March 26, 2011

Book Review: The Fears Within: Spies, Commies, and American Democracy on Trial

TITLE: The Fear Within
SUBTITLE: Spies, Commies, and American Democracy on Trial
AUTHOR: Scott Martelle
PUBLISHER: Rutgers University Press
PAGE COUNT: 320 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-8135-4938-5 (Cloth)
PRICE: $26.95 (Cloth)

The author is a freelance journalist and writer with expertise in American history. Martelle details the 1948 arrest and trial of twelve members of the Communist Party USA who were accused of espionage and conspiracy in violation of the Smith Act, which prohibited inciting acts of force and violence against the government. He carefully describes the primary defense argument, namely, that these twelve men did nothing more than teach a doctrine and therefore the government’s case amounts to political repression. The author underscores the defense argument that the Smith Act’s constitutionality is suspect because of its inherent conflict with the First Amendment, because the allegations against the men involved no acts and therefore did not constitute a clear and present danger to the government. The Smith Act was hastily crafted during the pressure of wartime, the author notes, and was not intended to be used against those exercising their First Amendment right of free speech. Nevertheless, eleven of the men were convicted, and the author concludes that the judge’s charge to the jury was the deciding factor, as guilt rode on the defendants’ intent to overthrow the government and their use of words as a rule for action. Aimed at an academic audience and well-documented, the book is replete with analysis of the legal and political issues involved, and is thus recommended for academic, law, and larger public libraries.

Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Library, First Judicial District, New York, New York

March 8, 2011

Book Review: The Eichmann Trial

TITLE: The Eichmann Trial
AUTHOR: Deborah E. Lipstadt
PUBLISHER: Schocken Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
PAGE COUNT: 272 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-8052-4260-7
PRICE: $23.95

The author is a professor of Jewish Studies at Emory University and has written extensively about the Holocaust. In her new work, she details the Israeli capture and trial of fugitive Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann fifteen years after his escape from U.S. custody at the end of World War II. Lipstadt carefully shows how Attorney General Gideon Hausner called witness after witness who had directly observed the most brutal and murderous aspects of Eichmann's evil objectives and were thus able to bring the tragedy alive. She concludes the verdict was a forgone conclusion, but the sentencing was more complicated, and thus followed a contentious debate about the death penalty in a society that preaches love and compassion. Arguments for and against Eichmann's execution are described in detail, with the author noting the Court's referral of the matter to the Prime Minister and Israeli Cabinet for ultimate resolution. Aimed at an academic audience, the book is replete with references to primary source material and thus constitutes an authoritative analysis of the historical and legal issues involved in a trial of international significance. Highly recommended for students, scholars, and researchers analyzing actions and motives of war crimes perpetrators and their victims during periods of political conflict and courtroom confrontation.

Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Library, First Judicial District, New York, New York

September 8, 2010

Book Review:The Conservative Assault on the Constitution

AUTHOR: Erwin Chemerinsky
PUBLICATION DATE: October 5, 2010
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
PAGE COUNT: 305 pp. + index
ISBN: 978-1-4165-7468-2
PRICE: $27.00

A prolific author and law school dean, Chemerinsky brings his expertise in Constitutional law to his fifth book on the topic, as he analyzes recent trends in modern American jurisprudence which he believes are tipping the legal scales too far to the right. The author shows how historically accepted principles of American Constitutional law, such as separation of church and state, have been diluted by a new conservative mentality that is political, not legal, in nature and has thus resulted in a new brand of political jurisprudence in Constitutional law that is more an offspring of the ballot box than the natural and organic evolution of legal theory, thus allowing, for example, public displays of religious symbols that would have been banned by earlier, more liberal, courts. Chemerinsky also asserts that the implementation of the death penalty is fraught with unfair procedures and ineffective representation by counsel, conditions that are exacerbated by an increasingly conservative Federal judiciary and legislation enacted by a conservative Congress that makes it harder for individuals, even those wrongly convicted, to gain relief from the federal courts. Aimed at a scholarly audience, the author clearly makes the case that conservative ideology has invaded, and thus diluted, traditional Constitutional rights and liberties. Recommended for academic, public, and law libraries.

Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Library, First Judicial District, New York, New York

August 17, 2010

Book Review: Justice Brennan: Liberal Champion

SUBTITLE: Liberal Champion
AUTHORS: Seth Stern & Stephen Wermiel
PUBLICATION DATE: October 4, 2010
PUBLISHER: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
PAGE COUNT: 688 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-547-14625-7 (Paper)
PRICE: $35.00

Stern, a reporter for CQ, and Wermiel, a law professor and former WSJ reporter, team up to chronicle the career of US Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, who served on the High Bench during a tumultuous period from 1956 to 1990. Working from a repository of newly-released documents, as well as interviews with friends, family, colleagues, and Justice Brennan himself, the authors show how Brennan staked a liberal claim with the progressive side of the Warren Court during the mid-Twentieth Century, often invoking civil rights and privacy protections for minorities, women, and the working class. Especially revealing and insightful are the authors’ revelations about the inner workings of the Supreme Court, how the Justices arrive at their decisions, and the infrequent, yet riveting, confrontations between Brennan and his conservative counterparts. The book is a historian’s guide to the tactics and strategies behind many of the legal battles of the era over the extent of Constitutional rights and the legal struggles over such contentious issues as desegregation, affirmative action, school prayer, the death penalty, and abortion. Aimed at a scholarly audience; highly recommended for academic and law libraries, as well as larger public libraries.

Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Library, First Judicial District, New York, New York

May 26, 2010

Book Review: The Supreme Court: A C-SPAN Book Featuring the Justices in Their Own Words

SUBTITLE: A C-SPAN Book Featuring the Justices in Their Own Words
EDITORS: Brian Lamb, Susan Swain, and Mark Farkas
PUBLISHER: Perseus Books
PAGE COUNT: 372 pp.
ISBN: 978-1-38648-835-2
PRICE: $28.95

A team of C-SPAN editors has assembled a selection of interviews with current and former U. S. Supreme Court Justices, as well as Court followers, experts, and participants in the judicial process drawn from the fields of law, government, and journalism. Taken together, the interviews provide a historical overview and policy perspective of the Court which is rarely seen in current literature. The Justices pontificate on the history of the Court, its place in the structure of government, and the role of the Court in shaping modern society. Especially revealing are the discussions centered about its inner workings, such as the manner in which cases come before the Court, how they are heard, and how the Justices discuss, debate, and decide their opinions. At the end of the book are many useful reference resources, including biographies, listings, surveys, statistics, and a summary of important decisions and seminal historical events in Supreme Court history. The book is aimed at a general audience and is thus recommended mainly for public and school libraries.

Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Library, First Judicial District, New York, New York


We are never paid to do a review. We never accept money to review a product or service. We invest our own time to review and test products.

May 3, 2010

Book Review: Capitlal Punishment on Trial

TITLE: Capital Punishment on Trial
SUBTITLE: Furman v. Georgia and the Death Penalty in Modern America
AUTHOR: David M. Oshinsky
PUBLICATION DATE: April 14, 2010
PUBLISHER: University Press of Kansas
PAGE COUNT: 160 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-7006-1711-1 (Paper)
978-0-7006-1710-4 (Cloth)
PRICE: $14.95 (Paper)
$29.95 (Cloth)

Oshinsky , a Pulitzer-prize winning historian at the University of Texas, summarizes the tangled web of legal arguments for and against the death penalty in modern American justice. He focuses on the brief period of time during the 1970s in which capital punishment was banned by the U. S. Supreme Court, how the prohibition occurred, and how it ended as suddenly as it began. Highlighting the case that brought about the temporary halt to executions, the author details the appeal of William Henry Furman and how a deeply-divided Supreme Court concluded that a process so pervasively riddled with discrimination and arbitrary standards violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Oshinsky concludes that it was exactly this determination by the Court in 1972 that precipitated the reinstatement of the death penalty four years later by requiring the elimination of capricious and discriminatory standards from state death penalty statutes. The author describes the current Supreme Court as bitterly divided over the concept at a conceptual level, as Justices continue to struggle with the legal implications of a process that attempts to impose uniform standards and guidelines while at the same time pursues what Oshinsky believes to be an arbitrary, and thereby imperfect, formula for death that is the hallmark of the past. He argues that the issue is far from settled, as a stream of reports and findings portray the current system as racially biased, weighted against the poor, marred by substandard defense attorneys, expensive to maintain, and subject to intolerable error. The book is aimed at an academic audience and is thus recommended mainly for college, university, and law libraries.

Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Library, First Judicial District, New York, New York


We are never paid to do a review. We never accept money to review a product or service. We invest our own time to review and test products.

