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January 30, 2009

Get Real-Time WI Travel Info with New 511 Service

From a WI Department of Transportation press release:

Motorists can now get up-to-the-minute travel information by either dialing 511 or going to a new Web site offered by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The Web site, www.511wi.gov, provides travelers with traffic and road information on Wisconsin's main highways, including the Interstate system.

The new Web site features a map that graphically displays winter road conditions, traffic speeds, travel times, incidents, traffic camera images, road closures due to maintenance or construction, and potential future road closures.

Here's a screen shot of what the map looks like. If you check any of the features on the right, you can view them as you mouse over the map. Note the traffic camera shown below.511.jpg
Source: The Wheeler Report

WI Innocence Project Helps Reverse Wrongful Murder Conviction

From UW Madison News:

Robert Lee Stinson, a Milwaukee man convicted of homicide in 1985, is expected to be released from prison today (Jan. 30, 2009) based on new evidence of his innocence.

Stinson's attorneys with the Wisconsin Innocence Project and Milwaukee County District Attorney Norm Gahn have agreed that the new evidence -- consisting of new forensic analysis of bite mark evidence and new exculpatory DNA evidence -- requires setting aside Stinson's conviction. Pending the expected approval of the court, Stinson will walk out the doors of New Lisbon Correctional Institution after 23 years of wrongful incarceration.

January 29, 2009

Why Social Networking is Important to Legal Professionals

Have you been hearing the buzz about social networking but aren't sure if it's worth your time and effort to check it out? What is social networking? What possible use could it be to a legal professional, you ask?

Practicing Law in the 21st Century has written a good post which asks Can Lawyers Afford to Ignore Social Media? Their answer - definitely not. From the post:

People of all ages are increasingly relying on the Internet and mobile-based tools to share, discuss, and disseminate information.

Lawyers cannot afford to be left out of the loop. Attorneys who successfully leverage social media tools to communicate, collaborate and network have a distinct advantage over those who don't.

The post describes the experience of one Dallas attorney "who received a crash course in the power of social media when a letter that was critical of him was widely circulated and discussed online." Take a look at the full story and then ask yourself if you still think you can ignore social networking. There's a lot of talking going on on social networks and some of it might be about you, your firm, or your clients.

As Practicing Law notes,

It is not necessary for each and every lawyer in a firm to learn the ins and outs of social media. But at least one person, or group of persons, depending on the size the firm, should be familiar with emerging Web 2.0 technologies and the ways in which those technologies can help and harm their bottom line. Other lawyers in the firm likewise should be receptive and listen to their recommendations regarding social media.

Source: Social Media Law Student

January 28, 2009

Library Elf, Library Account Notification Service, to Charge for Premium Service

I'm a heavy user of our local public library. I love that I can go online, put things on hold, and then pick them up at my leisure. Keeping track of when things come in and when they are due back again can be a hassle, however.

Enter Library Elf, a handy little service which tracks your account at the public library. Just enter your library card number and pin number, and Elf will send you an alert via email or RSS before your books are due. And if you place holds on library materials, Elf alert you when those are available, too. You can also sign up to receive alerts for other family members if they've given you their pin number. See my earlier blog post on Library Elf.

Due to rising costs, Library Elf has recently announced that they will start charging for some services. There will be two levels of service: a basic service which is free and a premium service which is subscription based. From their web site:

  • Basic Service

    The basic service provides email reminders similar to those found in existing library email reminders: single card with just pre-dues and over dues. This free service is mainly for users whose libraries do not have a pre-due or overdue email reminder service. If your library does provide such a service then you should use theirs instead of ours. [FYI - The Madison area libraries offer such a service]

  • Premium Service

    The premium service provides multiple ways of monitoring your library cards. This is mainly for users who frequent different libraries, have families with young children and users who frequent the library a lot.

A number of libraries have contracted with Library Elf to offer the premium service to their patrons at no charge. These libraries automatically show up when you add a card to your Elf account and will have the "subscribed" designation after their name.

January 26, 2009

Rex Libris Coming to the Big Screen?

Variety reports that Warner Bros. Pictures has hired Mark Burton to pen the bigscreen adaptation of James Turner's comicbook "Rex Libris," about an everyday guy who becomes part of a secret sect of librarians who battle forces of darkness in chasing down overdue or stolen books.

Source: PLI Library Relations

UW-Madison Remote Access Bookmarklet Prompts Users to Login to Licensed Databases

This one is just for UW-Madison folks:

The UW Madison Libraries have created a remote access bookmarklet. Why should I care, you might ask?

Imagine that you want to access one of the databases to which the UW-Madison Libraries subscribe, such as Hein Online. So you do a Google search for Hein Online and come up with the following url: http://heinonline.org/.

