Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Massachusetts adding cameras to courtrooms

The Boston Globe reports today that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court announced proposed new rules about cameras in courtrooms at all levels of the judicial system. The rules are not final yet, and comments are encouraged; the article tells interested readers where to send comments. The rule was crafted by the Supreme Court's Judicial Media Committee with input from journalists over the course of this year.

The rules are designed to increase citizen access to courts and trials, including blogger access. There is already a rule allowing 2 cameras in every court: one for television and one for newspapers. The new rule would allow 3 cameras, designating the new camera for Web access. The Court is clearly paying attention to the new role that citizen journalists have been playing in coverage of local news. As newspapers find it difficult to fund investigative reporters, these volunteer bloggers have often filled an important gap in coverage. While I certainly hope that professional journalists will continue to be available to cover important state trials, it's nice to think that a case of local interest could be covered by a blogger even when the papers decide it's not "big enough."

In a summary released yesterday, the court said “the news media would be defined as those who are regularly engaged in the reporting and publishing of news or information about matters of public interest.’’

The rules would allow journalists to use laptop computers and other electronic devices while court is in session, provided it is not disruptive.

Even with the new rules, judges still have the authority to ban cameras in certain circumstances. Also, journalists would still be barred from recording jurors at all times during a trial, whether it is a civil or criminal matter.
(from the Globe article by John R. Ellement, a staffer from the Globe who has shared in the Globe's 2003 Pulitzer prize. I was curious because of the rule, who was reporting.) This is the Court that pioneered webcasts (and archives of them) of oral arguments in their court. The Court really is seeking public feedback before making the rule final. Comments can be sent:

Christine P. Burak,
Secretary, Supreme Judicial Court Rules Committee,
Supreme Judicial Court,
John Adams Courthouse,
One Pemberton Square,
Boston MA 02108 on or before Jan. 28, 2011

The photo of the Court listening to arguments is from the Suffolk Law School website that houses the webcasts and archives.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Digitization at the Kennedy Library

Perhaps because I was born and raised in Boston, I have always been very interested in President John F. Kennedy. His election is the first I remember--I will never forget it. We watched every minute of the Inauguration on television, and were moved by the inaugural address. It was a time of hope and promise. Who could have predicted it would all end in tragedy when Kennedy was assassinated? We watched every minute of the coverage of the assassination, and were shocked when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald, seemingly in front of our very eyes.

These memories came rushing over me when I read an article in the Boston Globe about a massive digitization project under way at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "A four-year, $10 million effort to digitize the JFK Library and Museum's archives, making hundreds of thousands of documents, photographs, and recordings available online, is nearing completion of its first phase." Although this represents just a "small portion of the collection," the project "marks the first time a presidential library established in the paper age has fully committed itself to the digital era." None of the other presidential libraries have begun to undertake digitization projects on such a massive scale, but the National Archives, which oversees the presidential libraries, hopes the Kennedy archives will be a model for other projects.

The article discusses the behind-the-scene efforts to make the digitization project and the redesign of the library website successful. I was interested to read that all the scanning was done by hand to protect the increasingly fragile originals as well as to ensure that "even pencil notes would be legible." I was also glad to know that a great deal of attention is being paid to the addition of metadata so that the documents will be accessible. For instance, the phrase "Cuban Missile Crisis" "must be embedded retroactively to make the relevant documents searchable" because that term was not used in the White House at the time.

Iceland rewrites its constitution: radical democracy

Iceland has a current Constitution conveniently posted to the Internet in English by its government. It is a pretty good looking document to my untutored eye, with 79 Articles in seven roman numeral sections. The Constitution sets Iceland up as a Republic, with a democratically elected government. It lays out the powers, duties and limits of power for the President, the judiciary and the Althingi, the world's oldest elective legislative body which has roots in ancient Icelandic history, founded in 930 AD. Section VI sets up the Evangelical Lutheran Church as the official state church, entitled to state support (surprise!), but also provides in Article 63:

...the right to form religious associations and to practice their religion in conformity with their individual convictions. Nothing may however be preached or practised which is prejudicial to good morals or public order.

(Article 64) ... Everyone shall be free to remain outside religious associations. No one shall be obliged to pay any personal dues to any religious association of which he is not a member.

A person who is not a member of any religious association shall pay to the University of Iceland the dues that he would have had to pay to such an association, if he had been a member. This may be amended by law.
In section VII, there are a list of human rights guaranteed by the Icelandic Constitution. I don't know what (if anything) in the Constitution has caused the Icelanders to decide, but they are rewriting this document. I found a very nice statement from the Icelandic government webpage describing the history of constitutions and rewriting them, amending them, in Iceland:
Icelanders were given their first constitution in 1874 when Iceland was still part of the Danish kingdom. Though it may be said that it is still valid in some respects, it has since been significantly amended. The first important change was in 1903, when Iceland was granted Home Rule, which went into effect in 1904. Considerable changes were made in 1915 when voting rights were expanded and women were granted the right to vote for seats in Althingi, the Icelandic parliament. A new constitution went into effect in 1920 following the recognition in 1918 of Iceland as independent of Denmark, though still in a personal union with the Danish king. This version of the constitution remained in force virtually unchanged until 1944 when the Republic of Iceland was founded.

The present constitution dates from 17 June 1944, and has been amended six times since. These amendments have especially concerned setting constituency boundaries and guaranteeing equal voting rights, but the most important change was made in 1995 when the human rights section was reviewed and reworded to conform to the international agreements of which Iceland is a signatory.
(the government website credits: Iceland - The New Millenium Series, Carol Nord ehf. Text by Professor Sigurður Líndal.

