Monday, January 14, 2019

Language Resources Online

Did your New Year's resolution list for 2019 include learning a new language, or traveling to a foreign country? The Duke University community has access to a number of online tools that can help you build proficiency in a new (or rusty) foreign language.
  • Mango Languages includes courses for 70 world languages and more than a dozen English as a Second Language/English Language Learner courses. To set up an account, visit Mango Languages while on the Duke network in order to authenticate as a valid subscriber. After your username and password has been created, you can access the site or mobile app without authenticating through Duke first.
    Note: Mango is available through the NC Live consortium, which offers access to more than a hundred subscription databases through a user's "home" public or academic library (meaning that North Carolina residents without a current Duke NetID may also be able to access the site through their public or academic library at
  • Transparent Language Learning is available through the Duke libraries. It includes more than 50 world languages as well as English language learning modules designed specifically for native speakers of more than two dozen languages. Like Mango, it requires setup of a unique username and password while connected to the Duke network, and then seamless access via the web or a mobile app.
Of course, these are not the only language-learning tools around. The freemium service Duolingo is a popular, game-based way to learn nearly three dozen languages for English speakers (with many additional options for native speakers of other languages). Duolingo notably includes some unique language options, such as Star Trek's Klingon and Game of Thrones's High Valyrian. The free Duolingo app is available for iOS, Windows, and Android devices, with an ad-free premium upgrade available called Duolingo Plus.

For help with accessing the Duke language resources, or other campus database access questions, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Expanding Public Domain

On January 1, many U.S. works originally published in 1923 entered the public domain, making them freely available for use, copying, and modification. Duke Law's Center for the Study of the Public Domain provides a sample of the newly-available titles in film, literature, and music, with a link to a fuller Excel spreadsheet.

The 2019 release is notable since it marks the first major addition to the U.S. public domain in more than twenty years. With works from 1923 slated to enter the public domain in 1999 under their original 75-year copyright term, Congress enacted the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, which added 20 years to existing copyright terms and stalled the expansion of the public domain until now. (Without that extension, notes the Center for the Study of the Public Domain, works from 1962 would be entering the public domain this year instead; the Center provides a list of those titles as well.)

This development opens new avenues for researchers, who will be able to access the new additions to the public domain via sites like HathiTrust, the Internet Archive, and Google Books. HathiTrust has already prepared a collection of 1923 works that changed from "Limited" to "Full" view as of January 1. (A larger timeline of HathiTrust's public domain publications, with links to full text, can be found here.)

To learn more about copyright law, try a search of the new Duke University Libraries catalog for the subject heading "Copyright – United States." You’ll find titles like the seminal treatise Nimmer on Copyright (also available on Lexis Advance), Patry on Copyright (also available on Westlaw), and the 2006 Center for the Study of the Public Domain comic Bound by Law? Tales from the Public Domain (also available for free viewing online). For help locating more materials, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Shutdown Showdown

One week into the U.S. federal government shutdown, federal workers have begun receiving their final paychecks from the period before the December 22 lapse in appropriations. Yesterday, Congress adjourned without much progress on a new spending agreement, and will reconvene on Monday, December 31. Hundreds of thousands of federal employees are either furloughed or working without pay for the duration of the shutdown, and many federal parks and other tourist attractions are closed until the shutdown ends.

The Northwestern University Libraries' research guide to Government Shutdown 2.0 outlines the agencies that will continue working without pay (including the TSA and the Department of Justice's Special Counsel office), agencies that will reduce or cease operations during the shutdown (including the Internal Revenue Service and NASA). Individual federal agency websites generally display a banner for the duration of a shutdown, explaining what services continue to function and whether websites are being updated during the shutdown period.

