Friday, August 29, 2008

The elusive Scots law basics course?

I think that (thanks to the Scottish Legal Newsletter) I may have found the training course I've been looking for!

"An introduction to law in contemporary Scotland" from the Open University looks like it'll cover the basics well enough...it might not go into the further depth I'd like, but it's a pretty good start!

This course looks at law making in contemporary Scotland and introduces you to some specific areas of Scots law including the law relating to employment and to children. It considers the role of both the Scottish Parliament and Courts in law making. The course will be of particular interest to anyone who wants an overview of how the legal system in Scotland operates and will provide an excellent beginning to students who want to understand how modern Scotland works.

Kindle 2.0

Gadget Lab muses on what would improve the next version of the Kindle, as the original version's been out for a year.

Have to say, it's never struck me as the most attractive of toys: definitely looks like it's escaped from a 1960 "visualisation" of the future...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The dwindle of Kindle?

Looking at the report here from The Register, it looks like the Kindle (and other e-readers) might not be selling as well as the hype may have previously suggested.

I dunno if that makes the Luddite in me happy, or the techie geek in me sad...regardless, I'd like to at least have a shot of one to see what I'm missing :D

Monday, August 25, 2008

Law and printing in Scotland – an exhibition


I was asked to email this out to members of the SLLG last week, and thought it was interesting enough to share:



The Advocates Library’s exhibition highlighting the link between the Scottish printing trade and the practice of law in Scotland will be on show in Parliament Hall, Edinburgh, from 11 August until 27 September 2008, Monday to Friday, 9am until 4.30pm. 
With the kind permission of the Lord President, the exhibition will be open to the public and will form part of the Scottish Courts programme of events in Parliament House for Doors Open Day, 27th September 2008. 
Examples from the library’s unique 18th century collections of printed Session Papers will be displayed in addition to other items from the Library’s extensive collections.  Session Papers are documents used in the presentation of cases in the Court of Session, Scotland’s supreme civil court.  The papers often include non-legal documentary exhibits such as drawings, plans and maps.  As such, the papers give a valuable insight into the social, economic, political and legal history of Scotland, during the period of the Scottish Enlightenment, many of the notable figures of which were advocates, like James Boswell and Walter Scott.
Early collections of Scottish Acts and laws from the time of the first Scottish parliament illustrate the importance of printing to the practice of law. 
The Advocates Library, inaugurated in 1689, had the right of legal deposit until the formation of the National Library of Scotland in 1925.  At that time, the Faculty of Advocates donated its non-legal collections to the nation.  This long history and their close connection with the courts meant that advocates and the Advocates Library provided much work for the printing industry.  The exhibition highlights the closeness of this link, telling the story of Thomas Ruddiman who was Keeper of the Advocates Library and a printer.
Any parties of over 20 people wishing to view the exhibition should arrange their visit in advance with Andrea Longson, Senior Librarian, Tel. 0131 260 5637, email andrea.longson AT advocates.org.uk.

Friday, August 22, 2008

There's a lack of UK blawgers?

Well, apparently, according to the recent Times article.

The only problem is, Alex Wade doesn't seem to have bothered actually doing any proper research. They've decided that only staff at law firms are likely to blog, or have any knowledge of the law, thereby ruling out advocates / barristers, academic law professionals, support staff / librarians, students.... There are lots of law blogs out there, by all sorts of people working in the law, all it takes to find them is a few minutes!

I randomly selected one of the blawgs listed in the article, and a quick look at some of Geeklawyers blawgroll lists the following:
And link-hopping from these can find you even more UK blawgs, and the blawgs of anonymous law students and those in pupillage...so why didn't the Times journalist actually spend the time to do that? Also, as discussed here, some of the blogs linked to aren't even current. And the final, splendid point  -  the fact that almost none of the links work, as there have been spaces inserted into them...go proof readers! Or, should that be 'link-checkers'?

Does the BBC hate librarians?

From some of its headlines in the last week, you'd be forgiven for thinking the answer is "yes"!

First up was this delightful individual, who they (and other news sites) decided to label as a "librarian" of child pornography images. The original source of the word librarian seems to come from the quote at the bottom of the page:

Det Chief Supt Mark Braithwaite, from Cleveland Police, said Thompson had been "a critical piece of this network".
"He was the librarian/warehouseman for a myriad of images that were distributed to like-minded individuals both in this country and elsewhere."
Also, a second quote from a different source in a Reuters UK report:

"He was a senior administrator for a pedophile website and was effectively a librarian for the storing and distribution of indecent images of children," Detective Sergeant Rebecca Driscoll said outside court.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but what he was doing (as stated above) is storing and distributing those images.  He's not cataloguing them, tagging them, organising them. He's not a qualified librarian, he has no library work experience, he doesn't currently work in a library, he doesn't do information research, he doesn't work in any way like that which would be recognised as a librarian. So why the BBC decided to use the word "librarian" to describe him, I do not know! Is it because it's more recognisable than "warehouseman"? Others have protested too about this twisting of the word which should be describing an information professional. As they say, as if our profession doesn't have enough problems with trying to project a good / modern image, now it's getting this unpleasant connotation too?

But, yes, fair enough, the BBC are merely quoting police sources, so why have I decided the BBC's got it in for us this week?

Well, it's down to another sloppy headline: "Library error halts wind inquiry".
There was no error by the library involved, or the staff...the error was on the Scottish Borders Council's part, yet the BBC still manages to make it appear as though a library was responsible for a costly delay in a public enquiry.  