If you're on campus, no problem - click it and you'll go right through. But, if you're off campus, you probably won't be able to get in because the url you're using isn't "proxied" - i.e. it doesn't know to ask you for your UW-Madison net id and password.

That's were the remote access bookmarklet comes it. You can still identify yourself as a valid UW-Madison user by clicking on the remote access bookmarklet in your list of bookmarks. (See installation instructions)

This will redirect you to a page where you can login with your NetID and gain access to licensed content. (Learn more about bookmarklets)

Note - there are a number of databases to which the Law Library subscribes that aren't available campus-wide. This bookmarklet will not work for those resources. To access those, use the links from our database list. These urls are proxied for the Law School network. You'll need to enter your Law School network id and password to gain access.

Source: Ebling Library News

January 22, 2009

Share Zotero Citation Lists with Zotz

"Zotero helps you collect and manage citations. Zotz helps you make them public."

From Zotero:

The Zotero team is making solid progress on a variety of collaborative features. But, if you want to publish and share items today, you might be interested in Zotz. The Zotz plugin allows you to publish Zotero collections through MIT's Citeline project. If you want to see this feature in action, just watch this screencast.

With just two clicks, you'll be looking at an Exhibit of whichever Zotero citation collection you choose. After installing Zotz, the gear dropdown menu will include a new entry labeled Export to Citeline... Select a collection (or your entire library), click to the new export, and you'll see an Exhibit in a new tab.

Here's a sample bibliography that I created using Zotero and then exported to Citeline using Zotz.zotz.jpg

January 21, 2009

FDsys to Replace GPO Access

A new system called Federal Digital System (FDsys) is slated to replace GPO Access. GPO's FDsys is an advanced digital system that will enable GPO to manage Government information in a digital form.

According to the FDsys Current Status report:

The information on GPO Access is in the process of being migrated to FDsys, a process that will be complete in mid-2009. The migration is occurring on a collection-by-collection basis. The information on GPO Access will remain current and continue to be available until migration is complete.

Collections currently available for search in FDsys are:

* Congressional Bills
* Congressional Documents
* Congressional Hearings
* Congressional Record
* Congressional Reports
* Federal Register
* Public and Private Laws
* Compilation of Presidential Documents

Stay up to date with FDsys news by subscribing to the FDsys blog.
Source: Yale Law Library Reference Blog

January 15, 2009

Madison Crime Reports - View Neighborhood Maps & Receive Alerts

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that Madison is participating in a new online service that allows members of the public to monitor crime in their neighborhoods. CrimeReports.com allows users to zero in on a map of the city and view recent crimes within the vicinity (excluding traffic citations and crashes).. They can also sign up to receive free e-mail alerts when any new crimes are reported.

Here's a sample of the neighborhood surrounding the law school:crime.jpg

Madison is only the second city in the state to use the system - New Berlin was the first. About 400 other cities nationwide use the system also.

From the article:

Users can select which types of crimes to track -- from homicides to noise complaints. They also can adjust the reporting distance from a specific address, search by police sector or aldermanic ward, or search within a range of dates going back six months. The site also tracks the location of registered sex offenders.

The Web site combines Google's online mapping program with information automatically provided daily by the Madison Police Department. The city pays $130 a month to feed information from its police records management system to a Utah-based Internet company, Public Engines....

Michael Scott, a University of Wisconsin-Madison law professor who specializes in law enforcement, said he has encouraged Madison police for years to follow the lead of other police agencies around the country and post their crime data online.

"The data can have a reassuring effect by showing citizens that their neighborhoods are not necessarily as crime-ridden as they might otherwise believe," Scott said. "Other times, the data are helpful in informing citizens that there is a crime problem in their neighborhood which might motivate them and police to take steps to address."

See also Criminal Searches, a 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. See my earlier WisBlawg post on this service.

January 14, 2009

Law Library Blogs List Tops 150

I'm pleased to report that my list of law library blogs has recently reached 150. It's wonderful that law librarians are so active in the blogosphere.

If you know of any blogs that I've missed, please contact me and I'll add them to the list.

January 9, 2009

Wisconsin State Law Library Now Offers Wi-Fi

Library users at Wisconsin State Law Library can now access the Internet wirelessly. Just stop by the Circulation Desk and ask for the Wi-Fi password, which changes daily. Wired internet access also remains available. If you don't have your own Cat5 cable, you may sign one out from the Circulation Desk.

Source: WSLL @ Your Service

January 8, 2009

Where is My Bus? Find out in Real Time with Madison Metro's WebWatch

One of my biggest problems with riding the bus (when I used to ride it) is having to wait around for a late bus - irritating in good weather but downright miserable in below freezing temps. Yeah, I know that for various reasons delays are unavoidable, but for some reason I'm just not all that sympathetic after I've lost feeling in my extremities.

