Finally, Online Legal Information Is a Topic of Serious Discussion!
Legal link rot has been a newsworthy topic since the publication of “Something Rotten in the State of Legal Citation: The Life Span of a United States Supreme Court Citation Containing an Internet Link (1996-2010) in Yale Journal of Law and Technology. The New York Times featured the study in its September 23, 2013 article In Supreme Court Opinions, Web Links to Nowhere.
The ABA Journal has joined the discussion this month with “Link rot’ is degrading legal research and case cites.” The article features Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group (CDPG) which includes the Maryland State Law Library, Virginia State Law Library and the libraries of Georgetown and Harvard law schools. CDPG harvests and preserves legally significant publications based on the collection development plans of its member libraries. Annually the members of the group check to see if links to a sample set of publications still work. The number of dead links has grown annually, but the 2013 report was significant because for the first over 50 percent of .gov links no longer worked.
It is gratifying to see the preservation of online legal information a topic of serious discussion and the work of groups like CDPG recognized. New tools like permaCC offer the promise of a consistent and permanent links to online legal information. Maybe by the end of the decade link rot will become a quaint artifact, like the sound of a 56K baud modem.
Mary Jo Lazun, Maryland State Law Library
Many counties in Maryland have open forums to allow community organizations to make an “elevator pitch” to their delegations. This Tuesday, Joan Bellistri, Paul Lagasse, and I attended the Anne Arundel County delegation’s forum in order to give them a quick introduction to the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA).
Although we were the second-to -last organization on the agenda, the delegates examined our packet of materials and appeared to be engaged by what we had to say. Of course Joanie is an excellent public speaker and came prepared with a succinct four-minute talk based a sample speech from the AALL UELMA resources page. (Thank you, Emily Feltren Felton of AALL’s Government Relations!)
Following our presentation, one of the delegates asked a question regarding funding; no big surprise there. And after the forum, Paul and I had an opportunity to chat with one of the delegates about the importance of preserving born-digital legal materials. We referenced the Chesapeake Project linkrot study that revealed that after five years, over 50% documents with .gov domain were no longer available at their original URLs.
Forums like this are a great (and easy) opportunity to educate our delegates and senators about UELMA. Keep an eye out for similar forums in your county. Joanie and I have a packet of material and a speech ready to go. Won’t you volunteer to the same in your county? Consider volunteering with your county and bring a fellow librarian…it is more fun with a colleague.
Mary Jo Lazun, Maryland State Law Library
Save the Date!
The Law Library Association of Maryland invites you to a
Holiday English Tea
Friday, December 6, 2013
at 17th Floor Bistro
100 Light Street, 17th Floor
Baltimore, MD 21202
Join fellow LLAMers in viewing the magnificent Baltimore Inner Harbor at a festive Holiday English Tea complete with sweets, savories, wines and sherry.
Holiday shopping: This year’s silent auction benefits Rebuilding Together and the LLAM scholarship fund, so please get your auction items ready.
Special Offer: Invite a non-member friend or colleague and get your second registration fee at half price.
Tickets: $25.00 per person ($12.50 for a non-member guest)
You may pay by check. Make the check payable to “LLAM” and mail to
University of Baltimore Law Library
1401 N. Charles St.
Baltimore, Maryland 21201
We hope to see you there!
Kate Martin, LLAM Program Chair
Fabulous News: UELMA to be Introduced This Year in Maryland
by: Mary Jo Lazun and Joanie Bellistri
Next year, hopefully, will be Maryland’s turn. LLAM has just received word that the Maryland state delegate Sam Arora (D-Montgomery County) will be sponsoring the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA) in the 2014 Maryland General Assembly.
UELMA provides a technology-neutral, outcomes-based approach to ensuring that online state legal material deemed official will be preserved and will be permanently available to the public in unaltered form. UELMA has become law in eight states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, and Oregon and hopefully this spring, Maryland.
LLAM is in a unique position to help stakeholders and legislators understand the importance of UELMA. Now is the time to seek out opportunities to educate our attorneys, educators, and government officials about the importance of UELMA. The AALL Government Relations Office has made this easy by providing a useful selection of background information, advocacy materials, and sample letters at http://www.aallnet.org/Documents/Government-Relations/UELMA.
Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself on the law and its importance so that when an elevator moment presents itself, you will be ready to provide information and answer questions about UELMA.
This year’s library Legislative Day in Annapolis will be a great opportunity to talk face-to-face with our legislators about the importance UELMA. We’ll be announcing the date soon.
Hear the Honorable Irma S. Raker speak on
“Everything you need to know about Maryland Pattern Jury Instructions”
November 6, 2013 at 3:00-4:00 p.m.
Anne Arundel Circuit Court Library, Room 303
7 Church Circle
Annapolis MD 21401
A dynamic speaker, Judge Raker will recount her 30 years chairing the committee producing the popular Maryland criminal and civil pattern jury instruction books.
These books are relied on by judges across the state and cited by attorneys for their succinctness, clarity and attention to detail. Retired Chief Judge Bell calls them “of paramount importance to the court.”
The Honorable Irma Raker, a distinguished jurist and legal pioneer, was the second woman appointed to the Maryland Court of Appeals. She currently chairs the MD Access to Justice Commission and works in private mediation.
An open Q-and-A session about her illustrious legal career will follow the talk.
RSVP to Kate Martin at email@example.com, 240-777-9121.
This post is LLAM’s Maiden Voyage into the blogosphere and there is one hot topic boiling in the hearts of all Americans. Whichever side of the political fence we fall on, we are all faced with a disturbing reality – the United States Federal Government has shuttered all “non-essential” doors and shut down. We each recognize that on some level this affects everyone; some more than others.
As law librarians, this situation threatens to have a colossal impact on how we perform our jobs. Some of our colleagues have been furloughed and aren’t even able to go to work. Those of us that are still standing face a number of frustrations because the government resources we use have been suspended. Many of the government websites that we access daily to perform reference services are already shut down. If the situation continues much longer, there will be more that go dark.
Some of our most essential databases, like FDsys, aren’t being updated. When we visit many government webpages, we are met with glaring messages about budget appropriations and lapses in funding. How long will it be before the Federal Courts close? And PACER shuts down?
Some of the less-essential (but still important) services are also closed. For example, there is no one at National Library of Medicine to pull the medical articles that my patent attorneys need.
This situation should motivate us all to step up to the hypothetical plate and provide some clarity in this crisis of uncertainty. We Librarians need to provide stability. We need to use this state of affairs to our advantage and demonstrate our VALUE to our user communities. In this time of confusion we must emerge as the knowledge experts. We should know the alternate sources that are available and be prepared to guide our patrons to them. Dig deep in your bag of Librarian tricks and think of every clever way you can prove your Library to be the authoritative resource. This is the moment that we Librarians must to seize to show our continued need and importance.
I certainly hope this shut down doesn’t last much longer. I hope our lawmakers can come together and do what needs to be done to get up and running again. In the meantime, let’s be the best information providers we can be, use this as an opportunity to show our ingenuity and in the words of Tim Gunn, “Make it work!”