Monday, October 27, 2008

The Free Legal Web - who for?

The current Big Idea in the legal / library blog world is the Free Legal Web (FLW). Originally mooted by Nick Holmes, the idea is to pull all of the content currently floating about the ether (legal professionals blog posts, Government information etc) into one portal. That in itself is a big enough task, but what doesn't seem to be clear yet is...who is this Free Legal Web for?

The people involved so far seem to be legal professionals and IT specialists. The legal professionals will be working out some way of getting the useful materials together, and persuading other legal professionals that giving up their valuable time and work (such as blog postings) for this enterprise will be a worthwhile investment, and will reap them rewards in the end. The IT professionals job will be to write the scripts and programmes that will get everything together in the one place, and working well with all the other bits and pieces.

That's all lovely (although it's hard to tell what's actually being done, as the discussions are going on behind an invite-only Google Group, which to me, kind of defeats the purpose of harnessing the collective intelligence of the legal and information professionals), but when this all singing, all dancing portal is up and running, who's going to be using it? I would have thought this was a core question, to be settled right at the start, yet it doesn't seem to have been discussed at any point.

If you're designing a portal to work alongside the subscription legal databases like Westlaw and LexisNexis, then I assume it's being aimed at people already working in the law, and therefore able to understand and interpret the information being presented to them there. The content will be academic / in depth, and of relevance to other members of the legal profession. Certain assumptions can be made about the level of knowledge and understanding of the user, and their grasp of the content. It also means it's unlikely to be being used by members of the general public. Since legal professionals are likely to be persuaded into contributing to the FLW by the prospect of it eventually increasing their business through building of a reputation, this is not a good start.

If it's designed for the general public, to allow them access to the elusive laws they're meant to keep within, then good interpretation of the law is needed, not just access. People working in the law can forget just how difficult it is to find out what legislation means for people without access to subscription databases, information professionals to check for currency and further discussions of legal points...and even the language of legislation, while precise and succinct, can be incredibly confusing for someone with no experience of reading it, confronted with it for the first time. Content for this FLW would need a different focus - explaining the law and its impact on the general public, with references to the original case law rather than references to law reports inaccessible to the general public. Guides equivalent to first year law students introductions to the various aspects of the law would be needed. Clear signalling of whether legislation applies to all of the UK, or only the devolved areas would be essential. In other words, it would be a very different beast then the FLW designed for legal professionals.

So...is it a Professional Free Legal Web, or a Public Free Legal Web?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Copyright joy for law firm libraries!

Yay!
As emailed out over lis-law last week, the Copyright Licensing Agency have developed a CLA licence just for law firms. Body of the press release below:

New licence for law firms


15th October 2008

CLA have announced the launch of a new licence designed specifically for UK law firms.

From 1 November 2008, the new Law Licence will offer law firms additional benefits to the existing photocopying rights.

The Law Licence now enables articles and clippings from law reports, journals and press cuttings (magazines, journals, legal and other periodicals, but not newspapers) to be scanned, stored electronically and distributed externally to clients.

The new licence has been developed in consultation with The Law Society of England and Wales and the City of London Law Society so that it meets the needs of law firms that wish to copy from law reports and journals, business titles and other published media.

Chris Holland, Librarian & Head of Information Services at the Law Society said, “CLA photocopying licences are well established within the legal sector. This new licence gives additional rights to make digital copies, reflecting the much increased use of digital technology in law firms, including the use of electronic case files and shared email folders. It also removes the previous limit on the number of photocopies that could be made for a single occasion or purpose, thus providing more flexibility than the previous law firm licence to photocopy.”

The licence will be officially launched at the Law Autumn event at Birmingham NEC on October 15 & 16 where customers will be able to find out more about the benefits from CLA licensing staff.

CLA’s Andy Greenan, who is leading the licence launch, says, “Law firms want to be able to digitise relevant articles and reports to share with individual clients by email or within a case-based file. For the first time this licence allows that and I am sure demand will be high.”

Law firms that already hold a CLA licence will be able to upgrade from 1 November.

For further information about the benefits of the new Law Licence, please contact CLA on 0800 085 6644, email licence@cla.co.uk or see www.cla.co.uk.


Now, I'm assuming that if the Law Society of England and Wales are happy with this, it's equally applicable for Scotland. Hopefully. Being able to legally scan and store certain things can be handy, although we've often already negotiated these sort of agreements with individual publishers. Any reduction in the amount of time spent faffing abouttrying to work out what we're allowed to do, and with what materials, will be very nice!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Scottish Information Networking event - First steps in blogging

A legal librarian friend forwarded me this event notification today from SIN, the Scottish Information Network. Unfortunately, I didn't get the notification myself (nor did at least one other member that I know of), despite having joined SIN back in April. I think they may need to look at their email /contact list management!


