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September 25, 2013

An Update: Changes for CCAP?

Late last week, a Wisconsin Law Journal article (Subscription required) discussed how the focus of recent bills proposing changes to Wisconsin's Court Access Website (CCAP) may be changing. The senators who sponsored the bill have received feedback and are re-evaluating what the best step may be to improve CCAP.

The original bill proposed splitting CCAP into two databases: one for the public (which could allow some records to be removed) and one for law enforcement, loan officers and other interested parties that would maintain a complete record of all court cases. After receiving negative feedback on the bill from a wide variety of groups ranging from landlords to broadcasters, the bill is now facing a make-over from original authors Rep. Evan Goyke and Sen. Lena Taylor.

With a shift away from the two database proposal (which would have cost $500,000 to set up and $125,000 a year to maintain according to John Voelker, the Wisconsin State Courts Director), the bill may now focus on expunction.

Expunction has been debated before, most notably in 2007 and 2010. If the change is made, certain records may be removed by judges from CCAP. While the debate is far from over, Voelker has introduced a bill that would allow judges to expunge records of cases that did not lead to conviction. That bill is still looking for a sponsor.

For now, CCAP remains unchanged, but it remains to be seen how long it will stay that way.

September 24, 2013

A troubling legal research problem: Link Rot

On September 21st, a new study was released on SSRN that details a problem that face researchers, librarians and attorneys with the new online world of legal research. The problem is 'link rot', meaning that active URLs, over time, no longer lead to helpful research material. In some cases the information is moved to a new web page. Other times, the host no longer supports the site, or the information was taken down and the link was not updated.

In the study from Harvard University, the most shocking statistics are that 70% of links in the Harvard Law Review (from 1999-2012) and 49% of links in Supreme Court Opinions are no longer working. That is a lot of important information that is being lost or made more difficult to locate.

What can be done to slow down or stop link rot? Many libraries review their records to update and maintain links, but it is a time-consuming venture, and law reviews and other research entities may not have the time or money to undertake the task. One step has already been taken by the author of the study. "Perma", a project that stores links in a way that they can be continually accessed was created to keep link rot at bay. The project essentially archives links, allowing for them to stay active even if the 'live' page is no longer working. Over 30 law libraries are currently partnered with Harvard in the project.

For further information on Link Rot, readYale's study that presents other ideas about how to combat the problem and what causes link rot. Thanks to Eric Taylor for bringing this important study to the attention of WisBlawg.

September 6, 2013

Badgerlink gets a facelift

Badgerlink, a unique Wisconsin resource that provides residents with access to music, scholarly works, newspapers, magazines and much more has recently been redesigned. The sight is much more user-friendly, with resource icons, friendlier colors and an intuitive set-up that makes it easy to find what you are looking for.

Badgerlink is available for free to all Wisconsin residents, and the redesign retains all the great content. All that content has been repackaged in a website that is easy on the eyes, and doesn't confuse the user. Potentially best of all, the Help materials are easy to find, allowing users to get the assistance they need much more quickly.

Check it out for yourself, and let the Badgerlink team https://www.facebook.com/WisBadgerLink">know what you think works, and maybe what doesn't. Overall, a great improvement.

September 4, 2013

Hein Online embraces QR Codes, mobile technology

Hein Online has announced a new way for patrons to use their mobile devices to view and share pdfs. Documents on Hein now include a QR code that link straight to that document, and shows up in your tablet's internet browser.

I tested this out by searching for a Wisconsin Law Review article from 2013 on my desktop. Once I found it, I clicked on the download/print button that I normally would use to either save it to my computer or print. On the download/print page, there is now a QR code that can be scanned by any reader, and the document will open on your device. Very simple, very helpful!

There are a few caveats with the QR Codes. Not all the documents have a QR code associated with them, but that may change in the future. In addition, there isn't a really easy way to save the documents to your device. You are essentially getting the ability to view the document 'on-the-fly', but there isn't yet an easy way to put the document into offline mode. However, it is great that there isn't a need to enter a password once the QR code is scanned!

Below are step-by-step directions on how to use the QR codes in Hein Online:

1. Find your article as usual in Hein.

2. Click on the "Print/Download" button (the button with a printer on it)

3. Once on the print/download screen, you will see a QR Code.

4. Scan this QR code with your device (most devices have a QR scanner already installed, but you can find many for free in App Stores).

5. That's it! You now have the PDF displayed on your device's screen. You can share, save or read as you like.

QR codes are a great way to get information across in either digital or physical space. It's great that Hein is making their material that much more easier to access in the digital age.