Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Texas Tech Providing Document Delivery of 3D Printed Materials

Here at Texas Tech University, we just received word that starting in Spring 2017, the Texas Tech Libraries Document Delivery department will offer a new 3D object service.

You can have 3D objects fabricated for instructional use.This includes anything like carbon nanotubes and molecules, architectural features and buildings, and even more unusual items like human vocal cords.

The SHAPES Project is currently looking for ideas to fill its catalog with document delivery material that will be useful to a major research university.

For more information about 3D printing at Tech, see our 3D printing services FAQs.

What a cool way to fuse library services with new technology. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Happy Banned Books Week!

Banned Books Week runs from September 25 - October 1, 2016.

This year, Banned Books Week is specifically celebrating diversity.

From the Banned Books website:
Below is a selection of books by diverse authors or containing diverse content that have been frequently challenged and/or banned.

While diversity is seldom given as a reason for a challenge, it seems, in fact, to be an underlying and unspoken factor. These challenged works are often about people and issues which include LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities—people or issues that, perhaps, challengers would prefer not to consider.

A Gathering of Old Men by Ernest J. Gaines
A Hero Ain't Nothin But a Sandwich by Alice Childress
A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by  Sherman Alexie
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
Always Running by Luis J Rodriguez
Am I Blue?:  Coming Out from the Silence by Marion Dane Baue
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Girl
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X; Alex Haley
Baby Be-Bop by Francesca Lia Block
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out  by Susan Kuklin
Black Boy by Richard Wright
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A Anaya
Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa
Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
Geography Club by Brent Hartinger
George by Alex Gino
Habibi by Craig Thompson
Heather Has Two Mommies by Lesléa Newman
Hoops by Walter Dean Myers
I Am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
King & King by Linda de Haan
Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino
My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis
Nappy Hair by Carolivia Herron
Nasreen’s Secret School by Jeanette Winter
Palestine: A Nation Occupied by Joe Sacco
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Rainbow Boys by Alex Sanchez
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D Taylor
Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
So Far From the Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
This Book is Gay by James Dawson
This Day in June by Gayle Pitman
Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher

Check out the Banned Books website for other information on promotional events to support the right to read!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Open Educational Resources in Higher Ed.

During the SPARC presentation last week, in addition to discussing open access, the representatives also discussed open educational resources (OER).

A few interesting facts and figures:
  • Since 2002, college textbook costs have increased 82% (GAO)
  • 2 in 3 students say they decided against buying a textbook because the cost is too high (Student PIRGs)
  • 1 in 3 students say at some point they earned a poor grade because they could not afford to buy the textbook (Student survey)
  • 1 in 2 students say they have at some point taken fewer courses due to the cost of textbooks
The Hewlitt Foundation defines Open Educational Resources as "teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or are released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and repurposing by others."

To truly be open, the resources should be free and have the 5 R's of reuse rights:
  • Retain
  • Reuse
  • Revise
  • Remix
  • Redistribute
The benefits of open educational resources cannot be overstated. A multi-institutional study in the Journal of Computing in Higher Education shows the impact of open textbook adoption on the learning outcomes of post-secondary students:
  • higher or equivalent grades
  • higher average credit load
  • higher or equivalent completion rates
If you are interested in making your educational resources open, Creative Commons is a wonderful way to release under an open intellectual property license. 

If you would like to find and use open educational resources, The University of Minnesota created an Open Textbook Library that is a "tool to help instructors find affordable, quality textbook solutions."

Ultimately, using OER in 1 course per year could save US students $1.42 billion (Student PIRGs).

The full presentation can be found here:

Monday, September 19, 2016

Current Open Access Initiatives

Last week, I attended a wonderful presentation by representatives from SPARC on open access initiatives in the United States.

Some interesting facts and figures include:

  • US Libraries spend 2.1 billion dollars on journal subscriptions per year (2014). 
  • Elsevier and Springer have profit margins higher than Microsoft, McDonald's, Apple, Pfizer, Google, Disney, Starbucks, Exon Mobil, or Walmart (2014). 

The overarching question is how can research be so expensive to access, especially when the federal government funds (i.e. taxpayers) so much it? That's where open access initiatives come in.

Foundationally, "open access means free, immediate online access to scientific and scholarly articles with full reuse rights." (Budapest Open Access Initiative)

Currently there are to two major paths toward open access for research:
1) Open access journals and
2) Self-archiving

And there is a huge incentive for researchers to make their work accessible and open. Citation impact for mature researchers has been shown to increase dramatically through open access.

