Monday, May 31, 2004

Supreme Court of Canada - Subscribing to New Library Titles

The Supreme Court of Canada provides a list of new acquisitions from their website. You can also subscribe to an e-mail of the list from this page: Supreme Court of Canada - Subscribing to New Library Titles. While most of us can't borrow from this collection, I think this would be useful for those of us doing collection development to see what is coming out. - Trends in Blog Searching

Guide to blog searching on LLRX: "Trends in Blog Searching" by Christina K. Pikas, updated May 24, 2004.

Friday, May 28, 2004

I've Been Indexed!

At least one reader to this blog has found it through BlogSearchEngine. In particular, from the category Job blogs and career blogs. It is described as "Blogs by people who hate and love their jobs and careers." Hmmm...I wonder which category they think I fall into? 8-)

What's New in Hein-On-Line

HeinOnline keeps getting bigger and better. Take a look in the What's New in Hein-On-Line section under May 28, 2004: lots of new content added. For Canadian content, coverage of the Alberta Law Review has been expanded.

If you haven't used this service before, it has full-text searchable periodicals (especially legal periodicals) with PDF version available for those fresh-from-the-photocopier printouts. This has made a lot of materials available to us on a just-in-time basis, so we have found a subscription to be well worthwhile.

World Treaty Index

Picked this tip up from the Intlaw listserv today: World Treaty Index from the Human Rights Education And Research Network . It is a test database so far.

I tested it by subject search. The subjects are coded, so you have to look at the table first to determine what subject you want from the list. For example, for treaties on legal subjects, select "9legal". If you fill in more than one search field, such as subject and party, both search conditions must be met (i.e. it treats it like a Boolean "and"). It is an InMagic DBText WebPublisher database which is what we use in my office. I found the word wheels to be a little slow at responding (a common WebPublisher problem or problem with the server?) . In the results, click on the treaty number for more details. As far as I can tell, links to the full text of treaties is not given although best bet for source is given. It does not appear to be comprehensive, but definitely has cites to a lot of treaties that otherwise might be inaccessible.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Something's Fishy: New Uses for DNA Evidence

I confess! Despite the heading, this has nothing to do with law or libraries, but I thought it was interesting. University of Guelph is looking for old mounted salmon so they can use the DNA to determine if salmon in Argentina's Patagonia region might have originated in Canada: "U of G casting a net for old Atlantic salmon". Being a U of G alumni, I am posting it here to help out in case anyone has old salmon cluttering up the attic.

Lessons learned:
- DNA testing ain't just for people;
- being a pack rat is not always a bad thing.

Big City Mayors Caucus

The mayors of Canada's twenty-two largest cities are meeting today in Edmonton to discuss strategy for municipalities with regard to the upcoming Federal election. Here is the Press Release from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Lessons learned - Ontario regulations

A regulation comes into force the day it is filed at the Regulations Office, unless otherwise stated in the regulation; however, regulations are not generally available to the public until published on e-Laws (a new section called Regulations as Filed)possibly a day or two later, or in the Ontario Gazette, possibly weeks later.

We contacted the Regulations Office to obtain a reg that had been filed that might affect one of our clients, but could not obtain a copy. At best they would let us into their office to view the regulation. We then contacted a ministry responsible for drafting the regulation; once we found the 'right' person, we were able to obtain a copy.

Lessons learned:
- even if a reg is in force and affects you, you may not be able to access it immediately;
- never give up;
- all you need to do is find the one 'right' person to help you.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

New blogging features

Blogger, the service I have used to create this blog, has had some recent improvements to the features available at the basic (i.e. free) level. I haven't had much time to review what is available, but among the improvements: more templates available, so I would have more choice in the blog page design; postings as separate pages so that individual pages can be bookmarked; and the ability to allow others to add comments to my messages. When I have more energy I will look into making these changes. Stay tuned!

Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 has Royal Assent

More changes on the privacy front: Ontario's new Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004, received Royal Assent on May 20, 2004. It is contained in Schedule A to Health Information Protection Act, 2004, S.O. 2004, c. 3 (Bill 31). The bulk of it comes into force later in the year.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Back to real life...

I arrived back home last night from the CALL Conference (Canadian Association of Law Libraries) in Quebec City. I carried my laptop all the way there with the hopes of blogging each evening about the things I was learning at the conference, but once again was disappointed. I spent an hour on the phone with the Internet supplier for the hotel trying to get my Ethernet connection to work. No luck. The Internet room at the conference was also busy whenever I checked, and I didn't really want to miss any of the conference for this purpose.

So, sorry to those who were not there and who have been checking back here!

That being said, it was a pleasure to meet people from across the country, and always a surprise to meet someone who had read this blog at some point. If nothing else, this proved to be a good discussion point.

I missed a good part of the session on blogging and RSS, but did see the last half hour which proved helpful. I also learned a number of things from talking with the speaker afterward. Once I dig out my notes will post useful info here about blogging.

