Wednesday, May 09, 2007

CALL Conference 2007 - Cool Things Session

One of the more fun sessions at the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries is "Cool Things" where librarians get to show off and explain interesting or pioneering projects and products. This year's conference in Ottawa was no exception.

1) Sonia Loubier of CAIJ (Centre d'accès à l'information juridique or Legal Information Access Centre, a library network associated with the Quebec Bar Association) gave a presentation on their JuriBistro Topo product. Launched in the fall of 2006, JuriBistro Topo is a massive knowledgebase containing thousands of legal research questions and answers based on the 20,000 plus questions local CAIJ outlets receive annually from laywers across Quebec. The CAIJ network includes 38 courthouse libraries, 8 regional libraries, 3 resource libraries and 27 local service points.

A typical question and answer file will include the applicable legislation, case law and top sources of commentary on the issue.

The product uses the SirsiDynix Unicorn library management software with which many librarians will be familiar. Each question and answer file has been formatted as a MARC cataloguing record. MARC record fields have been modified, for example field 245 for title is used to capture the text of the question, field 592 is used to indicate the bibliographic information for secondary literature (commentary on a case or piece of legislation), etc.

2) Connie Crosby of WeirFoulds LLP in Toronto provided an overview of how wikis are being used behind her firm's firewall for a variety of purposes. For example, she set up a wiki for one of her lawyers who was teaching a municipal law course. In another case, a team of lawyers were able to use wiki tools to jointly write a book.

3) On a less technological note, Eve Poirier of Justice Canada explained her role in a project aimed at setting up a law library in the city of Juba in Southern Sudan, an area that recently emerged out of the nightmare of more than 20 years of vicious civil war. One of her suggestions is that the Canadian law librarian community should think of creating a mentoring network that people in developing countries could tap into for assistance.

4) Alicia Loo, my supervisor at the Supreme Court of Canada Library, gave a presentation on how we implemented an OpenURL resolver, a system to bring together in one single search interface bibliographic information and links to our 1200 print journal titles and the 4000 other titles from licensed electronic collections to which we have access. Alicia provided lots of detail about all the local customization work that went into constructing the knowledgebase that runs the resolver database: there was clean-up of often messy data received from aggregators, elimination of duplicate titles, the issue of missing ISSNs and an absence of data about journal resources from Quicklaw, Lexis and Westlaw, problems with title authority and with the presentation of bilingual titles, and finally the necessity to manually copy and paste the data about those 1200 print journals in our stacks. Alicia survived to tell the tale to conference attendees. I can say that people in the Court love the ability of the system to identify the many possible print and electronic sources for any given periodical.

There was a fifth presenter, but I unfortunately missed that part of the session.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 1:33 pm

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