Archive for June, 2011

Book Review: Economic Development: the Critical Role of Competition Law and Policy, edited by Eleanor M. Fox and Abel M. Mateus

Economic Development: the Critical Role of Competition Law and Policy, edited by Eleanor M. Fox and Abel M. Mateus. Edward Elgar Publishing Company 2011. (2 volumes; volume 1 471 pages , volume 2 593 pages);  $599.95 hardcover edition.

Economic Development: the Role of Competition Law and Policy is an excellent collection of essays for any scholar interested in the area of international law and trade; specifically, anyone interested in international business law in developing countries will find these two volumes very useful.

These two volumes collect essays previously published related to competition law and how such laws affect the growth and development of the economy, concentrating primarily on developing countries.  The volumes examine how government barriers can or have been removed in order to allow free entry into the market in comparison to how the government in these countries can retain these barriers and in effect frustrate the notions of free competition.

Volume 1 focuses on issues of legal design of economic and political economic trade policies.  In this volume, the articles concentrate on how these legal and economic policies affect developing countries; some specific issues examined are: the improper assumption by international organizations that the foundation already exists in developing countries for the proposed market mechanisms; the incorrect belief that wealth from the implementation of these market mechanisms would solve poverty problems; how competition in the market can provide for greater government accountability and transparency; and how high transportation costs, infrastructure costs and restrictive business practices may thwart gains from a competitive market system.

The second volume focuses on competition law and institutions for advocacy and enforcement of said competition law.  This volume takes a look at how the law and legal strategies can be used to harness competition to advance development goals.  Issues discussed include the difference between developing countries and developed countries, how monopolies and cartels can impede competitive markets, and how such issues can hopefully be resolved.  In the final section, the experiences of China, India, Chile, Mexico and Sub-Saharan Africa are specifically reviewed in order to illustrate the issues previously discussed.

Having majored in Economics as an undergraduate, the ideas presented in these two volumes present interesting ideas and illustrate some very important issues that tend to block the implementation of competitive markets in many nations.  The articles demonstrate how these competitive markets are at least one way to help developing nations to continue their development.  By gathering these essays, although many were previously published elsewhere, and organizing them into these two volumes, the editors have created a truly valuable resource for anybody interested in researching in this area.

Reviewed by Paul D. Venard, Reference Librarian, University of Dayton Zimmerman Law Library

Librarians Need to READ© – Author’s Table of Contents

Editor’s note: This is a follow-up to the June 2011 Spectrum article, “Librarians Need to READ©.”  What follows is author Jacqueline Cantwell’s initial table of contents for a manual for librarians assisting SRLs.

Manual—Introduction

  • Welcome librarian and let her know that she is entering a tradition. List current and past librarians’ involvements in local associations.
  • Write how daily work contributes to the larger goal of the library. 
    • Use insight from Sally Engle Merry’s study, Getting Justice and Getting Even: Legal Consciousness Among Working-Class Americans, shows how self-represented litigants (SRLs) want a fairer life and see the courts as a way to achieve that.
    • Provide contacts within court system, especially self-help centers.
    • History of collection—why things got cut, policy decisions for various areas. Annotate core items of collection by drawing upon reference databases like notes.
    • Use data collected from reference database to give a percentage of questions. For instance, it would be interesting to know how many questions are requests for commercial forms.
    • Problem here: With the shift to online, many patrons skip the librarian and fruitlessly wander online databases. Our contract negotiations with Lexis may have to include reports on types of questions. I have asked for this information from Lexis and was told that searches were confidential. I need that data; and, as I remember from my union days, everything can be negotiated.

Manual—Standards and Checklists

  • RUSA (Reference and User Services Association of the American Library Association) Guidelines
  • READ© Scale. Use the READ© scale and the reference database to evaluate the knowledge required to answer a question and appropriate levels of customer service
  • Teresa Welsh’s intern evaluation sheet for the University of Southern Mississippi Library and Information Science practicum program is wonderful. She thought through what makes an excellent librarian. This form could be applied to staff evaluation, not just interns. University of Michigan checklist for job interviews—a good way to monitor one’s work and career path before that job interview.
  • Checklists from Judicial Opinion Writing Manual
  • Research tables from Callister’s “Time to Blossom”
  • Now is there a way to incorporate these checklists into a prompt for reference encounters. Virtual and telephone staff have checklists. Can our terminal real estate include a prompt pop-up?

