Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Renovated Library of Parliament Officially Reopens

This is a follow-up to the May 17, 2006 Library Boy post Library of Parliament Renovations Finally Over.

Yesterday, the 4-year upgrade to preserve and enhance the Library of Parliament building was officially completed. The project cost $136 million.

A ceremony with the Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate, the Honourable Peter Milliken, Speaker of the House of Commons and the Honourable Michael M Fortier, Minister of Public Works and Government Services, was held to mark the end of the rehabilitation work. The work involved totally rebuilding parts of the exterior masonry walls, creating a climate-controlled space for books and documents and replacing the copper roof.

The Library opens to the public this weekend, during the Doors Open Ottawa Festival.

More from the CBC.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:59 pm 0 comments links to this post

Privacy Commissioner's Annual Report to Parliament

The Federal Privacy Commissioner, Jennifer Stoddart, delivered her annual report to the Canadian Parliament this week.

Stoddart reports that businesses and organizations seem willing to take corrective measures when they are the subject of complaints about non-compliance with the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). PIPEDA, which came into full effect in 2004, is expected to undergo a full legislative review in Parliament this fall.

"Overall, the information handling practices brought to our attention show Canadian organizations demonstrating a high level of compliance with PIPEDA. Businesses, large and small, have demonstrated goodwill, commitment to community values and openness to change when it comes to protecting privacy. But I am concerned that apparent compliance does not always result in truly effective privacy and security practice. Goodwill needs to be translated into practice."

Other areas of concern are the outsourcing of data processing to countries lacking effective data protection standards as well as the rapid spread of RFID (radio frequency ID) tags that track goods and that could be used to collect data on consumers' habits.

In related privacy news, the United Kingdom's Information Commissioner intends to present a report to the British Parliament calling for criminal penalties under the Data Protection Act. The report calls for prison sentences for the illegal buying and selling of personal information.

The report, entitled What Price Privacy? The unlawful trade in confidential personal information, explains:

"Individuals are not the only ones who suffer when third parties gain unlawful access to their personal details. Companies risk losing the trust of their customers and confidence in the public sector is shaken. We cannot sensibly build an information society unless its foundations and its systems are secure. Plugging the gaps becomes ever more urgent as the government rolls out its program of joined-up public services and joined-up computer systems under the banner of transformational government. However laudable the aim, we need to make sure that increasing access to government-held information for those with a legitimate need to know does not also open the door to those who seek to buy, beguile or barter their way to information that is rightly denied to them in law."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:56 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

New Supreme Court of Canada Library Catalogue

Tomorrow, May 31, 2006, the Supreme Court of Canada will launch its new library catalogue - the new system should (!!!) work in the morning.

The Court used to have a Bestseller catalogue system but has opted now for the SirsiDynix Unicorn library management system.

Among the many improvements everyone, including external users, will see are:
  • an easy-to-use Google-like search engine
  • default presentation of search results in reverse chronological order for faster finding of relevant legal material
  • automatic translation of subject headings from one official language to the other - for example, a subject search for "Torts-Canada" will retrieve English material catalogued with that heading as well as French material filed under the equivalent French subject heading of "Responsabilité civile-Canada"; a subject search for "Droit international privé" will also retrieve English material under the heading of "Conflict of Laws"
Internal users at the Court will also be able to manage their checkouts, holds and ILL requests from their desktop. They will also be able to automatically have their catalogue search query launch in a variety of other external search engines for additional results, including Google Scholar, Vivisimo, various English- and French-language government websites in Canada and abroad, Findlaw, Lawcrawler, SOSIG, etc.

Later in 2006, additional functionalities will be added such as a link resolver for article-level linking to the full text of material in databases to which the Court subscribes, and SingleSearch, a federated search tool. These new features will be available to internal users only.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:20 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, May 29, 2006

25 Worst Tech Products Of All Time

From PC World magazine:

"At PC World, we spend most of our time talking about products that make your life easier or your work more productive. But it's the lousy ones that linger in our memory long after their shrinkwrap has shriveled, and that make tech editors cry out, 'What have I done to deserve this?' Still, even the worst products deserve recognition (or deprecation). So as we put together our list of World Class winners for 2006, we decided also to spotlight the 25 worst tech products that have been released since PC World began publishing nearly a quarter-century ago."

Read and weep (or laugh) as you remember all the time and money you wasted on these.
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:21 pm 0 comments links to this post

Amnesty International Launches Campaign Against Internet Censorship

Amnesty International has created a new website called Irrepressible.info to draw attention to the fact that people are "persecuted and imprisoned simply for criticizing their government, calling for democracy and greater press freedom or exposing human rights abuses online" in countries such as China, Iran, Myanmar, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Syria and Vietnam.

The campaign wants to encourage people who operate websites or send e-mails to include a snippet that contains some of the censored information. A variety of snippets can be copied the Irrepressible.info website.

Amnesty International is also urging people to sign a petition that asks governments to stop censoring the web and that asks technology companies such as Yahoo!, Google and Cisco to stop collaborating with governments that suppress dissent online.

Previous Library Boy posts on Internet censorship include:

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Friday, May 26, 2006

World Cup 2006 in Germany - The Law on Doping in Sports

The World Cup of Soccer, perhaps the world's greatest sporting extravaganza with the exception of the Summer Olympic Games, is taking place this June in Germany. And where there's international sports, there's the use of performance-enhancing drugs, or "doping".

In fact, because of past doping scandals, international soccer was coming very close to being excluded from the Olympics, but at the last minute, FIFA, the international soccer federation which organizes the World Cup every 4 years, came to an agreement with WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, on how to handle suspicions of doping behaviour by players or team officials.