Scottish Information Networking event - First steps in blogging

Dear colleague

Do you blog or are you thinking about blogging? The Scottish Information Network is running an evening event entitled “First steps in blogging” on Tuesday November 4th. Come along and hear advice from some real bloggers or perhaps even plug your own blog! The event will also be an opportunity to meet with other members of the network and find out more about what’s happening in the information world. See below for more details and let me know ASAP if you would like to attend

John Coll
Business Information Services Manager
Scottish Business Information Service
National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge
Edinburgh
EH1 1EW

Tel:0131 623 3816
E-mail: j.collATnls.uk

First steps in Blogging
6pm Tuesday 4th November, Level 5
Livingstone Tower, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

Speakers:
Neil Infield, Manager, British Library Business & Intellectual Property Centre (BIPC)
Neil recently launched the first blog for the British Library’s BIPC called In through the Outfield . He previously worked for Hermes Pension Management and is also a committee member of SLA Europe. Neil is a well known figure in the information world and is a regular contributor to publications such as Information World Review and Business Information review. He will talk about his own experiences in setting up his blog as well as offer tips and advice to existing and would-be bloggers.

Christine Rooney-Browne PhD Student, University of Strathclyde
Christine is currently researching the social value of public libraries as part of her PhD and has written a number of articles on this topic. She also writes a blog called The Library of Digress and she will offer her own insights into running a blog.

There will be an opportunity to put questions to both of the speakers during the evening and the talks will be followed by drinks and nibbles. The event is kindly sponsored by Bureau van Dijk

To book a place please contact John Coll e-mail j.collATnls.uk Tel: 0131 623 3816



Unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to travel from Edinburgh to Glasgow in time to attend this event. I'd really have liked to be able to meet Christine, who also helps maintain the UK Library Bloggers wiki! Hopefully the wiki will get a mention as a good place to start to find other library bloggers! :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Edinburgh Festival of Libraries

Starting on Saturday 8th November, the Edinburgh Festival of Libraries will be running a week long programme of talks, walks, tours, presentations roadshows and behind-the-scenes peeks into some of the many different types of library services working in Edinburgh.

Lots of interesting things going on, but I'm kinda ruled out of any of the daytime events by working (I've maxed out my holiday allowance for the year, boo, hiss), which is a shame, because there's plenty I'd have loved to be able to go to!

So, to make sure I still get to do *something*, I've emailed to book a place for the finale event on Friday 14th November:

Finale event - Future of the Book


Panel discussion "The Future of the Book"

Print books or e-books? Uplift or download? Writers and readers or interactive interchange? We are pleased to present a panel of informed people who will present and discuss a range of views on this topic.

The discussion will be chaired by Stuart Kelly, Literary Editor of Scotland on Sunday

Panel members include:

Donald Smith, Scottish Storytelling Centre

Francis Bickmore, Canongate Publishers

Hugh Andrews, Birlinn Publishers

Michelle Harper, OCLC

Join their discussion and get thinking about what part you will play in the future of the book. After the panel discussion, you are invited to continue the discussions on an informal basis and to enjoy a glass of wine, some light refreshments and some good company. This event is supported by OCLC and the National Library of Scotland

Scottish Book Trust, Sandeman House, Trunk’s Close, 55 High Street, EH1 1SR

7.00 pm onwards

Free – to book a place please contact 0131 623 4675 or email events@nls.uk

Just my sort of thing, yay!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New JLSS website

You turn your back for 5 minutes...

Last week, the Law Society of Scotland launched a redesigned website for the Journal of the Law Society of Scotland, with minimal (if any) fanfare. Well, there may well have been a fanfare, but as I'm not a solicitor and so therefore not on their emailing list, I only found out when I went to check up on their news area last week. It doesn't even list it as something of note in their own News area...no press releases to The Firm Magazine, nor Scottish Legal News...is this some sort of terrible secret, not to be publicised to the world at large?

This is how it used to look (Feb 2008 image from Internet Archive):












This is how it looks now:













It is, however, a bit of a good news / bad news situation.

So we'll start cheerfully with The Good News:

It's pretty, it's shiny, and looks much more sleek and modern.

The JLSS now has blogs, yay! There are links from the homepage to both the Editor's blog, and the Law Society's blog too.

http://www.journalonline.co.uk/Blogs/

The Editor's blog launched on the 3rd October, which makes me think that that is possibly when the website was relaunched. Although there's no mention of the shiny new website in any of the three posts so far.

