Probably the biggest catalogue ever

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

The BBC have reported on a rather interesting story about a project to catalogue every book ever published ever in every language.

The Open Library sounds like a rather bonkers project, but it has the laudable aim of creating an "individual homepage" for every book ever published using the cataloguing skills employed by librarians rather than being based around decisions made by commercial online book sellers.

The technology is certainly there, and if people are willing to contribute then perhaps the Open Library will grow into a must use resource.

Posted by John Franssen at 14:04 2 comments  

LNB (UK) A "nightmare"

Sunday, 29 July 2007

BIALL members might be interested in reading this attention grabbing article from Excited Utterances.

Do you agree with the article? As part of its committment to working with legal publishers the Legal Information Group will be meeting with representatives from Lexis Nexis Butterworths to discuss a number of issues including the Lexis Nexis Global Platform.

Libraries Without Borders II

Friday, 27 July 2007

Posted on behalf of Barbara Tearle:

17 October 2007 – 20 October 2007
Libraries Without Borders II

Visit us in Toronto in mid-October for this highly anticipated meeting, last held here in 1996 and back by popular demand. Ontario will be at its glorious colourful peak. Although the conference is being organized by law library associations in Canada and the northeastern United States, the program is global in reach, offering 3 streams – Librarianship without Borders, Law without Borders and Working without Borders. It will be a packed 2 ½ days of learning from leaders in the legal profession, visionary librarians who are pushing the boundaries of their organizations and representatives from a variety of other law and non-law-related fields. Our keynote speaker will be Michael Ignatieff, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who has developed an international reputation as an historian and commentator on international relations. From 1978 to 2000, he worked as a journalist and filmmaker in the UK and taught at both Cambridge and Oxford. British librarians may be particularly interested in our two sessions on researching Canadian law. Other sessions cover such diverse topics as competitive intelligence, electronic casebooks, managing news and knowledge, international arbitration and copyright, law firm library 2.0 and reinventing the law school library – all of which apply to law librarians regardless of geography. And it goes without saying that this is a great venue for networking with Canadian and American law librarians. We have wonderful social events planned and when the conference is over, if you’ve never been to Niagara Falls, plan on staying an extra day to visit – it’s just 1½ hours away.
Earlybird registration is open until August 17, 2007.
The venue is the Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre, Toronto, Canada.

Posted by John Franssen at 12:54 0 comments  

UK HE and FE developments in Second Life

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Eduserv have released a report which summaries an investigation into the use and uptake of Second Life by UK Higher and Further Education establishments. The research, carried out in the period up until July 2007, had four main goals:

  • "To determine the "state of play" of SL developments within the Higher and Further Education sector,
  • to discover how these developments are supported, in terms of time, funding and other resources,
  • to explore the functionality of these developments, i.e. which types of media or interactive service they incorporate,
  • to establish how "busy", or well-used, the developments have been and discover any impacts resulting from their implementation and use."

Second Life is an online 3D digital world, more information on Second Life is available in Wikipedia.

Posted by James Mullan at 13:30 0 comments  

Bye Bye Beignets

Wednesday, 18 July 2007


You've been hearing the professional experience of the AALL conference from Penny Bailey and the social side from me, so I will finish off as I have started.
To the right are the famous beignets, these are doughnut mixture but are neither round nor have a hole in them. The example in the picture is from the famous Cafe du Monde from where you can get three beignets with cafe au lait for just USD 3.5.
A walking tour of New Orleans on Sunday night showed us some of the highlights of the French Quarter, including stories of several ghosts who are reported to haunt various properties.
Monday night was the AALL President's reception for international delegates, followed by various events hosted by the publishers. I was invited to a lovely meal at the Pelican Club by Wolters Kluwer. I then managed to make it to the Westlaw party at the House of Blues, the place was heaving with people and an amazing live band. Three parties in one night and I still managed to get up on Tuesday morning...
Last night was the closing banquet of the AALL conference and it was complete with its own mini Mardi Gras (translates to Fat Tuesday!), with floats and police on motorbikes ahead of the parade, all inside the Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Riverside. On the menu was a spicy chicken roulade and snapper fish.
Contrary to the impression I am giving, I did attend many of the speakers' presentations during the day, these will be reported back via the BIALL newsletter and if some of the flavour of New Orleans sounds exciting to you, Danielle King will be writing about how to apply for a bursary so you too can attend a conference.
Now I have to sign off and go and find somewhere that sells travel bags as I have just too much luggage for the journey home!
Fiona Durrant

