Thursday, March 31, 2011

International Federation of Library Associations Helps Preserve Haitian Archives and Libraries

IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) and the Amsterdam-based Prince Claus Fund for Culture & Development are cooperating on a major initiative to help save Haiti's vulnerable archives and important library collections that were damaged in the powerful January 2010 earthquake that killed a quarter of a million people on the Caribbean island.

The Prince Claus Fund will provide approximately $333,000 (CDN) to set up a treatment centre to restore documents.

According to IFLA:

"The centre will be staffed by an all-volunteer team of approximately 300 national and 700 international experts. These experts will in turn help train and support local professionals in a variety of restoration techniques, skills, and best practices. Once they have been treated, the documents will be stored in acclimatized containers where they will be kept safely until they are to be transferred to a permanent place. The trained staff will thus not only be taking part in the safeguarding of Haiti's cultural heritage, but also contributing to the professionalisation of the Haitian Library sector."

"Through the re-establishment of archival and historical library collections, Haitians will be able to rebuild the community that existed before this devastating earthquake. The preservation of material history is an essential step in the process of re-establishing a foundation for Haiti's cultural identity. The project also ensures that library collections and archives can be made open to the public again, giving Haitians the opportunity to better draw on important information and knowledge. Having access to this collection will eventually contribute to a sustainable reconstruction of the country"

Earlier Library Boy posts about Haiti reconstruction efforts include:
[Source: Peter Scott's Library Blog]

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

CanLII Adds RSS Feeds for Caselaw Searches

CanLII, the free Canadian Legal Information Institute, announced search enhancements yesterday that include:
  • RSS feeds for caselaw search results
  • better search term highlighting when proximity operators are used: up to now, when proximity operators such as /n, /s or /p were used, all of the keywords used were highlighted in results. From now on, only those occurrences of keywords that match a query are highlighted. As the announcement states: "For instance, if your query is common-law /3 partners, only occurrences of 'common-law' and 'partners' that are separated by three terms or less in the document will be highlighted."

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Statistics Canada Report on Family Court Cases Involving Child Custody

Statistics Canada has released an article in its Juristat publication on Family court cases involving child custody, access and support arrangements, 2009/2010:

"As family law cases proceed through the courts, many questions surrounding the process arise. For example, how many family law cases are handled through the courts? How long does it generally take the courts to process different types of family law cases? Are there differences among specific cases, such as those involving child access, custody and support arrangements, in the court activity and time needed to address the issues?"

"Using data from the Civil Court Survey, this article examines family law cases within the civil court system in order to more closely examine the key questions mentioned above. It is important to note that collection of the Civil Court Survey data is in its early stages of development and is limited to information available from the court operational systems used in seven reporting provinces and territories (Nova Scotia, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut) representing 66% of Canada’s population."

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Cameras in Ontario and British Columbia Courtrooms

This is a follow-up to 2 recent Library Boy posts: Evaluation Report on Cameras in Ontario Courtrooms (March 23, 2011) and TVO Ontario Debate on Cameras in the Courtroom (March 24, 2011).

The most recent issue of The Lawyers Weekly covers the debate about the pros and cons of TV cameras in Canadian courtrooms:

"Lights. Cameras. Cue the judge."

"While this director’s cry may never be heard in a Canadian courtroom, expect to see more video images of court proceedings — including portions of trials traditionally considered off-limits — as two of Canada’s largest provinces move to increase camera access to the courts."

"A British Columbia judge has authorized television coverage of the upcoming closing arguments in a Charter challenge to Canada’s anti-polygamy laws, under a slate of new camera-friendly practice rules. And Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley told The Lawyers Weekly he will consult the judiciary on how to bring cameras into his province’s courtrooms."

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Roundup of Commentary on Rejected Google Book Settlement

The American website Free Government Information has provided links to articles analyzing the proposed Google Book Settlement that was rejected earlier this week by a New York City judge.

