Friday, June 29, 2007

Justice Ginsburg

Ellen Goodman's column today in the Boston Globe describes Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's transformation from a so-called "moderate" justice to a justice who makes waves through her powerful dissents. Goodman goes so far as to say that Justice Ginsburg has been radicalized by an increasingly radical Court. In the Ledbetter case, in which the Court ruled against the only woman among a number of supervisors at Goodyear (Ledbetter earned less than the male supervisors, some of whom had less experience than she did), Ginsburg not only dissented, but took the unusual step of reading her dissent out loud "slowly [and] unequivocally." It is hard to imagine how Justice Ginsburg feels watching her life's work being undone as the "Roberts court drop[s] its opinions like cluster bombs on the road she paved."

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Tallest Academic Library in the USA

I'm sitting in the W.E.B. DuBois Library here at U. Mass, Amherst, in what they claim is the tallest academic library in the country. (I suspect U.TX might argue with the claim, but that is another matter).

I have been told that when the architects of this fine library made their specifications, they failed to include the weight of books in their calculations. Librarians know what a serious error that is -- books demand more load bearing capacity than offices, than cars, than anything except microfiche (also in libraries, alas!). When the stacks were installed and loaded, the walls of the building began to bow. Windows and half-bricks from the facade were popped out as the walls deformed. There is a railing totally encircling the building, holding passers by away from the building by a good number of feet.

So, being at a poetry workshop, I was moved to write a poem, in tribute to the librarians here, who had to figure a way to accommodate the architects' mistake. They ended up using every 2 floors for books, and a floor for offices, all the way up. P.S., I have seen no falling windows or bricks.

and the bricks, like rain

The architects didn't include
in their calculations,
the awful weight, the walls bowed out
the accumulated tons
of dense-packed,
sturdily bound
.....popping out of the facade
containing the accreted mass
of scholarly written,
.....and the bricks, like rain
created by generations
of deeply-taught,
Minds.....Minds.....Minds intermittent hail
shaped by colleges
of highly educated,
.....tumbling to the ground

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

AALL Blogger Meetup

It's time to mark your calendars for the AALL's Second Annual Bloggers Get Together!

Time: 5-6 p.m.
Date: Monday, July 16th
Place: Gordon Biersch. 200 Poydras. 504-552-2739. Brewpub. Platters. - at the foot of Poydras - across from Harrah's casino and also across from the Hilton. (Dutch Treat).

Come share your ideas and meet the other law librarian bloggers! Open to all bloggers and potential bloggers.

RSVP: Last year we had over 30 participants so we are anticipating a good crowd this year. For a headcount, please RSVP Barbara Fullerton by Friday, July 6th to

Animal Law

Here's an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education that discusses animal law, a field that is growing. (Note that you will need a password to read the full text of the article). This article focuses in particular on Lewis & Clark College School of Law, whose animal law program is well known. I was particularly interested to read this article because a student in my Advanced Legal Research course last semester wrote a very good research guide on farm animals, who tend to be ignored in both federal and state statutes. The topic made for an interesting research guide. Because there is a dearth of primary sources, the student had to go beyond even secondary legal sources and look at public-policy materials, sometimes from other countries.

Volunteer Editor for Online Democracy Discussion Network Wanted

H-Net, an international consortium of scholars and teachers that creates and coordinates more than 180 Internet networks to advance teaching and research in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, seeks a volunteer, unpaid editor of its online network, H-Democracy. Founded in July 2005, H-Democracy has over 300 subscribers in 39 countries. The volunteer editor will join the corps of editors at H-Net who manage and edit discussion networks. The basic responsibilities of the editor are to manage, edit, and support the network by moderating discussions, listing postings, soliciting and commissioning contributions, and dealing with discussion list logistics. The mission of the network is to spread information concerning conferences, book projects, and calls for papers; to create common conversations uniting disparate research and practitioner communities within the field; and to foster discussion of best practices and lessons learned.

H-Net is committed to pioneering the use of new communication technology to facilitate the free exchange of academic ideas and scholarly resources.

Go to:

If you are interested, submit your c.v./summary of qualifications to:
Matthew Gilmore
Vice President, Networks—H-Net

Buy this man a beer!

It is love/It is fate/It is the feeling I get when you walk away – “Golden State” John Doe

In “The Universe of Thinkable Thoughts: Literary Warrant and West’s Key Number System” Daniel Dabney offers to have a few beers and talk over the West Key Number System with us. Before reading his article, I would have turned him down. What on earth would I want to know about the key number system? I have to point it out to patrons at least five times day. Dabney’s wonderful article has changed my mind. I admit, I didn’t know how interesting and useful the key number system was until I read his article.

Mr. Dabney, the next time you are in Brooklyn, I’ll buy you a beer.

Dabney’s article points out is that the key number system expects the user to have some basic understanding of the law. With that basic understanding, the key number system helps “the searcher ask the right questions.” That phrase points out one of the confusions running through the Spring 2007 issue: what is legal research?

Legal research is not legal scholarship. It is not research as historians or scientists understand it. It is finding out what is allowed. (Evidence chains are a whole other topic.)The West Key Number system is a working tool for trial preparation in a database of previous decisions. (Thanks to the article “Should Legal Research Be Included in the Bar? Steven M. Barkan p. 403, same issue, and Margaret Ann Wilkinson’s "Information Sources Used by Lawyers in Problem-solving: An Empirical Exploration" Library & Information” Science Research 23: 257-276 (2001) for this insight.)

Dabney seems to be suggesting that to find alternative legal theories is certainly possible in free-text searching, but not workable. I see it in the confused souls who come to the library with a legal theory after googling and fuming over what has happened to them, but the system, for better or worse, will not let their theory happen. Law is a system. Now it is a chaotic system, as the availability of contradictory opinions proves, but those contradictions must be resolved through a political process.

Librarians should read “The Age of Betrayal: The Triumph of Money in America, 1865-1900” by Jack Beatty Some critics have accused it of being too liberal, but I found it just wonderful (an example of how individuals use information to reinforce their own viewpoints). He goes into how the legal system was used against the gains of Reconstruction. The chapter on the Slaughter-House Cases is exciting. Even after a terrible war, slavery was not truly ended and the legal system was used to thwart that victory.

Free text searching may give us alternative legal thoughts, but they have not been tested through the political process. I read somewhere that the problem is we rely “on private enforcement of common rights.” Making a new legal theory and having a judge approve it without public involvement or debate shortchanges the political process. There is only so much that can be expected of the judiciary system. Let's use the West Key Number System better. It is a good system and helps us through the day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Interrogating US News Rankings

The Wall Street Journal offered an article (link in the title to this post) on criticisms of the U.S. News rankings, and some alternatives. Just to make a short cut for OOTJ readers, here are some links from the article:

Law Firm Addict - polling law students on their law school's summer associate placements


Law Clerk Addict - polling law students on their school's judicial clerkship placements.