Anyway, the official FIFA website has a section on doping with links to FIFA anti-doping documents and regulations: All team physicians signed a declaration stating their unrestricted support of the FIFA strategy of comprehensive pre-assessment and doping controls aiming at improved care and prevention for the top class athletes participating in the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany. All athletes participating will be meticulously questioned with regard to their personal and family history. They will undergo a comprehensive physical examination including an electrocardiogram and an echocardiogram as needed.

So what laws and regulations apply to sports and doping?

LAW

  • Research Guide on International Sports Law: this online guide is written by a Reference Librarian at Georgetown University in Washington. It looks at the key institutions governing international sports and provides information and links to federations governing individual sports at an international level, bodies associated with the Olympic Games and the Court of Arbitration for Sport. There are sections on doping
  • World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA): this agency was set up in 1999 by the International Olympic Committee which claims it is working towards "eradicating the improper use of drugs in sport". WADA has adopted the first World Anti-Doping Code intended to harmonize rules and regulations regarding doping across all countries and sports. There is information about scientific research, the legal aspects of doping (strict liability principle, testing procedures, hearings, commencement of the ineligibility period for athletes caught, disqualification provisions concerning teams, etc.), a list of prohibited substances, testing statistics and the medical aspects of the main groups of drugs involved (diuretics, beta blockers, stimulants and anabolic agents)
  • Tribunal Arbitral du Sport/Court of Arbitration for Sport: the website includes the rules and procedures, case law, statistics and other publications from the "institution independent of any sports organization which provides for services in order to facilitate the settlement of sports-related disputes through arbitration or mediation"
  • Selected Case Law Rendered Under the World Anti-Doping Code: written by two top members of the Legal Affairs department of WADA, this summary of the major case law focuses on athletes’ duty of diligence in their relationship with their medical personnel; the problem of specified substances and the necessity that athletes establish there was no intention to enhance their performance; the issue of proportionality
  • UNESCO - International Convention against Doping in Sport 2005: until now, many governments could not be legally bound by a non-governmental document such as the World Anti-Doping Code. The International Convention now enables them to align their domestic legislation with the Code. Under UNESCO procedures for this Convention, thirty countries must ratify it in order for it to become effective. Some 185 countries have signed the Copenhagen Declaration on Anti-Doping in Sport, the political document through which governments show their intention to implement the World Anti-Doping Code through ratification of the UNESCO Convention. There is also a UNESCO booklet on doping downloadable from the website of the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education
  • Council of Europe - Sports Resources: this page provides links to national anti-doping agencies and to major legal reference texts
  • Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport: this "independent, national, non-profit organization committed to the principles of drug-free sport, equity, fair play, safety and non-violence" is the Canadian body responsible for administering Canada's Anti-Doping Program which includes laws and regulations, education programs and testing procedures
BIBLIOGRAPHIES
  • Bibliography on Sports Law: from the Peace Palace Library in The Hague, most of the items deal with the doping issue
  • Resource Guide to Sport and the Law: contains a section on doping (from the Higher Academy Network for Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, Oxford, UK)
  • People can also go to periodical databases such as LegalTrac and type in "doping" - there are many major articles in journals such as Villanova Sports & Entertainment Law Journal, Loyola University of Chicago Law Journal, Virginia Sports and Entertainment Law Journal, Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal, Forensic Science International, University of New South Wales Law Journal, Entertainment and Sports Law Journal and others
  • In Canada, one major bibliography is Richard W. Stark ... [et al.] The Drug file: a comprehensive bibliography on drugs and doping in sport (Gloucester, Ont.: Sport Information Resource Centre, 1991). And of course, there was the 1990 Commission of inquiry into the use of drugs and banned practices intended to increase athletic performance (Dubin inquiry)

NEWS AND BLOGS

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:32 pm 2 comments links to this post

Thursday, May 25, 2006

New Web Interface for Supreme Court of Canada Judgments

Judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada have been available for free on the LexUM website for many years now. LexUM is affiliated with the University of Montreal Law Faculty.

There is now a new interface along with a few enhancements and added functionalities:
  • The appearance of the search form has been cleaned up and simplified
  • One can now browse by Supreme Court Reports volume, by date, by neutral citation, alphabetically by case name, or by subject
  • Judgments are offered in HTML, PDF and Wordperfect formats
  • It is easier to browse through the most recent decisions, press releases and bulletin issues of the Court since these have all been separated out and moved to their own boxes on the right side of the home page

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:48 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Survey on Making Supreme Court of Canada Factums Available on the Web

Slaw.ca, the collaborative Canadian law research blog, and the Canadian Bar Association conducted a survey last month about Supreme Court of Canada factums (or "briefs" for any Americans reading this). The survey asked people in the field of law whether they supported making factums submitted in cases before the Supreme Court more broadly available by being published on the Internet.

South of the border, United States Supreme Court briefs are on the Internet.

Currently, people can contact the Court Records Office here at the Supreme Court of Canada to order copies of the material in a court file once the file has been closed. Fees for photocopies and consulting the court file apply.

Earlier today, a lengthy analysis of the survey results was posted on the Slaw site. Not surprisingly, respondents, overall, favour much greater accessibility. The Slaw post also includes the images from the PDF document submitted to the Supreme Court.

"The survey showed broad support for making factums more broadly available. The lawyers responding strongly endorsed transparency and disclosure, believing that public access to factums will not significantly interfere with the court or the administration of justice. Of the concerns raised in earlier discussions, none appeared to be an insurmountable obstacle."

Some of those concerns involve the protection of privacy and copyright in the material itself (does it belong to the public, the Court, or the parties?).

