It feels like CALICon 2020 was eons ago in our suspended animation existence that is the new norm for those of us still teleworking past the 3 months mark. Yet the words from Friday June 5th’s keynote address delivered by Caitlin “Cat” Moon have continued ringing in my ears:

“TECH is easy, PEOPLE are hard.” – Cat Moon

I had been following Cat on Twitter for many months leading up to CALICon’s announcement that she would be one of the two keynotes for their virtual conference. So I was elated to learn she would give a closing address in early June. In a previous CALICon re-cap CS-SIS blog post another avid tweeter and AALL member Brian Huffman shared an excellent brief summary of Cat’s talk. In addition to highlighting her sentiments that this was the crisis we needed, he noted her emphasis on “EQ. Cat recommended a human-centered design for our model going forward. Along with empathy, we need curiosity and radical collaboration to grow.” It is the “human-centered” part that is so important.

Sadly that is more often than not the key element that is missing from our designs, be they interfaces patrons use in libraries, systems that professionals and clients use in legal practice, or workflows we use ourselves in academic institutions, government offices or private firms. Part of Cat’s talk not surprisingly focused on design (duh, she is the Director of Innovation Design for the PoLI at Vanderbilt), and how COVID has been the impetus for re-designs we sorely needed. From shifting course structures to implementing patron-driven holds, this excellent slide highlights how “the people” is a factor missing from many of our designs which should be user-centered.

EQ is a big part of staying user-focused when we design. Also known as emotional quotient or more popularly emotional intelligence, EQ was co-developed by another John Mayer (the psychologist, not the CALI tech guru). Check out his sweet archive.org-captured html-based EQ website. In short, your EQ is a measure of individual capability for recognizing your own emotions and others, to discern between them, to label them appropriately, and to use this emotional data to guide thinking and behavior. In an ideal world, good EQ would allow you to adapt more easily and quickly to environments and the people in them, and ultimately achieve your goals.

Awareness of and programming around emotional intelligence has continued to increase at tech-driven conferences. I remember very vividly the summaries my colleague Information Technology Librarian Jason Tubinis shared from the last two ABA Techshows, and being intrigued that many were centered around more soft skill topics (like “EQ over IQ: Building Emotional Intelligence…“). I expected to hear all about Blockchain or the latest and greatest AI – but emotional intelligence at a tech conference?! He comments that “I think it’s a credit to the Techshow that they do a really good job of keeping attorneys informed about about the latest and greatest technology, but also bringing awareness to new developments in how to be better in practice/work generally“. And there is good reason this is growing in popularity; if sci-fi has taught us anything it is that machine learning can’t compare to the human touch. The ABA Techshow gets it and Jason gets it. Not long before COVID closure he recommended to me the excellent title Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.

Cat gets it too; she recommended in her keynote the book Focus: Use Different Ways of Seeing the World for Success and Influence. Authored by Heidi Grant Halvorson and E. Tory Higgins (psychologists from Columbia University’s Motivation Science Center, part of the Business School), it really highlights the importance of balance when it comes to motivation for succeeding in anything. This reminded me of the balancing aspects of the Swedish Lagome and Danish Hygge ways of living. What originally brought me to these philosophies was the book The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids. To my wonderful surprise Focus also includes an chapter on parenting. For me that chapter clearly outlined how certain techniques can be used to motivate people of all ages, even if the examples were related to children.

We experience it everyday in our positions where our roles of understanding and implementing the technology for our libraries and law schools is small beans compared to the far more essential and trickier task of translating complex systems and unpacking the jargon for coworkers and patrons. Translation is the hardest piece of the puzzle. Early on the book illustrates that pessimism is actually a very healthy trait expressed by individuals who are prevention motivated. More optimistic individuals (at least externally) are usually promotion motivated. I tend to fall on the “promotion” motivated end of the spectrum most of the time. As I try to find and embrace my inner pessimist, and learn more empathy for my “prevention” motivated colleagues, I encourage you to revisit Cat’s keynote on CALI’s YouTube. Her words of advice, and her book recommendation, were highly practical and on point for those of us who continue to redesign our services and resources all while being propelled into an increasingly unknown Fall 2020.