The proposed deal would have ended a copyright violation lawsuit brought against the search giant by a number of U.S. author and publisher groups.

The case involves Google's plans to digitize millions of books to create a massive online library / bookstore.

Here are the posts on Free Government Information that contain links to analysis of the court decision:
Earlier Library Boy posts about the Google Books Settlement include:

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CanLII Now Has Tables of Contents for Laws of Five New Provinces

This is a follow-up to the Library Boy post of September 27, 2010 entitled CanLII Now Provides Tables of Content for B.C, Ontario and Quebec Legislation.

CanLII (the free Canadian Legal Information Institute) announced this week that it has added tables of contents to the legislation of Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

TVO Ontario Debate on Cameras in the Courtroom

TV Ontario's flagship current affairs program The Agenda features a discussion on tonight's episode on cameras in the courtroom.

Panel members are:
  • Jamie Chaffe, president of the Canadian Association of Crown Counsel
  • Jean Cumming, editor-in-chief of Lexpert
  • Mayo Moran, dean of the University of Toronto Faculty of Law
  • William Trudell, chair of the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers
  • Raymond Wyant, a provincial court judge in Manitoba

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Golden Gavel Awards - Best Supreme Court of Canada Judgments of 2010

The Osgoode Hall law School blog The Court has published its list of winners of the second annual Golden Gavel awards that recognize the best in Supreme Court of Canada jurisprudence (according to The Court's editors).

There are winners in categories for:
  • Criminal Judgment of the Year
  • Constitutional Judgment of the Year
  • Civil Judgment of the Year
  • Concurrence of the Year
  • Dissent of the Year
  • Most Disappointing Refusal of Leave
  • Most Exciting Grant of Leave
  • Justice of the Year
  • Judgment of the Year
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    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Evaluation Report on Cameras in Ontario Courtrooms

    Yesterday on Slaw.ca, Simon Fodden reported on a 2007 evaluation on the use of video cameras in Ontario’s Court of Appeal.

    Canadian Press reporter Allison Jones has provided Slaw.ca with a copy of the evaluation report obtained through a freedom of information request.

    From the summary of findings:
    • According to 20 out of 21 people (95%) interviewed and surveyed, the CCAPP [Camera in the Court of Appeal Pilot Project] enhanced openness and access to courtroom proceedings for the public and the media;
    • According to all 21 people interviewed and surveyed, and 80% of 854 Court of Appeal web survey respondents, the CCAPP promoted education and public information regarding Ontario’s justice system directly through its webcast; the CCAPP also enhanced and supported education for the legal profession;
    • Following the launch of the pilot, it received no media coverage;
    • Little media­-coverage was given to appeal cases covered by the CCAPP, with the exception of the Mullins-Johnson case. This is related to the lack of newsworthiness of the civil cases that the remainder of CCAPP coverage comprised;
    • All those interviewed and surveyed showed great support for the CCAPP and recommended that cameras should continue in Ontario Courts, with the majority being in favour of expansion to other Courts;
    • All those interviewed and surveyed agreed that there are potential negatives to the use of cameras in the courtroom that should be a considered further if a courtroom camera program is to be introduced into Ontario Courts;
    • The webcast was readily accessible and easy to use, but since few DVDs were ordered and the audio box was put to little use, there is less evidence regarding these services

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    Law Commission of England Report on Expert Evidence in Criminal Trials

    The Law Commission in England has released its final report on Expert Evidence in Criminal Proceedings in England and Wales. The report includes a draft Criminal Evidence (Experts) Bill.

    From the project home page:

    "This project addressed the admissibility of expert evidence in criminal proceedings in England and Wales. In a criminal trial, a jury or magistrates' court is required to determine disputed factual issues. Experts in a relevant field are often called as witnesses to help the fact-finding body understand and interpret evidence with which that body is unfamiliar."

