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Showing posts from July, 2016

The Last of the Free Ranging Library Cats

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In what is a sad day for the library-cat profession, it appears that the odds are stacked against them when it comes to future job prospects.

The Chicago Tribune reports that "Stacks" is believed to be the last full-time, free-ranging library cat in Illinois.

As noted, library cats face an uncertain future. Their ranks are down considerably from 2010, when there were at least five library cats statewide. A Tribune search, based on an old master list and a query published in the Illinois Library Association's electronic newsletter, turned up just two full-time feline residents: Stacks, of course, and Newby, a handsome black cat with a dash of white on his chest who resides in the staff offices of the Nippersink Public Library in Richmond.

Librarians point to several factors working against the pint-size literary lions, including concerns about allergies, the digital age pressure to seem "modern" and "relevant," a highly litigious society, even social med…

20,160 Survey Respondents Find Legal Research as Most Important Skill

In the past, I have blogged extensively about the importance of legal research skills for practice and the myriad of evidence that supports just how important it is.

And now we have even more evidence. Recently, a large survey (24,000 responses) was conducted on what new lawyers need for success in practice.

Some interesting aspects: (1) the long list of possible skills and characteristics are classified according to urgency: necessary in the short term; must be acquired; advantageous, but not necessary; and not relevant; and (2) many so-called "soft skills" and personal qualities (e.g., listening respectfully, strong work ethic, timeliness, courtesy) were ranked urgent to a greater degree than many academic or practice competencies.

Not surprisingly, legal research was deemed necessary in the short term by a very large percentage of respondents.

In fact, the ability to effectively research the law was the foundation most often cited as necessary in the short term (84%). 

A…

SSRN & Copyright: Is It Time to Move to SocArXiv?

The Elsevier takeover of SSRN is getting interesting. Recently we heard that Elsevier made a positive change when it adopted full-text searching on SSRN. But it appears there have also been some negative copyright changes.

One author's recent experience highlights the negative:
It appears that the corporate takeover of SSRN is already having a real impact.

When I posted a final PDF of an article for which not only do my co-author and I retain the copyright, but for which the contract also includes _explicit_ permission to post on SSRN, I received the typical happy “SSRN Revision Email” saying all was well.  Only when I went to take a look, I found there was no longer any PDF to download at all—merely the abstract.  So, download counts are gone, and no article.  Not the former working version nor the final version.  And then in the revision comments, I found this:
It appears that you do not retain copyright to the paper, and the PDF has been removed from public view. Please provide us…

AALL16 Live Tweeting

This week, I'll be live tweeting programs and cool new tools found at the American Association of Law Libraries 2016 Annual Meeting in Chicago.
Check out @gngrlibrarian for more info. Search #AALL16 for other posts.

Senate Approves New Groundbreaking Librarian of Congress

From NPR:

With the overwhelming support of the Senate, Dr. Carla Hayden has been approved as the next librarian of Congress.

Hayden, the head of Baltimore's public library system and the former president of the American Library Association, is the first woman and the first African-American to hold the post.

It's actually rather newsworthy that the next librarian of Congress is, well, a librarian.

Many previous librarians of Congress have been scholars or writers. Both Billington and his predecessor, Daniel J. Boorstin, were historians. Before Hayden's nomination, the American Library Association (which Hayden used to lead) had called for Obama to nominate a professional librarian for the post.

And, as many have noted, all the previous Librarians of Congress were white men. In nominating Hayden, Obama said it was "long overdue" for that to change.

Congratulations, Dr. Hayden!!

Full-Text Searching Now Available On SSRN

When news broke that Elsevier had acquired SSRN, critics were worried over the implications of the change.

However, one major benefit of the acquisition is that you can now search full-text papers on SSRN.

Previously you could only search the title and abstracts.

Nice work, Elsevier! This is a positive change.

Research Shows Black Judges Reversed On Appeal More Often

This morning, NPR highlighted research that black judges are reversed on appeal more than white judges.

President Obama has tried to diversify the federal judiciary by appointing more black judges, and there are currently more black judges in the federal judiciary that at any other time in history. But data shows that black federal district court judges are overturned on appeal 10 percent more often than white judges.

In 2015, Harvard Political Science Professor, Maya Sen, analyzed how often black judges were appealed between years 2000 and 2012. During that time, black judges were overruled at significantly higher rates.

In real terms, this means that between 2000 and 2012, a black federal district judge will have statistically had around 20 extra rulings overturned than if they had been white. The average number of cases authored by black judges and reversed over that period is 196.

Being overturned generally means that higher courts are questioning the legal reasoning of an opinion.