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Support Open Access Scholarship with the Open Access Button

Open Access Button logo. CC BY.

Open Access Button logo. CC BY.

As you may already know, this week is Open Access Week, a week devoted to “promoting Open Access as a new norm in scholarship and research,” and Harvard is hosting a number of events in recognition of this important goal (you can find the full list on the Office for Scholarly Communication website).

One way you can advocate for Open Access now and in the future (while simultaneously helping your own research) is to start using Open Access Button. Once you have installed the bookmarklet, you can click on it every time you encounter an academic work that is behind a paywall. Pushing the button (which works in all browsers and also offers a Chrome plugin and a Firefox extension as well as a version for use on Android devices) will automatically search for a free version of the paper that you can access immediately and, if such a version is not found, will automatically contact the author about accessing the paper. If you can’t access the work immediately, your story will be collected and added to the list of stories used by Open Access Button to advocate for changes in the publishing approach for academic works. It is important to note that Open Access Button will make information about your use of the button publicly available, but this information will help to show the importance of Open Access in academia and just might help you find Open Access versions of scholarship you need.

Are you a developer? Open Access Button is licensed under an open source software license and all of their code is available on GitHub. Check out their For Developers page to learn about how you can contribute to the project.

Have You Ever Wanted to Contribute to Wikipedia?

OAlogoIf so, now is the time! As you may already know, next week is Open Access Week. To celebrate this event, Harvard is hosting a number of events (you can see the full list on the Office for Scholarly Communications website) including two Wikipedia Edit-A-Thons. The first Edit-A-Thon will be held on Monday, October 20th from 3 to 6pm in Room B-30 of Lamont Library. It will focus in particular on the over 1300 images that have been added to Wikimedia Commons from the Houghton Collection and will also offer instruction for those who are new to editing Wikipedia. The second Edit-A-Thon will be held on Friday, October 24th from 1pm to 3pm in Science Center B09 and will include help in creating a Wikipedia account and editing or creating articles. Both events are designed to encourage people to drop by for as much or as little time as they can spare, so stop by one or both to learn about how you can contribute to Wikipedia.

If you want to create an account before the event or if you aren’t able to attend, you can also check out our guide entitled Contributing to Wikipedia & Wikimedia Commons to learn more about how to start and account and start making a contribution!

852 RARE: New Acquisition with Strong Ties to Harvard Law

The Harvard Law School Library is pleased to announce this recent acquisition, a chair with a unique provenance story and strong ties to the Harvard Law School. This adjustable back armchair, commonly referred to as a Morris chair, was first owned by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and used in his summer home in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts. The chair was included in a 1935 appraisal of Holmes’ personal property in his Beverly Farms home, “Mahogany Morris Chair,” item 357. After his death, his nephew and niece Edward and Mary Stacy Holmes purchased the chair from his estate as part of a larger group of items paid for May 26, 1936. They gifted it to Felix and Marion Frankfurter in 1939, probably in honor of his appointment to the United States Supreme Court.

Holmes-Frankfurter-Howe-Mansfield chair
September 2014

Holmes-Frankfurter-Howe-Mansfield chair September 2014

Holmes-Frankfurter-Howe-Mansfield chair
September 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holmes and Frankfurter met in 1912 and carried on a close friendship until Holmes’ death in 1935. Several years before his death, Holmes chose Frankfurter as his biographer. Part of their friendship included Frankfurter selecting Holmes’ secretary from the Harvard Law School’s graduating class; among those selected was Mark De Wolfe Howe. Howe served as Holmes’ secretary from 1933-1934 and later became Justice Holmes’ official biographer.

In a letter dated April 30, 1963, Frankfurter wrote to Howe: “One of the things that just crossed my mind is what disposition to make of the Holmes chair when the time comes to bow to the inevitable. . . . After some reflection and with Marion’s warm concurrence, I should like the Holmes chair to come to you when I can no longer occupy it, and the reason for this desire is because of the feeling the old gentleman had about you and particularly his feeling of gratitude to you.” The chair remained in Frankfurters possession until his death in February 1965. Later that year Frankfurter’s executor made arrangements to deliver the chair to Howe’s home.

John H. Mansfield seated in the chair in his Brookline residence Photo credit: Maria Luisa F. Mansfield

John H. Mansfield seated in the chair in his
Brookline residence
Photo credit: Maria Luisa F. Mansfield

Howe did not have much time with the chair, surviving Frankfurter by just two years. Howe’s daughters eventually gave the chair to Harvard Law School alumnus, professor, and former Frankfurter clerk John H. Mansfield. Mansfield had strong ties to both Frankfurter and Howe. In a 1963 letter to his secretary Elsie Douglas, Frankfurter named Mansfield as one of a few individuals “whom I deem wholly qualified to write my judicial biography.” Howe and Mansfield spent nine years together on the Harvard Law School faculty and like Holmes and Frankfurter carried on a close friendship. Mansfield greatly enjoyed the chair, sitting in it every day after work and explaining to visitors the story of the legal greats who sat in the chair before him.

