February 20, 2014

Legislative Reference Bureau Oral History Project still going strong

Several years ago, the Legislative Reference Bureau launched a very worthwhile project documenting the oral histories of Wisconsin citizens who worked in the Capitol and have helped facilitate the legislative process throughout the years, largely as representatives, senators or governors. While Bonnie wrote a post about the Project when it was first launched, it is certainly worth revisiting.

The LRB has now created 18 YouTube videos that capture these unique recollections, with all the interviews conducted by John Powell, formerly of Wisconsin Public Radio. The interviews run anywhere from one to two hours. You can view them either on the Oral History Homepage or on LRB's YouTube channel.

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.

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, 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 The staff at the State Bar wants your feedback on what you think of the new website. Email any thoughts you may have to

August 7, 2009

First Criminal Arrest for Domain Name Theft in U.S.

DomainNameNews reports on the first criminal arrest for domain name theft in the United States.

According to the story:

Daniel Goncalves, the 25 year old law firm computer technician arrested on Thursday, reportedly hacked in to the Angel's [the domain name owners] AOL email account, used that information to retrieve the login details for the [the stolen domain name] from the [domain name registrar] domain account. Goncalves performed an internal "domain push" transfer, which in effect transferred the domain name to another Godaddy account that he owned....

In late 2006, Goncalves put the domain name up for sale on and on September 24, 2006 the auction for the domain closed in the amount of $111,000.

The article goes on to explain why so few of these cases are prosecuted.
Cases of domain name theft have not typically involved a criminal prosecution because of the complexities, financial restraints and sheer time and energy involved. If a domain name is stolen, the victim of the crime in most cases would need experience with the technical and legal intricacies associated with the domain name system. To move the case forward, they would also need a law enforcement professional who understands the case or is willing to take the time to learn....

Additionally financial restraints play a major role. Often times the rightful owners of these domains simply can't justify the thousands of dollars in legal fees necessary to handle a case like this....

Attorney Paul Keating told DNN that most cases of domain theft recovery that he has dealt with have been complicated at best. The real problem stems from the fact that domain names aren't considered property.

Source: VLLB Linkblog

May 1, 2009

Wisconsin State Law Library Redesigns Website

Update: The new State Law Library Website went live today, Monday May 11th.
Kudos to the Wisconsin State Law Library on their newly redesigned website. Note that this is just a sneak peek. The new site will go live soon.

From the WSLL @ Your Service newsletter:

With its natural colors and clean lines, the new site reflects the aesthetics of the library. Along with a new style, the website features accessible, neatly arranged information, allowing users to quickly find pages relevant to their needs.

The home page features popular legal topics such as divorce, foreclosure, and name change, letting users quickly find the law and the forms they need. Library Highlights promotes upcoming library CLE classes and features legal research tips and library updates on a weekly basis. New Request a Document forms let users order copies of opinions and other library materials or request a library book be shipped to them directly. We are always ready to answer your questions; Ask a Librarian is just a click away.

For the first time, legal resources from every Wisconsin county will be conveniently available in one location. A new County Resources database offers streamlined access to county departments, forms, procedural guides, sources of legal assistance, court rules and ordinances. Users can simply choose their county or select "All Wisconsin Counties" to browse.

The Library's acclaimed Legal Topics pages provide links to circuit court forms and guides, state and federal agencies, organizations, and state and federal law. The website now offers enhanced features. Each of the topics includes new information such as links to notable titles in the Library's collection, on-point law review articles, and subject area journals.

April 1, 2009

Wisconsin State Law Library URL Change

The Wisconsin State Law Library has changed their URL to

According to webmaster, Carol Hassler, "this change is made in anticipation of our redesigned website, which will launch this spring....

While you will still be able to reach our website using our old domain name (, please take a moment to update any links, favorites, or bookmarks you may have to our new domain name:"

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

December 4, 2008

Wisconsin Court System Website Survey

If you ever use their website, The Wisconsin Court System wants your feedback. They are currently conducting a survey "to ensure it is useful for our customers." Don't worry - it's a very short survey.

April 17, 2008

Google Shines Light on the Invisible Web

Information Week reports that Google has started testing ways to index data from the invisible Web, including "Web pages generated dynamically from a database, based on input such as might be provided through a Web submission form." (For more on the invisible Web, see my Wisconsin Lawyer article, Searching Smarter)

Given that the invisible Web, also know as the deep Web or hidden Web, is approximately 400 to 550 times larger than the visible Web, that could amount to a lot more data accessible via Google.

Over at Search Engine Land, Danny Sullivan points out that "Google's not the first to do something like this. Companies like Quigo, BrightPlanet, and WhizBang Labs were doing this type of work years ago. But it never translated over to the major search engines. Now chapter two of surfacing deep web material is opening, this time with a major search player -- in that, Google is being a pioneer."

November 2, 2007

Website of Shame About to Get Some New Names - Amount Owed Lowered to $5K

A whole lot more delinquent taxpayers are about to get added to the Department of Revenue's Website of Shame.

According to the Wisconsin Radio Network, a provision in the new state budget lowers the threshold to $5,000 owed. Currently, the site lists taxpayers who owe $25,000 or more.

Delinquents will have a chance to pay off their debt before they end up on the list. DOR is currently contacting those who will qualify under the new requirements for being listed.

January 19, 2007

FirstGov is Now

To better reflect it's purpose as the official web portal of the U.S. government, has changed its named to A Spanish version is also available.

February 28, 2006

What Will the Next Web Generation Look Like? Check out Croquet

"What if we were to create a new operating system and user interface knowing what we know today, how far could we go?" This is the concept behind a 3D interface called the Croquet Project which may just represent the next generation of the Web.

"Croquet users an avatar to place the user inside a three-dimensional virtual information space that looks like the playing of a multiplayer video game," writes Marshall Breeding in a November/December 2005 Computers in Libraries article.

The white rabbit represents a user (you) working with a resource (in this case a Word doc) in a Croquet space. Imagine adding other users and resources and interacting in the same space. I saw a demonstration of this new technology at a conference a while back and I was blown away.

February 27, 2006

Google Page Creator

Google has beta launched a free Web page creation/hosting tool called Google Page Creator. A Gmail (Google email) account is required and you must be using either Internet Explorer 6.0 or Firefox 1.0, or higher, with JavaScript and cookies enabled. Up to 100MB of server space is available. Due to its popularity, however, there is a waiting list for new accounts.

Features according to Google:

  • No technical knowledge required. Build high-quality web pages without having to learn HTML or use complex software.
  • What you see is what you'll get. Edit your pages right in your browser, seeing exactly how your finished product will look every step along the way.
  • Don't worry about hosting. Your web pages will live on your own site at