Posted by Fiona Fogden at 15:09 0 comments  

Last day at AALL ...

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Today's presentations I attended included : Negotiation skills for librarians by Lorraine Busby; The future of Cataloguing by Michael Gorman and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) in law libraries by Ann Puckett (and another speaker not listed in the programme). I noticed Fiona Durrant was at the first and the third too, so she may well blog about those two. For me the most provocative and stimulating presentation was Michael Gorman's.

Michael eloquently belittled the trend to de-structure the library catalogue and to replace it with free-text searching, folksonomies and meta-data. He argues that without a structured bibliographic record, subject indexing using controlled vocabularies, and related entries you would be creating a "hugely inefficient retrieval system". Thinking about it, I abhor the trend of library schools these days to make cat, class and subjecting indexing optional rather than core components of a library science qualification - it's what differentiates librarians from any other profession after all. I also think back to my own shock at joining my first law firm and finding that the depth of practice that I had learnt at library school and practised in academic libraries wasn't as appropriate in my law firm library and made no sense to the lawyers. So I adopted the shallowest level of AACR2 cataloguing rules and even ignored them when it came to the author. After all the lawyers would look up Woodfall on Landlord & Tenant under 'Woodfall' and not the actual author or editor writing under the shadow of the long dead and gone Woodfall. But I still maintained a structured and indexed catalogue and the happy compromise worked for both me and the lawyers. On the whole I agree with Michael that we are in danger of sliding into chaos resulting in poor retrieval if we don't apply consistent structures to our catalogues, databases or any other information storage mechanism and a retrieval tool that exploits that structure. However, I interpreted his stance as basically an anti Web 2.0 stance and surprisingly I found myself agreeing with him, but whilst preserving in my thought processes that I wouldn't dismiss web 2.0 - it certainly has its uses - I am blogging after all!

This is connected and a good example - have a look at the Google search I have put on the BIALL web site. See BIALL's welcome page
http://www.biall.org.uk/Home.asp?id=h1. The search works, it took 5 minutes to do and provides a facility we don't yet have on the BIALL web site, but it is far from perfect. The Google search is of course free-text so I am finding it yields too many results and in keeping with the inverse ratio of recall to relevance, too many irrelevant results. On the other hand it searches the full text of the PDF and Word documents in the site and I am impressed with the speed with which it does it. However there is no way restrict your search to the title, an index, an author, a page, a subject, a document type - it just searches everything. So there is absolutely no way to refine the search to narrow the results and even with our small content there are often too many results to plough through. It proves Michael's point precisely. To use his metaphor - it's the MacDonalds approach to information retrieval - the equivalent of fast food.

By the way if you do want to put a Google search on your own choice of web sites - click 'Custom Search' in the search results window and follow their instructions. It is how I did this one and it's easy. You can create a search over one web site or several. Have fun and let me know what you think of the Google search on the BIALL web site
.

Facing forward with Facebook

Do you use Facebook if you do you may be interested in joining the BIALL Group that has recently been established on Facebook.

Facebook is a Social Networking utlity that allows users to get the latest news from their friends, share photos and videos and join groups both professional and personal.

Posted by James Mullan at 14:13 0 comments  

1. Electronic preservation and 2. Communication

Monday, 16 July 2007

Today's sessions at AALL that caught my eye were: Electronic Preservation and Newsletter, Blogs and E-mail Alerts, because I thought they could both be useful for the BIALL website and I wasn't wrong.

