Explorations with Information and Technology

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July 2019

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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…
I was talking to someone recently about information access. Their organization had created an information resource that had grown out of control. As every law librarian knows, to create a resource – a pathfinder, libguide, whatever – you need inputs. Those inputs eat up resources: time to create and manage alerts, to read and cull outputs, and then to merge the results into the final resource. This person wanted to know about how to deliver…
The law library remains a two format world. As much as the promise of ebooks has been made, delivery has been awkward or impossible. We largely rely on print for texts and proprietary web apps for everything else. Our law library, like many courthouse law libraries, serves an indistinct population. Over the years, I’ve tried to watch for changes that might make ebooks more of an option. Format First First, let’s dispense with the legal…
I’ve been thinking about outcomes recently. There are things we do because we have to do them, or think we have to. Sometimes I stop and ask myself: what if I stopped doing this? What would be the impact? When you have a workflow or process and you need to adapt it to events like a pandemic, you may end up creating a new workflow when you might just have eliminated it all together. First,…
My web site host had a hardware problem a few weeks back. This blog was offline for about 10 hours. Visitors looking for law library content wouldn’t have noticed because it was overnight and they tend to come during the day. But there were some angry customers on social media as the outage grew longer and longer. Some said they’d leave the web hosting company. While I recognized the frustration, it made me wonder whether…
I wrote last week about using country detection to allow or deny access to information. And earlier this week, I posted about using referral URLs to get your researchers to publishers. This will be the last post about tools to manage a visitor’s experience. I’ve been playing around with a WordPress plugin that allows me to look at other browser attributes to try to customize a visitor’s experience, including language. The plugin Redirection has…
This has come up periodically over the years and so I’m going to take a bit more technical look at it. I blogged last week about rethinking your contract so that you can leverage remote access in times when your physical library access is restricted. There are a couple of ways that law libraries can create authenticated connections to legal publisher sites. You do not need a lot of technology knowhow to do this. This…
I’ve been curious for some time about the various methods for controlling content access based on country of origin. If you’ve browsed the European internet or tried to access US video from Canada, you’ve probably experienced a geo fence. It’s different from a paywall and serves a different purpose. I’m using it on this site now, which shows how it can operate without visitors being aware, if they’re not impacted. The biggest challenge is to…
Our organizations have business continuity plans. I’ve been thinking recently about how that doesn’t always extend to our electronic subscriptions. If your courthouse law library is like ours, there is a physical requirement for some license access. Researchers must be in library or corporate space to use the license. That doesn’t work when we lose our space in a pandemic – or a fire, earthquake, hurricane, flood, locusts – and need access without restrictions. I’ve…
There has long been a tension in the legal world in the web browser space. While most lawyers use Microsoft products – Windows, Windows Server, Office Suite – the Microsoft browser, Internet Explorer, has been an also-ran against better browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox. The broad release of the new Chromium-powered Microsoft Edge means that law firms – and law libraries – can rethink the need for Google’s browser. A default corporate software…