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As a member of the ABA TECHSHOW 2021 Planning Board, I have previously communicated to several AALL Communities regarding  the TECHSHOW 2021 Call for Proposals.

TECHSHOW 2021 is scheduled for March 10-13, 2021 in Chicago. However, as with most conferences scheduled within the next year, the ABA is working to make plans that will also allow for a virtual conference, if necessary. If you have a suggestion for a topic you (and others) would like to hear, or if you are interested in being a presenter, please fill out the form here. If you have more than one topic idea, please submit as many times as you  desire! While the deadline for proposals was originally set for midnight (Central Time) Friday, June 12, 2020, in recognition of the priority of other concerns at this time, the TECHSHOW Board will continue to accept proposals past the original deadline.

In addition to submitting a proposal, feel free to contact me regarding your submission so that I might be better able to represent your ideas to other members of the TECHSHOW Board. I will be serving as the Track Leader for the Next 20 Track, but also be advocating for ideas for sessions for other tracks. Also, please remember submitting a proposal does not guarantee a speaking slot.

Regards,

Darla Jackson, CS-SIS Chair

 

Last week, I attended CALICON 2020, and since I had never been to CALICON before, I did not know what to expect. To summarize my experience, I would say I really loved a few of the sessions and overall felt the conference was useful and relevant to what is going on in legal education today. In this post I’m going to discuss a few of my favorite sessions and also to help break up the monotony of my myopic worldview, I will also share what some of my favorite law librarians told me about their favorite sessions. Hopefully, CS-SIS Blog readers will find something that they like in this smorgasbord of opinions. I also welcome comments about your favorite sessions.

I love learning about educational technologies, tools that can make the business of teaching more effective. When I have taught Advanced Legal Research in the past, I utilized a flipped classroom method and created video lessons for each topic, which I would then upload to Echo360, and create a link to list on TWEN. For each video, I also created TWEN quizzes that I intended for students to take immediately after or even while watching the video. I did the contemporaneous quizzing because such quizzing can drive the lessons deeper into the brain of the learner, actually help them learn. I wish I had then known of the tool covered in the session Easy Ways to Improve Your Class Videos.

During this session, Angela Upchurch of Southern Illinois University School of Law described an educational tool called edpuzzle which permits a teacher to upload a video and insert questions into the video. This tool provides several advantages, such as a method for instant assessment with questions to highlight important points for students, confirmation for an instructor that the students are watching the video, and for the flipped classroom assessment before a class meeting about which concepts proved the most challenging for the students. Knowing what is hardest for students can help the instructor to know what to focus on or supplement in class or what parts of the video may need to be reworked for subsequent classes. In any case, this tool seems very useful, especially since one can begin using it for free. I feel this tool would make a great addition to any class that includes video lessons.

Other sessions I found interesting include:

  • Neuroscience and Online Learning, Steve Friedland
  • Online Conversation Spaces: Encouraging Meaningful Dialogue on Chat Boards, Jill Smith & Will Monroe

Given the quality of the sessions, I hope to be able to participate in CALICON in the future.

Here’s what a few of my law librarian colleagues had to say about the conference:

Heather J. E. Simmons, Associate Director for Instruction & Access Services, Alexander Campbell King Law Library, University of Georgia School of Law

 My favorite #CALIcon2020 session was the one my University of Georgia co-workers presented: Surviving COVID with the Breakfast Club: Task Management & Communication Tools for Multi-Generational Telework. They used movies to identify with each generation. The generations represented were Boomers – Carol Watson (The Big Chill, Breakfast Club); GenX – Wendy Moore (Reality Bytes); and Millennials – Rachel Evans and Geraldine Kalim (Scream, Clueless, Hackers).  The remote office tools discussed were Trello, Slack, and Zoom. Trello is the tool we use to manage our work and projects. It’s great for tracking who is working on what and when things are due.  We use Slack as an instant messaging alternative to email, but mostly we like it because it is so much fun. It feels like social media. It has emoticons built-in, and we can also add GIFs, so it’s a light-hearted way to have a conversation. We have channels for work things like virtual reference, but some of them are just for fun. Zoom is what we use for meetings, but our favorite thing is our weekly Happy Hour at 4:30 on every Friday. Sometimes there’s a theme, and other times we just hang out. Not everyone attends every time, but it’s a great way to unwind with our co-workers at the end of the week, and also to help keep track of what day it is.

