Thursday, June 01, 2023

New Université de Montréal Library School Thesis on Services to Inmates

The Université de Montréal website Papyrus just published the text of Romy Otayek's Master's Thesis on library services to Quebec prison inmates, Portrait actuel des services de bibliothèque dans le milieu carcéral québécois (text in French).

It is an infrequently studied topic in Canada:

"The presence of a library in a prison environment brings benefits to prisoners. It is a source of leisure, education and access to information in a highly secure and limiting environment. The prison library is supported by the statements of the United Nations for the treatment of prisoners, the UNESCO Public Library Manifesto and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) which highlight its benefits. Studies have been conducted in different countries in the presence, management and roles of the prison library in different types of correctional institutions. However, very few studies have been published in Canada and none in Quebec since 1973. Thus, the research aims to draw a portrait of the library services offered in detention facilities under Quebec's jurisdiction. The realization of this descriptive research has been done through a documentary research and a survey with the people managing the libraries using an online questionnaire. The results of this study show that all establishments offer library services in detention centres under provincial jurisdiction in Quebec. The results show that prisoners cannot use services on site or directly access documents in almost all establishments. In addition, there is a lack of diversity in the document supports, few activities are proposed, and no technological resources are accessible. These results enrich a section of librarianship that is little treated by providing current data on the situation in the province’s detention facilities. They shed light on an often invisible segment of the population for whom the library is important and pave the way for future research on the subject." [English abstract]

 Other Library Boy posts on the topic:

  • New UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning Book on Prison Libraries (October 28, 2019): "The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning has published the first UNESCO publication on prison libraries, highlighting their contribution to the personal development and education of incarcerated adults and young people (...) The open access e-book was launched at the most recent conference in August of the  International Federation of Library Associations in Athens."
  • Most Recent Issue of the Canadian Law Library Review (March 8, 2023): "Check out the feature article on p. 9 by Danielle Noonan Readers’ Advisory Services in Canadian Prisons: 'Library services in Canadian prisons have often been influenced by American standards. There is little research on libraries in Canadian prisons, and of that research it is evident that readers’ advisory services in prisons are nearly nonexistent. The following article  overviews 1981 and 1984 recommendations to the Correctional Service of Canada and a 2003 national survey about the operation of prison libraries. Through a comparison of the  American Library Association’s criteria and the current state of Canadian prison libraries, this article identifies the issues and proposes solutions that would enable prison librarians  to meet the recommended standards for readers advisory services in prisons'."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:17 pm 0 comments

Documents on Artificial Intelligence in Canada

I just got back from the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries in Hamilton, Ontario (conference program).

Not surprisingly, a lot of attention was devoted to the topic of artificial intelligence.

The opening keynote talk was given by Prof, Teresa Scassa of the University of Ottawa on “Regulating AI in Canada: Bill C-27 and the AI and Data Act”. 

It just so happens that the current issue of the Canadian Bar Review has published an article of hers on the topic of her presentation:

"Canada’s  Bill  C-27,  The  Digital  Charter  Implementation  Act,  includes  a  proposed Artificial Intelligence and Data Act (AIDA). If passed, the AIDA would establish a series of obligations regarding the use of anonymized data in AI systems; the design, development and making available for use of AI systems  generally;  and  the  design,  development  and  making  available  for  use of high-impact AI systems. The bill is challenging to fully understand, as many of these obligations are left to be fleshed out in regulations, including even the definition of the “high impact” AI, to which the AIDA will apply. Oversight of the regime will be the responsibility of the Minister of Industry, who  is  also  responsible  for  supporting  the  growth  of  the  AI  industry  in  Canada."

