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Showing posts from August, 2013

Three Clicks Too Many Or Student-Researcher Impatience?

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An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education revisited the notion that our student researchers are not very patient today. If the students find an online database too laborious, they will skip it.

The particular librarian who wrote the article had the following exchange with one of his faculty members:
 “Brian, I want you to know that it’s getting harder for me to get students to use the library— especially the databases— anything beyond three clicks is just too many.”

As Brian put it, "[i]f our super users (history faculty) are frustrated with database interfaces – what does that mean? Many of us spend a lot of time promoting library resources to students, but if faculty stop encouraging (or requiring) usage—what then?"

This goes back to my post about print books and convenience. It appears that researchers no longer want to take the time to look in books or spend time really delving into online databases for research. If they can find information through Google or Wikip…

A Metaliteracy MOOC

For those interested in all-things MOOC, there is a new MOOC specific to metaliteracy.

The class appears to run from August 26 - December 18.

From the website:
In collaboration with Empire State College and the University at Albany, this is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that examines metaliteracy as a comprehensive approach to information literacy in the social media age.  Metaliteracy provides a metacognitive perspective that empowers learners to produce and share information in participatory social media environments. It also introduces an overarching framework for related literacy types, such as visual literacy, digital literacy, and media literacy, in connection to an expanded metaliteracy structure. As a metaliteracy cMOOC this learning experience will be collaboratively produced and delivered by scholars from around the world with expertise in emerging literacies. These terms will be discussed within a metaliteracy viewpoint that unifies complementary approaches to literacy …

ABA Continues To Contemplate Legal Ed. Reform

The Law Librarian Blog brought a recent National Law Journal article to my attention that summarizes the changes in accreditation rules supported by the ABA's Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar. Chairman Kent Syverud described the changes in accreditation rules as the most "momentous" reforms the section has pursued in recent history. Some of those changes would eliminate rules deemed too onerous, while others are intended to encourage schools to innovate.
"The most controversial change is the elimination of the tenure requirement for doctrinal faculty.  There are others.  The Council voted to eliminate the 30 to 1 student faculty ratio.  Students can earn up to 15 credit hours via distance learning.  The previous cap was 12.  Full-time J.D. Students will be able to work more than 20 a week, eliminating the rule setting that limit."
As noted, these changes are a step in the right direction to greater autonomy for law schools. &qu…

Law Schools Still Reacting To Drop In Enrollment

So far we've heard about Seton Hall, Vermont, Florida Coastal, and McGeorge reducing staff size. Now it's Thomas Jefferson's turn.

From Above the Law: 
"The law school in question is none other than the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and it is kicking off the new academic year with 12 fewer employees, thanks to a series of layoffs and budget cuts to the tune of a [4.4] million dollars. Thomas Guernsey, who took over [from Rudy Hasl] as dean of the school on July 1, said Thursday that some adjunct faculty and other staff members were laid off. Fourteen classes that had low enrollment or were highly specialized were eliminated, he said. Lori Wulfemeyer, head of communications at the school, said the layoffs leave about 65 full-time employees at the school."

Things got interesting when the new enrollment numbers shed light on exactly what TJSL was working with. From Law Librarian Blog: At this point, "there are 385,358 Fall 2013 applications submitted by 59,426…

Gitmo Prison Library

The prison library at Guantanamo Bay detention camp is strange. When I think about libraries, I think about the highest sense of freedom. Librarians are generally against censorship, and libraries provide information free and clear of use prohibitions.

Not so at Gitmo. "The prison library is housed in a prefabricated building behind chain-link fencing and razor wire inside Camp Delta, an older, largely disused wing of the complex. [I]ts patrons may not browse the stacks. Instead, the chief librarian, a civilian who asks to be identified as “Milton” for security reasons, or an aide fills plastic bins with about 50 books and takes them to each cellblock once a week. If they obey prison rules, the 166 detainees may peer at the spines through the slots in their doors and check out two titles at a time, or make specific requests.The library has about 18,000 books — roughly 9,000 titles — the bulk of which are in Arabic, along with a smaller selection of periodicals, DVDs and video gam…

An Analysis Of Attorney Legal Research

The Law Librarian Blog posted about an interesting paper that all law librarians should read. It reflects on how new attorneys are performing legal research.

Steve Lastres, Director of Library & Knowledge Management at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, analyzed the results of a recent survey conducted by The Research Intelligence Group called 'New Attorney Research Methods Survey.' Survey respondents "included 190 young attorneys equally represented by large and small law firms across a variety of practice areas. Nearly forty percent of the respondents were 28 or younger, in practice for five or less years, and a quarter of the respondents were recent law school graduates from the class of 2011 or 2012."