The Congressional Research Service report Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects outlines the effect of a shutdown on government operations, describes the employee furlough process and procedures for awarding back pay, and provides historical background on prior government shutdowns. For more news and analysis of the government shutdown and progress toward a solution, check out ProQuest Central for full-text access to major newspapers like the Washington Post and The New York Times. For other resources on government appropriations and congressional news, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Tax Analysts Database Now Available

The Goodson Law Library recently subscribed to the Federal Portfolio of Tax Analysts, a leading source for tax-related news and commentary. Current members of the Duke University community may register a username and password with their email address to obtain access.

Available publications include Tax Notes, Tax Notes Today, FATCA Expert, Exempt Organizations Expert, and Tax Practice Expert. Duke's subscription also includes access to the Federal Research Library tool, containing IRS documents, regulations and legislation. For quick access to research materials, use the Key Documents menu at the top of the screen. The Tax Topics menu allows quick access to stories on a particular subject.

Tax Analyst publications were previously available to the Law community in Lexis Advance and the campus community in Nexis Uni. Although these publications are currently still available full-text within Lexis research platforms, Tax Analyst titles will be removed from Lexis products after December 31, 2018. The Tax Analysts platform includes full text stories for available publications, as well as an option to download page-image PDF copies of the Tax Notes magazine.

Tax Analysts is just the latest addition to many electronic and print resources in the library's collection that will aid researchers in this complex area of law. To learn more, check out the library's research guide to Federal Tax or Ask a Librarian.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Exam Season Success

'Tis the season to succeed on Law School exams! Check out these tips to make your examination period run smoothly.
Library Access
Exam time brings a temporary change to the library's access policy, most notably in the evening hours. From now until the end of exams (Monday, December 17), access to the Goodson Law Library for study purposes will be limited to current Duke Law students, faculty and staff. Card-swipe access to the library entrance will be required after 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends.

Members of the Duke University community or general public who require access to the library for legal research purposes should contact the library service desk for assistance during reference service hours (Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.). Additional study space is available to all throughout the building, such as in the Star Commons.
The Technicalities
If you will use your laptop to take an exam, make sure you have installed Electronic Bluebook (EBB) well ahead of time, and practice using it to ensure that your test goes smoothly! Detailed instructions are available on the Academic Technologies' Software page. If you encounter problems while downloading the software, talk to the Academic Technologies' Help Desk staff.
Study Aids
The library's Reserve collection contains many current study aids, including selected subjects in the Examples and Explanations, Questions and Answers, Nutshell, Glannon Guides, Understanding, and Mastering series. For more information on available study aids, see the Law School Success guide.

What else can you find on reserve that might come in handy for exams? There are also limited quantities of calculators on reserve for four-hour loans, in addition to noise-canceling headphones and bookstands.
Old Exams or Sample Exams
A frequent question at the Reference Services desk during the reading and exam period is where to obtain copies of Law School exams from previous years. Past exams from your professors, when available, will be posted to your class's Sakai site. The library's Archives collection contains no Law School exams dated after 2001.

However, if your professors have chosen not to place past exams on Sakai, it may be helpful to review general law examination preparation guidebooks. These provide an overview of the most common formats for law school exams, and give strategies for studying and for writing successful answers. Often, these books also provide model exam questions and sample answers, along with explanations why a particular answer is more successful than others. Titles like Law School Exams in a Nutshell: A Guide to Studying Law and Taking Law School Exams can be found in the libraries' catalog with a subject search for "Law examinations—United States". A selected listing is provided in the "Exam Preparation" section of the library's Law School Success handout, along with a helpful page of recommended "Study Guides & Aids."
Anything Else?
As always, the library staff are here to help. Visit the Service Desk on level 3 with any questions. Good luck on your exams!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

A New Context for Legal Analytics

Today, Lexis Advance launched its new Context product for legal analytics, currently featuring analysis for judges and expert witnesses. Lexis users at Duke Law can access this new tool from the grid in the top left corner of any Lexis Advance screen. (Be sure to choose "Context" and not "Litigation Profile Suite" – although the latter tool also includes profiles of judges and expert witnesses, these are separate products and do not appear to cross-link.) [Update: currently, Context access is available only to Law School faculty; student accounts will see the new product on January 2.]