So, you  may ask, what is being done to fix this problem? Currently there is a Presidential Policy Memorandum from 2013 expanding open access to the results of federally funded research.

And there are various stakeholders trying to memorialize this policy memorandum into law with S.779 - Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act of 2015.

This is a huge step forward in the open access movement. You might consider contacting your representatives to promote the passage of this law.

For more information and to see the PowerPoint from the presentation, please see this link:

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Must Read: StevenB's Designing Better Libraries Blog

If you haven't run across Steven Bell's blog Designing Better Libraries, it's a must read. It explores "the intersection of design, user experience, and creativity for better libraries."

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Academic Librarians & The Google Effect

I am often asked "Now that everything is online why do we need librarians?" It's a question that I would have likely considered myself before I became a librarian. And it's a tough question because it implies that the very nature of your work - the work that you know to be more important than ever in a time of ubiquitous online access - is not necessary anymore. I'd like to think that this way of thinking, that libraries and librarians are no longer necessary, is more of the exception than the rule, but I'm not so sure.

Joshua Kim on InsideHigherEd did a great job of articulating the value of librarians in the Google age. He was recently asked "When it is time to do research on educational technology do you start with your favorite search engine or do you invest time delving into your academic library's education research databases?"

It's a fallacy that librarians expect people to start with the research in the library's database. We all know that most people will start their research where they feel comfortable - generally with their favorite search engine. We know this because librarians often do the same thing.

But as Kim notes, the appearance of ubiquitous information - the Google effect - has served to increase the the professional value of my relationship with academic librarians. The reason for this conclusion about the importance of the value of these relationships can be found in what Google can’t do - and in what academic librarians do beautifully. What I can’t do with Google is have a conversation.  I can’t discover what I don’t know when interacting with Google. I can’t evolve my understanding in dialogue with Google. From Google I can get facts, data, and information - but I can’t contextualize that information within the problem that I am trying to solve.  Nor can that information be placed within the cultural and organizational context in which I’m trying to utilize that information to answer a question or tackle a challenge.

And I use this way of thinking when I teach my students legal research. I understand that they will use Google, but I want them to also be able to contextualize the information that they find. I teach them a 4-step legal research strategy that starts with a preliminary analysis that includes planning their research and looking in secondary sources to find an overview of the law. After I've talked about the reputable secondary sources available through library subscriptions, I have a frank discussion with them about using Google to find information. I then have a discussion with the students about what they might find on Google and how that information fits into the 4-step process.

In the InsideHigherEd article, Kim goes on to discuss the other benefits of working with his academic-librarian colleagues. My librarian colleagues bring a deep level of expertise to these conversations that is different from other folks in my network. This expertise may be around information science, or open access and open resources, or how a new discipline (such as the digital humanities) is forming.  This expertise may be subject matter related.  This expertise may have to do with how physical and digital spaces change, merge and interact. Almost always, I learn from my librarian colleagues in our conversations new things about how learning and knowledge production are changing, and how we can be most effective in an environment of ever-increasing demands and ever-shrinking resources, time, and attention.

Lastly, Kim asks if there Is a shared understanding across higher ed that Google is in reality the best friend of the profession of academic librarianship - as ubiquitous information makes contextualized knowledge and ongoing collaborations ever more essential as drivers of both individual productivity and institutional quality?

I, for one, certainly hope so.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Legal Research: Knowing When to Stop

Beginning researchers often ask, "How do I know when I'm done?"

This is a legitimate question because legal research can send you down many rabbit holes with seemingly endless resources to sort through. The University of San Francisco School of Law put together a wonderful research guide on point.

Here are a few good indicators that you've reached the end of your research project:

  • You've found the answer. Sometimes — this is rare — you will quickly find the authoritative law that applies to your fact pattern. Be sure to Shepardize or KeyCite to check to see if your sources are still good law. 
  • You keep finding the same primary authority no matter which research method you use or which sources you consult. It's usually a good idea to double-check your research by checking two or three sources on the same topic to see if they all cite to the same authority. When you've done thorough research, and you keep turning up the same citations no matter where or how you look, that's a sign that you've reached the foundational cases on point. Again make sure to Shepardize or Keycite. 
  • Your project deadline is fast-approaching. Remember that the best research is pointless if you don't leave enough time to write the paper or to tell the client or assigning attorney what you've found.

