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The AALL Spectrum® blog is published by the American Association of Law Libraries. Submissions from AALL members and other members of the legal community are highly encouraged. Opinions and editorial views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of AALL. AALL does not assume any responsibility for statements advanced by contributors. Previously, the AALL Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.

The AALL Spectrum blog is no longer published. Previous posts are archived on this page.
5/12/2016 11:34:22 AM

Book Review: America Votes! Challenges to Modern Election Law and Voting Rights, 3rd edition

Benjamin E. Griffith, Editor, America Votes! Challenges to Modern Election Law and Voting Rights, (3rd edition) American Bar Association Section of State and Local Government Law, 2016, 347 pages, inclusive of table of cases and index, Paperback, $116.95, ISBN 978-1-63425-422-9  

The third edition of America Votes! Challenges to Modern Election Law and Voting will make an excellent acquisition for any academic, firm, or county law library collection. The timeliness of the subject matter makes the book a necessary addition to the collections of academic law libraries and the book may serve as a starting point for researchers who wish to delve further into the topics discussed therein. In the Introduction, attorney and member of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Election Law Advisory Commission, Thurgood Marshall Jr., notes that America Votes! is accessible to both laypeople and experts due to its material regarding basic tenets of election law and suggestions for government officials and policy makers. For this edition, a variety of contributors including professors, practicing attorneys, and directors of organizations that seek to promote civic engagement have written about the history and future of developments within election administration processes, the Voting Rights Act, voter suppression, and challenges of redistricting.

The book begins with Ann Ravel’s overview of the origin and purpose of the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) in which she highlights recent case law regarding the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 and details where the FEC has fallen short. As the book progresses, contributing authors note a variety of issues within election law such as how restrictive photo ID laws have affected voters, the disenfranchisement of people with criminal convictions, and allowing non-citizens to vote in local elections.

Throughout the book, contributing authors have ended their chapters with possible solutions to challenges in the field of election law and presented how various jurisdictions have handled these challenges. For example, in the chapter entitled Language Assistance to Voters, Terry Ao Minnis discusses Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act, which touches on how jurisdictions have populations that could benefit from language assistance, yet are not covered by Section 203, can assist these populations in exercising their right to vote. Minnis notes that in Beverly Hills, California, where there is a population of voters who speak Farsi, the City has provided ballots and other voting materials in Farsi. Tova Wang points out that the disenfranchisement of people with criminal convictions is not as publicized by the media as other forms of disenfranchisement, however six million people in the United States are not allowed to vote due to their criminal convictions. Wang sees the lifting of restrictions on voting for those with criminal convictions in Virginia and Delaware as a step forward. Wang also notes that another way to make sure that more people are registered to vote is through automatic registration at state departments of motor vehicles as is the practice in Oregon, the first state to implement this measure.  

As the title suggests, the book focuses on election law in the United States, however Jean-Pierre Kingsley, Canada’s former chief electoral officer, and Nancy G. Abudu, legal director of the ACLU of Florida, introduce aspects of comparative law in the Foreword and the chapter entitled Immigration, Voting Rights, and Electoral Access, respectively. Kingsley’s brief summary of the electoral system in Canada and Abudu’s mentioning of jurisdictions that allow noncitizens to vote such as the European Union, Bolivia, and Colombia add a global perspective.

The Summary of Contents, Contents (which includes headings within the individual chapters), Table of Cases, and Index all provide page numbers that facilitate readers’ finding of major sections, case law, and key terms within the book. The contributing authors have documented their sources very well.  Each chapter ends with an extensive list of notes. Hopefully, there will be a future edition of this book which will address the Voting Rights Act, voter suppression, and challenges of redistricting after the 2016 presidential election.

Review by  Latia Ward, Reference Librarian and Assistant Professor, Indiana Tech Law School, Fort Wayne, Indiana. llward@indianatech.edu

Posted By Latia Ward at 5/12/2016 11:34:22 AM  0 Comments
5/6/2016 11:00:00 AM

DIGITAL EXTRA "Leveraging E-records Peer Pressure: One Library's Experience" | AALL Spectrum | May/June 2016 | Volume 20, Number 5

Leveraging E-records Peer Pressure: One Library's Experience

Created by: Carol Ottolenghi, Pari Swift, Nathan Owens, and Angie Crandall

Like many government agencies and public universities, the Ohio Attorney General's Office (AGO) is required by statute to have a records manager with attendant policies and retention schedules. Unfortunately, statutory requirements and universal acceptance are not synonymous. In fact, librarians may be the only people within an organization who truly understand the value of organized, well-weeded records.

The AGO records management team is nothing if not tenacious (they are librarians, after all). With time and guidance, many of the AGO practice groups developed records processes specific to their needs, which has led records, data services, and the library to tap into the AGO staff's competitive nature. With senior management support, they held an E-Records Fair in honor of Electronic Records Day. Records invited practice groups with innovative solutions to create games or displays that mirrored each group's specific records challenge.