    "The current judicial approach to the admissibility of expert evidence in England and Wales is one of laissez-faire. Too much expert opinion evidence is admitted without adequate scrutiny because no clear test is being applied to determine whether the evidence is sufficiently reliable to be admitted. This problem is exacerbated in two ways. First, because expert evidence (particularly scientific evidence) will often be technical and complex, jurors will understandably lack the experience to be able to assess the reliability of such evidence. There is a danger that they may simply defer to the opinion of the specialist who has been called to provide expert evidence. Secondly, in the absence of a clear legal test to ensure the reliability of expert evidence, advocates do not always cross-examine experts effectively to reveal potential flaws in the experts' methodology, data and reasoning. Juries may therefore be reaching conclusions on the basis of unreliable evidence. This conclusion is confirmed by a number of miscarriages of justice in recent years (...)"

    "In the report we formally recommend that there should be a new reliability-based admissibility test for expert evidence in criminal proceedings. The test would not need to be applied routinely or unnecessarily, but it would be applied in appropriate cases and it would result in the exclusion of unreliable expert opinion evidence. Under the test, expert opinion evidence would not be admitted unless it was adjudged to be sufficiently reliable to go before a jury. Accordingly, juries would be less likely to reach their conclusions on unreliable evidence and there would be fewer miscarriages of justice, which would result in greater public confidence in the criminal justice system."

    "The draft Criminal Evidence (Experts) Bill published with the report (as Appendix A) sets out the admissibility test that judges would apply to exclude unreliable expert evidence. Importantly, it also provides the guidance judges would need when applying the test, setting out the key reasons why an expert’s opinion evidence might be unreliable. The Bill also makes allowance for the possibility that specific factors may be approved in the fullness of time for assessing the reliability of particular fields of expert evidence, such as statistical or psychiatric evidence."

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    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    Supreme Court of Canada: New Library Titles

    The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of March 1-15, 2011 is now available on the Court website.

    The web page explains: "The Supreme Court of Canada Library does not lend materials from this list, which is provided for information only."

    But, once the material goes into the general collection, after about a month, the works do become available for inter-library loan to authorized libraries.

    It is possible to subscribe via e-mail to receive the list.

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    posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:36 pm 0 comments links to this post

    Monday, March 21, 2011

    CBC Radio Show on Social Media Use by Police

    The most recent episode of the radio show Spark on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) was about the use of social media by law enforcement. Spark, hosted by Nora Young, is the CBC's program about technology and culture:
    "This Spark is all about social media and law enforcement. We’ll hear about how police are using tools like Facebook and Twitter right now, and what they should (and shouldn’t) be doing online. And we’ll get a glimpse of the other side: how the “bad guys” use social media. To us, the question is: how can police take advantage of all the opportunities that social media offers, while avoiding the pitfalls? How can law enforcement get to the point where solving a crime on Facebook isn’t fluke or happenstance, but rather, part of regular policework?"

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    Saturday, March 19, 2011

    Literature Review on Access to Justice for Middle-Income Canadians

    This is a follow-up to the Library Boy post of February 17, 2011 entitled Chief Justice of Canada's Remarks About Access to Justice.

    The post referred to a speech by Canada's Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin at a recent University of Toronto colloquium on Access to Civil Justice for Middle Income Canadians.

    As part of the conference package, organizers prepared a very detailed literature review on the issue of access to justice:
    "Broadly speaking, our goal is to identify the most acute, unmet civil legal needs in the province for middle-income Ontarians across different key areas of law, and to explore a range of existing and possible solutions to these problems. Our current efforts are focusing on the problem as it exists in Ontario, but many of the themes and issues we raise apply to the rest of the country, and indeed to many other developed countries. The paper will be used as a starting point for broader policy discussions and ideas (...)"

    "Our focus in this paper is on the highest areas of civil need: family law, employment law, and consumer and debtor/creditor law. Finally, we explore the literature on issues and innovations in the private sector, where the supply of lawyers that provide the majority of legal services to individuals is dwindling and a fee structure based on an hourly billing model is unaffordable for most. In this context we focus on innovations in legal service provision that confront the 'economics' of legal services: legal insurance plans; contingency fees and class actions; 'low bono' models; 'unbundling' of lawyers’ services; solutions to lawyer supply issues; and emerging alternatives to the billable hours regime."

