Features and Columns — September, 2014

Metrics 101: Proving Your Value

Bess Reynolds expertly documents the strategy, tools and techniques to implement effective metrics that clearly define and communicate to management your library's value added deliverables. — Published November 11, 2013

October, 2013

How to get the most out of library e-books via the right gadget, text to speech, and otherwise

Want to hear text to speech from free library books on your 50-mile commute? Even if you own an Android machine and the usual app can't do “read-aloud” unless audiobooks count? A new, expert and insightful report by David Rothman focuses on the new Kindle Fire HDXes. He recommends them to be among the top choices if you care more about reading than about tech and can accept Amazon's proprietary requirements. His article is written for both library staffers and patrons who are passionate about e-books. — Published October 26, 2013

First all-digital public library system a hit in Bexar County, Texas—with hundreds of e-reader gizmos and an eager young crew to explain them

David Rothman reports on the world's first all-digital public library system - a groundbreaking new book-less library in Texas. The library offers 600 e-readers, 200 preloaded tablets for children, 48 desktop computers, and 20 iPads and laptops; patrons can check out e-readers (and maybe other equipment?). The library also comes with eager young humans to help get people up to speed on the technology. — Published October 23, 2013

Family literacy and K-12 success: How a well-stocked public e-library system for the U.S. could help our students catch up with ‘The Smartest Kids in the World’

David Rothman advocates the position that family literacy and the related recreational reading count endlessly, whether books are paper and ink or swarms of electrons. And not just learning-to-read family literacy. Parents’ efforts should go on right up to the day students leave for college, and this is where public libraries, serving all ages, have a special role to play—being able to accommodate both adults and young people, even though we also need school libraries. — Published October 23, 2013

How to keep e-books on young cellphone users’ minds - and encourage their friends to join the fun

David Rothman reviews the positive and negative outcomes of the “Library Everywhere” project in Uganda. He urges organizations, libraries and public interest groups to be sure not to just hand out tablets and hope that low-income families and others will read e-books. Also keep library e-books on the minds of children and adults. — Published October 21, 2013

DNA Evidence: Brave New World, Same Old Problems

Criminal law expert Ken Strutin guides us through the critical facets that comprise the backbone of investigative forensics in the 21st Century - the database. Ken states that of all information gathering techniques, genetic databanking has become the holy grail of prosecutions and the last resort for exonerations. It is both the cause of and solution to many problems in the administration of justice. Thus, DNA forensics highlights the longstanding tension between scientific understanding and legal reasoning. While DNA's scientific reputation is very near to magic, its forensic applications are subject to the faults and limitations of every kind of evidence offered as proof in a court of law. Ken's article collects research on the law and science of genetic evidence at the pre-conviction stage. It focuses on the role of DNA in identification, investigation and prosecution of crime, social and privacy issues, and to some degree exculpation or evidence of third party culpability. — Published October 14, 2013

Education and Academic Resources on the Internet

Marcus P. Zillman's guide links researchers to a wide range of reliable resources for all professions and skill levels. Marcus covers topics including: education, chemistry, economics, mathematics, philosophy, engineering, MBA and PhD/Dissertation/Thesis/Academic Writing resources, as well as increasingly popular MOOCS/Open Courseware (OCW) resources. — Published October 14, 2013

Shutdown Cuts Off Public Access to Government Information

Access to government information is important in the daily lives of the people of the United States. During the shutdown of the federal government, paper and digital versions of government publications are either not available at all or the web sites are not being updated. Bernadine Abbott Hoduski has documented the specific impact shared by Librarians around the nation who report that they are unable to help patrons find the information they need to do research, write articles for journals and newspapers, prepare class assignments, find laws and regulations relevant to the conduct of their businesses, find information needed to file law suits, complete mortgage applications, access weather information, do historical and genealogical research, and contact government officials through agency web sites. Professors teaching future librarians, teachers, geographers, scientists, and other user communities, are unable to access web sites needed for their classes. — Published October 14, 2013

September, 2013

The Humanities and Technology Camp (THATCamp): An "unconference" experience LLRX readers might enjoy

Archivist and Librarian Celia Caust-Ellenbogen writes: "if you read LLRX, it is probably because you are interested in various facets of a massive constellation of issues surrounding technology, legal research, jurisprudence, library and information science, and related subjects. You are probably also a curious, open-minded person, seeking to broaden your horizons and eager to try new applications and tools. If you appreciate the diverse, knowledgeable perspectives given voice on LLRX, the curated resource lists introduced here, and the forward-thinking embrace of technology on the site, you will probably enjoy THATCamp too! — Published September 29, 2013