Joe Lawson, Deputy Director, Harris County Law Library

During the CALIcon2020 program titled Instruction and Collaboration During COVID-19: Creating an Inclusive Environment, Zanada Joyner raised a poignant question about inclusion for law students in the age of COVID-19. She asked, “Who’s losing? Someone is going to lose if we’re not careful about how we move forward and technology is a tangible example.” The question resonated with me because I have wondered the same about members of the public who fall into the digital divide and have not been able to access legal information at my law library since March. Attending this session broadened my thinking about the impact of transitioning, perhaps too quickly, to digital-only services and helped me focus on a challenge many law librarians face in service to students and the public.

Brian R. Huffman, Electronic Services Librarian, University of Hawaii at Manoa, School of Law Library

Picture of Brian HuffmanThis was CALICon’s first all virtual conference. I found it very engaging and well-designed from a user’s point of view. I was grateful that they started at each day 1 PM Central time (which is 9 AM here in Hawaiʻi). The schwag box was fun and made it feel a little more like a physical event with a shirt, name tag, food, and other goodies. Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend all the sessions. The ones I did attend were focused on Synchronous v. Asynchronous courses; the Pandemic Law Library; the Pandemic Law School (portions); Beyond the Lecture; Clinics and Engagement; and Student Voices.

Great takeaways: From the 10,000 feet perspective, I found the major takeaways were to teach/learn with kindness. Empathy was a key concept in almost every presentation. Strive for inclusivity so all students can be engaged and involved. Use this unique opportunity to rebuild/develop online instruction and provide meaningful technology instruction to future lawyers. Law librarians need to take a step back and think about intentional instruction/service. Make sure you hone your tech skills and position the library to be a just-in-time service via online methods when you are not physically available.

The closing address by Cat Moon told us this was the Crises We Needed. Echoing empathy and kindness threads from previous conference topics, Cat emphasized EQ. Cat recommended a human-centered design for our model going forward.  Along with empathy, we need curiosity and radical collaboration to grow.

Debbie Ginsberg, Educational Technology Librarian, Chicago-Kent College of Law Library

One of the best outcomes of CALI pivoting to its online format was we were able to invite in more student voices.  An entire track was dedicated to their experiences during COVID.  Students are often left out of tech conversions, and yet they are the ones who experience the greatest impact.  We heard from students all over the country, but of course, it was quite interesting for me to hear from students at my own school especially.  Their struggles are ones we’ve discussed – tech issues, home issues, lack of study space, lack of motivation.  But these sessions were particularly powerful and informative.  Listen to their presentations if you have a chance.

Mandy Lee, Research & Instructional Services Librarian, Chicago-Kent College of Law Library

Attending CALICON2020 virtually was, in some ways, bittersweet. Chicago-Kent College of Law had been planning since last year to host the conference in person; as Chicago-Kent’s Research & Instructional Services Librarian, I would have been part of the host library staff.

On the other hand, because, given the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference had moved online, and the theme adjusted accordingly, I sometimes marveled at the convenience and ease with which people who might not otherwise have been able to attend the sessions could do so remotely – and without a registration fee.

Thus, from the comfort of my study at my parents’ house in suburban Chicago, where I’ve been sheltering for weeks, I gratefully logged in to various CALICON2020 sessions. While they all provided useful information that I could apply to my daily work, my favorite session, if I had to pick just one, would be Day 3’s Student Voices. The speakers offered numerous and varied insights into their experiences during the hybrid, and uniquely challenging, Spring 2020 semester.