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    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    Law Librarians Share Instructional Materials

    The Research Instruction and Patron Services (RIPS) division of the American Association of Law Libraries has just released its 19th Annual National Legal Research Teach-In Kit.

    Every year, RIPS gathers together PowerPoint presentations, research assignments, lesson plans, syllabi, and instructional handouts on a variety of topics. It is a great resource if you need inspiration for developing your own legal research material. There is also a list of kits from previous years on the RIPS website.

    Canadian law librarians have also been sharing instructional materials thanks to the efforts of the Courthouse and Law Society Libraries Special Interest Group of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries.

    [Also posed on slaw.ca]

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    posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:40 pm 0 comments links to this post

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    TV Ontario Debate on Access to Justice

    The TVO flagship public affairs program The Agenda hosted a live TV discussion on March 3, 2011 about access to justice in Canada.

    This was in the wake of recent comments by Canada's Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin on how middle-class and low-income Canadians are being increasingly excluded from the system.

    Host Steve Paikin's guests were:
    • Lorne Sossin, Dean of Osgoode Hall Law School at York University
    • Justice Gloria Epstein of the Court of Appeal for Ontario
    • Lee Akazaki, president of the Ontario Bar Association
    • Judith McCormack, executive director of Downtown Legal Services, Toronto
    • Matt Cohen, director of Litigation Projects, Pro Bono Law Ontario
    [Source: Law is Cool]

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    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    Library Journal's Movers and Shakers 2011

    Library Journal has released its 2011 list of Library Movers and Shakers:
    "librarians and others in the library field who are doing extraordinary work to serve their users and to move libraries of all types and library services forward. They hail from all corners of the library world and several nations. Nominated by their colleagues, friends, bosses, and just plain admirers, they are just the tip of the iceberg."
    The publication provides a map of all the Movers and Shakers from 2002 to 2010.

    Over the years, a number of Canadian librarians have been selected:

    Alberta
    British Columbia
    Nova Scotia
    Ontario
    Quebec
    Saskatchewan

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    posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:19 pm 0 comments links to this post

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Canadian E-Discovery Case Law (Common Law) Digests

    The Ontario Bar Association website has updated its Canadian E-Discovery Case Law (Common Law) Digests collection.

    It contains case digests on topics such as:
    • Scope of production and discovery
    • Requests for further production
    • Effect of failure to disclose or produce for inspection
    • Pleading practices
    • Preservation of evidence
    • Spoliation
    • Discovery Plan
    • Proportionality and Marginal Utility
    • Document Retention Policies
    • Acceptable Use Policies
    • Form of production
    • Meet and confer
    • Process for review of electronic documents for relevance and privilege
    • Disclosure of privileged and private communications
    • Cost Shifting
    • Metadata, deleted and hidden information
    • Duplicate Documents
    • Social Media and Internet Information
    • Examination of an IT Representative
    • Forensic Collection and Preservation
    • Privacy Issues
    • Third Party Information and Norwich orders
    • Anton Piller Orders
    • Temporary Internet Files
    • Conduct, civility and collegiality
    [Source: Slaw.ca]

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    posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:27 pm 0 comments links to this post

    Saturday, March 12, 2011

    LISVendor.info Vendor-Librarian Relations Wiki

    Sarah Glassmeyer (Valparaiso University School of Law) recently launched the LISVendor.info wiki:
    "a place for librarians to communicate and otherwise share information about our interactions and business dealings with library vendors: complaints and compliments about customer service, problems with products, pricing information, etc."
    Librarians can sign up and contribute information about vendors, products, etc.

    There are sections (to be filled in) on professional organizations (such as the Canadian Association of Law Libraries), tips on negotiating licenses, as well as "Major Events in the History of Vendor Librarian Relations".