Iceland has gotten a lot of notice in the blogosphere (and this Irish Constitution thread), and the Seattle Times) because their new Constitutional Assembly to rewrite the Constitution is open to all citizens, with many non-politicians, "plain" folk entering their names. When I looked for news stories more recent, and maybe straight from Iceland, I discovered that they have just held the elections for the Constitutional Assembly, and had a disappointingly low turnout. Iceland Review Online reports that it was the lowest turnout in their history, with only 36% of voter turnout, countrywide. The short article includes quotes from various experts who analyze the possible reasons for the poor turnout. They consider everything from voter fatigue to lack of political campaigning or coherent campaigns by candidates, to perceived lack of need for a new Constitution. From the Yahoo News piece,
(snip) Pressure mounted for action after the nation's economic collapse in 2008, an event punctuated by ordinary citizens gathering outside the Althingi, the parliament, banging pots, pans and barrels — a loud, clanging expression of fury. The meltdown was seen not only as a failure of the economy but of the system of government and regulatory agencies. Many came to believe a tighter constitutional framework — including a clearer division of powers — might have been able to minimize that damage, or even prevent it.

"It is very important for ordinary citizens, who have no direct interest in maintaining the status quo, to take part in a constitutional review," said Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir. "We are hoping this new constitution will be a new social covenant leading to reconstruction and reconciliation, and for that to happen, the entire nation needs to be involved." (snip)

Icelanders debated their values and turned to questioning the foundations of their society, including those that had facilitated the boom. Anger grew as more instances of misdeeds and incompetence in the private and public sector were exposed. Icelanders woke up to the harsh fact that their country, which had consistently been at or near the top of the Transparency International anti-corruption index, was, in fact, steeped in corruption.

That was ultimately confirmed in a 2,000-page report following a special parliamentary investigation. That report showed that the foundations of Icelandic society were decayed and that a sweeping revision of the social framework was needed.

Sigurdardottir says a new social covenant can at least assist in "restoring the public's faith in the government."

The constitutional assembly will be made up of 25 to 31 delegates, the final number to be determined by a gender and equality ratio. It will be made up of regular citizens elected by direct personal voting. Anyone is eligible to stand for election, with the exceptions of the president, lawmakers and the committee appointed to organize the assembly.

The assembly will draft a proposed new constitution next year. They will use material from another extraordinary project earlier this year in which 1,000 randomly chosen Icelanders — aged 18-89 — offered their views on what should be in the constitution.

Now the race is on to be among the charter's authors, with 523 people in the running. Truck drivers, university professors, lawyers, journalists and computer geeks are all among the candidates. All have been given equal air time on Icelandic radio to make their platforms known.

Those elected will receive a salary equal to that of Iceland's lawmakers while the constitutional review takes place, and Icelandic employers are legally obliged to grant leave to any employees elected to the assembly.
The Yahoo News story goes on to interview 3 different candidates on their views, which ranged from enthusiastic, to a candidate who is running to prevent the Assembly. This last guy says it's not needed, and is a ridiculous expense at a time when the country is in economic crisis. He says the constitution had nothing to do with Iceland's bank collapse in 2008, which precipitated the country's complete economic meltdown. According to the article which is pretty much repeated in every Internet posting, Iceland has never written its own constitution until now, having previously just adopted Denmark's constitution pretty much wholesale and then tinkered on it. Whatever happens, it will be interesting to follow. Iceland is pioneering again in democratic actions.

Tip of the OOTJ hat to our colleague & former OOTJ blogger, Jim Milles, who also introduced me to Allthing history many years ago. The image is the Law Rock, at Thingvellir, (where the Allthingi met originally), showing the Law Speaker, another bit of Icelandic legal history, and (frankly) much more colorful than the photos of the current Allthingi building. Courtesy of Wikipedia article on the Allthingi, and credited as W.G. Collingwood "19th century Alþing in session."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Information Overload -- possible ways forward

The Boston Globe had an article today, "Information Overload, the early years," by Ann Blair. I have to say I began to read it with some reluctance. We have all seen a number of articles along similar lines, where they go back in history and pull up fascinating quotes that prove that Erasmus was disheartened by the sudden plethora of books, and thought it was all just too much. This article does exactly that, of course, showing that when the printing press emerged, yes indeedy, people began to feel swamped in books. Ms. Blair also provides the stunning statistics about how much data is being produced each year, along with quotes from Nicholas Carr worrying (as I do, in fact) that we are changing the way we read.

But the article goes beyond the usual run of the mill descriptions of how they felt the same kind of overload we do. Blair does a wonderful job of noticing that after the first shock of the outpouring of publishing, that various players began devising methods to deal with the wash of data. This is fascinating and gives us actual helpful pointers about how to cope now. I did not know, for instance, that this was the moment when bibliographies, indexes and tables of contents really developed and blossomed. Reference books of all types began to be invented under the pressure of "too many books to read." Collections of quotations, called "florilegia" originally came out. Then selecting, collecting and digesting all kinds of information emerged. I did not realize that this was when note-taking became a skill, or that it had to be taught. And I was fascinated to learn that the roots of library card catalogs are here, at this point in history:

Compilers cut and pasted, very literally, with scissors and glue, from manuscript notes they had already taken — or, even more efficiently, by exploiting a new, cheap source of printed information: older editions of books. These slips were cut from a full page and soon glued onto a new sheet, but in the mid-17th century for the first time one scholar advocated using the slips themselves as an information-storage system. Crucial to this method was a specially designed piece of furniture: a note closet comprising slats studded with hooks on which the slips could be stored and labeled. Probably only a handful of such closets were built, but the slip — and the idea of the filing system — had a long career ahead. In the 18th century the political theorist Montesquieu took notes on the backs of playing cards, which were blank in those days. His younger contemporary Carl Linnaeus made his own slips for recording the characteristics of plants, from which he created a taxonomic system that we still use today. The slips, ordered and sorted, would eventually inspire both the index card and the library card catalog.
There were also some failed experiments. There was a sort of "family tree" design of hierarchies and brackets to show the contents and their relationships. There were various efforts to use squiggles and indentations and other signals to show the subcategories of topics before the indented alphabetical indexes and outline-format tables of contents that we see today. This is important to understand. None of the forms we use today were pre-determined, and there had to be experiments to discover what would work the best. There had to be trial and error to find the best methods of dealing with that original information overload, from Johann Gutenberg's printing press. And that means we can and must do the same thing now. In fact, it is happening already, in ways I am not sure we can recognize yet. But it is happening all the same. We are already beginning to cope and adjust. Improved search engines, better search techniques, more ruthless culling of results. I suppose the "cloud tags" are another example of a technique of dealing with labeling.