I learned the most valuable aspects of moving to remote instruction during the global COVID-19 pandemic, as well as areas in which improvement could have been made. Some things I learned that proved to be validating and refreshing included the importance of the library to students’ academic lives – one student said that the library is a “dealbreaker”; students must have study spaces other than their homes. Another pointed out that “one learning style does not work for all students”; instructors must be “flexible” in their teaching methods. One speaker advised instructors to record videos because some students do not “have the bandwidth to attend a live class.” “Practice makes perfect – don’t wait until mid-class to try a new zoom feature”; “don’t be afraid to try new and creative solutions” – use “opportunities to be interactive.” Others articulated:

  • Time management challenges
  • Dealing with the trauma of the pandemic
  • Incorporate asynchronous teaching tools
  • Desire for more class structure
  • Challenges of cultivating a sense of community and engagement
  • Students like to use breakout rooms – use 1 room for every 1-1.5 hours of class time
  • “Far more challenging to focus on synchronized classes” than asynchronous
  • Zoom works better for large classes; Google Meet works better for classes of 4 students or fewer
  • Implement individualized check-ins with students; ask about accommodations needed
  • To make students feel engaged, begin each class with space for students to talk about issues they’re going through, as Alex Rabanal and others did; sign into class early to see if students are there, and share happy thoughts, heartwarming things that make students smile
  • Instructors should constantly iterate to the students that we are here, and to reach out to us if students need help. One professor gave her cell phone number to students, and said that they could contact her when they needed to

Overall, the Student Voices session really humanized a representative sampling of people who, as a patron category, comprise a large portion of the people with whom I work on a daily basis. I look forward to attending next year’s CALICON sessions which, fingers crossed, will take place in person, at Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Guest post by Amanda Watson, Director of the O’Quinn Law Library and Assistant Professor of Law.

“It’s the way we’ve always done it.” Law librarians, like most people, are generally creatures of habit. It isn’t surprising, since so much of our work is understanding, and even translating how things work.

The United States Supreme Court hears around 80 oral arguments a year. For about half the year, lawyers travel to the prestigious columned building to answer questions from the Justices. It is a career highlight for those lawyers, who sometimes commission artists to create images of them in front of the iconic bench.

Spring of 2020 has been a time of many challenges to “the way we’ve always done it” because of the response to COVID-19. The oral arguments are no different. In an April press release, the Court announced they would hear oral arguments by telephone conference.

The Supreme Court bench is known for being very active. It was difficult to imagine how that would translate to a telephone conference because the lawyers nor the Justices would see the nonverbal cues so important to the back and forth of the usual argument.

Why did the Court decide not to use video conferencing? As SCOTUSblog put it, it would be hard to “put the genie back in the bottle” after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Whatever method was used would certainly set an unofficial precedent for future arguments.  Some Justices have said that a video conference would turn into an event, with lawyers trying to create news-worthy quips instead of focusing on advocating for their clients. Audio recordings have been provided (with a delay) since 1955, so providing them as a live stream was a more modest innovation.

The telephone conference arguments started in early May and provided both live and archived versions to the public. The arguments have been very orderly. The most surprising feature turned out not to be the live stream or mechanics of telephonic communication, but that the usually quiet Justice Thomas asked questions, and that a toilet flush was heard during one argument when someone forgot to mute their telephone. All in all, telephone conferences have been a success while not changing that much about the future of arguments. They are not the way we’ve always done it, but they likely will allow for an easy transition back to the way we’ve always done it when COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed.

The Computing Services Special Interest Section is made up of awesome law librarians doing interesting things.   The CS-SIS Member Spotlight is designed to shine a light on our members so that we can learn more about each other and stay connected.

CS-SIS Member Spotlight:  Amanda Watson

 

Allow me to introduce Amanda Watson, incoming chair of CS-SIS.  Amanda’s path to law librarianship began at Mississippi University for Women where she earned her B.A. She then attended the University of Mississippi School of Law and accepted a clerkship at the Mississippi Court of Appeals.  Following her clerkship, she joined a small firm specializing in family law but wanted to shift her focus to helping people without being limited by their ability to pay.  She recalled her student work at her law school library, and teaching legal research to 1Ls and pondered “isn’t that a career?”  That was that, as law librarianship allowed her to dig into her commitment to serving the public interest.

With law librarianship experience in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, Amanda jokes she is well-versed in 5th circuit jurisdictions.  As Manager of Information Services at the Jackson office of Phelps Dunbar, LLP, she had the support of her firm while she earned her Master of Library Science degree from Florida State University.  She was then appointed the State Librarian of Mississippi. With a solid understanding of law firm and government law libraries, she entered academic law librarianship.  She worked for seven years at the Tulane University School of Law Library, ultimately as Associate Director, and then transitioned into Director of the O’Quinn Law Library at the University of Houston.  Amanda has positive takeaways from all of these library positions and notes her appreciation of her staff, bosses, and mentors along the way.

