New, Notable, and Fun: Recent Finds from GPO and LOC

Government websites can be a boon of (free!) information for legal research. For today’s post, I thought I’d highlight a few news items and a few fun finds from the Library of Congress and the GPO.

New: GPO Director

Earlier this week, the Senate confirmed Hugh Halpern as the new Director of the Government Publishing Office. Halpern has held a variety of positions on Capitol Hill over the past 30 years, including Director of Floor Operations for the Speaker of the House. You can read more about Halpern in the GPO’s press release.

Congress.gov Enhancements

In November, Congress.gov added two new enhancements: First, for Senate amendments to bills, you can now see a list of any withdrawn co-sponsors. Second, in an effort to increase accessibility, Congress.gov has made improvements to their search results to make them easier to read for screen readers. You can see all the latest Congress.gov enhancements here.

Notable: CRS Reports on Congress.gov

We reported on this feature in September 2018, but in case you missed it, you can now access a large collection of Congressional Research Service reports through Congress.gov ( https://crsreports.congress.gov/). My favorite way to access the CRS reports on this site is to hit the search button without entering any search terms. This brings you to the index of CRS reports, so you can see the variety of subjects covered. Did you know the Law Library of Congress also creates research reports for Congress? You can access their reports as well, from the Law Library of Congress website.

Just for Fun: Library of Congress’ Free to Use and Reuse Collection

The Library of Congress has digitized large numbers of items in their collections, and have created a Free to Use and Reuse page, where you can browse these digitizations by category. Some collections, such as Veterans, Presidential Inaugurations, or Women’s History Month, might be more relevant to law libraries; myself, I’m partial to the Dogs collection (don’t worry – there’s a Cats one too). Perhaps the best collection here is the Not an Ostrich collection, named after this photo:

“Not an Ostrich” – https://www.loc.gov/resource/ppmsca.40935/

These are just a few of the new and notable finds from the GPO and the Library of Congress. Do you have your own favorite features? Please share!

CRIV-Wolters Kluwer Bi-Annual Liaison Call

Conference call took place on Thursday, November 21, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. PST.  Call adjourned at 10:15 a.m. PST.

Participants:

  • Jenna Ellis, Wolters Kluwer Liaison
  • Vani Ungapen, AALL Executive Director
  • Karen Selden, AALL, CRIV Board Liaison
  • Cynthia Condit, AALL, CRIV Wolters Kluwer Liaision

Agenda:

Wolters Kluwer Programs, Activities, or Business of Interest to CRIV and/or AALL

  • Announcements/Updates:
    • Smart Charts.  At the July 2019 AALL annual meeting Wolters Kluwer gathered a focus group of librarians in the legal field.  Many in the focus group indicated strong interest in the practice tool that creates multi-jurisdictional surveys called Smart Charts.  Based on the feedback, Wolters Kluwer will be making Smart Charts its own document type for searching.  The Smart Charts are currently under development.  There is no exact roll-out date, but expecting it to be sometime in 2020.
    • “Did You Know?”  To increase awareness of some useful products that people may not know about, Wolters Kluwer is providing focused introductions to these products.  Access to products depends on your specific subscription.  In today’s call, Jenna drew attention to a group of over 65 white papers written either internally by Wolters Kluwer or more often by law firms.  The white papers are highly used and well liked.  Some professors attach them to course syllabi.  However, the white papers do not appear in the usual topical area search results.  Instead they must be searched for separately in their own content category under News & Commentary.  When accessed, you can browse and word search the white papers.  Please see the screenshot below for more detail.

WK-WhitePapers-Nov2019

    • Cheetah.  Jenna noted that Cheetah has now been up and running for a full year.  There have been no further outage issues.

