Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Warning: may include Scots law material. Somewhere.

Ah, FindLaw UK, a shiny new website, for general public access to law, and solicitors. Sounds like a good thing, and in principle, it is.

But I have to go back to a traditional moan: Scots law differs in many areas from English/Welsh law. The Findlaw UK website almost exclusively refers to E/W law, but doesn't actually state this. There are a few references to where there are differences, but these can be deep in the articles e.g the core section on divorce procedure refers entirely to E/W law, with only a related article alongside outlining that there are different procedures in different jurisdictions.

The Personal Injury section refers you to the website of Community Legal Advice, which offers "free, confidential and independent legal advice for resident of England and Wales".

Buying and Selling Property is purely about E/W law, I can't find even a hint of the Scottish differences. Bankruptcy? Alcohol and Crime? Dispute Resolution Law? Criminal Law? Litigation? All English/Welsh, with links to national agencies for those topics.

Only the Law and Government section discusses in any depth the jurisdictional issues, including a Devolution section, so they do know that there are differences. But there's no link from this core information to the subject guidance sections. The few references to Scots law are also often lifted from DirectGov, who refer to the Scottish Government as the Scottish Executive, but FindLaw UK's own material refer to it as the Scottish Government: using the two terms is confusing for those who don't know the difference between the old and new terms for the body.

Of course, a lot of these areas of law I don't regularly work in, so can't be sure how accurate the site is in those, but the ones I do know about seem to generally have no signing or flagging of the jurisdiction of the content, which, if you're aiming a site at the general public, is not a great plan.

So FindLaw UK, if you're going to market yourself as being able to provide “legal information, access to quality solicitors and a community to help you make the best legal decisions”, then please, remember to actually do that. Nobody can make their best legal decision if the information they’re basing it on relates to the law of another country.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I'm not quite sure


Why anyone would think that allowing the Scottish Government to be involved in the running of the National Library of Scotland would be a good idea?

Seriously?

How exactly could putting a sprawling body with no particular expertise in managing Scottish heritage in charge of the NLS and NMS be a better idea than having those areas managed by experts and professionals in the field, with massive amounts of experience and understanding?

*Facepalm*


Monday, July 19, 2010

Curvy, and precious, and mine!

Oh yes indeedy, the magical library card was waiting for me when I got home on Friday, and isn't it pretty?

I have to confess, it provoked Library Card envy in both Lorna and Sarah when they saw it - in fact, Lorna was quite outraged that hers wasn't as snazzy. Sorry Lorna!

Thank you to the lovely people at Edinburgh City Libraries for sorting things out super-fast when they found out things hadn't worked, and for implementing an auto-acknowledgement response for application forms submitted by email.

Library card: we haz it. And I shall of course be using public transport, if visiting the library...


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Slow reading, and legalese

So, it seems we're all finding it difficult to concentrate on reading large amounts of text, and getting more easily distracted from....oh, shiny thing!

Ahem...yes, so...I suppose the techniques frowned upon by the Oxford History professor in the article may well be naughty to use when trying to study and analyse literature....but in legal research, they're a godsend! Databases may well throw up hundreds or thousands of hits when you search for a specific term. Once you've narrowed it down a bit more, you're still left with dozens of articles and cases to wade through. And nobody's ever claimed that legal language was snappy, or easy to skim.

The ability to go into these items and search for a specific word is great: by being able to find words instantly, and get some understanding of their use in the case or article through looking at the context, discarding irrelevant items is a much faster process.

I'm not a lawyer: I don't necessarily always understand exactly what it is I'm being asked to find, and despite being a naturally fast reader, I can't dedicate hours and hours of time to fully go through each article or case that may possibly be relevant to get to that level of understanding. Looking for key words helps me narrow down the material, meaning the lawyer gets what they need, faster.

So yes, slow reading's a good thing, in the right situation, but reading legalese is already slow enough - I'm taking all the help I can get with that!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I wonder if they'll attract pirates?

The online treasures of the National Library of Scotland, that is.
Well, treasure is what pirates live for...although I have my doubts that books would attract them.
The maps however...that might well draw them in. Especially if there's TREASURE involved!

Map from here

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Their forms may be rubbish, but the staff are great!

Staff from Edinburgh City Libraries have been in touch with me, and are investigating what's happened with my missing membership application.

They may have suffered a process fail with the electronic submission procedure, but actually being pro-active and responsive to the issue is a big positive for their customer services. In Mastercard terms:

Form submission not being acknowledged?
Bad.
No membership card appearing after a month?
Annoying.
Wondering what's happened to your personal details on the missing form?
Worrying.
Spotting the issue and contacting the user?
Priceless.

Plus...they're getting e-books! I finally have a good reason to use the public library: it would give me something I want, in a convenient way!

P.S. - the people commenting on that link in the Scotsman are mad.

The Supreme-ish Court. Again

Looks like the UK Supreme Court's having a wee holiday from posting judgments (or as they call them, Decided Cases) on its website.
The last case listed is [2010] UKSC 10, from the beginning of March. BAILLI however has the text of all judgments up to [2010] UKSC 32, this July.

What's going on? Why are cases not being posted to the UKSC website? I can't find if there's an announcement about the cases being posted to BAILLI instead, as the news section only goes back to mid-June 2010, and the archive section only lists information from 2009. What's happened to the news that happened between 2009 and June 2010?