Amanda is excited to be the incoming chair of CS-SIS as our membership considers its future and a potential rebrand.  She learned early on in her career that an important aspect of librarianship was the ability to bridge the gap between lawyers and technology and explaining technology to lawyers.  Her membership in the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) helps keep her up-to-date on industry trends.  She understands information architecture and the systems that need to be built and is interested in creating and improving technology.  Currently, she is excited by the concept of a tool that will search across secondary sources.  While a treatise discovery layer may be years in the making, Amanda knows that such a product will have a positive impact on her students, and legal research beyond the academy.  She has seen librarians work with vendors to improve products and make them the best version of what they can be.  She brings to the CS-SIS executive board a talent for speaking the language of tech and her innovative ideas.

Having immediately understood the valuable role technology would play in this Covid-19 pandemic, Amanda proved again that librarians and libraries are habitually useful.  In the early weeks of implementing online teaching, she and her library team created reference materials and guides, provided hundreds of individual trainings, and are making a huge difference in the lives of students and faculty as they adapt to a remote learning environment.   Amanda had previously navigated the waters of hurricanes Katrina and Harvey and knows that being a good listener, having patience, and embracing creativity are qualities that will help her library get through this pandemic.  In the meantime, she’s embracing working from home and is preparing to teach Texas legal research online this summer and is looking into teaching her advanced legal research course online in the fall.

Amanda loves her family and values the time she gets to spend with her wife and two sons.  She enjoys watching RuPaul’s Drag Race on VH1 and in non-pandemic times visits art museums and attends theater, ballet, and opera performances.  She sings recreationally and her eldest son, also a singer, is a member of the Houston Boy Choir.

Thanks to Amanda for her willingness to be interviewed for this CS-SIS member spotlight.

Thank you to Nancy Bellafante, Serials & Electronic Resources Librarian at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, for this guest post.

The Biddle Law Library at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School responded to the COVID-19 crisis by increasing online reference services and expanding our collection of electronic resources. Before the shutdown, Biddle’s staff worked quickly to digitize course reserve materials. The library also partnered with publishers to provide free online access to casebooks and textbooks and invested in new ebook collections and study aid packages.

Yet, the library offers more to students than research support and course materials. We provide opportunities for personal connection. How can the library offer emotional support to students from a distance? In this remote environment, how can we communicate a smile or words of encouragement that we normally share in our face-to-face interactions?

During Final Exams period, the library puts up a digital display of the staff’s beloved dogs and cats (even a few turtles) to bring a little joy to our students during a stressful time. This spring, we adapted this idea to create the video, Finals Survival Tips: Pets Edition.

Library staff submitted clips of their pets demonstrating important tips for making it through finals, such as “eat snacks” and “take naps.” The video also included a message from librarians to let students know we miss them and are still here to help.

Creating the video did not require much time nor technical expertise. Below is an overview of the process.

Tools Used

  • Microsoft Photos – Pre-installed Windows 10 application, includes a built-in video editor
  • Zoom – Videoconferencing program with an option to record, offers free and paid accounts
  • Canva – Online graphic design program, offers free and paid accounts

Collect Video Content

Send an email to staff, explaining the purpose of the video, along with the deadline and guidelines for submissions. Explain how the video will be shared. Ask staff to keep clips under 15 seconds. Give ideas for the clips and encourage multiple submissions. Since some video files are too large to email, set up an online folder for staff to save submissions.

Create the Video

Microsoft Photos is similar to other video editors, but with fewer bells and whistles. If you are unfamiliar with video-editing software, watch Microsoft’s short tutorial series on how to make a video. Below are the basic steps to creating a video:

Start a new video project and import collected clips into the program. Decide on the video’s orientation. Note, most people record with their phones in portrait mode. Drag clips to the timeline to create the video sequence. Select individual clips to remove any black borders and to trim the clip, capturing the most interesting footage. You can also adjust or mute a clip’s volume if needed.

