February 19, 2009

Digital Books and the Impact on Libraries: An Overview of the Summer 2008 Issue of Library Trends


Library Trends Volume 57, issue 1 focuses on “Digital Books and the Impact on Libraries”. Issue Editor Peter Brantley, Executive Director for the Digital Library Federation (DLF), introduces the discussion by summarizing several cataclysmic developments in the library and publishing worlds that are forever changing the production, delivery and acquisition of books and other print materials: namely, the increasing centrality of Google and the resulting uncertainties over the disruption of the traditional relationships between authors publishers and libraries and the disruptive effects of ubiquitous internet technology on people’s everyday lives. Brantley asks whether there are alternatives to Google-shaped agreements for librarians and publishers and what economies would be necessary to sustain these alternative agreements.

Among the articles that follow this introduction, particularly interesting discussions include that of Jason Epstein’s “The End of the Gutenberg Era” (pages 8-16). Epstein, formerly the editorial director of Random House and founder of Anchor Books, foresees a continued place for most current versions of the physical book (though purely reference materials such as encyclopedias will go totally online) but emphasizes a change in the manner of its distribution. Increased digitization will cut back elements of the previous supply chain reducing costs of the physical inventory, packaging etc. and replacing this costly and elaborate setup with a “practically limitless digital inventory”, making it possible to “email an entire book with all necessary metadata as easily as a letter” (15). Epstein then discusses his involvement with “On Demand Books”, a company marketing an “Espresso Book Machine” which prints books on demand from online digital files. He foresees this print-on-demand technology being setup as a sort of “ATM for books” where readers could order a title at their computers (much as they currently do at Amazon.com) and then collect the item at a nearby machine, perhaps located at a Kinko’s, Starbucks or local library or bookstore. For this setup to become widespread, there would need to be cooperation with publishers and other content providers; Epstein sees it as in the latter’s interest in cutting back on the current costly distribution infrastructure as well as in the chance to “exploit new technologies and markets” (16).

Other articles in this issue include Michael Jensen’s discussion of “Cultural Tenacity within Libraries and Publishers” (24-29). Picking up on Epstein’s point on the outmodedness of the older model of physical centralization, Jensen, director of strategic web communications for the Office of Communications of the National Academies and National Academies Press, sees a need for both librarians and publishers to fundamentally rethink their existing “cultures” and to pay more “attention to the personal - the customer, the citizen, the individual.” Concretely, that might involve - among other things - that publishers and librarians collaborate more closely with each other and with readers on things such as social tagging and possibly even create something like a “Scholarlicious” system for academic books.

Laura Dawson, an independent consultant to publishers and other service providers in the book industry, in “The Role of Self-Publishing in Libraries” (43-51) argues for the need for librarians to take self-publishing more seriously, while Sara Lloyd, head of digital publishing for Pan MacMillan, presents “A Book Publisher’s Manifesto for the Twenty-first Century: How Traditional Publishers Can Position Themselves in the Changing Media Flows of a Networked Era” (30-42). Reiterating several of Epstein and Jensen’s earlier points, Lloyd sees a new role for publishers in emphasizing content over distribution. Books are no longer a “definable product within covers” (32) and readers should be envisioned as “prosumers”, i.e. both producers AND consumers. The book is not simply a “unit or a product” to be read online nor is digitization simply a matter of digitizing “existing print texts” (32). Rather, publishers should seek to provide tools for reader interaction and communication. “Search” is now more important than simple “download” (37).

Other articles in this issue contain more technical discussions of digitization processes but also offer many useful insights for professional librarians. As a journal, Library Trends is always worth reading for its provocative analyses of current issues (and occasional controversies) in the areas of information acquisition and management.
*We are fortunate that Steven Essig has agreed to write the above article. Steven is our Professional Librarian Intern for Reference and Research. He received his Masters of Library Science degree from St. Johns University in 2007 and his MA, Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences from The University of Chicago in 1996.