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    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    B.C. Legal Aid Commission Concludes System Broken

    Earlier this week, the Public Commission on Legal Aid in British Columbia released its report on the sad state of legal aid in the province.

    Commissioner Leonard T. Doust makes 7 overarching findings:
    "The legal aid system is failing needy individuals and families, the justice system, and our communities.

    Legal information is not an adequate substitute for legal assistance and representation.

    Timing of accessing legal aid is key.

    There is a broad consensus concerning the need for innovative, client-focused legal aid services.

    Steps must be taken to meet legal aid needs in rural communities.

    More people should be eligible for legal aid.

    Legal aid should be fully funded as an essential public service."

    To remedy the situation, he presents a number of recommendations, including:
    • Recognize legal aid as an essential public service
    • Develop a new approach to define core services and priorities
    • Modernize and expand financial eligibility
    • Establish regional legal aid centres and innovative service delivery
    • There must be greater collaboration between public and private legal aid service providers
    • Provide more support to legal aid providers
    For additional news coverage, you can read:

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

    Law Day 2011 - April 14th

    Law Day is a national event held annually in April to celebrate the signing of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Launched by the Canadian Bar Association and first held in Canada in 1983, the theme for Law Day 2011 is Access to Justice.

    Activities are being organized in many regions of Canada, including lectures, mock trials, courthouse tours, open citizenship courts, and poster, photography and website design contests aimed at elementary and high school students.

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

    Wednesday, March 09, 2011

    Law Commission of Ontario Interim Report on Modernizing the Provincial Offences Act

    The Law Commission of Ontario (LCO) has released its Interim Report on Modernizing the Provincial Offences Act:

    "Over two million provincial charges are brought annually under statutes governing public welfare matters such as traffic, liquor, occupational health and safety, environmental protection, among others. Some charges are less serious while others are more serious with potentially significant sentences. Yet the Act is unduly complex for the large majority of minor offences and it makes little distinction among the vastly different types of charges before the court and offers little direction on how sentences are to be rendered in a principled manner."

    "To respond to these concerns, the LCO’s key draft recommendations include:"

    "Moving all parking offences out of court to reserve judicial resources for more serious matters. Instead, municipalities would collect monetary penalties for parking infractions that could be disputed before a municipal hearings officer."

    "Simplifying the Provincial Offences Act and creating processes proportionate to the seriousness of the offence."

    "Providing clear sentencing principles to help the court render appropriate and consistent sentences that will promote compliance with regulatory standards."

    "Making simple, plain language information guides available to defendants."

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    posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:16 pm 0 comments links to this post

    Tuesday, March 08, 2011

    Supreme Court Haiku

    According to Slaw.ca founder Simon Fodden, the Supreme Court's recent decision in Withler v. Canada (Attorney General), 2011 SCC 12 can be translated into a 17-syllable poem:
    Death benefits shrink
    For age-related reasons
    All equal near death
    See the post on Slaw.ca

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    posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:47 pm 0 comments links to this post

    Monday, March 07, 2011

    Australian Law Reform Commission Releases First of Four Issues Papers on Family Violence and Commonwealth Laws

    The Australian Law Reform Commission recently released the first in a series of four "issues papers" (consultation documents) on the treatment of family violence in specific areas of Australian law - including child support and family assistance law, immigration law, employment law, social security law, superannuation law and privacy law.

    The first paper, Family Violence—Employment and Superannuation looks at how family violence is treated in employment, occupational health and safety, and superannuation law.

    The next papers to be released will examine family violence as it relates to 1) immigration law, 2) social security and 3) child support.

    A Discussion Paper will be released in mid-2011 that will seek community feedback on proposals for reform, with a Final Report due to be presented to the Australian Attorney-General on 30 November 2011.

