A Law Library's Use of WorldCat.org Lists
Jacqueline Cantwell, Senior Law Librarian at Brooklyn Supreme Court Law Library, shares ways WorldCat.org lists are used in her library. (January, 2008)
Tags: WorldCat library
Added: 4 years ago
["Using WorldCat.org's Social Software to Promote the Law Library" appears on screen]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: My name is Jacqueline Cantwell, and I've been asked by OCLC to speak about my program that will be reported at the American Association of Law Libraries in July of 2008. How can law libraries reach out to people who want legal information, but are unaware of law libraries? How can we promote law libraries as reliable sources for legal information? The content we develop in pathfinders and legal research guides are often part of the deep web, and may not be easily found. Over the next year, I will be experimenting with WorldCat Dot Org's social software tools to help patrons, in addition to using WorldCat Dot Org as a reference tool.
[she clears her throat]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: I am experimenting with identifying resources for collection development and staff training. Because legal reference is so oriented to the patron's question, frequently a serious matter that requires procedural knowledge, it is easy for a legal reference librarian to forget that one of the library's missions is to reveal relationships. What we call subject headings, web users call tags, and these web users recognize that these tags identify relationships. Those relationships have not been defined well in the catalog, not only because of technology limitations, but because relationships are defined by point-of-view and need. Relationships are not stable.
[she clears her throat]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: WorldCat Dot Org lists can group books by how well they answer questions, needs, or address a point of view. Relationships, not obvious in the catalog, can be brought out by lists. For a law library, this is very important. The traditional catalog in a public access law library is not a strong tool, because our large multi-volume sets can answer many questions, but are frequently catalogued with a single subject heading. In the second part of this presentation, I will demonstrate this.
[the screen changes to the WorldCat home page]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: The traditional catalog in a public access law library is not a strong tool, because our large multi-volume sets can answer many questions, but are frequently catalogued with a single subject heading. An example is "New York Jurisprudence," a huge encyclopedia. Over one hundred volumes, covering topics in New York State law such as animals, vicious dogs, adjoining neighbors, and landlord-tenant law. However, the average user would not think to go to "New York State Jurisprudence" to answer a question on neighbor law. I'll give you an example why.
[she clicks on the "Advanced Search" tab]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: Clicking on "Advanced Search," I'm going to search for "New York Jurisprudence."
[she types in "New York Jurisprudence" and presses "Enter"]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: I'm waiting for the page to load ...
[a list of search results shows up]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: I'm clicking on the title ...
[the record for "New York Jurisprudence 2d." shows up on screen]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: "New York Jurisprudence" is correctly catalogued with a single subject heading.
[she clicks on the "Subjects" tag, revealing "Law -- New York State"]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: "Law, New York State" ... That's not enough information to guide an unfamiliar user to this book. Instead of going to this book to answer a question on labor law, the patron would Google the problem and get varied sources, none leading him to a public tax-funded public access law library. Users are going to WorldCat Dot Org. If a user went to WorldCat Dot Org and selected "Search Lists, Neighbor Law", as I'll show--
[she clicks the "Search Lists" link]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: Waiting again for the page to load ...
[she types in "Neighbor Law" and clicks "Search"]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: I'm going to open the page ...
[she clicks on the resulting search result, and "'Neighbor Law - New York Legal Research' by KSC_Law_Library" shows up on screen]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: And I'll continue this in my next session.
[cut back to the "Search Lists" results page]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: Once the user has selected "Neighbor Law," he would be able to open the list.
[she clicks the link, and "'Neighbor Law - New York Legal Research' by KSC_Law_Library" shows up on screen]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: Waiting for the page to load ... Thank you. All of the lists I've made so far are flagged with "New York Legal Research," and my profile is under "KSC_Law_Library." In the description, I've included terms that a user might use for searching. All these terms are searchable in the list file - "Adjoining land owners," "boundaries," "dogs," "pets," "swimming pools." I've also included a disclaimer about how this is not to be considered as legal advice, and is only the beginning of legal research. That's extremely important for any kind of law library, to make users aware that this is not considered legal advice.
[she scrolls down to the bottom of the page]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: Scrolling down, you'll notice that I've been able to add entries to each of these titles, so the user would be guided to useful subject headings and to chapters. Particularly, I want you to see what's available from "New York Jurisprudence." I've been able to guide users to the chapters in this one-hundred volume set on adjoining land owners, animals, buildings, easements, and nuisances. I've even been able to lead a user to the book "New York Law of Torts," where there's a whole chapter on nuisance. A user might not think to go to that book, neither might a librarian, so both the user and the librarian at the reference desk have been alerted to the usefulness of the books contained in the library.
[she clears her throat]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: WorldCat Dot Org's potential includes the ability to identify the usefulness of a book. An example is Patrick Wall's "Eye-Witness Identification." I'll resume with my next session.
[cut to OCLC's record for "Eye-witness identification in criminal cases"]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: Patrick Wall's "Eye Witness Identification in Criminal Cases" is a classic work in legal research. However, a newly graduated librarian would not be alerted to that. The title is somewhat old for a law library. Identifying core reference materials published after World War II is a hit-and-miss affair. Our field relies upon the knowledge of experience librarians, who not only know what books are important, but how those books can be used to answer questions. We need to capture this knowledge.
[she clicks on the "Reviews" tab]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: The way I've been able to do that, is I've put a review ... I've taken advantage of the review format here.
[she hovers the mouse above the "Classic on mistaken identification" reader review by "KSC_Law_Library"]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: Identified this as a classic on mistaken identification. I've alerted the user to the frequency that this book has been cited in legal cases, and I've also alerted a reader to a prominent author who reviewed the book in 1965. To identify books published for practicing attorneys after World War II, I went through back copies of the Brooklyn Law Review, NY Law Review, and other major law schools. Once I found a review of a New York practice work, I made a note in the review field that a review had been published on that book. Ideally, WorldCat Dot Org should list reviews written by my profile. These review notes could be used during weeding and staff training. These notes would give new staff the grounds for a book's influence.
[she clears her throat]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: To identify how books are used, I am working with New York librarians to create a reference question tracking database. This database is still being tweaked, but it has the potential to identify frequent questions for lists, and also identify which books answer which questions. I hope to add notes to book records pointing out the strengths of a book. A librarian could use the WorldCat Dot Org note to get a background on a book's usefulness.
["To read more about my thoughts on how the library can connect the reader to critical works see my August 5, 2007 entry 'Mistakes at the reference desk' on the Out of the Jungle blog. outofthejungle dot blogspot dot com. Thank you for your interest in this project. Many thanks to OCLC for their support and assistance. Jacqueline Cantwell, Senior Law Librarian, Brooklyn Supreme Court Law Library. jcantwel at courts dot state dot ny dot us" appears on screen]
JACQUELINE CANTWELL: Thank you for listening to this presentation. Please contact me at the email displayed on the screen if you have any questions or comments. I also want to thank OCLC for sponsoring this presentation, the American Association of Law Libraries for accepting my program proposal, and to my colleagues at the New York State Unified Court System who have been really wonderful in helping me in this project and offering their comments. Thank you again, I look forward to your remarks.
Using WorldCat.org's social software to promote the law library : 101st AALL annual meeting & conference, Portland, Oregon.
Coordinator, moderator and speaker: Jacqueline Cantwell.
Recorded on July 15, 2008.