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Showing posts from March, 2016

Will Libraries Outlast The Internet?

The Telegraph recently reported on Roly Keating, the head of the British Library, who argues that libraries could outlast the Internet.

He said that he is shocked at how many "smart people" still questioned whether libraries were still viable in the modern age. He added, "This feels a pretty brutal choice that we are allegedly confronted with. And it won't surprise you that I think it's a false contradiction and an utterly false choice to make."

Librarians are confronted with this question often - from inquiring acquaintances to unassuming loved ones.

As Keating continued, "When we talk about libraries, I'm told about the old values, the traditional values of these institutions. Some believe they are being replaced by new ones about being more open and connected and virtual. And of course our belief, passionately, at the British Library is that it's about both. And that's the great richness of what a library is and can be."

Speaking of …

Change A Subject Heading, Change The World

The Smithsonian Mag is reporting that the Library of Congress is ceasing to use the subject heading "illegal aliens" because of feedback from student activists.

In 2014, the Dartmouth Coalition for Immigration Reform, Equality and DREAMers (CoFIRED), a group dedicated to advancing the rights of undocumented students, first petitioned the Library of Congress to get rid of the term “illegal alien” in its cataloging system in favor of the term “undocumented immigrant.”

What's the big deal with subject headings?

When it comes to Library of Congress subject headings, there’s plenty. The subject lines are an integral part of the world’s most widely used library indexing tool, the basis for thousands of daily searches around the globe. And now, reports the Dartmouth, the Library of Congress will revise its subject heading of “illegal aliens” due to feedback from student activists.

The student group commented on the change by saying, With this change we hope meaningful conversatio…

The Use Of Emotional Language In Briefs

During legal research & writing for international LL.M. students, I discuss the role of logos, pathos, and ethos as modes of persuasion for brief writing. Pathos (plural: pathe) is an appeal to the audience’s emotions, and the terms sympathy, pathetic, and empathy are derived from it.

During the course, I give various examples of choosing specific words and phrases to garner sympathy or empathy from the reader if it is warranted. Until recently, the efficacy of using pathos has been mostly based on anecdotal evidence that it will make a judge feel a certain way about a defendant or victim helping the attorney advocate for his or her client.
In December 2015, a new paper was released that looks at the use of emotional language in briefs before SCOTUS and analyzes the briefs and the ultimate outcome of the case.
From the abstract: The legal brief is a primary vehicle by which lawyers seek to persuade appellate judges. Despite wide acceptance that briefs are important, empirical schola…

Publish In Open Access For Higher Scholarly Impact

The Law Librarians blog posted about a paper by James Donovan, Carol Watson, and Caroline Osborne on SSRN called The Open Access Advantage for American Law Reviews.

From the article:
In answer to law faculty questions about how participation in an open access repository will affect the works’ impact, the present research offers a definitive reply. When looking at citation by other law reviews to all the author’s work, the averaged increase in citations in flagship journals is 53%. In general, half of these cites will be dispensed in the first six years after the article’s publication. OA articles will attract more attention earlier in the lifecycle of the publication, and endure longer on the intellectual stage.

For authors, the message is clear: The open access advantage is real, sizable, and consistent. The minimal effort to upload an article onto an OA platform such as SSRN or a school’s repository pays rich dividends in the currency of subsequent citations in law reviews and court …

RIPS Post - Library Marketing To Showcase Relevance

Check out my new post on the RIPS Law Librarian Blog discussing library marketing to showcase relevance.

Open Access To Congressional Research Service Reports

The Law Librarians blog posted about new proposed legislation that will make it easier to access the valuable Congressional Research Service reports.

The Equal Access to Congressional Research Service Reports Act of 2016 (S 2639 and HR 4702) directs the GPO to establish and maintain a public website containing CRS Reports, and an index, that are searchable, sortable, and downloadable (including downloadable in bulk), for which no fee may be charged. Coverage includes CRS Authorization of Appropriations Products, Appropriations Products, and any other written CRS product containing CRS research or CRS analysis available for general congressional access on the CRS Congressional Intranet. Coverage excludes any custom product or service prepared in direct response to a request for custom analysis or research and not available for general congressional access on the CRS Congressional Intranet.

Any researcher knows about the treasure trove of information available in the CRS reports, and it …

Enthnographic Study Of Lawyers At Work

A new article was just released that is the culmination of a three-year ethnographic study of attorneys in the workplace called Lawyers at Work: A Study of the Reading, Writing, and Communication Practices of Legal Professionals by Ann Sinsheimer and David J. Herring.

From the abstract:
This paper reports the results of a three-year ethnographic study of attorneys in the workplace. The authors applied ethnographic methods to identify how junior associates in law firm settings engaged in reading and writing tasks in their daily practice. The authors were able to identify the types of texts junior associates encountered in the workplace and to isolate the strategies these attorneys used to read and compose texts. 

