Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Elections cloud the horizon!


Coming up to Super Tuesday, when so many states hold their primary elections, the run for the nominations for President are taking over more and more shelf space in our national supermarket of ideas (wow, what a metaphor!). Here are some interesting sites to follow news and possible scandals:

AP report that the Ohio ACLU is petitioning a federal judge in the Northen District of Ohio to enjoin the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections from using balloting technology that does not give notice to voters of problems with their ballot. (see the ACLU report on this here). You can also access a lot of information at the ACLU site about their Voting Rights Project, dealing with the upcoming expiration of the Voting Rights Act.

Then, there are a lot of sites that will let you track the vote results, if you are inclined:

Election 2008 has a spiffy little map and will track congressional races as well as presidential primary balloting. Lots of interesting toys to play with.

Survey USA tracks how close polling has come to predicting election outcomes. Ought to be fun.

For the conspiracy minded, and paranoid among us, there is Wired's article, "How to Jam an Election...", reviewing How to Rig An Election(buy it), by former GOP operative Allen Raymond and ghostwriter Ian Spiegelman. It's been covered a lot lately, since it came out just in time for the New Hampshire primaries. Read Huffington Post here .

The clouds are Cloud study, horizon of trees 27 September 1821, by John Constable.

Clarification on an earlier post

On January 11, I posted a "head to head comparison" between the Legal Research Engine, and Westlaw's WebPlus. I need to clarify that post -- the Legal Research Engine is a product of Cornell's law school library, not of the Legal Information Institute -- my mistake. It's an amazing piece of work and very impressive as a legally oriented alternative to Google or other general search engines.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

ABA Journal on Career Satisfaction for Lawyers

Click the title to this post to read an interview with Michael Melcher, author of The Creative Lawyer: A practical guide to authentic professional satisfaction, in the newest issue of the ABA Journal. He has lots of interesting things to say that readers can easily apply to the way they approach their own professional life. Here is a brief example:

Is satisfaction hard to come by because of the legal profession, or because of the personalities that are drawn to the field?

I think the legal profession is a little bit odd in some ways, but I don’t think it’s pathological. Many of the problems that lawyers think are unique to the legal profession are common to other professional services – for example, billable hour requirements.

I do think that most people who become lawyers have a certain analytical, critical perspective that is further honed in law school. It becomes second nature to see the glass as half-empty, and to conclude that nothing can be done to fill it. This is where they are wrong. There are lots of ways that lawyers can become happier in their existing careers, or make transitions to new ones. To do that, they need to give up some of the drama they are holding onto, reign [sic] in their egos and expectations, and do some real work to make these changes happen.
Melcher has helpful, sensible advice for readers who are unhappy in their career. For instance, he suggests breaking apart the pieces of your job, to consider which pieces, in particular, make you unhappy or unfulfilled. Then, you can consider whether you can change those pieces within the same career, or position.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Remember the suspicious cyber-attack against Estonia?

Last spring, OOTJ reported that Russia was suspected of launching denial of service attacks against Estonia. The post linked to a BBC story about cyber-pirates attacking a variety of Estonian websites and online services, following shortly the removal of a Russian war memorial from Estonia. Though Russia officially denied their involvement, there were deep suspicions about the links.

Now a story comes out on Ars Technica, here stating that a single student was behind the rash of attacks.

As InfoWorld reports, an Estonian youth has been arrested for the attacks, and current evidence suggests he was acting independently—prosecutors in Estonia have stated they have no other suspects. Because the attacks were botnet-driven and launched from servers all over the globe, however, it's impossible to state definitively that only a single individual was involved.

Dmitri Galushkevich, a 20-year-old Estonian student, launched the DoS (denial-of-service) attacks from his own PC last year. Although he's a native Estonian, Galushkevich was angry over his government's plans to move the statue, and launched the attack as a means of protesting the decision. The fact that a single angry student was able to impact international relations between two countries is an startling development. (snip)

The fact that a single student was able to trigger such events is particularly ominous when you consider just how many potential flashpoints exist between various countries all over the world. The DoS attack against Estonia is an excellent example of how a cyberattack carried out by a 20-year-old student in response to real-life events further exacerbated an existing problem between two nations.
Here is a link to the full story on Infoworld, which is briefer than the Ars Technica post. Infoworld states that investigations are still under way to establish whether Galushkevich acted alone. Ars Technica, written by Joe Hruska, gives a nice background explaining the meaning of the Russian war memorial to ethnic Russian Estonians and to others Estonians who viewed the statue differently.

Rand report on managing diversity in corporate America

Rand released a report reviewing the rise of a new "cottage industry" -- consultants helping corporations to manage diversity, a newly promoted priority. The report criticizes the current approach used by such consultants as a...

laundry list of best practices that is not well organized, prioritized, or integrated. In contrast to this rule-based approach, the authors attempt to lay the groundwork for a fact-based approach to diversity management. We first establish a framework for evaluating approaches to diversity management on the basis of a synthesis of the best practices literature. We then use our diversity management model to determine whether diversity-friendly corporations really do stand out from other companies by analyzing the strategies pursued by 14 large U.S. companies recognized by Fortune magazine for their diversity or human resource (HR) achievements. Finally, to understand whether best practices alone make a company diversity-friendly, we compare a number of characteristics of best diversity companies, best HR companies, and other companies, using quantitative and qualitative methods.

Our principal findings are that firms recognized for diversity are distinguished by a core set of motives and practices that resemble those presented in the best practices literature, but that best practices per se may not enable a company to achieve a high level of diversity. Contextual factors, such as industry affiliation and company size, may be as significant as strategic factors in influencing the extent of a company’s diversity.
Click on the title to this post to reach the full text of the report.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Get Wise to Google

Librarians have mixed feelings about Google. It is a great search engine. We have to admit it. We use it ourselves, though we try to use other tools, too. What bugs us is that we see too many library users who get so Google-habituated that it’s the only tool they think to use. That’s a problem!

If you are going to use Google, or any search engine or database, use it wisely. Get wise to Google. Find out what makes it work and how to make it work better for you.

The best place to begin finding out about any search engine is the help pages that search engines offer now. Google is very generous that way. They have very good help pages, if you will just take the few minutes to read them, and check them from time to time, to keep up to date. Here are URLs for the two most helpful parts of the Google help pages:

http://www.google.com/apis/reference.html

This is a quick reference with explanations for a very large number of special query forms. It has neat tables laying out in quick outline how the system works. There are lots of aspects of Google that most users never take advantage of. What a shame. It’s like owning a Porsche and driving it 20 miles per hour all the time. This baby has power that you are missing out on – find out how to shift up, and corner, and do all those cool sporty things you’ve been missing out on!

http://www.google.com/support/?ctx=web

his is another section of the Google help pages. These explanations are more in-depth on a smaller number of operators. Very helpful. For instance, you can create a query that requires the words you are searching for to be all in the title or all in the URL. You can pull up a web page and display what other websites link to it. Pretty cool capabilities.

http://ezbuzz.blogspot.com/2006/01/google-hacks_21.html


EZine Buzz is a blog devoted to improving your chops at Google searching. It’s pretty good. We noted only one mistake, where the page still lists a 10 word limit. Now Google allows 30 words in a search. It may be that the entry was put in and just not updated. It is, after all, just one entry on January 21, 2006. Still, it is full of good ideas and pretty helpful .Here is EZine Buzz’s own introduction:

Web Search Basics

Searching in Google doesn't have to be a case of just entering what you're looking for in the search box and hoping for the best. Google offers you many ways—via special syntax and search options—to refine your search criteria and help Google better understand what you're looking for. We'll dig into Google's powerful, all-but-undocumented special syntax and search options, and show how to use them to their fullest. We'll cover the basics of Google searching, wildcards, word limits, syntax for special cases, mixing syntax elements, advanced search techniques, and using specialized vocabularies, including slang and jargon.