November 18, 2009

Book Review: Gay Families and the Courts

TITLE: Gay Families and the Courts
SUBTITLE: The Quest for Equal Rights
AUTHOR: Susan Gluck Mezey
PUBLICATION DATE: September 2009
PUBLISHER: Bowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
PAGE COUNT: 300 pp.
ISBN: 0-7425-6219-0 (Paper)
0-7425-6218-2 (Cloth)
PROBABLE PRICE: $27.95 (Paper)
$70.00 (Cloth)

Mezey (political science–Loyola Chicago) is an established author in the legal rights realm as it relates to women and minority groups. The relationship between public policy and the law as it pertains to LGBT issues is explored in an attempt to clarify where the courts stand with respect to the extent to which gay rights permeates marriage and the family, as well as the level to which a maturing framework for social change manifests itself within an evolving legal system.

Mezey’s work is an excellent primer for the researcher of high-profile gay rights issues, such as same-sex marriage and freedom of association. The manner in which judges in various states have analyzed, dissected, and parsed opposing arguments is presented in great detail. Common legal trends that cross state lines are noted, as the author explains the challenges facing plaintiffs who pursue untested notions. Mezey concludes that the concept of a constitutional guarantee of the right to same-sex marriage is doomed to failure as long as the judiciary refuses to embrace a theory of social change which incorporates a framework for marriage that includes both procreation and the social well-being of children within a society that permits marriage between members of the same sex.

Superbly indexed by subject heading as well as case law, the author also provides an invaluable bibliography of print and electronic resources to assist the reader. The book is aimed at an academic audience and is thus recommended mainly for college, university, and law libraries.

Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Library, First Judicial District, New York, New York

June 25, 2009

Book Review: A Right to Discriminate?: How the Case of Boys Scouts of America v.James Dale Warped the Law of Free Association

TITLE: A Right to Discriminate?
SUBTITLE: How the Case of Boy Scouts of America v. James Dale Warped the Law of Free Association
AUTHOR: Andrew Koppelman with Tobias Barrington Wolff
PUBLISHER: Yale University Press
PAGE COUNT: 192 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-300-12127-8

Koppelman (law & poly sci/Northwestern) has teamed up with Wolff (law/U. Penn.) to analyze the effect of a seminal 2000 discrimination case on Constitutional law. Plaintiff Dale was expelled from the Boy Scouts of America due to sexual orientation. Suing under New Jersey's antidiscrimination law, the authors track the reasoned logic of the lower court: Dale's membership in the Boy Scouts did not violate the organization's freedom of expression because his objective was merely associative and did not infringe on the intentions of other members. The U. S. Supreme Court reversed with an opinion that Koppelmann and Wolff conclude would effectively overturn any antidiscrimination law. An overly-broad interpretation of the First Amendment, they argue, means that an association need only engage in expression in order to be protected. The Dale case is thus ripe for reversal by future justices who fear that its expansive scope might permit any expressive association to resist any form of regulation that it claims would interfere with its message. Recommended for academic, public, and law libraries.

Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Library, First Judicial District, New York, New York

April 24, 2009

In Challenge to Integrated Library System Industry, OCLC Extends WorldCat By Launcing New Library System

BY Philip Y. Blue, Senior Law Librarian
New York Supreme Court Criminal Term Library

In a move that could reshape the library automation landscape, OCLC has expanded WorldCat Locals existing cataloging and discovery tools with new circulation, delivery, and acquisitions features. This new project, which OCLC calls "the first Web-scale, cooperative library management service," will ultimately bring into WorldCat Local the full complement of functions traditionally performed by a locally installed integrated library system (ILS).

Libraries that subscribe to FirstSearch WorldCat will get, for no additional charge, the WorldCat Local quick start service: a locally branded catalog interface and simple search box that presents localized search results for print and electronic content along with the ability to search the entire WorldCat database and other resources via the Web. Further automation support would come next year.