Of course, OOTJ readers are probably already aware of Prof. Brian Leiter's

Leiter Rankings - which looks at scholarly rep in different ways and also lists clerkship placements.

Then the article includes links to lots of alternative measures of law school value. I still would argue that the rankings miss other values that I see in the schools I have worked at (Suffolk in Boston and St. Louis U. in guess where) or attended (U.KY), or heard about from many friends and relations. Quality of teaching is something difficult to quantify. I don't know that I'd recommend using Rate My Professor, but there isn't much else that talks about profs' teaching.

Monday, June 25, 2007

More from New York City

Give me some flowers while I'm living --Excene Cervenka and John Doe

The New York's City Hall Library has become a current awareness tool for me. Local Law 11 of 2003 requires city agencies to deposit computer publication with the library. You can imagine how difficult their collection development has been. The City Hall Library has been posting reports by topic. Since New York City Agencies deal with so many cutting edge issues, scanning these reports can alert us to coming litigation and policy discussions.

Vatican Library

This article from Saturday's New York Times provides a glimpse of a rarefied world most librarians (certainly not most law librarians) will never see--the Vatican Library. A frenzy was set off in the scholarly world when the Vatican announced the library will close next month for a renovation that will last at least three years. The article describes how "dozens of scholars have been lining up each day at ever earlier hours to snatch one of the 92 available spots in the manuscript room, where they can pore over archaic texts in forgotten languages." Not surprisingly, the staff is having a hard time keeping up with the demand. Scholars have even addressed petitions to Pope Benedict XVI, some asking that the renovation be delayed so that they finish up works in progress, some asking that the public have access to the Vatican's precious collection of rare manuscripts during the renovation. There are microfilm copies of the most important manuscripts, but scholars and library officials agree that "there is no substitute for an original manuscript." The Pope plans to visit the library today so that he will be able to understand the issues himself. No one disputes the fact that the library needs work due to "dangerous structural weaknesses." The hope is that some compromise can be reached to allow the renovations to go forward while at the same time giving scholars ongoing access to the materials, some of which are unique.

Summer Musings -- Spring 2007 Law LIbrary Journal

“When I thought I could fly, you became the sky.” Darling UnderDog” by Exene Cervenka and John Doe

The articles in this issue recognize Robert Berring’s contributions to law librarianship. I have to acknowledge my own debt to him, because Professor Berring was Dean of UC Berkeley library school when I applied. He may have approved my admission and thus saved me from unemployment from the San Francisco Newspaper Agency. The UC library school program gave me an education and opportunities to participate in the world. I am very grateful.

Much as I admire these articles, I wonder if we librarians overemphasize our contributions to the legal process. I have read that working attorneys spend only twenty percent at most doing library research. The legal databases emphasize appelalte decisions. Trial decisions have not been available for review and most are not appealed. The trial decisions are final. There has been no review of them. The May 31, 2007, New York Times Article “Wide Disparities Found in Judging of Asylum Cases,” proved that decisions are not legally consistent. This is not to blame the overworked judges—it does demonstrate that overwhelmed, poorly supported knowledge workers make inconsistent decisions.

That report seems far more serious to the legal process than the differences between key word searching and digests.

Another thing that confused me in the articles was the unstated premise that Law seems to be a natural principle. I must be a cynic, or a legal realist, but laws are made from a political process. This morning’s New York Times reports Murdoch has influenced media law. That’s not a surprise, but it does affect trial preparation.

I will follow up on this. Now the attorneys of Kings County need me.

The administration of criminal justice

The New York City Criminal Court issued its annual report on May 29 Librarians should read it; a lot happens before people come to the library with questions. This report describes how tickets are processed through the system and all the details required before anyone sees a judge. The tables show what a huge volume of violations are processed that never see a judge.

Have Fun, Betsy!

A poetry workshop sounds wonderful. We will appreciate your word play when you return. Poets bring so much to prose. To inspire us, here are three sentences by Robert Bringhurst describing a typeface: “Most good text types owe their power in part to the rhythmic modulation of the line. Here there is some modulation, but very little, and the power comes from the path of the stroke, the subtle out-of-roundness of the bowls and microscopic taper of the stems. "

While we wait for Betsy, I suggest that we take advantage of summer and enjoy John Doe’s website and its links

If we are dealing with American law, we should have an understanding of “romantic failures” like X and punk rockabilly.

Laws have a history and that history often required the sacrifice of individuals considered failures at the time. Failures are the ones who go out to the edge and make us aware of possibilities. We should have greater respect for failure. Not everything works out.

The insights from mosh pits, low-rider car details, and hanging out with poets will lead into my next few postings over the week. I spent part of the sunny weekend reading the latest issue of Law Library Journal and I see a real difference between trial attorneys and appellate attorneys. I will be the one to go out on the edge and make comments.

Hey ho! Let's Go!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Impeach Bush?

The Boston Globe
Ideas section today has an in-depth article examining the arguments for
and against impeaching Bush and Cheney. I provide a link to the entire
article in the title to this post, and recommend you read it.
Basically, though the two sides of the argument (from a Blue State
point of view, I guess), are:

Pro Impeachment:
1. The main arguments in favor of impeachment are focusing on the damage this administration has done to the Constitution. The idea is that impeaching the President and VP would make it less likely that future administrations would play so fast and loose. The main items here:

a) Conducting electronic surveillance on citizens without proper judicial oversight;

b) Lying to Congress and withholding information from Congressional requests;

c) Presidential signing statements infringing on the constitutional balance of power.

2. This administration has failed to uphold international and domestic law:

a) Dropping the ball on Katrina;

b) Condoning torture and extraordinary rendition;

c) Cluster bombs in Iraq are beyond the pale of civilized nations;

d) Threatening Iran.

Against Impeachemnt:
This is mainly a political strategists' argument, but seems to be widely espoused.

1. The idea is that by leaving Bush and Cheney in office, one of the most
unpopular administrations in history continues to demoralize and
alienate the Republican Party. If a move were on to impeach the two, it
is feared they would become political martyrs and it would energize the
Republican Party.

2. It would take up so much political energy and capital that nothing else could be accomplished.

I have to say, the political strategy has a certain logic. But I am not
sure we are doing the world or the future any favor. I think we owe it
to both to impeach Bush and Cheney.

but that's just me.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Betsy is checking out for a week

Dear OOTJ Readers,

I might be scarce around here for the next week. I will be attending a poetry workshop at U.Mass Amherst. I will have internet access and a laptop, but I don't know how much time I'll have to post. I will be more voluble the first week of July! Have a pleasant end of June. The day here in Boston is alternating between fierce thundershowers and dazzling sun with a jewel-blue sky. I love Boston in June!

Open Space Meeting Technique

Follow the link in the title above to visit pages with explanations of this method of running a meeting. Here are some extracts. OST means Open Space Technology:

* OST works best where conflict is present, things are complex, there is huge diversity of players and the answer was needed yesterday. And the more of all of that you have, the better OST works. Go figure.