If the Context report interface looks a bit familiar, you may have seen a similar version for judges on Ravel Law, the legal research start-up which Lexis acquired last year. Profiles for Judges include biographical information as well as "Analysis" data about motion outcomes, most-cited opinions and judges, and even the specific passages upon which the judge relies most heavily.

The Expert Witness portion of Context was not a feature previously offered in Ravel. Reports include biographical background as well as data on type of parties represented, amount of cases per year, and a "scorecard" for Daubert challenges. Currently available for federal courts, an expansion to state court expert witness data is planned for next year.

For more information on Context's release, and its availability for law firm customers, check out Bob Ambrogi's LawSites blog post. For help with using Lexis Advance or other legal analytics tools, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Legal Holiday Gift Guide

It's that time of year again! Since 2009, the Goodson Blogson has compiled a list of holiday gift suggestions for lawyers, law students, and anyone else with an interest in legal themes. (See past gift idea lists here.). The Goodson Blogson does not receive these items for review, or any payment for listing items in the annual gift guide.

Is your legally-minded loved one always on the go? Some travel-related gift ideas to consider include the Trtl Travel Pillow, a wrap-around scarf with built-in neck support designed to let wearers sleep comfortably on planes, trains, or anywhere else. After one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of all time, Baubax has just released version 2.0 of its popular travel jackets, which feature numerous hidden pockets and built-in features like an eye mask, corded eyeglass cleaning cloth, and a telescopic pen/stylus. Earlier this year, CNet reviewed The Best Travel Gadgets and Gear, offering practical suggestions for international outlet adapters, power banks, and headphones designed to make travel easier.

Gift box subscription services continue their explosive growth of the last five years, and can be a nice way to extend a gift well beyond a single holiday. We've previously written about Try the World's subscription service for international gourmet foods and snacks, but these days it seems like there is a gift box service for almost any interest. Some additional gift subscription services to consider include a membership to Flaviar's mail-order whiskey-tasting club, Birchbox for beauty products, and Craft Coffee samplers.

Any "Notorious RBG" fans on your gift list? Besides a DVD or Blu-Ray copy of the summer’s breakout documentary hit RBG, you might also consider a gift inspired by one of the film's most memorable sequences: octogenarian U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg working out with her longtime personal trainer, Bryant Johnson. Johnson has authored the 2017 book The RBG Workout: How She Stays Strong...and You Can Too! (which you can review for yourself on level 1 of the library), and also sells replicas of the justice's "Super Diva!" workout sweatshirt, with proceeds from certain styles benefiting a cancer charity.

For someone who's never caught without a notebook to jot down ideas, try one of the lovely leather etched map notebooks from The Grommet, with maps available for nearly two dozen U.S. cities or three international cities. For a variation on this theme at a lower price point, Kaufmann Mercantile offers simple leather notebooks in two sizes and five colors. If your recipient isn't a fan of animal products, attractive personalized "vegan leather" journals are also available on Etsy.

For the foodie and/or entertainer on your list, Grant Achatz of Chicago's acclaimed Alinea restaurant has just released The Aviary Cocktail Book, available in both an $85 hardcover and a $135 boxed "reserve edition." Cocktail enthusiasts may also enjoy a sampling of Raleigh's own Crude Bitters, available in a small set of 6 or large set of 4. Another thoughtful gift for the entertainer are drink chillers that won't water down beverages: there are a number of varieties out there, but Uncommon Goods's On The Rocks Set is both affordable and stylish.

Finally, an annual reminder to also consider your locally-owned businesses, in addition to the online shopping options listed here. Saturday, November 24 is Small Business Saturday, an alternative to Black Friday online deals that supports your area merchants. We hope that you (and the lawyers and law students on your gift list) have a very happy holiday season!