Manual—Interview Training

The training skits and examples I wanted can be found on YouTube and the web. Coordinating a training program with the checklists above and web-based programs would be enough to start an in-house program.

  • Librarian411.org is a great resource. I need to go through its YouTube videos and incorporate its insights into my daily work. I really enjoyed “When Bad Things Happen to Good Librarians”
  • YouTube has an amazing number of videos for staff training that provide hints on how to handle difficult situations. Some are hilarious. Try “The Professional Librarian.” The Los Angeles Law Library has a nice video that is only six minutes, but would be a good start for a staff training session. Unfortunately, I have not found any videos of reference problems with SRLs.
  • Infopeople and Ohio Library are good sources for staff training. Infopeople has a good list of open-ended and neutral questions.
  • Review the glossary to an interview textbook after watching Librarian411.org videos. Our reference desk situations are not unique. We can take advantage of theory to gain perspective on our work.
  • Ask a colleague unknown to library users to observe the library and how staff act. 

 

Jacqueline Cantwell (jfcantwell@earthlink.net) is senior law librarian at the Brooklyn Supreme Court Library in New York.

July issue of Spectrum online

The July issue of AALL Spectrum is available online in PDF format, featuring:

Also, readers respond to this month’s Member to Member question: What is your favorite AALL Annual Meeting memory?

Paper copies mail out to members on June 28, so look for them in your mailboxes soon.

Book Review: Dawn of Desegregation: J.A. De Laine and Briggs v. Elliott

Ophelia De Laine Gona, Dawn of Desegregation: J.A. De Laine and Briggs v. Elliott.  The University of South Carolina Press, 2011.  ($29.95, hardcover, ISBN 978-1-57003-980-5, 216 pages).

Dawn of Desegregation offers a unique account of Briggs v. Elliott, the first of the five combined cases that eventually became the landmark school desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education.  Authored by the daughter of Reverend J.A. De Laine, civil rights activist and the principle focus of the book, Dawn of Desegregation attempts to explain “how and why Briggs happened.” [1]  It details the Briggs case from the beginning and follows its development from a simple request to the local school board for access to busing for black students, to a demand for equal educational facilities, and then finally ends with the evolution of the case into a call for complete school desegregation.  In addition to presenting the legal aspects of the case, like recruiting suitable plaintiffs, seeking legal counsel, and shifts in the NAACP litigation strategy, the book also offers insight into the personal aspects of the case, often relating the dangers faced by the plaintiffs participating in the case and its effect on their day-to-day lives. 

Interesting and easy to read, Dawn of Desegregation is a good addition for most academic and public libraries.  It could easily be used as recommended reading for classes in history, civil rights, education, or law or for public patrons with interests in those subjects.  The book is logically organized into chapters representing chronological periods of time, which follow the progress of the Briggs case.  In addition to the text of the book, several photographs from personal collections are also included, which depict the conditions of the separate schools used by black and white students in South Carolina.  There is also an index and a notes and sources section at the end of the book to aid the reader.  However, despite its overall appeal, this book is less likely to be useful for a county or firm law library, where patrons most often need access to materials that speak to current, as opposed to historical, legal issues.

For those patrons who plan on using Dawn of Desegregation as part of their research, it should be noted that the book should be used with caution when citing it as a historical reference.  In the Preface, the author details the limitations of the book’s sources.  The author is careful to point out that the book is an “approximation of what actually happened”[2] and notes that she has “not documented most references.”[3]  In order to recount the development of the Briggs case, the author relied primarily on her own recollections of events and those of her brothers, the memories of some of the surviving Briggs plaintiffs, and her father’s letters, legal documents, and newspapers.[4]  As mentioned above there is a brief notes and sources section at the end of the book, which sites to general sources used throughout the book and to sources used in specific chapters.  However, no footnotes or other notation are used in the book to reference sources with specific quotes or passages, which will make it very difficult for researchers to verify the source of the information they wish to cite. 

Reviewed by Shannon Kemen, reference librarian at the Robert S. Marx Law Library, University of Cincinnati College of Law.


[1] Ophelia De Laine Gona, Dawn of Desegregation: J.A. De Laine and Briggs v. Elliott x (2011).

[2] See Id.

[3] See Id. at xi.

[4] See Id. at x.