Librarians hope you will expand your searching horizons beyond Google. There are other great web browsers you ought to know about. For instance, there are meta-search engines that are able to do a creditable job searching more than one search engine at once. They have to be able to create a workable query for each search engine from what you keyed in, and then bring back the results. Ideally, they would sort out the duplicate results, though I don’t think I’ve really seen one that oes. Chris Sherman, at Search Engine Watch wrote a wonderful review of the current crop of MetaSearch Engines and Meta Crawlers, so I won’t try to go there. See the review:

http://searchenginewatch.com/showPage.html?page=2156241

This is a great website to visit in order to broaden your horizons on web surfing generally. There is also the excellent Search Engine Showdown:

http://www.searchengineshowdown.com/

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Law Firm work changing radically!

Click the title to this post to read a New York Times article dated 1/24/2008, by Lisa Belkin, on changes in law firm employment practices, responding to the wave of depressed lawyers leaving the firm world:

Over the last few years and, most strikingly, the last few months, law firms have been forced to rethink longstanding ways of doing business, if they are to remain fully competitive.

As chronicled by my colleague Alex Williams in the Sunday Styles section earlier this month, lawyers are overworked, depressed and leaving.

Less obvious, but potentially more dramatic, are the signs that their firms are finally becoming serious about slowing the stampede for the door. So far the change — which includes taking fresh looks at the billable hour, schedules and partnership tracks — is mostly at the smaller firms. But even some of the larger, more hidebound employers are taking notice.

“There are things happening everywhere, enough to call it a movement,” said Deborah Epstein Henry, who founded Flex-Time Lawyers, a consulting firm that creates initiatives encouraging work-life balance for law firms, with an emphasis on the retention and promotion of women. “The firms don’t think of it as a movement, because it is happening in isolation, one firm at a time. But if you step back and see the whole puzzle, there is definitely real change.”
The real crux of the "movement" is doing away with the billable hour. The ABA Journal ran an article in August, 2007, with front page highlights, on the death of the billable hour here. The article is well worth reading in full, with lots of info on different models at different firms. Standing firmly on the sidelines, where I happily moved in 1986, in order to have time to be a mom, I am cheering!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Repress U.?


The Nation article, Repress U., by Michael Gould-Wartofsky, discusses a number of ways that U.S. college campuses are

fast becoming the latest watchtower in Fortress America. The terror warriors, having turned their attention to "violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism prevention"--as it was recently dubbed in a House of Representatives bill of the same name--have set out to reconquer that traditional hotbed of radicalization, the university.

Building a homeland security campus and bringing the university to heel is a seven-step mission:

1. Target dissidents. (snip)

2. Lock and load (campus police) (snip)

3. Keep an eye (or hundreds of them) focused on campus (surveillance) (snip)

4. Mine student records. (snip)

5. Track foreign-born students; keep the undocumented out.

6. Take over the curriculum, the classroom and the laboratory. (treating faculty and students as assets for government research) (snip)

7. Privatize, privatize, privatize. (the multi-billion dollar industry of "homeland security") (snip)
click on the title to this post to read the entire, distressing article. I know something about some of the "steps" listed above at my campus, but there is a lot I don't know about! It's 11 o'clock. Do you know where your campus is?

The prison bars decorating this post are actually "Trail Bay Gaol, which is an old 1880's public works prison and WWI German prisoner of war camp." courtesy of http://www.tripsource.com/stories/Andy/Andy/Trip9/Aust3.htm, Andy Nunn in Australia.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Teaching -- What are we doing?


Today, we had a speaker, Prof. Roberto Corrado from University of Denver College of Law. He was speaking about how he re-organized his upper-level labor law course to incorporate simulation throughout the semester. Within the first five or six weeks, his class must vote whether to organize themselves as a union shop -- to negotiate with Prof. Corrado as management. The course changes depending on whether a simple majority of the students vote to join the union. Prof. Corrado initially implemented this change in his more typical substantive law class largely because he realized that very few of his law students had ever worked in a blue collar job or knew from personal or family experience about membership in unions. You can read several articles he has written detailing his experiences at:
A Simulation of Union Organizing in a Labor Law Class, 46 J. Leg. Ed. 445 (Sept., 1996).
On Teaching Goals, Education Theory and the Law School Classroom, (draft from author), and
Technology as a Lever for the Transformatino of a Simulation-Based Labor Law Course, (co-authored with Desiree H. Pointer) at pointer@carnegiefoundation.org.

I was interested in several aspects of Prof. Corrado's talk. But for this post, I'll focus on just one. Prof. Corrado pointed out that pedagogical theory holds that students learn better and retain better when they actively do and participate in the learning. This actually jibes with my own observations teaching legal research. It is notoriously difficult to teach research without practice in same -- witness all the arguments over pure bibliographic instruction. I long ago believed I could pour my knowledge into my students' minds. I worked hard and diligently to shovel the knowledge in there. But after a while, I became convinced that teaching and learning were joint enterprises that required the active participation of both sides -- teacher and students.

Coincidentally, my daughter, who volunteers at the Museum of Science here in Boston says the pedagogical theory underlying their programs is very similar. That teaching amounts to facilitating the efforts of the learner to construct their own model of reality. When the child drops the ball and sees it fall, again and again, she is testing and exploring the way that gravity works on the ball -- all you can do as a teacher is to help the child observe, test and generalize what they pick up. In the same way, when I teach my Advanced Legal Research class, all I can do is facilitate the students' exploration of ways to do research, and lead discussions of what they observed, and help them build their own models of the legal research universe. I finally gave up trying to pour info into their minds.

Wouldn't it be an exciting class to co-teach with one of the substantive faculty a course on research and practice, that incorporated simulations? I actually co-taught Tax Research and Practice for about five years. We did not incorporate any simulation. But it would be so cool to develop a law firm practice scenario and add research in context!

The decoration for this is actually supposed to be the earth goddess, Gaia, from http://www.earthrainbownetwork.com/medcorner.htm

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King Day

Click on the title to this post to read a brief Associated Press article about Martin Luther King. By Deepti Hajela, as printed in the Boston Globe, the article quotes a number of scholars who remind the reader that, in his own day, Reverend King was much hated and feared. This is an important fact to keep in mind on this day in 2008. Today, an air-brushed, safe image of Martin Luther King, Jr is presented as every man’s hero. Those of us who lived during those days can recall that there were many Americans who disagreed with King, for many reasons. Recall that Reverend King was assassinated, not assumed into heaven.

I recall my parents, who, in theory, supported civil rights for black Americans, actually breathed a sigh of relief when they heard King was dead. They feared, as I think many white Americans did, the anger and frustration of black Americans. With a visceral panic, they watched the now-iconic Dream speech (link to American Rhetoric site with an audio-video recording and text of the speech). They focused, not on King’s immortal rhetoric, but on the huge numbers of dark faces on the Washington Mall. And they feared change.