Librarians' skills are more useful than ever in sorting information. I suspect we will have useful things to offer in the development of these new tools and techniques.

The image is of the library at the University of Leyden from the Globe article and is credited to Getty Archives. The caption in the print edition said the image was from 1610. I hope the image is clear enough for you to see the books chained to the shelves, and the reading racks below the shelf. There are 2 women visiting the library as well as two dogs, which I hope was not an equivalent visit. The books are shelved by topic, with, if you can read the labels along the top of the shelves, "Iuris Consultis," "Medici," "Historici," and other topics listed. Wonderful image with globes having adorable little individual covers, and set up high on shelf tops when not in use. You can see the readers stood at the shelves to read the books, resting their foot on a foot rail, to rest their backs. The table is not for sitting to read, but to set the globes on for measuring distance.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Day - counter traditions

At Plymouth yesterday, a varied group of Native Americans gathered for the 41st National Day of Mourning. The Boston Globe has a nice article by Erin Ailworth. Each Thanksgiving Day since 1970, they have been gathering to commemorate the day in a different ceremony. From the perspective of the Wampanoag and other native peoples, the arrival of pilgrims which we celebrate at the Plymouth living museum and with the Thanksgiving holiday, was really the beginning of a catastrophe. The tribal peoples lost their lands and their traditional ways of living as European settlers moved to the Americas in greater numbers.

Not all the people attending the ceremony were Native Americans. Although it was not a large turnout, the article reported on several people who attended to show solidarity or to widen their perspective. But for the native participants, they said it felt empowering.

Other New England fall traditions for this time of year: rescuing sea turtles that have become lost and disoriented as the water cools in the fall. They ride the Gulf Stream up to Cape Cod area for feeding, I suppose. But as the water cools, they can't find their way back into the warm stream to ride back down south to safety. New Englanders make regular sweeps of the beaches and haul the chilled turtles off to the New England Aquarium. The staff there have made a fine science of how to bring the turtles back safely to normal temperatures. The turtles' body temperatures can be as low as the 40's Farenheit when brought in. The normal temperature should be something in the low to mid- 70's according to the Globe article. If the turtles' body temperatures are raised too quickly, they will become ill as dormant pathogens are stirred up. Apparently, they rescued a record 17 turtles the day before Thanksgiving, making a total of 41 since October 20. That's a lot this year! And of that total, 90% have been the rarest kind, Kemp's Ridley. The article by Jeffrey Fish (charming name for somebody writing about Aquarium type matters) reports that they expect to release the turtles next summer, and can hope for 80-90% survival rate after they are released.

* As of Thanksgiving, 2013, I have been contacted by several people who say that the Globe's photograph was taken of a sacred ceremony where people were specifically requested NOT to take photographs.  I have been asked to remove the image from this blog post.  For those curious, it showed a man not so much kindling a fire under the statue of Massasoit, as blessing it with smoke. (Betsy McKenzie)

The image is from the Globe article on the Plymouth Rock protest, the National Day of Mourning. The caption reads, Juan Gonzalez of Boston kindled a fire under the statue of Massasoit in a prayer ritual during the 41st National Day of Mourning in Plymouth yesterday. credit to Yoon S. Byun of the Globe Staff.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

2-L Book Thief at OSU Moritz Law Library

The story about the 2-L law student at Ohio State who was stealing books from the campus library and selling them online, allegedly netting more than $10,000, has got me steaming. There are also links at Above the Law and local news outlets: Columbus Dispatch. As of late October, campus police had discovered 1,351 books listed online for sale by the individual, whose name has not been released because he has not (yet) been charged. The police were alerted by a Brazilian lawyer who bought one of the books from "Orion Bookstore" through Amazon.com, and wondered about a library stamp which had been marked through with black marker. She contacted the university by e-mail. They checked and found the volume missing from the shelf. And things rolled on from there, apparently.

The police investigators found that some of the items listed for sale were still on the library shelves! This student was offering merchandise to be stolen on spec. The detectives arranged a sting operation. They marked a volume with invisible ink that would only show up under ultraviolet light. Then, they asked an out-of-state relative to order the text from Orion Bookstore. They set up a hidden camera, aimed at the shelves where the book was shelved, and monitored the area. Soon, they had on tape the individual they think to be the student entrepreneur removing the requested book. And in a few days, the requested book arrived by mail at the relative's address, with the ultra-violet-sensitive mark.

The Columbus Dispatch article mentions "court documents," and yet all the reports agree that the name is not released because the student has not been charged. I suppose that the student has been arraigned before a grand jury, since the amount mentioned in all the reports, $10,000, easily moves the theft into felony range.

I don't know about your library, but I have a budget line for "lost and stolen" items. The line is used up every single year. Some years, we exceed the budget by a shocking amount. There was a year when we suspected one of our reserve students of being a major book thief. I wanted to do a sting with a hidden camera, but my associates really just wanted to get the year over and the student graduated. I allowed myself to be overruled. But I still think it was the wrong thing to do. That money is tuition dollars that the individual stole from his fellow students, damn it. Why should he be specially entitled to either steal for himself, or as my colleagues suspected in our case, for his friends? They thought he might be handing out the copies of required textbooks and study aids to pals just as the library was closing each night, and allowing them to walk out with their new personal copy.

That is just so wrong.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Updating an old post: Typography for Lawyers

Dear OOTJers: In August, 2009, we featured a post about a website, Typography for Lawyers. Matthew Butterick, a civil litigator from L.A., runs the website. But before his life in the law, Butterick got a fine arts degree focusing on typography and graphic design. So this is something the man thinks about. The post at OOTJ, for instance, was looking at ballot design. But there are lots of other applications for lawyers to think about as well: pleadings, memos, contracts and other legal documents would all be easier (or maybe harder!) to understand when laid out thoughtfully. I think statutes and regulations should be published with consultations from this guy or somebody like him.