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    posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:39 pm 0 comments links to this post

    Statistics Canada Report on Criminal Harassment in Canada, 2009

    Statistics Canada last week released its report entitled Criminal harassment in Canada, 2009:
    "Criminal harassment, commonly referred to as stalking, refers to repeated conduct that is carried out over a period of time that causes victims to reasonably fear for their safety (Department of Justice, 2004). Examples of criminal harassment include repeatedly following or communicating with another person; repeatedly watching someone’s house or workplace; or directly threatening another person or member of their family causing a person to fear for their safety or for the safety of someone known to them. While criminal harassment legislation was introduced in 1993 in response to violence against women, the law applies equally to all victims. The goal of the legislation is to identify and respond to criminal harassment before it escalates into serious physical harm to victims and to prohibit deliberate conduct that is psychologically harmful to others in causing them to fear for their safety (Department of Justice, 2004)."

    "In 2009, Canadian police services reported just over 20,000 incidents of criminal harassment ..., representing almost 5% of all violent crimes reported to police. Data from a sub-set of police services indicate that the rate of criminal harassment has been gradually increasing over the past decade ... Reports of criminal harassment to police services increased by 7% from 2008 to 2009."

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    posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:34 pm 0 comments links to this post

    Sunday, March 06, 2011

    Canadian Court Website Guidelines - Continued

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    posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:20 pm 0 comments links to this post

    Saturday, March 05, 2011

    March 2011 Issue of AALL Spectrum

    The March 2011 issue of the AALL Spectrum has been published. It is a monthly publication of the American Association of Law Libraries.

    It includes articles on public relations, services to the blind in the legal profession, providing legal research training to public librarians, and more.

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    posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:55 pm 0 comments links to this post

    Funding for Attendance at the New Law Librarians Institute in June 2011

    The Scholarships and Awards Committee of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries (CALL) has made funding available to support attendance by CALL members at the New Law Librarians Institute being held at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, June 5-10, 2011.

    The Institute is an
    intensive, week-long program aimed at developing librarians’ skills in the key competencies of law librarianship. It is aimed at persons interested in pursuing a career in law librarianship, recent graduates of library education programs, and mid-career librarians from other fields interested in starting anew in law libraries.

    The application form is available on the web page of CALL's
    Education Reserve Fund Grant. Applications for funding must be received by Friday, April 15, 2011.

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    posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:39 pm 0 comments links to this post

    Canadian Lawyer Magazine Profile of Supreme Court of Canada General Counsel Barbara Kincaid

    Canadian Lawyer has published a profile of Barbara Kincaid, General Counsel at the Supreme Court of Canada:
    "Kincaid heads the operations sector at Canada’s top court, which makes her and her staff responsible for all activities related to processing cases that are brought to the SCC, including case management, providing legal and research services, and publication of the court’s decisions. That places her in command of about 80 court employees and four operational branches — law, reports, registry, and library and information management (...)"

    "After 22 years at the top court, Kincaid says it has been an amazing experience. 'It is such an honour, such a privilege,' she says, adding that whether one is a legal counsel or law clerk, or the person working in the photocopying room, you really have a sense that what you do really makes a difference when you are working on a case. 'You see the impact that the work of the court has, and you see how incredibly challenging the job of the judges really is — how hard they work, and what they are called on to do, the kind of pressure that they face,' she says. 'So it’s a point of pride for everybody to make sure that when the court sits down to hear a case that they know that we’ve covered off the potential issues, they are not going to worry about anything other than listening to the case and deciding on it. When they come to release a judgment, they know that everything has been double-checked, and triple-checked, and that the translation is amazing. There is just so much pride'. "

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    Friday, March 04, 2011

    Supreme Court of Canada: New Library Titles

    The list of new library titles added to the Supreme Court of Canada collection for the period of February 16-28, 2011 is now available on the Court website.

    The web page explains: "The Supreme Court of Canada Library does not lend materials from this list, which is provided for information only."

    But, once the material goes into the general collection, after about a month, the works do become available for inter-library loan to authorized libraries.

    It is possible to subscribe via e-mail to receive the list.

