Law Libraries

Improve PACER

Posted to a law librarian listserv:

We crafted a very short petition directed at the Administrative Office of the US Courts to improve PACER.

The petition is online here:

It reads:

We ask the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to improve PACER by enhancing the authenticity, usability and availability of the system.
We the undersigned, urge the Administrative Office of the US Courts (AO) to make the following changes to the PACER system:

For verification and reliability, the AO should digitally sign every document put into PACER using readily available technology.

PACER needs to be much more readily accessible if it is to be usable for research, education, and the practice of law. Improved accessibility includes both lowering the costs for using PACER and enhancing the web interfaces.

Depository libraries should also have free access to PACER.

Please sign the petition, comment on the ideas and share the petition with your friends and colleagues!

Summary of WolframAlpha & Legal Research

Legal Informatics Blog has a Summary of WolframAlpha & Legal Research

For the summary click the link above.

Be prepared to read the phrase "seems unable to" several times.

Supreme Court Justice Souter To Retire

NPR has learned that Supreme Court Justice David Souter is planning to retire at the end of the current court term.

The vacancy will give President Obama his first chance to name a member of the high court and begin to shape its future direction.

Full story here.

After a Layoff, Law Librarian Starts Consultancy Business offers an interview with entrepreneur and librarian Susan Davis, who has just started a statewide business called Law Library On Call LLC.

Davis began her legal career as an attorney with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. She moved to Connecticut and was a full-time mom for years before earning a library degree from Southern Connecticut State University. In her last semester, she took a job in the library at Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, and worked in the firm's Hartford offices until being laid off earlier this year.

Davis has bounced back with her New Haven, Conn.-based startup business, which offers the skills of a full-time law librarian on an a la carte basis.

Law Professors Seek Injunction Over 'Sham' Treatise Supplement

An ugly dispute has erupted between West Publishing and two law professors who claim they were falsely identified as the authors of an annual supplement to a treatise on Pennsylvania criminal law even though they had nothing to do with writing it.

In a federal lawsuit, professors David Rudovsky of the University of Pennsylvania and Leonard Sosnov of Widener Law School claim that the December 2008 supplement, or "pocket part," to their book, "Pennsylvania Criminal Procedure -- Law, Commentary and Forms," was so poorly researched that it will harm their reputations if allowed to remain on library shelves.

Full story here

Should LexisNexis and Thomson West Be Worried About the Economy's Turbulence?

Post to LAW-LIB listserv

As a follow-up to the results of two LLB polls and recent developments, we're running an informal poll on whether the economy's turbulence is "good" for free and low cost online legal research services and "bad" for LexisNexis and West print continuation renewals. Your participation in the budget cutback poll and its impact of library collections caught the attention of the investment community in the form of telephone calls from Wall Street and London analysts so I hope you will take a moment to participate in the poll and add comments to the blog post at

Are There Drawbacks to Law Libraries Going Digital?

Are There Drawbacks to Law Libraries Going Digital?

It's good that people can get access to materials much more easily. But our concern is that the government or a court agency, publishing online, might run out of space on its hard drive, and decide on its own what to delete. Then, all of a sudden you don't have it online and you don't have it in print, either.

An Effort to Upgrade a Court Archive System to Free and Easy

Americans have grown accustomed to finding just about anything they want online fast, and free. But for those searching for federal court decisions, briefs and other legal papers, there is no Google.

Instead, there is Pacer, the government-run Public Access to Court Electronic Records system designed in the bygone days of screechy telephone modems. Cumbersome, arcane and not free, it is everything that Google is not.

Recently, however, a small group of dedicated open-government activists teamed up to push the court records system into the 21st century — by simply grabbing enormous chunks of the database and giving the documents away, to the great annoyance of the government.

Full article here.

LAW-LIB: hybrid listserv proposal

LAW-LIB is a listserv where law librarians ask and answer legal questions and help each other find legal resources and trouble shoot unique legal reference questions. Currently the list administrator has raised the issue of whether a specific person should be banned from the list and great debate has ensued. What is problematic is that when a debate on a listserv happens it happens in your inbox. A typically amount of emails from LAW-LIB might be 6-12 in a day. The current debate has thrown this number into the range of 50-75 emails.

I wanted to raise a listserv idea that could be debated on a forum that is more conducive to discussion. The power of listservs is that they have a very strong connection with people because the email goes directly to them. The listserv participants are dealing with a "push" information system. My idea is to have a listserv that operates something like the game show Jeopardy in that things would have to be in the form of a question. The listserv would only be for questions. All answers to questions and discussion would be on a corresponding website. Each question sent to the mailing list would automatically be posted to the website. If you wanted to see the answer to a question or provide an answer you would go to the the website.

Library displays blog

I thought you might be interested in our blog about library displays. The blog includes pictures, booklists and stories about each one of our displays at the SJU Rittenberg Law Library which is changed monthly.
PDL'S Public Displays of Law Library Books


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