See Marshall Breeding's article on, "In Challenge to ILS Industry, OCLC Extends WorldCat Local to Launch New Library System"

January 9, 2009

Book Review: The Sodomy Cases

TITLE: The Sodomy Cases
SUBTITLE: Bowers v. Hardwick and Lawrence v. Texas
AUTHOR: David A. J. Richards
PUBLICATION DATE: February 17, 2009
PUBLISHER: University Press of Kansas
PAGE COUNT: 232 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-7006-1636-7 (Cloth)
978-0-7006-1637-4 (Paper)
PRICE: $35.00 (Cloth); $16.95 (Paper)

NYU law professor Richards is a widely published and respected author of academic/crossover books dealing with the law and social issues, such as gay rights and feminism. He focuses on two key Supreme Court cases: the 1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick upholding Georgia's anti-sodomy laws and the 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas striking down Texas' anti-sodomy laws and overturning Bowers. He shows how Bowers arose during a period of ongoing interpretative debates over the right to privacy and examines both opinions in light of the Court's affirmation in Roe v. Wade (1973) of the reproductive rights of an unmarried individual. He then shows that Lawrence must be understood in the context of later privacy rights cases, notably Casey, which overtly reaffirmed Roe, and Romer, which prohibited the selective proscription of antidiscrimination laws, both thereby requiring that Bowers be reconsidered and overturned. Along the way, the author articulates a theory of what he terms the human right of intimate life manifest in the Constitution and its history of judicial interpretation. He traces important currents of political thought which underlay this concept and shaped its trajectory, from Revolutiony ideology, through the Constitutional Convention and its ratification debates, the Civil War amendments and beyond, pointing to slavery's abrogation of marriage and family rights and to state attempts to proscribe contraception as events which ultimately led the Supreme Court to take seriously gender as a classification arguably as important as race. Recommended for academic, public, and law libraries.

Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Library, First Judicial District, New York, New York

December 18, 2008

Book Review: Anatomy of a Trial: Public Lessons Learned from The People vs. O. J. Simpson

TITLE: Anatomy of a Trial
SUBTITLE: Public Loss, Lessons Learned from The People vs. O.J. Simpson
AUTHOR: Jerrianne Hayslett
PUBLISHER: University of Missouri Press
PAGE COUNT: 256 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-8262-1822-3
PRICE: $29.95

The author was the information officer and media liason for Los Angeles Superior Court during the 1995 criminal trial of Orenthal James Simpson, a retired NFL running back and actor, on charges of murdering his ex-wife and her boyfriend in June of the previous year. Hayslett examines how an ordinary felony murder trial was turned into a public spectacle of excessive and outrageous proportions by the outlandish and, at times unprofessional, conduct of prosecutors, defense attorneys and, unfortunately, the presiding judge, Lance Ito. As she was present daily both in the courtroom and Ito's chambers, the author delivers an insider's account of how the judge went from a paragon of judicial stature and competence to a celebrity aspirant devoid of talent or stage skill. Frequently criticizing the judge for being too deferential to the demands of Simpson's attorneys, Hayslett provides more than just a captivating tale of an aberrational trial and its consequences. Her account includes an essential blueprint for what the media and judges can do in the future to avoid sideshows and to fulfill their responsibilities to the public. Recommended for public, academic, and law libraries.

Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Library, First Judicial District, New York, New York

December 17, 2008

NBC Report: During Economic Downturn, Library Use "Way Up"While Budgets are Being Cut

According to an NBC report on MSNBC, use of library has gone "way up" during the present economic downturn; circulation is "skyrocketing". All of this at a time when the budgets of many of these libraries are being cut..

When you go to the above link, be patient, You will first need to listen to a brief commercial before getting to the report about libraries.

September 24, 2008

Book Review: Legacy and Legitimacy: Black Americans and the Supreme Court

TITLE: Legacy And Legitimacy
SUBTITLE: Black Americans And The Supreme Court
AUTHORS: Rosalee A. Clawson and Eric N. Waltenburg
PUBLISHER: Temple University Press
PAGE COUNT: 224 pp.
ISBN: 978-1-59213-903-3
PRICE: $23.95

The U. S. Supreme Court's Warren-era revolution in the areas of civil, individual, and privacy rights is the focus of this historical and statistical treatise which combines sociology with survey analysis in a successful effort to prove that Brown v. Board of Education and related Supreme Court decisons of the 1950s and 1960s have created a well of good will toward the Court among African-Americans, a reservoir that appears deep enough to endure the high court's much more tepid support for black political and legal interests since the 1970s. The U.S. Supreme Court therefore enjoys a legacy of legitimacy among black Americans, according to Clawson and Waltenburg, both of whom are political science professors at Purdue.