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:55 pm 0 comments links to this post

Cool Law Library Jobs Podcast

On this week's Check This Out podcast, Jim Milles from the University at Buffalo Law School (State University of New York) interviews 2 Canadian law librarians who explain why they think they have cool jobs.

They are:
  • Kirsten Wurmann, Public Legal Education Librarian (University of Alberta, Faculty of Extension, Legal Studies Program)
  • Connie Crosby, law firm librarian, blogger, and Executive Board member of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries.

I had previously mentioned Milles' podcast back in November 2005.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:45 pm 0 comments links to this post

National Elections Backgrounder from Australia

The Australian Parliamentary Library has just published a Current Issues E-Brief on national elections in 2006.

"The country information is brief. Information covered includes the date and type of election; the number of registered voters; the party in power (where applicable); the type of government; whether voting is compulsory; some key issues; the main players; commentary as the elections unfold; and results when known."

Earlier Library Boy posts on elections and electoral law include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:32 pm 0 comments links to this post

Monday, May 22, 2006

European Union URLs Changed

Since earlier this month, European Union institutional websites have a new ".eu" domain name. This means that sites whose addresses used to end with ".eu.int" now have a ".eu" ending instead. Many EU sites have also been renamed, sometimes in major ways.

If you search for the European Union On-Line Gateway at the old address of "europa.eu.int", you will be redirected to "http://europa.eu/".

So any site under the responsibility of any EU official body will be redirected from an .eu.int address to .europa.eu. For example:

As much as possible, EU webmasters have tried to move the name or identifying snippet of the various databases or sites from after the forward slash to the beginning of the URL: the "eur-lex" segment identifying the EUR-Lex legal database has shifted from the original "europa.eu.int/eur-lex/lex/" (after the slash) to "eur-lex.europa.eu/"

Thanks to the French law blog Précisément.org for the information.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:27 pm 0 comments links to this post

New Canadian Law Blogs

A recent addition to the Canadian "blawgosphere" is the University of Toronto Law School Faculty Blog: 7 profs have been blogging since February. They seem to be following the model of the University of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:16 pm 0 comments links to this post

Sunday, May 21, 2006

UK and Irish Law Blogs

The British site Infolaw has listed UK-based law blogs by category. Infolaw has also posted a list of UK newsfeeds, whether from blogs or legal and/or government news sites.

And a site called Irish Legal Fiction has made available a small collection of Irish legal information sites and blogs.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:04 pm 0 comments links to this post

Friday, May 19, 2006

Canadian Law Serials Price Increases for 2005

The Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) just published its most recent annual Serials Tracking Report.

The report is based on data for 219 titles in the following categories: Administrative, Civil Practice and Procedures, Commercial, Constitutional and Human Rights, Corporate and Securities, Criminal, Employment and Labour, Environment and Resources, Estates, Trusts and Wills, Family, General, Insurance, Labour, Law Reports, Legislation, Property, Taxation, Torts.

The average price increase from 2004 to 2005 is 6.3%, down from 9.5% reported for the period 2003-2004. This is still three times higher than the official Statistics Canada inflation rate.

The highest price increases in 2004-2005 were seen for serials on Taxation (19%), Estates Trusts & Wills (18.9%), followed by Insurance (16.6%), Torts (15.5%), Constitutional & Human Rights (11.9%), Employment & Labour (11%), and Criminal (10.4%).

The rate of serials price changes for the main publishers ranged from a high of 20% for Canada Law Book down to a 28% price reduction for Government publications . This is the second consecutive year with Canada Law Book price increases of 20%.

When it comes to publication format, price changes range from an 11% increase for digests to a 29% price reduction for legislation products.

In 2005, the largest subscription price increases were for two French-language titles published by Carswell: Faillite et insolvabilité (415%) and L'assurance automobile au Québec (255%).

An additional 48 titles were reduced in price, including: Statutes of Nova Scotia (minus 78.64%) and Canada Supreme Court reports (minus 57.56%).

Serials Tracking Reports from previous years are available on the CALL website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:49 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Library Marketing Blog

We are launching our new catalogue in the next few weeks (or "library management system" if you want to get fancy about these things) and we are also starting to gear up for the next batch of law clerks to whom we will need to propagandize about all of the fabulous services we offer.

So, of course, my mind turns to "marketing".

As I was fishing around for ideas, I came across a fascinating blog called Library Marketing-Thinking Outside the Book.

It was created in January 2005 by the Undergraduate Services Librarian Jill Stover at Virginia Commonwealth University and links to many other marketing and branding resources.

As Jill explains: "I decided to write this blog because I'm learning a lot about marketing and how to apply it to my job, so I thought I'd share what I know with fellow librarians. I don't consider myself an expert, but I'm definitely a marketing enthusiast who thinks that librarians need to know how to market their services. I hope that one day all librarians will learn to love marketing!"

There are additional ideas in the marketing section of the Library Success - Best Practices Wiki.

Earlier Library Boy posts on marketing and law libraries and/or websites include:

I have also linked at various times to Marketing Treasures, a free electronic newsletter with marketing ideas for information professionals.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:00 pm 0 comments links to this post

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Libraries and Privacy Groups Speak Out on Copyright and DRM Threats to Privacy

The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic at the University of Ottawa has made public a series of open letters to the Ministers of Canadian Heritage and Industry expressing the concerns of library associations, privacy experts and civil libertarians over "dangers to privacy posed by the extension of legal protection to 'digital rights management' (DRM) technology".

Among the letters are those written by Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart, the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, David Loukidelis, and Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Ontario’s Information and Privacy Commissioner.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:26 pm 0 comments links to this post

Library of Parliament Renovations Finally Over

Earlier today, the Government of Canada sent out a very brief invitation to the media to attend a ceremony on May 30th marking the end of the multi-year renovations to the Library of Parliament, a neighbour of my workplace, the Supreme Court of Canada.

