Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Book Doctors

Has a library book ever fallen apart in your hands? Or have you ever found an unpleasant surprise stuck between some pages? Recently, the Goodson Law Library was visited by Beth Doyle of the Preservation Department at Perkins Library, which repairs damaged library materials and helps to prevent future damage by educating staff and users about the proper handling of materials. Beth’s presentation to our staff was a valuable reminder of three simple things everyone can do to help maintain the Law Library’s excellent collection for many years to come.

First, food and drink should stay far away from library materials. Of course, the Goodson Law Library’s official policy prohibits any food as well as drinks in uncovered containers, but our trash cans tell a different story. For a cautionary tale on why food and books don’t mix, check out the Preservation Department’s infamous Banana Book (click to enlarge). The unexpected enclosure is now permanently fused into the pages of this thesis on marriage and the family (you can see a portion of the stem protruding from the center of the page), along with irreparable mold damage.

Second, resist the temptation to yank a book off the shelf by pulling on the top of its spine. Over time, this will cause the pages of the book to pull away from the binding, and eventually will result in lost pages. Instead, Beth recommends pushing the two adjacent books inward, and retrieving the book in the middle by gripping its center. (see illustration)

Finally, be sure to report any damaged materials to the library staff, so that items may be sent to our Technical Services department for repair or possible replacement. Signs of trouble include: spots of mold or mildew on book covers; missing, loose, or torn pages; and broken or weak binding (where the pages are falling away from the spine).

If you’d like to learn more about fixing up your own personal library, check out Dartmouth College’s free Book Repair Manual, which offers MacGyver-esque tricks for drying wet books, tightening book spines, and re-assembling torn pages.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Is Your Password 123456?

Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that more than 10,000 Hotmail email accounts had been compromised, and their passwords posted to underground hacking websites. An analysis of the posted account information revealed that the majority of the affected accounts used weak passwords which could be easily guessed. The most popular password was 123456 (with 123456789 a close second).

As we reported in the spring, weak passwords are commonplace in cyberspace. A 2007 list of the most frequently-used online passwords included 123456 as well as perennial favorites password, qwerty, and abc123. But the Hotmail story underscores the dangers of ignoring online security. As a result, many websites are getting tough on wimpy passwords, and requiring users to create strong passwords (a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols) which are harder for hackers to decipher.

One such site is Westlaw, which will begin encouraging the creation of OnePass usernames and passwords in November 2009. By January 2010, all Westlaw users will be required to access the system with a OnePass username and password. The alphanumeric code will serve as a registration code only; it will no longer be available as an alternative login method. Watch for messages about the upcoming change.

Need help thinking up stronger passwords for Westlaw (or anywhere else)? Review the Duke Office of Information Technology’s Password Security FAQ. OIT has compiled helpful advice for choosing a good password and avoiding weak ones. (To OIT’s tips, the Goodson Blogson would like to add that savvy Internet users should perhaps avoid posting a sticky note filled with those super-strong passwords on the side of their monitors.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Complete Nudity Is Never Permitted"

Hollywood has always had a strange relationship with the law. Throughout history, the film industry has used self-regulation as a way to avoid excessive government interference. This summer marked the seventy-fifth anniversary of the notorious Hays Code, a set of internal moral guidelines for the film industry whose brevity belied its nearly four-decade impact.

The Hays Code was inspired by public outrage over several sex- and drug-related scandals involving 1920s film stars, the most famous being the death of actress Virginia Rappe at the hands of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle. In response, Congress entertained the idea of creating a Federal Motion Picture Commission, whose members would have reviewed and banned films which were “obscene, indecent, immoral, inhuman, or […] of such a character that [their] exhibition would tend to corrupt morals and incite to crime.” (Source: Proposed Federal Motion Picture Commission: Hearings before the Committee on Education, House of Representatives, 69th Cong. (1926) at 2. Full-text link will work on campus.)

Hollywood studios scrambled to write their own moral guidelines, to be enforced by the already-established Motion Pictures Producers and Distributors Association, helmed by former U.S. Postmaster General William Hays. The result was a 1927 short list of ‘Don’ts’ and ‘Be Carefuls’ (beginning with a total ban on profanity and ending with a caution on the use of “excessive and lustful kissing”). In 1930, the list was expanded into a formal “Code to Govern the Making of Motion and Talking Pictures”, but it was not until the 1934 edition that the “Hays Code” truly began impacting American cinema.

