Features and Columns — September, 2015

Animal Rights on the Road to Personhood

Ken Strutin's paper addresses a seminal issue that has been an integral part of the personal and collective ethic of diverse peoples around the world. As Strutin states, when life is classified biologically, it is also defined legally. Thus is formed the tension between the natural and juridical worlds. Whether animal rights can ever fall within the ambit of personhood will depend as much on the findings of cognitive science as on the evolution of legal remedies. Indeed, the foundations for nonhuman personhood are being laid in a growing body of litigation and scholarship at the borderlands of science and civil justice. — Published September 23, 2015

The Next Librarian of Congress - What to do about the Internet Archive and Google Books’ scanning project?

David Rothman offers his insights and perspective on the work and challenges that await the next Librarian of Congress. He calls for an individual who is not only steeped in the requisite expertise of research, technology, learning, teaching and freedom of information, but in following with a cause he has long championed he states "we need someone with “a love of reading—including the e-book variety.” — Published September 23, 2015

Wearable tech data as evidence in the courtroom

Nicole Black discusses how data downloaded from wearable technology has entered into the discovery phase of personal injury cases. A wealth of data can be collected about the direct activities of individuals who are using wearable devices while exercising, as well as conducting routine and regular activities such as walking. The implications of this concept may have considerable implications on par with those pertaining to the use of social media. — Published September 23, 2015

Vermont’s Legislature is Considering Support for Blockchain Technology and Smart Contracts

Bitcoin is a significant disruptive technology with a growing impact on the financial sector and legal sectors, around the world. Alan Rothman expertly educates us on new legislation from Vermont that is intended to move the state towards using blockchain technology for “records, smart contracts and other applications”. One of the key distinctions Rothman highlights is that Vermont is not in any manner approving or adopting Bitcoin, but rather, the state is diversifying and adapting the underlying blockchain technology that supports it. — Published September 23, 2015

Information Illiteracy Stopped through the Developmental Education Program

In Part 2 of her 5 part series, Lorette Weldon, Librarian and Educator, shares insightful and actionable research on why high school students are not guaranteed success in college when they have completed college-preparatory courses, and methods to overcome these challenges. — Published September 23, 2015

August, 2015

In Warren Buffett’s own backyard: Underfunded Omaha libraries. National digital library endowment, anyone?

David Rothman calls out an increasingly pervasive dichotomy of action by some of America's wealthiest corporate philanthropists in regard to supporting libraries, literacy and equal access to comprehensive public library collections. As Rothman documents, Omaha Public Libraries' spending per capita is substantially below that of surrounding communities and the current national average on library content spending is $4 per capita - or less than the price of a Big Mac. The National digital library endowment is certainly in need of public and private support on a significant and transparent level, and Rothman continues to advocate for progress to achieve this goal. — Published August 28, 2015

The Beginning of Information Illiteracy (Part 1 of 5)

In Part 1 of her 5 part series, Lorette Weldon, Librarian and Adjunct Professor in Developmental Reading, discusses the reasons for and challenges of entering college freshmen who cannot read or write. Her emphasis is on the value of implementing developmental reading programs. — Published August 23, 2015

Seuss’ “Oh the Places You’ll Go”: Still Rings True Today

Cheryl Niemeier answers the questions many members have following the decision to change the name of the Private Law Libraries-Special Interest Section (PLL-SIS) of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) to the Private Law Librarians & Information Professionals-Special Interest Section (PLLIP-SIS). — Published August 23, 2015

Watson, is That You? Yes, and I’ve Just Demo-ed My Analytics Skills at IBM’s New York Office

Alan Rothman attended a demo of IBM's Watson Technology, and the shares insights about the core components of this high profile new analytical tool. The technology holds potential value for multiple sectors and cross functional work streams, and as Alan notes, is still under development with additional applications forthcoming. — Published August 16, 2015

Finding People Resources and Sites on the Internet

People centric resources and sites on the Internet allow you to find individuals based on a range of objectives: personal (family, medical, genealogy); business (legal, corporate, financial); academic; government and career. Web search guru Marcus P. Zillman's new guide highlights selected sources to add to or supplement your current tools to focus research and retrieve information for actionable results. — Published August 16, 2015

July, 2015

Book-starved Utah boy begs postman for junk mail to read: How to respond?