The renovations started in 2002 and are part of the large-scale modernization project of the Parliamentary Precinct, which includes one of the finest collections of neo-Gothic buildings in the world. The Library of Parliament is a veritable architectural gem and is a well-known icon of the Precinct.

Background information:

Related Library Boy post: Parliamentary Website Unveils Heritage Artifacts Collection (Dec. 18, 2005)

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:41 pm 1 comments links to this post

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

How Safe Are Search Engines?

McAfee, the anti-virus people, have done a study comparing how often the major search engines return risky sites in their search results for popular keywords.

The major findings are that results from "sponsored sites" (which have paid for prominent placement) tend to less safe.

"Our core advice: It's a jungle out there. Users should be careful where they go and what they do when choosing sites based on search engine results. Despite search engines' efforts, we see too many sites trying to deceive unsuspecting users. These tricky sites span a range of content areas, keywords, and business models – so there is no simple advice as to how to stay safe. Users can't count on search engines to protect them; to the contrary, we find that search result rankings often do not reflect site safety. Users are at especially high risk when visiting search engine advertisers -- even though search engines are well equipped to impose strict guidelines on sites buying prominent placement."

Methodology: the study compiled 1394 popular keywords using lists from Google Zeitgeist, Yahoo!, AOL, Lycos, Wordtracker, and other sources. It then analyzed the first 5 pages of results for those words from Google, Yahoo!, AOL, MSN, and Ask.

"We assess the safety of listed sites by consulting SiteAdvisor's Web safety database. SiteAdvisor safety ratings are based on automated tests that analyze Web sites for exploits, downloads containing spyware, adware, or other unwanted programs, pop-ups, links to dangerous sites, and e-mail submission forms. SiteAdvisor's automated tests are supplemented by feedback from volunteer reviewers, comments from Web site owners and input from SiteAdvisor analysts."
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:41 pm 0 comments links to this post

RSS News Feeds from Lexis Nexis Canada

I don't know how long this has been going on but you can sign up for Lexis Nexis Canada newsfeeds.

At the Canadian Association of Law Libraries conference I attended last week in Edmonton, I got into a conversation with a few people bemoaning the fact publishers in the legal field seemed uninterested in establishing RSS feeds.

We should have checked our information.

The Lexis Nexis Canada feeds include:
  • New Butterworths Titles
  • Quicklaw Announcements (new sources added)
  • The Lawyers Weekly (headlines from the weekly legal newspaper)
  • Supreme Court of Canada Service (case digests)
  • LAW/NET Legal Update Service (digests of major cases from other court levels in Canada)
  • What’s New at LexisNexis
  • News Releases

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:16 pm 2 comments links to this post

Monday, May 15, 2006

Court Administration Conference September 2006

An interesting upcoming conference that will take place in September in Ottawa is the Association of Canadian Court Administrators conference (ACCA).

Supreme Court of Canada personnel are actively involved in the preparations. The opening address will be given by The Right Honourable Beverley McLachlin, P.C., Chief Justice of
Canada.

The conference will happen September 17-20, 2006 just a few blocks from Parliament Hill.

The main themes will be values and ethics, accountability and e-courts.

The full program with a detailed description of each theme is available on the ACCA website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:30 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, May 13, 2006

More CALL 2006 Conference Highlights

Here is a quick round-up of some of the meetings and workshops at last week's Canadian Association of Law Libraries conference in Edmonton.

Department of Justice and Attorney General Libraries Special Interest Group:

Justice Brian Burrows (Alta. Ct. of Queen’s Bench) touched on the issues of how to address judges and court protocol. On addressing judges, Justice Burrows explained that he felt that the tradition of using the honorific title “Justice” when talking to judges at work or even in a social setting was a bit of an anachronism.

He did acknowledge that most non-judges still felt awkward with the issue: clerks, assistants, court admin personnel, librarians, all have been trained to use the honorific and could probably not bring themselves to address a judge by their first name, even if that judge requested it.
During the Q&A, someone brought up the notion of “dignity of the court”. The rule about calling judges “Justice X” or “Justice Y”, it was argued, did have the positive benefit of ensuring that no lawyer or other person became too cozy with any judge, thus putting everyone on an equal and uniform footing in front of the courts.

To which Justice Burrows responded that he believed that the “dignity of the court” should not be seen as coming from naming conventions, even though many people still believed in them. Instead, according to him, it should originate in how judges treated all those who appeared in front of them. In that context, he preferred overlooking how non-experts may occasionally breach the rules of protocol as long as that did not interfere with the process(young offenders not removing their baseball caps, self-representing litigants forgetting to stand when adressing the court, others not familiar with the rules of court not knowing what to call the judge).

People attending the SIG meeting suggested the issue of how to address judges would be a good topic to repeat at CALL 2007 in Ottawa.

Committee to Promote Research:

Michael Lines, the 2005 CALL research grant recipient explained his Thesaurus of Canadian Civil Justice Terminology project. Simonne Clermont, the 2004 recipient, will complete her Bibliography of Common Law Materials Written in French in 2007 (tentative publication date). The Committee thought it would be a great idea to organize a session or panel at the 2007 CALL conference on new tools for the dissemination of research. This could include the use of blogs in and for legal scholarship (Harvard Law School just hosted a major conference on the topic), the emergence of open source repositories such as SSRN (Social Science Research Network), and other areas.

The Courthouse and Law Society Library SIG:

A number of ideas for CALL 2007 were kicked around and the consensus was that next year’s topic would be what kind of access the public should have to courthouse and law society libraries.

