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November 25, 2008

Planning for Black Friday Shopping

Black Friday will soon be upon us. The day after Thanksgiving is one of if not THE biggest shopping day of the year.

If you're planning to brave the crowds, it pays to do a little pre-planning so you can maximize your time by knowing where you can get the best deals.

A site called Black Friday 2008 can help you do just that. They've gathered together the sales ads from hundreds of stores. The site features both an RSS feed of recently released ads as well as a search engine so you can find the lowest prices for items on your gift list.

For those of you that aren't quite brave enough to face the crowds, Black Friday 2008 also has information about online shopping deals.

November 24, 2008

Judge Disallows Electronic Legal Research Cost Recovery

A federal judge has disallowed attorneys to recover electronic legal research fees as part of a $31.5 million settlement against Coca-Cola.

From Law.com:

Among the expenses [U.S. District Court Judge Willis B.] Hunt disallowed was $93,960.67 for LexisNexis, Westlaw and Online Library Research, writing, "This Court is of the opinion that charging separately for use of a research service is akin to charging for the use of a case law reporter. That is, the research service is a tool, much like a computer or a pen, and this Court considers the use of such a service part of a firm's overhead. ... Moreover, this Court is aware that many firms pay a flat rate to Lexis and Westlaw regardless of their usage, and class counsel cannot claim such flat rate payments as an out-of-pocket expense."

Source: Vancouver Law Librarian Blog & Law Firm Bottom_Line

November 21, 2008

LIFE Photo Archive Available via Google

Google has recently released a LIFE magazine photo archive. The archive contains millions of photographs, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time.

I particularly enjoyed this cover image titled "The Good Life in Madison, Wisconsin" dated September 6, 1948.

November 19, 2008

State Offers Free SAT, ACT, & GRE Prep Tool

From Channel 3000:

Wisconsin students can study for their SAT and ACT exams for free on a new state Web site.

KnowHow2GoWisconsin announced Friday that its Web site now has tutorials and interactive practice sessions for the two college entrance exams as well as the graduate school exam known as the GRE.

Milwaukee and Madison-area public library patrons can also use LearningExpressLibrary which features test prep for the SAT, ACT, GRE and many other exams, including the LSAT.

New Wisconsin Law Blog

There's a new addition to the Wisconsin blawgosphere - Wisconsin Lawyers Blog. Welcome!

From the Wisconsin Law Journal:

With 8 Wisconsin attorneys blogging at the site, in the categories of civil litigation, real estate, business law, personal injury, and intellectual property, it will be a great addition to the legal community.

November 18, 2008

UW Law Prof Alta Charo Named to Obama Transition Team

University of Wisconsin Law School Professor Alta Charo has been selected for President Elect Obama's HHS agency review team. How exciting!

Professor Charo is the Warren P. Knowles Professor of Law and Bioethics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where she is on the faculty of the Law School and the Medical School's Department of Medical History and Bioethics. See her extremely impressive bio for more.

See also Nan Hunter's (Professor at Georgetown Law) list of other law professors named to the transition team.

November 17, 2008

Wisconsin Law Journal Names Unsung Heroes

I'm very honored to have been selected as one of the winners of the Wisconsin Law Journal's Unsung Heroes award. The awards were presented at a luncheon at the Italian Community Center in Milwaukee last Friday.

The award I received was in the Law Library staff category. WLJ also recognized award winners in seven other categories - Court Staff, Human Resources, Information Technology, Law Firm Administrators, Legal Secretaries, Paralegals, and Additional Unsung Heroes.

For more photos of the event, see the WLJ Flickr page.

November 13, 2008

Google Tracks the Flu

From BBC News:

Google's philanthropic arm Google.org has released a new site that tracks the incidence of flu in the US based on terms used in Google searches.
Is there anything that Google can't do?

Thanks to my colleague, Nancy Paul for the tip.