* what do you really want to do + why don’t you take care of it: The highest form of OST facilitation practice is to turn back everything to the people. When confronted with a question, respond with two: what do you really want to do? and why don't you take of it? Every thing the facilitator does for a group is one less thing the group knows it can do for itself.

* the four principles:
"Whoever comes is the right people" acknowledges that the only people really qualified or able to do great work on any issue are those who really care, and freely choose to be involved.
"Whenever it starts is the right time" recognizes that spirit and creativity don't run on the clock, so while we're here, we'll all keep a vigilant watch for great ideas and new insights, which can happen at anytime.
"Whatever happens is the only thing that could have" allows everyone to let go of the could haves, would haves and should haves, so that we can give our full attention to the reality of what is happening, is working, and is possible right now.
And finally, "When it's over, it's over" acknowledges that you never know just how long it'll take to deal with a given issue, and reminds us that getting the work done is more important than sticking to an arbitrary schedule. Taken together, these principles say "work hard, pay attention, but be prepared to be surprised!"

* The one law is The Law of Two Feet, or in some cases, The Law of Personal Mobility. It says simply that you, and only you, know where you can learn and contribute the most to the work that must take place today. It demands that you use your two feet to go where you need to go and do what you need to do. If at any time today, you find that you are not learning or contributing, you have the right and the responsibility to move... find another breakout session, visit the food table, take a walk in the sunshine, make a phone call -- but DO NOT waste time.

This simple rule makes everyone fully responsible for the quality of their own work and work experience. It creates bumblebees who buzz from session to session, cross-pollinating and connecting pieces of the work. It creates butterflies who may not join any formal sessions, choosing instead to float at the edges. They create the space for everyone to appreciate the energies and synergies unfolding in the work of the conference. Sometimes the most amazing solutions seem to come out of nowhere -- so that's where butterflies tend to look for them.

An interesting simile! How insectile.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Running meetings differently

When I began as a librarian, I attended some training (I can’t now recall who offered it), on how to run an efficient meeting. I recall being told how important it was to have an agenda, manage the speaking so nobody dominates, keeping to a schedule (no more than an hour, usually), and having clear decisions and measurable tasks by the end of the meeting. That’s pretty good. I sat through some painful staff meetings when I was a lawyer; my managing attorney really ran lousy meetings. There are lots of handouts and advice sites on the web that run along these lines. See here for example – from Washington State’s Department of Health.

But two different ideas about improving meetings recently converged in my attention. First, National Geographic magazine ran an article in the June, 2007 issue about the Genius of Swarms. Programmers and others are studying the ways in which ants, bees, and other large groups of animals make decisions.

One professor in the article explains that when honey bees swarm, the decision about a new location for the hive is made by consensus. Various bees fly around the neighborhood where the swarm, queen inside, is settled on a tree branch. When they find a potential nest-site – a hollow tree or a bee box – they fly back to the swarm. As they do with nectar sources, the explorer bees dance and waggle to indicate the distance, direction and their enthusiasm for their find. Other bees fly off to inspect. If they agree it’s a good site, they will congregate near the entrance. If not, they fly off to look at another site. When fifteen bees have congregated at a potential nest site, researchers say that’s the tipping point, and consensus will settle on that location for the new hive.

This professor has extracted some principles from the bee behavior and applied them to running department meetings at his university. He says, the important thing is to never enter the meeting with a target outcome. Everybody enters with an open mind, even if they have strong opinions. Every one openly shares their thoughts in a mutually respectful manner, and uses a secret ballot. He finds the meetings go faster and have better outcomes. His job is to moderate the meeting, not to guide or push it. I was very struck by this, since it matches my own experience with meetings, even large ones, where people hold widely varying opinions, you can get a good consensus and outcome by letting the conversations and questions flow. Eventually, people start to come together around one outcome or another, and you reach consensus without tears or shouting.

Now, I stumble across Open Space meeting methods. This is mentioned briefly in yesterday’s post about Unconferences. Open Space actually began in the early 1980's and seems to be the philosophy behind Unconferences. I will post a separate entry on Open Space, which meshes amazingly, with the wisdom of bees, as laid out above.

Diagram of a honeybee dance regarding nectar sources is courtesy of University of California, Riverside, at

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Introducing Unconferences

Through Connie Crosby's blog, I stumbled on a relatively new phenomenon, the Unconference (it maybe started in 2005 o4 2006). Connie links to a book here about them being written by wiki, which is so like an Unconference. The link in the title to this post takes you to posting explaining the ingredients for a good Unconference (hereafter UC).

UCs are put together on short planning schedules, through brainstorming with a group of "influencers and innovators" in the field.

UCs seem to be held in borrowed venues, with much less expensive food sources (because they are in company HQs on the weekend, for instance, they don't have to pay hotel food rates).

The meals are either dealt with by the organizer or catered cheaply, either in the venue or with a prix fixe menu at a nearby restaurant.

You can see from this last that we are talking groups of 100 or so, not thousands!

You'll have to read the post at Kaliyasblogs to get the full detail. But it appears to answer a lot of the dissatisfaction I sometimes hear at the big annual meetings -- I have griped with colleagues about:

1) Why do we have to select programs a whole year in advance? New issues are addressed somewhat with the "hot topics" selection, but our field moves so quickly these days, this sometimes seems totally inadequate.

2) The program gets so unwieldy; lots of stuff I am not interested in, and then everything I want to attend is scheduled at the same time;

3) The meeting is so big!

4) It's nearly impossible to schedule an unofficial break-out group, and if you have an "official" meeting, food is horribly expensive.

5) I'm so tired of panels and talking heads!

Well, regional meetings improve on most of those issues. They are smaller and can be more nimble than the big annual meetings of national organizations. But an unconference is more informal, nimble and cheap than any conference I've been to. The mantra that drives them is the Rule of Two Feet: Any person not either learning from or contributing to a discussion, should use their two feet to move to another group discussion. The other, huge difference, is that the discussions are much more inclusive -- the audience is part of the presentation. They also help shape the agenda and sign up the day of the conference in a discussion session. Wiki, podcasting, blog posts with lots of viewer tagging, and a technology to set the agenda, called Open Space Technology. It all follows the participatory, self-organizing ethos librarians associate with Web 2.0.

