Thursday, July 31, 2014

Library Boy on Hiatus During Month of August

I will be taking a sabbatical in August.

Back after Labour Day.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Indexes As Necessary as Ever in Electronic Age

Susannah Tredwell, librarian at Davies LLP in Vancouver and fellow member of CALL (Canadian Association of Law Libraries), wrote a piece last week on about the continuing value of indexes:
It is sometimes assumed that a book that is being read on an electronic device does not need an index, as readers can use the search function instead. Although word search is a useful tool, it does not replace the index, since it fails to distinguish between irrelevant mentions of a word (e.g. “this chapter will not discuss SEARCHTERM”) and lengthy discussion of the subject (...)
There have been experiments in automated indexing, but these have not been as successful in producing indexes as those produced by humans. Human indexers are still better at understanding how readers look for information, and how the various terms used relate to each other. 
A poor index (or no index at all) impedes the research process. Giving the increasing number of e-books out there, publishers may think that they can omit the index as it is no longer necessary, but, as has been mentioned above, this is not the case. The index remains a valuable tool for researchers no matter what the format of the publication. 
The blog on the SOQUIJ site (the public sector Société québécoise d'information juridique) noticed Tredwell's Slaw post, adding that the principles she outlines also apply to the classification plans, taxonomies or indexes of legal research databases:
"Les moteurs de recherche permettent certes de repérer tous les documents où le mot recherché est utilisé. Toutefois, un travail d’analyse, d’indexation et d’uniformisation par des juristes spécialisés garantit une recherche intelligente, qui couvre les documents où des synonymes et des concepts similaires sont utilisés et où les documents les plus pertinents sont mis en vedette."
Ain't that the truth. Quality resources will always have some form of professional indexing.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Recent Legislative Summaries from Library of Parliament

The Library of Parliament has recently published a number of legislative summaries describing federal bills:
  • Bill C-17: An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act: "Bill C - 17, an Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act ( alternative title: Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act [ Vanessa’s Law ]), was introduced in the House of Commons by the Minister of Health on 6 December 2013. According to its summary, the bill amends the Food and Drugs Act in order to strengthen oversight of pharmaceuticals and medical devices as well as improve repor ting of adverse reactions associated with these products. The bill addresses patient safety issues that were referred to in the Speech from the Throne at the opening of the 2nd Session of the 41 st Parliament in October 2013 , including the need to ensure that (1) drug side effects are clearly indicated and (2) unsafe drugs are recalled quickly."
  • Bill C-27: an Act to amend the Public Service Employment Act (enhancing hiring opportunities for certain serving and former members of the Canadian Forces): "It amends the Public Service Employment Act (PSEA) : by mirroring the provisions in Bill C - 11, 2 introduced on 7 November 2013, to grant priority for appointment in the federal public service to mem bers of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) who are released from military service for medical reasons attributable to service; by adding new provisions to allow : active members of the CAF who accumulate at least three years of service to apply for positions reserved for members of the public service ( 'advertised internal appointment process'); veterans who have been honourably released from the CAF after having accumulated at least three years of service to have this same right during a period of five years af ter their release; and by amending the definition of 'veteran' to allow all members who have been honourably released from the CAF and who have accumulated at least three years of service to benefit from a 'preference' in any external appointment to a posi tion in the public service if they meet the essential qualifications and once priority rights have been exercised (the definition of a 'survivor of a veteran' nevertheless continues to be restricted to the surviving spouse or common - law partner of a vetera n who served in the Second World War)."
  • Bill S-4: an Act to amend the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act : "Bill S - 4 ... (short title : Digital Privacy Act) was introduced in the Senate and received first reading on 8 April 2014. Bill S - 4 amends the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act , the federal private sector privacy law . It does this in several notable ways, including by : permitting the disclosure of an individual’s personal information without their knowledge or consent in certain circumstances; requiring organizations to take various measures in cases of data security breaches; creating offences for failure to comply with obligations related to data security breaches; and enabling the Privacy Commissioner, in certain circumstances, to enter into compliance agreements with organizations."
It is possible to follow the progress of federal bills, find links to related parliamentary debates and other background information on the LEGISinfo website.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Law Reform Commission of Saskatchewan Report on Foreclosure Protection

The Law Reform Commission of Saskatchewan has released a report on the Reform of The Land Contracts (Actions) Act that deals with foreclosure:
"Foreclosure involves lengthy legal proceedings taken in the Court of Queen’s Bench and is governed  by several statutes, including The Land Contracts (Actions) Act (the LCAA). The LCAA is consumer protection legislation intended to protect borrowers by requiring lenders to obtain leave of the court before starting foreclosure. The protection is provided as time: time to bring the mortgage up to date, refinance, or sell the property before foreclosure or judicial sale or, if that is not possible, time to find alternative accommodation. The LCAA is 70 year old legislation, having been enacted in 1943. This Final Report considers the steps required by the LCAA for non-farm land mortgages and recommends reforms to better protect borrowers in current conditions."
The report looks at other Canadian jurisdictions, including B.C., Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

New European Court of Human Rights Factsheets

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg has published a series of Factsheets that describe important jurisprudence of the institution on a number of subjects.

The ECHR recently added new Factsheets on:
The ECHR hears complaints from individuals living in any of the member states of the Council of Europe about violations of the European Convention of Human Rights. The Council of Europe is one of the continent's oldest political organizations, founded in 1949. It has 47 member countries.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Statistics Canada Article on Police-Reported Crimes Stats for 2013

Statistics Canada has published an article on Police-reported crime statistics, 2013 that shows most categories of criminal offences have been continuing their long-term decline in Canada:
"The police-reported Crime Severity Index (CSI), which measures the volume and severity of crime, declined 9% in 2013 compared with 2012. This was the 10th consecutive decline in the index. The CSI was 36% lower than 10 years earlier."

"The traditional crime rate also declined in 2013 compared with 2012, falling 8%. It continued its long-term downward trend that began in the early 1990s, reaching its lowest level since 1969. Since 1962, the traditional crime rate has measured the volume of crime, but does not take into account the severity of crimes (...)"

"Most offences were down in 2013. The decline in the CSI was specifically attributable to declines in breaking and entering and robbery. Decreases in some of the less serious but very frequent offences, such as theft of $5,000 or under and mischief, also contributed to the drop in the CSI."

"However, some offences were up in 2013. In particular, police services reported more incidents of extortion, child pornography, aggravated sexual assault (level 3), sexual violations against children and identity fraud."

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Government Information Day Coming to University of Ottawa in October 2014

The libraries at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa are hosting Government Information Day on October 16, 2014 at the University of Ottawa.

The event will be structured around two themes: preservation and access, and open government. Full details will be announced soon.

The first Government Information Day took place last year at the University of Toronto.

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