What they overlooked was that King represented a firm stand for non-violence, in contrast to more radical leaders such as Malcolm X or the Black Panthers. And, though sympathetic to civil rights in the abstract, nevertheless, they were blind to the every day injustices and outrages experienced by black folk in pre-civil rights America. What they hoped for, I think, was a very gradual change, as the Supreme Court said in Brown vs. the Board of Education, “with all deliberate speed.” But from the point of view of people of color, those changes were a century overdue.

So, when you think about Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., today, consider the courage it took to stand up and push against both intransigent whites who supported Jim Crow and lynchings, but also the “silent majority” of whites (and some blacks as well) who feared upsetting the status quo. Consider that the principled stands he took cost him supporters on both sides – blacks who thought him too moderate as well as whites who feared his message of change, and mis-understood his message of non-violence.

And consider whether today we are closer to achieving Dr. King’s dream, that one day, his children would live in a country where they would be judged, not by the color of their skins, but by the content of their character. Do listen to his wonderful speech from the Lincoln Memorial. The man was a consummate speaker, who had deep roots in the oral traditions of his culture, and in the preaching traditions of American Baptists. Do not forget that King was a Christian first, and that he found in his faith and Mohandas Ghandi’s non-violence a tool to move the world.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

(snip)

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."²

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
We have more work to do.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

On the Impact of Blogging and Legal Scholarship

On the law professor side of the legal blogosphere there is an interesting debate going on over the value of interdisciplinary legal scholarship in the "non-elite" law schools.  Dan Solove brings the major links together here:

Over at Legal Theory Blog, Professor Lawrence Solum has a terrific post on interdisciplinary legal studies. He is responding to the discussion in the blogosphere sparked by Professor Brian Tamanaha's provocative post, to which I have responded (here and here). Several others have insightful commentary in the debate, such as Professor Ethan Leib and Professor Josh Wright. Belle Lettre collects links here and Professor Paul Caron collects more links here.

To me, just as important as the debate itself is the fact that it is taking place online, in real time.  As Jeff Lipshaw notes, Larry Solum's "'post' on the subject ten, and maybe even two, years ago would have been an unread essay in the Journal of Legal Education; today it is read by thousands of people within hours of his writing it."

Blogged with Flock

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Look the the Skies


I need a break! When I get too depressed by the world I live in, I visit Chandra,
the wonderful website with images from the X-ray observatory. This is an image from the Centaurus A constellation. The website explains the image as one of the best examples of:

...the effects of an active supermassive black hole. Opposing jets of high-energy particles can be seen extending to the outer reaches of the galaxy, and numerous smaller black holes in binary star systems are also visible.

The image was made from an ultra-deep look at the galaxy Centaurus A, equivalent to more than seven days of continuous observations. Centaurus A is the nearest galaxy to Earth that contains a supermassive black hole actively powering a jet.

A prominent X-ray jet extending for 13,000 light years points to the upper left in the image, with a shorter "counterjet" aimed in the opposite direction. Astronomers think that such jets are important vehicles for transporting energy from the black hole to the much larger dimensions of a galaxy, and affecting the rate at which stars form there.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The hand shapes the tool; The tool shapes the mind


More evidence is emerging from various fields that shows how using a tool changes the brain of the tool-user. We should consider how tools shape brains, because our tools for writing and reading are going through revolutionary changes now. We are moving from writing and reading nearly everything in paper, to electronic sources. Paper books and magazines require the reader to follow or at least skim and skip through material in serial format. This is analogous to how one had to fast-forward or reverse on a tape or film to locate the segment of interest. Now, electronic formats allow a reader to pinpoint the specific terms of interest and flip among them to find the section of interest.

Already, some writers of born-digital materials are taking advantage of this dip and switch access. Blogs that feature a line or two and allow the reader to “click here to read more...” are an example. Web-zines that feature headlines and an introduction, with links to the full article are another example. And case research on Westlaw and Lexis, or Google searches of the web, are other, perhaps more appropriate examples. Readers can follow links from the middle of a Wikipedia article to other articles or outside sources. The reading experience is no longer a beginning-middle-end, but an endlessly varied branching following each individual’s personal interests. Our reading tools seem to be re-shaping our brains.

Mary Anne Wolf, in Proust and the Squid, shows in detail how reading rewires the brain. Taking various portions of brain real estate originally used for other, sometimes related purposes, the brain dedicates portions for reading tasks such as using pattern recognition that may have been evolved to help recognize leopards to recognize letter shapes. Then the newly re-dedicated portions are hard-wired together, speeding up reading tasks. Neuroscientists and reading experts used MRI equipment to make pictures of the brain as volunteers read. They found that different portions of the brain are recruited for reading the greco-latin letters of western alphabets and the ideograms of Chinese writing.


Science Daily online reported in July, 2007,

The brain's mirror neuron network responds differently depending on whether we are looking at someone who shares our culture, or someone who doesn't.

A thumb's up for "I'm good." The rubbing of a pointed forefinger at another for "shame on you." The infamous and ubiquitous middle finger salute for--well, you know. Such gestures that convey meaning without speech are used and recognized by nearly everyone in our society, but to someone from a foreign country, they may be incomprehensible.

The opposite is true as well. Plop an American in a foreign land and he or she may be clueless to the common gestures of that particular culture. This raises a provocative question--does culture influence the brain?

The answer is yes, ... (snip) In their study, the researchers wanted to investigate the imprint of culture on the so-called mirror neuron network. Mirror neurons fire when an individual performs an action, but they also fire when someone watches another individual perform that same action. Neuroscientists believe this "mirroring" is the neural mechanism by which we can read the minds of other people and empathize with them.

When it comes to the influence of culture, they found that indeed, the mirror neuron network responds differently depending on whether we are looking at someone who shares our culture, or someone who doesn't. (Snip)

Thus, it appears that neural systems supporting memory, empathy and general cognition encodes information differently depending on who's giving the information--a member of one's own cultural/ethnic in-group, or a member of an out-group, and that ethnic in-group membership and a culturally learned motor repertoire more strongly influence the brain's responses to observed actions, specifically actions used in social communication.
We seem to have a confluence from a number of fields of study on the inter-relationships between the brain itself, and cultural as well as physical tools. It makes sense to me that the near-infinite ability of the human mind to re-wire itself for new tasks and to make tools an extension (link to an earlier OOTJ post on topic) of the body, is at work as we move from print to digital. I think we in libraries where we teach research and analysis should be aware of changes -- we need to be changing how and what we teach, in order to better help our students, associates and the legal profession.

The decoration illustrates flintknapping, making stone tools, courtesy of Wild Spirit Traders (Betty & Dave; Dave ~ Flint Knapper; Jewelry, Leather, Deer Bags, and Fur Bags 727-856-7506 email: JD666769@aol.com; posted with a long list of artisans at Thundering-Spirit.tripod.com

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What's Wrong with this Picture?

At AALS, I listened to a law library director at a newly established law school talk about running the library on a "just what they need, just in time" basis. It sounds really nifty, to only order books as faculty request them, buying a single electronic book or print-on-demand title as needed.

Then, I looked at this week's Chronicle of Higher Education, front page article on the awkward struggles of some universities to merge IT and campus libraries, "Strains and Joys Color Mergers Between Libraries and Tech Units," by Andrea Foster.