Chronicle of Higher Ed on N.O. Univs & Large IT

The June 22, 2007 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education has a couple stories worth looking at. Note that my links take you to a page requiring a Chronicle username and password. You can read it in print, or ILL it if you don't have a password:

1) The AAUP unanimously voted at their annual meeting to censure 4 New Orleans Universities for using Hurricane Katrina as an excuse to trample faculty underfoot. Loyola N.O, Sothern University at N.O., Tulane and University of New Orleans all were included in the censure. David Rabban, chairman of the AAUP's Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure says each of the institutions had existing policies in place before Katrina that would have allowed them to adequately respond to the emergency. After a year-long investigation into faculty complaints of administrations' over-reach, AAUP concluded that the universities' administrations seized the emergency of Katrina as an excuse to dismiss tenured faculty, restructure curricula without faculty input, and abandon faculty governance. The administrations protest that the AAUP fails to understand the magnitude of their problems following Katrina. (see Chronicle story here)

2) Chronicle story on large IT departments as "The most regressive and poisonous force in technology today" reports "Walt Mossberg, personal-technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal, during a speech to a group of college presidents and other administrators. His speech was part of The Chronicle's Presidents Forum, where he highlighted technology trends." The trend to centralizing technology, forbidding use of any but the "big name" products, though in the name of cost-savings, administrative-ease and security, also results in stifling innovation. Individuals cannot customize technology to suit them, or explore new technologies. I say Amen!

Bush Administration keeps Justice off whistleblowers

The Boston Globe, Farah Stockman reports that the Bush administration seems to have a policy preventing Justice Department staff from investigating allegations of fraud and corruption among the companies at the trough for work in Iraq.

The Justice Department has opted out of at least 10 whistle-blower lawsuits alleging fraud and corruption in government reconstruction and security contracts in Iraq, and has spent years investigating additional fraud cases but has yet to try to recover any money.

A congressional subcommittee heard testimony on the matter yesterday, as lawmakers sought to determine why the federal government has not done more to recover tens of millions of dollars that allegedly have been misused or misspent in Iraq.

"I would expect, given the talent that the Justice Department has available to it, . . . that they could have done more," Representative William D. Delahunt, Democrat of Quincy, said at the hearing. "I have the uneasy feeling like we're missing something here, a potential substantial recovery."

The government's reluctance to join in any of the civil suits has sparked allegations of political interference.
I hope it blows up big -- I am so outraged!

Happy Birthday, PowerPoint!

I have a love/hate relationship with PowerPoint. I think it's invaluable for enhancing a presentation through bullet point summaries; it can help an audience follow the train of a speaker's thought when used appropriately. However, I have sat through too many presentations which consisted of the speaker reading his or her PowerPoint slides to the audience--what's the point? In today's Wall Street Journal, Lee Gomes writes about PowerPoint's twentieth birthday and the attitude of its creators toward their brainchild. Robert Gaskins and Dennis Austin freely admit that "people often make very bad use of PowerPoint," and assert that "complaints about PowerPoint are usually not about the software but about bad presentations." I was appalled to learn that some children are turning in their book reports via PowerPoint. It's no wonder that they can't write when they get to college and law school!

Having taken a few potshots at PowerPoint, it seems appropriate to note that I am taking an Advanced PowerPoint workshop this afternoon, and a session on how to use PowerPoint in the classroom next week. I'm particularly interested in how I could use it to enhance my teaching, but I don't want my class to be all about PowerPoint. The content has to come first.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Librarian salaries - and more

We had a speaker in under the auspices of The New Workplace Institute,, Dr. Julie A. Nelson, author of Economics for Humans. She had interesting things to say about our society’s muddled thinking about “caring” professions, ethical values and money.

For instance, how have we gotten the idea that mentioning money in the same context as caring is a contradiction? There seems to be a persistent and little-articulated idea that money is the sole domain of capitalists. It seems that caring professions cannot have anything to do with money because it betrays the ideals behind the profession. And there is the corollary that corporations and capitalists cannot take moral issues or ethics seriously. Some impermeable wall has developed between these two supposedly polar extremes: the ethical, moral, caring pole versus the capitalist, corporate pole.

Dr. Nelson gave a real-world example of nurses and the rhetoric that surrounds their struggles for better working conditions and pay. When steel workers strike, nobody slams them for asking for better wages, benefits or conditions – at least not in the moral judgement dimension. But when nurses, or teachers go on strike, the media, the employers and our own thinking often muddle two separate things. There is the caring aspect of their profession – caring for patients or students. And there is the fact that they are asking for money. Somehow, we have the idea that it sullies those in caring professions to think about money.

You hear this in discussions about pay levels for foster parents (link here, e.g.), or more recently, for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan (link, e.g.). Dr. Nelson related the story of a foster family pressured to adopt a particular special needs child they were fostering. The foster parents refused, not because they did not love the child, but because they had very low family income and little health insurance. If they adopted the boy, they would lose the Medicaid insurance that assured him the medical treatment he needed. Social workers involved in the case made very harsh, judgemental statements that the parents were putting considerations of money ahead of love for the child. They failed to see that both considerations of money and of love were in the equation -- the one did not preclude the other.

Dr. Nelson noted that the history of many of feminized professions, like nursing, teaching, and caring for, children underlies the tradition of low salaries. For some years, nurses, teachers, child-care workers were young women between the home of their father and marriage. They were only in the job for a short while, and were expected to marry and become housewives after. Then, there is a newer model where those taking these low-pay jobs are assumed to be the secondary wage-earner. The spouse is the primary bread-winner and this teacher/nurse/child-care worker is earning “extra,” and doesn’t need to support a family. Neither of these models accommodates men or women who need to support themselves and a family doing these jobs. And the models do not address any issues of justice -- pay commensurate to the value to society.

This is a matter of direct import to librarians, another caring profession (and like nursing and teaching K-12, a highly feminized one). We librarians have a very hard time asking for more money, most of us. We feel we are somehow betraying our ideals, sullying our profession, to talk about compensation. When we do this, we are falling into a trap of confusing the values that underlie caring professions with some idea that money should not be attached to them. Why is it a bad thing to ask for a living wage? And how can it betray the values of caring and nurturing that brought us to such a profession? Let us work to decouple the two ideas. A good salary can be discussed in the same sentence as social responsibility.

This confusion not only keeps caring professions from making a reasonable salary, it can also divide corporate and capitalist ideas from ethics and social responsibility. Saying that there are two opposites that cannot be mixed results in isolating business from morality. This is at least as damaging to society as the assumption that moral individuals and organizations should not be concerned with money. Triple bottom line accounting is one method that attempts to give a measure and rationality to balancing the three ideas: profit, environmental conscience, and social responsibility. The Wikipedia entry ( notes that the idea is to redefine corporate responsibility. The corporation is not just duty-bound to deliver maximum profits to share-holders, but to balance the interests of all “stakeholders” – employees, community, environment, that are affected by the corporation’s actions.

A very interesting argument at both “poles!” Money heart image was found at, who claimed it was via (though I did not find the image there).