"This  paper  analyzes  the  AIDA  and  the  context  into  which  it  was  introduced.  This  context  includes  a  rapidly  evolving  AI  landscape,  as  well  as  important  governance  initiatives  emerging  internationally,  including  from  the  European  Union  and  the  United  States.  It  also  explores  a  set  of  constraints  on  Canadian  law  and  policy  developments  in  this  space.  Part  2  considers  how  the  AIDA  is  meant  to  be  both  ‘agile’  and  a  form  of  risk  regulation, and it measures the AIDA against these concepts. In Part 3, the paper considers the scope of the AIDA and a few of the particular constraints that  shaped  it.  These  include:  the  cross-sectoral  nature  of  AI  technology,  Canada’s constitutional division of powers, and the Canadian tendency to address public and private sector actors separately. Together, the two parts of the paper provide a view of the context and constraints that have shaped the  AIDA,  casting  light  on  some  of  the  challenges  faced  in  regulating  AI,  and surfacing important issues for the consultation and engagement that is necessary to properly regulate AI in Canada."

It is possible to follow the progress of the bill through the houses of the Canadian Parliament on the LEGISinfo website.

Another interesting article (forthcoming) is Mapping Artificial Intelligence Use in the Government of Canada by Paul Daly, also a University of Ottawa professor:

"On the one hand, technological advances and their enthusiastic uptake by government entities are seen as a push toward a Canadian dystopic state, with friendly bureaucrats being replaced by impassive machines. On the other hand, embracing technology is considered a confident move of the Canadian administrative state toward an utopian low-cost, high-impact decision making process."

"I will suggest in this paper that the truth—for the moment, at least—lies somewhere between the extremes of dystopia and utopia. In the federal public administration, technology is being deployed in a variety of areas, but rarely, if ever, displacing human decision making. Indeed, technology tends to be leveraged in areas of public policy that don’t involve any settling of benefits, statuses, licenses, and so on."

"We are still a long way from sophisticated machine learning tools deciding whether marriages are genuine, whether tax payers are compliant or whether nuclear facilities are safe. The reality is more down to earth."


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:02 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Law Library of Congress Reports Collection Surpasses 4000 Documents

For a long time, the Law Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. has been producing reports on a huge range of foreign, comparative, and international law topics.

A post today on its blog In Custodia Legis describes its efforts to make available its collection of legacy and contemporary reports:

"Since we last celebrated our milestone of over 3,000 online reports just last summer, the Law Library has continued to publish additional legacy born-digital and digitized reports on a near-weekly basis. Now, as of last month, we are happy to announce that our collection of legacy and contemporary reports has grown to over 4,000. This collection includes a mixture of both legacy and contemporary reports on foreign, comparative, and international law topics. For decades, the Law Library of Congress has prepared these legal reports in response to requests from Congress, the executive and judicial branches of the federal government, and others. In 2020, we announced a multi-year effort to digitize and publish many of our previously unreleased historical reports to make them fully accessible to researchers and other members of the public. Last month, we announced that our reports are now also available in a curated collection on HeinOnline in addition to being freely available on (...)"
"While the bulk of the published legacy reports address issues that are still of interest to policymakers today – topics such as immigration, gun control, and the regulation of emerging technologies appear frequently – there are several documents that are specific in scope and whose topics are surprisingly unique."

The blog post features 3 of those "unique" reports whose content is testimony to the breadth of topics that law librarians can be asked to research:

  • a report from the 1970s on hitchhiking laws in Poland
  • a report from the same decade on laws to protect the languages of France, Germany, Norway, and Switzerland from "foreign influences"
  • a report from 2005 that discussed the rationing of curtains in Germany during World War I


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:40 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Law Commission of England Consultation Paper on Evidence in Sexual Assault Trials

The Law Commission of England has released a consultation paper containing a number of proposals to change the way that evidence is used in sexual offences prosecutions in England and Wales.

The gist of the proposals is to counter the effects of rape myths and misconceptions on the trial process, treating complainants humanely, and ensuring that defendants receive a fair trial.

Some of myths and stereotypes surrounding sexual assault are that an assault will always be reported promptly, and/or that victims will be visibly distraught when describing what happened. These myths do not reflect the variety of experiences of and reactions to sexual violence. 