At any rate, he has a new book out that I think law libraries might like to know about:

Typography for Lawyers

Well, he's into clarity, I suppose. It's based on his website. The link above will show you can order it from the publisher or from Amazon. He even has a foreward from Bryan Garner, who wittily shows you how to use the book to make your life easier by handing it to your associate to show them how to lay out their memos in future in a more readable way. I think my profs will be delighted if the students will use it to lay out their papers in a more readable way. But I also buy things with an eye to my alumni who regularly use my library and I know they will be delighted.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Librarians Add Value in Law Firms

Helane Davis passed along this ABA Journal news item, Does It Pay to HIre a Law Firm Librarian?. Patrick Lamb of the Valorem Law Group writes in the New Normal series his take on this question. Few firms now would need the physical space of a library since so much of what they use is online. (My firm friends actually say they are keeping a small number of print titles, usually a careful selection of secondary resources). But, Lamb doesn't know about this. So, then, he asks, if you don't have books, and you therefore don't have a library, do you need a librarian? I was very happy to watch him work this one out:

We generate as much data every 2 days as all of humankind had created until 2003, and the pace is picking up. (credit to Google general counsel Kent Walker at the ACC annual meeting, 2010). Thus, Lamb reasons, librarians are information professionals in this time when it is increasingly vital to filter and sort the overflow of information that is available. (Actually, he doesn't get to the filter idea; Lamb is still speaking in terms of finding.) But he realizes that the associates who do the research at law firms are NOT information professionals and are floundering:

They may become good at analyzing information, but that is somewhat of a crapshoot, and they certainly are not trained at finding the “stuff’” that we frequently need every day. When you live in a value-fee world, someone who finds the right information efficiently is really valuable.

If you have someone who is really good at finding the right information, why would a firm need, or even want, to draw a line between where that information came from? But firms do precisely this when they have a "knowledge officer" (internally created information) and a "head librarian" (externally created information). Frankly, information is information regardless of its origin, and one person should manage it.
Lamb goes on to think about how librarians should be working closely with the marketing department and with accounting, making the information they can find "supercharge" those two departments in law firms for business development and pricing models. (Actually, I believe there are a lot of firm librarians who are doing these things. Knowledge management is one of the code words that means researching companies to help build your firm's business. I think it also has been used to help firms set pricing, though I am less certain about this.)

So far, this is a very cheering article. Lamb certainly has a grasp on what librarians can do for law firms. But then, he cites to an unidentified "recent survey."
A small group of librarians was asked to describe the value they bring to the organization. No one described anything similar to what is described above. In fact, several responses were along these lines: “loyal accurate, friendly and smart”; “intelligent, hard-working, very efficient”; “cataloging skills and knowledge”; “hard worker, always willing to help.”
He does not identify either the survey or its source, and we cannot tell what sort of librarians or the kind of organization to which they belong. This is horribly frustrating and I cannot believe that this was a survey of law firm librarians. I cannot think they would self identify with such terms to explain their value to their firms. Lamb, n all honesty, explains his post as a "head fake" to get all his readers thinking about what value THEY add to their organization, lest THEY become irrelevant, as these librarians are made to look. This is an infuriating trick and really quite unfair.

What an A**hole. I hope somebody misfiles his most expensive looseleaf and then maybe mis-shepardizes an important case for him.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why the Job Market is Changing - Full Version

National Jurist Magazine for Nov. 2010 features a really interesting article by William D. Henderson, professor at I.U., Bloomington, "Why the job market is changing." If you follow the link to the online version of the free magazine that is likely sitting in your law school lobbies right now, you can read it free by registering. They are pretty good about not flooding your mailbox, if you are careful about how you register. Unfortunately, the blog posts I see around the internet only feature the short version of the article that is all you get without registering. There is more and it's worth reading the whole article.

Henderson not only reviews the recent (big) law firm hiring model, which relied on pedigree and grades, and concludes that it has never done a particularly good job of predicting who would be a really good lawyer. He observes that the current economic climate is encouraging in-house counsel and other cost-conscious clients to incentivize (great word!) the large firms to rethink this model. That is, they are forcing them to lay off massive numbers of less-productive associates and even partners, and to radically re-think how they hire and bring along the next generation in their firms. They can no longer hire large numbers of associates each year with the expectation that they could train them and winnow them at client expense. And finally, Henderson notes that traditional law school is particularly poor at teaching the skills and behaviors needed to form a lawyer who is going to rise to the top of the current scrum: "...indeed, your typical law professor is completely unqualified to serve as your jungle guide."

You nailed it, Prof. Henderson! But the rest of the article is well worth reading and that is what all the excited blawgers missed with their short posts. Henderson reviews the history and notes that what we have recently thought of as "traditional" is really post- WWII. After putting our period into a bit of historical perspective, he does a terrific job of reviewing the big picture version of what happened with the economic melt-down and its effect on the legal job market. But then he offers some actual data, from his own research:

In 2007 and 2008, 46 percent of all entry-level associates at an AmLaw 100 law firm were graduates of a Top 14 law school (the composition of the top 14 law schools in the U.S. News rankings has not changed in 20 years). Yet, during this same period, 30 percent of lawyers promoted to partner were from Top 14 schools. Further, as of 2009, only 35 percent of general counsels for a Fortune 500 company had graduated from a Top 14 school. This suggests that the advantage of higher test scores and academic pedigree diminishes rather than compounds over time -- at least for partnership or general counsel positions.
He explains a study by Professors Marjorie Schultz and Shelton Zedeck of the University of California-Berkeley, who applied 26 factors needed to be a successful attorney to create an assessment tool. They offered the tool to peers and supervisors to assess a large sample of students and lawyers who graduated either from U.C. Berkeley or from U.C. Hastings. They then compared the results to the individuals' LSAT, undergraduate GPA and first year grades, to see what sort of correlation they found between these usual measures of academic ability and the new measures of lawyering aptitude.
Depending upon the sample, between two and eight of the 26 factors were meaningfully correlated with the academic credentials. The best positive predictions were for skills taught in law schools, such as Analysis and Reasoning, Researching Law, Writing and Problem Solving.