Importance of Teaching in Law School

Today's edition of Inside Higher Ed features an article entitled "If You Teach Them, They Will Be Happy" that discusses a study, written by Kennon M. Sheldon, professor of psychology at the University of Missouri at Columbia and Lawrence S. Krieger, professor of law at Florida State University, published in the current issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. The study compares recent classes at two law schools, one in the second tier and one in the fourth tier. At the first law school, faculty scholarship was emphasized, which was why the school ranked in the second tier. At the second school, good teaching was emphasized. The students at both schools had similar undergraduate GPAs and LSAT scores. What is interesting, however, is that students at the second school performed significantly better on the bar exam than did students at the first school. Professor Krieger, one of the co-authors, stated "that it was 'almost shocking' to see 'how significantly the fourth tier students outperformed the second tier law students on the bar.'" He went on to state that "'it makes sense psychologically--the students at the fourth tier school were happier--and it makes sense that they would have learned more from better teachers.'" Critics of the study, such as Professor Ann Althouse of the University of Wisconsin Law School, a well-known legal blogger, feels that although it is "'intuitively right that the school that emphasizes teaching is the one with students who are happier and score better,' those students may not be better off in the long run." A faculty that puts its emphasis on "'teaching students to be lawyers'" may not be teaching them to think like lawyers. Students comments are part of the Inside Higher Ed article. Several students felt that "faculty support was important for them and their peers," but that the best professor is "'someone who is a great scholar and who can teach.'" This study brings us back to the old dilemma of the high value placed on scholarship in evaluating law schools for the U.S. News and World Report rankings versus the lack of emphasis on quality of teaching, admittedly something that is difficult to measure.

Monday, June 18, 2007


In case you haven't run across this (sometimes funny, sometimes appalling) spoof of Wikipedia, take a look, using the link in this post's title. "Uncyclopedia, the content-free encyclopedia!" It has multiple language versions, proving that there are people all over the world with time to waste writing entries of a laughable nature. See this list of the various Uncyclopedias. You may also want to see this history and explanation of Uncyclopedia and its international counterparts at Wikipedia.

The hollow "puzzle potato" reminiscent of the Wikipedia puzzle earth, is the logo of Uncyclopedia, and the image above is from the Uncyclopedia entry on its logo (well, of course!).

For another source of geek humor, try this link to Wikipedia's Bad Jokes and Other Deleted Nonsense. My favorite continues to be the fake bird classification article, Birdidae, but there are many other pseudo-articles, bad jokes, puns, visual jokes and more. But be warned, it is distinctively geek humor. What passes for Wit of the Web is not for everybody.

Museum Evolution

In a sort-of-related (and totally cool) story, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts has created an online repository of their Egypt collection at, called the Giza Archives Project. I read about it in the Boston Globe, which reports

The Giza Archives Project, established by Boston's Museum of Fine Arts in January 2005, aims to become the world's central online repository for all archaeological activity at the necropolis, beginning with the major 20th-century excavations that were jointly funded by the museum and Harvard University.

The free site is helping scholars decipher clues to Egyptian culture during the Pyramid Age, said project director Peter Der Manuelian. And it is becoming even more valuable as the monuments and artifacts themselves crumble -- victims of pollution, vandalism, tourism, and time, he said.

"In many ways, the only way to study Giza is from our material and not to study the monuments themselves anymore," said Manuelian, who is also a lecturer at Tufts University. "The real goal is to bring everything online from Giza past, Giza present, and Giza future."

The website, created with $1.6 million in funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the assistance of hundreds of volunteers, allows users to research monuments and artifacts from the time of the original discovery and excavation through today. The MFA recently forged formal agreements with several museums and universities in Europe to add their Giza archives and artifacts to the website.
Folks who have visited the MFA in Boston may have seen their mummies. But I had not known that they were a major repository for ancient Egyptian material. They had this curator.... Like so many of our libraries with special collections... HMMM.

(Image is the navigation bar at the Giza Archives Project)

Library Evolution

OOTJ readers who are also on the LawLibDir listserve have already seen the e-mail exchange prompted by Carl Yirka's questions about what libraries have stopped doing or buying in order to meet new demands. Jim Milles also interviews Carl on his Check This Out podcast, so you'll want to hear that. The list includes such no-longer-surprises as cancelling print Shepards, statutes and reporters, and no longer binding most journals. Other items included

* letting computer labs die out, and depending on students' own laptops instead;

* cutting out telephone reference;

* no longer doing changing displays -- a permanent display of student trophies;

* no longer giving live tours -- they created podcasts and tapes;

* transforming the full semester advanced legal research class into mini-sessions of two weeks each (I suppose by topic);

What I found most interesting in the discussion was the upbeat response, focusing on the reason for these changes -- not just budgets tight and expenses rising. These librarians are not cutting things so much as transforming them. They are moving into digital formats when they drop Shepards, codes and reporters, as well as skipping journal-binding. They are exchanging one form of service for another that fits their patrons' new needs and lifestyles, as with the changing of live tours into self-guided tours or going with mini-courses. This is library evolution at work!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

News Flash on Gay Marriage

The Massachusetts legislature was being asked (again) to offer a constitutional ban on gay marriage for a vote by the general public.

The word came down The Hill from the State House this afternoon that the proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage has failed, by a larger margin than the last attempt.

For those who like links, see Suffolk's informative links page here for cites to the decision and lots more. The image of the swans was inspired by the surprise several years ago, that the celebrated pair of mated swans at Boston's Public Gardens, named Romeo and Juliet, in fact turn out to be Juliet and Juliet. Despite the fact that they have nested and laid eggs for the past two years, the eggs have not hatched. Experts revealed in the Boston Globe that they believe the pair are both female. I guess our Supreme Judicial Court knew what they were doing in their decision, Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, 798 N.E.2d 941 (Mass. 2003).

Update on AutoAdmit

Follow the link in the title for an open, brief article at the Chronicle of Higher Education site on a law suit against AutoAdmit, the site that hosted many racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments by law students, and grads about their colleagues. Two Yale women have sued Anthony Ciolli, the Web site’s former chief educational director, and several other people who posted messages to the site under pseudonyms.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Librarian Job Bias

Will Manley sometimes makes my blood boil, but his column in the current issue of American Libraries, is right on! You can use the link to access the table of contents and if you have an ALA membership, read the entire issue online. I will excerpt small bits of Will's excellent essay, which appears at p. 152, of the June/July, 2007 issue.

The title, "Move Over, Marian: The fight against stereotypes goes way back," is a little misleading. A lot of his focus is not so much on stereotypes as such, but the "job bias" against librrians. While ignorant and sweeping stereotypes hurt our feelings, Manley has a more pertinent point: the ignorant and sweeping stereotypes result in our employers, our friends and even perhaps, our families selling the profession short.

Manley explains that he is currently working as a city manager, but that his lifelong career as a librarian was the biggest barrier to getting his current job.

"...The biggest obstacle I had to overcome in getting the city manager job was the overwhleming perception that a librarian could not possibly handle the job."

"You can't be a librarian. That's preposterous! How can you run a big city with a clerical background?" [exclaimed his friend]

Immediately, I said, "See, you share the bias against librarians! We are not a bunch of retiring file clerks who specialize in busy work. WE are highly educated professionals who operate and manage large, high-tech institutions that serve a wide diversity of people in a wide diversity of very important ways. We do this with minimal resources and minimal respect. We are creative, resourceful and very productive."
Right on, Will!