The concept of political legitimacy as a stabilizing force is central to the book's theme and is particularly important in a pluralist democracy such as the U.S., where constituents regularly lodge competing demands. As these demands are met, winners and losers are created, placing stresses upon the political system. As these stresses accrue, the organizational vitality of the system is challenged, as is the support of the constituents for that system. Offsetting these challenges is the level of legitimacy maintained by the pluralist democracy's institutions.

The authors seek to measure, through a series of extended surveys and intricate statistical analysis, the one institution of government which most effectively regulates pluralist conflicts and rallies support for the regime. Relative to other institutions, the authors conclude, the Supreme Court has the greatest capacity to legitimize policies. And, consistent with Legitimacy Theory, this capacity likely stems from its institutional credibility, as the authors note the Court's remarkably high and stable levels of abstract mass approval compared with the presidency and Congress. Recommended for academic libraries.

Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Library, First Judicial District, New York, NY

September 15, 2008

American Libraries Direct September 10, 2008

The e-newsletter of the American Library Association*.

Critics revisit library incident that paints Palin as censor

"Journalists and bloggers scrutinizing Sarah Palin’s record of public service have made national news out of a 1996 library incident in Wasilla, Alaska, where the Republican vice-presidential nominee was then mayor. The story that has emerged—in countless reports, from the blogosphere to the New York Times—paints Palin as a would-be censor and then–city librarian Mary Ellen Emmons as nearly losing her job for disagreeing...."

Book banning is alive and well in the United States

"Are books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or the Harry Potter series available at your public or school library? According to the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, due to book challenges, more than one book a day faces removal from public access in school and public libraries. Challenges are defined as formal, written complaints filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. Office for Intellectual Freedom Director Judith Krug and Nathan Ritchie from the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum (above) discuss Banned Books Week 2008 on Chicago Access "

Library clerk recognized for catching a thief

"Jacksonville (Fla.) Public Library Clerk Bradley Jaskula helped gather information that led to the arrest of a library patron who had stolen about $7,000 worth of materials last spring. Jaskula noted that Jermaine Smith had more than a dozen library cards issued to fictional children. For his efforts, Jaskula was given a “Goal Star” civic award and a letter of recognition from Mayor John Peyton...."

Groups criticize new copyright bill

"A broad intellectual property enforcement bill introduced in July is slated for markup by the Senate Judiciary Committee September 11. The Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act (PDF file), sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), enacts a potpourri of measures long sought by content industries. In a letter sent to the committee September 10, ALA and other groups criticized the bill, warning that an “unbalanced approach to enforcement would lead to unintended harms” that could stifle innovation...."

Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library planned

"Theodore Roosevelt lacks one thing that most modern-day presidents have: a presidential library. Dickinson (N. Dak.) State University is gearing up to change that and is planning a library, museum, meeting space, research center, and a comprehensive digital library, all in honor of the 26th president. DSU will incorporate a database of 600,000 digitized Theodore Roosevelt documents from the Library of Congress and Harvard University...."

Highsmith company to close

"The Highsmith company in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, will close November 1, leaving 86 employees out of work. Lab Safety Supply of Janesville, which purchased Highsmith in July, has informed the Department of Workforce Development that it will close the Fort Atkinson facility. Highsmith, founded in 1956, is a distributor of supplies, furniture, and equipment to public, academic, school, and special libraries throughout the United States..."

.Beethoven’s last piano piece discovered in Berlin library

"Is this Beethoven’s last work for piano? Peter McCallum, associate professor in musicology at the University of Sydney, Australia, believes it is. The 32 bars of handwritten musical notation caught his eye when he was studying the composer’s last sketchbook in the Berlin State Library a couple of years ago. McCallum said he believed the piece was written in October 1826, a few months before Beethoven died in March 1827...."

10 things that changed the face of computing

"The history of computing is a fascinating one. Over the last 40 years or so computers have evolved from enormous and complex machines requiring specialized knowledge for operating, to small devices that most people can understand and operate in a few hours. This is a list of 10 software developments that have been the most revolutionary in the history of computing.
Number 1? The Xerox Alto operating system (above)...."
The List Universe, Sept. 2

Oddest book titles of the past 30 years

"Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers (Hellenic Philatelic Society of Great Britain, 1994) has been crowned the oddest book title of the past 30 years. In The Bookseller’s online poll in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year, Derek Willan’s comprehensive record of a sector of Greece’s postal routes gained 13% of the public vote. Gary Leon Hill’s People Who Don’t Know They’re Dead (Weiser, 2005) finished second (11% of the public vote) and John W. Trimmer’s guide to avoiding maritime mishaps, How to Avoid Huge Ships (The author, 1982) finished third (10%)...."
The Bookseller, Sept. 5
*Information for this post was contributed by our Senior Law Librarian, Philip Y. Blue. To see the entire issue in html format click here.