Librarian's Emergining Technology Survival Guide (Kenton Good and Geoff Harder, University of Alberta):

According to the 2 presenters, we are living once again in an era of revolution in information technologies. It is an amazing time of experimentation in what has been dubbed “social software”, that is tools that are participative in nature, decentralized in philosophy, and in “perpetual beta” (always evolving, always been improved upon).

The presentation was a quick and exciting tour of some of the new toys all the cool kids are playing with: blogs, RSS feeds, podcasting, tagging, folksonomies and social bookmarking, Firefox extensions, wikis, and book digitization megaprojects. The presenters argued that librarians need to explore ways to exploit the opportunities these new so-called Web 2.0 technologies provide to engage users. In any case, this is where many of our users “are at” so we had best figure out how to accompany them there and how to use the new tools to create services our users will respond to. Particularly useful were the many examples Kenton and Geoff presented of how libraries and publishers are already diving into this new world.

Monday’s plenary session:

Senator Tommy Banks was the speaker. He gave us an overview of his bill, S –202 - An Act to repeal legislation that has not come into force within ten years of receiving royal assent.

Public International Law session:

Denis LeMay of Université Laval held a workshop on how to conduct international legal research.

Potential for XML for Legal Information:

This session by Terry Butler from the University of Alberta was quite technical but the main idea was how XML could be used to provide structure to document collections in a way that would allow for better display and retrieval. One example from the legal field involved a project to digitize (and make searchable) the testimony of witnesses in front of environmental impact boards.

Second plenary session: 8Rs Canadian Library Human Resource Study:

As the description states: "The study draws its name from the eight core issues that the literature suggests are integral to human resource management in libraries: recruitment, retention, remuneration, reaccreditation, repatriation, rejuvenation, retirement and restructuring. The research team is currently gathering data through a series of surveys and focus groups from a number of different sources... This will allow the study to present a comprehensive view of the current and predicted needs of library institutions and library workers."

Alison Spivak from the University of Alberta went over some of the reasons why potential candidates were not hired: lack of leadership; managerial; business skills; not innovative; inability to respond to flexible changes and to handle high volume of work.

LibraryCo’s AdvoCHAT - Challenges and Training issues:

This chat reference service in Ontario is considered successful because it has a targeted audience and it is provided by legal librarian specialists. On average, they are receiving 2.5 questions per day although there are times when the librarian may be interacting with 2 or 3 lawyers at the same time.

Cool Things Presentation:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:25 am 0 comments links to this post

Friday, May 12, 2006

CALL 2006 Conference AGM Highlights

Here are some of the highlights from the business portion (annual general meeting or AGM) at the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) conference that took place earlier this week in Edmonton, Alberta.

The AGM was broken into 3 parts over 3 days.
  • John Sadler's President's report stressed CALL's 3 priorities last year of advocacy, communications and education. On the advocacy front, copyright reform and discussions about a national digital information strategy (with a national summit this fall on issues of content creation and preservation as well as the rights framework) attracted the most attention. The big news in terms of communications was the relaunch of the CALL website in February 2006 with a move to a dynamic content management system. Educationwise, the pre-conference workshop on knowledge management last week, the continued success of CALL grants and scholarships and the Oral History Project were all mentioned
  • Treasurer's report: the St.John's 2005 conference made a profit of close to $36,000 which allowed CALL to expand projects such as the oral history project and the website redesign. The 2006 association budget will have an anticipated deficit of just over $20,000 due to capital expenditures on those projects. Operating reserves are at a comfortable level due to the success of past conferences, which has meant that the association has been able to make larger transfers to education and research - for example, grants totalling $10,000 were handed out to enable 5 members to attend this year's Joint Study Institute this summer in the UK
  • membership remains stable at +450

There were many committee reports:

  • the 2007 conference planning committee outlined some of the themes of the next conference to be held May 6-9, 2007 at the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa. The theme will be "CAPITALizing on Change" with a focus on best practices. The opening reception will be at the Supreme Court of Canada building, the closing banquet at the War Museum, and there will be tours of the newly renovated Library of Parliament as well as of facilities of Libraries and Archives Canada. The workshop themes will play on Ottawa's strengths in IP, commissions of inquiry, ethics and accountability and access to information and privacy protection
  • the Eunice Beeson Memorial Bursary committee reported that it was able to finance the attendance of 6 CALL members at this year's conference
  • the KF Modified committee provided an update of its work on the Library of Congress classification scheme used to catalogue Canadian material. It explained that its work is now focussing on Quebec civil law, immigration, citizenship, tax, labour, environmental law, access to information/privacy, native rights, and Internet/eCommerce law
  • the statistics committee is continuing with its annual serials cost tracking project - publication of the most recent data will be in a forthcoming issue of Canadian Law Library Review, and the 2005 report on serial costs will be posted on the CALL website
  • there will soon be a new version of the triennial salary and benefits survey
  • the oral history project, launched 2 years ago, intends to compile a history of the association via interviews with past executive members and key figures in CALL's history, with Diane Teeple (former director of the library of the Supreme Court of Canada) as project lead: so far, there have been interviews with such key law library figures as Dr. Margaret Banks (one of the founders of CALL), Viola Bird ex-president of AALL when CALL separated into a distinct national association (she is over 100), and Dr. Marianne Scott (former McGill Law Librarian, later National Librarian of Canada). Some of the material will be summarized in upcoming issues of the Canadian Law Library Review
  • there were numerous scholarship and award announcements: Diane M. Priestly Memorial Scholarship, James D. Lang Memorial Scholarship, Denis Marshall Memorial Award for Excellence in Law Librarianship, Northern Exposure to Leadership Institute
  • the 2006 Hugh Lawford Award for Excellence in Legal Publishing "acknowledging the work that is done by publishers to provide the legal profession with high quality materials for use in understanding and researching the law" went to SOQUIJ (Société québécoise d'information juridique). The committee decision was unanimous. It was explained that the letter of nomination was signed by 8 law firms and government departments
  • there were a number of "Publications reports": 1) Infopages (CALL website) are using a new content management system with added functionality (news highlights on the homepage, searchable member directory, online management of one's profile, member login from any page, expanding content directory on left sidebar, etc.). There should soon be a forum utility for group discussions, and interest group chairs will be able to directly edit their website sections; 2) Union List - there are plans for a 2006 edition of Periodicals in Canadian Law Libraries
  • Canadian Abridgment Editorial Board: Index to Canadian Legal Literature (possible indexing of Ontario Bar Association substantive law newsletters, cost of searching on WestlaweCarswell to come down); Abridgment e-Digests (Carswell is looking into a notification system so people don't have to click on a topic area to see if there is any new material); the newest addition last year to the Abridgment print edition is "Regulations judicially considered"
  • there were many liaison reports from the Canadian committee on cataloguing (it appears AACR2 is being abandoned) and from CALL's many special interest groups

