Showing posts from February, 2014

Nerdy Librarian Friday!

I know that librarians happily tend toward the nerdy side, but this is a whole different level -- the book cart drill team. The NYTimes recently ran a story on these drill teams, and it is something to behold. "What sport demands the precision of synchronized swimming and the book smarts of a librarian? Book cart drills, of course, the choreographed routines performed by librarians and graduate students in library science. The activity was popularized in the mid-2000s by Demco, the book-cart manufacturer, which sponsored a world championship competition at the American Library Association’s annual conference for several years." Why should librarian and future librarian take part in these teams? "Drill teams promote the library and build morale and teamwork, explains John Ison, who hosted competitions before retiring from Demco." And these drill teams do take some training. "'It’s harder than it looks,' says Janelle Wertzberger, director of refe

Is Law Grad Hiring Improving?

The Wall Street Journal  reported on some good news for recent law school graduates. The job-offer rate for summer-associate programs is nearly back to pre-recession levels. "The job-offer rate for those lucky enough to have landed a summer job at a law firm in 2013 is nearly as high as it was before the financial crisis." The WSJ post gives a good summary of the traditional path of summer associates to full-time associates. "Summer-associate programs are the traditional path to employment at big law firms. Students interview with dozens of firms in the late summer and early fall of their second year. Those who are selected spend the following summer working at a law firm in hopes of being offered a permanent position after they graduate." But "[t]he recession put a crimp in that pipeline. Many firms, facing a collapse in demand for their services, scaled back hiring programs, and summer associates faced greater competition for permanent slots. Things are

PacerPro For Easier Searching

Anyone who uses PACER, the the federal courts' system for electronic access to records, knows that it is cumbersome and hard to maneuver. And it's expensive. Because the database is not user friendly, the costs associated with searching PACER are higher than they need to be because users spend so much time trying to find what they need. The ABA Journal recently opined on PACER's problem: "Part of PACER's problem is that it is actually 214 separate systems. Every appellate, district and bankruptcy court maintains its own site, each requiring a separate search. The site's partial solution to this dispersion is the Case Locator, an index for searching case information across the PACER system. But the Case Locator is updated only once daily, collects only subsets of data from court sites, and has limited functionality. What PACER needs is a whole new interface—one that provides universal search, more robust search tools, more informative search results, and bet

AALL's Principles & Standards for Legal Research Competency

Yesterday, I was reminded of AALL's Principles & Standards for Legal Research Competency . These standards are a valuable tool to help focus legal research instruction and evaluate information literacy. From the website: "The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) has developed a set of principles and standards for legal research competency, drawn from information professionals' deep involvement in legal research within academe, law firms, the courts, government agencies, and other related settings, as well as the literature of the legal profession indicating that research competency directly impacts professional efficiency and effectiveness." The principles advanced by the American Association of Law Libraries are: A successful legal researcher possesses foundational knowledge of the legal system and legal information sources. A successful legal researcher gathers information through effective and efficient research strategies. A successfu

The Best Law Schools For Practical Training

These days it's essential for law students to learn practical skills while in law school because law firms and clients have decided to no longer foot the bill for practical training after law school. The ABA is also considering mandating more practical skills training , so it's a good time for law schools to be proactive and take the initiative to create a practical-skills curriculum. I'm still surprised that it has taken over 20 years for practical skills training to take hold after the MacCrate Report was released in the early 90's, but better late than never! The National Jurist recently unveiled its first honors for law schools that deliver practical training. As The National Jurist noted, "[t]his is the first effort to try to quantify which schools are delivering on their promises to make legal education more experiential.” As for the ranking process, "[t]he magazine based the ranking on four factors — three objective and one subjective. The three

How To Find A Library Job

There are many websites out there that post various library positions. It's great to be keyed into a professional organization's job listserv to find relevant job postings for your field. The American Library Association posts jobs on ALA JobLIST . The Chronicle of Higher Education posts all types of academic jobs, including librarian positions, at ChronicleVitae Find Jobs . LibGig's focus is primarily on jobs for information professionals. The American Association of Law Libraries posts law librarian positions on its Career site. These are just a few of the websites out there to help with a library position job search. Image link: Image license:

Missouri & Florida Public Defenders Have The Right To Refuse Cases

It seems that all states have issues keeping up with public defense. I have written before about Florida & Michigan 's troubles, and now it seems to be Missouri's turn. The NYTimes recently ran a story about the troubles facing Missouri's public defender system. At this point, public defenders in both Missouri and Miami (Florida) have won the right to refuse cases because of the extremely high caseloads. "Chronically understaffed, and reeling from caseloads several times larger than those managed by private lawyers, public defenders here and in many parts of the country have started trying to force legislators to respond. In the last two years, defender agencies in Missouri and Miami have won, in state Supreme Courts, the right to refuse new cases they cannot responsibly handle." "In Missouri, where public defenders say they are especially burdened, many legal experts hope that an exhaustive new analysis of workloads and needs, sponsored by the Amer

The Shushing Librarian

Should librarians still be expected to police the library and shush out any noise? I think that it depends on the type of library, but it appears from a Pew poll that the public still seeks out the solace of a library for its quiet nature. A Salon article notes "[a] recent survey by the Pew Research Center, “ Library Services in the Digital Age ,” [which] polled a nationally representative sample of 2,252 Americans about what they get, and want, from public libraries. The two services that patrons regard as most essential in a library are 'librarians to help people find information' and 'borrowing books,' each rated as 'very important' by 80 percent of respondents. Next comes 'free access to computers and the Internet,' rated very important by 77 percent of those surveyed." And "'[q]uiet study spaces for adults and children' comes in fourth. The percentage of people who consider quiet spaces to be a very important element in a