November 11, 2008

Star Trek and the Value of Law Books

Kirk's lawyer, Samuel T. Cogley, defends the value of law books over computerized research. Glad to know that they'll still be around in the 23rd century.

Hat tip to Law Librarian Blog

Fastcase Now Free to WI Bar Members

From the Wisconsin Law Journal:

Oct. 31 marked the State Bar of Wisconsin's roll-out of its newest, and by far most significant, member benefit: It launched free access to Fastcase for bar members...

A couple of months ago, I talked to law librarian Mary J. Koshollek, of Godfrey & Kahn S.C. in Milwaukee, about Fastcase for an article about alternatives to Westlaw and Lexis.

Although none of the competitors can match them with regard to the sheer volume of materials, Koshollek nonetheless gave Fastcase a thumbs-up. She praised its Google-like searchablity, clean interface and extensive customer service and help options.

Read the full article for more on the State Bar's Fastcase service, including some recent improvements.

WI State Law Library After Hours Service

From the November WSLL @ Your Service newsletter:

2009 After Hours Subscriptions - Now's the Time!

Wisconsin Attorneys: Would you like the convenience of using the State Law Library later in the evening or on weekends? Now's the time to subscribe to our After Hours Service. A calendar-year subscription includes access to the library from 5pm to 10pm Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and a convenient key fob for easy access into the building. As an After Hours subscriber, you'll have access to the general library collection and all the electronic resources available on our public access PCs. You can also make photocopies and check out circulating library materials as needed. Details and application forms are available on our After Hours Service webpage.

Links to Online Books Added to MadCat Library Catalog

Earlier this week the UW Madison campus libraries added links from the MadCat library catalog to online versions of volumes in Google Books Search or the CIC shared digital repository,HathiTrust.

If an item we have in MadCat has been digitized by Google and is present in the Google Books or HathiTrust database, the MadCat record will have a link labeled "View Available Text Online". That link will take patrons to a list of digitized copies and give them information about copyright status, etc. Also, if the ISBN of a book is in Google Books, a cover image will be shown in the MadCat record.

Example MadCat record

November 10, 2008

Legal History, Archives Student Essay Contest

The American Association of Law Libraries announces the first annual Morris L. Cohen Student Essay Contest.

Currently enrolled students attending graduate programs in library science, law, history, or related subjects are eligible to enter the competition. Papers may be on any topic related to legal history, rare law books, or legal archives. Papers must be submitted by April 15, 2009.

November 7, 2008

Are Major Changes in Store for the LSAT?

From Law.com:

UC-Berkeley School of Law researchers say they have identified tests that could be used along with it to better predict success in the practice of law. And the law school's dean is trying to round up support from other schools to take the research to a national level.

Roughly 10 years have passed since Berkeley law professor Marjorie Shultz set out to find a more complete way to test students for admission to law school. This fall, she and Berkeley psychology professor Sheldon Zedeck have wrapped up their findings in a 100-page report, now available on the law school's Web site. They say the LSAT, with its focus on cognitive skills, does not measure for skills such as creativity, negotiation, problem-solving or stress management, but that they have found promising new and existing tests from the employment context that do.

Thanks to my colleague, Bev Butula for passing this on.

CiteGenie Now Captures Citations from Westlaw AND LexisNexis

Thanks to Scott Frey who alerted me to some changes with CiteGenie. If you didn't catch my earlier post about it, CiteGenie is a new extension for the Firefox web browser that, as its website promises, "automagically" creates Bluebook formatted pinpoint citations when copying from Westlaw.

The good news is that CiteGenie now supports LexisNexis as well. And, it also offers improved compatibility with Jureeka. See the change log for these and other upgrades.

It also appears that when you install CiteGenie, you're only getting a 90 day trial. After that, you have to register. Scott reports that the license fee is currently $14.97 for 3 computers plus $4.99 for each additional computer. I'm not sure where this is listed - I didn't see it on the site.