In addition to the ban on nudity which lent the Goodson Blogson a title for this post, the Hays Code stressed that films should avoid glamorizing criminal activity, could never use the word “abortion,” should depict “hangings and electrocutions […] with discretion and restraint within the careful limits of good taste,” and could show all religions and religious figures in only a positive light. Read the rest of the 1934 Hays Code and its supporting documentation reprinted in Gerald C. Gardner’s The Censorship Papers: Movie Censorship Letters from the Hays Office, 1934-1968 (Cox Collection PN1995.62 .G37 1987), a fascinating collection of correspondence and commentary from the files of the film censors. (The 1927 studio “‘Don’ts’ and ‘Be Carefuls’” are also reproduced in Appendix II of the Gardner book. Researchers wishing to compare the 1930 and 1934 codes can read the 1930 edition reprinted in Investigation of Communist Propaganda: Hearings before a Special Committee to Investigate Communist Activities in the United States of the House of Representatives, 71st Cong. (1930) at 280-81. Full-text link will work on campus.)

The Hays Code continued long after the MPPDA became the Motion Picture Association of America in 1945. The guidelines were revised several times in the ensuing years-- Duke’s Special Collections Library even owns a 1955 edition of the Hays Code, although you’ll need to visit Perkins Library in person to view it. This version of the Code touched our own Legal DVD collection, during a battle with the Hays Office over the making of Inherit the Wind, an adaptation of the Broadway play about the Scopes “monkey trial”. In 1955, the Office informed a studio executive: “we regret to inform you that this basic story is unacceptable…and that a picture based on this material could not be approved by this office.” After several years of compromise over the depiction of fervently religious townspeople who consider the teaching of evolution to be a crime, the now-classic film was released in 1960 and earned four Oscar nominations.

The Hays Code was finally abandoned in 1968, when the MPAA adopted its now-familiar theatrical rating system (PG, R, etc.). Given the reactive history of the Code’s development, it should surprise no one to hear that this voluntary rating system was created at the same time that Congress was investigating the possibility of a federal film classification system. (Source: The Committee on Film Classification: Hearing Before the Committee on Commerce, United States Senate, 90th Cong. (1968). Full-text link will work on campus.)

For further reading:

• Gregory D. Black, Hollywood Censored: The Production Code Administration and the Hollywood Film Industry, 1930-1940, 3 FILM HISTORY 167 (1989) (full-text link will work on campus)
• Catalog search: Motion pictures—Censorship—United States

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

National & International Law Yearbooks

When researching the law of other countries, yearbooks are frequently helpful. The articles in law yearbooks provide an annual survey of a particular country or region’s activities in the last year, and often reprint cases, legislation or other important documents. International law researchers often consult yearbooks to gain an understanding of state practice.

Duke’s International Legal Research Tutorial contains a section on the major international law yearbook titles and strategies for locating them in a library. In the Duke Libraries catalog, the best approach is to perform a title keyword search for [country name] and yearbook; e.g. new zealand and yearbook. Most law yearbooks will be available in the Periodicals collection on Level 4 of the library.

Electronic versions of yearbooks, where available, will be linked in the catalog search results. For example, HeinOnline offers a variety of yearbooks in its Foreign & International Law Resources library. Although most are focused on international law, national and specialized yearbooks are also included (such as the Yearbook of New Zealand Jurisprudence and the European Yearbook of Minority Issues.) Note that in some cases, HeinOnline may not provide the most current volume of a particular title; check the libraries’ catalog to see if the most recent yearbooks are available in print at the library.

Country-specific databases may also offer certain yearbook titles. For example, LawInfoChina recently added the English translation of the Law Yearbook of China for 2002-2006 to its online offerings. (There is no print equivalent available in the Goodson Law Library, although a similar title, China Legal Development Yearbook, is available from 2008-present in the Periodicals collection.)

For more help locating law yearbooks for a specific country or region, Ask a Librarian.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Celebrating Open Access Week

Last year, the Goodson Law Library celebrated Open Access Day, the first-ever international celebration of the Open Access (OA) movement, which encourages the use of the Internet to freely distribute scholarship which is normally locked behind online subscription databases or published in costly print resources. Although the Open Access movement is rooted in the hard sciences, as a reaction to publicly-funded scientific research results being published in prohibitively expensive journals, the principles of Open Access have spread to other disciplines, including the social sciences.

