Embedded Librarians – January 10 at Noon

Claire Twose and Blair Alton from Welsh Medical Library, Johns Hopkins
Tuesday, January 10th Noon
Gordon, Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoffberger & Hollander, LLC
233 East Redwood Street Baltimore, Maryland 21202
Third floor

Many librarians are moving out of their libraries and actually working on-site with their users. Claire Twose and Blair Alton from the Welsh Medical Library at Johns Hopkins will discuss their experience as embedded librarians including setting up an embedded librarians program and the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of service delivery model.

Directions:
 http://www.gfrlaw.com/aboutus/xprGeneralContent2.aspx?xpST=AboutUsDirections

For validated parking please park at:
Arrow Garage – Located at 204 E. Lombard Street (preferred)
Renaissance Hotel Gallery Garage – Entrances are located on Calvert Street or South Street between Pratt and Lombard Streets.

EasyBib: More than just citation management

By Mark Desierto
Systems Librarian
Venable LLP
 

Looking for an inexpensive holiday gift to give to that college student that doesn’t enjoy citing sources as much as you do?

EasyBib (www.easybib.com) is an online bibliography generator that helps users search for websites, books, or other materials and create citations for those sources, formatted to MLA standards (for free) or to APA or Chicago styles (for a fee). Once the bibliography is complete, EasyBib offers a nice range of output options, including export to Word or Google Docs.

Based on some thoroughly unscientific testing, EasyBib performs at its best on website sources. It pulls in article title, author, and date information at the push of a button. For journals (print or online) or other more traditional research formats, however, EasyBib is a little less intuitive. It is hard to say what bibliographic indices EasyBib is searching, and the ranking is a bit confusing; a search for a recent Law Library Journal article yielded a hodgepodge of results.

Nonetheless, when EasyBib cannot find a source and generate its citation automatically, it offers a handy guided form for entering the necessary bibliographic details, then outputs the citation to one of the major citation styles. So a user is no worse off than had she or he used Microsoft Word’s native citation tools or any other online bibliography guide (e.g., Son of Citation Machine).

EasyBib, which has been available for about five years, now also offers to institutional/school partners a suite of research and information literacy tools, including virtual notecards, footnote, and parenthetical formatting output options, and even guidelines for website evaluation. (These premium features were not reviewed.)

Don’t put the Bluebook or ALWD away just yet, though: EasyBib does not offer legal citation formats in the free or premium version. But for wading through the rest of the citation universe, EasyBib is a fast, friendly tool.

EasyBib
www.easybib.com
MLA style only: Free
APA, Chicago style and additional tools: $4.99/month, $14.99/6 months, $19.99/year; institutional rates also available
iPhone app: Free

150th Anniversaries for both GPO and Foreign Relations of the United States

By Pat Behles
Gov. Docs. & Reference Librarian
University of Baltimore Law Library
 

Government Printing Office

If you happen to be in Washington over the holidays, stop into the Government Printing Office  (732 North Capitol Street, NW).  A GPO history exhibit now showcases work produced by employees since the agency opened for business, 150 years ago.

GPO opened its doors for business on March 4, 1861, the same day as President Lincoln’s inauguration. Since then, GPO has produced countless historic publications for the Government, including the Emancipation Proclamation, as well as the vast range of documents that Americans have used for generations, such as passports, social security cards, census forms, and tax forms. The exhibit also depicts the technological transformation that has always been a part of GPO’s past and has paved the way for future direction.

As part of the exhibit, GPO is displaying an original printed copy of the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1862, GPO printed the preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation in general orders format issued as an order from President Lincoln in his role as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. GPO printed 15,000 copies for the War Department, which were distributed to military commanders and their troops, as well as diplomats in foreign countries. The displayed copy at GPO, on loan from the Library of Congress, contains a printer’s proofing marks; those corrections were made in the final version of the Emancipation Proclamation issued in 1863.