December 12, 2007

Cataloging Westlaw Records: A Question of Access


Recently, Cassidy Cataloguing Services announced a partnership with Thomson-West that would make available to law school libraries MARC 21 cataloging records for Westlaw items. In the words of Cassidy's Donna Rosinski-Kauz "The Cassidy-Westlaw MARC21 records collections will be an expansion of the very popular “WLX E-Treatise Collection," which was originally created and distributed by Cassidy Cataloguing. The new Cassidy-Westlaw MARC 21 records collections will be released in phases. All legal content of Westlaw will be covered by these new collections when they are completed."

Already available from Cassidy are cataloging records for E-treatises, most Canadian titles, and directories published by Westlaw. The second phase, ”Law Journals and Law Reviews”, is due out by January 2008. There is a "monthly update service" that informs user libraries of any dditions, deletions and other changes, while Name and Subject Authority Control is run on all records. "Authority files are available for purchase separate from the collections."

This announcement has stimulated a lively discussion among several academic law librarians contributing to a Special Libraries Association (SLA) Listserv. These librarians largely elcomed the possibility of making these records viewable and accessible to their patron base, but everal also expressed specific concerns relevant to the specific nature of their individual libraries' atalog as well as the broader user base that is allowed to access them. Among the expressed concerns are these: should the catalog be a "vender-neutral resource"? Some worry that an PAC overly controlled by a vendor group could contain too many restrictions.

But a more significant concern that came up throughout the discussion was the issue of ampus- wide access on campuses where the Law School's library catalog is shared with the larger niversity community as a whole. The fear was that putting these records in such a catalog can give a misleading impression to those outside of the specific law school community of the vailability of items for which they in fact have no actual access. Similarly, this issue comes up
when the law library's records are shared with a larger consortium that may include primarily public or other sorts of academic libraries. Joni Cassidy, of Cassidy Cataloguing, mentions, for
instance, that two law schools in Illinois are part of a larger Union Catalog of seventy-five ibraries. One of these libraries has Lexis and Westlaw records that are now visible to the ther74 members of the consortium. Ms. Cassidy says that they are trying to work out effective policies for these and similar situations.

Similarly, UCLA has contracted to receive Lexis and Westlaw but hasn't taken possession of them because to move them to their new union catalog requires that all UC holdings be a part of OCLC. At this time, Cassidy has asked subscribers not to upload the Westlaw or Lexis MARC records to OCLC. However, this does not mean that the company has no working elationship to OCLC. Joni Cassidy points out that they have, for example, recently contracted with William S. Hein to create catalog records for the HeinOnline “World Trials Library.” This is an effort whereby Hein is currently digitizing the paper copy of trials of note, as well as books about trials going back to the 1700s. These items will be available by subscription. Cassidy ataloguing’s role in this endeavor is to create MARC catalog records for each new title; there will be a lag-time before these records go to OCLC. Cassidy also uploads any new P-CIP Cataloging-in-publication) records they create for publishers each month.

Examples of cataloging records created by Cassidy for Westlaw legal treatises can already be seen on the following academic law library websites: Yale University, Pence Law School at merican University, Boston University, Georgetown University, the University of Connecticut Law Library, the Biddle Law School at the University of Pennsylvania and the Law School of Louisiana State University.

To this observer, it seems fairly clear that the debate will be an ongoing one. There are no ertainties regarding what would most effectively convey the existence of these items to patrons previously unaware of them, while not at the same time simply "tantalizing" patrons of member libraries that lack access to them. Some of the law librarians on the SLA Listserv mentioned putting up phrases like "only available to members of the (school in question) law school community" or something like "requires Westlaw subscription" but, in that case, it would be interesting to observe what kind of response that might inspire from an interested patron of a non-subscribing library. Will it lead to complaints about their unavailability? Will it encourage
other consortium members to subscribe? Will more people "outside of the law school mmunity" now seek to gain access to the law library in question? All librarians -whether catalogers or not - who are members of consortiums that include law school libraries have an interest in seeing how these issues work themselves out, as well as their longterm impact on the cataloging of
online legal materials.

* Special thanks to Joni Cassidy of Cassidy Cataloguing Services whose
information and commentary immeasurably improved the final draft.