Yet, some of the correlations were negative. For the lawyers in the study, LSAT and first-year grades were negatively correlated with Networking and Community Service. For law students, undergraduate GPA was negatively correlated with Practical Judgment, Ability to See the World through the Eyes of Others, and Developing Relationships. In contrast, the vast majority of the 26 success factors correlated with personality and situational judgment tools that are commonly used in business.
Professor Henderson suggests that large law firms, along with other employers will be moving away from this current/most recent model of "law school hierarchy." He notes that findings from the After the JD study show that large firm associates hired from Top 10 law schools report high levels of dissatisfaction, and are more likely to leave. Associates at the same firms hired from "regional" law schools are more satisfied and more likely to stay in their positions. He also notes that firms are becoming more and more pressured to develop their business markets, and that requires hiring "...intelligent, creative, adaptable, highly motivated graduates who have a passion for client service." Law firms will increasingly move to using the sorts of behavioral interviews, personality tests, and simulated group work that other businesses have used successfully for some time to hire successful management candidates.

Law schools need to start treating the practice of law as a business. They need to take the ABA reports that call for more practical skills seriously. The major bars to this change have been faculty reluctance to change from podium/substantive classes which have dominated law school since Dean Langdell's day, and the bar exams which really do govern what law schools decide to teach. It's very difficulty for a board of bar examiners to devise a realistic and objective test of a skill like drafting or research, and so they have left it very much with the legal analysis in the form of the essay exams based on the law school classes, and writing based on those same essays, not on filings or drafting that a practicing lawyer would do. It means that our students graduate without knowing how to draft wills, or write a complaint or answer one. They have to learn all that after they pass the bar. Which always seemed pretty crazy to me. And that's what the economy is forcing to change. The law schools that can change with it will be at the forefront of a new era, and their students will be very lucky, indeed.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Building a Path to a Dream: Martinez

The California Supreme Court ruled unanimously yesterday in Martinez v. Regents of the University of California that California law could provide in-state tuition to any student who proved residency in the state by attending a California high school for three years, and graduating. The state statute did not violate federal immigration law. Martinez reverses a 2008 lower court decision finding the statute violated federal law which prohibits providing postsecondary benefits to aliens, based on state residency if the same benefits are not available to non-resident citizens.

Justice Ming W. Chin, writing for the Court, points out that the benefits are not, in fact, based on California residence. Instead, this statute bases the benefit on attendance at, and graduation from, a California high school. The decision cites statistics showing that the majority of those using the benefit are not illegal immigrants, but instead, are legal U.S. residents who graduated from a California high school and then moved elsewhere.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Next Veteran's Day may have a different celebration

I'm a little late reporting this. Next Veteran's Day may have a really interesting and very moving way of honoring our veterans. There is growing support for the idea of following the lead of Israel in their celebration of their Memorial Day or Yom HaZikaron. Boston.com and the Boston Globe reported that local doctor Peter Bendetson took his sons to Israel for a family vacation. There they witnessed how the Israelis took seriously the moment of silence, even to the point of stopping cars on the highway, and getting out. People on sidewalks, came to a halt.

Yom Hazikron is the day on which Israel honors its fallen servicemen and women. National memorial services are held in the presence of Israel's top leadership and military personnel. The day opens the preceding evening at 20:00 (8:00 pm), given that in the Hebrew calendar system days begin at sunset, with a siren. The siren is heard all over the country and lasts for one minute, during which Israelis stop everything (including driving, which stops highways) and stand in silence, commemorating the fallen and showing respect. Many national-religious Jews say prayers for the souls of the fallen soldiers at this time as well.
(from Wikipedia article, which includes a photo of people standing beside their cars) One thing the Wikipedia article points out is the universality of military service among the Israeli people, men as well as women. Unless a person is truly disabled (I assume this must be true in case of devastating disability), Israelis serve in either the military or a related service such as the Border Police Israel Police, Prison Service or Security Forces. Women may be exempted for religious or "nuptial" reasons -- the article says about one-third of women are exempted this way. The common experience and universality of the sacrifice, as well as the nearness of war in a very small nation may all contribute to the strong support for this major tribute.

By contrast, in our country, our last "universal" war was WWII, whose veterans are in their 80's or older. Since then, wars have been "police actions," that have been politically contested, protested, and bitterly resented by much of those portions of the populations conscripted to fight. At the end of the Viet Nam War period, President Nixon did away with the Selective Service conscription, and since then, the United States has had a "volunteer" military. That means a much smaller proportion of our population ever serves in the military. Those who were conscripted in more recent wars were often taken because they lacked social status, political juice, or money, interest or intellect to stay in college, or otherwise avoid active service. That is not to say that there have not been those who served from a sense of honor, pride or duty in this period, but the story has certainly been colored by the political whirlwinds of these times. Veterans have held very mixed meanings in America for a number of different people over the past few decades because of all the politics surrounding these struggles. Only since the last Gulf War and especially since 9/11, has patriotism seen a resurgence and veterans really found a wider sense of gratitude from more of the population of our country.

Even so, Veteran's Day often flows by with very little notice for many of us. There are Veteran's Day sales. Some of us have the day off, but we don't do much to mark it. Others do not have a holiday, and the work place does not do anything to mark it. Politicians, the active military and a few scout troops tend to be the only reliable groups marking the day from year to year. That's pretty sad if you think about it, especially in a time of war.

So, it's actually pretty cool that the sons of Dr. Bendetson said, why couldn't we do something like this in the U.S. for Veteran's Day? When they returned home, they started working on their idea. It helped that

1) Mark Bendetson got a summer internship in Republican Senator Scott Brown's office.

2) His friend got a similar internship in Democrat Senator Barney Frank's office.

Both politicians liked the idea very much.
The Bendetson brothers wrote to the White House and received an encouraging letter.

Bob Dole, the former senator from Kansas and a genuine war hero, sent encouragement from his hospital bed at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Setti Warren, who besides being the mayor of Newton is a Navy reservist and Iraq war veteran, signed a proclamation saying his city would adopt the two-minute moment of silence.