Among the proposals that the Commission has submitted for discussion:

  • A bespoke regime for access, disclosure and use of complainants’ personal records, including counselling notes. This regime would include judicial oversight of whether and how these records should be used, considering factors such as the complainant’s right to privacy and the importance of the records to the defendant’s case.
  • New framework for restricting the use of evidence of complainants’ sexual behaviour and compensation claims. When deciding whether to admit this type of evidence, the judge would consider factors such as the risk of perpetuating myths and misconceptions and the defendant’s right to a fair trial.
  • Giving complainants an automatic entitlement to measures to assist them to give evidence, such as giving evidence over live link, or in private (with an exemption that allows press attendance).
  • Independent legal advice and representation for complainants, which would allow them to make informed decisions about the way their evidence is given and used, and to participate in decisions about the use of their sensitive personal information.
  • The paper also considers the use of educational tools that could help minimise the impact of rape myths on jury decision-making. These could include, for example, the use of expert evidence to explain the complex physical and psychological responses to sexual violence.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:49 pm 0 comments

Thursday, May 18, 2023

American Association of Law Libraries 2023 Legal Literature Award Recipients

The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) has announced the names of the 2023 Joseph L. Andrews Legal Literature Award recipients.

The winners of this annual award that recognizes a significant textual contribution to legal literature are:

According to the AALL press release:

“'This year’s winners of the Joseph L. Andrews Legal Literature Award, Empirical Legal Research Services and The Role of Citation in the Law, provide a deep dive into empirical legal research and a thorough examination of the key issues of interest to law librarians and faculty surrounding analyzing, creating, and publishing works of scholarship', said AALL President Beth Adelman. 'These titles get to the very heart of what law librarians excel at—performing legal research and supporting the endeavors of law librarians and their work. Congratulations to the authors for creating these important literary works'.”

The Canadian equivalent, the Hugh Lawford Award for Excellence in Legal Publishing, is handed out annually by the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL). The 2023 winner will be announced at the upcoming CALL annual conference starting May 28 in Hamilton, Ontario.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:48 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Geek in Review Podcast Interview on the Launch of Lexis+ AI

The most recent episode of the Geek in Review Podcast co-hosted by Greg Lambert and Marlene Gebauer is available.

Lambert is a former president of the American Association of Law Libraries.

The podcast features an interview with ⁠Jeff Pfeifer⁠, Chief Product Officer of LexisNexis for UK, Ireland, Canada, and US:

"Pfeifer discusses how LexisNexis+ AI offers conversational search, summarization, and drafting tools to help lawyers work more efficiently. The tools provide contextual, iterative search so users can refine and improve results. The drafting tools can help with tasks like writing client emails or advisory statements. The summarization features can summarize datasets like regulations, opinions, and complaints."

"LexisNexis is working with leading AmLaw 50 firms in a commercial preview program to get feedback and input on the AI tools. LexisNexis also launched an AI Insider Program for any interested firms to learn about AI and how it may impact their business. There is definitely demand for the AI Insider Program with over 3,000 law firms already signed up."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:51 pm 0 comments

Monday, May 15, 2023

New and Updated Research Guides from GlobaLex

GlobaLex, a very good electronic collection created by the Hauser Global Law School Program at the New York University School of Law, has published or updated a number of research guides recently:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:03 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Law Commission of Ontario Report on Last Stages of Life for Indigenous People

The Law Commission of Ontario has published a report on the Last Stages of Life for First Nation, Métis and Inuit Peoples: Preliminary Recommendations for Law Reform.

The document examines the issues surrounding quality of life for Indigenous persons in Ontario who are dying and those who support them.
For the purposes of the project, the Commission considers the term "Indigenous" to include First Nation, Métis and Inuit, and status and non-status and urban Indigenous populations.
The report advocates for:
  • The need to reconceive health care consent, capacity, and substitute decision-making;
  • Facilitating traditional practices governing death in the home and natural burials;
  • Measuring health care performance with Indigenous practices and values;
  • Better supporting Indigenous health professionals, family members, and caregivers in community; and,
  • Access to Indigenous hospices in community.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:33 pm 0 comments

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

Stanford University AI Index Report

The AI Index Report developed at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence at Stanford University in California is an interesting resource to help track developments in the field.

It tracks worldwide trends in private AI investments, the number of incidents related to the ethical misuse of AI, as well as the state of AI regulation and legislation across the world.