October 22, 2007

Information Retrieval and Records Management: The 2007 Sedona Conference

Best Practices in Information Retrieval and Records Management: Analysis and Recommendations from the 2007 Sedona Conference

By Steven Essig

The Sedona Conference Journal, Volume 8, Fall 2007, includes much relevant commentary on possible best practices and other important concerns on effective information retrieval of legal documents. Issues raised range from effective precision and recall searching, appropriate sorts of indexing strategies, word choice, email retention policies for courts and other legal organizations among other major concerns. Of particular interest to librarians should be the section of the issue entitled “ESI Symposium”, which contains a report from “The Sedona Conference ® Working Group on Best Practices for Document Retention and Production (WG1), Search & Retrieval Sciences Special Project Team” (the August 2007 Public Comment Version).

Based on the premise that the explosion in the volume of electronic information makes traditional search approaches “no longer practical or financially feasible”, this report confronts the inability of human “natural language” approaches, of manual review or simple keyword searching to fully access the wealth of possible legal information available. The authors posit that information science, linguistics and other disciplines have much to teach us in developing more effective and comprehensive information retrieval processes. Among the search tools that could usefully supplement Boolean logic and other forms of traditional “keyword searching” are “fuzzy logic” which more effectively captures “variations on words”, “conceptual searching” based on taxonomies and ontologies as well as other tools “that employ mathematical probabilities”. In addition, information science metrics such as “precision” and “recall”used to measure the effectiveness of various forms of information retrieval are also judged worthy of future study.

After exploring the strengths and weaknesses of these various methods, the report’s authors go on to present 8 “Practice Points” that might usefully inform the evaluation of various search and retrieval methods. Among the major conclusions are these:

1. It is “infeasible or unwarranted” to rely solely on a manual review to obtain “responsive documents.” Automated search methods are also vital.

2. Before employing any of these automated methods, substantial “human input” is necessary. For one thing, the applicable “universe” of relevant documents must be carefully defined.

3. Before choosing a specific search and retrieval method, the specific legal context must also be
clearly understood. For instance, is “precision” or “recall” more important? Is the goal to find the highest possible number of responsive documents or is “efficiency” more crucial?

4. Legal research practitioners must ask careful and well-considered questions of product vendors concerning the possibilities of the tool, administrative and licensing issues etc.

5. There are no “perfect searches”; differing search methods will produce differing results.

6. Various parties involved in a case should seek to collaborate “on the use of particular information search and retrieval methods, tools and protocols”.

7. The various counsels on the case should be prepared to explain their search methods in “subsequent legal contexts” (e.g depositions, evidentiary proceedings, and trials).

8. Each of the parties, as well as the courts, need to stay alert to newer information search tools and technologies.

The article concludes with 2 major recommendations:

1. “The legal community should support collaborative research with the scientific and academic sectors aimed at establishing the efficacy of a range of automated search and information retrieval methods” and

2. “The legal community should encourage the establishment of objective benchmarking criteria, for use in assisting lawyers in evaluating the competitive legal and regulatory search and retrieval services market.”

There then follows an Appendix demonstrating and describing in more detail specific types of search models, such as Boolean searching, “probabilistic” Bayesian classifiers, “fuzzy searching”, statistical “clustering”, semantic representation, categorization tools such as t thesauri, ontologies, and taxonomies, and various presentation and visualization tools.

The next article in this section: “Search and Information Retrieval Science” by Herbert L. Roitblat, further focuses on the issues of precision and recall. Roitblat presents a fairly detailed examination of various forms of text analysis, such as the “vector space model”, weighting of terms, “query expansion”, Syntactic techniques, the setup of user interfaces, and others. The article concludes with a very brief discussion of alternatives to precision and recall methods.

The next Sedona Conference commentary provides “Guidelines For the Selection of Retention Policy”. There are 4 guidelines on email policy development, followed by a framework disclosing retention considerations, mailbox and storage options, and the need to be careful with “litigation holds”. There is then a brief discussion of the issues, followed by a concluding commentary.