Last week, after the balance of power shifted in the House of Representatives, the Bendetson brothers sent e-mails to the offices of the presumptive House speaker, John Boehner, and his chief whip, Eric Cantor. Their offices responded enthusiastically.

The Bendetsons are hoping a bill can be introduced with the next Congress.
(from the Boston Globe/Boston.com article by Kevin Cullen) I also thought that the media savvy with which this has been launched was pretty high. When I was searching for the (aging) story online, I stumbled on the fact that one of the two sons of Dr. Bendetson, Michael, is a blogger with Huffington Post. I might worry that I had the wrong Michael Bendetson, except that it includes a photo and the information that the young man has interned at the U.S. Senate and attends Tufts University. All of that together sews it up pretty tight. He just hasn't written up his idea for memorializing Veteran's Day, ... yet. It really is a very good idea. I hope the bill is introduced and sails through the Congress. I look forward to traffic stopping dead for five or ten minutes next Veteran's Day. I think our veterans deserve a bit more attention than we are giving them now.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Libraries' using readers' choices in acquistion models

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a nice report at page A11 in print of Nov. 12 issue, "Reader Choice, Not Vendor Influence, Reshapes Library Collections," by Jennifer Howard. The article discusses two models being explored by libraries, one old and one new. In the older model, libraries simply set up a system of purchasing items requested one or more times on inter-library loan. They may set up parameters, such as no more than X dollars, non-fiction, and include a live person to monitor the types of titles being purchased this way, so that they remain firmly within the mission of the school and library. This is a wide-spread practice and springs from the well-known fact that the inter-library loan process costs money. This article quotes the average sum of $27.83 per book borrowed. That very quickly begins to save money if the same university press title is requested more than once on inter-library loan. It would be cheaper to buy the book, rather than borrow it.

The more innovative model makes use of the newer availability of e-books in library catalogs. Whenever a patron accesses, uses, or prints pages from an e-book in the catalog, it counts as a "trigger event." X number of "trigger events" result in a purchase of the title from the vendor. The article reports a growing number of research libraries are using this model to stretch their budgets, and be certain they are purchasing monographs of interest to their user populations.

There is also a mention of the use of the Expresso print on demand system. This also allows the library to use patron demand to build the collection. There was not, however, any discussion of the quality of the book produced with the instant printing system. I wonder about the binding, quality of paper and ink, and types of font, and layout. What would be the life expectancy of such a book? Granted, many of the books we are buying from professional publishers these days are not very high quality, but ... still, one wonders about the long term benefit to the collection.

These models present interesting alternatives to the sometimes disheartening traditional collection development methods librarians have always used. We work very hard to gauge patron needs and interests, and build collections that will serve our users both now and in the future. It is, in fact, disappointing to have books unused on shelves.

And yet, if we rely entirely on users' selections to build collections, that will result in some rather disappointing collections, I think. I would not like to rely on my patron's selections for most areas of use (a few faculty members exempted!). If we allow libraries to fall into relying entirely on patron selections for their monographic collection development, it will become a very poor collection, indeed! We need a combination of push and pull for collection development. (push being where the library pushes the information or titles out toward the patron, pull being where the library pulls the information in from the patron's use)

Existing Push: We try to market our own selections with New Books shelves, and New Books Lists, and New Books Bulletin Boards, and New Books Columns in newsletters. And even if they get a spurt of interest, it only lasts while the titles remain in the new books category. Better online catalog interfaces that work more like Google, cloud tag clusters, federated search engines, and on and on, we try to make all our titles more easy to find. Clearly we need some more ideas of push!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Law Librarians: Double Degrees Again!

Law librarians are debating that eternal, painful issue again: do we need to require double degrees? The issue has come up, not in the more usual venue of hiring reference librarians, but in the Director's suite. The ABA is undertaking a Comprehensive Review of its Accreditation Standards. ABA law school accreditation Standard 603(c) used to require the director of a law school library to hold both a law school and library degree.

In fact, there have always been law school library directors who lacked one or the other degree. These things happen, and some of them have worked out well. Sometimes, a school is in a difficult geographic area, or sometimes there has been a well-qualified person already in the library with experience. Occasionally, as with the current director of the Harvard Law School Library, there is a remarkable person in a related field with one degree, who is greatly desired for the position because of research background or other qualities he or she brings. In the best situations, the individual works closely with the librarians in place and gets in touch with the librarian community, becomes networked and at least to some extent, picks up some of the linkages that are important to staying current and cooperative in the librarian world.

But there are other situations where a substantive faculty member holds the title "Director of the Law Library" without ever truly becoming part of the either the library at the school or the library community. This damages the school and it seems to me to be criminally unfair to the individual who is left to run the library in every real sense. This individual seems to inevitably be a woman. And is always underpaid, as well as being untitled, and non-faculty, and un-tenured. One would have thought this sort of employment parasitism would have disappeared after the 1950's. But it is alive and well in law schools in the 21st century.

Alert SALT! Just in case they might care about librarians.

I am sorry but that sort of injustice makes me so angry it is very difficult to be politic.

But this sort of injustice is exactly why it is important for AALL and individuals not to shrink from comments to the ABA about Standard 603(c). We might want to suggest that they consider a flexible Standard that would allow:

"Directors of law libraries should have both a law and a library or information science degree except in unusual circumstances, but in all circumstances, should have a sound knowledge of and experience in library administration."

I certainly do not want to attack individuals. Over the years, I have had friends who have had one of the two degrees. I have often found that these were people who, when they had experience in law libraries, were the people who I turned to for advice. I hope the discussion does not turn into personal attacks regarding degrees. I would prefer that we look, instead, at what would be the long-term good of our profession and our schools. We are called Law Librarians. We are called that for a reason. There are two parts to the title.