The findings suggest that lawyering is fundamentally about reading. The attorneys observed for this study read constantly, encountering a large variety of texts and engaging in many styles of reading, including close reading and also reading broadly, skimming and scanning texts …

Reaching Threshold Concepts In Information Literacy & Legal Research

Barbara Fister over at Library Babel Fish made some interesting observations about threshold concepts and information literacy after reading a book called Naming What We Know: Threshold Concepts of Writing Studies. 
Academic librarians have been kicking around the idea of threshold concepts ever since a revision of the familiar information literacy standards proposed that we could rethink our approach to instruction in the art and craft of inquiry. The new Framework proposes several big ideas that could inform the learning that happens in our libraries. They describe the kind of learning we design our libraries to nurture, but which is largely dependent on faculty in the disciplines who create the learning situations that will most profoundly influence whether our students cross these thresholds or not. 
This is in line with librarians bridging the knowledge in action gap.
To determine how librarians might use threshold concepts Fister read the book, Naming What We Know: Threshold Conc…

Legal Research Course Syllabi

Are you interested in teaching a legal research course? Or would you like to revamp your current course?

Then you may want to take a look at the Law Librarianship Course Syllabi aggregated at the University of Washington.

There are syllabi from a variety of legal research courses from 1998-2013, so you can see how things have changed overtime.

As mentioned, if you would like to share and/or to help to organize the materials to be most useful, please contact Marilyn Mason, Elizabeth Kellison, or Marti Smith.

New Google Algorithm Predicts Searches

BBC News is reporting that Google is about to launch a new algorithm that will predict user searches.

A group of programmers at Google claim that their new algorithm knows what you are going to search for even before you enter your query. Starting April 1, 2016, you will be able to click on the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button on the Google search page without entering a query and Google will return the results you were looking for.

"There's  no magic or mind reading involved," explained one of the programmers working on the not-so-secret algorithm. "We already know a lot about users from previous searches, and it's pretty easy to predict what kinds of information they will be searching for at any given time."

While it's an interesting concept, some users are a bit uncomfortable with this technology.

Some users fear the new algorithm may violate privacy and security by using data analytics to predict user behavior, but Shirley Holmes, a Google spok…

Librarianship As Calling

My mentor warned me that librarianship was thankless work. He constantly reminded me that I would get a lot of complaints for doing a job that most people found dispensable, and it would cost me a lot of money to end up there. I would be treated like a second-class citizen in the academic world. Yet, even after all of that, I still couldn't help myself because librarianship feels like a calling.

So when I ran across another librarian's post about librarianship as a calling, it resonated with me.

From the public librarian:
I’m training to be a professional librarian, having just finished a lecture on “semantic web ontologies” and “linked data,” and sat dumbstruck in front of a “Dewey Decimal assembler” without a clue as to what I’m looking at. The course is challenging – it’s a three-year master’s degree that bites eye-watering chunks out of my wages. Why am I doing it to myself?

The fact is, I can’t not. It’s a sort of calling – like becoming a priest, only with warmer business …

Allied Media Conference: Radical Librarianship

Are you a radical librarian who loves Detroit (like me)? If so, you might consider the 18th Annual Allied Media Conference - specifically the Radical Librarianship track.

Here's the info:
Join us for the 18th annual Allied Media Conference: June 16 - 19, 2016. Held every summer in Detroit, the conference brings together a vibrant and diverse community of people using media to incite change: filmmakers, radio producers, technologists, youth organizers, writers, entrepreneurs, musicians, dancers, and artists. We define "media" as anything you use to communicate with the world. You are a media-maker!

Libraries, archives, and museums do media-based work that educates, informs, and creates bridges to culture and technology. The Radical Librarianship Track will address a broad range of media-based organizing themes: envisioning libraries and archives as centers for supporting movements for social equity; as information providers for social justice workers; and as places to expl…

Costly Typos Encourage Good Spelling & Grammar

When I teach research & writing to law students, it can be a challenge to get them to buy-in to the notion that they should take great care with their writing - particularly punctuation - with commas specifically.

To encourage care, I highlight cases that have turned on punctuation or the high cost that can result from a typo. Winning cases and saving money tends to get their attention.

There is a post on Mental Floss that discusses some interesting and expensive examples of costly typos..
A missing hyphen in a code cost NASA $80 millionA spelling mistake in an eBay ad cost the seller $502,996An extra letter in a word caused accounting software to pay out $2.8m instead of $1.4mThese examples are good classroom fodder to make a lecture on punctuation and grammar just a little more interesting.

FREE Webinars from GPO in March

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Presenters from GPO, other Federal Government agencies, and from Federal depository libraries across the Nation will present on topics related to Federal Government information and the Federal Depository Library Program. All sessions are presented virtually through GPO's FDLP Academy.


Don't miss these upcoming, 60-minute webinars. All sessions take place at 2:00 p.m. (Eastern)

An Update on Census Business Builder, Including the Newly-Released Regional Analyst Edition, March 2Motivating Student Research in Government Information: From K to Infinity, March 15The Government Accountability Office (GAO): What We Do, Why, and How to Find It, March 16Grants.gov: Register, Find, and Apply, March 17The National Agricultural Library: Agricultural Information for the 21st Century, March 22CFPB: Partnering with Libraries to Financially Empower Patrons, March 23Librarian’s Guide to Trade Data, Part 2 – Dataweb and Other Resources of the U.S. International Trade Commission, March 24
Attendee…