Ravel Law: Visualizing Legal Research

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Ravel Law incorporates the age-old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” into legal research. Visualization is fundamentally incorporated into Ravel Law’s software design. When users conduct a search on a legal topic, or a prior case, Ravel delivers an interactive graphic displaying cases associated with this topic or prior case; the cases that are the most heavily cited have larger icons, thus signifying quickly to researchers which cases are fundamentally important to whatever topic or prior case they’re researching.

Ravel_Map1 Continue reading “Ravel Law: Visualizing Legal Research”

Inforuptcy: Enhanced & Cost Effective Bankruptcy Docket & Document Retrieval

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Interfacing with PACER is just a fact of life, especially for those of you working in Bankruptcy practice groups. Our country’s Bankruptcy courts, of course, are electronically accessible via PACER, and feature cases with massive dockets comprised of thousands of filed documents; many trees are destroyed during bankruptcy proceedings. So, the ability to locally store dockets and documents and keep these files organized is a Herculean challenge—in practice, most legal professionals presumably end up querying PACER over and over again, pulling the same documents multiple times. The issue with this: every time you pull a docket or document from PACER, you are charged a fee ($.10 a page, capped at $3.00 per document). It doesn’t matter if you pull the same document three times, you will be charged a fee every time you pull it. Continue reading “Inforuptcy: Enhanced & Cost Effective Bankruptcy Docket & Document Retrieval”

PacerPro Unveils DocketShare

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I have been lucky enough to give a few presentations that usually require a brief explanation of cloud computing. I am intrigued by the concept, of course, but am always terrified I am going to lose the interest of my audience as I ramble on about private clouds, software as a service, security concerns, and the like, so I have been trying to discipline myself to really keep definitions to a sentence or two, and not ramble excitedly on about technological ephemera. My typical fall-back summary of the cloud is: cloud computing basically puts the internet in-between you and your hard drive. And because the internet is connecting you to your data, you now have the option of connecting other users to your data. This concept of collaboration is one of the fundaments of the cloud-computing/network age. Continue reading “PacerPro Unveils DocketShare”

iBraryGuy & Pinhawk Team Up for the One-Two-Punch!

Pinhawk iBrarGuyOur goal at iBraryGuy is to keep you in the know when it comes to news, trends, and cutting edge technology in the library and information professions.  To that end, we are excited to announce a brand new collaboration with a partner that is just as committed to the vitality of this industry as we are.  iBraryGuy is honored and delighted to be working with the folks at Pinhawk It is a one-two-punch designed to keep you at the top of your daily game! Continue reading “iBraryGuy & Pinhawk Team Up for the One-Two-Punch!”

Searching Social Media | Part 2: Twitter

This series focuses on methods of improving the relevancy of your results of social media searches, while not being logged into the services themselves. Again, social media searching is clearly trending upward in the law librarianship profession, as attorneys are increasingly making these requests while conducting informal discovery. In Part 1 of “Searching Social Media” we examined how to use Google’s advanced search features to retrieve relevant Facebook results. In Part 2, we will examine methods of conducting higher-relevance Twitter searches. Continue reading “Searching Social Media | Part 2: Twitter”

Searching Social Media | Part 1: Googling Facebook

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Have you experienced an increase in social media search requests? As attorneys become more likely to turn to social media during their informal discovery processes, I have found an uptick in questions like: “could you please do a social media background check on this person?” This is a growing information need I believe law librarians are excellently suited to fill, and really the next generation of public records search requests. Through conducting these searches and by leaning on the expertise of others I have put together my own toolkit on tricks to use. Below I list methods incorporating Google advanced search terms to conduct searches on Facebook quickly and with high relevancy (Part 2 of this series, where I discuss using advanced searches in Twitter, is available here). Continue reading “Searching Social Media | Part 1: Googling Facebook”

The Empirical Value of Special Librarians: An Australia ROI Study

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One of the biggest difficulties with the law librarian profession—and really, this is true of any profession with a strong customer service and/or pedagogical component—is gauging the empirical value of what law librarians do. There is not a one-step, direct, easily definable correlation between a law librarian task, and how much revenue that task generates or saves. Without the aid of ROI studies, specifically measuring the monetary value of law librarians is impossible.

A collection of Australian library groups collaborated to fund a ROI study on the value of Special Librarians (available here, and the library groups’ summary is available here). Special Librarians are defined in this study as librarians working in health, law, government, business, industry, media, and other commercial or industry groups with a very specific patron-base. The study was conducted by SGS Economics and Planning, an Australian planning and economics firm. The study concluded that for every dollar invested, special librarians return $5.43. The study indicates this might even be a low estimate.

How do special librarians bring this high amount of value?—here is how the study defined the skills of the special librarian:

  • High relevancy search results obtained quickly via thorough searches through robust content sets
  • Training to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of patron searching skills
  • Current awareness results curated from high relevancy, national and international sources
  • Management of specific, subject-oriented collections

Here are some extremely interesting findings of the study:

  • 40% of potential special library users enlist the help of librarians.
  • 56% of librarian-patron interactions are electronic, 27% are face-to-face, and 11% are by phone
  • Funding for floorspace, expenditures, and staffing have all fallen within the last three years
  • Librarians are 3.3 times faster than their users when undertaking the following tasks: performing research, reviewing literature, delivering documents, and other reference tasks

The study aimed to quantify the time saved by library users, and the value of “out of pocket” expenses saved via librarian resources. The methodology was to conduct in-depth case studies among Australia’s estimated 2200 special libraries; 11% of libraries responded to the study’s survey, and another 4% of libraries responded to the study’s questions about costs and benefits.

Much credit must be given to the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA), Health Libraries Inc (HLInc), ALIA Health Libraries Australia (HLA), and the Australian Law Librarians’ Association (ALLA) for collaborating on administering and funding this project. This information is a giant boon to the industry, and extremely beneficial for budgetary negotiations, salary negotiations, and internal marketing and promotion of the library. Seeing results like this really makes me excited about anticipating what the AALL ROI project will find, as previously written about on this site.

Gmail Turns 10

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As a fan and admitted abuser of Gmail accounts (I have one for each personality I guess), I have to pass along this CNN Money article about Gmail turning 10 yesterday. To summarize, CNN Money points to these particular Gmail features as the reasons why Gmail became the industry dominant e-mail provider:

  • Size of space offered: ever-growing but initially 1 GB back in 2004, compared to Yahoo’s 100 MB)
  • Google-search-enabled searching of archived emails
  • Auto-save for unfinished email
  • Undo send, allowing users 30 seconds to retract sent emails
  • Priority sorting of important emails
  • Integration into Google services

Et tu, ALM? Another Provider Up for Sale.

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When the news broke a few days ago that ALM, formerly American Lawyer Media, was going to put up for sale, reaction from legal information professionals seemed subdued at best.  Yet we cannot help but wonder what this means for an industry that is still struggling to find its footing in the wake of one of the worst global economic downturns we have seen in recent generations.  Has the independent legal news and analysis been the biggest victim of the ongoing recession? Continue reading “Et tu, ALM? Another Provider Up for Sale.”