Add background music to the project. Select a track that fits the emotional tone of the piece. Add title slides to help communicate and organize the video’s narrative. Again, choose visual elements that match the video’s tone and message.  Keep it short. Our video was just under 3 minutes, which is a bit long, and it makes posting on some social media platforms difficult. If you have a lot of good material, consider breaking it up into a series. Once your video project is complete, save it as a movie file (MP4).

Create Text Slides Using Canva

Microsoft’s video editor is simple to use, but it has some limitations. It does not allow you to adjust the music volume for individual clips or add multiple tracks. Also, the program does offer clip transitions, and there are few text and title slide options.

For our video, I created the text slides using Canva, a free online graphic design program. Canva is easy to use and provides many templates and images. It is free to sign up for an account; however, some of the design elements are only available for paid accounts. I highly recommend Canva for creating marketing materials and social media posts.

Share the Video

Publish the video to your library’s YouTube or Vimeo channel to easily share the link on your website and social media. Our video was also shared with students in an e-newsletter sent by our school’s Student Affairs Office. I find this direct form of communication with students has the most reach.

The Most Important Element

Don’t forget the human element! We recorded a message to our students in Zoom for the video.  As heart-warming as our furry friends can be, seeing the faces of the librarians and hearing their voices were key to making a personal connection and communicating our support.

 

 

If you switched to working from home (WFH) quickly, you likely had little time to prepare and may still be making minor adjustments to get your ‘home office’ just right.  One adjustment that can be the hardest to tackle for some is switching to a work-life without a printer.

Though I’m a save-the-trees, don’t print unless you absolutely have to kind of person, I understand that there are some things that are just better done on paper. Additionally, with all the extra screen time we’re getting coupled with fewer breaks in between virtual meetings, moving as much of our reading off-screen as we can is better for our health. With that said, the often quick functions of scanning and printing that most of us took for granted in a typical day at the office have now joined the growing list of basic functions we’ve lost to this pandemic.

Thankfully, technology can help us work around this too.

Scanning

If you have an iPhone or iPad, Apple’s Notes app makes it possible to scan, markup, and share or save documents through any number of methods (email, Google Drive, etc.)

Screen shot of Apple's Notes app used to scan a document

Apple’s markup feature is especially useful if you need to ‘sign’ something electronically and don’t have access to an Adobe product that lets you do so, like Acrobat Pro or DC.

Similarly, Android users only need to have the Google Drive app to scan and save documents as searchable PDFs to their Drive.

Faxing

If your job requires you to fax documents, check with your campus or firm IT staff to see if they subscribe to an IP Fax service (I just learned my University does).  If that’s not an option and you really need to send a fax, try an online fax provider–some of which offer between 7 and 14 free trials.  (Just make sure the one you choose offers security!)

Printing

If you can’t get back into your office to take your work printer home (or your workplace won’t let you remove office equipment), you may feel like your last resort is to buy your own printer. (I found a Canon ink-jet printer on Best Buy’s website for as little as $35, but they are currently sold out and will likely be for a while).  My advice before buying a printer is to first think of possible alternatives to printing.

If you have things that will eventually need to be in print but aren’t necessary right now, save them in a Google or Box drive folder with a name like “To Print” and set yourself a reminder to do so when you’re back in the office.  You may even find that some things you thought you would need to print can continue to live online.

Scree Speak options on an Apple iPhone

If you work with a lot of text-heavy documents and would normally print them out to read, or if you’re just tired of reading so much on a screen, consider using a screen reader to listen to them instead.

If you really need something to be on paper, try writing it out by hand. While yes, this can be a lot slower than typing–who else has used the virtual equivalent of a post-it on your desktop just so you didn’t have to write one out by hand?—it may lead to better retention.

In the end, each of us will have to find the way we work best without being able to quickly scan or print. While this can be annoying, it does present opportunities to rethink how we work with print materials and come up with new solutions. And who knows, some of those solutions may persist even after we finally get back to our offices…

Who doesn’t love the Internet Archive? As one of the longest running vehicles for capturing content generated online, it also serves as one of the primary databases for Public Domain and Creative Commons licensed media. Founded in 1996, the vast archive includes more than 430 billion web pages, but the fun doesn’t stop with the web. As a non-profit library, it also presents a broad spectrum of collections, from live audio to feature films, ebooks to software, and even patents and other government documents. In this post I wanted to share some favorites from the archive I’ve enjoyed recently, both for work and entertainment.