October 1, 2007

Domestic Violence and Youth at Risk

Each quarterly issue of the Judges Journal , the official publication of the Judicial Division, American Bar Association, emphasizes a particular theme of interest and concern to the judiciary. The Summer 2007 issue, Volume 46 Number 3 is devoted primarily to matters related to domestic violence and youth at risk. The following is an overiew of the various articles and other features included. I am grateful to Steven Essig, our professional law librarian intern for special projects for his able assistance in compiling this material.

Domestic Violence and Youth at Risk

BY Steven Essig

Introduction - Pamela J. Brown, Judge in the District Court for Maryland of Howard County, and chair of the ABA's Commission on Domestic Violence "Judges Can Help Break the Cycle of Domestic Violence and Its Impact on At-Risk Youth."

Notes that "studies have shown that children from violent homes are more likely to be victims of violence themselves, to commit violence themselves as teens and adults, to have a higher interaction with the criminal justice system, and to have a much higher likelihood of negative adult health consequences."

While several "helplines" have been launched, as well as more local informational programs, "the best mechanism available to end and prevent further violence in the lives of our youth is to ensure meaningful access to the justice system. But without the appropriate resources and knowledge, judges will be unable to best address the needs of youth victims, which could lead to fatal results. A host of special considerations apply to cases involving teens. Many times, the abuser attends the same school as the victim. How do you protect the teen, both during normal school hours and at school activities? How do you stress to a teen victim the importance of having a plan to stay safe? And how do federal and state statues address teen dating violence?" The ABA calls for localities to enact legislation that will allow teens to obtain civil protection orders against their abusers, and has itself developed a "checklist and set of tips for lawyers handling teen violence cases".

Features: "Comprehending the Link between Domestic Violence and Children: An Interview with Mary Beth Buchanan". Robin Runge, Director of the ABA Commission on Domestic Violence, interviews Mary Bay Buchanan, acting director of the Office of Violence Against Women about her office's work "addressing the impact of domestic violence on children." Buchanan is also the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.

When asked about the "unique challenges that the legal system faces in providing support and assistance to children who are victims of domestic violence", Buchanan responds that they include "a lack of coordination, lack of training, and lack of resources ... If domestic violence programs and child welfare agencies are working in opposition, if the family court is unaware of pending criminal cases against a particular family, if probation and parole are not focusing on holding the batterer accountable, the victims do not get the appropriate response." Also, "victims need access to services, including civil legal services. Judges report that most parties now appearing in civil cases lack legal counsel. Frequently, one party might have an attorney, and more likely than not, this will be the batterer, who commonly has greater access to economic resources. Furthermore, victims in criminal cases frequently lack competent legal advice on what civil remedies they might pursue for safety, housing, or economic assistance. Children exposed to domestic violence, in addition to requiring a strong relationship with with the nonviolent parent, need access to mental health assessment and services with respect to the impact of violence. In most communities, these resources are sparse or do not exist."

"A Model Response to Truancy Prevention: The Louisville Truancy Court Diversion Project" by Hon. Joan L. Byer and Jeffrey A. Kuhn. "The Lousiville Truancy Court Diversion Project is a national model that can help prevent juvenile delinquency and help establish and preserve safe and permanent homes for children. Judge Joan Byer and Jefferey Kuhn describe the history and methodology for the project's implementation."

"It cannot be overstated that truancy often arises from multifaceted familial conditions that require a multifacted response. The identification and treatment of underlying causes of truancy through the courts can be greatly enhanced when the court with jurisdiction over the truancy matter can assert jurisdiction over dissolution, domestic violence, child protection, or substance abuse issues. Therefore, a family court or juvenile court judge with jurisdiction over an array of family matters, coupled with the ability of the court to coordinate proceedings and integrate service delivery for families, is well positioned to respond to family service needs that are identified through a truancy prevention program."

