David Whelan

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Latest from David Whelan

The web has transitioned in the past decade from somewhat to secure to much more secure. That is reflected in how many sites now support secure connections (https in your browser location bar). You could see the change as web searches like Google started to use SSL as a ranking signal. One of the big factors was the creation of Let’s Encrypt, a free certificate option that eliminates most of the friction in…
There are some maxims that I live by when it comes to libraries. One of them is this: a library is not a free-standing, self-sufficient entity. It’s operations are fixed by the funds made available to it and it is a rare library that can fund itself. That includes law libraries. Unfortunately, as can be seen with the New Zealand National Library, the library can end up between a rock and a hard place when…
School started last week and our youngest showed up for the first in-person session. The schools are mostly online but groups of a dozen or so come in every other day. This day, almost everyone had a Chromebook and the teacher made it clear there would be no handouts. Here’s how I took an old laptop and made a Chromebook over the weekend. There had been talk last year about a shift to all digital…
The word curation has become a bit precious in the last decade. Law libraries have been curating collections – making selections, choosing one thing and omitting another – forever. This recent post by the founder of Medium was very positive to see. He contrasts what he calls the relational and transactional approaches to consuming information. It’s important because the transactional – disintermediated, often algorithmic – approach treats all objects as equal. Faux curation. The post…
The summer is at an end. This means that eyes that may have been averted from organizational finances may have turned once more to the law library’s budget. To some extent, all law library funding is discretionary and volatile. Courthouse law libraries can be particularly volatile. When the funder asks for a mid-year budget cut, it can be hard to square with our actual spending. Law firms, law schools, and membership law libraries probably have…
We are months away from reopening but the planning has begun. One aspect is how to help the researcher return to the library. Unless we want to field a host of phone calls, the law library needs to create some confidence that, when the researcher arrives, they will be able to use the library. We are, like many law libraries, looking at online bookings. I’ve also been thinking about a simple capacity widget for our…
I’m halfway through my 2 week self-isolation. If the US-Canada border remains shut for the rest of the year, I’ll be doing this at least 2 more times. But the kernel of this post goes back to March, when the borders were closing. About 12 hours before they did, I drove down to retrieve one of our kids from the US. And I experienced the very large gap between legal information and legal practice. As…
To watch trends is to see developments as things move from one point to another. Every so often, the trend arrives at its destination. That’s sort of how I felt when I read about the Grayson County (TX) law library. Some local press is better than others in covering their courthouse law library, and so it has been easy to watch Grayson County’s story unfold. Courthouse law libraries in Texas, like in many U.S. states,…
We talk a lot about access to legal information in law libraries. Yesterday’s decision in the PACER fees case is a good example (PDF). Recently, I’ve been working on the other type of accessibility: how accessed information is made useable. Law libraries may be subject to statutory obligations like §508 in the US or a regional obligation like the one that I’m trying to meet. This isn’t a post about the tools. Instead, I’ve…