Electronic preservation had three different speakers - Jerry Dupont, Mark Evans and Victoria Reich - and each pointed out the problems of storing information in digital formats as we are increasingly doing. One example which brought the problem home to me was the BBC Doomsday project in 1986 converted Doomsday information to digital formats that less than 10 years later were obsolete. The book format had survived 900 years! The speakers had various frameworks and strategies for coping with digital obsolescence and frailty and I have notes if anyone needs them. I asked the panel what advice they could give for preserving web sites such as our BIALL web site and the answer was to take a snapshot at various intervals. There is an Internet Archive project I need to find out more about.

The second session about communication also had contributions from more than one speaker - you really get value for money here. There were four very informative presentations from Nancy Babb, Marsha Fulton, Jan Rivers and Leah Sandwell-Weiss on using newsletters, blogs and email alerts (RSS feeds) to great effect in your library. One speaker had won a marketing award for her topical newsletters, had subscribers from around the world and was recognised for effecting a raised profile for her law firm. Who says it just about current awareness?

Nancy Bebb explained how different web 2.0 tools can be used to provide multiple channels for delivering content in ways that fit in with the way users want to receive it. You can have a web site with a blog, email forum, RSS feeds and downloadable content so the user has a choice of formats. To some extent we are already doing this with the BIALL web site - we use the email forum to alert people to new content and RSS feeds are on their way. RSS feeds may suit people better who choose not to join the email forum or aren't eligible to join the forum because they are not members, but who would still like to receive an alert when, for example, there is a new job on the web site. Just as soon as I can work out how to apply the RSS tags to our web site content, then BIALL web site users will have that choice too. In summary, all these new tools are relevant to you in libraries too - you just need to think about when its appropriate to apply them to improve communication with your direct users and beyond.

A street named 'Desire' in New Orleans

New Orleans is a city of many aspects: modern skyscrapers; historic French quarter; Madri Gras dolls and masks; voodoo dolls; cajun food; cajun music; Dixie jazz; river boats; prohibitive gambling laws; cocktails drunk on the streets, cafe au lait and beignets; rich houses set in large gardens; hurricane ravaged neighbourhoods; tombs above ground; swamps; aligators; oak trees; warehouses, shopping malls and more. I found out that there is a street named 'Desire' here where the beautiful Creole mistresses used to live, but I haven't worked out the connection to A street car named Desire. I am very much enjoying its cultural richness and would certainly recommend it as a place to visit, just make sure you get a local tour guide - ask for the 'Cemetery Queen' her real name is Ann. She told us many interesting stories about the unusual cemetery traditions they have here.


The AALL conference is very well organised with several events happening at once. Most impressive are the computer points where you can print off the handouts if you haven't done so before you left home. The exhibition opened this morning with a jazz band and ceremonial cutting of the tape.

I went to a pair of presentations Bringing the library catalog to the user: the practice and the theory. The theory came second, but would have been better placed first. Jim Michalko of OCLC explained why libraries should be 'disclosing' or making their catalogues available to users in their environments and fitting in with users' work flows or their chosen web services. Users are already using the web to create their own content (MySpace, Flickr) and are experiencing personalised web content in Amazon, Google and E-Bay. Their perception of other web services, including web access to the library catalogue is altered by these experiences and they now expect to be able to incorporate library content into their own bibliographies, search several libraries at once, pick up new titles for chosen topics via their RSS readers, and write their own comments or reviews for things they have read and more. This is the application of web 2.0 and beyond to library catalogues.

