Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Moon Rock and a Hard Place

Though some spent last week preparing for their last days on Earth, one California woman was more preoccupied with the moon. This weekend brought news of a NASA sting operation after the unidentified woman offered a “moon rock” for sale on eBay. Undercover NASA agents met the would-be seller in an area Denny’s and offered to buy the lunar treasure for $1.7 million, then detained her for questioning and seized the rock.

So is it a question of fraud? Could be, if the rock turns out to be phony. But the woman could also face legal trouble even if the rock is authentic. As it turns out, astronauts who visited the moon during various NASA missions in the 1960s and 1970s did collect a number of rock samples, some of which were given in commemorative plaques as “goodwill” gifts to 135 foreign governments and the 50 U.S. states by Presidents Nixon and Ford. As the London Times explained in 2004, those samples are legally considered the cultural property of the recipient government, and other samples located in the U.S. are classified as national treasure under NASA Policy Directive 7100.10D (since renumbered as NPD 7100.10E).

Over the last four decades, many of the goodwill gifts have made their way to the black market, and some have also made their way to the courts: check out the descriptively-named case of U.S. v. One Lucite Ball Containing Lunar Material, 252 F.Supp.2d 1367 (S.D. Fla. 2003), involving a similar lunar pebble which had been gifted to the government of Honduras and was later smuggled into the United States. (NASA’s 2003 annual report assures us that the ill-gotten treasure was eventually returned to its rightful place in Honduras; see the news and a photo on page 17. Curious to know where all those other chunks of the moon are now? The website CollectSPACE maintains a table of known locations around the world. Many of the goodwill rocks have fascinating stories, including North Carolina’s own, which lived “in a desk drawer” at the state Department of Commerce before finding its way to storage at Raleigh’s Museum of Natural Sciences, where it is scheduled to be displayed when the museum’s new Nature Research Center is completed.)

Only time will tell if the California pebble-peddler had a genuine lunar sample or a very expensive fake. In the meantime, you can learn more about the laws and regulations governing galactic travel in several places. Space-related legislation was recently codified into the new Title 51 of the United States Code (see earlier Blogson post); it’s currently incorporated in the unofficial versions on LexisNexis and Westlaw and the annual bound Supplement IV to the official USC. NASA regulations can be found in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations, including 14 C.F.R. 1217.106 (2010), which reassures astronauts that they won’t need to fill out any pesky customs declarations for artifacts which are brought back from space. And the library has a number of books on space law, which can be found in our online catalog with a subject heading search.

For help finding more materials online or in the library about this fascinating field, be sure to Ask a Librarian.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Library Services for the Class of 2011

Congratulations to our newest graduates! If you plan to remain in the Triangle area this summer for bar exam study, please note the following information about Duke Law building access, library services, and access to electronic resources.
  • Building Access: Although your law student IDs (which provide 24-hour access to the Law School and Law Library) are deactivated shortly after graduation, you are eligible for a free alumni card from the DukeCard Office. E-mail your alumni card number to the Law School's Building Manager, Catherine Hall, in order to activate 24-hour access for the summer. The access will continue until August 15.
  • Borrowing privileges for Law Library materials generally expire very shortly after graduation, although exceptions can be made for recent graduates who remain in the Triangle area for bar exam study. Please speak with a Circulation Desk staff member to borrow Law Library materials. (Note that we are unable to offer interlibrary loan services to recent graduates.)

    For fuller borrowing privileges across all Duke campus libraries, alumni may purchase a Campus Borrower's Card from the Perkins Library at the discounted price of $75/year. See http://library.duke.edu/services/borrow/privileges.html for more information.
  • LexisNexis and Westlaw passwords can be extended over the summer for the purposes of bar study. To extend your passwords, log into the sites and look for the link on the welcome screen.
  • Other library databases (such as HeinOnline and LegalTrac) require a current NetID and password for off-campus access. Off-campus access to subscription databases will expire at the same time as library borrowing privileges. The Duke University Libraries offer remote access to selected databases (including Academic Search Premier and ABI/Inform) to registered members of the Duke Alumni Association. See details at http://library.duke.edu/services/alumni_donors.html. However, alumni may also use Law Library and campus library databases on-site at the library’s public computer workstations.
The Goodson Law Library congratulates the class of 2011, and we look forward to hearing about your many achievements in the future.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Summertime: What to Know Before You Go

Hitting the road after exams? Tie up a few loose ends in the library before you leave the area! Wherever the summer months may take you, follow our simple steps to ensure a hassle-free transition. (Class of 2011, be on the lookout for a separate post within the next few days which will address special issues related to graduation, such as how to obtain 24-hour building access if you plan to remain in the Triangle for bar exam study.)

Check your library account: Log in to the libraries’ My Account site with your NetID and password, and double-check your outstanding loans, hold/recall requests, and any fees or fines which have been incurred. Be sure to return any remaining items before you leave the area, and speak with the Circulation/Reserve desk in the event of a discrepancy (such as a book that you’re sure you already returned, or a fine for a study room key).

Clean out your study carrel: We’re sure that all of our students respect the fact that library study carrels are shared space, and always try to take their belongings with them to make space for the next person. But we also know that final exams can cause a bit more “hoarding” and “camping” behavior than is the norm. Please look over your usual study spaces to ensure that you haven’t left behind any library materials or personal items. Library staff will clear all carrel spaces after May 20; remaining books will be checked in and re-shelved, and personal items will be taken to the lost & found. (If you will be at Duke over the summer and would like to store library materials in a carrel after May 20, be sure that they are clearly flagged with a carrel checkout slip; speak with the Circulation/Reserve desk for assistance.)

Extend your LexisNexis and Westlaw passwords: If you missed our post in March about Summer Access to LexisNexis and Westlaw, now’s the time to extend those Law School passwords for academic purposes. Please read the sites’ definitions of “academic purposes” carefully – they do not include use at a for-profit law firm! If you don’t meet the exceptions to extend your passwords for the summer, your LexisNexis and Westlaw accounts will reduce to a very limited number of employment-related databases on June 1, and will resume full access in August.

Ask for a “letter of introduction” to any private law libraries you plan to use. If you plan to haunt a law school library in your summer city (for bar study or any other purpose), check out their access policies online before you leave Durham. Many private law schools require a letter of introduction from a law student’s “home” library before they will grant access. If you need such a letter, speak with the Reference Services desk.

Note our new service hours: If you forget any of the items on this list before leaving town, we’re here to help – but during different hours. Effective Friday, May 6, the library entrance and service desk will move to summer hours, Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Evening and weekend services will resume at the start of the fall 2011 semester.

We wish all of our students a safe and happy summer, and look forward to hearing about your adventures when you return in Fall 2011.