What if you're not finding authorities that address your research issue?

If research hasn't yielded any results after 30-45 minutes, it may be time to reevaluate your research strategy. Think comprehensively and creatively. Research broader rules, analogous facts or doctrines, and⁄or the law of other jurisdictions.

Make sure you are:
  • applying a variety of research techniques
  • using both primary and secondary sources
  • using both print and online sources
  • consulting resources from different publishers or vendors (remember that Lexis and Westlaw offer a lot of the same primary sources (cases, statutes, regulations, etc.), but the secondary sources available on each system, like treatises and practice guides, tend to not overlap very much.)

Consult a librarian.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

ABA Adversely Reviewing Schools in Light of Criticism

InsideHigherEd provided a comprehensive overview of recent actions by the American Bar Association (ABA) in what is seemingly a response to the long-standing criticism of legal education.

As noted, earlier this month, the ABA’s accrediting arm recommended against approving the University of North Texas-Dallas College of Law, citing low admissions test scores scores of entering students. Days later, it found Ave Maria Law School in Florida out of compliance with its standards, again citing admissions practices. The ABA is also considering tightening bar-passage standards to make them tougher for schools to meet. 

The long-standing criticism stems from the law school bubble that was created during the recession. Law schools, like many other areas of higher education, saw increased enrollment during the recession. But the job market for law graduates has tightened in recent years. That’s meant more lawyers looking for work and fewer applications from prospective law students. To fill out their incoming classes, some programs began admitting less-qualified students who are more likely to struggle on the bar exam and to find employment after taking on large student debt loads, experts say. Those issues were clearly on the minds of members of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity -- the federal body that oversees higher ed accreditors -- at its July meeting. Ultimately, the NACIQI suspended the ABA from accrediting new institutions for one year. 

The action of the NACIQI does not come without its own set of criticism, however. Ohio State University law professor Deborah Jones Merritt said the ABA’s accrediting arm hadn’t taken enough of a nuanced approach toward UNT Dallas specifically. Whether a school is admitting students who will succeed in law school and in taking the bar exam is not just a matter of LSAT scores, Merritt said. UNT has sought to train lawyers interested in representing lower-income residents by admitting students from more diverse, and non-traditional backgrounds. The school, which was launched in 2014, also placed a lower priority on LSAT scores than many institutions. Instead, it looked for work experience and other accomplishments that indicated applicants could succeed in classes and on the bar exam. And UNT is charging thousands less in tuition and fees than even other public law schools in the state. But ABA staff cited those admissions standards and concerns over financial stability in recommending against accreditation. 

As one commenter on the InsideHigherEd article points out, Bar passage rates have been the elephant in the room of law school affirmative action admissions since the 1970s - affirmative action admits were almost all (there were exceptions, but very, very few) admitted with LSAT scores a full standard deviation below that of 'nonminority' students, and the bar passage rates reflected this. At one law prominent public school where [the commenter] saw the numbers in the late 1970s-early 1980s, 20% of the class was admitted on affirmative action. The 'white' first time bar passage rate averaged over several years around 92%, with the 'black' first time bar passage rate running around 67% and the Hispanic first time bar passage rate running around 80%. This sort of thing is discussed at some length in the book Mismatched.... Now, as law school applications are down, you're seeing schools below the elite levels admitting lots of 'nonminority' students who have similarly low LSAT scores and concomitantly lower first time bar passage rates.The biggest problem here is that toughening standards - insisting on LSAT scores that suggest a student has a reasonable chance of first time bar passage - will hit minorities and poor nonminority prospective law students worst. Which the ABA types don't want to do.

And I would further add that they shouldn't do it. We already have issues with diversity in the legal field, and this sort of gatekeeping will continue to exacerbate the problem. This isn't because minorities or poor nonminority students are dumb. It's because the current state of legal education and higher education, in general, advances students who have been supported and encouraged throughout their education with better schools and test prep, etc.... Instead of gatekeeping before law school, we should consider innovative ways of teaching during law school that will ensure success in the legal field on a broader scale. Of course there are other issues with the cost of legal education and making sure that students who take on the huge debt load for a JD degree can successfully take a bar exam, but that isn't done with LSAT score alone.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Best Practices for Creating a Digital Law Library

If you are considering creating a digital law library, Lexis put together a wonderful white paper on topic that guides you through the process. 