ABA Accreditation Taskforce backs off tenure issue

An effort to put a halt to tenure requirements for law school accreditation has stalled. The American Bar Association task force investigating the issue failed to come to a consensus and decided not to explicitly recommend any changes to current “security of position” standards, which require institutions to have some tenure system.

The 11-member Accreditation Policy Task Force, in its final report to the council of ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar last weekend, recommended a number of changes, including more transparency during the accreditation process, a greater focus on “output measures” in evaluating law schools and taking potential costs of standards further into account.

But during discussions on the terms and conditions of employment, that consensus gave way to deep divisions between at least three different groups of members.

[snip]No one from the council pushed for a vote last weekend, although there is still significant — and possibly just enough — support for the movement to end regulations on terms and conditions of employment. (Several members of the council, which governs the ABA’s section authorizing accreditation decisions, are also on the task force.)

Nevertheless, the members present decided not to make any decisions on carrying out any of the recommendations until the annual ABA meeting in San Francisco from August 9-12. The report concludes the accreditation task force’s one-year mandate, and it is not likely that a new one will be appointed, so the August meeting will likely end the debate one way or another.

“By doing nothing they maintained the status quo, which is what I think the academic profession would have wanted to see. It’s a rebuff to this effort. It can’t be viewed as anything else,” said Matthew W. Finkin, the Albert J. Harno and Edward W. Cleary Chair in Law at the University of Illinois College of Law and a consultant to the American Association of University Professors’ Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure

Thanks to Barbara Bintliff for posting this to the LawLibDir listserve. The so-called ALDA deans' attack on tenure in law school seems to be at least slowed. Read the entire article in Inside Higher Education through the link in the title.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Job Satisfaction and Student Happiness

Self-determination Theory (SDT), is a theory of human motivation. I ran across it in a study of how law schools damage or do less damage (you evidently can't say "no damage!) to their students ("Understanding the Negative Effects of Legal Education on Law Students: A Longitudinal Test of Self-Determination Theory," by Kennon M. Sheldon and Lawrence S. Krieger, in Society for Personality and Social Psychology (at ) )

The authors state: "According to SDT, the development of positive motivation is importantly forwarded or impeded by the characteristics of the social environment. Specifically, when authorities provide autonomy support and acknowledge their subordinates' initiative and self-directedness, those subordinates discover, retain and enhance their intrinsic motivations and at least internalize non-enjoyable but important extrinsic motivations. In contrast, when authorities are controlling or deny the self-agency of subordinates, intrinsic motivations are undermined and internalization is forestalled. …

According to SDT, all human beings require regular experiences of autonomy, competence, and relatedness to thrive and maximize their positive motivation. In other words, people need to feel that they are good at what they do or at least become good at it (competence); that they are doing what they choose and want to be doing, that is what they enjoy or at least believed in (autonomy); and that they are relating meaningfully to others in the process, that is, connecting with the selves of other people (relatedness). These needs are considered so fundamental that [one researcher] has likened them to a plant's need for sunlight, soil, and water. Indeed, autonomy, competence, and relatedness have each been shown empirically to be uniquely important in that they have additive effects on a host of positive outcomes. …

According to SDT, autonomy, competence, and relatedness are precisely the kinds of experiences that people implicitly take into account in making well-being judgments."

Monday, June 11, 2007

Congratulations to Jim Milles!

I just received this post from AALL's CS-SIS listserv. Our fellow OOTJ blogger and OOTJ founder, Jim Milles, is to be honored for his contributions to our profession. A well-deserved honor!

'The CS-SIS Awards Committee (Susan Boland, James E. Duggan, Chair, and Eric Young) is pleased to announce that James G. Milles has been selected as the 2007 recipient of the CS-SIS Kenneth J. Hirsh Distinguished Service Award. Jim, Vice Dean for Legal Information Services, Director of the Charles B. Sears Law Library and Professor of Law at the University at Buffalo Law School, State University of New York, was nominated by a group of CS-SIS current and past chairs, including Liz Glankler, Dominick J. Grillo, Kenneth J. Hirsh, Sheri H. Lewis, June Hsiao Liebert, and Kristina L. Niedringhaus.

This award honors a CS-SIS member who has made outstanding contributions to the SIS, to AALL, and who is well regarded for their service to the profession. The inaugural award recipient was Ken Hirsh, for whom the award was subsequently re-named. Jim is well known for his contributions to both CS-SIS and AALL. Jim served as chair of CS-SIS in 1996-1997 and was also AALL SIS Council Chair the following year. According to his nominators, “one of Jim's most important contributions to law librarianship has been the role of mentor he has played for many colleagues and newcomers to the field. Jim regularly introduces new librarians to AALL, CS-SIS, and CALI gatherings and mentors students in his library school classes. He makes it a point at every annual meeting to set aside time to meet with new librarians and introduce them to the section.'

The 2007 CS-SIS Kenneth J. Hirsh Distinguished Service Award will be presented at the CS-SIS Business Meeting on Sunday, July 15, 2007, during the AALL Annual Meeting in New Orleans."

Ms. JD blog for women law students and lawyers

We've posted stuff before about women lawyers. Here is a forum for folks who want to discuss the issues, and change the world. Thanks to the folks at Suffolk's law library blog for alerting me to it.

Finding helpful stuff in the library III

A few more tricks
Pay attention to the age of the books, but be aware that many titles in law libraries have regular updates, and may be current despite the earlier copyright date. Also, if you find something excellent, but dated, you can use the material and bring it up to date with online research, or in print, with digests and Shepards.
One other trick is the addition to some catalogs of a button marked “Other Resources.” This button in the Suffolk University catalog will lead you to a box that will allow you to search a large number of online databases and web search engines, with a suggested search already entered. These may or may not bring up anything new for you, but it’s one more way we make the catalog a better tool for research.

Other resources at your library website
Librarians at most libraries will post research guides and web guides to topics of interest to their students and faculty. Look at the library home page and see links for research aids. They will often include helpful advice, links to web resources you might not find on your own, and links to databases the library subscribes to. If you are a current student or employee, you can probably use these databases, even if you are not on campus. You may need to enter your ID number to use the databases, or sometimes get a password from the library. Don’t re-invent the wheel! Let your librarians be your guides to the web, to the library and to online paid access databases.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A break from Learning Stuff

How to Tell if Your Life is Worthwhile

1. If you had to say goodbye right now, what would you be proudest of?

2. Have you made somebody a little bit happier?

3. Did you make someplace just a bit better than it was before you came by?

4. Did you have fun?

If you don't have any good answers to those four questions, you need to make a project of it now. If you have pretty good answers, Hoorah! But do more! You don't have forever, you know. Or, maybe you do. How would I know?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Finding Helpful Stuff in the Library, Part II

Look Beyond the Title
If you are looking for something rather narrow or specialized, and don’t find any books on that particular topic, you might try looking for books on a larger topic that might include a chapter on your narrow sub-topic. So, for instance, if you want to read about negotiating contracts for professional athletes, you might search for “negotiating sports contracts.” Chances are that your library won’t have any books on this particular topic. But if you do a keyword search for “sports law contracts,” you may find several books. For instance, my search of my catalog turns up Sports Law and Regulation. Nowadays, many online catalogs will allow you to look at the books’ tables of contents. My catalog shows that this book has a chapter on “The art of contract negotiation.”

