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Showing posts from September, 2010

FBI's Choice Social Network?

When FBI featurs social meida, you know that it has become mainstream. The first article in the July, 2010 issue of FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin carries the title The Public Information Officer and Today’s Digital News Environment. The author, a former police lieutenant, states that "...PIOs must continue to embrace technology and its benefits or risk becoming obsolete." The article goes on to list several tools: RSS feed, Twitter, Nixle, YouTube, and facebook, but Nixle is the one receiving a lot of attention. With a good reason: It is a secure and identity-certified communication service that allows local, county and state law enforcement and government agencies to connect with local residents over cell phone, email and web. One can limit information received by zip code.

However, one should read carefully Nixle's Terms of Service before signing up: there is a paragraph on their restrictions on linking (i.e. no deep linking) and framing activities. Caching is a…

Just in Time for Banned Books Week

When most people think of Banned Books Week (celebrated this year Sept. 25 through Oct. 2), they usually envision puritanical parents trying to keep entire school districts from allowing students to have access to particular books that they don't want their own children to know exist because they find them offensive (usually without having read them). This week usually evokes discussions of titles such as Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, Ulysses, or the Harry Potter series, and authors such as Judy Blume, John Steinbeck, or Maya Angelou.

When ever this week rolls around, on the other hand, I am always reminded of a horrifying act of censorship that happened in the United States in the 1950s. No, I'm not talking about the uproar over roll'n'roll music. I'm talking about the literal book-burning of the works of William Reich. William Reich was a renowned, if controversial, psychiatrist and scientist, who developed a theory of "orgone energy". The F…

Law Library Brown Bag Series

During the 2010 Fall Semester, the O'Quinn Law Library will offer a series of lunchtime presentations on five different legal research topics. Each session will be given at 12 noon Tuesdays and Wednesdays. For for more information click the following link: http://www.law.uh.edu/libraries/publications/brownbags.htm.

The Fall 2010 schedule is as follows:

1. Advanced Search Strategies for Lexis and Westlaw
Tuesday, 9/28, 12:00-12:45, Wednesday, 9/29, 12:00-12:45 (room 4 BLB)
Lauren Schroeder, Reference and Research Librarian

2. Researching Foreign and International Law
Tuesday, 10/05, 12:00-12:45, Wednesday, 10/06, 12:00-12:45 (room 4 BLB)
Saskia Mehlhorn, Visiting Foreign and International Law Librarian

3. Bluebook Update: Welcome to the 19th Edition
Tuesday, 10/12, 12:00-12:45, Wednesday, 10/13, 12:00-12:45 (room 4 BLB)
Dan Baker, Reference and Research Librarian

4. Researching Federal Legislative History
Tuesday, 10/19, 12:00-12:45, Wednesday, 10/20, 12:00-12:45 (room 4 BLB)
Emily Woolard, Ref…

USA.gov

USA.gov, originally known as FirstGov.gov, was launched in 2000 as a portal for U.S. Government information. This website has evolved remarkably over the past decade and today the interface is very user friendly. USA.gov can be used as a starting point for those wishing to register to vote, obtain a passport, apply for a U.S. Government job, or even locate an alternative fuel station. Those who wish to browse this website may choose from four links at the top of the main page including obtaining government services, exploring topics, locating government agencies, and contacting the government. For each option, a convenient drop down menu is available with important sub categories and a link to a more detailed index for further exploration. Those who need quick information about a specific topic may use the search engine with advanced search options which is powered by Bing.

New Guide Aimed at Law Students

Preparing law students for the legal research demands of the real world has long been a concern of law librarians. With the advent of the Internet, and its corresponding effect on the research habits and expectations of students, many librarians have wondered why law schools continue to allow Westlaw, LexisNexis, and the rest of the legal publishers of subscription databases to dictate the contours of the legal research experience. Finally, a step has been taken to counter the publishers' power over legal research training.

Late last month, a new online resource was launched: The Law Student Guide to Free Legal Research on the Internet (http://freelaw.classcaster.net/). As its title suggests, this online guide is primarily targeted at law students, although there is also a section for law librarians and legal research instructors. Sponsored by the Legal Information Institute (LII) and Justia.com and hosted by the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI), this guide asp…

Live Hearings from the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea

All those that are interested in following live hearings at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea - here is a great opportunity: 
Starting on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 8 am CT and continued until Thursday, one can follow a hearing on a request for an advisory opinion on the responsibilities and obligations of States sponsoring persons and entities with respect to activities in the International Seabed Area.
The live hearing will be transmitted through the ITLOS website.

Google Instant

If you use Google on a regular basis, you may have noticed something different this week with your search results. This is because Google launched Google Instant on Wednesday. Google Instant is a new search enhancement that shows results as you type. The results section is shown just below the search box and the search results are adjusted with each letter you type. This will allow you to view the results and adapt your search before you even press the “search” button. Google claims that Google Instant can save 2-5 seconds per search and estimates that if everyone uses the enhancement, it will save more than 3.5 billion seconds per day.

Currently, Google Instant is available for those who use updated versions of Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Chrome. It is set as a default search feature, but can be easily turned off for those who find it to be a distraction. Visit the Google Instant website to learn more about this new feature.

Finding GAO Reports

The United States Government Accountability Office is an independent, nonpartisan agency that serves as the “investigative arm of Congress.” It does so by evaluating how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars and reporting on how well government programs are meeting their objectives. The GAO issues reports, often at the request of members of Congress, about various federal government programs, which offer recommendations to the agencies. These reports cover a wide range of topics and can be very helpful for researchers needing information about particular agencies and programs. For example, GAO reports were recently released about the assistance provided by the federal government to nonprofits following hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the FDA’s consideration of evidence from certain clinical trials.

GAO Reports can be found on the GAO website either through browsing by date, topic, or agency, or by using the advanced search feature. This website is updated daily and the f…

Research Tips: HeinOnline - Law Journals...and Much, Much More!

HeinOnline is a database created by William S. Hein & Co., and accessible from the Legal Databases section of the library's website. It currently contains "over 40 million pages of research material", all available in their original format via PDF.

In addition to its collection of over 1,400 law journals (with coverage from the first issue onward), HeinOnline has the following libraries (keep in mind, even this list does not include everything available):

English Reports, Full Reprint (1220-1867)Federal Register Library - this contains the Federal Register (1936-current, updated daily) and Code of Federal Regulations (1938-current), as well as the Weekly and Daily Compilations of Presidential Documents, and the United States Government Manual (1935-current)Legal Classics - over 1,400 historical works, ranging from the Code of Hammurabi to Benjamin Cardozo and Louis BrandeisSession Laws Library - session laws from all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, also…