Ouch! Text to speech is also AWOL from THIS year's Paperwhite from Amazon

David Rothman's discussion of the newest Kindle Paperwhite E Ink reader from Amazon highlights that the device is still missing text to speech - among the very features Jeff Bezos touted when he unveiled the second Kindle in 2009. He advises that we refer to the Paperwhite users guide and see what's AWOL. — Published September 18, 2013

The DPLA and the risks of gentrifying America’s public libraries

David Rothman's commentary proposes that the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) should turn itself into the Digital Academic Library of America or something similar while encouraging public libraries to establish their own system, ideally through COSLA, a group of state library administrators. Both systems could share not just content but also a common catalog for patrons wanting it, an infrastructure and technical services organization, and overlapping board members—while hewing to the systems’ respective priorities. — Published September 14, 2013

Mandatory Facebook login for users trying to gain access to a third-party service

Professor Annemarie Bridy challenges the increasingly common use of mandatory Facebook login for Internet users trying to gain access to a third-party service - including posting comments to news stories, as well as viewing white papers, studies, reports and other documents. — Published September 14, 2013

My Two Cents on Two Years - Commentary on reducing JD curriculum from 3 to 2 years

David C. Walker provides professional perspective on President Obama's remark during a recent speech that the curriculum for a Juris Doctor should be reduced from two years to three years so as to keep costs associated with law school tuition down. David explains how and why both law school graduates and society would generally be at a loss as a result of such a reduction. — Published September 14, 2013

Will Data Analytics Allow Us to “Do Less Law?”

Ron Friedmann is an expert on the legal market, where hardly a day goes by without an article or blog post about alternative fee arrangements (AFA) or delivering more value. Yet both clients and law firms struggle to define value and adopt alternatives to the billable hour, so Ron proposes perhaps the time has come to re-think the question. — Published September 2, 2013

Can We Do Less Law? (ILTA Presentation)

At the International Legal Technology Association 2013 meeting in Las Vegas, Ron Friedmann was a panelist on a program, "Do Less Law". Ron has shared the outline of his speech, with links to sources he cited. — Published September 2, 2013

Free ePub book shows potential of local librarians as content-providers: Whale bombings, Pearl Harbor and other stories enliven Q & A with now-dead airman

David Rothman brings much needed attention to free ePub books, licensed under Creative Commons, offering free downloads that include transcripts of original content, such this one, that he highlights from the Veterans History Project Oral Histories. — Published September 2, 2013

E-Books and the Miami-Dade Library Crisis: One Way to Help Thwart the Misers

David Rothman makes a case that the time has come for a coherent national strategy to help speed up digitization of library systems like Miami’s and use the efficiencies of e-books and other digital items to squeeze more out of tax dollars—while also increasing the total amount of money for libraries and content. In other words, be more generous at all levels of government but at the same time expect more value. Avoid ever shutting down neighborhood branches, valuable in many ways beyond loaning bestsellers and other titles, and don’t get rid of all paper books, especially picture books for children. — Published September 2, 2013

August, 2013

A User Guide to the Marrakesh Treaty

Jonathan Band provides a comprehensive guide to the recent international adoption of the “Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled.” The Treaty is intended to promote the making and distribution of copies of books and other published materials in formats accessible to people with print disabilities. The Treaty would achieve this objective by obligating signatory countries (referred to as Contracting Parties) to adopt exceptions in their copyright laws that permit the making of copies in accessible formats as well as the distribution of those copies both domestically and internationally. This memorandum explains the Treaty’s provisions. The memorandum concludes that Title 17 of the United States Code complies with the Treaty’s requirements, and thus that the United States could sign and ratify the Treaty without making any changes to domestic law. — Published August 13, 2013

Student Research Resources on the Internet

Marcus P. Zillman's new guide is a comprehensive pathfinder that identifies reliable, actionable and high value research resources and sources on the Internet that will provide students with key benchmarks for their studies. — Published August 10, 2013

Rebooting Legal Research in a Digital Age

Steven A. Lastres writes that research has always been core to the practice of law. However, the results of a recent survey Steven has authored identified a “New Normal” in today’s business climate that has a profound effect in the delivery of legal services and impacts how research is conducted. — Published August 10, 2013

