Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Digitization of rare material means better access for you

Heather Kushnerick, Special Collections Librarian

This year marked two big anniversaries: the fortieth anniversary of the moon landing and the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Both of these events are awe inspiring – not only because they succeeded, but because the bravery of the participants. Thanks to what was then cutting edge technology we can watch footage of WWII and relive, or see for the first time, man's first steps on the moon. What did we do before we had cameras to preserve these historic events? People kept copious notes and wrote very detailed, descriptive books. Unfortunately, these manuscripts and books are now so old and fragile that they are kept in locked, climate controlled rooms forgotten by the public. However, thanks to technology more and more of these books and documents are being digitized. Here at South Texas, we have the Making of Modern Law Database, which contains over 21,000 treatises on British and American law dating from 1800 to 1926 as well as an ongoing project digitizing the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure starting from 1941. New projects digitizing the South Texas College of Law Newspaper, Annotations, and South Texas CLEs have just begun. You can find dozens of digitial collections on the Internet. A database that just recently came online is The Solider in Later Medieval England. This joint project between the Arts & Humanities Research Council, the University of Reading and the University of Southampton has produced a free to use, fully searchable database of tens of thousands military records dating from 1369 to 1453, from The National Archives (read the BBC article about the project here). If you prefer antiquity to the Hundred Years' War, check out the Perseus Digital Library, hosted by Tufts University, where you can read the works of Aeschylus, Aristotle, Livy and Homer, among others. They have the works of Marlowe and Shakespeare as well as a very nice collection of 19th century American historical material. One of the biggest and perhaps the most well known digital collections is Project Gutenberg. With nearly 30,000 available books you can find something on almost anything (I recommend everything by Desiderius Erasmus.) A great feature of this site is that you can search by Library of Congress Classification system – check out the KFs to find works by John Jay, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. When you have some free time try doing a search for digital collections - you might be surprised by what you can find.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Current Scholarship

Jessica R. Alexander, J.D., M.L.S., Reference Librarian

Akron Law Review -42(3) Akron L. Rev. 2009 - Neuroscience, Law & Government Symposium

As I am opposed to the death penalty, I have concluded that criminal law lags far behind neuroscience. This issue presents symposium articles that discuss neuroimaging tools, those used to look at our brain. The symposium's key note address, Law and the Revolution in Neuroscience: An Early Look at the Field, was delivered by Henry T. Greely. p. 687. He is a Stanford law professor who is, according to his profile, "A leading expert on the legal, ethical, and social issues surrounding health law and the biosciences. "

The theme of Greely's keynote speech is the advance in neuroscience compared to thirty years ago. He reminds us that everything we do and think is controlled by electrochemical reactions in the neurons. Despite the advances he posits that we are only beginning to understand the way the brain works. Here is a fascinating excerpt from his paper:

Our society is built on our understandings of the human brain as reflected in our expectations for what people will do. Soon we will be better able to understand, in new ways and using new tools, what people are thinking, planning, or doing. This will be particularly important for the law, because although the law may seem to be concerned about bodies, it is actually usually concerned about brains, or at least about minds. If my fist were to make forceful contact with Judge Rakoff’s chin, I might or might not be in legal trouble. It could matter whether I had been thrown from a car after somebody had negligently run into our car, or if I were having an epileptic seizure at the time, or if we had gotten into an argument about the Yankees and tempers flared. All that can make a difference. The law is usually worried about individuals’ motives, purposes, intentions, knowledge, and other mental states, in addition to their actions.
So knowing more about brains—and as a result being able to know more about minds and mental states—may fundamentally change, in important ways, the legal system of the United States and every other country in the world.

The other symposium articles explore neuroimaging, the fourth amendment,cognitive freedom, juror reaction to neuroimaging and juvenile justice issues in neuroscience.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Introduction to the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN) from the Law Library of Congress

From the Government Documents department...

The Law Library of Congress recently produced a short video, now available for viewing, that introduces a wonderful online resource called GLIN, the Global Legal Information Network. The 8-minute video features GLIN Director Janice Hyde and Comparative Law Specialist Hanibal Goitom discussing what the network is and how it was developed. In the video you will learn that GLIN is a network of governments working together to exchange legal information, as well as a rich database of legal materials contributed by 52 countries around the world. GLIN is an excellent research and reference tool that is definitely worth checking out

Friday, July 10, 2009

DARTS now available from the FDLP & NTIS

From the Government Documents department...

Did you know that The Fred Parks Law Library is a designated U.S. Federal Depository Library? That means that we can access restricted government databases for free. One such database is called DARTS (Depository Access to Reports, Technical and Scientific), a project of the National Technical Information Service (NTIS). DARTS provides access to approximately 240,000 full text documents dating from 1964 to 2000. The documents, produced by many different Federal agencies, are downloadable as full-text PDF files. Much of the content covers scientific, techinal, and medical topics, but the database also includes reports dealing with behavior and society as well as law. A few interesting titles...

Space Stations and the Law: Selected Legal Issues

Legal Constraints on Information Warfare

Legal Impediments to Information Sharing

Women in Jail: Legal Issues

Because access to the database is restricted to FDLP users, it can only be used in the library. The reference librarian on duty can log on to the site for you. The DARTS pilot program is still in the beta testing phase, so, if you have comments to share, please do. The FDLP and NTIS will appreciate the feedback.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Legal Blawgs from the Law Library of Congress

From the Government Documents department...

Did you know that the Law Library of Congress has compiled a directory of legal blogs that you can access from one convenient page? Visit Legal Blawgs by Topic to find more than 100 items covering a broad cross section of legal topics, including civil procedure, constitutional law, legal ethics, and so much more.

Friday, July 3, 2009

New collections available on FDsys

From the Government Documents department...

The Government Printing Office, the agency that publishes our nation's official documents, recently announced the availability of several new collections on the Federal Digital System website (or FDsys). FDsys will ultimately replace GPO Access as the source for electronic government information; the migration should be complete by the end of the year. Visit FDsys to access the following collections:

Budget of the United States Government (Fiscal Year 2010)

Compilation of Presidential Documents (1993 to Present)

Congressional Bills (103rd Congress to Present)

Congressional Calendars (104th Congress to Present)

Congressional Committee Prints (105th Congress to Present)

Congressional Documents (104th Congress to Present)

Congressional Hearings (105th Congress to Present)

Congressional Record (1994 to Present)

Congressional Reports (104th Congress to Present)

Economic Indicators (1995 to Present)

Federal Register (1994 to Present)

List of CFR Sections Affected (1997 to Present)

Public and Private Laws (104th Congress to Present)