Both Xavier's library and its information-technology unit were in terrible shape. Xavier had hired four chief information officers in five years, its technology was obsolete, its library and IT staffs didn't talk to each other, and students had to jump through hoops to do online research.

David W. Dodd, the CIO who arrived at Xavier in 2005, said students and faculty members wanted three basic things: "Provide the services I'm looking for, in the manner I want, and get out of my way." They weren't getting any of them.

The solution was to scrap traditional library and technology units in favor of one with librarians and technology experts working side by side, responding to students' needs for immediate, round-the-clock access to electronic data and interactive Web applications.

A $28-million building called the Learning Commons will be erected to house the organization and serve as a center for various educational programs. Users will be able to get technical help, use multimedia software at any one of a bank of computers, view the library's online holdings, and have their reference questions answered.

The library, which will be attached to the new building, is being refashioned as simply a warehouse for books.
About 40% of the books are being stored in an annex, not having circulated for the past 10 years.

The article does note that Mr. Dodd ran into difficulties implementing a similar plan at University of North Carolina, Charlotte, described as a research institution, though Mr. Dodd alloted blame to higher administrators afraid to dismantle the IT/library silos.

I am bothered by both the "just in time" library and this IT/Library merger, demoting the library to a warehouse for books. I wonder what will be the eventual outcome when scholars and students are only exposed to books that they know to request. They will only read the books that are the most popular, either on Amazon purchase lists, or syllabi, or in footnotes that they are following. There will be an increasing "lost literature." Articles available only in print are already sliding into oblivion. Now, books not in the mainstream of our current snapshot of culture will begin to fade into obscurity.

Just consider how literary fashions change. An author's reputation may be stellar in one century, become eclipsed in the next, and then, be resurrected in the third. But this can only happen when scholars and critics can stumble across books, citations and articles that have fallen out of the mainstream. But now, all those temporarily elipsed authors will be stored in annexes, only available if called for.

This may not be such an issue for the hard sciences. But for the humanities, including law, history, social sciences, and literature, the lost literature will slice off huge portions of our collective inheritance. Consider if the monks of the European Middle Ages had not kept copies of the Greek and Roman classics. These became the basis of the Renaissance, resurrected from the dusty libraries. We are placing our current students and faculty into the places of those scholars of the Middle Ages, who simply did not know that these works existed.

That's a huge mistake! Save the Lost Literature!

Monday, January 14, 2008

White Bread?


Professor Tara Brabazon, who teaches Media Studies at the University of Brighton, will describe Google as "white bread for the mind" in her inaugural lecture at the University on January 16, according to an article in today's Timesonline. She is a veteran teacher who bans her students from "using Wikipedia or Google as research tools in their first year of study." This sounds vaguely reminiscent of King Canute's attempts to hold back the sea! Instead, she provides students with "200 extracts from peer-reviewed printed texts at the beginning of the year, supplemented by printed extracts from eight to nine texts for individual pieces of work." Professor Brabazon wants students to learn how to evaluate information for themselves, so that they will be able to distinguish between "anecdotal and unsubstantiated material posted on the internet" and information that can be trusted. I think her argument is undermined by her own practices--handing students extracts that she has chosen teaches them nothing about finding and evaluating information. Personally, I think it is an exercise in futility to tell students they are not allowed to use Google and Wikipedia during their first year; it's akin to giving students LexisNexis and Westlaw passwords during their first semester of law school, and then telling them they can't use them for their legal research assignments. I do agree with those who do not permit students to cite to Wikipedia in formal written assignments, and with those who want students to use primary sources rather than commentary written about the sources. But banning Google and Wikipedia does not per se teach students anything, and practically guarantees that students will break the rules.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday break: Studying up for MLK Day

Because Martin Luther King, Jr. was so important in our country, politically, leading the Civil Rights Movement, it may be easy to forget that his title was Reverend. His roots and life lay in Christianity and spirituality. All the wonderful speeches he made that are still well-known today, 40 years after his assassination, sprang from Dr. King’s life in the Baptist Church. His beautiful oratory resonates with the poetry and images of the King James Bible. (See, for instance, “I have a Dream” (State Dept. Text and Text and Video at American Rhetoric.com ) Or Rev. King’s powerful “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (Text at Stanford University)

You can reconnect with the Reverend side of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at a wonderful website hosted by Stanford, A Knock at Midnight, Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. This is a small selection of the many sermons Reverend King delivered during a life that centered on pastoring in the Baptist Church. You can order a book of that title, or browse through a selection of sermons from two decades, with transcripts and audio excerpts. I recommend sampling either a full speech or at least some audio excerpts. Unless you have heard the powerful rhythms of King’s oratory, you are only experiencing a shadow of his speeches. This was a man who lived the great oral traditions of American preachers.

I want to feature a snippet from Rev. King’s sermon on March 3, 1968, “Unfulfilled Dreams.” The timing and title are poignant, as Dr. King was assassinated on April 4 that same year. Recognize that this text is a transcript with occasional comments in parentheses from the congregation.

So many of us in life start out building temples: temples of character, temples of justice, temples of peace. And so often we don’t finish them. Because life is like Schubert’s "Unfinished Symphony." At so many points we start, we try, we set out to build our various temples. And I guess one of the great agonies of life is that we are constantly trying to finish that which is unfinishable. We are commanded to do that. And so we, like David, find ourselves in so many instances having to face the fact that our dreams are not fulfilled.
King goes on to illustrate unfulfilled dreams in King David’s dream to build a temple in Israel, Ghandi’s efforts to unite the Indian subcontinent, President Wilson’s efforts to build the League of Nations, and the Apostle Paul’s dream to carry Christianity to Spain. He continues,...
And each of you this morning in some way is building some kind of temple. The struggle is always there. It gets discouraging sometimes. It gets very disenchanting sometimes. Some of us are trying to build a temple of peace. We speak out against war, we protest, but it seems that your head is going against a concrete wall. It seems to mean nothing. (Glory to God) And so often as you set out to build the temple of peace you are left lonesome; you are left discouraged; you are left bewildered.

Well, that is the story of life. And the thing that makes me happy is that I can hear a voice crying through the vista of time, saying: "It may not come today or it may not come tomorrow, but it is well that it is within thine heart. (Yes) It’s well that you are trying." (Yes it is) You may not see it. The dream may not be fulfilled, but it’s just good that you have a desire to bring it into reality. (Yes) It’s well that it’s in thine heart.
[snip]

. In the final analysis, God does not judge us by the separate incidents or the separate mistakes that we make, but by the total bent of our lives. In the final analysis, God knows (Yes) that his children are weak and they are frail. (Yes, he does) In the final analysis, what God requires is that your heart is right. (Amen, Yes) Salvation isn’t reaching the destination of absolute morality, but it’s being in the process and on the right road. (Yes)
[snip]

And the question I want to raise this morning with you: is your heart right? (Yes, Preach) If your heart isn’t right, fix it up today; get God to fix it up. (Go ahead) Get somebody to be able to say about you, "He may not have reached the highest height, (Preach it) he may not have realized all of his dreams, but he tried." (Yes) Isn’t that a wonderful thing for somebody to say about you? "He tried to be a good man. (Yes) He tried to be a just man. He tried to be an honest man. (Yes) His heart was in the right place." (Yes) And I can hear a voice saying, crying out through the eternities, "I accept you. (Preach it) You are a recipient of my grace because it was in your heart. (Yes) And it is so well that it was within thine heart." (Yes, sir)