Using the technique noted yesterday, at "Finding helpful stuff in the Library I," of using the best subject in the entry to find other relevant books, I can click on “Sports law and legislation” to see 45 other titles in my library cataloged under that subject. I find a few other titles that might be helpful, and note the call number areas. When I browse the shelves in that area of the library (KF 39xx), I may locate a few more books of interest.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Finding Helpful Stuff in the Library -- Part I

Use the Online Catalog (Keyword search is best unless you’re sure of a title or author)
Once you find one helpful item, expand your search by clicking on the most-on-point subject line. This will take you to the listing of subject headings in the catalog. You can use the original, or find another, nearby subject and click to see all the titles cataloged under that subject. Online catalogs let you check the library holdings from anywhere with a web connection. If you don’t have the catalog bookmarked, go to your law school homepage, link to the library, and look for a link to the catalog.

LC Call numbers
The call numbers on the books’ spines have a logic, and if you understand it, you can use the library more efficiently. Most academic libraries in the U.S. nowadays use LC or Library of Congress cataloging. Library of Congress call numbers are a combination of letters and numbers. For example, here is the call number for the Lawyers Edition Supreme Court Reports:
KF (K= Law; KF = U.S. Law; KE is Irish Law; KFK is Kentucky or Kansas Law)
101 (The numbers are organized by subject; 800's is Contracts, 1400's is Corporations)
.A313 (this is the “Cutter Number” which divides all the books on the same topic into a smaller sub-order, based usually on the author’s name)

This call number arrangement means that similar books sit near each other. If you locate one helpful book, browse up and down the shelves for others on the same topic. You may find books that you did not find through your catalog search. You can also transfer your research to other academic libraries using the same helpful call numbers.

There are a few topics in law libraries that have more than one call number that might be of interest. For instance, Bio-medical/health law is at KF 3100's. But you might also want to see books your law library cataloged as general biomedical/health books at R and RA or RM, or other combinations of R– .

James Joyce and Copyright

Here's a fascinating article from the Los Angles Times about the efforts by James Joyce's estate to keep authors from making fair use of Joyce's works. The article discusses a "trend in intellectual property: As copyright becomes harder to defend, many copyright holders are becoming less realistic about the limitations of their ownership." Things came to a head when a Stanford University English professor, Carol Loeb Shloss, in a suit argued by Lawrence Lessig alleged that the Joyce estate "unreasonably prevent[ed] Shloss from making fair use of the author's published works or quoting from Joyce family letters" for a biography she wrote of Joyce's tragic daughter, Lucia. Without the materials the estate withheld, Shloss's book was criticized for lack of documentation for its theory that Lucia was her father's muse and an unacknowledged collaborator on such works as Finnegans Wake.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Laptops in Classrooms, Revisited

There has been a lot of discussion, pro and con, on the subject of laptops in the classroom. Along comes a new article from Innovate, a journal of online education, entitled "Questioning Assumptions About Students' Expectations for Technology in College Classrooms," by Sarah Lohnes and Charles Kinzer. Lohnes and Kinzer, both at Columbia University, conclude that although technology plays a large role in students' lives outside of the classroom, this doesn't necessarily mean that technology has to play a large role inside the classroom. Some students find the use of laptops in class to be "distracting and isolating," even though they rely on them outside of class for entertainment, education, and communication.

I once asked my daughter, a rising junior in college, whether she ever used her laptop in class, and was somewhat surprised when she answered no. She was the typical Net Gen student in high school--doing homework while IM'g, emailing, talking on her cell phone, and watching television. I could not, and do not, understand how anyone can multitask to this extent and do justice to any of the activities. And she could not understand why I could not understand. This is why I was surprised to hear she doesn't even take her laptop to class. She says that when she takes notes in longhand, she is better able to concentrate on what the professor and her classmates are saying. She finds that the technology actually gets in the way of the learning process. Without the laptop, she is more engaged and focused on what is going in the classroom.

I have found that as a teacher, it is rather offputting to face rows of laptops rather than rows of students. I have observed that no matter how interesting class is (admittedly, it can be a challenge to make Advanced Legal Research a compelling experience each and every time), some students with laptops will use them for non-educational activities, and this is demoralizing to me. It would be hard to ban laptops from a research class, but I do flirt with the idea from time to time.

A little Web fun

Just in case you've got the mid-week blahs, here is a short list of some fun websites:

The Onion, which bills itself as America's Finest Newsource (it's funny, it's dry, it's the Onion!)

Hallmark - check out their free e-cards, many of which are very cool, and some are pretty funny.

Time's Cartoons of the Week (political cartoons)

Check out for ingenious, amusing and sometimes silly ideas to make your life better, more productive or less boring.

Be amazed at the London Book Project, which uses the London Underground system to distribute (and register) free books in a massive book exchange project. A little reminiscent of

Get a cute fix at or

Play with music at (this is a kids' site but it's fun, anyway!)


Conservapedia (link in title above), is a right-leaning version of Wikipedia. They are responding to what they perceive as a left bias in Wikipedia (today, Conservapedia's front page has an article illustrating Wikipedia's "vicious" smear of conservative Congressman Thad Cochran. As with all web (and I suppose, print) resources, the reader is well-advised to double check facts before relying. I am indebted to Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam for the alert to this new online encyclopedia.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Reading material

Readers of this blog may enjoy an essay I wrote for the SCCLL newsletter about how libraries contribute to a successful city.

Once you read it, you will understand why I have not been posting recently.

Burning Books

The New York Times on Sunday, June 3, ran a story in the National Report section that caught my eye. Entitled "A Requiem for Reading in a Smoldering Pyre of Books," it concerned two bookstore owners in Kansas City, Missouri, who resorted to burning books they had in storage because they got tired of dealing with the "Sisyphean" situation and did not know what else to do with them. The burning was meant to be as well a "cultural statement about the decline of literary reading in the United States." The two men had tried to give away books in bulk, without success. Mysteriously, the state correctional system refused to take donations of books. "When they donated books to a local fund-raising event, some well-meaning person bought up most of those books and left them" on the bookstore's doorstep. The dilemma the bookstore owners faced was that "books are just things, paper bricks of commerce taking up room. But they are also holy vessels, containing the written articulation of our experiences and dreams, allowing us to point to an arrangement of words and exclaim: 'Yes! That's it exactly!'" I'm sure every librarian has felt this tension when we weed our collections, whether at work or at home. Space is finite, and weeding is a necessary activity, but it is hard to throw books away. I think it's good that we agonize about getting rid of books. We shouldn't take it casually.