Fair-goers were given cards to get stamped at the different game booths. Cards with seven stamps were eligible for a gift-card drawing. A few of the games and displays are described below. They can be adapted for staff or students of almost any organization.

Naming Conventions
Environmental cases can last decades. Legal and administrative staff can completely turnover during that time. So, the environmental practice group's records challenge was to name their files so that people with no knowledge of the case could find all relevant information quickly. The game was simple in concept, and could be played by multiple people at the same time.  Everyone was given paper, pen, and the same description of a file. They had one minute to name the file. They could not talk or look at what others were writing. Then, participants compared the names and discovered for themselves the value of naming conventions.

“Rusty Mountain” and Other Displays
Taking a page from Disney World's playbook, the records department gave fair-goers something to look at while waiting in line for food, by creating a “Rusty Mountain” mural that gave a visualization of the mountain of email and other e-records that needed to be migrated to the AGO’s document management system. The AGO's Bureau of Crime Investigation made a display that portrayed what a given number of bytes in e-records translates to in paper. The display pictured reams of paper stacked against a backdrop of the Empire State Building.

Data Security Duck Pond
Sound records management has enormous implications for data security. Data Services and ITs Security sections teamed up to present a data security duck pond. Several dozen yellow ducks floated in a child's wading pool. Each duck had a data or e-records security question written on the bottom. Participants picked a duck, answered the question and received candy.

E-Records Land
The Library created a game board that highlighted how e-records management (or mismanagement) can affect e-discovery and data integrity. Game cards included:

  • You are maintaining expired case files due to the reference value of one of the briefs instead of weeding and reclassifying that document. Move back one space.
  • You agree to produce specific types of documents in specific formats without verifying with IT that this is possible. You spend nine percent of your organization’s budget and STILL fail to produce. Get hit with sanctions; move back four spaces UNLESS you can name this famous e-discovery case.
  • You have not been following your retention schedules by deleting records in a timely manner. Due to a legal hold, your section is now spending $5,000 more annually to maintain these records for the duration of the legal hold. Move back three spaces.
  • Your client follows its record retention policy consistently. Some potentially harmful documents were destroyed prior to litigation becoming an issue. The judge agrees that destruction is defensible. Move ahead three spaces and give your client a high-five.

The E-Records Land cards were tailored for the AGO. The cards—like all of the E-Records Fair events—can be adapted for staff or students of almost any organization.

Posted By Heather Haemker at 5/6/2016 11:00:00 AM  0 Comments
4/20/2016 9:13:50 AM

Book Review: The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts

Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind, The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts, Oxford University Press, 2015, 346 pages, inclusive of appendices, bibliography, and index, Hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-19-871339-5 

Richard Susskind has previously written and spoken extensively on the future of law and the legal profession. Here he’s written a new book along with his son who is an economics professor at Oxford. Because of Susskind’s past scholarship in this area, this was a book I knew I had to look at and one you will probably want to skim, if not read through. You will probably want to have this book available in your library purely on the author’s reputation. Lawyers and academics in law will want to know what’s here.

This is not a book about law or lawyers. The Future of the Professions is about trends across the information professions generally. Information professions aren’t defined clearly. Characteristics of an information profession are high levels of specialized knowledge for practitioners, admission based on credentials, government regulation on activities, and a common set of values among practitioners. Examples include clergy, professors, architects, and management consultants, as well as lawyers. But lawyers are such a small portion of the book that this isn’t about understanding the legal profession.

What this book was good for is getting an overview of technology trends affecting all kinds of skilled work. It was helpful for updating my knowledge of technology trends outside of the legal profession. It brushes on diverse topics from downloadable plans for 3D printed houses which have actually been printed and assembled, to MOOCs, to religions using social media to organize. I found it a great tour of new technologies. As you might imagine the topic is so ambitious that coverage can’t be in-depth. Instead, coverage is broad, and copious footnotes get you to the more detailed information. For most technologies, the footnotes even give you a link to download printable house plans, view a social network, or see the webpage of a corporation providing services in an area. In contrast to previous books by Susskind, this book is not gloom and doom and instead presents technology as powerful and pervasive. The tone is upbeat.

A pleasant surprise was the amount of content dedicated to educational trends. This goes well beyond MOOCs into discussions of costs of education impacting professions, apps for educating autistic children, and learning analytics. One of the authors is a professor, and that may account for the emphasis on how technology is changing education. As librarians, we often work as educators.  We support professors, teach legal research, present CLEs, help pro se patrons find what they need, and guide attorneys in research.

A tremendous positive in this book, given that it’s not about law, is that individual sections or chapters of the book hold up well as stand-alone readings. In fact, for me reading it straight through, some facts or examples repeated and I suspect the book may be intended to be read in portions.  Someone who is casually interested can read the introductory sections, then skim the table of contents for the most relevant sections.

Review by Wilhelmina Randtke, Digital Library Services Coordinator, Florida Academic Library Services Cooperative.

Posted By Wilhelmina Randtke at 4/20/2016 9:13:50 AM  0 Comments