Tyburski has announced that she's closing down The Virtual Chase. Wow - the end of an era.

I will take down the site gradually over the next several months unless I find someone willing to archive it or continue its development. I anticipate that the site will be completely offline by no later than May 2009 (and quite possibly, sooner) except in the event of a new owner.

July 25, 2008

Free Criminal History Search for Individuals or Entire Neighborhoods

Criminal Searches is a new site that allows you to do just what its name implies - run a criminal history check on specific people or generally for a geographic area.

From an AP story:

Created by the folks behind PeopleFinders.com, the new site crunches monthly government data down to the state and county level, says Bryce Lane, president and chief operating officer of PeopleFinders.com.

"What we're really good at is establishing connections across all these different data sets, linking it back to a particular person," Lane said, acknowledging, however, that some data might be missing. The company also doesn't tap into federal crime data.

The Neighborhood Watch feature lets you focus your search by address or ZIP code. You can also search by a person's name or specific home address, and there's a separate search with a detailed map of registered sex offenders.

All I can say is WOW. I ran a general check of my street (I live in small town USA) and was completely shocked by the number of people listed - and all overlayed on a Google map of my neighborhood. Criminal Searches also includes an legend of the type of crime for which an individual was charged. See, for example, this map of the UW Madison campus area.

Not surprisingly, some are questioning the product.

Yet, if a neighbor was not convicted and is otherwise innocent this may not matter to CriminalSearches.com. If you land on the list, prepare to save money on Halloween candy and rest assured you'll have a less cluttered social calender -- as word moves along about the free criminal background search website.

Source: MakeUseOf.com

July 22, 2008

Survey Finds that Most Law Librarians Prefer Westlaw to LexisNexis

Two librarians from Stanford Law School, J. Paul Lomio and Erika V. Wayne, have recently published the results of their study analyzing law librarians opinions on LexisNexis v. Westlaw.

As costs for research tools, both online and paper, continue to increase, librarians are often faced with the difficult decision of what materials can and should be canceled, and what new acquisitions can be made.

The survey, titled "LexisNexis vs. Westlaw," was designed to answer a few of our key questions: which database could be canceled?, what some of the effects might be from cancellation?, and what low cost or free legal research alternatives are available and

Interestingly, law librarians overwhelmingly preferred Westlaw.
See the complete study for the full results, including why respondents had a preference for one system over the other.

Milwaukee Area Libraries Using RFID to Improve Efficiency

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on the use of RFID in Milwaukee area libraries.

West Allis is among a handful of local libraries in Milwaukee County -- including Greenfield, Wauwatosa and Franklin -- that are moving from a bar code system of tracking materials to radio frequency identification, or RFID.

Using scanners to detect tiny microchips embedded in each item -- installing those is a herculean feat on the front end -- staff can do everything from checking books in and out to locating misshelved items, even determining which items haven't been borrowed for years...

"Prior to this, every item checked out had to be physically opened up, the bar code located inside a fly page or inside the CD, and then it had to be read under a light," Wauwatosa Library Director Mary Murphy said.

"Now, nobody opens anything. You slide it over a panel, and it's out," said Murphy, who eliminated two part-time positions with the conversion. "Multiply that times 700,000, and repeat for the return cycle, and that's how much labor's being saved."

Source: WLA Blog

July 21, 2008

Nominate Legal Support Staff for 2008 Unsung Heroes Award

Once again, it's time to nominate your favorite legal support staff for the Wisconsin Law Journal's Unsung Heroes award.

From the Web site:

Lawyers in Wisconsin do terrific work. But where would they be without the members of their support staff who, behind the scenes, quietly make it all happen?

In the fast-paced, demanding legal profession, it takes a team of hard-working, dedicated individuals to get the job done. Everyone does their part in ensuring the firm's success -- and the success of its clients. That's why the Wisconsin Law Journal is honored to host its third-annual event for our "Unsung Heroes" of the state's legal community.

Please join us on November 14 at Milwaukee's Italian Community Center as we host the "Unsung Heroes" whose efforts are essential to helping law firms and courts run efficiently.