I would have liked more time allocated to the first session where there were three presentations of the application of 'disclosure', or bringing, the library catalogue to users. Casey Bisson, David Lindahl and Emily Lynema rushed through some very interesting demonstrations of their projects to do just this. Personally I could have sat though a whole session on each one. They had a lot to say and had clearly given the matter much consideration - to much to go into here - and gave me, and I should think a whole lot of other people, a lot of inspiration. David Lindahl had brought together a team consisting of anthropologist, computer scientists, graphic designs and library managers to design their own front end. What struck me as odd was the admission by Emily Lynema that they hadn't asked their library system vendor to get involved and even doubted that their vendor was in a position to do it. They were seeking to 'de-couple' the users' web front end from the library system and create their own, but were then exporting MARC 21 records - does that mean they are storing the catalogue records twice? I wasn't sure. And it's okay if you have a big team to write your own, fiddle with open source or apply and customise other search engines, but what if you don't have such a big team or don't have that pool of expertise? And the big question I was left with is - why not get your system vendor to do it for you - isn't that why you pay them? But nevertheless I was very impressed with the new ideas coming from three very thought provoking projects, which alone made my journey here worthwhile.

Cajun cooking in New Orleans

Saturday, 14 July 2007

The Baker & McKenzie Librarians meeting went well yesterday (Friday 13th July) and we all had the opportunity to better understand how each office worked and what the key issues and pressure points were. It was a fantastic opportunity to meet up with some of my colleagues I usually only get to e-mail. Thank you BIALL for my bursary! I now have a host of scribbled notes to make sense of and type up before too much more time passes.

The picture above is of the B&M Librarians able to attend the meeting. Back row left to right: Me (Fiona Durrant), Jason Marty (Chicago/Global KM), Linda Fong Peng (Sydney), Monita Yeung (Hong Kong), Anna Belova (Moscow). Front row left to right: Joe Kennedy (Singapore), Indira Eliyassova (Almaty)

I have registered for the Conference and worked out where I need to be when, it is going to be a packed three days of sessions. The registration hall is massive and includes terminals to print out the speaker's talks and slides. My delegate badge dangles on a Mardi Gras style set of gaudy beads - classy!

I am also getting to find my way around New Orleans now and have found some lovely eateries. After our meeting yesterday we met up at the famous Mulate's, complete with huge queue (no place seems to be worth going to unless there is a huge queue), regular soft drinks the size of a bottle of wine and live music which seemed like a cross between country and local food. We had an appetizer board of frogs legs, battered shrimp, alligator, mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat and a few other things we never quite worked out what they were...For my main course I had some Zydeco Gumbo - a sort of spicy sausage and shrimp soup with rice on the side.

For breakfast this morning it was a visit to 'Mother's' - which has been around since the 1930s and has a quaint faded look about it. Again the requisite queue (moving quite quickly) both outside and in, I ordered fried eggs 'over-easy' on wheat toast with a cup of tea (sorry - just so very English of me!), all for USD5 which is fabulous value. Other offerings on the menu will be tried on future mornings including 'grits' which looks like a cross between semolina and cereal, 'biscuit' which is a local type of sweet bun, and Virginia ham.

Will sign off now to get ready for the GSI customer event being held in the French Quarter this evening.

Fiona Durrant

Posted by Fiona Fogden at 21:16 0 comments  

Next stop...Dublin

Friday, 13 July 2007

Details of the next BIALL conference have been announced. The conference will take place 12 - 14 June at the Royal Dublin Society.

Posted by John Franssen at 15:56 0 comments  

Thunder in New Orleans

Thursday, 12 July 2007


I arrived safely in New Orleans last night, 2am UK time but early evening US time. It is 2pm in the afternoon now and whilst the weather was sunny and 34 degrees this morning it has just started to thunder and the sky has gone dark.
The picture on the right is one of some French Quarter buildings obscured by oversized American vehicles.

This morning I was up early and looking forward to a nice substantial American breakfast, only to discover that whilst I was in a lovely hotel, The Windsor Court, the prices weren't so lovely and breakfast wasn't included in the price.
New Orleans, I have quickly discovered, isn't a 'morning' place. Nothing seems to open before 10am so the only place I could find something to eat at a reasonable price at 8am in the morning was a Starbucks, so much for international travel and tasting local creole recipies.

