With the sights (teeth, teeth, and more teeth), sounds (LLAMers chatting, glasses clinking), and smells (delicious food) of the Spring Fling still fresh in my mind, I am signing-off with my final presidentís message. It has been an honor to serve as your president this year. Being president provided me with the wonderful opportunity of getting to know and work with many LLAM members throughout the past year. This yearís officers, board members, and committee chairs made my job much easier and I thank them for their assistance and support.
Thanks also go out to the many volunteers who updated county code listings and holdings for the 1999 revision of the County Code Checklist. Unfortunately, I did not receive all of the updated county listings and holdings questionnaires in time to have the County Code Checklist ready for distribution at the Spring Fling. Look for a new County Code Checklist in your mail sometime this summer. This yearís checklist will be coming to you on a disk in Word and WordPerfect formats so that you may print out as many copies as your institution needs. Plans are in the works to put the Checklist on the LLAM Webpage, stay tuned!
This summer, I will be on the look out for fellow LLAMers at the AALL Annual Meeting in DC. Besides the presence of many of its members, LLAM will be making a great appearance at the Annual Meeting via its co-sponsorship with VALL of a snack break at the Paraprofessional Forum, hosting Bob Colburn, Division of State Documents Administrator as a Chapter VIP, and maintaining a booth filled with local goodies, stickers, and a raffle at the Chapter Activities Area in the Exhibit Hall.
Best wishes for both a relaxing and a professionally fulfilling summer and thanks again for giving me the opportunity to serve as your president. I look forward to working with Steve Anderson and the new Board this fall.
The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) joined Nolo Press in filing a lawsuit against the Texas Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee (UPLC) in Texas state court. The lawsuit seeks a judicial declaration whether Nolo, bookstores, and libraries can continue to sell and distribute Nolo publications in the state.
The lawsuit is an outgrowth of Nolo's recent struggles with a subcommittee of the UPLC, which is investigating whether Nolo may distribute its materials under the Texas unauthorized practice of law statute. The lawsuit also follows on the heels of a recent decision in which a Texas federal district court enjoined the sale in Texas of Quicken Family Lawyer, a computer program that automates the task of preparing legal forms.
"Every librarian who serves the public uses Nolo Press and other self-help materials to assist those who want to do their own legal research. In my experience, Nolo materials are exceptionally clear and help to answer many common questions," said Keith Ann Stiverson, a member of AALL and Deputy Law Librarian at the School of Law of the University of Texas at Austin. "These materials are an essential part of public library and law library collections in Texas, and the public would be poorly served without them."
James Heller (Director of the Law Library and Professor of Law, College of William and Mary, Marshall-Wythe Law Library, Williamsburg, Virginia), President of the American Association of Law Libraries, maintains that "this is an important issue that goes to the essence of our association: the dissemination of, and access to, information. It's most appropriate that AALL should take a strong stand."
In addition to Nolo and AALL, the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the Texas Library Association and six other Texas citizens who are Nolo customers or who rely on borrowing Nolo publications from libraries.
Dee Van Nest from the Maryland State Law Library in Annapolis dazzled the judges of the Phillips Crab Recipe Cook-Off that was held May 2nd in Baltimore during the Baltimore Waterfront Festival. Deeís winning creation, "Double Sauced Crab Urchin," will be added to the Phillips Harborplace menu this month!
This is not Deeís first winning recipe. Dee has won many awards for her cooking in recent years, including the Grand Prize at the Crisfield Crab Cooking Contest in 1996, (second in the appetizer category in 1997, and third place in 1998 in the same category). Dee won first place in the Maryland Rockfish Celebration Cooking Contest in 1998, and was a finalist in this yearís event.
If you have access to e-mail, you've probably received at least one, if not many dire messages - warnings passed on from well meaning friends, hoping to save you headaches with your PC, or even keep you from some sort of physical harm. "Beware of the Good Times Virus," "Febreze Will Kill Your Pet," "John Doe Woke Up in a Bathtub of Ice Minus His Kidneys!" "Don't let this happen to you!" Stories of this type passed on via e-mail are today's "tall tales," now referred to as "urban legends."
Of course, not all urban legends are falsehoods. Some are quite real, but most, even if they have some basis in the truth, have been stretched to make them more appealing - or appalling! At the Urban Legend website (www.urbanlegends.com), they are described as stories that "appear mysteriously and spread spontaneously in varying forms." Urban legends "contain elements of humor or horror" and make for "good story telling." Urban legends do NOT have to be false, although most are. As the web page creator points out, "ULs often have a basis in fact, but it is their life after-the-fact that gives them particular interest." Like the old "telephone game," the facts of the story seem to be changed and stretched to something that may not even resemble the original.
How can you tell if you have been informed or mis-informed? There are several sites on the Internet where you can locate information on these Urban Legends. The above referenced www.urbanlegends.com is a useful place to begin. Also, a site maintained by the San Fernando Valley Folklore Society (snopes.simplenet.com) has some useful (not to mention interesting) information. Another good source is About.comís (formerly the Mining Company) "Urban Legends and Folklore" page (urbanlegends.about.com). These sites divide the legends into a variety of categories, even devoting full sections to corporate rumors about Disney and Coca-Cola, among others. All three sites offer links to explanatory materials on the legends - where they may have begun, and links to related stories, even official statements from related organizations.