We'll recognize several categories, including: Secretary, Paralegal, Law Librarian, Administrator, Human Resources, IT Specialists, Marketers, and Court Staff. Registration: 11:30 a.m. Lunch: noon Award presentation to follow lunch

Madison Magazine's Restaurant Week

July 27-August 1is Madison Magazine's Summer Restaurant Week. During these six days, Madison's finest restaurants will offer three special, fixed-price, three course menus for just $25 per person.

A list of participating restaurants is available at the Madison Magazine Web site. Thanks to my colleague, Cindy May for the tip.

Many of these restaurants have been recommended and reviewed by the UW Law School Faculty & Staff. See the interactive map compiled by the Law Library staff.

July 17, 2008

HeinOnline Features Article Citator

I was doing some research in HeinOnline this afternoon and was surprised to find that they now have an article citator. When viewing an article, there is a link to "Articles That Cite This Article" at the very top. Nice.
According to the HeinOnline Weblog, this feature was added in May.

Subject Compilations of State Laws Coming to HeinOnline

HeinOnline has announced that it will soon be adding Subject Compilations of State Laws as an a-la-carte library module. According to the HeinOnline Weblog

This database contains references to more than 17,000 sources of 50-state surveys published in law review articles, books, court briefs and opinions, federal and state government publications, and loose-leaf services. Researchers will have the ability to search all 25 volumes in one place and link directly to journals found within HeinOnline.

As its name implies, Subject Compilations of State Laws is a great source for finding books and articles containing fifty state surveys of state law on specific subjects. Westlaw and LexisNexis also offer fifty state survey products.

Historic Milwaukee Photos

The Milwaukee Public Library has recently made available a collection of historic Milwaukee photographs.

The library's collection consists of over 50,000 photographs of Milwaukee dating from the late 19th century to the present, although only a fraction of these are yet available online.

For more historic images, see the collections of the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Library of Congress.

Source: Now @ MPL

July 13, 2008

Wisconsin State Journal Names UW Law Library as One of the Best Quiet Hideaways in Madison

The Wisconsin State Journal has named the UW Law Library as one of the best "quiet" places in Madison.

Searching for solitude? Nothing beats the void-like hush of UW-Madison's Law Library. Open to the public, its five floors offer nooks, crannies and the kind of heavy silence that could make mimes squirm.

Now before you get the wrong idea thinking we librarians are a bunch of bun-wearing shushers, you should know that it's not the librarians shushing you - it's the law students!

Recently, one of my colleagues had the pleasure of going on the UW Madison campus tour with her daughter who was enrolling as a new student. As the tour progressed up Bascom Hill, the tour guide stopped to point out the Law Library - a.k.a. the "hush-hush" library.

Thanks to my colleague, Cheryl O'Connor for sharing this story with me.

July 7, 2008

Web 2.0 Challenge Course Now Available

Are you interested in learning about applications like blogs, wikis, and Second Life, but don't have a lot of time? Take the AALL Computing Service Special Interest Section's Web 2.0 Challenge!

The Web 2.0 Challenge -- a free, comprehensive, and interactive online course -- will use hands-on exercises to introduce many kinds of social technologies in just five weeks. The course is intended for those who have little experience with these technologies but are interested in learning more.

The course is designed for law librarians, but most of the content is appropriate for any library or legal professional.

Although enrollment in the course is now full, anyone may follow along with the course as a guest. Most of the course content will be available to you. To access the course, go to http://www.cssis.org/Web20Challenge/login/ and select "Login as guest"

The course is scheduled for the five weeks after the AALL Annual Meeting (July 21-Aug. 24, 2008). You may follow along with this schedule, or at your own pace if you prefer.

If you're planning to attend the AALL Annual Meeting, I invite you to attend session H1, Cool Tools: Energizing Law Librarianship with Web 2.0 on Tuesday from 9:00 to 10:30. I'll be leading one of the showcases in which I'll discuss the Web 2.0 Challenge and preview the course content.

If you have any questions about the Web 2.0 Challenge, please contact me as I'm one of the course organizers. This also explains why I haven't posted much to WisBlawg lately - sorry!