All of the chair’s former owners were Harvard Law School alumni and faculty members so it is extremely fitting that the chair’s final home should be the Law School.

The chair is the gift of John Howard Mansfield and Maria Luisa F. Mansfield and can be viewed in the Caspersen Room, 4th floor, Harvard Law School Library.

 

Detail of plaques on the back of the chair

Detail of plaques on the back of the chair

Bestlaw – A New Tool That Aims to Make Westlaw Better

Bestlaw LogoUsers of WestlawNext will be happy to know that there is a new tool that might make your research just a little bit easier. A law student from the UC Berkeley School of Law has created a browser extension called Bestlaw that, in the words of their website, “add[s] the features Westlaw forgot.” Among these features are options for a more readable presentation of the text that removes extraneous menus and addition sources, the option to share the link to a document more seamlessly via email or social media, a feature that prevents you from getting signed off automatically, and tools for copying information about the case. Perhaps more interesting for many law students, one of the pieces of information that you can copy with a single click is the Bluebook citation for the document you are reading. Right now this feature only works for reported federal cases, but there are plans to extend it to other documents on Westlaw as well. While you should always check your citations and not rely on a third party to create them for you, initial tests of this feature produced correct citations.

Currently Bestlaw is only available as a browser extension for Chrome and it only works with Westlaw, but the website for the tool says that a Firefox version and features that will work with Lexis are also in the works. If you want to try it out, you the installation process requires only two clicks and if you decide you don’t like it, the website links to clear instructions for both disabling and removing it.

If you are interested in learning about other browser extensions that can help you make your research more efficient, stop by our training session on October 28th. For a full list of our technology training sessions, see our research training calendar.

2014-2015 Philip Hofer Prize for Collecting Books or Art

Are you a Harvard student and collector? Consider applying for this year’s Philip Hofer Prize for Collecting Books or Art.

This annual contest is run by the Houghton Library and the Harvard University Art Museums and the objective is “not to reward wealthy students who collect fine art or rare books, but rather to encourage and acknowledge students who use their resources, however small, in a thoughtful and organized way to build collections expressive of their own interests.”

This year’s submission deadline is February 13, 2015. For complete details, visit the Hofer Prize site.

Library Fest reminder and grand prizes

The countdown to this year’s Love Your Library Fest is just two days!

We hope to see you on Friday from 2-5pm in the Library for activities, games, an exhibit, chances to meet some legal information vendors, candy, and learning a bit more about what the Library can do for you!

We just packed up this year’s grand prize gift baskets. We are raffling one for a JD student and one for an LLM or SJD student. Each basket contains:

  • hlslgiftbasket-smA Boston tea party mug with tea
  • Cranberry bog frogs candy
  • maple syrup
  • Wild Maine blueberry jam
  • Taza stone ground chocolate
  • A lobster finger puppet
  • A complete set of HLS Library bookmarks
  • An HLS Library magnet

And finally

  • a $100 Grafton Restaurant Group giftcard, good at Grafton Street, Park, Russell House Tavern, and Temple Bar restaurants

Get a raffle entry for each Library Fest station you complete and a bonus entry if you complete all five. Every HLS student who completes three of the five Library Fest stations will receive an AMC gold movie ticket. Other giveaways for all include candy, HLSL stylus-pen combos, stickers, magnets, and items from our vendors.

We look forward to seeing you all Friday!

The Scottish Independence Referendum

Scottish Flag photo by flickrtickr2009. CC BY 2.0

Scottish Flag photo by flickrtickr2009. CC BY 2.0

As you may know, on Thursday Scotland will vote on whether or not to remain part of the United Kingdom. Some estimates put the number of voters registered to participate in the referendum at over 4 million, which is more than 95% of Scotland’s adult population. And, campaigning has remained active, and in some cases heated, in the weeks and months leading up to the referendum, with voices as disparate as the Pope and David Beckham supporting unity with Great Britain and everyone from Sir Sean Connery to Vivienne Westwood supporting independence. Even Groundskeeper Willie from the Simpsons (as seen below) and John Oliver (not entirely safe for work) have weighed in. Polls have differed in the exact vote predicted, but everyone seems to agree that the vote is likely to be quite close.

While this may seem largely like a political issue, there are some important laws and legal decisions underlying the vote. The first, and perhaps most important, is the Edinburgh agreement. This agreement, which was signed on October 15, 2012, set forth the agreement between the United Kingdom government and the Scottish government regarding the referendum and specified what would be included in the referendum legislation. The Memorandum of Agreement attached to the Edinburgh agreement further specified that “The two governments are committed to continue to work together constructively in the light of the outcome, whatever it is, in the best interests of the people of Scotland and of the rest of the United Kingdom,” a passage that has led to much speculation about what would occur if the people of Scotland ultimately vote to leave the United Kingdom.

