Category Archives: Blogs & RSS

Study Examines How Academic Law Libraries Use Blogs to Engage with Users

A new study in the latest edition of The Reference Librarian explores the use of blogs by academic law librarians.  In “An Exploratory Examination and Critique of Academic Law Librarian Blogs: A Look into an Evolving Reference Communication Practice,” author Grace Jackson-Brown of Missouri State University “demonstrates how academic law librarians use blogs as a communication tool and become proactive in their Reference/Research roles.”

Jackson-Brown identified 227 law library blogs (using the list maintained by CS-SIS).  Of these, 67 were academic blogs.  A small random sample of seven blogs was selected.  WisBlawg was one of the blogs included in the study.  A full list appears below:

Jackson-Brown examined posts from the 2014-15 academic year and placed them into categories based on the primary content of the post.  The largest category (30+%) was “Reference/Research.”  These were further subdivided into the following:

  • Texts about reference and/or research resources or services
  • Embedded media about reference and/or research
  • Links to or attachments of Research Guides (LibGuides or other bibliographies)
  • Promotions about instructional workshops, research forums, or other reference/research formal instruction

Jackson-Brown found that the blogs in the study were mainly targeted toward internal audiences (primarily law students) but that the blogs also had wider appeal to general audiences.  WisBlawg is an outlier among the group as our primarily target audience is external as noted in the study.

In her conclusion, Jackson-Brown states that

The study shows how a sample group of law librarians through the social media of blogs engage with their libraries’ users and wider audiences or communities. The law librarian bloggers “push out” important information content based on what they anticipate will be of interest or need to their users and audiences in an effort to connect and interact with communities of researchers and library users.

ACI Scholarly Blog Index

Scholarly blogs can be a very good source for legal and other research but identifying them from among the multitude of web content can be difficult.  A new search engine called the ACI Scholarly Blog Index now makes that task a little easier.

The site indexes scholarly and authoritative blogs from experts in all fields of science, social sciences, and the humanities, including law.   WisBlawg is among those indexed.  From the FAQ:

All blogs are individually curated by researchers with expertise in that blog’s topic or field of study.  Care is taken in determining subject coverage, Library of Congress Classifications for accuracy, and enforcing editorial and product policies and guidelines to ensure high standards in data quality and blog content.

Some advanced search and filtering tools are available to help you refine your search also as explained in the FAQ.

While keyword searches to explore blog content are probably the most common type of search, web researchers can also find blogs using the blog title, blog author, and other variables. Search results can then be further refined with the facets located on the left; for example, to filter results by Library of Congress Classification, publication, author degree, and many others.

For more on the advanced search features, check out this tutorial.

Wisconsin Law Journal Redesigns Website – with New RSS Feed Links

The Wisconsin Law Journal recently launched a website redesign. The layout is very clean and attractive and offers lots of web 2.0 features such as alerts, RSS feeds, Twitter and Facebook feeds and more.
One thing to note, however: If you previously subscribed to any of the WLJ RSS feeds, you’ll need to resubscribe now since the links have changed. See the list of feed options.
Hat tip to my colleague and WLJ blogger, Bev Butula.

New FTC Guidelines to Affect Bloggers’ Product Endorcements

Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission approved final revisions to the guidance it gives to advertisers on how to keep their endorsement and testimonial ads in line with the Section 5 of the FTC Act (15 U.S.C. 45).
For the first time, the guidance covers blogs and other social media platforms:

The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service.

The guidelines offer several illustrations of endorsements that do and don’t fall under the Act. This one specifically speaks to bloggers.

  • A consumer who regularly purchases a particular brand of dog food decides one day to purchase a new, more expensive brand made by the same manufacturer. She writes in her personal blog that the change in diet has made her dog’s fur noticeably softer and shinier, and that in her opinion, the new food definitely is worth the extra money. This posting would not be deemed an endorsement under the Guides.
  • Assume that rather than purchase the dog food with her own money, the consumer gets it for free because the store routinely tracks her purchases and its computer has generated a coupon for a free trial bag of this new brand. Again, her posting would not be deemed an endorsement under the Guides.
  • Assume now that the consumer joins a network marketing program under which she periodically receives various products about which she can write reviews if she wants to do so. If she receives a free bag of the new dog food through this program, her positive review would be considered an endorsement under the Guides.

“Practices inconsistent with these Guides,” the FTC notes, “may result in corrective action by the Commission under Section 5 if, after investigation, the Commission has reason to believe that the practices fall within the scope of conduct declared unlawful by the statute.”
Source: Wisconsin Law Journal

Law Library of Congress Hosts Archive of Legal Blogs

Earlier this week, the Law Library of Congress released an archive of legal blawgs dating back to 2007. The collection includes more than 100 blogs categorized by topic covering a broad cross section of legal topics. According to Infotoday Blog, the library plans to increase that number to 200 by the end of 2009.
This is an important development. While blogs contain a wealth of information, their transient nature has been troubling to researchers and scholars. In harvesting content from these blogs, the Law Library of Congress has begun to address this concern by preserving the content for future researchers.
According to Infotoday, blogs were selection based on variety, authority (frequenty cited, widely read, awards won, and scholarly nature) and user nomination. Blogs are monitored regularly to ensure that they continue to fit the selection criteria.
Future enhancements include improved searching and browsing of catalog and bibliographic records and better integration with other collections.
Thanks to the Hon. Daniel Anderson for alerting me about the Legal Blawgs archive.