Requests for Advocacy

  • One outstanding request – resolved:
    • Question: Why did Wolters Kluwer stop collecting sales tax on tangible items in California since the beginning of 2019?
    • Response: California (and Wisconsin) do impose a sales tax on initial purchase of a loose-leaf subscription (they published the letter ruling).  Sales tax must be paid, according to the California State Board of Equalization, on initial purchases because purchasers are receiving binders, (tpp), with the subscription and the binders are not sold separately from the subscription.  Because the binders are taxable, the entire initial subscription is taxable.  The renewal of the subscription is not taxable because the customer receives monthly updates (i.e., more than 4), and therefore the renewal qualifies as an exempt subscription.
  • No new requests

AALL Programs, Activities, or Business of Interest to Wolters Kluwer

  • Sponsorship contact for AALL annual meeting:
    • The new sponsorship point of contact for the AALL annual meeting is Rocco Impreveduto, Director of Marketing at Wolters Kluwer.

Other Items of Interest — None

 

Lexis Provides Information on its Dealings with ICE

Today, Lexis sent an email to Law Faculty to explain its relationship with ICE in response to the #NoTechForICE petition. One of the issues that has been prevalent in the past few years is the interaction that the legal research vendors have with ICE, as the agency has cracked down on illegal immigrants during the Trump Administration. The email noted that all federal agencies can purchase access to LexisNexis products under the contract the company has with the federal government. According to the email, ICE has purchased some ancillary public records services, which account for approximately 10% of the contracts reported in the petition. The email goes on, stating “[w]e are not providing jail-booking data to ICE and are not working with them to build data infrastructure to assist in their efforts (emphasis in original). The email also notes that LexisNexis has a contract with ICE, which provides core legal research services to detainees including cases, statutes, secondary materials, bilingual user guides, and immigration forms. The email also stated that LexisNexis does not sell subscriber user information to ICE or any other government agency.

Westlaw Edge Now Has Regulations Compare for Select States

According to a tweet earlier this week, Westlaw Edge has added the Regulations Compare feature to select state regulations. Unfortunately, the announcement does not say which states are included. However, after a chat session where I asked which states were included, I received a response that the following states have regulations compare: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. For those unfamiliar with regulations compare or statutes compare, the feature allows users to compare red-lined versions of the regulation showing deletions and insertions. The comparison is done automatically when you select two versions to compare. This saves the user the time that would have been spent comparing the versions manually. Presumably, this feature will be added to all states in the future.

West Academic Acquires AdaptiBar

Back in October, West Academic announced that it acquired AdaptiBar Inc.  AdaptiBar is a bar review supplement program that focuses on getting students ready for the MBE. It has simulation exams, explanations, and subject area analysis. AdaptiBar was founded back in 2003. West Academic has not announced how its acquisition of AdaptiBar will impact either company. For now, both will continue to operate as usual.

GPO and Law Library of Congress to Digitize the Serial Set

The GPO and the Law Library of Congress announced plans last week to digitize the Congressional Serial Set going back to the first volume from 1817. The digitization will take place through the Law Library of Congress and the GPO will store the files and upload them onto Govinfo for free public access. The project is expected to take at least a decade to complete. This digitization effort follows on the heels of HeinOnline, which began digitizing the serial set several years ago and made the first phase of its digitization available in October 2018. Hein’s digitization has been made available for free to HeinOnline Academic subscribers, Core+ subscribers, and subscribers of HeinOnline’s U.S. Congressional Documents.

CRIV Vice-Chair Presenting at CRL Conference

Deborah Heller, Vice-Chair of AALL’s Committee on Vendor Relations (CRIV) will be presenting with Jason Sokoloff, Vendor Relations Chair of Academic Business Library Directors (ABLD), at The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) online conference, “Strategies for Strengthening Collective Dealings: an eDesiderata Forum,” on Wednesday, October 30, noon to 3:00 pm CT.

Deborah and Jason, scheduled to present at 1:45 pm CT,  will discuss the unique and pivotal role of the ABLD and AALL consortia in facilitating communication between librarians and information providers in the areas of business and law, focusing on how these groups are able to collectively advocate for their members through their Vendor Relations programs.

To attend any of the conference presentations register here.  You will be asked to create a CRL login account, but membership in CRL is not required.

The CRL’s 2019 eDesiderata Forum is focused on strategies for achieving greater strength in collective dealings with content producers and aggregators and best practices to achieve alignment of member interests and greater transparency and equitable terms and pricing.