All posts by Bonnie Shucha

Videos Highlight how UW Law Library Fosters Research & Learning

Over the summer, the Law Library created a series of videos that highlights the ways that we foster research and learning at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Just in time to celebrate the UW Law School’s sesquicentennial (that’s 150 years if anyone’s counting), the videos highlight not only our beautiful library space but also our collections and research support.

Each 30-second video highlights a different facet of the Law Library:

      • The first video is an introduction and welcome to the UW Law Library

      • The second video focuses on the library’s broad collection of resources

      • The third video highlights the variety of research assistance that we provide

    • The fourth video shows off our beautiful library space where students gather for study and collaboration

    We hope that you enjoy and share these videos widely.  Here is a helpful link to a playlist of all the videos for easy sharing (list appears at the top right).

    Many people were involved in the creation of these videos both behind the scenes and in front of the camera, but I would particularly like to acknowledge the work of Reference & Technology Librarian, Emma Babler, who coordinated the project.

Instantly Create and Share a Bibliography with ZoteroBib – Even in Bluebook

When I’m writing a document or article and I need to manage a bunch of citations, my go-to tool is Zotero.  It’s an incredibly powerful citation manager that helps you collect, organize, cite, and share research – and it’s open source which means that it’s free!  Zotero is perfect for large research projects where you’re researching over a period of days, weeks, months, etc.  It supports thousands of citation styles, including Bluebook.

Zotero

But sometimes you just want to create a quick and dirty list of citations.  If you’re looking to just cite a few sources, EasyBib is not a bad choice.  They teach kids to use it in elementary school.

EasyBib

 

You enter in a url, isbn, etc. to create citations one-by-one in several styles.  It takes multiple clicks to generate a citation.  Then you copy and paste each one individually into your document.  It’s also free but is riddled with ads.

But now there is ZoteroBib – a new free, tool from the makers of Zotero.  It’s like EasyBib but quicker, more powerful, and sans the obnoxious ads.  As you’re researching, just enter in your url, isbn, doi, etc., and click cite.  It automatically grabs the citation and adds it to your list in just one click.  Like Zotero, it supports Bluebook and many other citation styles.  And ZoteroBib works on any device.

ZoteroBib

 

Once you’ve finished compiling your list of sources, you can export your complete bibliography to your clipboard and paste into your document.  Or you can easily share your list of sources by creating a link to your bibliography with a single click.   This could be a very easy way for librarians to share a list of sources with faculty, etc.

ZoteroBib Export

 

From the Zotero Blog:

Powered by the same technology behind Zotero, ZoteroBib lets you seamlessly add items from across the web — using Zotero’s unmatched metadata extraction abilities — and generate bibliographies in more than 9,000 citation styles. There’s no software to install or account to create, and it works on any device, including tablets and phones. Your bibliography is stored right on your device — in your browser’s local storage — unless you create a version to share or load elsewhere, so your data remains entirely under your control.

CRS Reports to be Made Publicly Available

Under a provision of the 2018 omnibus appropriations act that was passed by Congress and signed by the President earlier this month, all non-confidential Congressional Research Service  reports must be made publicly available online within 90 to 270 days.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is the non-partisan public policy research arm of the United States Congress.  They produce analytical, non-partisan reports on topics of interest to members of Congress.  Because of their high quality, CRS reports are excellent resources for legislative or public policy research.

Until now, there had been no comprehensive, official public online source that provided access to this government information.  Under the new policy,  approximately 3,000 non-classified reports will be released annually.

For more information, see these articles from Demand Progress, Federation of American Scientists, and Government Executive.

Attorneys Rate State Circuit Court Judges in Wisconsin Judicial Performance Database

The USA TODAY NETWORK has recently published the results of a survey in which practicing attorneys throughout the state were asked to score the county judges before whom they have appeared.  The Wisconsin Judicial Performance Database compiles more than 4,000 responses rating 209 Wisconsin circuit court judges.

Below is a snapshot of the highest rated Milwaukee County judges (click on image to enlarge).

According to the article, the survey “incorporates not just the attorney survey results, but also reports the number of times lawyers sought substitute judges to avoid their courtroom, and the number of times their rulings were overturned in appeals courts.”  These figures, as shown to the right, are available on a “Details” screen for each judge.

 

For  more info on the survey, how it was conducted, and some caveats about the results, see the Green Bay Press Gazette.  Hat tip to Eric Litke, Investigative Reporter, USA TODAY NETWORK.

Celebrating 75 Years of UW Law Library’s “The Freeing of the Slaves” mural

This year marks the 75th anniversary of UW Law School’s iconic mural, The Freeing of the Slaves. The mural, which was completed in July 1942, was created by artist John Steuart Curry, who is considered one of the most important American Regionalist artists of the 20th century.

The Law Library invites you to our Quarles & Brady Reading Room to view the mural this anniversary year.  We’ve created several displays celebrating the mural, including a nearby display case containing rejected designs and early photos of the mural and a website with a bibliography and photographs of the mural through the decades.  UW Law School alumni can look for an article celebrating the 75th anniversary of the mural in an upcoming issue of the Gargoyle.

