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February 13, 2013

Thomson Reuters Sells Law School Publishing Division

By Kris Turner, Reference and Technology Services Librarian

Thomson Reuters has officially gotten out of print publishing for law schools. On Friday, February 2nd, the publishing wing of the legal research giant was sold to Eureka Growth Capital, a private equity firm located in Philadelphia. It seems that paper publishing is not something that Thomson Reuters will be involved with in the future, at least for legal research. According to spokesman John Shaughnessy, "It's a segment of the market that, longer-term, we didn't see as within the core of our legal research offerings...", suggesting that Thomson Reuters will be focusing solely on electronic content in the near future.

Westlaw Next and other e-resources that Thomson Reuters provides will continue to be available to legal researchers. The publishing wing, which was sold for an undisclosed sum, will continue to publish various textbooks and study guides, but will now go under the name "West Academic Publishing". Thomson's legal business, of which the publishing was only a small part, will continue with sales of software and online databases.

For more information, see Eureka Growth Capital's press release or read the brief articles covering the sale in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal or Wall Street Journal Blog.

February 12, 2013

Digital Commons Network Makes Open Access Articles More Accessible

bepress recently launched a new product called The Digital Commons Network. It indexes and makes available scholarship contained in the broad network of open access institutional repositories that use the Digital Commons platform. Digital Common Network is available to researchers at no cost.

According to the about page, "the Digital Commons Network brings together scholarship from hundreds of universities and colleges, providing open access to peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, dissertations, working papers, conference proceedings, and other original scholarly work."

The main Network covers all subject areas included in the Digital Commons repositories. However, legal researchers may be most interested in the Law Network, which is a subset of the full product.

Once in the Law Network, you can do a broad search for scholarship in all legal subject areas, or you can narrow your search by practice area first (on the left). On the right side, there is a display of the most popular institutions, authors or articles in that subject area. This is based on the number of downloads.

There are also several options to follow content by email. You can follow all new scholarship or just content in a specific practice area or choose to follow the most popular institutions, authors or articles.

February 7, 2013

WisBar Launches New Website

By Kris Turner, Reference and Technology Services Librarian

The Wisconsin State Bar launched a completely redesigned website on February 4th. Located at http://www.wisbar.org, the new site is the first upgrade since 2005. Combining resources that can be used by both the public and by members, the new site also features an intuitive navigation bar, improved lawyer searching and a distinctive home page for members to view all of their purchased content. While the transition has led to some issues, the website does improve it's navigability and usability.

The biggest change that visitors will notice is the enhancement of the home page and the addition of the navigation bar. The site is divided into five categories: About us, for Members, Marketplace, News and Publication, and for Public. Hovering your mouse over each of these options gives you a drop-down menu that allows you to select an even more specific area of the content to explore. With the advent and continuing popularity of Google-type searches, some users may find the search box to be more helpful. Located at the top right-hand side of the site, simply type into the box what you are looking for, and the entire site will be quickly searched.

Gaining access to member content is obviously one of the most important elements to the Wisconsin Bar website. When you sign into your account by clicking on "myStatebar" at the top right, you will be taken to a personalized home page that lists all the resources you have access to, which may include Books Unbound and Fastcase Legal Research. This page is customizable, and users can follow legal news that may be of interest to them. Users can also interact with other legal professionals by posting comments to news stories and adding more information to their profile.

Giving staff at a busy law office or library access to the resources is critical. After clicking the "myStatebar" link on the top right, State Bar members can then click on "myStaff", which is the farthest selection on the right. Here bar members may add staff, thereby sharing access to resources, such as Books Unbound, that are available to the member. Currently, the "myStaff" is still being designed and built, but once the final touches have been made behind the scenes, it will be possible for members to allow their entire staff access to the resources using only one log-in.

The transition hasn't been entirely smooth. Access to Books Unbound for both the UW Law Library and the State Bar Library has been affected. We are working with the State Bar to resolve this issue. Some areas of the site are still under construction, such as the above-mentioned staff access. As with many new sites, it takes time to get used to where the new locations for links are located. Nevertheless, the new website is an improvement over the previous one, and once these issues are worked out, should be helpful to visitors.

Improving and maintaining website navigation and content is a great challenge for any organization. The Wisconsin State Bar has redesigned their website to be more intuitive and to provide a 'one-stop shop' experience for legal professionals and the public. While the site is still a work in progress, check it out for yourself at http://www.wisbar.org. The staff at the State Bar wants your feedback on what you think of the new website. Email any thoughts you may have to WisBarFeedback@wisbar.org.