I don’t know this morning about you, but I can make a testimony. (Yes, sir, That’s my life) You don’t need to go out this morning saying that Martin Luther King is a saint. Oh, no. (Yes) I want you to know this morning that I’m a sinner like all of God’s children. But I want to be a good man. (Yes, Preach it) And I want to hear a voice saying to me one day, "I take you in and I bless you, because you try. (Yes, Amen) It is well (Preach it) that it was within thine heart.”
[snip]

Oh this morning, if I can leave anything with you, let me urge you to be sure that you have a strong boat of faith. [laughter] The winds are going to blow. (Yes) The storms of disappointment are coming. (Yes) The agonies and the anguishes of life are coming. (Yes, sir) And be sure that your boat is strong, and also be very sure that you have an anchor. (Amen) In times like these, you need an anchor. And be very sure that your anchor holds. (Yes, Glory to God)

It will be dark sometimes, and it will be dismal and trying, and tribulations will come. But if you have faith in the God that I’m talking about this morning, it doesn’t matter. (Yes) For you can stand up amid the storms. And I say it to you out of experience this morning, yes, I’ve seen the lightning flash. (Yes, sir) I’ve heard the thunder roll. (Yes) I’ve felt sin-breakers dashing, trying to conquer my soul. But I heard the voice of Jesus, saying still to fight on. He promised never to leave me, (Yes, sir) never to leave me alone. (Thank you, Jesus) No, never alone. No, never alone. He promised never to leave me. Never to leave me alone. (Glory to God)

And when you get this faith, you can walk with your feet solid to the ground and your head to the air, and you fear no man. (Go ahead) And you fear nothing that comes before you. (Yes, sir) Because you know that God is even in Crete. (Amen) If you ascend to the heavens, God is there. If you descend to hell, God is even there. If you take the wings of the morning and fly out to the uttermost parts of the sea, even God is there. Everywhere we turn we find him. We can never escape him.
As the congregants would say, Amen, Yes, sir!

Head to Head Comparison: Westlaw's WebPlus with Cornell's Legal Research Engine


In November, 2007 I reported on Westlaw's WebPlus here at OOTJ. Reader Victoria Szymczak comments there,

I am wondering if the West web search engine might be part of the reason why they, and LX [Lexis], are not playing with Serials Solution and other services providing federated searching and the like. I understand there is some concern because they are not updating w/ ss as quickly as we would all like. I won't be surprised if we see a LX competitor to the West product. I think the West product is pretty good, but I think the Cornell legal research engine covers legal free web sites pretty good already.
Note to readers: I am informed that this very interesting alternative to WebPlus is from Cornell's law library, not from the Legal Information Insitute, which explains the difficulties I had with finding the search engine through LII. It's not there -- Cornell is separate from the LII.

I had difficulty locating the Legal Research Engine starting from the Legal Information Institute's home page, but then, Julie M. Jones, Research Attorney and Lecturer in Law and Editor, Legal Research Engines at Cornell Law Library posted to the Academic Law Libraries listserve with a link, which I included above. Ms. Jones reported,
... we've added a few new specialty search engines to help researchers find the best of the web quickly and easily. The original search to find authoritative legal research guides remains (NOTE: if you previously added this gadget to your google homepage, you will need to DELETE the former gadget and ADD it again due to technical issues. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you). We've added the new InSITE search, mentioned above, here, as well as a search that is limited to academic blawgs (plus a few extras) to help legal researchers find quality commentary quickly. As an added bonus, we've combined all three of these searches into a single engine: I want it all!

The web addresses for these pages remain the same, so if you have been kind enough to link to either InSITE [current awareness service] or the Legal Research Engine, no updating should be necessary. If you're interested in adding any of these search gadgets to your website, we can provide you with a link to do that, just ask.

We hope these new and improved features help and your constituents conduct research on the web.
Given the good performance of the Cornell Legal Research Engine, I wonder how much use the Westlaw version will get, if they begin charging. I had heard that Westlaw is trying to figure out how to charge for WebPlus, but I could not get Eagan confirmation on that. As I understand it, their problem is that the link is through the same server that you use for actual Westlaw searching, and they have to figure out how to charge at a different (lower) rate than for Westlaw searching. What they have had so far is a free beta test, where the search engine is learning from the searches and choices made by the users.

A brief test using the broad and ambiguous term "aliens" for a legal search on both engines had interesting results. WebPlus returned thousands of results, but the first 10 were not very helpful: asides in entries on political figures or genealogical studies about foreigners, and lots of entries about invasive species. The first 10 entries in the Cornell Legal Research Engine were much more on point. All 10 were centrally focused on statutes, court decisions or organizations dealing entirely with aliens as a legal concept -- immigration, alient tort claims act, illegal aliens.

This is a very inadequate comparison, but interesting and striking. I have not heard that Lexis is preparing a third entry in the legal web search engine. I do recall that the first AALL research grant was to a pair of computer science researchers in North Carolina trying to develop a legal search engine for the web. Librarians would love to see our students, young associates, and ourselves use a more legally focused search engine instead of the ubiquitous Google. But I don't know if even a very good search engine will wean our newer generations away from the Google habit!

The image is bighorn rams fighting, from www.Fotosearch.com

Thursday, January 10, 2008

ACRL Report

The Association of College and Research Libraries has issued Environmental Scan 2007, which builds on the 2002 report entitled "Top Issues Facing Academic Libraries" and the 2003 Environmental Scan.

The 2007 report identifies the following as the "Top Ten Assumptions for the Future of Academic Libraries and Librarians": an increased focus on digitizing collections and improving data storage and retrieval; the evolution of librarians' skill set and the diversification of the professional background of the library staff; demands for more access to library services and resources by students and faculty with expectations of "a rich digital library presence"; ongoing debate about IP issues; increasing demands for technology, which will require more institutional resources (I wonder if these resources will be diverted from the library?); the concept that higher education is a business, with concomitant calls for accountability and the quantification of library contributions to the enterprise; students who see themselves as "customers" and demand high-quality resources and facilities (this will hardly come as a revelation to academic law librarians!); the expansion of online learning, with the library serving as a "distributed academic community" (that will depend on the ABA); continued demands by the public for free access to research conducted through publicly-funded programs; "the protection of privacy and support for intellectual freedom [which] will continue to be defining issues for academic libraries and librarians."

The report also identified a list of emerging issues that are being discussed both informally and formally at this time. Among these are: broader collaboration among all types of librarians on topics of common concern, e.g., media literacy; the greater integration of library facilities and services into other programs on campus; the evolution of library services to meet the needs of e-scholarship; increased collaboration between academic libraries and university publication programs (those of us with digital repositories have already witnessed this phenomenon); shift in focus at academic libraries from on-site collections to the design and delivery of services; social computing (e.g., Facebook, MySpace), which will provide libraries with opportunities for delivering library services, but also make demands on staff and systems.