A few interesting facts about Curry’s The Freeing of the Slaves:

The mural was originally commissioned for the federal Department of Justice building in 1935 but officials rejected it because they feared that “serious difficulties… might arise as a result of the racial implications of the subject matter”

Fortunately, Curry’s design caught the attention of then Law School Dean Lloyd K. Garrison who wanted it for the “new” Law Library reading room dedicated in 1940:

“I felt from the beginning that the mural would be appropriate for the law building… Here is one of the great events in our constitutional history, an event fashioned in the midst of a national crisis by a great lawyer-president.  The mural not only symbolizes that event but proclaims in a noble and patriotic setting the dignity and freedom of all persons, however humble, in a democracy whose ideals of liberty are summed up and protected by the constitution.”

The mural was completed in several phases as described by Curry:

“I made a life sized drawing in my studio… then fastened this drawing in place on the wall in the library reading room…  I traced through [the drawing] with a pencil… and proceeded to paint from a scaffolding directly onto the linen, which now contained the black and white outline of the design. There are really two complete paintings. The first was in tempera. The second, superimposed on the first, was in oil.”

The library circulation desk was originally located directly underneath the mural.  According to then Law Library Director, Maurice Leon:

“a scaffolding was stretched across the north end of the reading room and artist-in-residence, John Steuart Curry, sat or walked on it while painting his giant mural, The Freeing of the Slaves.  Underneath, surrounded and enfolded by painter’s drop cloths, the circulation and reserve desk attendants carried on business as usual.”

For more information about the creation of the mural and how it came to be at the UW Law School, see the wall placard on display in the Quarles & Brady Reading Room.  The original placard manuscript is also available on our website.

Using Infographics in Strategic Planning & Assessment

The University of Wisconsin Law Library engages in regular strategic planning and assessment of our effectiveness in achieving our mission and realizing our goals.  At the beginning of the academic year, we develop a strategic plan consisting of three parts: our mission and vision, our ongoing key priorities, and a selection of strategic initiatives on which we will focus that year.  Then, at the end of the year, we assess of our efforts in achieving our annual goals.

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, we used infographics throughout both our strategic plan and assessment report to make the information more accessible to key stakeholders.  Inspired by the University of Georgia Law Library, we used Piktochart to create the infographics.

Here’s a snapshot of our 2016-17 strategic plan.  Our 2017-18 plan is available on our website.

UW Law Library Strategic Plan 2016-17

We recently finalized our 2016-17 assessment report based on this strategic plan.  The full report is available on our website, but here are compilations of the infographics that we created to assess our ongoing key priorities and annual strategic initiatives.

 

UW Law Library Strategic Initiatives 2016-17

US Supreme Court to Require Electronic Filing

Beginning in November, the US Supreme Court will require electronic filing of case documents.  According to a SCOTUS press release, counsel will initially submit filings both in print and electronically.  An exception will be made for pro se parties; Court personnel will scan and make their filings available electronically.

Once the system is in place, the new electronic filings will be made freely available from the Court’s website.  The e-filings will not be part of PACER system, reports the National Law Journal.

 

 

New Tool Compares County Criminal Justice Statistics for Wisconsin and Other States

Earlier this week, the nonprofit Measures for Justice launched an amazing new data portal “to assess and compare the criminal justice process from arrest to post-conviction on a county-by-county basis. The data set comprises measures that address three broad categories: Fiscal Responsibility, Fair Process, and Public Safety.”

According to The Marshall Project:

The project, which has as its motto “you can’t change what you can’t see,” centers on 32 “core measures”: yardsticks to determine how well local criminal justice systems are working. How often do people plead guilty without a lawyer? How often do prosecutors dismiss charges? How long do people have to wait for a court hearing? Users can also slice the answers to these questions in different ways, using “companion measures” such as race and political affiliation.

Just six states are included so far, but fortunately for us, Wisconsin is one of them.  The others are Washington, Utah, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida.

The site is really incredible.  It allows you to zero in and compare data for measures including bail payments, diversion, dismissals, case resolution, type and length of sentence, and more.  Data is then presented by county with the option to further limit and compare by race/ethnicity, sex, age, offense severity, and offense type.

For example, here’s a screen shot from the tool comparing non violent felonies sentenced to prison by Wisconsin county further filtered by race/ethnicity.  Note that you can select specific counties to more deeply explore and compare data as shown below.

Kudos to Measures for Justice for creating this remarkable and easy-to-use tool.

New ABA Guidance on Protecting Client Confidentiality in E-communications

Yesterday, the American Bar Association issued new guidance on  protecting client confidentiality in electronic communications (Formal Opinion 477, Securing Communication of Protected Client Information).  This guidance updates a 1999 ABA opinion.

According to the new opinion,

A lawyer generally may transmit information relating to the representation of a client over the Internet without violating the Model Rules of Professional Conduct where the lawyer has undertaken reasonable efforts to prevent inadvertent or unauthorized access.

However, a lawyer may be required to take special security precautions to protect against the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of client information when required by an agreement with the client or by law, or when the nature of the information requires a higher degree of security.

Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites has an excellent run-down of the opinion and its importance to legal professionals.