When I receive these warnings via e-mail, many seem simply too far fetched to be true. A friend sent me the horrid tale of a young man who was drugged at a party, only to wake up the next morning in a bathtub filled with ice and a note on his chest suggesting that he call 911. The tale told that his kidneys had been harvested while he was drugged - and that a black market has developed for kidneys. Street values go as high as $10,000.00 for used kidneys these days! This tale, thankfully, is listed on all three sites as a falsehood. Links are provided to statements from the American Kidney Foundation announcing that these reports were untrue.
Early this spring, rumors began circulating that the Proctor & Gamble product, Febreze, was dangerous to pets. Apparently, the zinc chloride contained in the product was killing birds and making dogs sick. Statements from the ASPCA's National Animal Poison Control Center, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and the Humane Society of the United States are linked to About.com's information debunking this rumor. (www.urbanlegends.about.com/library/blfebrez.htm?pid=2733&cob=home).
Other tales seem almost too good to be true, offering something for nothing. Several variants of an "e-mail tracking" legend have circulated for several years. Most of these messages announce that the originator of the e-mail (seldom named) will offer money or prizes to anyone who forwards the message to "x" number of friends, relatives, etc. Claiming that simply by forwarding the e-mail, you will be rewarded with a new pair of Nike running shoes, a trip to Disney World, or thousands of dollars. Not bad for just clicking on your "forward" button! Unfortunately, there is currently not an e-mail tracking program, at least of that type. Where would they get your full name and address, if you did not supply the information to them? (The message from "Walt Disney, Jr." offering the free trip to Disney World was really out of line - Walt Disney had no sons, only daughters!) One of the more recent twists on this type of message is the Miller Brewing Company's offer of a six-pack to everyone who participates in there e-mail chain, if the e-mail can make it to 2,000,000 people by 12:00 pm on New Year's Eve of 1999. (Sorry, this one's not real either!)
Other tales that may seem to "far out" to be true actually are quite real. One interesting link I found from the Urban Legends pages was to a story of an exploding whale! Back in 1970, the carcass of a Pacific grey whale washed up onto an Oregon beach. The Oregon Highway Division had jurisdiction over the beach at the time and decided to dispose of the whale the same way that they would clear a large boulder from a highway construction project - with dynamite. Stop by www.cs.uoregon.edu/~hacks/misc/ whale/ to see actual film footage of the whale exploding. Sometimes, truth is stranger than fiction!
When reading your e-mail, watch out for these "urban legends," and when you have time, visit the collections mentioned above. They can be very useful in calming fears, and very entertaining to read!
Bernan Press, the renowned government documents publisher, recently launched its Bernanís Index to the Code of Maryland Regulations, competing head on with the established COMAR Deskbook by R.T. Associates. There are several differences between the two, however, including the thoroughness of indexing, the inclusion of a table of authorities, the cycle of supplementation, and price.
According to its Preface, a legal indexer with twenty yearsí experience was contracted to compile the Index. Even a quick perusal shows that regulations indeed are indexed wellóby subject, regulatory action and by administrative department. Thus, the licensing of acupuncturists, for example, is listed under "Acupuncture and Acupuncturists," "Licensing and Certification" and "Health and Mental Hygiene, Department of."
If one looks for the "Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund" in Bernanís Index, one can find references to COMAR 14.07.01 et seq. under the following entries: "Motor Vehicles, Insurance," "Automobile Insurance Fund" and "Insurance, Motor Vehicles." If a researcher looks for the same program in the COMAR Deskbook, however, he or she only finds entries under "Maryland Auto Insurance Fund" and "Automobile Insurance Fund, Md." Bernanís Index, therefore, provides an additional heading not available in the COMAR Deskbook. More importantly, the Bernan publication includes entries under both "Insurance" and "Motor Vehicles," two logical headings under which one would consider looking for the Fund.
One feature, however, that is notably missing from Bernanís Index is a table of authorities. By contrast, the COMAR Deskbook has a table consisting of individual sections of the Annotated Code of Maryland referencing COMAR citations. This often turns out to be a handy shortcut that bypasses the need to search several different terms in an index. The Deskbook also contains an unannotated list of COMAR titles not included in Bernanís Index. This is a less important oversight insofar as the list is in fact part of COMAR itself and not consulted frequently.
Bernanís Index will have semi-annual supplements. That turns out to be about as up-to-date as the COMAR Deskbook, which on average has supplements every six months. However, according to our records, supplements for the Deskbook almost always arrive at our library three to four months after the supplement date, meaning that by the time the supplement is inserted into the binder, it is already missing several new COMAR revisions. If Bernan can keep a more timely update cycle, that would certainly be a factor in its favor.
At this point, it is difficult to tell which product will prove to be less expensive. Bernanís supplementation price had not been fixed as of press time. A customer service representative told the author that the supplement price would be much less than the entire softcover book. Bernanís Index lists for $95.00, while the last two supplements for the COMAR Deskbook cost our library $72.45 and $73.25, respectively. Therefore, if Bernan can publish its supplement for less than $50.00 per year, it would be the better bargain.
Bernanís Index is a helpful addition to a libraryís basic Maryland legal research collection, likely to be updated in a comprehensive, timely and cost-effective fashion. It is a good buyóat least as long as legal researchers do not miss a table of authorities for Annotated Code sections.