David Rothman shares a recent story about a boy whose quest to read in spite of even minimal resources was captured and shared around the world, resulting in a flood of free books, thanks to the mail carrier who took the time to listen, and the initiative to help. At the heart of this example of action is David's continuous work promoting a national digital library endowment and well-stocked national digital library systems. — Published July 31, 2015

Cut and Paste Opinions: A Turing Test for Judicial Decision-Making

Ken Strutin argues that cut-and-paste is a laudable method for reducing transcription errors in copying citations and quotations. However, he identifies that a problem arises when it is used to lift verbatim sections of a party's arguments into a case decision. Stipulations and proposed orders from counsel for both parties might be enviable and practicable, but judgment and fact-finding are solely in the province of the court. This has been a long standing issue that has spanned technologies from shears and paste-pot to typewriters and computers, and which might culminate in a Turing Test for case law. — Published July 25, 2015

Library Research Guides: Best Practices

Many librarians have a set of research guides that they are responsible for keeping up to date, but finding time to devote to this important task can be extremely difficult. As libraries migrate to LibGuides 2.0, many are using this opportunity to study their users’ preferences, implement new policies, and completely refresh their research guide collection. If your library is going through this process, or you are simply planning on using the (relatively) calm summer months to update your research guides, here are ten best practice tips to keep in mind - by Kara Dunn, D`Angelo Law Library. — Published July 25, 2015

Human Resources Management Meets Big Data in Devising Systems to Identify Star Employees

Alan Rothman provides much needed insight and perspective regarding the role of employee performance and productivity metrics, big data, and identifying future leaders within an organization. Although HR professionals and software applications have been engaged to deliver results that yield this knowledge, both are lacking in effectively leveraging and delivering processes to drive future success. — Published July 4, 2015

June, 2015

Communication Problems through SharePoint

Lorette Weldon's article is a gateway to training about how SharePoint uses a technology of programming without coding. Her pathfinder empowers librarians not familiar with database management to create a web part from within SharePoint that does not require any programming knowledge. As Weldon teaches us, the end-user does not have to code to put a fully functional SharePoint site together. — Published June 30, 2015

Voice Dream text-to-speech reader to appear for Android in August

David Rothman writes that the Voice Dream Reader comes with wonderful navigational and annotative capabilities as well as a rich assortment of voices. It is integrated with DropBox, Google Drive and EverNotes, and you can even download it directly from Project Gutenberg. — Published June 19, 2015

The Case for Natural Language Processing in Economics

Economist Ayeh Bandeh Ahmadi outlines a case for incorporating more natural language processing into economics as a tool to invigorate and provide additional critical facets and perspective to study, as well as adding a large volume of data for research to explore and analyze. — Published June 14, 2015

How Robots and Computer Algorithms are Challenging Jobs and the Economy

Alan Rothman casts an expert eye onto the landscape of an growing phenomenon - the rise of robotic technologies and their current and forthcoming impact on our workforce and on the economy. This review was sparked by a new book authored by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Martin Ford titled Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. The depth and significance of the critical issues the book raises is the focus of Rothman's insightful and engrossing commentary. — Published June 6, 2015

New Chips are Using Deep Learning to Enhance Mobile, Camera and Auto Image Processing Capabilities

Alan Rothman takes a look at the expanding experience of how we interface with our devices’ screens for inputs and outputs nearly all day and everyday. He explains how what many of the gadgets will soon be able to display and, moreover, understand about digital imagery is about to take a significant leap forward. This is a result of the pending arrival of new chips embedded into their circuitry that are enabled by artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. — Published June 6, 2015

Journalism Resources on the Internet

Marcus P. Zillman's new guide is a selective, comprehensive bibliography of reliable, subject specific and actionable sources of journalism resources and sites for researchers in all sectors. This guide will support your goal to discover new sources, refresh your acquaintance with sources you know but that have evolved, and provide additional strategic methods to locate and leverage information in your work. — Published June 6, 2015

May, 2015

Recent Visualization Projects Involving US Law and The Supreme Court

Examples of the use of visualizations and graphical representations of data and documents in the legal arena are increasing. Alan Rothman's article includes examples from the public and private sectors as well as academia. — Published May 22, 2015