Book Review: Siva Vaidhyanathan. The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry)

Siva Vaidhyanathan.  The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry).  University of California Press.  2010.  Hardcover.  280 p.  $ 26.95.  ISBN 978978-0520258822.

Do we really need to worry about Google?  After all, this search engine has created order out of the chaos that is the World Wide Web.  It is almost magical—offering up so much information instantly—apparently for free.  But is it, in fact, free?

Siva Vaidhyanathan wants us to pause on that question and recognize the costs incurred as we passively permit Google to dominate information access.  He asks us to consider not just the gains, but the losses associated with “inviting Google to be the lens through which we view the world.”  The author’s insightful and compelling examination of this information giant make this book a highly recommended purchase for law libraries (particularly academic law libraries) and a must-read for librarians.

Vaidhyanathan readily acknowledges the “good” that Google provides.  We all know about this from our daily use of this tool’s numerous applications.  But as librarians, we are also innately suspicious of Google.  We recognize the misapprehension of born digitals, lazy researchers, and the uninformed who suppose that Google is the best place to find quality information. Vaidhyanathan challenges us to look beyond the more obvious problems associated with casual reliance on the unvetted information Google provides.  He asks us to contemplate the broader societal and cultural implications of allowing a private company to “determine what is important, relevant, and true on the Web and in the world.”

As defined here, “Googlization of Everything,” is Google’s pervasiveness in our culture; its putting “previously unimaginable resources at our fingertips.”  Its presence in the popular vernacular as a verb as well as a noun.  Its access to “our personal information, habits, opinions and judgments.”  The widespread belief that Google’s search rankings somehow act as a virtual Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

Through his six central chapters, Vaidhyanathan examines how Google dominates the Web in much of the world not only as the de facto King of search, but also through the popularity of its numerous other applications. While not suggesting that Google’s behemoth status is unlawfully anticompetitive, he does warn that the more we embrace Google, the more Google is allowed to control the ebb and flow of  information.  The problem, he contends, is that information is not a typical commodity best governed by market forces.  Information access is a matter of public concern that is being dominated by an private entity motivated by revenue-production, not by serving the public interest.

Particularly noteworthy is the discussion of the adverse impact of Google’s ranking system and search features on education.  Study after study reveals that Google impacts students’ expectations of other information sources.  Students rely on Google before the library because it appears easier to use; it even appears to think for them by making suggestions based on past searches and personal settings.  One of the problems here is that Google’s search algorithm allows popularity to serve as the principal measure of quality.  Another is that students are also ill-equipped to wade through the morass of information they uncover.  But Vaidhyanathan reveals a less apparent troubling consequence of Google’s filtering role.  The more we allow our information to be filtered by popular opinion as well as personalization features, the more we limit our exposure to different sources and viewpoints.  Thus, while Google appears to broaden  global connections, its localizing and customizing of search results may act to merely reinforce previously held perspective and belief.

Overall, Vaidhyanathan’s most pervasive concern is not directed at Google’s behavior, but our own.  He recognizes that Google provides many useful tools and simplifies many everyday needs.  It’s great for shopping.  In the broadest sense, it allows for greater democratization of information.   But, he argues, we have mistakenly allowed our trust in this private corporation, and popular skepticism about the efficacy of government, to allow Google to usurp a role best served by public and educational institutions.  Vaidhyanathan persuasively illustrates this point by reviewing the history of the Google Books project, arguing it has been a misguided intrusion on the purview of librarians.

Vaidhyanathan’s arguments are compelling, even if one may find that his alarm occasionally rings too loudly.  But being alarmist is part of his goal here.  He wants us to wake up, abandon complacency, and think critically about the digital world and how it should operate to the benefit of all.  There is no more appropriate audience for this message than librarians.  And, there is no greater proponent of the value of librarians than the author.  (He refers to his books as “love song(s) to all libraries and librarians I have known.”)  For that reason too, this book warrants our attention.

Reviewed by Debbie Shrager, Part-Time Reference Librarian, George Mason University Law Library.

More on Job Interviews – Collections of Questions

For those who like to collect things, in this case interviewing questions:
The May 30th CBS moneywatch.com/Spending The College Solution has a collection of wacky interview questions at “20 Craziest Job Interview Questions and the Right Answers”

And for those with iPhones a couple of free apps, “Interview Prep Questions (free)” and “Interview Wizard”  – find them and some apps costing $0.99 to $4.99 by searching the iTunes store for “interview prep questions”

 

 



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