Key findings from the survey:
Newer attorneys spend more than 30% of their time doing legal researchApproximately 50% of associates think legal research should be a larger part of the law school curriculumOver 80% of associates use an extensive range of content from tr…

The Bar Is Over -- Now What?

It's that time of year when this question pops up a lot. What should a law school graduate who recently took the bar do during the purgatory between taking the bar and getting the results?

FindLaw ran a post yesterday discussing this topic, and I agree with their suggestions:

1. Update Your Resume
2. Update LinkedIn
3. Get Fit
4. Start Networking

All great ideas. You want to have your resume in order to give it out at a moment's notice. LinkedIn is essential in this day and age. It's not only your electronic resume, but it also works for networking purposes. And you can add additional content through a blog (like I do).

Getting fit is a no-brainer. It's time to shed that weight you put on during those sedentary law school years. Not only will it help you land a job, but you'll feel better and be more centered while waiting for your bar results.

Networking is vital because getting a job is a lot about who you know. This is often the one thing that differentiates you …

Lawyers Are Working Longer - You Don't Say?

From the ABA Journal, "[t]he median age of lawyers has jumped from 39 in 1980 to 49 in 2005, suggesting that the bad job market for new lawyers may be attributable to demographic factors rather than permanent changes in the job market, a law professor says."

From Witnesseth: Law, Deals & Data, Pepperdine University law professor Robert Anderson attributes the oversupply of lawyers to many lawyers waiting longer to retire because of 401(k) accounts decimated by the financial crisis and the bulge of Baby Boomers still working their way through the system.

But we've seen that all of money lost since 2008 has been regained, so more older lawyers may have the wherewithal to retire, freeing up more jobs for law grads.

“Of course, there are those who argue that there have been permanent, structural changes to the legal market that will reduce the number of legal jobs,” Anderson writes, “and there is no denying that law school tuition remains daunting. But the demographic fa…

Students Paying Twice For The Same Content

There was a post on InsideHigherEd the other day about duplicative spending on library holdings.

Professors often assign articles for additional reading or inclusion in coursepacks, and many "[c]ollege students ... spend hundreds of thousands of dollars extra per year on buying rights for digital versions of readings to which they have free access [through their library]."

Stanford University, for one, wanted to see exactly how much duplicative spending was occurring. They "found that more than $100,000 was being spent, mostly by students, on course materials that could be found in the 1,200 databases the university spends millions of dollars to make available. Stanford analyzed its own records from July 2010 to June 2011. About 60 percent of the course materials the university sought to license from the Copyright Clearance Center for student coursepacks was already among Stanford’s library holdings."

The question is, why is this happening? "This is because fa…

NPR's Public Library Series

NPR is running a special series called "Keys To The Whole World: American Public Libraries."

Here is a rundown of the series so far:

How Andrew Carnegie Turned His Fortune Into A Library Legacy
Andrew Carnegie was once the richest man in the world. Coming as a dirt poor kid from Scotland to the U.S., by the 1880s he'd built an empire in steel — and then gave it all away: $60 million to fund a system of 1,689 public libraries across the country.

Libraries' Leading Roles: On Stage, On Screen And In Song
NPR's Bob Mondello visits some notable libraries in popular culture: Jorge Luis Borges' Library of Babel; Lucien's Library in Neil Gaiman's The Sandman; and the stacks in Buffy, Hogwarts, Doctor Who and Fahrenheit 451.

For Disaster Preparedness: Pack A Library Card?
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, libraries in New York helped storm victims find documents, fill out forms, connect to the Internet and plan how to rebuild. There's a growing awareness of the…

ABA Task Force's White Paper Causes A Stir

The ABA Task Force On The Future Of Legal Education released a white paper on August 1, 2013, calling for substantial change in legal education. 

Brian Leiter, a Law Prof out of the University of Chicago wrote a two part blog series on the paper highlighting many of the pertinent parts. 

From Part I:
Sections VII and VIII contain the key recommendations of the Task Force.  Section VII is billed as "themes addressed to all parties," of which there are eight key ones (excluding the final recommendation that the Task Force's work be "institutionalized" within the ABA).  Three strike me as excellent and overdue, namely:

"There should be greater heterogeneity in law schools" (p. 23-24).  That's certainly a theme I've mentioned in the past.  There's heterogeneity not just in colleges and universities (of which there are many more), but also even in medical schools (a fact captured even by U.S. News, which ranks "research" schools separatel…

Don't Just Find A Source -- Learn About Something

When students are assigned research papers (really at any level of education), there is undue attention paid to sources. The professor might tell the student, "I want you to find twenty sources. And within those twenty sources, five must be print, five must be journal articles, and the remaining ten are of your choice. Oh and don't cite Wikipedia."