Aside from going to CALL looking to learn the practical lessons, I also went seeking some answers about my own direction. I feel I have attained--or almost attained--a number of goals I set out for myself after completing library school ten years ago. This perhaps sounds a bit cold and clinical. I never articulated specific goals at that time, but did some similar thinking and soul searching e.g. what do I want to do with my life now? I am a believer in serendipity and seeing where life takes me, but also I like to work hard toward specific goals and keep myself open to possibilities. It is the specific goals I need. Whether I get to the goal is actually besides the point; it is the journey toward that goal that is important. I have no specific conclusions yet, but was fortunate to have the opportunity to explore a few different ideas. Stay tuned. 8-)

Friday, May 14, 2004

Quicklaw changes

It is very worthwhile reading the announcements section for Quicklaw, either on their website or on the Quicklaw news screens. Some recent tidbits:

  • "Enhanced Document Delivery - New Feature on Quicklaw(TM)" (May 11, 2004) - apparently as of tomorrow, the Web Browser Interface will allow e-mail, printing, and saving of multiple documents from search results. Read the announcement for the details--sounds very useful.
  • "QuickCITE(TM) Case Citator Enhancements (QC)"(April 2, 2004) - Ten new "History of Case" terms have been added to the citator. See this announcement for the full list. The scope screen in QC has the definitions of the new terms.

  • Wednesday, May 12, 2004

    Federal Depository Program issue

    Summary of this urgent issue from the Ontario Library Association including sample letter for letter-writing campaign.

    Making Yourself Understood

    In light of my recent goof with someone's name on a listserv, this is a timely article pointed out to me: "Making Yourself Understood". From the Conference Board website (didn't know they had publicly available articles on their site!). Actually, this article should be good since it covers all kinds of business writing, from e-mail to business plans. I look forward to reading it.

    the [non]billable hour

    A few people have asked me which blogs I read. At some point I will probably include a proper list on my page. For now, I want to point out the best law firm-related blog I have found: the [non]billable hour. Matthew Homann, attorney and mediator, has just set up a small law office. Most of his postings regard marketing the law firm and are commentary on ideas posted in a number of blogs he monitors. Some great, fresh ideas. Really worth a read if you work in a law firm.

    Designing and Maintaining Law Library Web Sites

    Article from AALL, "Designing and Maintaining Law Library Web Sites: Some Practical Considerations" by Kent Milunovich (in PDF). This article is a couple of years old; some of the points are already outdated, but essentially a good checklist of items to include on a law library web page. He has included some things I hadn't thought of adding to ours. I laughed at the part stating we should update our site on a monthly or quarterly basis. My goal is to feed info to our site continuously throughout the day in the course of our work. In the world of RSS immediacy is everything.

    Okay, I think this is my last posting for tonight. Do I get to docket my time surfing work-related topics? 8-)

    Tuesday, May 11, 2004

    AALL Universal Citation Guide

    AALL has anUniversal Citation Guide available in PDF format from their website. Complements the Blue Book of citation. Worth adding to our catalogue, I think.

    Succession Planning

    Presentation from CALL 2003 by Yasmin Khan and Vicki Whitmell: "Succession Planning Strategies for Law Libraries". Some important suggestions here in a number of areas; I am currently looking at the suggestions regarding associations.

    End of an Era

    Announcement today from LexisNexis Canada: President and CEO Hugh Lawford and Chief Technology Office Dick von Briesen, co-founders of Quicklaw, will be retiring July 15th. Current COO of LexisNexis Canada, Michael Pilmer, will succeed Hugh Lawford as President and CEO.

    Truly the end of an era. Quicklaw was the original electronic service for the legal community in Canada. It will be interesting to see what tribute will be paid them at the upcoming CALL conference--it feels that this announcement came just in time for this.

    Monday, May 10, 2004

    Access to U.S. government info

    A study of U.S. federal government websites shows that most of the databases removed from in the name of post-9/11 security did not jeopardize security and should be returned to the web. Article on Findlaw with the details: "Study Examines Govt. Web Sites Security". I couldn't see mention that the databases would be reinstated; will be interesting to see whether they are.

    Saturday, May 08, 2004

    The Word Spy

    The Word Spy is a cool website I just discovered. It tracks latest buzzwords and new words in the media. Definitions are provided, as is a "top 100" list. For example, I have heard the phrase "jump the shark" lately on late-night talk shoes, but wasn't sure what it was about. This defines the phrase, gives examples, and traces origin of the term. Something about Fonzie on "Happy Days", but I'll let you look up the specifics....

    The site does have an e-mail list that sends out new words 4 or 5 times a week, and looks like it has an RSS feed. This might be something interesting (and sometimes relevant) to feed onto an intranet. Good "stickiness" factor. Hey, I wonder if they have that term listed yet?