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    posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:18 pm 0 comments links to this post

    Thursday, March 03, 2011

    Electronic Resources and Libraries Conference - Web Scale Discovery

    I just got home from the Electronic Resources and Libraries conference that took place earlier this week in Austin, Texas, where it was 30 degrees Celsius or so yesterday. I went walking yesterday afternoon in the downtown core with the Texas sun beating down on me.

    I was happy to see hundreds of people skating on the Rideau Canal as I was riding home in a taxi from the Ottawa International Airport late this afternoon. How in the world do other people survive without a big winter and bracing cold and snow? And outdoor skating? It will always be a mystery to me ...

    Anyway, another big theme that emerged at the conference is what is called "web scale discovery" or WSD [brief explanation and link to recent issue of Library Technology Reports on the subject].

    Basically, WSD tools claim to offer a unified search of all of a library's offerings through a single interface. Contrary to federated search, WSD tools are based on a pre-harvested centralized unified index of an institution's licensed and local collections.

    Services such as Serials Solutions Summon, WorldCat Local, Primo Central or EBSCO Discovery pre-index material from subscription databases, library holdings, dissertations, institutional repositories, e-book subscriptions, etc. to allow fast, simultaneous searching.

    We briefly looked into WSD at my place of work but decided not to pursue things further for a few reasons. In particular, not all vendors of legal research materials play along and will allow their content and metadata to be harvested into a unified index. And these tend to be relatively expensive products.

    One of the WSD presentations at the conference was by Athena Hoeppner (University of Central Florida) who provided an overview of the features of some of the major WSD products.

    Despite differences, they all offer faceted search to limit results in various ways (material type, date, etc.). All allow filtering to local content only (library print holdings, archives, special collections etc.). Many offer enrichments such as bookjackets, reviews, user ratings and tagging, citation statistics (how often a scholarly article has been cited).

    According to Hoeppner, user features are amazing: there are alerts, RSS feeds, capability to export to bibliographic management tools, persistent folders etc. These are products with very rich functionality and user-friendly interfaces.

    Librarians at Montana State presented their experience at another workshop. They tested one product, found it wanting and opted to go with another less than a year ago that they have branded CatSearch. Their experience contained elements they described as the good, the bad and the ugly.

    Among the good: interdisciplinary searching is greatly enhanced. As well, e-books are searchable as they become available from the publisher (faster in fact than the MARC cataloguing records for them are released and loaded into the OPAC). They have also noticed that forgotten (or more obscure?) material is revealed and that the tool they use makes local digital collections more "discoverable".

    But there is the bad. WSD tools do seem to imply, by their very scope and humongous index size, that they are the end-all of searching, not a message libraries want to be sending to members of the "Google generation" who already assume all information must always be one effortless click away. No tool ever searches 100% of an institution's entire holdings but it's implied in the very term WSD.

    Another problem Montana State librarians have run into is related to troubleshooting when links to any specific resource are broken. It has become hard to figure out who is in charge of fixing the problem: is the cause at the database provider level, the WSD vendor level, the library proxy server level, etc.?

    And the ugly. Lots of noise rises to the top of results lists (book reviews, newspaper articles, open access material). It can all be filtered out using the facet limiters, but it is still a problem. Librarians also dislike the lack of clarity of the default relevancy ranking algorithm used. WSD tools create a massive unified index that is searched according to a mysterious proprietary formula and librarians are often puzzled by what pops up. Then of course, there is the overwhelming number of results as the default search is often pulling in thousands of results. Can you spell "information overload"?

    In another presentation, a librarian from Arizona State University (ASU) described how that institution implemented their Library One Search using the Serials Solutions Summon product.

    ASU librarians were noticing that students were going to the catalogue assuming it allowed them to search for everything: books, articles etc. when that was obviously not the case. And then, there is the Google Generation phenomenon. One button, one click, all the info you want. WSD was intended to help address that "problem".