Finally, at the members’ forum, people got a chance to raise any other business. Among the points covered:

  • We are all invited to the International Association of Law Libraries Sept. 2006 conference in St.Petersburg, Russia and to the 2007 conference in Bombay/Mumbai
  • There were some questions about the scheduling of vendor exhibits and about scheduling conflicts/overlaps when it comes to interest group business meetings
  • People were urged to familiarize themselves with federal information commissioner John Reid’s severe criticisms of the access to information aspects of the Tories’ proposed Federal Accountability Act
  • it was suggested that there should be a brief history report at each conference about what was happening in CALL 10, 20, 30 years before. Call it "A Trip Down Memory Lane" if you wish
  • A survey will be going out asking CALL members about the value they see in the Union List of Periodicals
  • There was a request that CALL look into creating a common legal taxonomy
  • The director of the Supreme Court of Canada Library suggested that CALL look into forming some sort of recruitment help service. In the next few years, many library directors will be retiring and it appears that many agencies, services, firms, departments have a very unclear idea as to how to do recruitment at the manager and executive level. CALL should have a recruitment “SWAT team” that could advise groups on succession issues and manager hiring

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:54 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Int'l Association of Law Libraries 2006 Website Awards

I picked up this announcement on ServiceDoc Info, a "juriblog" written by Stéphane Cottin of the Constitutional Council in Paris.

The INT-LAW listserv made it known Monday that the competition for the International Association of Law Libraries (IALL) annual website award is now open.

The winner will be announced at the 25th Annual Course in International Law Librarianship in St Petersburg, Russia (10-14 September 2006).

"IALL wants to recognize valuable freely accessible legal information websites by this award. The Association would like to encourage the development of useful, authoritative, reliable, and user-friendly sites, that represent new thinking in the area . The selection panel will make its decision on this basis. The websites nominated may have either certain law library users in mind or may be websites that have us - 'professionals' in legal information retrieval in a national or international context - as a target group."

Websites in any language, from any jurisdiction, can be nominated.

The selection panel for this year's Award is composed of James Butler (Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia), Halvor Kongshavn (University of Bergen, Norway), LyonetteLouis-Jacques (University of Chicago) and Lisbeth Rasmussen (University of Copenhagen).

Anyone who wants to nominate a website is asked to send the name and URL, as well as an explanation of how the suggested site meets the IALL criteria, by the closing date of June 30, 2006 to:

James Butler
Librarian
Supreme Court Library
210 William Street
Melbourne Vic 3000
DX 210608 Melbourne
Tel +61 3 9603 6164
Fax +61 3 9642 0159
Mob 0417 592 098
mailto:James.Butler@supremecourt.vic.gov.au

Winners from previous years include:

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:02 pm 0 comments links to this post

CALL 2006 Conference Mystery Blogger

This was the first time the annual conference Canadian Association of Law Libraries had a conference blog.

To encourage people to read it, there was a contest to identify the Mystery Blogger.

Yeah, it was me.

The winner, Cecilia Tellis, explained that she was able to correctly identify me from a combination of clues I dropped here and there: Ottawa area, a guy, judicial library, McGill University grad.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that quite a few people had been thrown off the scent and mistakenly identified the wrong guy. We plan on making it much more difficult next year.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:17 pm 0 comments links to this post

Freedom of Information: Code of Silence 2006 Award Nominees

The Canadian Association of Journalists has released the list of nominees for its sixth annual Code of Silence Award recognizing the most secretive government agency in Canada.

2006 nominees include:

  • The Ontario Attorney General for maintaining the highest fees in the country for access to court records
  • The Federal Privy Council Office for consistently failing to meet response times to access to information requests
  • The Ontario Ministry of Health for repeated delays in providing access to information about how public money has been spent by a ministry agency called Smart Systems for Health

The winner will be announced at the association's national conference in Halifax, on May 13.

Among the past winners are:

  • Alberta Premier Ralph Klein's Conservative government, for denying access to public documents on the use of a government plane until after the 2004 provincial election
  • Health Canada, for denying meaningful access to a database of prescription drugs that could harm or even kill Canadians
  • the Nova Scotia government for its overall pattern of secrecy
  • the federal Department of Justice for giving itself the power to override the Access to Information Act
  • the Ontario Ministry of the Environment for withholding information about the Walkerton drinking water contamination scandal. 7 people died and thousands fell sick

On a related note, the Canadian Newspaper Association documented what it calls a culture of secrecy in a major 2005 freedom of information research project. Reporters from 45 member newspapers simultaneously visited municipal, provincial and federal government offices across Canada asking for access to information on basic everyday topics such as class size, police suspensions and restaurant inspections.