August 14, 2008

Book Review: Three Generations, No Imbeciles: Eugenics, the Supreme Court, and Buck v. Bell

TITLE: Three Generations, No Imbeciles

SUBTITLE: Eugenics, the Supreme Court, and Buck v. Bell

AUTHOR: Paul A. Lombardo


PUBLISHER: The Johns Hopkins University Press

PAGE COUNT: 375 pp
ISBN-13: 978-0-8018-9010-9

ISBN-10: 0-8018-9010-1

PRICE: $29.95

Lombardo is an activist law professor who traces a seminal 1927 Supreme Court case arising from the attempt by authorities in Amherst County, Virginia to force the mandatory sterilization of a woman believed to be mentally and socially insufficient. The author carefully recreates the Virginia trial court drama, which resulted in a ruling from the bench formally endorsing the sterilization of Carrie Buck. The Virginia Supreme Court quickly affirmed the ruling of the lower Court, and the case rapidly advanced to the U. S. Supreme Court. The Virginia Sterilization Law, the justices ruled, did not violate the Eighth Amendment, because Carrie Buck had committed no crime! Lombardo minces no words in expressing his disdain for the lackluster performance of Buck's attorney, as well as his insidious connections to the institution where she was confined and his theoretical support for the science that devitalized her! Carrie's fate in Washington before the High Court, argues the author, was partially attributable to social Darwinism (survival of the fittest), as well as the prevailing attitude of the Court's chief social arbiter, Oliver Wendell Holmes, that society should not bear the burden of people born without pedigree, status, intelligence, or capacity. However, Lombardo observes, by the early 1970s, medical science had strongly discredited the notion that bad heredity could be interrupted by sterilization, and the entire movement ground to a screeching halt! Highly recommended for academic, public, and law libraries.

Philip Y. Blue,
New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Library, First Judicial District, New York, New York

June 25, 2008

Selections from American Libraries Direct June 18, 2008

From the American Library Association (ALA).*

Midwest libraries endure rising floodwaters

"Days of sandbagging could not keep the Cedar River out of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Overflowing barriers on June 12, it deluged more than 100 blocks of the city’s eastern side, including the Cedar Rapids Public Library (a YouTube video, above left, shows the library at about the 6:20 mark). Some 64 miles to the northwest, some 18 inches of water destroyed the wooden interior of the Elizabeth Rasmussen Martin Memorial Library in New Hartford (bottom left). In Iowa City, the University of Iowa ordered the June 13 closing of the Main Library and a number of other campus buildings in the wake of several area bridges collapsing. Hundreds of volunteers formed a chain (top right) to remove books and dissertations from the campus library, while others transferred artwork from the museum as the arts campus was submerged. River towns throughout the upper Midwest continue sandbagging in anticipation of record overflows predicted to hit by June 20..."

.ProQuest to acquire Dialog

"Ann Arbor, Michigan–based electronic publishing company ProQuest signed an agreement June 12 to purchase the Dialog database service from media company Thomson Reuters. The transaction is expected to close by mid-July, pending completion of a formal consultation period and other customary closing conditions, ProQuest CEO Marty Kahn told American Libraries. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed...."

Arkansas library evicts court from building

"In what might prove to be the end game in a conflict that has persisted for over a decade, the Pine Bluff–Jefferson County (Ark.) Library System served an eviction notice to District Court Judge Waymond Brown June 10 requiring him to remove his court’s operations from the ground floor of the library building. Division 2 of the Jefferson County District Court has occupied the space since 2001 in an arrangement that was intended as a temporary measure...."

Libel suit over digitized article dismissed

"A federal judge has dismissed a $1-million lawsuit filed by a Cornell University alumnus who claimed that the school libeled him in a 1983 Cornell Chronicle article reporting that he had been charged with third-degree burglary when he was a student. Back issues of the Chronicle, a newspaper published by the university’s press office, are being digitized by the campus

Defining digital preservation

"The ALCTS Preservation and Reformatting Section has developed a definition of digital preservation. It was developed to promote an understanding of digital preservation within the library community as well as its allied professions and user communities. The definition marks a current understanding of digital preservation and grew out of a conversation held at the Digital Preservation Discussion Group at the ALA 2007 Midwinter Meeting...."