I find it fascinating that neither the list of emerging issues nor the list of assumptions addresses the inflation in the cost of materials and the repercussions for academic libraries. Increasing demands for resources and services need to be met by healthy library budgets, but that is certainly not the case in every institution. Nor does the status of librarians seem to be an issue. It's hard to imagine that these issues are unique to academic law libraries, although I note that the committee did not include any representatives of either law libraries or medical libraries. There's a good bibliography of recent sources on the issues discussed in the report, and I'll definitely be taking a look at some of those sources.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Spring Semester Blues -- Treating 1-Ls right


Our Academic Support Program director just sent out an e-mail noting that the start of spring semester is often very hard on 1-Ls, in particular. They just got their first semester grades, and many got a shock. For the first time in your life, as a 1-L, you are running with a whole pack of the folks who were at the tops of their class. And, law school is different from any other school you may have had before. Even MDs, engineers and PhD holders can get a shock at their first law school exam and grades.

So, with a tip of the hat to Prof. Herb Ramy at Suffolk, here are some suggestions, if you were disappointed in your fall semester grades:

Make some changes

1) Roommates, Illness & Personal Problems
If your low grades are a result of a bad roommate situation, extended illness or some other personal problems, you need to deal with them now. Change roommates, see a doctor, address the problem. You may also want to talk to the Dean of Students or counseling center for help in dealing with the problems and/or an accommodation under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

2) Study More
Prof. Ramy suggests 60 hours a week as the target for full time students. If you are working too many hours to accommodate your studies, think hard about whether you are properly caring for the large investment of time and money that is your law school career. Maybe you need to cut back on expenses, or switch to a part-time program, or even take some time off before finishing law school. Prof. Ramy says 45 hours a week may have been enough to put you top of the class in undergrad, but it puts you behind in law schoool!

3) Study Smarter
Use your time to the best advantage. Prof. Ramy suggests:

a) Don't just read & brief cases before class. Spend a little time after each class reviewing your notes and trying out more hypotheticals to see how the concepts play out.

Advantages of Post-class Review:
i. You will remember better
ii. You will be able to slot the concepts into a growing model of the law
iii. You will notice early if you don't understand the concept du jour. Law classes build one on the other, so a poor understanding in the early days will make the rest of your semester shakier!
iv. It's the start of developing an outline.

b) Use your study group to help you understand and work out new hypotheticals. Study groups are also good places to try out sample exams and be sure you understand all the details of each concept.

4) Review Your Exams
If your prof reviews the exam with the entire class, pay close attention. The best exams not only spot most or all of the issues, they offer in-depth legal analysis. Legal analysis requires you to identify and discuss which facts raise particular legal issues and then determine the likely outcome based on the information provided.

If you meet your professor privately to discuss your exam, prepare ahead of time! Read back through your answers, if they are available. Think back to what the professor said at review sessions. Ask to compare your answer to a model good answer, and look with an open mind to learn what you can do better next time.

5) Build on Previous Outlines, But Focus on Spring!
At Suffolk, we have year-long 1-L classes. If your school does this, you will want to keep the outlines you prepared for fall semester, because the final will cumulate the full year, but will probably focus most heavily on the new material from the spring. But remember that law school classes cumulate, building new concepts on older ones, so your earlier understanding will the foundation for your new learning.

6) The Mental Game
Most law students are very high achievers and very competitive. Many have never received B and C grades before. Some 1-Ls are very devastated by a mediocre grade. I quote from Prof. Ramy:

Using a low grade to motivate you to do more or different types of studying is great. On occasion, however, a student is so devastated by grades that it affects their ability to function in class.

Remember, your grades are simply a very narrow measure of how you performed during a handful of hours on few days in December. Your grades do not define you as a person. Students with Cs on their transcript do go on to graduate from law school, pass the bar exam, and have fantastic careers.

Instead of focusing on receiving certain grades, something that is not entirely within your control, focus on working up to your potential. If you walk into your exams knowing that you have done everything in your power to succeed, then you must be satisfied with the results. Note that I am asking a great deal from you. I want every student to do their personal best. While your personal best might not result in straight As on your transcript, it means you given law school all you have to give.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

More in the "Who Cares" Department

Following up on my last post: Dan Markel at PrawfsBlawg asks "Who cares what law professors think?"

Apparently Brian Leiter, at least with respect to the race for the Dems.

But more importantly, it may seem that not many others care...

In the last few days, there's been tons of coverage on the American Economic Association's annual meeting. But when you plug in AALS to Google News or Association of American Law Schools, you get nada or far fewer hits. Should we be concerned? Should AALS have better press releases? I seem to have arrived at a puzzle similar to the one on Steve Dubner's mind.

AALS and Academic Street Cred

Betsy has already posted (here and here) about the discussions held at AALS last week toward the formation of a new organization of academic law library directors. The discussions--both online and at the AALS conference--highlighted some questions about the purposes of the two organizations to which most academic law library directors already belong, AALL and AALS. Both organizations impose clear restrictions on the ability of subgroups to take public positions independent of the larger organization on issues within the subgroups' expertise.

The importance placed upon this discussion is shown by the fact that so many directors made the trip from the conference hotel to Fordham Law School for a brief meeting, and then made it back to the New York Hilton for the Section on Law Libraries program.

Some directors were concerned about the impact of the offsite meeting on the attendance at the Section on Law Libraries program. One law library director posted this message to the Law Library Directors listserv a couple of weeks ago, in response to the plans for a meeting at Fordham:

I cannot imagine that law library directors want to opt out of playing a role in the AALS. This is a group where we have to maintain a high profile, and an important way we do this is with the programs that the Section on Libraries and the Libraries and Technology Committee offer. These are our showcase programs at AALS for cutting edge scholarship. I fear that the Fordham meeting means that attendance of law library directors at the AALS program will be sparse, and I cannot imagine that this is going to enhance our reputation with AALS, which tracks attendance at all of the panels. If we don't support ourselves by supporting the programs that library folks are doing at AALS then how can we expect AALS to support us?
My question: do law librarians really gain any "street cred" with other law professors from their participation in the AALS meeting? Why do academic law library directors attend AALS? In other words: who cares about AALS?

Few law professors, in my experience, view the AALS conference as a significant scholarly meeting or one that is worth much of their time. This view was expressed in typically provocative fashion by Brian Leiter in 2004:
Complaints about the AALS are legion among law professors: the organization's relentless political correctness (without regard to the diversity of views among its members), its inability to stage real scholarly conferences, and its intrusive, and again largely politically motivated (when not cartel-motivated!), regulation of law schools. On one important issue where the AALS might have made a difference--namely, the growing influence of the U.S. News law school rankings--the organization's response was to put its head in the sand and tell prospective students, incredibly, that they shouldn't look at law school rankings. (The AALS is endlessly ridiculed by prospective law students for this posture, as it should be: students understand full well that prestige and reputation are important factors to consider in choosing law schools. It's a shame US News does such a shabby job in measuring it.)...

Panels in which speakers haven't prepared papers, and in which they appear to have only thought about the topic ten minutes earlier, are all too common....

See also Orin Kerr at The Volokh Conspiracy:
Over at Brian Leiter's Law School Reports, Brian comments on the upcoming Association of American Law Schools January meeting for law professors: "[M]y sense is that specialist meetings of scholars have completely displaced the AALS as the destination of choice for those looking for conferences with intellectual content. Am I wrong?" Brian is quite right. This year's panels look unusually good, but in past years I've been significantly underwhelmed.

