Peggy Roebuck Jarrett writes about an issue that is significant to law librarians, federal documents librarians, and to the public. The subject is a draft House bill that proposes “to amend title 44, United States Code, to reform the organization, authorities, and programs relating to public printing and documents, including the Federal Depository Program.” Jarrett shares why this bill could fundamentally change the publication and distribution of official print and digital government information. In addition, Jarrett describes how the future of no-fee public access to reliable government information – which includes the very laws that govern us – is at stake.
Deans of Virginia University Libraries to Chairman Goodlatte: First Do No Harm in Copyright Revision
UVA Director of Information Policy Brandon Butler explains the implications of the Copyright Office plan to to issue a total rewrite of Section 108 of the Copyright Act and provides context on such a decision, which protects library and archives’ copying for preservation and research. Libraries and archives have said they do not want this, but the Office seems to be determined to do it. So, a group of Deans and Directors of Virginia university libraries has sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to ensure he realizes the controversy and context that surrounds the Office’s proposed changes. If you are a concerned library or librarian, consider writing your representative, especially if they sit on the Judiciary Committee.
Jeff Roberts of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition raises the question of expanding free public access to court documents in Colorado. Specifically, he identifies the only location where a non-lawyer can view and request copies of all civil court documents from ICCES, the Integrated Colorado Courts E-Filing System. This location is the Colorado Supreme Court’s law library in the Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center in downtown Denver. Fees and access to PACER have been the topic of discussion in the legal community for many years. The urgency of this discussion and a resolution that ensures free public access to court filings is critically dependent upon the future of court law libraries.
Bitcoin is a significant disruptive technology with a growing impact on the financial sector and legal sectors, around the world. Alan Rothman expertly educates us on new legislation from Vermont that is intended to move the state towards using blockchain technology for “records, smart contracts and other applications”. One of the key distinctions Rothman highlights is that Vermont is not in any manner approving or adopting Bitcoin, but rather, the state is diversifying and adapting the underlying blockchain technology that supports it.
David Rothman continues his reporting on the status of Text to Speech applications that have yet to be added to E-Ink readers due to the FCC’s extension of vendor exemptions from complying with a key benefit for the disabled that is part of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010.
Nicholas Pengelley and Sue Milne have revised, updated and expanded their guide which covers a comprehensive range of sources on topics that include: Parliaments and Laws; Finding Australian Legislation; Courts and Judgments; Finding Australian Cases; Treaties; Journal Literature; Legal Encyclopedias; Law Reform; Government Information; Dictionaries; Directories; Legal Research Guides; Publishers; Current Awareness; Discussion Lists; and Major Texts.
Access to government information is important in the daily lives of the people of the United States. During the shutdown of the federal government, paper and digital versions of government publications are either not available at all or the web sites are not being updated. Bernadine Abbott Hoduski has documented the specific impact shared by Librarians around the nation who report that they are unable to help patrons find the information they need to do research, write articles for journals and newspapers, prepare class assignments, find laws and regulations relevant to the conduct of their businesses, find information needed to file law suits, complete mortgage applications, access weather information, do historical and genealogical research, and contact government officials through agency web sites. Professors teaching future librarians, teachers, geographers, scientists, and other user communities, are unable to access web sites needed for their classes.
Tim Byrne announced that the Department of Energy Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) launched a new database product called SciTech Connect that employs an innovative semantic search tool enabling users to retrieve more relevant information. Other features include faceting, in-document search, word clouds, and personalization.
Ken Strutin brings attention and focus to the fact that dog detection at airports for contraband, in traffic stops for narcotics, at fire scenes for accelerants and at suspect lineups are playing an increasingly important role in criminal investigations. At the same time, Ken documents that the thresholds of olfactory detection continue to test the limits of privacy, probable cause and due process. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court decided two cases involving animal assisted investigation. The fallout from these decisions will add to the evolving body of case law in federal and state courts as they continue to sort out the constitutional limits of this type of investigation.
George Bergstrom’s guide helps to identify resources to research how to start a small business in each of the 50 states. He suggests the first place to start may be the Small Business Administration’s district offices. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development Disadvantaged Business Utilization Program has state level resources. Another resource for many states are LinkedIn groups and Facebook groups of entrepreneurs and small business persons. In addition, George recommends checking with the local Chamber of Commerce for the area in which you plan to operate your business.