    Friday, May 07, 2004

    The Tipping Point

    The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell is a very interesting read. Gladwell shows how adding up a number of specific little things can cause an idea or trend to flourish. He makes a comparison with the way epidemics get started. He identifies certain types of people who are key to the spread: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. If you pitch just these people with your idea, and they like it enough, your idea will spread to the rest of the population.

    I was reading this book the same week we launched our intranet, and was happy to see how we had unconsciously implemented some of the strategies he mentions for spreading an idea. I used other little ideas to "tweak" our marketing campaign. Most notably, you want to make an idea or a product "sticky" so that people return to it again and again.

    That is the on-going challenge with running an intranet or website, so I could really see how that directly applies. Our unplanned use of a mascot "Wiglet" for our intranet Wig seemed to have a really stickiness factor, so we are planning to incorporate it increasingly in our site. It is not a coincidence that, on successful intranets, the most-visited pages are those that seem to have little to do with work: joke of the day, chat room where people sell their items, or menus in the cafeteria, an example we saw in a law firm in NYC. These are not bad things--these are the things that get people hooked into checking that first page every day.

    If you get a chance, I do recommend this book. It is very readable, has great examples, and since it is not aimed at a certain group, allows the reader to take from it what we want.

    Tuesday, May 04, 2004

    Librarian Activist

    Check out This website is by McGill library school student Danielle Dennie and tracks libraries in the news with a political view. Professionally laid out with short records for fast scanning.

    Monday, May 03, 2004

    My evil little fantasy

    I've been having an evil little fantasy the last couple of weeks: what if we had no books in our library? I know, I know: we just can't do it in the Canadian legal system, and our clients would become distraught. But I can't help but think: no book order messes to straighten out; no paper subscriptions to monitor; no cataloguing problems to sort through; a lot less mail to open; no loose leaf filing.

    Today I added another point to the list: no missing books to track down. We've spent the past week on our annual "book recall" campaign, trying to account for all signed out books, and locate missing ones. It's a lot of work. I can't help but think about how much time we would free up if we went all electronic. Time would be spent directly with our clients, teaching lawyers, students and staff how to use the products, rather than spending all our time in the background maintaining materials. Heck, we might even be able to convince someone else to do all the infrastructure work for us if we're particularly charming.

    I must admit it was a couple of the law firm libraries in New York that got me thinking this way. At first I was horrified to learn the books on the shelves were just for decoration. Why, you couldn't even reach some of the volumes because they were impossibly placed in a tall stairwell. But since returning, I've been thinking about all the clean desks and offices I saw on the tours, and can't help but wonder about the quality of my own work life without books.

    Okay, okay, perhaps it's not realistic to think about this. But perhaps we can work to somehow reduce the burden of books, paper parts, loose leaf filings, not to mention current awareness materials being routed. I've just got to think of a way. A librarian's gotta dream....

    Toronto bars going smoke-free

    As of June 1st, all bars will be smoke-free. This City of Toronto webpage from Toronto Public Health: Smoke-free lifestyle includes background information, the By-law, signs, and a poster.

    I was very excited to see this advertised in the newspaper on the weekend. A few weeks ago I was out with friends in a smokey bar. My lungs were sore for several days afterward, and I then came down with the horrible cold that has been going around. Recovery from my evening out, then, was several weeks. I vowed not to go into another smokey place again.

    So, I am just thrilled. First order of business on June 1st will be to go out and celebrate! Of course, I will check first whether the owners plan to comply with the new By-law.

    Sunday, May 02, 2004

    Champion BookCrosser Worked in Saskatchewan Libraries

    I'm sad to see this story in this week's BookCrossing News from Ron Hornbaker:

    I'm saddened to report that long-time BookCrosser Richard Loeffler
    (screen name rloeffle) of La Ronge, Saskatchewan died suddenly on
    April 17th, 2004. Richard currently has the most books registered on
    BookCrossing (7,551) and was responsible for distributing most of them
    around small communities in the north of his Canadian province. He was
    employed by the library system in La Ronge, and used his library
    contacts to spread the BookCrossing word widely across isolated
    Northern communities.

    Richard was passionate about committing 'random acts of literacy'
    anonymously. He was featured in a great USA Weekend story on
    (, and did
    that and much more to help promote our cause. His family has asked
    that, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made in his name to
    the La Ronge Public Library Building Fund, c/o First Call Funeral
    Services, 708 La Ronge Ave., La Ronge, SK., Canada S0J 1L0.

    Not too long ago I had visited rloeffle's page on BookCrossing and marvelled at what he had done. Definitely a special person.

    Saturday, May 01, 2004


    Tucking this away for future reference: the website for Ulrich's Periodicals Directory: Bowker's Mostly indexing periodicals and articles; some full text. Price is a bit steep for our library, but perhaps others might find it useful.