Deutscher Bundestag

This unofficial mirror of official documents of the German parliament contains nearly 150,000 items (so far). It is automatically updated using the open source (AGPLv3) pdok-mirror software and the internetarchive python library. While working virtual reference at UGA Law Library I was recently lucky enough to have a question involving locating anofficial government document related to Energiewende. My colleague Anne Burnett, Foreign & International Law Librarian, helped to locate exactly what I was searching for – and she found it in this collection!

United States Patent and Trademark Documents & Gov Docs

Contributed by Think Computer Foundation, this collection of US patents and trademarks includes more than 400,000 applications. Portions are a part of the GovDocs collection (which includes more than 80,000 and are sortable by date).

Ebooks & Audio Books

With over 20,000,000 freely downloadable books and texts, this section of the archive is a treasure chest overflowing with wonderful content. From the collection homepage you can easily sort by libraries from a particular country or by categories like Fringe and Off-Center. There is something for everyone! A portion of this collection includes 1.3 million modern eBooks that may be borrowed by anyone with a free archive.org account. Related collections like the 13,000 free audio books are also available.

The VHS Vault

For lovers of obsolete formats like myself, the archive is packed with digitized media captured from formats that are becoming more and more outdated. The VHS vault is a perfect example of this! One colleague recently shared the 1981-1989 collection of MTV VHS recordings that are a part of the VHS vault. In addition to shows recorded to video by home viewers, you’ll find trailers, commercials, music videos, experimental films, and more.

Software Library: MS-DOS Games

This collection of software for MS-DOS machines includes games of action, strategy, adventure and other unique genres of entertainment software. The programs found here are bootable and playable thanks to the EM-DOSBOX in-browser emulato. With more than 2,500 games there are tons of options. (Thanks to colleague TJ Striepe, AD for Research Services, for sharing this Games and the MTV 80’s links!)

Music, including Sound Effects & Live Performance Libraries

From the popular sound effects library to collections of your favorite band’s live shows. Radio station archives are there, and nearly 230,000 78 RPMs and Cylinder Recordings. Looking for content to use in your own work or project? Search the archives various collections by file types and their rights. Among the gems, fans of the Grateful Dead (like my colleague David Rutland, Collection Services Manager who first shared this set with me) can find enough to listen to all day, everyday.

Images, Video and Feature Films

There are also vast collections of more than 3 million images, more than 5 million moving images (including more than 6,000 feature films). Many silent films that have entered the public domain can be found in the Internet Archive. You can also find collections of sci-fi and horror, comedy, television shows, and animation and cartoons. Not everything is entertainment – NASA has impressive sets of media including short, relevant educational video segments they hope will “inspire and engage students”.

This blog post could go on endlessly sharing millions of items from the Internet Archive. What is your favorite item or collection at archive.org? We encourage you to explore the database and discover something new. If you know exactly what you are searching for, try out their sophisticated advanced search which feels like it was made just for librarians!

 

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Coronavirus’ impact is felt especially hard by professional associations, which were forced to cancel or change the format of their in-person conferences. These conferences not only draw in substantial revenue, but also promotes their projects, membership, and scholarship to the greater professional community. As a newish tech law librarian, one of the first organizations that came to my attention was Stanford’s CodeX, and I was brimming with excitement for their FutureLaw Conference 2020.

CodeX is Stanford’s Center for Legal Informatics. The FutureLaw Conference is a one-day conference that “focuses on the way technology is transforming the law, and redefining the methods in which individuals interact with legal systems and institutions.” Past conferences have been a valuable way to keep up-to-date with new technologies and their impacts on legal education and practice. The cancellation of the in-person conference was blow to the law librarian community, but CodeX graciously offered the conference in a free online format.

Topics from the online conference include implications of recent natural language processing breakthroughs, regulatory reform to increase access to justice, “no-code” platforms for legal tech development, legal innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa, AI and cybersecurity, facial recognition, and VC investment. I noticed a few audio hiccups but overall, the virtual conference was an amazing production considering that most of the presentations came together weeks after the cancellation of the conference.