But hey, at least they managed to publish their annual report and accounts yesterday. Wonder how much of it went into web design...? From the annual report:

"Our website
The Court is a modern institution on an international stage. Our website www.supremecourt.gov.uk continues to be a success with a wide audience and contains a considerable amount of information for people interested in the Court, its Justices and judgments. This material includes: current cases coming before the court with brief details of the points of law to be considered: full judgments handed down and their press summaries. The website also has information about how to appeal, the history of the building and the art within it; corporate information about the administration of the court, and biographical details of the Justices and officials."

Uh-huh. Sure.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Nope, it didn't work

The whole "fill in this form and email it to us, we'll send you your library membership card in the post, it'll be so easy!" thing, that Edinburgh City Libraries promised me.

Unfortunately, like Kelly who commented in the previous post, it appears my Library membership application has got lost in the ether. Which is pretty concerning, seeing as my personal details are there. Where is that nice form with my name, date of birth, home address, email, phone number, ethnic origin and disability status on it, now? Languishing in an ignored email folder? Sitting in an untouched pile on a desk?

I'm thinking that a month after sending the form is probably plenty of time for someone to have managed to do something about it. It would also have been a good idea for them to have created an automated acknowledgement email in the first place, to have reassured me that the form I sent them hadn't just disappeared into a never-viewed email folder. In fact, any sort of contact with me once I submitted the form would have been good, since they have at least three methods of contacting me available from the information I gave: phone, email and postal.

So now, the chances of me ever becoming a member are even lower than ever, as I have no trust in their ability to deal with things competently. And the chances of me wanting to refill the same form are even less, due to irritation.

Top tip: if you're going to show how lovely and modern and useful your library service is by allowing people to join without having to take time out of their day to go into the library to fill out the form...make sure the service works? Otherwise you're just pissing people off.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

It's aliiiiiiiiive!

So, we unleashed the UK Library Bloggers wiki into the wild back in March, and crossed our fingers that it would be ok, out there in the Scary World, all on its own.

And so far, it seems to be doing just fine, yay! There are of course the regular spammer attempts to "subtly" insert adverts for dissertation work, and all sorts of less...erm...wholesome products within the entries, but the email alerts about text amendments that go to the administrators of the wiki (Phil, Jo and I) means that the first person online and able to, goes in and removes that material and blocks the creator. This has worked really well so far, and unwanted content doesn't stay on the wiki for any real length of time.

And the best bit is the librarians and info professionals who've been adding themselves to the wiki! I created a backup in March before we "unlocked" the wiki, and at that point there were 115 institutional / professional group blogs, 83 librarian blogs, 5 Chartership blogs, 8 information professionals blogs and 8 industry supplier blogs.


There are now (as of 5th July 2010) 135 institutional library blogs, 90 librarian blogs, and still 5 Chartership blogs, 8 information professionals, and 8 industry supplier blogs.

So, the biggest increase has been in institutional blogs, with a small increase in personal library bloggers.

I will (at some point in the near future) be going through the wiki and checking all the links of the ones added prior to the unlocking off the wiki, and removing the "dead" ones. I'm planning on moving those entries into a "dead blogs" section - I think it's worth keeping the links available, for interest.

So: if you haven't added yourself, go do it now - you'll be in good company!





Monday, July 05, 2010

Mainly unprofessional

So, I'm following some of the "New Professionals Conference 2010" online and one of the tools referred to was Personas, to see what your online presence is like. Or, how references by to and about you online appear visually.

I used my normal online username (it's more distinctive than my "proper" name), and was pretty amused by the results.

It seems that the thing that I'm least of all, is "professional", closely followed by "committees". Whoops!
Mainly, I'm either aggressive, or I provoke aggression, and sports and fashion feature highly. Hmmmm, I'm thinking that there's maybe something REALLY ODD about this.

Wanna fight about it? Huh? DO YA?!?!

;)

Edited to add: OK, so it does a different thing every time then?!? This is what I got when I redid it again, for the same single word username (so it's not getting confused by two words, misspellings etc). Perhaps this is the truer one? More online, and social, MUCH less aggression...but perhaps that's because it's been joined by "military". Whaaa?

Spam, spam, spam

I've got fed up having to delete spam comment posts from China in the comments section on a daily basis, so I've just turned on comment moderation: no more instant posting.

I don't want to have to do this: to me, it kind of defeats the purpose of the comments area - if you don't know when your comment is going to appear, and there seems to be a conversation going on in the comments section, moderation feels like it's disconnecting you from the discussion. You don't know when your post is going to appear, and you don't know who else has also commented, and if they've already made the point you were going to...when your comment if finally approved, it can look as though you're disregarding the points made before you, by others. It can make you look accidentally rude.

But, allowing free commenting means regular spam postings (usually in the middle of the night for me), and the longer they sit on a post, the more it feels like the blog is unmanaged and uncared for.

What do you think? Better to have unmoderated posting, and a few spam comments, or better to have moderated, and no spam? Do you notice spam comments on a blog? Does it make you feel that blog is slightly abandoned if you do see them? How long would a spam comment have to be viewable/not deleted, before you would start to think the blog owner doesn't care?
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