Thursday, August 18, 2005

Vacation Time - I'm Off for Two Weeks!

I haven't been making very long posts recently for 2 reasons:

1) I had to prepare for my vacation that begins Saturday - my wife and I are flying off to British Columbia to hike and camp, visit abandoned mines, see whales, do some rafting, try not to fall off horses, and fight off rattlesnakes in the desert-like part of the province near the U.S. border. My wife also plans to jump off a cliff while we're there - OK,OK, she wants to take paragliding lessons. To me, it sounds like jumping off a cliff... We have not told her mother about any of this.

2) since a few days ago, I now also have to prepare to move to another city - in late September, we will be moving to Ottawa where I start a new reference librarian job at the Supreme Court of Canada (more when I get back from B.C.). My wife will be freelancing as a graphic designer.

Let's see: I have to uproot and move hundreds of kilometres East of here in a few weeks so the logical thing to do is to take off until close to Labour Day by going thousands of kilometres West of here... "Living on the edge". Maybe I'll jump off that cliff too. Just kidding: we already have a place to stay in Ottawa while looking for permanent digs. If anyone knows of a place up for rent as of late Sept/early October, you know where to find me...

See you around Labour Day.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:44 pm 1 comments links to this post

Access 2005 Library Technology Conference in October

The Canadian Library Association sent out an announcement via listserv today about Access 2o05 that will take place in Edmonton from Oct 17 to 19.

Keynote topics this year include:
  • Canada's Choice: Copyright, Culture and the Internet - Dr. Michael Geist, Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa
  • The Library and the Network - Lorcan Dempsey, VP of Research for OCLC
  • Cliff's Notes, 2005 - Clifford Lynch, Director of the Coalition for Networked Information, that includes about 200 member organizations concerned with the use of information technology and networked information to enhance scholarship and intellectual productivity

The complete list of topics and presenters is available on the conference website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:31 pm 0 comments links to this post

Historical First - U.S. Supreme Court Cites Blog

According to the Canadian law blog Slaw, blogs have now made it into a Supreme Court decision (U.S. that is).

The citation of a blog is a historical first.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:17 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Summer Issue of SLA Toronto Newsletter

The Summer 2005 issue of Courier, the newsletter of the Toronto chapter of SLA, has been published.

There are quite a number of articles on the June 2005 SLA conference that took place in Toronto, including one where I am quoted.

In Swing Dances and Smarties: Volunteer Adventures at the SLA Toronto Hospitality Booth, Greg Barber describes what it was like being a volunteer at the SLA Toronto Hospitality Booth during the conference and mentions some of the more off-beat questions we had to handle.

I was asked "Where are the best underground goth clubs in town?"

As I state in the article, "I answered off the top of my head (essentially guessing based on street posters I’ve read, because, of course I would never be seen in a Goth club), and by perusing a copy of Now magazine [free entertainment weekly]. Who would have guessed that looking closely at all those strange posters as I walk along Queen Street West would come in handy one day in my professional life?".

Other conference-relate articles include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:11 am 0 comments links to this post

Monday, August 15, 2005

Good Articles on Law Blogging from the ABA

The July/August issue of Law Practice Management (published by the American Bar Association) takes a look at the blog phenomenon.

Includes articles on:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:19 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Honoré Daumier Lithograph Collections and Corrupt Lawyers

The Librarians' Index to the Internet features 2 items this week about 19th century French artist Honoré Daumier, who gained notoriety for his often acerbic caricatures of the monarchy, politicians, and the French middle class. He is especially well-known for his Les gens de justice collection attacking the corrupt practices of lawyers of his time.