Chapter 6 on Policy and Governance shows that there has been an explosive increase in the level of attention that legislators are paying to issues relating to AI:

"An AI Index analysis of the legislative records of 127 countries shows that the number of bills containing 'artificial intelligence' that were passed into law grew from just 1 in 2016 to 37 in 2022. An analysis of  the parliamentary records on AI in 81 countries likewise shows that mentions of AI in global legislative proceedings have increased nearly 6.5 times since 2016."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:31 pm 0 comments

Sunday, May 07, 2023

Can ChatGPT Replace Traditional Research Surveys?

I came across an article entitled The Survey Is Dead; Long Live the Survey: Can ChatGPT Replace Traditional Research Surveys?

It appeared recently on the RIPS Law Librarian Blog. It is published by the Research, Instruction, and Patron Services Special Interest Section (RIPS-SIS) of the American Association of Law Libraries:

"Our library recently hosted a guest speaker, David Wingate, a professor in BYU’s computer science department who does research on large language models, for a faculty lunch and learn. The entire presentation was fascinating, but the most intriguing part for me and many of the law faculty in attendance was the idea that generative AI systems will become so good they will be able to replace human subjects in answering research surveys. How? Generative neural networks trained on huge amounts of data—terabytes and even petabytes—ingest enough information about people that they can answer survey questions as if they were members of the survey population. Researchers provide the machine with the rough profiles for the individuals they want to survey, and the AI will generate the survey responses."

"Would this really work? Can a generative AI system learn enough about a person tell us how they will think and act in the future?"

The author of the post is unsurprisingly skeptical.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:49 pm 0 comments

Thursday, May 04, 2023

Bibliometrics and Research Impact Community Conference 2023

The 6th Bibliometrics and Research Impact Community Conference will take place in Ottawa in early June:

"Hosted in-person this event aims to advance the skills and knowledge of library and information professionals supporting research impact services and initiatives. Participants will come together to exchange tips, learn practical techniques, and hear about how bibliometrics and research impact are being applied in different institutional settings and subject areas."

The program is available online

The event will be held at St.Paul University,


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:22 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

Law Society of Ontario Tip on Finding Unreported Ontario Decisions

Know How, the blog of the Law Society of Ontario's Great Library, regularly posts very useful research tips.

It recently published one entitled Finding “Unreported” Ontario Decisions: Unreported, but not Unretrievable?

As the text explains, it may surprise some people but there are decisions (not only from Ontario but also from other Canadian jurisdictions) that have not been published and that do not appear in any of the big legal research databases.

It outlines some of the basic steps for tracking down these elusive rulings. 

The basic steps are:

  • contact the courthouse where the case was heard
  • find out about any offsite storage sites
  • for much older cases, contact the provincial archives.
I know that many of the same steps can also apply when trying to find "unreported" cases from many other provinces.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:00 pm 0 comments

Monday, May 01, 2023

American Libraries Releases 2023 Library Systems Report

The magazine American Libraries has released the 2023 Library Systems Report, its most recent annual report on the worldwide library technology industry.

"In recent years, business acquisitions have brought high-stakes changes to the library technology industry, creating seismic shifts in the balance of power. But other events in 2022—primarily advances in open source software—have even bigger implications for the market. Although proprietary products continue to dominate, open source alternatives are becoming increasingly competitive (...) "

"The 2023 Library Systems Report documents ongoing investments of libraries in strategic technology products in 2022. It covers for-profit and nonprofit organizations that offer strategic resource management products—especially integrated library systems and library services platforms—and comprehensive discovery products."

"The vendors included have responded to a survey requesting details about their organization, sales performance, and narrative explanations of accomplishments. Additional sources consulted include press releases, news articles, and other publicly available information. Most of the organizations provided lists of libraries represented in the statistics reported, allowing for more detailed analysis and validation."

The report is written by Marshall Breeding, a well-known library tech expert. He also edits the Library Technology Guides website and produces the annual International Library Automation Perceptions Surveys.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:55 pm 0 comments

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Supreme Court of Canada Calendar of Upcoming Hearings in May 2023

The Supreme Court of Canada recently published its calendar of upcoming appeals that will be heard in May 2023.