That's why I think that a new project from the Madison Metro is so cool. According to a press release as published in The Isthmus, Madison Metro is testing a new service called WebWatch which provides real time transit information on the Internet. That means bus riders can wait in inside somewhere warm until right before the next bus is due to arrive. Here's what it looks like:
bus.jpg

Apparently the service is still in testing phase and its url will change when it's ready for final release. At that time, the site will be available as a link from mymetrobus.com and cityofmadison.com.

From Madison Metro via The Isthmus:

You should be able to access the site from any computer with an Internet connection. This is not the website address that we will publicize after the testing phase. You may have different experiences depending on the Internet browser that you use; for example the Virtual Earth Map does not work with Firefox and the Google Maps interface seems to work faster with the Firefox browser.

Please note this disclaimer: This site is in testing mode. Please check the Metro Transit Website for information regarding detours and stop closures. This site may not show accurate information where route and stop deviations occur. During special events or severe weather, buses running severely late may be rescheduled or replaced with extra vehicles.

Source: Steenbock Memorial Library blog

January 7, 2009

Indexes to Wisconsin Newspapers

Newspapers can be a rich source of historical information, but finding articles on your topics of interest can be difficult - particularly for older articles. Fortunately, several state libraries offer indexes to Wisconsin newspapers.

  • The Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau Library maintains a collection of newspaper and magazine article clippings, organized by subject and arranged chronologically. There are clippings in over 1500 different subject areas, many of them law-related. There is also a biography index listing names of prominent Wisconsinites who are mentioned among the articles. Some of the earliest clippings go back to the library's inception in 1901.

  • The Milwaukee History Clippings Index from the Milwaukee Public Library is a subject listing of people, places, events, etc. represented in newspaper articles that were clipped from Milwaukee area newspapers published mainly in the middle to late 20th century.

    This finding tool lets the searcher know if there are articles on a particular subject, but does not give citations to the articles. Therefore, a visit to the Central Library is necessary to review the contents.

  • The Milwaukee Public Library also has print-based card indexes to the Milwaukee Sentinel, 1837-1890 and the Milwaukee Journal, 1915-1917. Both indexes are located in the Periodicals room.

  • The South Central Library System also maintains an index of Wisconsin newspapers through the LINKcat library catalog.

    Includes the following titles:

    • Several Baraboo newspapers (1850-1994 - incomplete)
    • Portage Daily Register (1995-present)
    • Mount Horeb newspapers (dates unknown)
    • Several Reedsburg newspapers (1888 - present)
    • Wisconsin State Journal (1966-1996)
    • Several Wisconsin magazines (1998-present)

  • More recently, full text Wisconsin newspapers are available through Badgerlink's ProQuest Wisconsin Newsstand. Badgerlink is freely available to all Wisconsinites.

    It includes the following titles:

    • Corporate Report Wisconsin; Menomonee Falls (2003 - current)
    • The Daily Reporter; Milwaukee (1997 - current, some exceptions)
    • La Crosse Tribune; La Crosse (1991 - current)
    • Madison Capital Times; Madison (1991 - current)
    • Marketplace; Appleton (1994 - current)
    • Marshfield News Herald; Marshfield (dates unknown)
    • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Milwaukee (1995 - current)
    • News; Kenosha (1991 - 2000)
    • Northeastern Wisconsin Business Review; Neeah (1992 - 1993)
    • Rhinelander Daily News; Rhinelander (1993 - current)
    • Wausau Daily Herald; Wausau (dates unknown)
    • Wisconsin State Journal; Madison (1991 - current)

  • You may also find some Wisconsin newspapers in Google News. It's not clear which papers are included or what the dates of coverage may be, but it's worth a look.

Anyone know of any other indexes that I'm missing?

Thanks to my colleague, Bev Butula for her Wisconsin Law Journal post on the Milwaukee PL Clippings file.

Survey Measures Students' Law School Experiences

There is an interesting article in today's Chronicle of Higher Education on the results of the 2008 Law School Survey of Student Engagement. The author particularly discusses one section of the report, Computers in the Law School Classroom.

Law-school professors are fed up with students using laptop computers in class to surf to Facebook, eBay, everything but LexisNexis. And some have even banned the distracting machines. But results from a new survey show that an outright ban might not be such a good idea....

When used wisely, laptops can actually enhance student engagement. The survey found that class-related laptop use correlates highly with reported gains in several areas, including critical and analytical thinking.

Other areas of the report include Ethical and Professional Development in Law School and Developing Legal Skills. The full report is available on the survey's Web site.

Source: LexLibris

January 2, 2009

PDF Tools: Alternatives to Acrobat

Digital Inspiration has a handy list of free tools for working with PDF documents if you don't have Adobe Acrobat.

The list covers everything from creating PDFs, to merging PDFs, to setting password restrictions, to filling in PDF forms and more.

Source: PDF for Lawyers