After this agreement was signed, the Scottish Independence Referendum Act of 2013 was passed to set forth the exact procedure for the referendum. This Act includes provisions on who may vote in the referendum and restrictions on legal challenges to the outcome of the referendum among other provisions. You can see the full Act below:

UKSupremeCourtShieldCampaigning has been active on both sides of the vote and many are eager to cast their votes, including at least two prisoners who appealed the ban on inmates voting in the referendum all the way to the UK Supreme Court. The case, entitled Moohan and another (Appellant) v The Lord Advocate (Respondent), was fast-tracked to ensure that it was decided before the referendum and was heard by a panel of 7 Justices on July 24, 2014. On the same day, they issued their, in the words of The Guardian, “unusually quick summary decision less than an hour after hearing final oral submissions on the case,” in which they upheld the lower courts’ rulings that European court rulings which hold that banning prisoners from voting violates their human rights do not apply in the case of a referendum. This decision means that the referendum will go forward without the vote of prisoners, but other than this small group, voter registration has proved to be quite high. According to the BBC, 4,285,323 people registered to vote in the referendum by the September 2nd deadline, “making it the largest electorate ever in Scotland.”

While it is still unclear which side will win, if the majority of voters do cast their ballot in favor of independence, this will only be the start of a long road to complete independence. Some scholars have estimated that the timeframe for negotiated independence would take between 18 and 36 months in total. Moreover, Scotland’s status in the European Union would be uncertain if it became independent, with the two sides of the campaign disagreeing over the process the new country would have to follow to gain re-admittance into the EU and the European Commission declining to comment. No matter what the outcome of the vote, this referendum has presented a number of fascinating legal issues!

New Exhibit: Life Beyond the Law

Historical & Special Collections is pleased to announce its new exhibit Life Beyond the Law: Exploring Student Life Outside the Harvard Law School Classroom is now on view in the Caspersen Room on the fourth floor of Langdell Hall.

Graduate Div. Picnic, September 1977 by Joan Lebold Cohen; Volleyball game between Austin Hall and Littauer Center, April 1979. From the Photographs of Harvard Law School Students collection.

Graduate Div. Picnic, September 1977 by Joan Lebold Cohen; Volleyball game between Austin Hall and Littauer Center, April 1979. From the Photographs of Harvard Law School Students collection.

This exhibit examines the experiences of Harvard Law School students from the mid-1840s to the present. It focuses on life outside the classroom along the themes of off-campus activities, leisure and the arts, and athletics. Largely told in their own words, this exhibit gives a glimpse into the lives of individual students whose experiences are captured in letters to friends and family, personal diaries, student publications, and photographs.

Curated by Jane Kelly and Lesley Schoenfeld, Life Beyond the Law will be on view in the Caspersen Room 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM through December 12, 2014. A companion website to this exhibit can be found here.

Learn about finding legislative intent

Proquest (home of Proquest Congressional) is hosting a webinar open to all, Using Legislative History to Find Legislative Intent. It will take place Thursday, September 25, 2014, 3:00pm – 4:30pm and is open to interested students, faculty and staff.

From Proquest:

This 90-minute session is designed for the associate, judicial, law firm or government agency law clerk, intern, extern or research assistant, law student, and law review notes & comments editor. You will learn how to use ProQuest Congressional Digital Suite & Legislative Insight, the premier legal research tools for federal legislative and government materials to:

1. Develop an understanding of the legislative process both:

a. Procedurally – How did the language read as first proposed, what committees considered the proposal, when were amendments made and where was the proposal when it was amended;

b. As an adversarial process – who was lobbying in support of the proposal and what were they trying to accomplish, who was active in opposition what were their objections, who was responsible for amendments to the proposal;

2. Become familiar with the documents available pertinent to your issue;

3. Identify where in the process the changes you care about occurred – this provides a mechanism to narrow the scope of your search for explanations for why the language was changed;

4. Learn how to identify both direct and circumstantial evidence of intent.

To register, visit Proquest.

Love Your Library Fest 2014: September 19!

Library Fest Heart transHLS students, mark your calendars for Love Your Library Fest Friday, September 19, 2:00-5:00pm!

Library Fest is a fun orientation to the Library’s people, services, and resources. The Fest includes:

  • learning more about library services
  • a peek at an assortment of treasures from HLS and legal history
  • meeting some of our legal information vendors

Every law student who completes 3 stations will receive a movie ticket. For each station completed, HLS students will get an entry for the grand prize raffle, with a bonus raffle entry for completing all five stations. Prizes (one each for a lucky JD and LLM/SJD student) are New England gift baskets with a $100 Grafton Group restaurant gift card–good at Grafton Street, Park, Russell House Tavern, and Temple Bar!

Faculty, staff, and other members of the Harvard community are welcome as well. See you there!