This year, the success of 2008’s Open Access Day has resulted in 2009’s Open Access Week (October 19-23). Duke University will celebrate with several events, including a panel on Friday, October 23 about open access to health information around the world. For a complete listing of Duke events, see Open Access Week at Duke. For a fuller listing of events beyond Duke, check out

The Duke Law School has long been a leader in the Open Access movement for legal scholarship. The full text of Duke Law journals is provided free on our website back to 1997, and our Faculty Scholarship Repository provides a permanent online archive of Law School faculty publications. In November 2008, a meeting of prominent law library directors at the Goodson Law Library resulted in the development of the Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship, which urges law schools to cease print publication of law reviews in favor of free, permanent, online publication archives. Learn more about these efforts during Open Access Week at the library’s service desk.

It seems that even traditional content providers may have caught Open Access fever. SAGE Journals Online, a major database for scientific and social science journals, is providing free access (with registration) to all of its journals from 1999-present during the entire month of October. Although the Duke University Libraries already have electronic access to most, if not all, of the available journals, this is a welcome gesture for members of the public and alumni who previously could only access Duke’s subscriptions by visiting the library in person. To research other journals which have long adhered to the Open Access principle (and will not re-lock in November), visit the Directory of Open Access Journals.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Preparing for the MPRE

The Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) is a multiple-choice test of legal ethics, which is required for admission to the bars of most U.S. jurisdictions. (Feel like skipping it? You’ll be limited to practicing law in Maryland, Washington, Wisconsin, or Puerto Rico. See 2009 Comprehensive Guide to Bar Admission Requirements for more information.) The good news is that the MPRE can be taken at any time during law school, giving students a chance to get it out of the way long before the rest of the bar exam. The test is offered three times per year (March, August, and November). Judging by the increasing amount of questions at the Goodson Law Library about resources to study for the MPRE, we could tell that the next test is quickly approaching.

A search of the libraries’ online catalog for mpre reveals only one title, Kimm Walton’s Strategies and Tactics for the MPRE 2009 edition. The catalog record notes that the title is still “On Order”, and not yet published. Aspen is expected to release this title in November, although we can’t promise that it will arrive in time to assist takers of the November 7 exam. However, you may use the “Get this Title” link to place a hold on the title now, and you will be notified by email after it arrives and is processed by the library.

In the meantime, a few other resources may assist takers of the next exam. The MPRE 2009 Information Booklet offers 24 sample questions as well as a full listing of subjects to be tested on the exam. A 2002 past exam is also available for free, although the website cautions that “in many instances questions do not reflect the current MPRE style and format.” (A more recent past exam is available for purchase through the website.)

Simulated exam questions are also available through Patrick Longan’s book Questions & Answers: Professional Responsibility (Reserve KF306.Z9 L66 2003), a multiple-choice format study guide for legal ethics questions. Although the same caveats apply to this as to the outdated past exams on the MPRE site, some students may find the simulated questions helpful. Additional study aids on the subject of legal ethics, including Professional Responsibility in a Nutshell and Understanding Lawyers’ Ethics, may be found in the Goodson Law Library research guide to Legal Ethics. Although these resources do not provide sample MPRE questions, they may help clarify the subjects tested on the MPRE.

Finally, don’t forget about commercial bar review services, some of which include a free MPRE review booklet and/or lecture. PMBR Kaplan currently offers a free online MPRE review course which includes a study guide with sample questions. Bar/Bri also offers a review course for the MPRE, which will take place at Duke Law on Saturday, October 24. If you have already signed up for Bar/Bri’s bar review course, the MPRE session is included; separate registration is also available for $250.

Good luck to all November test-takers!

Monday, October 5, 2009

First Monday: Supreme Court OT2009

Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! All persons having business before the Honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the Court is now sitting. Or at least they will be at 10:00 a.m. today, which marks the official beginning of the Supreme Court’s October Term 2009-2010 ("OT2009").

Of course, Court-watchers will be most eager to analyze the new dynamic that new Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who replaced retiring Justice David Souter over the summer, might bring to oral arguments and to voting. (They had a head start last month, when the Court heard re-arguments in an OT2008 case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission: transcript.)

The first case on today’s calendar involves a dispute between South Carolina and North Carolina over the equitable use of the Catawba River (briefs at ABA Merits Briefs page). This “water war” has dragged on for several years; today the High Court will consider whether the city of Charlotte, Duke Energy Corporation, and the Catawba River Water Supply Project should remain intervening parties in the dispute. Additional materials on this case are posted on the South Carolina Attorney General’s website. [UPDATE: the NC/SC arguments were postponed shortly before their scheduled start time, due to a family emergency for one of the counsel. Story at Charlotte Observer.]

To preview the rest of the Court’s upcoming cases, or to read subsequent analysis, check out the following resources:
To research other Supreme Court information (including biographies of current and past Justices, caseload statistics, and more) check out the Goodson Law Library’s research guide to the U.S. Supreme Court.