Of course, that doesn't mean the AALS January meeting has no purpose at all. As I see it, it serves at least five critical purposes, in descending order of importance: (1) It provides law professors with an all-expenses paid trip to the city where the conference is being held (this year, New York); (2) It provides professors an opportunity to sample the culinary delights of that city (figures Solove would be way ahead of me there); (3) For conservatives and libertarians, it provides a trip to the Federalist Society's shadow conference, always held near the AALS meeting and generally rich in intellectual content (and always with lots of co-conspirators); (4) For blog readers, it puts you in town for the annual CoOp/Prawfs happy hour; and (5) It provides a chance to roll your eyes at the bland and meaningless theme the conference organizers come up with, this year being "Reassessing Our Roles as Scholars and Educators in Light of Change." Uh huh.
That said, Robert Ahdieh posts a modest dissent:
In posts preceding the recently concluded Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Annual Meeting, Brian Leiter and Orin Kerr respectively questioned the intellectual content, and suggested the underwhelming quality, of AALS conference programming - or at least that part of the "programming" that occurs in the hotel's ballrooms, as opposed to its lobby and various hallways, and at an array of nearby restaurants and bars. This critique is hardly unique to them, moreover. Rather, it seems to constitute the conventional wisdom....

Of course, there is the standard defense of the AALS annual meeting as an occasion for systematic schmoozing - a species of speed dating for law professors. (On this count, I might note that this year's venue - the Hilton New York - had some real strengths. One could basically set oneself on an infinite loop up and down the escalators at either end of the second and third floor (see the 3-D tour) - where most of the schmoozing took place - for the entire weekend.) But a defense of schmoozing would be too easy: What's not to like about it? Instead, I want to suggest that AALS may have merit of the intellectual variety, notwithstanding Brian and Orin's critique.

In essence, this possibility turns on the distinct nature of the intellectual payoff that one might get from AALS, versus the specialist meetings of scholars (e.g., the American Law & Economics Association (ALEA); Law & Society) that Brian highlights as alternative, more intellectually stimulating venues for legal academics to meet. I emphatically agree that the latter offer far better occasions to engage with cutting-edge scholarship - and, in light of the critique of AALS as a schmooze-fest, with cutting-edge scholars - in one's field. I have long described ALEA as one of my favorite conferences, given a combination of its content and format, and also enjoy the annual meetings of the American Society of International Law and the American Society of Comparative Law....

Perhaps, it occured to me, I was doing something different at AALS than I do at ALEA, ASIL, and other more focused scholarly gatherings. Perhaps I was feeding a different intellectual need. Perhaps, more specifically, the AALS annual meeting was an occasion to explore areas of general interest, lying beyond my areas of scholarly emphasis.

The AALS annual meeting, in this perspective, might be seen as a way to preserve some part of our generalist capacities as legal academics. Even as specialization - quite appropriately, in many respects - increasingly becomes the norm among legal academics, it might be that AALS offers us an opportunity to get a taste of other areas of research and study, be they one degree or many removed from our particular areas of research.

If so, it might help to justify the relatively more limited intellectual stimulation we get from AALS panels in our own field. As I heard it said repeatedly over the weekend - to one well-versed in the relevant subject, the content of most panels felt like a reporting of recent, yet familiar, research; like a review of old ground, etc., etc. To the relative outsider, however, the same panel may have offered a useful window of insight, into issues under discussion in the field.

If the need for generalist orientation to fields outside of one's narrow specialty is real--as I suspect it is--staying at a conference hotel in NYC is an expensive way to scratch that itch. Perhaps the time--not to mention the money--would be better spent reading the occasional SSRN article outside of one's field, or even listening to the odd podcast?

Don Dunn Memorial

To any OOTJ readers who might have missed the news, Don Dunn, a great librarian and legal educator, and mentor died Saturday. Read this newswire obituary. The following statement has been issued by his last law school, announcing a memorial service and a guestbook:

To all Don's friends:

The following information has been released regarding services for Don:

A memorial service for family and friends will be held 11:00 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 12, at St John's Episcopal Church, Rancho Santa Margarita, California.

The university will hold a memorial service at the College of Law in Ontario, California, on Saturday, March 8, at 2:00 p.m.

An online guestbook has been set up at donaldjdunn.legacy.com.

More details are in the message below.

It has been so gratifying to read the tributes from his friends on this list. Don was an incredible human being. I can't begin to put my feelings into words. Even during this last year, when he underwent several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, he was constantly positive and upbeat. He fully intended to beat the cancer and return to work. Above all, he genuinely liked and cared for people -- his colleagues, the students, everyone he came in contact with. We will find a new dean, but we will never replace Don.

--ken

Kenneth Rudolf
Professor of Law and Director of the Law Library
University of La Verne College of Law
320 East D Street | Ontario, CA 91764
I can say, as somebody who first met Don when he came as an ABA inspector to my first law school, that Prof. Rudolf is not exaggerating or being overly nice in his statements. Don Dunn was a genuinely kind and honest person, and he was a wonderful mentor. I am sure he was also a great boss, teacher and dean as well. In the past 12 months, law librarianship has lost Sarah Robbins, Bob Oakley and now Don Dunn. I am so sad.

Maternal Profiling: Workplace Discrimination

Click on the title to this post to read in full a short Chronicle of Higher Education article and comments about studies showing that mothers are passed over for jobs, and are hired at $11,000 less, on average, than non-mothers (while fathers make $6,000 more, on average, than non-fathers!). You will need a Chronice password to read full text online. Sadly, I don't think it ran in the print issue for January 11. But, it does feature a link to www.momsrising.org. MomsRising has lots more stats and is an activist group combating workplace discrimination against mothers:

Although seldom discussed until fairly recently, maternal profiling is a significant and shared problem which negatively impacts vast numbers of women, particularly since a full 82% of American women become mothers by the time they are 44 years old.

The workplace impacts of maternal profiling are jaw dropping, especially given that three-quarters of American mothers are now in the workforce. In fact, the American Journal of Sociology recently reported a study which found that mothers are 79% less likely to be hired than non-mothers with equal resumes and job experiences.

Mothers also face steep wage hits and unequal wages for equal work. One study found that women without children make 90 cents to a man’s dollar, but women with children make only 73 cents to a man’s dollar. And single mothers make about 60 cents to a man’s dollar.

Even in well-paid positions, mothers face discrimination. A Cornell University study found that mothers were offered $11,000 less in starting pay than non-mothers with the same resumes and job experience, while fathers were offered $6,000 more in starting pay.

That same study also found that mothers were held to harsher work standards than non-mothers and were taken off the management track for reasons that were not justifiable when compared to the behavior of other workers.

The dirty little secret of the American workplace is that maternal profiling is alive and well and has been for a very long time. We just didn’t have words to label this form of discrimination.
MomsRising goes on to discuss how having a child can push a woman or family into poverty levels, either when the mother has to drop her outside job to take care of a newborn, or when the cost of child care when she returns to work hits: Up to $17,500 a 50 week year to care for newborns to 18 months babies. See this earlier post on child care as a work benefit at OOTJ. It's not easy being pink.

Friday, January 04, 2008

AALL Trade organization or Professional organization?

Mary Ann Archer, acting director at William Mitchell, sends a helpful analysis. Evidently, it makes a difference in anti-trust analysis whether you characterize AALL as a professional organization or a trade group. And for an association to be a professional organization, there must be qualifications on membership: education or professional qualifications. AALL with its broad membership that covers law librarians and those interested in law libraries, members in many work settings, with and without MLS and/or JD, cannot reasonably set up such qualifications. The conversations librarians have about do you need both degrees does not even reach the breadth that AALL must offer – we have members who are in firm libraries, and courts, law schools, publishers and vendors, and independent contractors and consultants. This is a remarkably broad organization, and I would not want to try to shove anybody “off the island.”