Using Images For Blogs

As a lawyer-librarian, I thought that it would be prudent to fully research using images for a blog. Previously, I had been doing a Google Image search, finding an image that I liked, and posting it to my blog. I found out that this is a very bad (and often costly) idea. BlogHer posted a great article  about using copyrighted images on blogs. From the post: "Like most of you, I'm a casual blogger and learned my way into blogging by watching others. And one of the things I learned early on was that a post with a photo always looked nicer than one with just text. So I looked at what other people were doing for pictures. And mostly it seemed that everyone was grabbing pics from Google Images and pasting them on their sites. Sometimes with attribution, most of the time without. And when I asked others (or looked at disclaimers on websites and Tumblrs), it seemed that everyone agreed using pics that way was okay under Fair Use standards." But as BlogHer recently found out

Goonie Becomes Entertainment Lawyer

It's a nice affirmation when one of your childhood heroes (term used loosely) grows up to work in a similar field as an adult. The Goonies  (1985) was one of my all-time favorite movies as a kid, and the ABAJournal recently wrote an article about 'Chunk' becoming an entertainment lawyer. Jeff Cohen, the man who played 'Chunk,' had the great opportunity to work with "legendary film director Richard Donner, who directed Cohen in The Goonies. Donner introduced Cohen to the business side of Hollywood, and Cohen parlayed that introduction into summer jobs at movie studios during college. Cohen discovered that many of the most respected agents, studio executives, producers and managers had law degrees, and he followed suit." "After graduating from UCLA’s law school in 2000, Cohen worked at an entertainment law firm before starting his own firm in Beverly Hills. Cohen Gardner, his six-lawyer office, represents actors, media companies, directors, writers

Library Innovation In The Digital Age

The Wall Street Journal blog recently posted a great article about the need for library innovation in the digital age in order for libraries to remain relevant. It also gives a nice history of The Great Library of Alexandra and an inclusion of recent Pew statistics on the use and trends in libraries. The whole idea is that if libraries don't innovate in the digital age, they will fall by the wayside. "Barbara K.  Stripling, president of the ALA, contends that libraries and  librarians can reboot for the digital age. She wants ebook prices to come down, but says ebook offerings by libraries are nonetheless going up. She believes that libraries and librarians can use their expertise to become digital guides, helping people to refine their questions, identify authoritative sources, and learn how to find the best answers on their own. Sort of an even more advanced advanced search. 'The constantly changing and disorganized nature of the information explosion can be overwhelm

Research Guides & Researching Tariffs

Researching tariffs is a very niche topic. One librarian at the University of Washington School of Law had a professor recently ask the librarian to show the professor's students how to research tariff bindings. Neither the professor nor the librarian knew about the topic, so the librarian set out to do her initial research and found that there were no guides out there on how to research tariff bindings. So the librarian, Mary Whisner, took it upon herself to create a research guide on tariffs and shared it with the rest of the American Association of Law Libraries community.  The University of Washington Gallagher Law Library's research guide on researching tariffs can be found here .  This is a good time to mention that librarians create research guides in nearly all areas imaginable. It's one of our main functions. So if you are having a hard time performing research on a topic, you might Google '[topic] research guide' to find a starting place fo

RIPS Blog - Consider A Reference Assistant For One-On-One Research Instruction

I've been down and out getting my wisdom teeth extracted. For today, please see my recent post at RIPS Law Librarian Blog .

Alternative Credentials -- Librarians Learning Web Design

I read an article from a long-time librarian about the state of librarianship today. The librarian's advice was to (1) avoid librarianship, but if you must enter the profession (2) learn useful skills that they don't teach in library school like how to code websites. Some library schools probably offer this as a course of study. Mine did not. My library school required a self-created webpage portfolio at the end of the program. In order to create this portfolio, we had to code the webpage from scratch. There was not a lot of instruction in coding, and we were mostly left to our own devices. While I did learn some valuable information at the time, I couldn't code a webpage today if I tried. And I do think that coding is a skill that is more and more useful for librarians. Librarians needs to be agile in their positions to remain relevant. We need to possess more skills than ever before and take on more responsibilities in a time of return-on-investment thinking in higher

The Courageous & Agile Millennial Lawyer

Law Deans posted a piece of Dean van Cleave's essay on the courage of law students today: "Current students and recent graduates are exceptionally brave and optimistic. They are coming to law school because they really want a legal education. In the face of a difficult job market, a profession that is in a period of dramatic transformation, and even with the prospect of incurring significant debt, they want to study law, become lawyers, and have fulfilling careers. They are going against the grain, against the advice of commentators, some pre-law advisors, and probably friends and family. That takes a lot of courage, real courage. Amelia Earhart said, 'The most difficult thing is to act, the rest is merely tenacity ... You can act to change and control your life, and the procedure, the process is its own reward.' The decision to act also takes optimism." This is a good point. Law students today must be braver than law students at any other time in history. T

Questions For An Academic Library

InsideHigherEd recently ran a post from an academic who is about to embark on a slew of college-campus tours with his daughter. Although he admitted that his daughter would be interested in "the classrooms, sampling the food, and investigating the student center and athletic facilities," he is going to head to the library because he is "of the belief that the academic library is the heart of the academic enterprise." He said he would have the following questions in mind: What is the vibe of the space? Light-filled? Positive? Whimsical? Curious? Serious? Collaborative? Open?   What is the density of human interaction in the library? Does the space feel like where the campus comes to study, research, and learn? Are there lots of space for groups of students to study together?    Are there quiet places where students can read, write, research, and think in solitude? How visible are librarians at the library? Does it seem easy to get help with research proje