For those not able to make the trek to the nation’s capital, there are two links that provide a snapshot of history.

The first has a slideshow of the exhibit: http://www.fdlp.gov/component/content/article/19-general/977-150years

From GPO’s homepage,  you can also access a short video that shows the exhibit and highlights history.

From the GPO’s website: “Keeping America Informed: The U.S. Government Printing Office: 150 Years of Service to the Nation tells the story of GPO’s history through text and photographs, many never published before. Its authoritative text and unique images depict the enormous contribution of its employees, past and present, to the well-being of the American people and nation.”

One of the latest offerings from the GPO is available on GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys).  The electronic version of President Richard Nixon’s 1975 grand jury testimony related to the Watergate investigation is available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/GPO-NARA-WSPF-NIXON-GRAND-JURY-RECORDS/content-detail.html

Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS)

In addition to the 150th anniversary of the Government Printing Office, it is also the 150th anniversary of the series Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS). The series presents the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions. The series began in 1861 and now comprises more than 400 individual volumes. The FRUS series provides an indispensable resource for American citizens and others around the world who seek to understand U.S. foreign policy and strategic planning, international relations, economic affairs, and transnational social and cultural developments.  The series has become a leading example of governmental openness and embodies the U.S. Government’s commitment to responsible transparency.

Over the past 150 years, FRUS evolved to become the official documentary history of U.S. foreign policy decision-making and major diplomatic activity. The series is prepared according to scholarly best practices under a 1991 Congressional mandate for “thorough, accurate, and reliable” coverage and timely release. The Office of the Historian at the Department of State is exploring the story behind FRUS to uncover how it became both an invaluable information resource and a leading example of the U.S. Government’s commitment to openness.

Titles include national security, individual countries like Vietnam (and the conflict), Japan and Korea to name just a few.

Who would have thought that a government document would make headline news?  But the 1955 release of the official records of the Yalta conference was headline news around the world. Also, leading U.S. historians accused the State Department of manipulating history as the Cold War ended.

Recent publications are distributed to federal depository libraries in paper and electronic format.  For a list of recent and planned publications see http://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/status-of-the-series.

Two Cats, a Guy, and a Law Library: Learning a New Law Library in a New State

By Kurt Meyer
Research Librarian

Chastek Library, Gonzaga University School of Law

As many of you know, I left the University of Maryland for a job in the Northwest last June.   I loved working at Maryland, my first job out of library school, but it was time to move on.  So my two cats and I trekked across the country in my little Mazda and eventually landed in Spokane, Washington, the home of Gonzaga’s Chastek Law Library.  During the journey, the cats primarily seemed to be concerned with escaping from their carrier, crying, and smelling every single thing in each of our five hotel rooms.  But along the way, when I wasn’t distracted by tortured meows from my pets, I started to think about the challenges I would face when starting my new job.  Since learning the Thurgood Marshall Law Library was a memorable challenge, I thought about how I could use my experience there to more efficiently learn a new library in a new state.

1.        Every Library Has Its Quirks

In my first week, my new boss Pat Charles gave me tour of my new library and, as a result, I had a lot of questions.  This is because the Chastek Law Library, like any other, has its own unique set of quirks.  For example, we have two reading rooms.  One has legal treatises and the other has Washington materials.  We also have similar materials on reserve and on the third floor, which is admittedly confusing.  Pat emphasized to me that I would need to pay close attention to these details when working the reference desk, otherwise I would likely send patrons to the wrong places or take too long.  To compensate, I spent a lot of time on my own browsing the shelves to learn where everything was.  I even compiled a list of key materials and forced myself to physically find them in the library.

My first reference shifts at Chastek went more smoothly than when I first arrived at Maryland as a newly minted law librarian.  I remember having problems with locations there, and that was because I didn’t take the initiative to find the physical locations of key resources before I had to.  I consider this to be one of the most important parts of learning a new library.