Given the rise of no-code or low-coding platforms to create technology solutions for law firms, I found the “The Surge of No Code Platforms for Legal Tech Development” of particular interest. The session included CEOs, practitioners, and legal educators with experience with no-code platforms. No-code or low-code platforms refers to technology that allows non-computer programmers (like lawyers) to create legal tech applications that would typically require coding experience. These tools range from document automation to expertise automation. Claire Johnson Raba, a clinical teaching fellow at the UC Irvine Consumer Law Clinic, noted that the ethical and attorney competency concerns of no-code applications should be addressed in a law school environment in order to incubate these technologies to prevent future malpractice. Because these applications are becoming more popular within the private sector, I believe that it will only be a matter of time before law students are expected to have some experience with automation technologies. The presentation itself discussed a wide variety of topics, surpassing my expectations from a one-hour podcast panel discussion.

Virtual conferences may be the current operating procedure given the coronavirus pandemic, but I hope it will not become the norm. While CodeX and several other conferences are switching to a virtual format, I feel that the conferences are lacking without the networking opportunities, questions from the audience, and awesome vendor swag. However, CodeX FutureLaw 2020 still lived up to my expectations providing high-level discussion about emerging technologies.

For the full agenda and links to each presentation to CodeX FutureLaw 2020: https://conferences.law.stanford.edu/futurelaw2020/agenda/

 

On April 10, I sent a note to two co-workers about virtual study rooms that said: “this is a weird yet maybe good idea.” Twenty days later we’ve not only implemented virtual study rooms but have heard positive feedback from our students and plan to continue offering them this summer, particularly for those students studying for the bar.

Why virtual study rooms? While I personally would find it deeply unsettling to “be” in a room online in a group study setting, many people like it for accountability, including legal writing professors. Just a little over a week ago, there was a discussion on the Legal Writing Institute’s LRW-PROF listserv about improving concentration with a writing group that could be replicated online with a platform like Zoom, or with a program called Focusmate. (More about that discussion here.) Another reason: providing students a “place” to study eliminates a small piece of their cognitive load while studying for exams. Yes, they could figure out how to put together an online study group themselves using many of the various technologies at their fingertips, but this option is a simple as a few clicks. It’s one less thing for them to think about.

After we decided to give it a try at Lewis & Clark Law School, we first tested Google Calendar’s appointment feature to offer two-hour appointments but opted instead for LibCal. Because LibCal is a scheduling platform particular to libraries and library spaces, the customization options were better suited to our needs. We decided to offer three study rooms with two main restrictions: the rooms could only be reserved by a student with our email domain, and the rooms should be reserved 12 hours ahead of the meeting time during the weekdays and by Friday at 4pm ahead of all weekend meeting times. Students could also email Reference to request a sooner time during the workday.

The lengthy booking requirement is required because there is not currently a way to automate the process of sending Zoom room credentials when the student reserves a room. Right now, we have one librarian sending the Zoom credentials to the person who made the appointment through LibCal, and that same librarian is the one notified when someone makes an appointment. We will expand this if it gets too unwieldy.

We decided on three study rooms because they needed to be tied to Zoom institutional accounts to allow for meetings longer than 40 minutes and there is a limited number of institutional accounts available on our campus. We were able to use three email addresses that already belonged to the library to register these Zoom accounts. Once a student reserves a room, the librarian emails the student with the Zoom credentials and it’s up to the student to share those credentials with people in their study group. Each time slot is given unique meeting credentials with a password to prevent Zoom-bombing and Zoom settings allow attendees to enter without a host.

Since we launched virtual study rooms, students have thanked us and we’ve had repeat users. I’ve been in touch with Springshare about a Zoom integration with LibCal and was told, “We are working on a feature to integrate Zoom with LibCal’s Appointment module 🙂 Please keep an eye on our blog for more information on when that will be released!” I’m hopeful that this feature is coming soon, which will potentially eliminate our need to mediate bookings and Zoom credentials.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the response rate to our virtual study room option for students, and it’s been great to hear the positive feedback.

Update, 5.8.20: Springshare announced a LibCal Zoom integration on April 30. This requires that you have access to your Zoom API/Key. At this point, I haven’t been able to experiment with the integration, so for now, we are using the method described above.