The 2 sites are:
  • Honoré Daumier and His Lithographic Work
    This site is maintained by 2 Swiss-based collectors and includes a detailed biography, a list of more than 700 Daumier exhibitions, a list of significant collections, and the "Daumier Register", a "digital work catalogue giving detailed information and at least one photograph for each of the 4,000 Daumier lithographs."
  • Honoré Daumier Lithographs: Brandeis University Collections
    The site features a Daumier timeline, a slide show of Daumier lithographs, a link to a database with images of thousands of Daumier lithographs, and a bibliography. The University owns one of the major Daumier collections in North America.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:42 am 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, August 11, 2005

New from Law Library Journal

Since I mentioned the Association of American Law Libraries in an earlier post today, I thought I would point out a few articles in the most recent issue of their Law Library Journal:

The annotated bibliographies are one of the really fun parts of the Law Library Journal. My favourite from an earlier issue: Baseball and the Law: A Selected Annotated Bibliography, 1990–2004

Hmm... Maybe a few of us should get together and develop an annotated bibliography on hockey and the law.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:09 pm links to this post

New Law Library Marketing Resources in LLRX

Cindy Carlson has produced an addition to complement her recent presentation at the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries on the subject of marketing [scroll to E-4 "Marketing,Schmarketing! to download]

Her new article on the LLRX site points to additional online resources for marketing, including some I'd never heard of, such as the Marketing Toolkit for Academic Law Libraries which is of interest beyond the confines of academia.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:39 pm 1 comments links to this post

Ahead of the Digital Wave Seminar in Ottawa - September 2005

The Council of Federal Libraries is hosting a seminar on Sept 14 at the Ottawa Congress Centre on the transformation in service delivery and in skills required to stay ahead in a world of digital information.

From the announcement:

"How has the electronic work environment influenced the ways we collaborate and build information infrastructures within existing legal and institutional frameworks? What do we need to know about the technical infrastructure in order to communicate effectively with one another? How are we going to keep up with changes in information technology so that we can serve our users better and meet their expectations?"

The afternoon panel will be hosted by Steven Cohen of Library Stuff fame and will address digital rights management, with a look at digital repositories, copyright, open access and digital licensing. The panelists are Virginia Jones from Access Copyright, Ross Gordon from the Council of Federal Libraries and Russell McOrmond from Digital Copyright Canada.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:28 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Current Cites Current Awareness Site 15th Anniversary

Current Cites is turning 15. I've been reading it as an occasional source of current awareness since about the year 2000.

Current Cites is a high quality monthly newsletter that evaluates the "best" articles in information technology and librarianship from professional magazines, journals, web sites and books.

According to the press release marking the occasion, Current Cites first "came out as a paper insert to the library newsletter at UC Berkeley. The original intent was to provide an in-house guide to the rapidly expanding literature in information science. Soon however, the first electronic version became available through the University of California MELVYL system. Next came distribution through the PACS-L mailing list, and subsequently through a myriad of systems and protocols that reads like a glossary to technology in the 1990's: FTP, Gopher, WAIS, and finally the Web. Most recently, Current Cites completed a move to WebJunction.org, a library support site managed by OCLC and supported in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation."

It is possible to subscribe by e-mail.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:16 pm links to this post

Search Engine Overlap Even Smaller Than Assumed

This is a follow-up to my May 16, 2005 item Dogpile Metasearch Displays Results Overlap.

Search Engine Watch reports on a new study that suggests that the overlap between search engine results is even less than it was even a few months ago, meaning that search engines are returning a view of the info world that is even more unique than assumed.

The study was released last week by metasearch engine Dogpile and researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Penn State University.

"The implications of these findings are significant for both searchers and marketers. Searchers relying on a single search engine are missing a vast swath of web content that they could easily find simply by trying their queries on other engines... Effectively, for more than two-thirds of all queries, each search engine is likely to give you completely different results."

People can read the study white paper online.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:13 pm 0 comments links to this post

Plain Language Resources for Law, Business, Government, and Life

The Free Pint newsletter features an article in the most recent issue about plain language.

Clear language or plain language refers to jargon-free, understandable language. For the past 20 years or more, an international movement has been working to make the language used in law, health information, financial services, commerce and business more accessible. Plain language does NOT mean dumbed down or simplistic vocabulary.