As the Ottawa Citizen reported in a May 28, 2005 front page article entitled "A 'culture of secrecy' blocks public access to information: Government data released in just one-third of cases, audit finds":

"Reporters found a confusing patchwork of policies across the country, ranging from poor disclosure in provinces such as Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, to a surprising 93-per-cent disclosure in Alberta. Overall, officials handed over records to just one in every three requests made in person. The rest remained locked in government filing cabinets as reporters were told they had to file time-consuming -- and often expensive -- formal requests under provincial or federal access laws."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:00 pm 0 comments links to this post

Harvard Blog and Legal Scholarship Conference Update (2)

This is an update to the May 1, 2006 post Harvard Blog and Legal Scholarship Conference Update. The post was about a recent conference at Harvard Law School on Bloggership: How Blogs are Transforming Legal Scholarship:

"In the past few years, blogs have begun to affect the delivery of legal education, the production and dissemination of legal scholarship, and the practice of law. We are delighted that over twenty of the nation’s leading law professor bloggers have agreed to join with us for the first scholarly conference on the impact of blogs on the legal academy."

3L Epiphany has gathered other bloggers' entries about the conference into one convenient easy-to-scan list.

The Harvard conference was mentioned by quite a number of people at special interest group meetings and in corridor conversations at the recent CALL 2006 conference in Edmonton (Canadian Association of Law Libraries) from which I got back last night.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:47 pm 0 comments links to this post

Webby Awards 2006

This is a follow-up to last week's post Webby Awards Legal Category Entries.

The Webby Awards are sometimes called the Oscars of the web world and they are handed out every year for "excellence in Web design, functionality and creativity".

There are awards for law websites in addition to ones in dozens of other categories such as business, fashion, film, activism, podcasts, and more.

In the law category, the Webby went to Justice Learning, an educational site aimed at U.S. high school students that was created by the New York Times Learning Network, National Public Radio and the Annenberg Foundation. There was also a separate "People's Voice Winner": the legal news site JURIST at the University of Pittsburgh.

The full list of winners and nominees is on the Webby website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:34 pm 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, May 06, 2006

CALL 2006 Conference Blog

I'm flying off in about 3 hours to the Canadian Association of Law Libraries conference in Edmonton.

It will be possible to follow conference events by reading the CALLBlog2006.

Many of the major Canadian law librarian bloggers are participating. And they even have a contest to spot the so-called Mystery Blogger.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:47 am 0 comments links to this post

Deadline for International Association of Law Libraries Bursaries

From the CALL listserv.

The closing date for professional development bursaries from the International Association of Law Libraries is May 15.

The financial assistance is intended to enable law librarians who are normally unable to benefit from Association activities to attend the 25th Annual Course in International Law Librarianship to be held in St Petersburg, Russia from 10th to 14th September 2006.

IALL offers up to three bursaries to attend its Conference comprising the following benefits:
  • The registration fee for the St Petersburg conference is waived
  • A grant of up to US$1,500 to assist with accommodation and travel costs
  • Membership of IALL for one year (including journal) without charge

Details and requirements are available on the IALL website.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:39 am 0 comments links to this post

Using Other People for International Law Research

Lyonette Louis-Jacques of the American Association of Law Libraries' Foreign, Comparative and International Law section has written a helpful guide to finding comparative and international law experts. The text is based on a presentation she made in April in Auston, Texas.

"Working as part of a global legal information community can be pretty nifty! So, if your foreign, comparative, and international law... research engine won’t start, find some people you can call on for a jumpstart. They can set you in motion to find the information you need to help your users!"

It explains how to use online course syllabi, discussion forums, listservs and web portals to identify people from around the world who may be able to provide research assistance.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:29 am 0 comments links to this post

Friday, May 05, 2006

Federal Bill Tracking With RSS

LEGISinfo, the Library of Parliament's legislative research website, has started offering RSS feeds since the beginning of this parliamentary session to help people track bills before the House of Commons and the Senate.

In the lefthand column on the LEGISinfo home page, simply click on any of the links to Senate or House of Commons bills from the 39th Parliament.

For example, if you choose the House of Commons Government Bills page, you will find a list of all corresponding bills, each one accompanied by a little XML icon for subscribing to its RSS feed. Right-click on the icon, choose Copy Shortcut and plug the info into your favourite RSS reader.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:15 pm 0 comments links to this post

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Tougher Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Gun Crimes

Today, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Vic Toews introduced bills to increase mandatory minimum penalties for gun crimes and to restrict conditional sentences for violent offenders.

It is possible to find background information and to track the progress of the bills in Parliament on the LEGISinfo service provided by the Library of Parliament:
  • Bill C-9 - An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conditional sentence of imprisonment)
  • Bill C-10 - An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum penalties for offences involving firearms) etc.
This is a follow-up to a March 22, 2006 post entitled Library of Parliament Mini-Review of Mandatory Minimum Sentencing.

The Library's analysis found that " given the many factors that can explain crime trends, studies on the effects of such sentences are considered difficult to interpret. As well, mandatory minimums can have many incidental, or unintended effects: '(the policy) sometimes results in charges being stayed or withdrawn, or a plea negotiation for a different charge, because prosecutors consider the MMS [mandatory minimum sentences] to be too harsh' ."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:50 pm 0 comments links to this post

Canadian Library Association Reacts to Federal Budget

The Canadian Library Association (CLA) published a member bulletin earlier this week in reaction to the Harper government's first budget.