There's now an RSS feed for the News section, which means I won't have to remember to go in every few days to check to see I've not missed anything.

Also good - lots more content from each issue of JLSS is now available on the site.



Now...The Bad.

The Archive (used to be Library) area of the site is the part I use most, and therefore also the part where I see the changes most.

The current issue of the JLSS showing is the August issue. Previously, it would show the current issue, which in this case would be the September issue. The appearance of the newest issue at the top of the site gave us an idea whether our copy had gone missing or not. And as the solicitors always seem to get their copies before the Library subs turned up, we were able to refer to the current issue pdf when we got the familiar requests saying "X told me Y would be in the Journal this month, is it?". Now, we can't do that.

Wait...as I wrote this I double checked the site again - it's now the September issue showing. So, in the new way of working, does that mean the 'new' old issue appearing means the 'new'new issue is due out, ie October? Follow that convoluted sentence if ya can!

The search option is just plain stupid. Again, a before and after comparison.

December 2007:











And now:













See that glowing box in the top right? Yup, that's what used to be that lovely, restrictable search option, with 40+ categories to narrow it down by, the option to restrict it only to Journal material...

Now, you search all content, whether you like it or not. Thankfully, so far the magical "quotation marks" are helping, as you can see from my "company law" versus company law search results below:




Also, it's not helpful to not show the source of the results (news item, JLSS article?) in the returned hits. It means I have to click in to everything see if it's just a newsy snippet, or a 'proper' result from the Journal. And what's the ranking of the result? By relevance? Date? I have no idea, it doesn't say.

In other words, they removed a good, accurate search tool, and replaced it with...well...meh.

So, JLSS, whoever you got to design your new website, could you ask them to put back the useful parts of it, while leaving the shiny new look? Kthxbai.

Monday, October 13, 2008

No publicity, please!

So, last week I did a firewalk for charity, at Edinburgh Zoo. Due to the 'delightful' roadworks going on in Edinburgh for, ohhh, eternity, I arrived at the event at 7pm just as the briefing started, instead of the planned 6.30pm for registration.

Apparently, in the few minutes before the briefing officially started, it was announced that a daily news show crew were there to film us, and if anyone objected to being filmed, could they make themselves known. It seems like nobody did, because we were all filmed by the crew at various points, usually in the background to the presenter.

I have absolutely no desire to be on TV, particularly during a stressful event, so I was not best chuffed to find out by questioning other firewalkers that what I thought was perhaps going to be a promotional clip for the company organising the firewalk, or for the Zoo itself was actually going to end up on national telly. Added to this was the fact that I had not been asked about my agreement to the filming, and had not given permission either verbally, or in writing.

I've viewed the report, and can clearly see myself at one point, although others might not recognise me. I have no way of knowing what other footage that I may have been in was cut.

So, my questions are...
Since I was repeatedly filmed in a private place (the seminar room of the Zoo) without my permission, could I justifiably have objected to the use of the footage?
Is the firewalk area of the Zoo (a grassy public area in the middle, after opening hours of the Zoo) also a private area?
Is it legal to film people like this when they haven't given any sort of proveable agreement?

It's a moot point now, as the footage is out there, but it's something that annoyed me, as I think you can tell!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

S reveals my terrible taste!

Lo-fi librarian tagged me as part of Information Overlords meme, and has therefore forced me to reveal my terrible taste in music. I admit it, I'm a pop princess, and have a disturbing love of 1990s pop at that. Fiendish lo-fi, fiendish! If I'm ostracised from society for this list, I shall blame you!!

So, the challenge was to name my top 5 favourite bands beginning with the letter 'S', so here goes...


This one is because my Mum used to delight in singing along to this any time she had me and any of my friends trapped anywhere, like in the car. I could claim that she was trying to encourage healthy discussions in that area, but realistically, she just enjoyed embarrassing lots of pre-teen girls.

I worked for a summer in America in a theme park, first as a landscape gardener, then as a ride operator when the bulk of the staff went back to school after the summer break. This song was the last one played every night, and was a sign for us it was time to shut up shop, and head off home. Happy days!


So many of her songs that I love, but this one is just...fun! Also another from my American summer.


Is best heard at full volume in a club, so you can sing along badly and nobody will hear :D


Makes me want to find a field to run through, trees to climb with a treehouse in them, and a swing to play on...


I would tag 5 other bloggers, but my brain is in meltdown, so I'll just say that if anyone wants to do this, consider yourself tagged! :D
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