Law Libraries

Misinterpreting Copyright

Richard Stallman Says: Something strange and dangerous is happening in copyright law. Under the U.S. Constitution, copyright exists to benefit users — those who read books, listen to music, watch movies, or run software — not for the sake of publishers or authors. Yet even as people tend increasingly to reject and disobey the copyright restrictions imposed on them “for their own benefit,” the U.S. government is adding more restrictions, and trying to frighten the public into obedience with harsh new penalties.

How did copyright policies come to be diametrically opposed to their stated purpose? And how can we bring them back into alignment with that purpose? To understand, we should start by looking at the root of United States copyright law: the U.S. Constitution.

A Seldom Used Law Library

Sounds like someone disapproves of this law library...

WORCESTER (MA)— As the state has slashed social services and laid off employees to deal with a severe fiscal crisis, the trial court system has been spending about $700 a day to heat an otherwise vacant 163-year-old courthouse to keep the dwindling number of patrons of a small law library warm in the winter.

To get to the public law library in the deserted old Superior Courthouse, a visitor must pass through a metal detector manned by a security guard.

Once inside the overstuffed library, tucked in a remote corner of the cavernous 19th-century building, the first thing many who enter the warren of small rooms notice is a blast of hot air from the antiquated heating system.

Since September 2007, taxpayers have shelled out more than $124,000 on heating oil to warm the little-used repository of books, documents and computer terminals in the library, the last remaining occupant of the crumbling edifice at 2 Main Street. More from the Worcester Telegram.

Tennessee Supreme Court’s shuttering of its three state law libraries

State Supreme Court to close 3 libraries: Some high-level belt-tightening will result in the Tennessee Supreme Court’s shuttering of its three state law libraries, including its Middle Division library in Nashville, effective Dec. 21.

The high court’s ruling is effective Dec. 31. and is part of the judicial system’s budget-cutting process. Besides the Nashville library location closure, the court is also closing its libraries in Knoxville and Jackson.

The three law libraries combined house about 125,000 volumes and material on CD ROM. The Nashville location also has a computer lab.

PACER’s 20th Anniversary

The federal PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system — the electronic public access service that allows users to obtain case and docket information from U.S. appellate, district and bankruptcy courts, and to search via the U.S. Party/Case Index — is 20 years old.

Story at Legal Research Plus which links to The Third Branch: Newsletter of the Federal Courts

Law library's skeleton can't go near the windows after complaints from a mom

Maggie Baxtor pointed the way to sad news, Flexible Fred is dead. The 5-foot-tall, 200-bone plastic skeleton slumps on his roller stand in a corner of the Delaware County Law Library. Taped to his clavicle is a sign that reads: "We have had a neighbor complain that Flexible Fred is scaring her children. Please do NOT put him near any windows." For many people, a skeleton either is or represents "the visible remains of a human being," Olson said. "It raises interesting issues."

Are Librarians Training Lawyers and Law Students in the Use of Alternatives to LexisNexis and Westlaw?

Do law librarians regularly use PreCYdent, PLoL and/or AltLaw? Do law librarians train their patrons in the use of PreCYdent, PLoL and/or AltLaw in a manner similar to Lexis-Nexis and Westlaw training? I've split the questions into two spheres for this poll: academic law librarians (and legal research and writing profs) and all other law librarians because the former are responsible for training the latter's future patrons.

State Supreme Court Bans Sitting Justice From Filing His Dissent

From the Law Librarian Blog: The Mississippi Supreme Court ordered one of its sitting justices not to publish his dissent with the Court's majority decision. Apparently the Court stopped its court clerk from filing Justice Oliver Diaz's opinion into the record.

The dissent is available via the Internet. You can read more here.

A Standard is a Standard is a Standard Unless It's Not Enforced By the ABA

Harvard Law School's appointment of John Palfrey as the new law library director does not comply with ABA's Accreditation Standard 603(c) (Director of the Law Library). Details at

Living with myself as a law firm librarian has an interesting post Living with myself as a law firm librarian Morgan writes:

This leads back to my initial dilemma – what happens if I am indirectly helping a client do things which conflict with my personal values? Well I'll still do my best for that client. This is when I need to trust in the system and hope that the lawyers (and law librarians, if any are involved) on the other side do their best job, and that the judge or jury get it right, and that eventually a fairer outcome is reached. As a law firm librarian, I don't just work for lawyers (directly) and clients (indirectly), both of these things are a part of working for the legal system.

Law libraries ‘a waste of space?’

Wonder why the Worcester Law Library was shut out of the plans for the new courthouse complex in Worcester? As we wrote in an item in this week’s hearsay, court spokespeople refuse to explain why the law library has been the sole tenant of the otherwise abandoned “old” Worcester courthouse for eight months, despite promises last year that a lease was in the works for a new space.

Article continued here.


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