While there is product placement throughout, this white paper is helpful for anyone considering a digital law library. The white paper offers general best practices, along with information on the LexisNexis Digital Library product. 

According to the white paper, one of the first things to consider is the approach that your law library will take to digital migration:
  • Incremental: Some organizations have an ongoing preference for printed volumes and offer eBooks for just a select portion of titles.
  • Accelerated: Others place more emphasis on mobility or are concerned about the administrative overhead that comes with physical books; they may choose to replace a large percentage of hard-copy volumes with eBooks. According to the 2015 ABA technology survey, one third of lawyers report using legal eBooks for work. 
  • Holistic: Either way, many libraries are combining eBooks from multiple publishers in a single digital resource that also provides analysis tools to measure usage.
After considering your approach, it is best to develop a strategy and build your timeline to determine what to expect and what to plan for. 

After you launch, it is important to build usage and adoption through awareness and training initiatives. Even with an intuitive digital library solution, a successful plan needs to include initiatives that:
  • Build awareness of the offerings and their benefits
  • Train people to access and use resources, whether they are in the office or off site using a mobile device
An awareness plan should include repeated communication through various channels such as practice groups, intranet or portal posts, and special launch events like an open house. Read here about an awareness plan that worked well for a large law firm

Ulitmately, after lauching it's a good idea to determine your ROI: 
  • First calculate expected annual savings: Total annual cost for status quo minus total annual cost for digital library. The factors in determining annual costs can include expenses for print volumes vs. eBooks, as well as costs for space, shipping and subscriptions. Costs can include salaries and wages, materials expenditures and operating expenses. If desired, you can explore lifecycle costs of traditional vs. digital materials, as well as recent expenditure, staffing and related statistics from the Association of Research Libraries
  • Then calculate percentage return on investment: Expected annual savings divided by total annual cost for status quo. 
It's important to carefully plan for a migration to digital content. It's also important to build awareness so that your digital content is used effectively. Ultimately, you want to be able to prove that any migration is successful by showing a positive ROI to the various stakeholders that control the purse strings. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Writing While Law Librarianing

Being on the tenure track is hard for everyone. It's really hard for law librarians because we have so many roles to fill. We often have our administrative library roles, as well as the teaching, research, and service required of faculty. Writing tends to be the thing that gets cast aside as other, more pressing concerns carry the day.

For the last few years, I've designed my weeks to write on this blog and a couple of others because I enjoy learning and thinking about the profession. Being required to write full-length law review articles or book chapters has been a good change of pace because it allows me to dig deeper into a topic, but it is much harder to carve out the time and attention necessary to write a full-length piece.

Last weekend, I finally submitted a book chapter for publication in a forthcoming book called Millennial Leadership in Libraries. My chapter covers creating a leadership philosophy. I had been working on it since April, and it was a challenging, yet rewarding process - most of all because it got me thinking about my own leadership philosophy.

The process was also good for what it taught me about fitting full-length pieces into my everyday work. Admittedly, a lot of the writing happened on weekends when I had more time to fully devote to it. I suppose that's why it's so important to find a topic that interests you. Otherwise writing will feel like a chore and become an over-extension of the work week and ultimately cause burnout.

A couple of points of advice for anyone undertaking a full-length writing project as a law librarian:

  • Choose a topic that interests you - This cannot be overstated. 
  • Find a writing project with a reasonable deadline - I find that a deadline means that I make it a priority. 
  • Keep your writing muscle toned every day - After outlining, a full-length piece is naturally broken into shorter, more manageable subparts. Choose a subpart and devote a set amount of time to it each day.
  • Choose the best time of day for you to make progress - I can't start writing until after my first cup of coffee. But I need to start before there are too many demands on the day. This will be different for everyone, but make sure to carve out the time and guard it.
  • Have a RA help with the citations - Because of the various demands on my day, I focused on spending writing time working on the substantive parts of my chapter. I provided my research assistant with enough information in the footnote to know where the source came from, and I provided the original sources. This was well worth the money, and I'll never go back if I can avoid it. 
I spent just enough time on the book chapter to be happy to see it go off to the editor. My writing muscle is toned to the point where I am excited to maintain it by delving into another full-length piece on a different topic. Hopefully I can follow my own advice.