But it really made a difference to my understanding of the antitrust issue to hear that the definition of AALL as a trade group is probably why the lawyer is giving such very conservative advice about antitrust matters. I know very little about antitrust, but I will bet those of us who have researched the question, or asked faculty opinions have not correctly characterized AALL – I would certainly never have called it a trade group!

This afternoon, we will discuss the formation of a separate group, defined simply as directors of law school libraries. It might be important for us to ascertain if this would be adequate to class the new organization as a professional organization.

Us vs. Us

A colleague... No, a friend said to me the other day, “What problem is Betsy causing now?” Which greeting (thank heavens!) was followed by, “But you have a good heart” This friend has been in the AALL leadership, and I had no doubt about the “problem” referred to: My blog postings and comments on the law-lib-dir-l listserve about AALL and vendor relations.

When we end up calling each other trouble-maker, I think AALL has a problem. I was talking with another librarian the other day about the difference we see in customer service between IT and libraries. One of the comments was that the IT people seem to get so focused on managing software and hardware that they don’t look at managing the peopleware. And this leads to an us vs. them attitude, a feeling that the users are the enemy, and everything would run smoothly if they could just get rid of the people.

Wait a minute! The people, the users are the reason for the software and hardware, and for their work. The same is true of AALL. It is a member organization, and the entire purpose is to support and serve the law library community. When we – the leadership at AALL or the membership at AALL end up viewing the other half of ourselves as THE PROBLEM, our organization is doomed.

I include myself in this wake-up call. Let’s be careful here. This is not an argument about us vs. them. This discussion should be carefully kept on a level where we say, “We have a problem, let's solve it together” not “You are the problem.”

CALI Rocks Legal Ed!

OOTJ attended the CALI (Computer Assisted Legal Instruction consortium of law schools) business meeting this morning at AALS. Sally Wise presented a strong slate for the board, which was elected by acclaim, and then John Mayer made his report. 2007 was the 25th anniversary of CALI, and the organization is still growing and bustling. Having gotten memberships from nearly all the US law schools, CALI is working to build relations with overseas law schools, such as those in Taiwan. Having reached a high-water mark in lesson downloaded this year, CALI shipped CDs for law students, which boosted the number of registrations by another 25%. And by the next business meeting, John expects to have 750 lessons available.

E-Langdell (or Virtual Langdell)is available now on the CALI website (though not very high-profile yet), in a pre-beta version. By February, John hopes that E-Langdell will be in beta. In addition, CALI is making Media Notes available, free to faculty and staff, and at a small charge to students. Media Notes allows a commentator to add tags and notes to a video performance, like a moot court argument or a client counseling or negotiation session. So a professor who could not attend the event could give detailed feedback to the student in a very meaningful way. Cool product. Though John did not mention it, the podcast service and other distance ed aids are very impressive.

Having accomplished all this, CALI is now setting its sights on revolutionizing law school publishing and curricula. John gave an exciting presentation on how he sees CALI assisting in unbundling publishing of casebooks, as an example. A consortium of law profs writing pieces, chapters, lessons, and essays creates a central repository of material. Professors can then pick and choose components, organize them to suit, or even modify the existing materials to tailor them to a particular class. Using the open access case law resources developed at Legal Information Institute ( link ) and AltLaw (link) a professor could pull together a tailor-made course pack or casebook, and offer it electronically or print-on-demand at a much lower price than course books currently command. With annotations from the developers of each component, the user could also have a teacher’s manual.

There are barriers, of course. There are the cultural roots of the “lone wolf” law professor, which make collaboration a less obvious course of action. Technology can do some things to make collaboration easier, but ultimately, cooperative projects depend on building social networks.

But the largest and most problematic barrier may be the reputation and rewards system as it currently works in academia. If 29 different professors contribute to a text used in my class, whose name comes first? Who should count as a casebook author? Would creation of such materials count towards tenure or promotion? Legal education is very slow to change. And it is embedded in a larger academic community that also resists change. We will watch with great interest these developments! Programs today at AALS address some aspects of these questions, Two of the concurrent plenary programs seem relevant: Maybe the time is ripe to make rue, systemic changes to legal education!
* Taking Account of and Shaping the future of E-Expertise: Support, Assessment (featuring Professor and blogger Jack Balkin and Judge Robert Katzman.)

* Rethinking Legal Education for the 21st Century (with Prof. Vicki Jackson, attorney Robert MacCrate of the MacCrate Report, Prof. Martha Minow, Dean Suellyn Scarnecchia, scholar William Sullivan and professor and past dean Judith Wegner.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Out of the Jungle Reports from AALS in New York

Dear Readers,
OOTJ is visiting NYC for the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools. Besides the regular meetings and programs, there will be an interesting meeting to decide whether or not to establish a new association, American Academic Law Librarians' Society. A group of law school library directors from Texas got together and founded a statewide group along similar lines. The idea is to focus on current issues of interest specifically to academic law libraries, and try to avoid the reliance on vendors' support that has been hamstringing other relevant organizations. From Gail Daly:

1.) this issue of AALL's relationships with vendors (and the issue of vendor oligopoly and price gouging),
2.) the trend at Brooklyn and other schools to deny faculty tenure to directors and to plan for a day when they won't have a library (gulp!), and
3.) the issue of ABA statistics and what we should be counting as our print collections shrink and are replaced by electronic resources.
We will meet on January 4, and report back to our readers on what happens.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!


Only a little bit late, OOTJ wishes all our readers a Happy New Year!

Here http://dir.yahoo.com/, is a link to the Yahoo Directory on New Years’ observances. You’ll reach a collection of links about how various cultures celebrate New Year (and when they recognize the end and start of a year). Whether you celebrate New Year’s on January 1 (how arbitrary! – Why?), or in the spring sometime, or at a solstice, or your birthday, OOTJ wishes you prosperity and health and joy! You may eat black-eyed peas, round pastries, pickled herring (like my mother in law), pork, or cabbage, or you may drink in the New Year’s, or attend First Night celebrations. Or, maybe, you just spent time watching football, talking with friends and family, or going to bed early... However, whenever you celebrate (or not), may you have a wonderful new year!

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
The image of fireworks (often involved in New Year's celebrations) is from Wikipedia's article on photographing fireworks, and noted as New Years' 2002 at Seaport village in San Diego, California.

Norway's Government Requires Open Document Format

The government of Norway has announced that all government websites must use three standards to make information equally accessible to all users, whether or they purchase Microsoft or other proprietary software. Click on the link to this title to read an English translation of the Norwegian government announcement that ODF (open document format for word processing forms that users can fill out), PDF (permanent document format for materials that should stay the same) and HTML (for creating the website formatting:

[from] IT-minister Heidi Grande R√łys.

"This is the decision of the government:

"* HTML should be the primary format for publication of public information on the Internet.

"* PDF (1.4 or newer, or PDF/A - ISO 19005-1) is compulsory when you wish to preserve the original layout of a document.

"* ODF (ISO/IEC 26300) must be used when publishing documents that are meant to be changed after downloading, eg. forms that are to be filled in by the user.
The site in the link and from which the English quote comes, The Inquirer, at http://www.theinquirer.net/gb dated 12/20/2007