The article refers to many plain language writing resources, including many in the legal field.

Major plain language resources include:

  • PLAIN – Plain Language International Network : This is an international movement with members from Canada, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Sweden, New Zealand, and Japan. The Web site contains editing and writing resources for legal and business writers, journalists and scientists, links to governmental plain language initiatives in the USA, Canada and Sweden, a news archive as well as the conference proceedings of the September 2002 PLAIN conference held in Toronto and other conferences. 2002 Conference participants also made available a list of suggested print and Web resources.
  • Plain English Campaign :The granddaddy of the clear language lobbies, this UK-based group attracts lots of media attention because of its well-known annual awards for the most obscure and indecipherable examples of gobbledygook in the English-speaking world: the Golden Bull Awards for business and government obfuscation and the Foot in Mouth Award fo the year’s most baffling quote. Many of you might remember that actor Richard Gere won the Foot in Mouth Award in 2002 for his insightful comment "I know who I am. No one else knows who I am. If I was a giraffe and somebody said I was a snake, I'd think 'No, actually I am a giraffe’." And in 2003, United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld won the coveted Foot in Mouth Award for comments made in a press briefing. You may recall (who doesn't?): "Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don't know we don't know." Whatever...
  • Clear Language and Design - CLAD : A Toronto-based consultancy group, CLAD was a co-sponsor of the 2002 PLAIN conference mentioned above. Among other services, CLAD has invented a Reading Effectiveness Tool to find out if your draft manuscript is at the right level for your intended audience. This interactive tool is based on the Simple Measure Of Gobbledegook (SMOG) readability formula.
  • Clear Communication Resources : List of resources from Canada’s National Adult Literacy Database
  • Clarity : Law librarians will want to have a look. Clarity is an international association of lawyers and legal writers whose goals include clear legal writing for the general citizenry by avoiding archaic, obscure, and over-elaborate language.
  • Plain Language Action & Information Network : In the United States, this is a government-wide group of volunteers working to improve communications from the U.S. federal government to the public. Members include practitioners from many different segments of the U.S. public sector and the Web site includes many reference links and writing tools.
  • Oxford Dictionary Plain English :Top tips for keeping your writing user-friendly from Oxford University Press.
  • Writing for the Web : From the Web site of Internet usability guru Jakob Nielsen, links to research and guides on how better writing for the Web medium can boost usability.
  • The 100 Worst "Groaners" : As the site explains: "A 'groaner' is a hackneyed, overblown, stuffy or just plain silly cliché that turns up time after time in news scripts. Groaners show laziness on the part of writers, disrespect for the folks watching, and a general contempt for lively English. Here are some of the worst offenders. You’ll recognize them immediately, so get ready to groan!"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:26 pm links to this post

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Tools of the Trade - How Not To Mess Up With Powerpoint and Word

Word, Powerpoint, HTML, Excel...

They're just tools. They can't make you think, write or express yourself better.

Since they are so ubiquitous, knowing how and when to use (and avoid them) is essential.

The August 2005 issue of Law Practice Today (American Bar Association) features an annotated list of Powerpoint resources called Powerful Pointers for Presenters including "Ten Tips to Improve Your Presentations with PowerPoint" and "Really Bad PowerPoint".

For Word, there is a new O'Reilly and Associates book Word Annoyances: How to Fix the Most Annoying Things About Microsoft Word which offers "to the point (and often opinionated) solutions to your most vexing editing, formatting, printing, faxing, and scanning problems," according to the marketing blurb. Chapter 3 can be read online in PDF format.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 11:10 am 0 comments links to this post

More FOI - Declassified U.S. Atom Bomb Documents

Sticking with the topic of freedom of information, beSpacific reported Friday that the non-profit National Security Archive published the most comprehensive on-line collection to date of declassified U.S. government documents on the atomic bomb and the end of the war in the Pacific.