How to annoy a public librarian

"Five suggestions from Roland Saint-Laurent, among them: 'If the computer you’re working at has icons, delete them all as soon as you finish your session. I don’t know why patrons do this, but I will occasionally see a computer station with either one, a couple, or all of the icons missing. Since there are a ton of computers in the library, it’s usually not a terrible inconvenience to the public,' but it certainly is annoying to the staff.."..
Stay Down Here Where You Belong, June 17

Talking points against the new Canadian copyright bill

"A bill to amend Canadian copyright law that would make it illegal to circumvent digital rights management technologies, Bill C-61, is currently before Parliament. Brendon Wilson offers a concise set of talking points to use when educating your friends and informing your Member of Parliament about the wide-reaching ramifications of the legislation on consumers’ rights. Open Source Cinema has created a PSA video (0:50) about the bill....
Brendon Wilson, June 16; Open Source Cinema"

ISBNs for digital books

"Peter Brantley writes: “Already, publishers are making a single EPUB digital book package, and then leaving the proliferation of more discrete e-book reader formats to intermediaries, distributors, and wholesalers. Ingram will make the XYZ, Amazon will make the Kindle format. The publisher is only responsible for one file—the .epub package. We are rapidly jerking forwards into a near-term future where ISBNs will be assigned for derivative digital book products by intermediaries, not publishers.”...
Publishing Frontier, June 16"

100 useful web tools for writers

"Laura Milligan writes: 'Whether you’re a freelance writer or someone with regular hours, the internet can provide you with unending support for your practical duties (like getting paid) and for your more creative pursuits—like developing a plot, finding inspiration, and playing around with words. Turn to this list for 100 useful web tools that will help you with your career, your sanity, and your creativity whenever you write.'..."

To see entire issue, click here.
*Submitted by Philip Y. Blue, Senior Law Librarian
New York Supreme Cour Criminal Term New York County

May 14, 2008

Book Review: On The Laps of Gods: The Summer of 1919 and the Struggle for Justice that Remade a Nation

From time to time we hope to post book reviews on this blog. Philip Blue our Senior Law Librarian has just written a very interesting review of a fascinating book. We hope you enjoy both the review and the book:

SUBTITLE: The Red Summer of 1919 and the Struggle for Justice That Remade a Nation
AUTHOR: Robert Whitaker
PUBLISHER: Crown Publishers
PAGE COUNT: 400 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-307-33982-9
PRICE: $24.95
Dewey #: 976.7/88052 $2 22

Whitaker is the award-winning author of The Mapmaker’s Wife and Mad in America. His manuscript of On the Laps of Gods won the prestigious J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award. A journalist who usually writes on topics in popular science and medicine plunges full-force into the legal and historical significance of a U.S. Supreme Court decision overlooked by contemporary historians. Moore v. Dempsey, 261 US 86 (1923) concerned an appeal from five blacks who were convicted of murder in the first degree and sentenced to death by the Court of the State of Arkansas. The convictions stemmed from a 1919 Arkansas race riot in which a white man was killed and several people of both races were injured. Whitaker shows how NAACP attorneys struggled to defend the accused in the face of an all-white jury, prosecution witnesses who were whipped if they didn't lie, a mob outside the courthouse threatening violence if there were no convictions, court-appointed defense attorneys who refused to call any witnesses, and a trial and deliberation that took less than an hour! Whitaker carefully traces the progress of the defendants' federal appeal all the way up to a Supreme Court dominated by a group of crusty old men, a few of whom had a heart and mind to see through the sham of Arkansas justice, overturn the state court ruling, and set the men free. He praises Oliver Wendell Holmes, noting in particular the influence of the Boston Brahmin on the other justices, who finally agreed with Holmes that "counsel, jury and judge were swept to the fatal end by an irresistible wave of public passion." Whitaker also notes the exemplary work of Scipio Africanus Jones, an NAACP attorney born a slave, whose effective arguments about the evolutionary theory of 14th Amendment interpretation, turned the tide in favor of the defendants. Highly recommended for academic and law libraries.

Philip Y. Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Law Library, First Judicial District, New York, New York