"Changing the Judiciary's Relationship with a Community One Child at a Time" by Martha Stone and Emily Breon. The Truancy Court Prevention Project (TCPP) in Hartford, CT involves a wide range of services and mentoring to at-risk youth including the participation of judges. There is also case monitoring from social service agency represntatives. The program has had a noticeable success rate in reducing truancy, and has helped the participating judges better understand the circumstances that these youth confront in their daily lives, ranging from family problems and pressures, lack of transportation, school resources etc. The judges feel that as a result they have become better judges, and had a benificial impact on the lives of the young people that they deal with.

"Restorative Justice for Youth at Risk" by Hon Sophia H. Hall, presiding judge of the Resource Section, Juvenile Justice and Child Protection Department, Circut Court of Cook County, IL. "Restorative justice is a growing movement with enormous potential that focuses on reconciliation instead of recrimination. The core of the movement's philosophy is that judges are in a unique position to support the various players within a community who can help youth at risk before they become deeply involved in the justice system."

"Obsessive Teenage Love: The Precursor to Domestic Violence" by Hon. Amy Karan and Lisa Keating. " It is estimated that one in three teens has experienced violence in a dating relationship. Thankfully, many programs exist to help eradicate teen dating violence. Through early education and prevention, judges can work with partents and schools to give victims and abusers a way to find help".

This article also details the signs one can look for to recognize a pattern of abuse, the cycle of violence and how it can repeat itself, and, by contrast, defines what a healthy dating relationship might look like.

"Erie Earn-It Program, Inc.: A Successful Collaborative Restitution Program for Juveniles at Risk" by Hon. Stephanie Domitrovich. "Judge Stephanie Domitrovich describes the history and methodology of the Erie Earn-It Program, Inc., to help inspire other judges to work within their communities to develop programs to teach juvenile offenders employment, vocational, academic, and social skills while they reimburse their victims." Describes the restitution program of Erie, PA including the code of conduct to which all participating juvenile offeners must subscribe. It has also encouraged other collaborative projects to help rehabilitate juvenile offenders.

"Hip Hop And Youth at Risk" by Cleveland Prince. "The author purports that while some rap music is positive, the genre is saturated with negative images, stereotypes and excesses that tend to influence our young people. He encourages leaders to address the effects that hip hop music has on our youth with the same fervor sparked by Don Imus's rant on the Rutgers women's basketball team." This is more of an opinion piece than most of the other articles in this issue, with less of a purely legal focus. The author is a probation manager in Santa Clara County who deals directly with gang members and gang violence, and thus represents an interesting "hands-on" cultural perspective from what could be seen as "inside the trenches" (quotation mine).

"E-Discoveryand Pretrial Conferences: A Primer for Lawyers and Judges" by Richard N. Lettieri and Hon. Joy Flowers Conti. "Electronically Stored Information (ESI) has become the predominant source of evidence in civil lawsuits. Judges, lawyers, and litigants should work together form the outset of litigation to understand the potential discovery issues that could relate to ESI." This includes the perspectives of both a lawyer and a judge on this issue, including questions of data accessibility, confidentiality of documents, preservation and waiver of work product protectiion among other concerns unique to this format.

"Standing Columns":

"Judicial Ethics: "Discussing the Judicial Code is Like Discussing Religion" by Hon. Cara Lee Neville. "The latest version of the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct was passed by the House of Delegates in February 2007. It only took 3 1/2 years of study, rewriting, and nine public hearings to sort through the thousands of pages of proposals and critiques by lawyers, judges, interest groups, nonprofits, citizens, the media, and law professors." Several of the new rules are elaborated and discussed.

"Technology: "The Lack of Effort to Insure Integrity and Trustworthiness of Online Legal Information and Documents" by Hon. Herbert B. Dixon, Jr. "Judge Herbert Dixon cautions that as more and more courts and agencies institutionalize the use of electronic filing and the maintenance of records, the courts will need to address certain lurking issues to ensure the integrity and trustworthiness of legal documents." In particular, this article refers in great depth to the findings of a recent study from the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) entitled State-by-State Report on Authentication of Online Legal Resources which seeks to investigate how trustworthy are state-level primary legal resources on the web.