The collection includes material from the files of the Manhattan Project, "Top Secret Ultra" summaries and translations of intercepted Japanese diplomatic cable traffic, as well as translations from Japanese sources of high level meetings and discussions in Tokyo, including the conferences when Emperor Hirohito authorized the final decision to surrender.

The National Security Archive serves as a library and archive of declassified U.S. documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. It is funded from publication revenues and from private philanthropists such as the Carnegie Corporation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:06 am 0 comments links to this post

Access to Information Database Updated to June 2005

Prof. Alasdair Roberts from Syracuse University has updated his Canadian access to information request database.

It is a searchable database of requests for information submitted to federal institutions under Canada's Access to Information Act (ATIA).

The database has been updated to include 2270 ATIA requests logged in June 2005. This includes 296 Media requests and 40 Parliamentary requests.

According to Roberts, a former Queen's University scholar who has maintained the database since early 2002, this will be the last update. The page will not be maintained after August 31.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:59 am 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, August 04, 2005

History of Conflict over U.S. Supreme Court Appointments

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for American Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts are anticipated for some time in September.

The history of U.S. Supreme Court nominations has often been one marked by open ideological conflict and political intrigue as shown in a recent National Public Radio report that examines the battles surrounding Clarence Thomas in 1991, Robert H. Bork in 1987, G. Harrold Carswell in 1970, Clement Haynsworth Jr. in 1969, and Abe Fortas in 1968.

The Jurist website based at the University of Pittsburgh organized a symposium in 2004 on the judicial confirmation process in the U.S. Some of the presentation titles are very revealing of trends south of the border that have many observers worried:
One can also follow stories about the Roberts nomination fight on the Findlaw website, in the Supreme Court news section.

In late July, the National Archives of the United States released thousands of pages of documents and files concerning the current nominee. And Resourceshelf reported that askSam has created a searchable database of Roberts' decisions as a judge of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:19 pm 1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Interviews with Library and Information World Innovators

I came across an item on the blog rebecca's pocket that features a recent interview with Jessamyn West, the creator of Librarian.net (running since 1999).

The conversation is wide-ranging, covering everything from West's blogging tools to how she chooses what to write about, which authors she reads, whose writing (online and offline) she particularly admires, how to handle burn-out, how to limit how many RSS feeds to read, etc.

I particularly enjoy West's practical, no-nonsense philosophy that has allowed her to creatively use technology without losing perspective and becoming overwhelmed by it.

Compare with an earlier interview published on the Ex Libris site.

Ex Libris, created by Marylaine Block, features a number of "guru interviews" - go to the home page of her site and scroll down - the list of interviews is in the lefthand navigation bar. Interview subjects in the past have included Tara Calishain from ResearchBuzz, Greg R. Notess (known for his Search Engine Showdown), Gary Price, Darlene Fichter from the University of Saskatchewan, Genie Tyburski from the Virtual Chase, and many others.

We need more of this kind of personal profile of innovators and creative people in the information field.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:40 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, August 01, 2005

Law Journals - Staying Current

I've been using a current awareness service called Current Law Journal Content from the Washington and Lee University Law School for some time now.

The School covers more than 1000 law journals from around the world. Scans of journal content pages are supplied by the University of Texas Tarlton Law Library, Washington and Lee, other libraries, or are received electronically via e-mail, web-sites, or RSS feeds.

Current Law Journal Content can be used in a number of ways:
  • to display all the tables of contents for issues added during a user-selected date range
  • to search for words in article citations (author/title/abstract/journal name fields)
  • to link to tables of contents for any one of the 1039 individual law journals

People can also set up an e-mail subscription to receive weekly alerts of new tables of content.

One can customize the list of journals for which content information will be sent as well as the format of the transmission, including how new items are sorted (by journal name, date added, impact factor assigned to the law journal in Washington and Lee's Most-Cited Legal Periodicals list) , whether to add a link to the journal's website home page, whether in "full" or "brief" format, etc.

People can also add their own institution's openURL server if it has one.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:14 pm 0 comments links to this post