The theory behind this is that the students will learn valuable lessons about finding sources such as how to use a library or vetting for reliability. So what's the problem? Recent studies "tell us that students can find sources; the trouble is they don’t read them, or they read only enough to find a useful quote, or they choose sources that are not particularly insightful ones, or their paper becomes merely a description of the sources they’ve found with little analysis or original thought. A more sophisticated mistake is to seek out only sources that support a previously-held belief."
A preprint of an article p…

Resources From The Conference Of Law Library Educators

The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) recently held its annual meeting & conference in Seattle. Although I could not attend this year, there have been numerous emails discussing the events of the meeting. While perusing these emails, I found many valuable resources at the Conference of Law Library Educators' website.

Here, you will find updated information about:

Competencies for Law LibrarianshipCompetencies for Information ProfessionalsLaw Librarianship Course SyllabiBooks & ArticlesAccess to CALR & Other Online Resources I, for one, will take advantage of the course syllabi to compare teaching methods. I will also look at professional development books and articles. Looking at the competencies for law librarianship and the competencies for information professionals is enlightening. The competencies for information professionals are not as specific. The competencies for information professionals may be the wave of the future, especially considering that some…

In Praise Of The Print Book

It seems that since the beginning of the print book, society has been predicting the end of the print book. Portending the end of the print book got louder with the advent of the computer, and it's only gotten louder with the ebook.

In fact, just the other day, I helped an older attorney find books, search in a database, print, and copy. When we were finished with all of those transactions, he asked, "what are you going to do when all of these books go away?" I replied with, "actually, only about 15% of the two million volumes available in print in law libraries are currently available in digital form. We have a long way to go before the books go away completely."

But it seems to be common public perception that we don't need books anymore. To which I ask, why does it have to be all or nothing? I am all for technological advances, but it doesn't mean that print has to go away.

There was an interesting essay on the InsideHigherEd blog about how MOOCs an…

The Work Hero Trap

I read this post on Lifehacker recently, and it struck a chord. The gist is that you shouldn't try to be a work hero -- the person who works harder than those around you -- to meet deadlines or just stay afloat. If you do, you will create unrealistic expectations, and you'll make other people look bad.

How is it that an academic law librarian might fall in the trap of work heroism? This is a field where there are generally few strict deadlines. And many law librarians live comfortably within those parameters. The perceived low stress environment is the reason that some people enter the field in the first place.

But I find myself taking work home quite often. I might answer reference emails at home or write a book review or create a library recruitment document (a few of my more recent projects). Or I might have to prepare for a class that I couldn't get to during the normal working hours because I sat on reference or was otherwise interrupted throughout the day by various …

A History Of The Billable Hour

It's been said that law firms and lawyers should change the way that they charge clients -- moving away from the billable hour to a flat rate or other system.

From a NYTimes article, here is an interesting history of the billable hour:
"The notion of charging by units of time was popularized in the 1950s, when the American Bar Association was becoming alarmed that the income of lawyers was falling precipitously behind that of doctors (and, worse, dentists). The A.B.A. published an influential pamphlet, “The 1958 Lawyer and His 1938 Dollar,” which suggested that the industry should eschew fixed-rate fees and replicate the profitable efficiencies of mass-production manufacturing. Factories sold widgets, the idea went, and so lawyers should sell their services in simple, easy-to-manage units. The A.B.A. suggested a unit of time — the hour — which would allow a well-run firm to oversee its staff’s productivity as mechanically as a conveyor belt managed its throughput. This led to…

Abandoned Wal-Mart Turned Into Nation's Largest One Floor Library

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This is a feel good story -- the story of an abandoned big box store turned into the nation's largest one-floor library.

"There are thousands of abandoned big box stores sitting empty all over America, including hundreds of former Walmart stores. With each store taking up enough space for 2.5 football fields, Walmart’s use of more than 698 million square feet of land in the U.S. is one of its biggest environmental impacts. But at least one of those buildings has been transformed into something arguably much more useful: the nation’s largest library."

A few pictures the award-winning design:



What a wonderful addition to the community, and a great way to recycle a blight.