2.          Learn the Catalog

Right now you’re probably saying, “Well of course I know to do that.”  But I really wanted to know the catalog inside and out.  One of my first projects in my new job was to use the catalog to find all of our BNA materials, list them, and then talk to acquisitions to see if we had standing orders.  This project was given to me for two reasons:  First, no one else wanted to do it and, second, it would help me learn the catalog.

Without going into all the details, I have to say doing this really helped a lot.  I learned about the catalog and its quirks.  Again, I feel like this went a lot more smoothly than when I arrived at Maryland in 2007.  Don’t get me wrong, I learned that catalog well.  But I did most of it while I was working reference, so it was a little stressful at times.  Having a large project like this to immerse me was a much better way to do it.

3.        Learn the New State

This was really important to me.  Nothing will frustrate patrons more than when you start asking them questions about law.  Determined to hit the ground running, I came up with an idea for how to learn Washington law and government in a hurry.

I came up with what amounted to a Washington legal research exam for myself.  I forced myself to research everything from landlord-tenant law to sales taxes and then did legislative history research when appropriate.  I asked my fellow librarians for help only when I was completely stumped, knowing that I learn more when I figure things out for myself.  Then I put together an informal write-up of my research process just as I’ve had my students do in the past.

I cannot fully articulate how helpful this was.  Instead of having these issues come up at the reference desk and then having to call for help, I got this out of the way when it was convenient.

Results

I started work at the Chastek Law Library on July 11.  I had a little over a month before the students returned, but I was slammed with research requests from faculty and projects at the outset.  Even though I did not have a lot of time, I made it a point to learn my new library and new state.  I tried to keep the fact I’d have a steep learning curve in mind at all times.  I also was not afraid to ask questions, even stupid ones.  I hope some of these tips, which for the most part are the product of experience, can help someone else who changes libraries and/or states.

AALL Program Review: Peeping Thomas: A Little Look at a Big System

By Pat Behles
Gov. Docs. & Reference Librarian
University of Baltimore Law Library 
 

This program on Thomas was organized and presented by staff of the Law Library of Congress, including speakers Tammie Nelson and Andrew Weber.

Thomas, an online portal for legislative information, was launched at the direction of Congress to make federal legislative information freely available to the public.  Full-text coverage begins with the 101st Congress (1989-90) and bill summaries from 1973 and congressional reports from 1995. Roll call votes, House Floor This Week, House Now, calendars, Congressional Record, treaties, presidential nominations and daily digests are all features. Searching for legislation across one or multiple congresses is also possible.

Among the new updated features covered in the program were: top 5 bills, contact information, feedback options, inclusion of years with the session numbers (Yea!), more search and browse options, better headers and navigation, and links to equivalents in the states (if they exist).

The speakers also addressed what is planned for the future, including direct links to congressional legislators and legislation and archives of congressional websites.

There will be a new system in 2014 for which suggestions are being sought. The backfile will eventually become part of the Century of Lawmaking.  (Both are maintained by the Library of Congress).  The Library of Congress is working with GPO to digitize the permanent edition of the Congressional Record. To facilitate the archiving of committee websites, clerks have been directed to standardize formats.

The presenters will be updating information as it becomes available about the plans.

Featured Articles – September 2011

AALL Annual Meeting Picture Gallery

LLAM Dine Around in Philadelphia

 LLAM’s 2011 Annual Meeting Grant Recipient Reports  on AALL in Philadelphia

AALL Program Review: The New Generation of Legal Research Databases: Eighteen Months Later

AALL Program Review:  Copyright Hell: Sites to Get You Out of the Inferno

AALL Program Review: “Can the FCC Regulate the Internet?”

AALL Program Review: Advocacy at AALL 2011

AALL Program Review: PLL Change as Action Summit

AALL Program Review: Value of a Public Law Library

AALL Program Review: Peeping Thomas: A Little Look at a Big System