by Mary Whisner
This post has been adapted from a post on the Trial Ad (and other) Notes blog.
It’s tough enough to handle litigation when you’re a lawyer, but it’s incredibly stressful and daunting when you don’t.
CBC’s Day Six has a 15-minute story on self-represented litigants (May 18, 2013). It begins with a moving interview of middle-class Vancouver woman who ran out of money for her lawyer about five months and $50,000 into her case. She’s well-spoken and well-educated (master’s degree) and was still overwhelmed.
Next the host interviews Julie Macfarlane, a law professor who conducted a study of unrepresented litigants in three provinces (BC, Alberta, Ontario). The report: Julie Macfarlane, The National Self-Represented Litigants Project: Identifying and Meeting the Needs of Self-Represented Litigants: Final Report (May 2013). One of the researchers on the report was a librarian who surveyed the court materials available to self-represented litigants.
I have just scrolled through the report quickly, but it looks very interesting. Canadians and the Canadian court system are similar enough to US folks and the US legal system that the report is very relevant to our access-to-justice issues.
Julie Macfarlane teaches law at the University of Windsor. Her faculty bio is here.
by Tal Noznisky
The San Francisco Law Library is facing a less than desirable relocation. Scheduled for eviction from its current location, it has stayed put by challenging the legal grounds of the city’s plan. Last month, however, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance subcommittee approved a decision to grant the library 20,000 square feet, significantly less than the 30,000—35,000 requested.
According to San Francisco’s City Charter, the library must be allotted adequate space for its collection of 250,000 books. All of those books and print materials, argued the library and its supporters, are essential, costly, and potentially unattainable.
The Law Library currently lives at the War Veterans Memorial Building, across the street from City Hall. It landed there almost 20 years ago as a temporary arrangement. The Memorial Building location only has 14,310 sq. ft. Two-thirds of the library’s collection must be stored in a nearby basement facility. When the city secured funds to renovate the Memorial Building in 2010, finding a sustainable storage and location solution became urgent.The Law Library is currently awaiting a judge’s decision on whether it may remain at its current location until some significant issues are permanently resolved. Though the city-approved 20,000 sq. ft. would seem like an improvement, Jon Streeter, another supportive voice from San Francisco’s legal community, disagrees. “It is not a matter of a stack of old dusty books being warehoused somewhere,” he said, “It is a matter of providing basic access to the courthouse to the public.”
by Grace Feldman
Public access to legal materials, digitization and authentication of legal materials, and budget cuts are frequent topics covered in conferences, literature and blogs like this one. These interrelated issues have been discussed and debated ad nauseum, so when Hollee Schwartz Temple’s Are Digitization and Budget Cuts Compromising History? was published in the ABA Journal, the article may have looked like one you already read several times. While some of the stories were familiar, Temple’s coverage of LLMC’s preserved print collection in salt mines 650 feet below ground gave a whole new meaning to the expression, “back to the salt mines.”
Recognizing debates over public access, digitization, authentication and budget cuts will continue indefinitely, for a moment let’s appreciate the ingenuity these problems have inspired: preservation in salt mines, UELMA, collaboration (like that between California and LLMC to digitize all of the state’s session laws), etc.
Okay, now back to the salt mines… really.
by Tal Noznisky
Last March, Canadian libraries got caught in a quick swell of fear and worry over the freedom of expression. The Library and Archives Canada (“LAC”), employer of public service librarians, served their staff with a new set of professional guidelines. Many who commented on the new rules, entitled “Code of Conduct: Values and Ethics” reviled it. Boing Boing’s (and former Canadian library-worker) Cory Doctorow tagged it “censorship” and “surveillance.” Library Journal’s Annoyed Librarian called it totalitarian. What happened?
National Archives of Canada
Continue reading 'Library and Archives Canada vs. Librarians and Archivists in Canada'»
by Tal Noznisky
Library-publisher relations reappeared slightly in the tech news circuit last week. The Journal of Library Administration’s editorial board resigned amid a stalemate with their publisher, Taylor and Francis, over licensing terms. Tech-happy blogs inferred hacktivist intent behind the board’s decision. They vilified T&F and praised JLA’s editors as open access heroes. A thin parallel to Aaron Schwartz was also drawn into the narrative.