Computer Savviness: Step 4 to Information Literacy

Lorette Weldon shares her roadmap to Computer Savviness - be flexible enough to learn new concepts, methods, and technology developed for different kinds of communities - and do not be not averse to discovering and trying new applications and tools to learn and discern what may work best for your specific environment. — Published May 22, 2015

IBM’s Watson is Now Data Mining TED Talks to Extract New Forms of Knowledge

Alan Rothman's commentary offers actionable information about a new technology from IBM called Watson that is a powerful tool for researchers whose work engages data mining, knowledge management and competitive intelligence. Rothman attended a recent presentation that demonstrated how Watson is deployed as a search and discovery tool whose object is the huge video archive of TED Talks content. — Published May 17, 2015

Creating the Information Literate Warrior: Step 6 to Information Literacy

In this part of her ongoing series, Lorette Weldon concentrates on successful methods for developing needed tools for kids’ study through demonstrations to show them how to find the information on their own. — Published May 17, 2015

Wikipedia and Information Literacy: Step 5 to Information Literacy

Lorette Weldon teaches her students to be critical and aware users of Wikipedia for research projects and assignments of any kind. Lorette provides specific criteria to benchmark content on Wikipedia for value, reliability, time frames when information has been posted and updated, as well as any evident bias. — Published May 17, 2015

Book Review - “The Age of Cryptocurrency”

Alan Rothman highlights the increasing impact of an online payment system that is immersed in finance and economics around the world - the expanding use of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. With actionable links to expert professional topical sources on these subjects, Alan's article will bring you up to speed on a bleeding edge cross border issue that impacts law, technology, e-commerce and the deep web. — Published May 17, 2015

April, 2015

How To Conduct Free Legal Research Using Google Scholar In 2015 (Part 2)

Nicole Black benchmarks how legal research is something lawyers do nearly every day and why convenient, affordable access to legal research materials is so important. Web-based legal research has truly provided solos and small firms the tools they need to compete - and at a price they could afford. The trick is to set aside time to learn the ins and outs of conducting legal research on Google Scholar. To make this process even easier for you, Nicole has provided Part 2 of her series on this topic. (Part 1 is here) — Published April 30, 2015

The Wealth Gap: A Tale of Two School Libraries

David Rothman provides critical insight into the inequities in the availability of public school library resources between different areas within DC, but which are not at all unique to this city. — Published April 26, 2015

Amicus Curiae: Information in the Service of Justice

From Ken Strutin's introduction to this guide: In the legal system, such intonements have taken on the form of specialized briefs called amicus curiae ("friend of the court"). And through extension and by complement they have appeared in the form of law reviews, media articles, exposes, and books. Indeed, there is an oscillating relationship between amici and law reviews, which has been beneficial for scholarship and public discourse. In the end, it is the passion for justice that drives individuals, governments, academics, lawyers, journalists and other interested groups to befriend the courts. The amicus has the power to speak to many audiences simultaneously. In the courtroom, it is the honest broker; in the public media, it is the educator; in academia, it is scholarly analysis and historical perspective. Bounded by common law, court rules, and the conventions of publishing (briefs, articles or books), the amicus can yet move knowledge into venues where it is most needed. An amicus can serve as an "oral shepardizer," expert witness, or quasi-litigant that extends the range of judicial notice and culls, concentrates and vets information into a case-specific resource. Still, there is a tension between the role of the amicus as independent expert offering facts and a party arguing an agenda, which can ultimately impact the quality and constitutionality of decision-making. Indeed, there are concerns that unregulated amicus practice can undermine development of case law by opening the door to issues and arguments beyond the threshold of standing and jurisdiction. Lastly, the free range of amicus briefs can exacerbate already problematic judicial information seeking behavior. Roman legal tradition fashioned the amicus into an interlocutor, an explainer in all kinds of cases. Today, their roles are circumscribed by court rule and common law. However, the scope of this article is confined to a discrete precinct of the amicus universe, criminal justice. — Published April 26, 2015

How To Conduct Free Legal Research Using Google Scholar In 2015 (Part 1)

Nicole Black surveys the new landscape for access to legal research databases, which previously cost a considerable sum - back in the day when Westlaw and Lexis had cornered the market. Today researchers have a range of reliable, affordable choices for legal research, such as Fastcase and CaseMaker, and even entirely free alternatives such as Google Scholar. — Published April 26, 2015