Law schools need and deserve directors who are truly integrated into the library community, who are keeping current with changes in this fast-moving field. They require directors who are connected into the collaborative network of library leaders, and participate in the ongoing discussion of issues. And they require directors who are really and truly the leader of the library, not a Potemkin head.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Update on Cushing Academy - The private school library that "dumped its books"

The Boston Globe ran another story updating its readers on Cushing Academy. In September, 2009, the Globe reported (and we blogged) about this story (here is a follow-up story from that time, when a big part of the story seemed to focus on the expensive coffee machine that was going into the library space). The headmaster (or principal), James Tracy, decided to get rid of nearly all of the books, and spend more money on databases. The space that had been taken up with shelving became more open space, for group seating, for computer use and for a coffee bar. The databases are linked with a federated search engine. E-books are included. The students are instructed in searches and introduced to the databases they will need for a class, but then left to explore on their own.

The library is now more heavily used than ever. The school has hired another librarian since the re-organization. I like this, and think most librarians will not be surprised. The focus we have is increasingly on service, and less on the materials. People need more help sorting and choosing from the huge amounts of information that is too easily found now. Before, it was the other extreme, where gathering the data was the difficulty, and the skill and value of the library and librarians was in sorting, choosing and housing the best information for the patrons.

And yet, if you follow the link to the newer Globe article, you will find that the Cushing Academy has not quite abandoned books, and even the students still like books, and speak a bit wistfully about them. You also will read that none of the other private prep schools in the area have followed Cushing's lead in re-furbishing their libraries. Phillips Academy and Phillips Exeter are keeping their library books, thank you. Headmaster Tracy has had interested inquiries from Harvard Law School, University of Virginia libraries, Syracuse, a rural public school in West Virginia, and UNESCO. There is not much explanation about what those inquiries are leading to. It is interesting that the furor has died down, and the students are very happy with the library. But it is also interesting that the model is not really catching fire at this point and spreading much, either. As the article quotes Harvard's librarian Robert Darnton, “Libraries must advance on two fronts — digital and analogue. To concentrate on one at the expense of the other would be a mistake. The idea that printed books are in decline and will go away is just plain wrong.’’ We are still at that hybrid point, if we will ever reach a point where reading will become completely digital, we have not gotten there yet. The print format still has many points to recommend it, and many situations in which it is still superior, or perhaps the only way to proceed. I was recently at a dinner where a different Harvard librarian was invited to speak and she did a wonderful job of articulately, yet succinctly, explaining to a non-librarian crowd why libraries (at least non-science and non-medical) libraries will continue to need large buildings for at least the next 20 years or more. That is to say, why we will still be dealing with books for that long. There are just so many things that have not yet been digitized yet, and will cost so much to get digitized, that it will take a long time to get them all into the computers, and do it well. In some fields, there are things that may never be digitized -- maybe nobody will ever fund it, or get around to doing it, or find it.

But there is also the dimension of the users' space in libraries. The students' space (or patrons' space). Libraries have a very important role as social hubs and as leverages for people. Many children of immigrants, many autodidacts have written movingly about the role of school and public libraries in their lives. The libraries leverage the information, the literacy in the books multiple times for the readers. They leverage literacy and culture, and civilization throughout the community. In the same way, libraries leverage the space and facilities they offer: photocopiers, scanners, computers, databases, information, multiple times throughout the community to build the economy and allow people to build their careers and start businesses. In a tough economy, libraries are essential boosters to their communities. I think this is true for school libraries, where students and recent grads (or even older alumni) come in to work on their resumes, and job searches. I know my law school has set aside two alumni meeting rooms for offices and our library consciously collects for alumni use. Many state law schools have that as part of their mission as well, and often also collect to support public use in addition. Libraries should maybe try to figure how much they contribute to the economy or at least manage in cost savings for different patron bases or community groups.

The decoration for this blog post is a photo of the library at the Cushing Academy, from the Boston Globe article. I can't help but notice that there are 2 people with laptops and 1 person with a book.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Brief & Exasperated: Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Even Thnk About it!

This OOTJ blogger keeps thinking it might be safe to start posting things about the litigation about Don't Ask Don't Tell. And then, more unravels. Or it doesn't. It just keeps getting more and more exasperating. So I keep putting off blogging about it. And I keep getting more annoyed. I am sorry that I haven't put anything at all up. I have been so quick to put things up about the same sex marriage issue and so it may seem odd that nothing at all has appeared here about the Don't Ask Don't Tell issue. Every time I get ready to put things up, it blows up again. I apologize. By now, I have gotten a bit gun shy (sorry). The Log Cabin Republicans'Website has many news updates and a few full text links about the case. More links on Justia, at the style Log Cabin Republicans v. Rumsfeld. Also at Scribd, with the style Log Cabin Republicans v. Gates, or Log Cabin Republicans v. U.S.. You can also find good coverage at LawMemo blog about Employment Law by Ross Runkel.

While I am disappointed in the Obama administration, I suppose I understand their arguments. It would be nice to believe that the pols would do the right thing and pass a political solution to the problem. I have a bad feeling this isn't going to happen. I suppose we'll see. In the meantime, we have excellent people who are willing to fight for the U.S., whose skills and talents we need, who are being dismissed if their sexual orientation becomes public. This is just sad and needless.

Link Rot: DOIs, EZIDs, PURLs, and ARKs

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a Hot Type article on page A14, "Publishers Find Ways to Fight 'Link Rot' in Electronic Texts," by Jennifer Howard. In a previous article, the same author introduced her readers to the problem of link rot, with which librarians are all-too familiar. Then, in this article, she spends time discussing several interesting organizations set up to combat the problem.

The first is CrossRef.org, which is a non-profit membership organization set up by scholarly publishers. On its website, CrossRef describes its mandate as publisher collaboration,

...to make reference linking throughout online scholarly literature efficient and reliable. As such, it is an infrastructure for linking citations across publishers, and the only full-scale implementation of the Digital Object Identifier (or DOI) System to date.

What a DOI is:
A unique alphanumeric string assigned to a digital object – in this case, an electronic journal article or a book chapter. In the CrossRef system, each DOI is associated with a set of basic metadata and a URL pointer to the full text, so that it uniquely identifies the content item and provides a persistent link to its location on the internet.