Highlights:
  • academic libraries may benefit from additional funding for the Indirect Costs of Research program
  • there is a $1 billion payment to a Post-Secondary Education Infrastructure Trust that supports urgent investments in higher education. The CLA comments that libraries and distance- learning technologies are provided as examples
  • library students should benefit from the Textbook Tax Credit
  • the government announced its intention to create a Canadian agency for the assessment and recognition of foreign credentials
  • however, the CLA notes that there was little mention of the Community Access Program for public libraries or other lifelong learning initiatives. As well, there was no mention of the museums and archives component of the Canadian library world
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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:39 pm 0 comments links to this post

Webby Awards Legal Category Entries

This is the 10th year that the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences will be handing out Webby Awards for "excellence in Web design, functionality and creativity".

The Academy has a diverse membership of 500 people such as film director Francis Ford Coppola, musicians David Bowie and Beck, CEO of Real Networks Rob Glaser, and Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison. Members also include writers and editors from The New York Times, Wired, Forbes, Details, Fast Company, Elle, and WallPaper.

There are nominees in dozens of categories.

Those in law include:

The awards ceremony will be June 12th in New York City.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:13 pm 0 comments links to this post

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

New Quicklaw Interface

I recently attended a session where LexisNexis Canada unveiled the prototype for the new Quicklaw interface that will be launched on July 1, 2006. Across Canada, select law firms have been testing it for the past little while. At the Supreme Court, we intend on asking if we can get our hands on the new toy before July.

Because it looks very cool!

It is all part of the new LexisNexis global platform that uses a shared technology to deliver customized content to different national markets.

Not surprisingly, the new Quicklaw looks a lot like the LexisNexis legal and other researchers are familiar with.

Search results are presented in a much cleaner fashion:
  • in the middle of the page, they appear in a list format with either catchwords or keywords in context
  • along the left, the results table is organized in clusters by source type (cases, digests, legal news, etc.) - it looks like Vivisimo results
  • there is the traditional clickable LexisNexis breadcrumbs trail at the top of the results page
  • users can narrow the search right on the results page without having to return to the search form to modify terms or connectors

The new case citator has a tabular display format broken down into easy to read sections for case history, summaries of judicial consideration and citing cases (filterable by jurisdiction, treatment or court level)

The source directory is searchable and browsable in a variety of ways:

  • by broad category: legal, US legal, news, and a search tool to enter source titles
  • by topic or by type (cases, journal, legislation)
  • filtered by country or jurisdiction

As expected, the new interface provides customized search forms for specific types of material. For example, the search form for caselaw will have fields for judge, court level, names of parties, etc.

Interestingly, search results can be turned into alerts for automatic delivery at intervals the user can specify.

Another feature involves "legal updates" that offer current awareness tracking in some 47 areas of law. For instance, a user could choose to sign up for updates concerning all constitutional law rulings from the Supreme Court of Canada according to a schedule of one's choice and according to one's preferred mode of delivery (via e-mail or on a customized online update web page).

The new design will have optional features for additional purchased content such as news and company information and international case law. If people already have international legal content in their Lexis subscriptions (in addition to US and Canadian material), this will continue in the new Quicklaw if I understand correctly.

No matter which content one has, there will still be a common look and feel in terms of search forms and the mode of display for results, whether the material is Canadian, American, British, French, Australian, etc.

Coming attractions not yet incorporated into the new product include:

  • practice area pages for intellectual property law, immigration law, employment law, including topical legislation, caselaw, secondary material (treatises, digests and current awareness), and international material
  • a statute citator with versioning (point-in-time) options
  • forms and precedents
  • words and phrases
  • a Halsbury's Laws of Canada legal encyclopedia to be compiled over the next 5-7 years and which should have a 100-volume print equivalent

Overall, if LexisNexis Canada delivers what they showed us in late April, it will be one heck of a product, more intuitive and user-friendly than the current Quicklaw.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:02 pm 2 comments links to this post

Monday, May 01, 2006

Osgoode Hall Conference Says Supreme Court Going Soft

Last Friday, Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in Toronto held its 2005 Constitutional Cases conference, the "9th Annual Conference on the Supreme Court of Canada’s Constitutional Decisions".

The conference promotes itself as "the leading constitutional law conference in Canada".

According to an article in the April 29, 2006 edition of the Ottawa Citizen entitled "High court's record softens on Charter" (available to subscribers only), many court watchers in attendance felt that the Court's "rulings last year show it was more conservative than any time in recent history, refusing to accept most Charter of Rights claims, deferring to government laws and taking a 'minimalist view' of its role."

With the exception of the Chaoulli ruling, in which the majority of the Court decided that provinces cannot ban private health insurance if medically necessary services are not available in a timely fashion in the public system, legal experts concluded the Supreme Court has recently provided little fodder for critics of "judicial activism". Last year, it sided with Charter of Rights claimants in only three of 15 constitutional cases.

But not everyone at the conference agreed that Canada's top court has suddenly turned into a deferential institution. For one thing, Patrick Monahan, Osgoode Hall dean, stated that the pattern is just a "snapshot" and can reverse itself in the future.

As well, University of Western Ontario law professor Grant Huscroft commented that the Court may simply be respecting the diverse institutional roles of government and the judiciary.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:13 pm 0 comments links to this post

Harvard Blog and Legal Scholarship Conference Update

On April 22, I mentioned that Harvard Law School was organizing a conference on the impact of blogs on legal scholarship.

Daniel Solove of Concurring Opinions has provided an ultra-concise blog-style recap of the event. As he explains, his text is a bit of a caricature but his post also links to serious commentary about the conference.

Conference papers have been published on the Social Sciences Research Network.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 9:02 pm 0 comments links to this post