July, 2013

Collecting the History of Legal Technology

Sarah Glassmeyer, Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction, is calling out for assistance with a project to collect our shared legal technology history before it all ends up in dumpsters! — Published July 29, 2013

Big Data, Little Privacy: Tracking the Usual Suspects

In his article, Ken Strutin examines how the 21st century use of watch lists might or might not resemble the labeling of the McCarthy period, and how the experience of that era might inform an evaluation of present-day designation of the dangerous. After first describing the two labeling mechanisms, it compares them along several axes, finding that watch listing has both repeated some 1950s failings and moved on to develop some new ones of its own. In particular, because they are compiled and used in an opaque and completely one-sided process, watch lists run a substantial risk of incorrectly including many people who pose no threat. — Published July 21, 2013

New Version of Voice Dream: first-rate program for reading e-books aloud

A new incarnation of the Voice Dream text-to-speech program--for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch--hit the Apple app store recently. David Rothman says that at $9.99 is it worth every penny. — Published July 21, 2013

LinkedIn has growing value for lawyers

Nicole L. Black's commentary on LinkedIn provides perspective on how it is billed as the “professional” social network, which is why lawyers dipping their toes into social media for the first time often start with LinkedIn. She states that the problem is that as far as social networks go, LinkedIn hasn’t always been very, well … social. However, lately her take on LinkedIn has changed a bit - she still does not think it is the most vibrant or useful social network, but that its value proposition for lawyers has changed over the past year or so. — Published July 21, 2013

FOIA Facts: The Crazy World of FOIA Fees

Scott Hodes discusses how the issue of FOIA fees may be the most complex area of an already confusing subject. There are multiple agencies involved in overseeing the issue and in general the money collected doesn’t help agency FOIA operations in the least. He clarifies that most agencies only collect a fraction of what it costs for them to process FOIA requests. Further, even if they broke even on their FOIA processing, the money does not go to them. In most cases, requesters write out checks to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, not the individual agencies processing the requests. The money goes to the general treasury fund, the same fund payments for n income taxes go to. Agencies do not get this money back, so charging exorbitant FOIA processing fees does not help their bottom line. — Published July 21, 2013

‘High Contrast’ - a treat for Chrome-browser users in search of greater Web and Kindle accessibility

David Rothman follows up on his review of the Voice Dream TTS e-book reader which can also read Web pages aloud, by highlighting the High Contrast add-on for Google's Chrome Web browser. It doesn't just add contrast to Web pages - it also turns black-on-white text into the reverse. Significantly, it works with the Kindle Cloud app within Chrome. — Published July 21, 2013

June, 2013

A to-do for the American Library Association and local and state governments: Resolutions calling for a National Digital Library Endowment

David Rothman's proposed FAQ includes suggested wording for an ALA resolution on the National Digital Library Endowment. His focus is less on the exact language at this point and more on the basic endowment concept on the agendas of various constituencies, NGOs, library associations and Washington policymakers. — Published June 30, 2013

Obama speech and PTA-Amazon alliance validate LibraryCity's K-12 priorities: Now how about a national digital library endowment?

David Rothman continues to expand upon the seminal foundation he has built with his critical advocacy for American libraries to do more to meet the digital content needs not just of K-12 students but also of their parents and other Americans. — Published June 30, 2013

Privacy Resources and Sites on the Internet 2013

Marcus P. Zillman's guide is a comprehensive, timely and actionable resource inclusive of a wide range of privacy resources for individuals as well as organizations. His guide includes references to associations, indexes, search engines as and topical websites and sources that provide current applications, information and resources on the salient topic of privacy and how it relates to your use of the internet and social media.

— Published June 27, 2013

On the Legal Importance of Viewing Genes as Code

On June 13, 2013 the Supreme Court issued its opinion in the much–awaited Myriad case, which challenged the validity of patents on isolated human genes. The Court held that the isolated genetic sequences claimed in Myriad’s patents did not satisfy the inventive threshold for patentability, although the complementary DNA (cDNA) claimed in the patents did. Prof. Annemarie Bridy examines critical elements of the case with a focus on the extent to which the outcome turned on a single conceptual choice: When assessing patentability, should the legal analysis focus on the isolated DNA’s chemical structure or its information-coding function? — Published June 16, 2013