For more information on the DOI itself, which is a NISO standard syntax, please visit the International DOI Foundation website at doi.org.
Back to the Chronicle article, where author Howard cautions her readers with a blog post from Ars Technica, DOIs and their Discontents where John Timmer blogged that Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) could be put out before the object linked was actually published, for instance, if an article were reviewed or written about and the DOI attached were included in the review, all before the item was actually released to the public.

Author Howard also notes that speaking with the people at CrossRef helped her understand how making citations permanently available is a collective problem that must be solved collectively. The networking nature of all the citations linking to each other means that you depend on everybody's links remaining in good conditions, not just your own.

CrossRef began with the hard sciences, and expanded into social sciences and the humanities. There are about 3,215 publisher members of the organization, and some libraries as well, who publish materials, policing one another to encourage good citizenship, to ensure nothing is lost. At the beginning, it was mostly large scholarly publishers, but now more smaller publishers seem to be joining, and more monographs are being added as well. But the smaller publishers have a harder time affording the costs of the DOIs. CrossRef offers tiered pricing for members.

But there are other options to avoid link rot. DataCite.org is another non-profit organization, more international in scope that produces DOIs for libraries and data centers. It seems very focused on the hard sciences, though the website emphasizes that DOIs manage any sort of data. One U.S. member of DataCite, the California Digital Library, has also developed its own in-house version, called EZID. EZIDs can be used to track things like datasets that have not usually been tracked before, as well as scholarly articles. PURLs, Persistent Uniform Resource Locators were the first solution I heard of to Link Rot. We are introduced to ARKs, Archival Resource Keys. Finally, she introduces Zotero, an extension of the popular Firefox web browser that allows users to gather, organize and store information and citations, formatting them and sharing them easily. But it also allows users to create an archival copy of the web page from which they did their research. This is an innovative way in which to combat link rot. The author does not actually report on Zotero, but merely mentions it.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

In Celebration of Election Day

One of my colleagues mentioned to me last week that a former staff member was known for the "Election Cake" that she made for election day every year. The recipe was said to come from Hartford, Connecticut, and was very old. My curiosity piqued, I Googled Election Cake and found an entertaining article in The Washington Post. In addition to some historical information, the article includes a recipe for the cake. I haven't tried the recipe because we are trying to cut down on sweets, but it sounds good--a yeast-based coffee cake full of raisins and spices but not a lot of sugar--a perfect accompaniment to morning coffee or tea. The recipe goes back to at least 1796, when a recipe for an Election Cake appeared in Amelia Simmons's American Cookery. I also checked my great-grandmother's 1881 edition of Practical Housekeeping. A Careful Compilation of Tried and Approved Recipes , which has a recipe for Old Hartford Election Cake which it says is over one hundred years old. Here is the recipe:

Five pounds sifted flour, two of butter, two of sugar, three gills distillery yeast or twice the quantity of home brewed, four eggs, gill of wine, gill of brandy, one quart sweet milk, half an ounce of nutmeg, two pounds raisins, one of citron; rub the butter and flour together very fine, add half the sugar, then the yeast and half the milk (hot in winter, blood-warm in summer), then add the eggs, then remainder of the milk, and the wine; beat well and let rise in a warm place all night; in the morning beat a long time, adding brandy, sugar, spice, and fruit well floured, and allow to rise again very light, after which put in cake-pans and let rise ten or fifteen minutes; have the oven about as hot as for bread. This cake will keep any length of time.
For raised cakes use the yeast made from Mrs. Buxton's recipe; if fresh-made, it is always a perfect success for cakes. This recipe is over one hundred years old.--Mrs. Eliza Burnham, Milford Center.

I don't remember anyone in my family ever making Election Cake, although my mother was famous for her stollen, a German yeast bread made for Christmas. Growing up, Election Day meant Sour Cream Coffee Cake, aka Brackett School Cake. My mother was president of the Parent Teacher Organization for several years, and she made many of these cakes every year to sell at the Election Day Bazaar at my elementary school. It is a very simple but rich cake that everyone likes. Here is the recipe:

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Mix and beat well:

1 cup sour cream
2 unbeaten eggs
1/2 tsp. soda

Measure 1 1/2 cups of sifted flour and sift again with 1 cup sugar, 2 tsp. baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Combine the two mixtures and beat well. Turn into a well-buttered coffee-cake pan (I use a round pan) and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and while hot spread with butter and a mixture of sugar and cinnamon. Cool and enjoy!

Follow-up on Newspaper Paywalls

I have blogged several times about the erection of newspaper paywalls, especially the decision of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation to charge for The Times and The Sunday Times. Frankly, I was skeptical that enough people would be willing to subscribe to general news publications, even those of high quality, when there is so much free content available on the Internet. An article in today's New York Times, however, reports that 105,000 customers are now paying for the online versions of The Times and The Sunday Times. News Corporation said that about half were regular subscribers to the digital editions, while the rest are "occasional purchasers. Another 100,000 readers have activated free digital accounts that are included in print subscriptions to the papers." While News Corporation did not release any information about revenue, the number of paying customers should be encouraging to other newspapers looking to "introduce paid services as online advertising falls short of publishers' hopes that it might someday replace dwindling print ad revenue."

Monday, November 01, 2010

Law Student Turns Book Thief

The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that a second-year law student at Ohio State University is believed to have stolen "more than 200 [books], one at a time, from the university law library and sold them online for more than $10,000." It is interesting to note that the books that were stolen were not rare law books; rather, they were "common titles" that most academic law libraries probably have in their libraries. The suspect had over 1,350 books listed for sale at the Orion Bookstore site on Amazon.com. The police had been tracking the "thefts since the beginning of August, when the university got an e-mail from a Brazilian lawyer ... who had bought a volume online ... and found a crossed-out OSU ink stamp on its inside front cover." This lead led to "a sting operation, marked merchandise and a hidden camera." Rare books are much easier to identify than more commonplace titles, and the Ohio State investigation is still in process. This is a good reminder of the monetary value of the physical collections that librarians have built up over many years.