Library People

Well, it's very hard to generalize about any group of people, much less a group as diverse and unique as the folks who work in libraries. But I'm going to make a few sweeping statements, any way -- what the heck!

In more than 20 years of working in academic libraries (and one short stint in a state government library), I have observed that libraries draw an unusually intelligent group of people. Many are very learned, some are hugely over-qualified for the jobs they are in. I include in this observation both the professional librarians and the paraprofessionals and clerical level.

You get people who like to learn, and value knowledge. Maybe because libraries are places to keep learning, just through your work. Also, because some of the schools have the wonderful perk of tuition remission, libraries draw people who like to keep learning. In recent years, you could not stay in libraries without learning, learning and learning -- about changes in publishers, about technology and library automation systems, about Boolean searching and Natural Language searching and about teaching techniques both old-fashioned and new-technical, and about managing people.

There are so many different kinds of people in the "library machines" I have known. Conservatives, liberals, radicals, anarchists and utopians on the political spectrum. Many -- but not all! -- display those characteristics that show up in so many library job postings: meticulous attention to detail. Some are real detail fiends, and make the library a place of order and reason. Others are visionaries who look at big pictures and dream the future. But every single one I can call to mind, certainly fits the two characteristics above: Smart people who love and value learning. They have boundless curiousity and a passion for education. Oh, yes, one more unifying characteristic:

Library people are committed to civility and community. I have seen such a change in the people I work with between the time I worked as a lawyer and the years I have been a librarian. Librarians are seriously into community, collegiality and sharing (except the last donut, of course, but that would be asking too much!)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Book Expo illustrates how publishers are adjusting to print vs. digital

Link to the story in the NY Times, through the title to this post. This is why I was at the Times' website to see the very new post about the Guantanamo cases. The article covers the Book Expo held last weekend in NY City.

But in what has become another rite of the BookExpo in recent years, the industry continued to grapple with its evolving techno-future with a mixture of enthusiasm, anxiety and a whiff of desperation.

“I think there is going to be a lot of sturm and drang before we figure this out,” said Eamon Dolan, editor in chief of Houghton Mifflin. “There is a huge undertaking ahead. It is going to be rocky.”
This is not really news to librarians, who have been working through the same process, perhaps faster and maybe with less anxiety (we don't live on the thin edge of profitability, most of us, as entrepreneurs).

Guantanamo breakthrough

The New York Times' William Glaberson just reported that the military judge ruling on a case of a Canadian citizen held at Guantanamo stated that ALL the cases suffer from the same procedural defect:

The military judge, Col. Peter E. Brownback III of the Army, said that Congress authorized charges only against detainees who had been determined to be unlawful enemy combatants, and that the military here has determined only that Mr. Khadr was an enemy combatant. Military lawyers here said the same flaw would affect every other potential war crimes case here.

The ruling will not free Mr. Khadr, and the military prosecutors are permitted to refile their murder and terrorism charges against him. But the ruling appeared to raise far reaching questions about the future of the legal proceedings here because it involved central principles of detention procedures.

Colonel Brownback said that the military commission lacked the jurisdiction to hear the case against Mr. Khadr because he was not designated an “unlawful” enemy combatant by an earlier military hearing here that considered whether he was properly held at Guantanamo.
Link to full article in title of this post, above.

It's harder for governments to block info!

The Internet is a powerful tool for subversives of all stripes to avoid censorship.

When Venezuela took away the broadcast license for its main opposition television network, the TV producers simply moved their shows to YouTube! Link to El Observador Onlinea. Ars Technica carries the story.

El Observador clips have been seen 175,000 times since May 28, and the channel is currently the most-subscribed channel of the week.

While putting the station's shows on YouTube is an excellent idea, YouTube still lacks anything near the reach of over-the-air broadcasts. But the use of the site to avoid censorship is growing, and it's not hard to imagine a day in the near future when the site (or sites like it) becomes as essential as local TV stations.

As that happens, YouTube will come into even more conflicts with governments that have an interest in controlling what their citizens see, It's already happening—Thailand's king, for instance, has a thing for iPods but isn't too keen on YouTube. Will Hugo Chavez show more tolerance?
Follow the Ars Technica link at the bottom of the full story to see other stories on censorship attempts, including many by China. This article involves a new tool from U. of Toronto, psiphon, to use social networks to subvert governmental censorship. And OOTJ readers will recall the Post on anonymous browsing. And another post that brought you this link to Reporters Without Borders' Report on Freedom of the Press Worldwide, which includes notes on governments that block citizens' access to websites.

More news on Open Source Documents & State Governments

Computer World, in an article linked in title, reports that many states have filed legislation requiring, like Massachusetts, the state government to use open document format (ODF) software. Microsoft has been very busy lobbying and spreading disinformation to block these laws, which would interfere with their sales of Word and other Microsoft Office products. The count per this article: 5 states have dropped the legislation and a 6th state introduced instead a very watered-down version of the original proposal. Connecticut, Florida, Texas, Oregon & California all voted the bill down. Minnesota introduced instead a bill to study the issue. So Massachusetts so far is the only state with ODF requirements. IBM and Sun both produce alternatives to the Microsoft product.

Friday, June 01, 2007

More on dangers of blogging!

The Boston Globe reported yesterday on a pediatrician blogger who scotched his defense in a malpractice suit by blogging about it. (link to full story in title above) Globe writer Jonathan Saltzman reported that the plaintiff's attorney extracted a confession that the defendant was the blogger called "Flea" (a nickname for pediatrican interns).

In his blog, Flea had ridiculed the plaintiff's case and the plaintiff's lawyer. He had revealed the defense strategy. He had accused members of the jury of dozing.

With the jury looking on in puzzlement, Lindeman admitted that he was, in fact, Flea.

The next morning, on May 15, he agreed to pay what members of Boston's tight-knit legal community describe as a substantial settlement -- case closed.
We bloggers need to keep in mind that the whole world can see our blogs, and that they form a permanent record of our blathering. And sometimes, we don't know how the writing that we produce for the audience we know may strike others in a completely unexpected way!

I blogged about my philosophy on employee discipline and termination on OOTJ. This is something that is always difficult, and I fall back on a teaching from a Jesuit friend, based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Then, I heard that my post had generated a huge level of buzz and uproar in my own library. People were speculating on whom I was preparing to axe! I was speaking in general terms, but people where I work took my post as a signal of specific intention. I took down the post and some time later replaced it with a much less effective, general musing on life philosophy and how it could affect your work activities (link).

I learned the hard way that blogs can bite back. Perhaps the only safe blogging is the sort my dog does on his daily walk. But maybe even that carries meaning beyond what the dog was considering!

Perfect Timing! Bar Exam music video from YouTube

Follow the link in the title to see a terrific honky-tonk music video about taking the bar exam "under a neon sign." Thanks to Dave Turkalo for passing this little gem along!