Continue reading 'A Game of Terms'»
by Tal Noznisky
Happy Sunshine Week, everyone! And, if you’re reading this on March 16th, let’s hope you’re having a wonderful National Freedom of Information Day!
Every Sunshine Week, open government activists speak up about freedom of information, laud its preservation, and caution its diminishment. Sunshine Week was founded in 2002 by the Florida Society of News Editors founded Sunshine Week as an expansion of National Freedom of Information Day (which was itself founded years earlier to commemorate James Madison’s birthday). In 2005, the American Society of News Editors raised the idea to a national platform. The goal was, and remains, to amplify the dialogue about government information access issues across America for a solid seven days of news reporting, editorials, conferences, and more. The impact of social media, in particular, on Sunshine Week themes and reporting is worth watching.
A series of Sunshine Week posts on the White House Blog is a good place to start. Continue reading 'Sunshine and Washington'»
by Philippe Cloutier
Law Library blogs and print mediums often take stabs at vendors for mishandling communications, products, billing, and general practices. More often than not our articles serve to educate and raise awareness. Sometimes these posts are nothing but cathartic outlets for reader and writer. So it comes as a great shock to hear that in Canada a publisher is suing a Librarian Professor for his blog post: Continue reading 'Shushing the Librarian'»
by Amy Eaton
I recently received a link to this article from March 2012. In it, the author, Jeff Rundles, laments the lack of customer service in both businesses and government entities. The one bright spot he found: libraries and librarians! Of course, this comes as no surprise to those of us in the field. Our number one priority is to take care of our customers, whether they are attorneys, students or members of the general public. Why do librarians excel when other entities, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, fail? I think librarians are given a great amount of authority and freedom to assist our customers. My daughter had an internship at a large hotel chain one summer. She was working the front desk one day when a customer came to the desk with a complaint about their room. No one at the desk had the authority to offer the customer additional services or remove charges from their bill. The staff had to wait for manager approval. The customer left angry and frustrated and my daughter learned the importance of empowering your staff to handle problems as they arise. I know librarians who have had their children, attending universities in other states, pull and copy articles for rush requests. Many of us spend untold hours on the phone with customer reps for online services seeking to understand the vagaries of their databases in order to explain why we received the results we did. I have used Google translate to try and submit requests through foreign websites written in languages I don’t understand. What is the greatest length you have gone to in order to provide top notch reference service?
by Philippe Cloutier
I hate to freak you out but it has come to my attention that bedbugs are able to plant their seeds into library materials. Making matters worse is that full-grown bedbugs have been hanging out at the University of Washington and enjoying architecture titles. UW Libraries have taken the necessary steps to remove the infested materials: freezing, heating, sealing, advising circulation, and employing dog-sniffers. The extent to which this has affected Seattle Public Libraries remains unknown. SPL’s spokesperson simply “is not aware” of any bedbug related situations, safely she neither confirms nor denies. Bedbugs are not only a physical nuisance: biting, sucking your blood, and leaving rashes; but the mental disorders they manage to leave in their wake is something to behold. That said, the Kindle certainly looks more enticing than ever.
by Emily Smith
In June, a lot of us rushed to retrieve copies of National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius (better known as the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the constitutionality of “Obamacare”) for our attorneys or professors. It was a highly anticipated decision, so happily for ease of retrieval the text of the opinion was seemingly everywhere upon its release. As fall rolls around, I’m always prompted to think about what significant (or more esoteric) Supreme Court opinions we might be asked to track down for our patrons this year. As always, SCOTUSblog comes to the rescue with a cheat-sheet of the cases scheduled for argument during the October 2012 term. Because the first oral argument is just around the corner (on October 1) I took a quick peek last week. Depending on your interests you might find other cases more noteworthy, but here are some docket items that caught my eye:
- Lovers of the Fourth Amendment (or dogs): the 2012 term finds the Court hearing argument on two cases involving the use of narcotics detection canines. The first, Florida v. Harris, will address whether a drug dog’s alert can establish probable cause to search a vehicle for contraband. A second case from the Sunshine State, Florida v. Jardines, tackles the question of whether a dog sniff at a suspected grow house is a “search” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Continue reading 'Back to Business'»