Friday, February 09, 2007

Briefs assignments

For those of you working on Appellate Advocacy briefs, remember some of the advanced search techniques on Lexis and Westlaw. For example, you can really focus your case research on Lexis with the core-terms segment and on Westlaw with the sy,di fields.

And if your problem involves a statute, the case annotations in an annotated code - either online or in print - practically does the research for you!!!

Don't know what these are or how to use them? Ask your favorite reference librarian.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Thursday, February 08, 2007

National Transportation Statistics

Americans are nothing if not a geographically mobile lot. Those who would like further information about the infrastructure that supports our incessant wanderlust may find the Bureau of Transportation’s National Transportation Statistics Web page to be of interest. From the agency’s Web site:

“National Transportation Statistics presents statistics on the U.S. transportation system, including its physical components, safety record, economic performance, the human and natural environment, and national security. This is a large online document comprising more than 260 data tables plus data source and accuracy statements, glossary and a list of acronyms and initialisms”.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

First Floor Computer Lab

With the new lab arrangements, various student questions have been raised, and I wanted to address a few of them here.

Q1. Why can't the lab be accessed from the library during the library's hours, and then be accessible from the outer door only when the library is closed?

A1. There are numerous reasons why this is not as simple a solution as it sounds. First and foremost, though, is safety and security. When the doors on the library side are open, the fire code requires a fire exit on the other side, and therefore, we would not be permitted to completely lock the other law school hallway door completely at any time. This obviously creates a security breach. (For those of you who are curious, there is no similar requirement to have the law library doors as a fire exit, because exits are measured by distance to the exits of the building. With the door coming from the law school corridor being so close to the building exit, there is no requirement to have a fire exit into the library, requiring an even greater distance to open air.) Prior to this new arrangement, the law school corridor door was always alarmed. There are many technical difficulties in adding an alarmed door (that also has a card swipe mechanism) in the location where the law school corridor door sits.

Q2. Why weren't students consulted?

A2. These plans were put in place last academic year, due to numerous student requests and after Dean Gary Moore and Professor Michelle Wu talked to the SBA president about student needs. Dean Moore and Professor Wu also talked to the current SBA president in early fall about this plan as well, to ensure that they were still on track. A preliminary email was also sent to the entire student body last week, as the card swipe was being added, and no objections were raised at that time. That said, both Dean Moore and Professor Wu welcome input to improve services, but ask that students be specific about what it is that they feel is missing from the new arrangement. As there is still a lab in the library (lower level), students should have access to most of the same services whether using the lab inside the library or the one outside the library. In the few instances where this isn't the case, the need (see the next two questions as examples) may be met by steps other than reopening the library side doors to the first floor lab.

Q3. Can we get an iprinter inside the library? There is none in the lower level lab, and many people studying in the library print to the iprinter.

A3. The Information Systems Department will be moving the iprinter into the library, as soon as the requested network port has been installed for it. A second iprinter will be installed in the lab so that there will be 24/7 access outside the library as well as library access.

Q4. Can we get a stapler inside the lab?

A4. A stapler was placed in the lab this morning, next to the lab assistant's desk.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Law Student Humor Magazine

Law school can be pretty serious, but two law students who appreciate the funny side of the enterprise have just launched the first issue of Consortium: A Journal of Legal Nonsense. Humor--and the surprising and sometimes absurd experiences of studying and working in the legal system--are the focus of this new online magazine. Editors Pete Holiday, a second year law student at Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington, and Charlsie Paine, a recent University of Georgia Law School graduate, aim primarily to entertain, with a little help from their readers. They are soliciting law student contributors for the next issue, due out in April.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Congress 101: Authorization and Appropriation

Since the President's proposed federal budget for 2008 has just been released, it is worthwhile to consider the meaning of the the words "authorization" and "appropriation". Fortunately, Paul Jenks on has written an easy to understand explanation of what these words mean for Congress. He also describes some of the tricks Congress plays when they "authorize" an action, but do not "appropriate" money to pay for it. One must not only listen to what Congress says, but watch what they do.

You may also remember from the Library's December display that Congress did not pass the 2007 budget. Congress is having to deal with this issue as well as looking ahead to 2008.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Monday, February 05, 2007

Student Engagement

The 2006 Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) is entitled "Engaging Legal Education: Moving Beyond the Status Quo". The blog Law School Innovation has summaries of the findings by two different professors, Joe Hodnicki and Douglas A. Berman and there is a link to the findings from each. There is a great deal of information in these findings that might make a law student think about their interactions while in law school.

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Legal Research Engine

I am a fan of specialized or vertical search engines, as it is easier to find a "needle" in a much smaller, more fine tuned haystack.

A new specialized engine worth bookmarking is the Legal Research Engine, from the Cornell University Law Library.

"this specialized search engine helps users easily find authoritative online legal research guides on every subject. It searches approximately 20 different web sites that either prolifically publish guides, or index and link to guides. The number of web sites searched was deliberately kept small to keep search results manageable and focused"

This site is a KEEPER!

Ernster, the Virtual Library Cat