I checked out the room where we are having our Baker & McKenzie Librarians meeting at the Holiday Inn Select, just opposite the Morial Convention Centre and then went on a walk to the French Quarter. A lovely local man saw me looking at my map and took pity on me and showed me around Jackson Square, the people are certainly very friendly.

I have my papers for my meeting and the conference itself and after I sign off here, the next task is to write down where I have to be when as on top of all the interesting talks and sessions of the AALL Conference it is quite a social whirl too. On one evening I have drinks, followed by a meal, followed by drinks again. All a lot to fit in!

May get a chance to blog again before I leave New Orleans, but may not,
thanks for reading

Fiona Durrant

Posted by Fiona Fogden at 19:57 3 comments  

Sheffield conference pictures

Monday, 9 July 2007

BIALL members might like to have a look at a selection of photos taken at this year's conference taken by official BIALL snapper Brian Thomas and a variety of helpers.

Posted by John Franssen at 17:58 2 comments  

BIALL on Law and Order: Trends in Legal Information Provision

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

On Behalf of Barbara Tearle and PR Committee:

BIALL on Law and Order: Trends in Legal Information Provision

BIALL's PR and Promotions Committee is looking at the possibility of repeating a BIALL survey that was carried out ten years ago and published in 1999 under the title Law and Order. Its aim was to investigate the management and provision of legal information, specifically examining the impact of technology on working practices. Sweet & Maxwell funded the survey to coincide with their 200th anniversary.

The committee would like your views on -
a) whether the survey should be repeated
b) how frequently, eg annually (oh, no, not another survey!), every 2, 5 or 10 years (good for comparative purposes) and MOST important
c) what issues you would like to see covered

To help with the last question, the conclusions of the 1999 report are on the BIALL website http://www.biall.org.uk/Home.asp?id=i101&h999
The original survey and report was a snapshot of practices 10 years ago and much has changed in the intervening period. Providing and managing electronic information remains at the centre of the provision of legal information services. It is also central to the business of publishers and the committee expects that they would benefit from the report as much as legal information professionals.

The committee is also looking for a sponsor for the survey ... offers welcome!

Posted by Penny Bailey at 20:59 5 comments  

AALL Conference Count down

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Manic preparations for the AALL conference before I fly out on Wednesday 11th July. I am getting a lovely raft of invitations to swanky meals and drinks from publishers, all competing for the pleasure of my company at their bash - makes you feel very big headed.

In case you want to know what I've signed up for then the list is below. Daniella King and I will be doing a combined report on our attendance at the conference, so hopefully between us you'll get a good feel of the key topics and issues going on.


1 - (C6) C6: Situational Leadership: What Would "Andy of Mayberry" Do?
1 - (D4) D4: And Still I Rise: Resurrecting the Legal System in New Orleans ... Tales from the Trenches -
1 - (E3) E3: Globalization Moved My Cheese: Or, How Do I Find International Law? -
1 - (F1) F1: Building Credibility Across the Generations
1 - (G6) G6: New Challenges Demand New Skills: Negotiation 101 for Librarians
1 - (H3) H3: Hot Topic
1 - (I6) I6: A Friendly Game of Tag: Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) in Law Libraries -
1 - (J2) J2: The Challenge of Rising (and Shrinking) Numbers - How to Write a Law Firm Library Budget
1 - (A3) A3: Legal Information: Globalization, Conglomerates and Competition - Monopoly or Free Market?
1 - (B7) B7: Blogs, Working Papers, Electronic Publishing: Will Changes in Legal Scholarship Affect the Future Development of Library Collections?
1 - (PLNP1) Opening General Session/Keynote Address

Fiona Durrant

Posted by Fiona Fogden at 16:05 0 comments