    At ASU, WSD does not cover everything but it does, for example, cover 97% of the content of ASU's top 100 journals. ASU also calculates that close to 92% of the items in sources with unique ISSNs are indexed. So, that's very "comprehensive".

    ASU marketed and branded the heck out of Library One Search, plastering it on the library home page, on the student portal (where students log in to register, choose classes, pay tuition), on course management software, on library research guides.

    So, it is clear to me that WSD is a trend, especially in the academic milieu.

    But these tools are not cheap and it is unclear how appropriate they are for the legal research market right now as Westlaw content and content from other major legal info providers cannot be harvested as part of the process to create the unified mega-index these products require if they want to market themselves as "web scale".

    For more on the topic:

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    posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:18 pm 0 comments links to this post

    Wednesday, March 02, 2011

    Electronic Resources and Libraries Conference - Alternatives to ERM Systems

    Here at the Electronic Resources and Libraries conference in Austin, Texas, I have been surprised by the number of presentations by librarians whose institutions have not adopted full-blown electronic resource management (ERM) systems to manage their e-resources.

    My institution is new to the field and is implementing an ERM system from a major vendor. I had assumed before arriving here that attendees, a majority of whom appear to be from the academic library milieu, would be working with ERM products from major vendors too.

    But there are many libraries that are using open source tools or traditional tools like Excel and Microsoft Access to track licensing information, logins, usage data and to calculate costs and to conduct overlap analysis to compare the contents of database offerings from different providers. And they seem to be doing OK. Things are not perfect, but good enough.

    Among the alternatives mentioned in presentations:
    • Excel
    • Access
    • Drupal
    • IT bug/issue ticketing software to standardize workflow associated with activating e-resources
    • different open source solutions such as CORAL (developed at Notre-Dame), KUALI OLE (built by a partnership of universities such as LeHigh, Maryland, Duke, U of Pennsylvania, U of Michigan, Chicago and the Mellon Foundation), Serials Collection Overlap Tool (Ontario University library consortium), ERMes (developed by universities in Wisconsin)
    Whether institutions use vendor products or other tools, many presenters have learned similar lessons:
    • track every step in the e-resource acquisition / activation / evaluation process because there are so many things involved
    • save and document everything
    • build task reminders or triggers into the e-resource management process to ensure that the work flows well from one member of the team to another - some places have tools that send automatic alerts to the team member who has to follow up on a given task, other people have found simple solutions such as dragging e-mails to the Task Bar in Microsoft Outlook to remind them to follow up on an issue or task a few days later
    • talk to other librarians

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    posted by Michel-Adrien at 10:07 am 0 comments links to this post

    Tuesday, March 01, 2011

    Electronic Resources & Libraries Conference - Is the Bloom Off the ERMS Rose?

    There is a lot of discussion at the Electronic Resources and Libraries conference in Austin, Texas this week about the experiences different libraries have had over the past few years with ERM (electronic resource management) systems.

    These systems help track licensing, usage, cost and administrative information about e-resources such as databases.

    A few points of consensus emerge in any conversation:
    • no one is fully happy with any specific ERMS as there always seem to be bits of data that libraries want to track that don't seem to fit into any of the available ERMS categories
    • not all vendors have adopted the COUNTER industry standard for usage stats, though this is improving. There are also questions about differences in the way stats are provided by vendors and by tools such as link resolvers in some cases - which usage data and ROI data can librarians trust when evaluating resources for decisions about acquisitions or weeding collections?
    • librarians are hoping and praying for greater interoperability between library software packages so that components from different vendors can more easily talk to each other (for example, the link resolver installed from one company can work with the licensing module of the ERMS bought from another vendor)
    In general, though, despite growing pains and frustrations, the message seems to be that the "bloom is not off the ERM rose". However, people have to be more realistic as no one product will solve every problem involved in managing a proliferating number of e-journals, databases, and e-book packages.

    More later.

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    posted by Michel-Adrien at 4:24 pm 0 comments links to this post