I wish that CiteGenie had made this clear right up front. While it's still an excellent value for the money, the fact that you thought you were getting something for free and then find out you're not tends to leave a bad taste in your mouth. But still, I highly recommend this resource.

November 6, 2008

WisBlawg Featured at Blawg.com

I'm honored to report that WisBlawg is one of the featured blogs over at Blawg.com.

If you're not familiar with it, Blawg is a portal of legal blogs. It features a search engine for legal blog content, as well as a directory of individual legal blogs. Very useful when you want to find about the buzz about a particular legal topic or for discovering new blogs in your practice area.


November 4, 2008

GMU Drops EndNote; Goes Ahead with Zotero Sync Preview

From Zotero: George Mason University has released an official statement about the Thomson Reuters lawsuit. The press release is copied below.

The Thomson Reuters Corporation has sued the Commonwealth of Virginia over Zotero, a project based at George Mason University's Center for History and New Media (CHNM). A free and open-source software initiative, Zotero aims to create the world's best research tool and has already been adopted by hundreds of thousands of users at countless colleges and research universities. CHNM announces that it has re-released the full functionality of Zotero 1.5 Sync Preview to its users and the open source community.

As part of its formal response to this legal action, Mason will also not renew its site license for EndNote. As academics themselves, the creators of the Zotero project strive to serve the scholarly community and to respond to its needs in an age of digital research. In line with that simple goal, they maintain that anything created by users of Zotero belongs to those users, and that it should be as easy as possible for Zotero users to move to and from the software as they wish, without friction. CHNM concurs with the journal Nature, which recently editorialized about this matter: "The virtues of interoperability and easy data-sharing among researchers are worth restating."

CHNM remains committed to the openness it has promoted since its founding at Mason in 1994 and to the freedoms of users of its websites and software. Its ambitious development cycle and plans for Zotero's future remain unchanged. CHNM will continue to develop and implement new research technologies in the pursuit of better ways to create and share scholarship. CHNM greatly appreciates the many supportive comments it has received from scholars, librarians, and administrators around the globe.

George Mason isn't letting this suit stall plans for the much anticipated syncable version of Zotero. They announced last week "the release of Sync Preview 3, the final preview release of Zotero 1.5 before the initial public beta."

Given that they've dropped their site license for EndNote, it's unclear whether researchers will be still able to transfer citations between Zotero and EndNote.

62% of Cambridge Law Students Admit to Plagiarism

The Chronicle of Higher Education blog reports that "Half the students at the University of Cambridge have plagiarized, according to results of a survey by Varsity, a student newspaper at the university.... Law students, the newspaper said, broke the rules most often, with 62 percent admitting that they had plagiarized."

In response to the story, Legal Blog Watch asks

So what's up with law students? Is it the training to rely on precedent -- which encourages us to cut and paste quotes and holding from other cases -- that makes law students more prone to plagiarism? Are law students under more stress, and therefore, more tempted to cut corners or cheat? Or does our profession just encourage dishonest actors?

As one commenter points out, the study was taken by UK students and in the UK the study of law is usually undertaken at a much younger age. So it's unclear how accurate an indicator might it be of law students in the US.

Sign up to Receive Notice Before Library Books are Due

Starting November 3, 2008, Madison area public library users will be able to receive an e-mail notice two days before checked out items are due. This service will be available on an "opt-in" basis, so if you would like to participate, please contact your local library.

Or, you can use Library Elf like I do. Elf is a free service that works at lots of libraries, including a whole bunch in Wisconsin.

Elf will send you:

  • Email and/or RSS alerts before items are due
  • Email and/or RSS alerts on overdues and holds
  • Consolidated list of yours or your family's library loans and holds
  • Cellphone text message alerts for holds (US and Canada)
  • Real-time checking by browser

I'd be lost without this service. My family uses our local library quite heavily. Trying to keep track of items would be a nightmare without these notices.