Come on BBC, what have you got against librarians this week? Your reporting's getting almost as sloppy as this Times report of legal bloggers (more on that later)!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

SLLG Edinburgh Book Festival outing


Bill Bell, David Finkelstein & Alistair McCleery: "Books and Society"

Tue 19/08/2008

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

As Scotland celebrates 500 years of printing, editors David Finkelstein, Bill Bell and Alistair McCleery reveal the remarkable contribution to publishing and literary culture made by Scotland over the last 120 years - a period covering momentous change in writing, publishing technology, bookselling, readership and, of course, book festivals."


As mentioned previously here, I went on a Scottish Law Librarians Group organised trip to an Event at the Book Festival. Despite it being all about books, it was actually reasonably difficult for the Committee to find an event at a time that would hopefully allow people to attend, and on a topic that was relevant to our jobs! The closest we could come was one on a Scottish-specific topic, in this case, the history of the Scottish publishing industry over the last few hundred years.


This turned out to be a really interesting talk (which thankfully I double checked the time of, as I thought it started at 1pm, not 12pm!). As usual for Edinburgh in August, it had rained heavily recently, and the venue was a quagmire, but at least the rubber ducks floating about in the puddles were amusing!

We also appeared to have taken seats in the Fly Death Zone – directly under the lighting gantry for the stage, so kept finding fried fly bodies on us, in our drinks, or dazed flies staggering over us…

The main points covered, in no particular order (I promise, the speakers were far more coherent than this summary makes it appear, I just don't have any notes to refer to, so it's just what stuck in my mind the most! If you read this and were there too, feel free to sort me out!) about the last two hundred years of Scottish publishing were:



  • Incredible advances in speed due to printing presses – 2 men would take an hour to produce approx 200 pages, printed on one side. The Scotsman newspaper installed a machine that could print double sided, folded papers at the rate of 12,000 an hour!
  • Scottish high literacy levels of the time a myth.
  • Gaelic press neglected – until 1800, only 50 books in print in Gaelic. First Gaelic Bible in 1801, contemporary with translations of Bible into Native American languages.
  • Majority of well known publishing names (Chambers etc) Scottish, or Scottish linked, before expandind into London. Family businesses like this did well while first or second generation of family were involved and had belief in doing good for society by making books available to masses. Later family members too profit driven.
  • The strength of Scottish identity in that period.
  • Lack of skilled typesetters / staff after WWII.
  • Lack of investment by large publishing houses at time when it was needed most, importing of cheaper papers from Norway etc, all combined to make times difficult for publishers.
  • Loss of net book agreement meaning books could be discounted better by larger suppliers.
Interesting slide show, lots of fascinating images that had been selected from those used in the book: historical newspapers, pamphlets, the presses themselves, typesetters at work, etching  illustrations onto printing plates, people reading in photos, etchings and paintings, a child reading the Broons, old Edinburgh...and all of us left wanting to know how the elephant got into the library, as shown in one slide!
Q & A, at the end of the session – 

  • History of Edinburgh University Press (current incarnation launched in 1947 in post-war optimism) and its original focus on academic texts, reflecting research interests of the University Depts at the time. Historically, most universities had their own printing press, but now only Edinburgh, and recently re-launched (I think) Dundee University press’s exist
  • What constitutes a Scottish book – Scottish author? Author living in Scotland? Content about Scotland? Book printed / bound in Scotland? Does separating out 'Scottish' books into a section help or harm them?
  • The phenomenon of self publishing, as is being encouraged by Amazon. Discussed problems of ability to act effectively and professionally as own editor, dealing with attractive page layout, and selling finished product.
  • BooksfromScotland.com : Bookselling gateway, but mainly being used as an information resource, sales are small. People browse for information, then go to Amazon to buy cheaper.
  • The success of D.C Thomson and their majority ownership of Parragon, giving Parragon financial support and allowing it to retain control over what material it publishes
  • How would devolution / independence affect Scottish publishing -size within Europe, market size etc.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Paper sculpture

Noriko Ambe's work is fab - I love intricate things like this! They make the books look like topographical maps, or some sort of clockwork item!

From Swiss Miss

Paced off

As I waffled about back in March, it was recently shown that pacemakers could be hacked. At that point, they weren't sure what exactly could be done to the pacemakers, but now...they know.

Some academics have managed to turn off pacemakers by remote control ... Definitely not conducive to good heart health!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Any UK public librarians feeling helpful?

Sarah Hammond, an MA student, is researching the world of UK library blogging, and is trying to compile a comprehensive list of UK public library blogs.
She's going to post the results on Delicious, with the username Public_biblioglogosphere, and has kindly agreed to allow me to add the results of her work into the overall UK library bloggers wiki.

She's also doing her dissertation on the UK biblioblogosphere, and has set up a survey for UK public librarians to fill in here, if they're feeling  nice. It should only take 10 minutes, and will give you an inner glow of happiness for being so lovely :D

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Phormless

After some checks by someone who's much more technical than me, it appears the invite for the survey was for a BT telephone directory.
Glad of that - the less I have to do with Phorm the better (although as a Virgin Media customer, I wonder if that decision's always going to be mine to make)

Phorm-filling

I participate in various online surveys, getting pennies, or prize draw entries in return.
Last night, I got sent the following invite - hands up who thinks it's in some way linked to BTs Phorm experiment?

Hi Jennie,

We have a new survey available for you to take. You will also be asked if you would like to take part in an ongoing program run by BT in which you will be asked to take part in online activities. You will need to provide your e-mail address and register on the website so that you can be sent the details of how to take part. In exchange for taking part you will be entered into weekly prize draws. If you complete the survey but do not register to take part in the rest of the online program you will be rewarded 25p if you register to take part in BT's online activities you will receive £1.00. You will also be redirected straight to a BT site at the end of the survey. Please be assured that your e-mail address will only be used to contact you about this study.

Or maybe I just have a mind that sees devious information-stealing software around every corner....
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