Thursday, March 20, 2008

Where Were the Lawyers When....?

People are up in arms about the big air tanker contract going to Airbus (a foreign company). Where were the protesters when foreign nationals took over the publication of US laws? Good grief, West, Lexis, CCH, Aspen, Matthew-Bender, RIA, Lawyer's Co-Op are all now owned by Canadian, British or Dutch companies. That's got to amount to nearly 90% of all commercial legal materials. And now they're squeezing us for every penny we own, and most of that revenue is flowing outside the US. Isn't that something to be protested?

There were protestations, to be sure. But compared to the uproar about the air tankers, narry a peep!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Time for New Classification System?

The character of legal information is changing in the fact that the breadth of what qualifies as legal information is changing. Just as librarians have struggled in the past with incorporating new formats into existing collections and classification schemes, we need now to be creative in figuring out how to capture, preserve and classify new mercurial formats such as podcasts, blogs and twitters.... The adjective "mercurial" only describes a fraction of the challenge....

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Truth is Sometimes Stranger than Fiction

I heard about this on TWiT a couple of weeks ago and I've been telling people about it since then. No one believes that it can be real. Well, it is: Google is investigating a service that serves up broadband wireless by attaching access points to balloons (yes, balloons) and then floating them into the atmosphere where the rise until they pop and then parachute back to earth where lucky finders can redeem them for 50-100 dollars a pop. Sound bizarre? Check out this video reported by Gizmodo....

What's an "Inforcrat"?

I just returned from a trip to Washington, DC. I was equipped with my iPod Touch and my MacBook Pro - hey I'm fully connected - and ready for anything. But you know what? I couldn't use either device for email of web-browsing anywhere in two airports (Omaha and National), the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Starbucks and Georgetown University School of Law! Why? I don't have subscriptions to the "pay as you go wi-fi" at the airports, hotel or Starbucks and I'm locked out of the Georgetown network because I'm a visitor. In the course of a stimulating visit in DC in which we discussed the future of law libraries, it occurred to me that if the future is becoming digital, then who will have access to digital information?

Well, the answer is becoming more and more, "The people who pay and the people who are somehow or other on the inside track." What are the ramifications for our democracy? More and more, it may turn out that the "haves" are becoming the "infocrats", if that's a word. How will libraries be able to maintain their roles as custodians of the culture if they can only provide access to information to those who have Kindles, iPhones, Blackberrys or the like? Isn't our challenge to maintain free unbridled access to public information in the face of the digital age?


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Do Publishers Read Newspapers?

It seems to me that law publishers - of all people - should be aware of the funding crisis in (public) academe. I'm not sure that any law libraries or law schools are getting funding increases, so how do they get off raising costs at all? We, here at the University of Nebraska haven't received a budget increase in eight years. But our vendors are all increasing prices five to ten percent! How do they expect us to afford the increases, much less purchase new products like MOML, MOML Trials, etc....

Ken Svengalis to Appear on first Episode of the "The Law Librarian"

I am going to experiment with a call-in internet radio show on Blog Talk Radio. Brian Striman will co-host with me on May 2 during which we will interview Ken and discuss the challenge of managing libraries in the face of shrinking public funding and out of hand inflation from information providers. The show will be one hour on Friday afternoon and will accept call-ins from listeners as well as chat and Twitter comments.

More information as it develops.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Internet and Legislative History

Legislative history is, essentially, whatever sources you can find that help reveal the intent of the legislative body in it's conduct, usually passing legislation. But the principle also applies to actions of the executive branch, and, therefore, includes hearings, speeches, correspondence, reports (commissioned or otherwise), and whatever else a resourceful researcher can uncover or discover.

Today, blogs, webpages and email will qualify as sources of legislative history. And there's a lot of it. I think that this turns the whole idea of understanding teaching of legal research on it's head: it's not about the sources or knowing what they are, it's understanding how information gets from one place to another. Where do legislative ideas come from? Where do they go? How do they get there?