To find out more about any particular case, click on the docket number in parentheses next to each case name to find docket information, case summaries as well as factums from the parties. 


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:29 pm 0 comments

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Geek in Review Podcast Interview on the Impact of CaseText’s CoCounsel on Law and Technology

The most recent episode of the Geek in Review Podcast co-hosted by Greg Lambert and Marlene Gebauer is available.

Lambert is a former president of the American Association of Law Libraries.

The podcast features a discussion with legal technology experts ⁠Pablo Arredondo⁠, ⁠Evan Shenkman⁠, and ⁠Darth Vaughn⁠:

"They discuss their proactive approach to incorporating AI technology, specifically ⁠CaseText’s CoCounsel⁠, into their legal practice and business operations."

"Pablo shares, 'I think the law is such a fascinating space for this kind of AI because it really brings together two things that are really deep in the human experience, which is language and rules.' The guests discuss their experiences in using CoCounsel and its features, such as the ChatGPT feature, which enables them to draft and review documents more efficiently. Evan emphasizes, 'The tools are there, and the more that we can sort of get folks up to speed on this stuff, and really help them understand how to use the tools, the better we’re all going to be'." (...)

"The discussion also touches on access to justice issues and how tools like CoCounsel can potentially help bridge the justice gap. By being intentional in utilizing AI technology to assist in pro bono cases, they believe it is possible to make a significant impact on improving access to legal services for those in need."


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:25 pm 0 comments

May/June 2023 Issue of AALL Spectrum

The May/June 2023 issue of AALL Spectrum is now available online.

It is a publication of the American Association of Law Libraries.

This issue has a series of feature articles on new legal technologies.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:18 pm 0 comments

LawBytes Podcast on Federal Court Ruling on Facebook and Privacy

In the most recent LawBytes podcast, University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist talks with his colleague Teresa Scassa about a recent Federal Court decision that ruled for Facebook in case with many privacy law implications:

"The controversy over Facebook and Cambridge Analytica was back in the spotlight in Canada as the Federal Court sided with Facebook and against the Privacy Commissioner of Canada in a decision arising from a 2019 investigation into the matter. The Privacy Commissioner ruled against Facebook in 2019, but Facebook disagreed with the findings, took the matter to court, and won. What lies behind the decision and what does it mean for privacy in Canada? My colleague Teresa Scassa, who holds the Canada Research Chair In Information Law, is widely regarded as one of Canada’s leading privacy law experts. She posted on the decision soon after its release and joins the Law Bytes podcast to talk about the ruling and its broader implications."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:10 pm 0 comments

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Geek in Review Podcast Interview with Lexis CTO Jeff Reihl on Future of AI

The most recent episode of the Geek in Review Podcast co- hosted by Greg Lambert and Marlene Gebauer is available.

Lambert is a former president of the American Association of Law Libraries.

The podcast features a discussion with ⁠Jeff Reihl⁠, the Executive Vice President, and Chief Technology Officer at LexisNexis. 

The episode covers the current state of AI and its relevance to the legal and research sector:

"During Reihl’s sixteen years at LexisNexis he witnessed many innovations such as the nearly universal adoption of iPhone and other mobile products, cloud computing, and document automation, but the speed a acceleration around Generative AI tool like GPT 4.0, Bing, Bard, and others is causing even the big players in the legal industry to quickly adjust to the demands of the market. Jeff highlighted the flexibility and benefits of LexisNexis’ technology, which can provide valuable insights and information to its users on-demand. The organization generates and applies AI-enabled insights that assist users in finding, evaluating, and curating content more quickly and effectively. Jeff went on to explain how AI technology is helping lawyers reduce research time and increase accuracy in creating legal documents. In conclusion, Jeff explained that LexisNexis is committed to promoting innovation in the legal field by utilizing innovative technology solutions to advance research and meet the growing research demand, thereby improving legal professionals’ efficiency and accuracy."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:07 pm 0 comments