Thursday, August 27, 2009

LexisNexis Congressional Wiki

One of my all time favorite products for legislative history research is LexisNexis Congressional. I was on there today and discovered that they have a Congressional page as part of their LexisNexis Wiki for Higher Education.

The page has a welcome message that explains its purpose as well as the following information:
Congressional Interdisciplinary Guides - This page explains the interdisciplinary aspects of Congressional and also links to guides in several subject areas such as Sociology and Social Work and Natural Sciences.

Congressional Downloads and Articles Index - This page links to articles that discuss congressional content and also has links to guides that give a sampling of Congressional content. There are also links to Area of Law guides, User-Created Guides, Videos, White Papers, and General Resources.

Congressional Topical Research Handouts - This page can be a good starting place for research. It links to articles such as Black History Month, Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, and going Green.

Using LexisNexis Congressional - If you need an explanation of what Congressional is and/or tips on how to use Congressional, this is the page for you. The page covers content and frequently asked questions. It also links to the Congressional Downloads page.

Congressional Reference Information - this page links to articles that help explain how a bill becomes a law. However, if you are a visual learner, the page also has the Schoolhouse Rock video that explains it. This page links to other useful information as well, such as a glossary of terms for Congressional.

To see the Congressional page for your self go to

To see the LexisNexis Wiki for Higher Education go to

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Twitter in the Library and the Classroom

I joined Twitter a few months ago. I have around 200 "tweets." Yes, I know. Active Twitter users are calling me pathetic as they read this. However, I remember someone tweeting about teaching law faculty about Twitter. I thought that was interesting, but moved on with my day. On Monday, we had a faculty retreat and a professor came and talked to us and he told us that twitter is his preferred means of communication and he encourages students to use it and other web 2.0 technologies while in his class.

Okay, now I am thinking - how can you use Twitter in the classroom or in the library? Is it really a good idea? So, I did what any self-respecting librarian does. I googled "Twitter in the cl-" before I could finish Twitter in the classroom came up as an option.

We know that libraries are using Twitter to announce new books and programs, but here are some other ways to use Twitter.

Reference Questions - Limiting someone to 140 characters could be good or bad
Discussion Forums - Patrons can have a public discussion on a topic
Twitter Polls - Find and graph opinions
Twiddeo - Share video with patrons

Potential Downsides
Text Message Fees
Time Spent Staffing/Managing the Twitter Account

So, while I support Libraries being on Twitter, I am still uncertain about the benefit to using it in the classroom. Please leave your comments about your experiences with Twitter in libraries or in the classroom.

Links to Articles Consulted
Twitter in the Classroom

Libraries on Twitter

50 ways to use Twitter in the College Classroom

A Professor's Tips for using Twitter in the Classroom

Are Universities Wasting Their Time Communicating to Students via Twitter

How one Teacher uses Twitter in the Classroom

25 Interesting Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom

Twitter for Academia

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Westlaw Law School Exchange

One of the products that impressed me most this year was Westlaw's Law School Exchange. It seemed to address a lot of the gripes that I had about online text books, and it has some other useful features. This product is for passwords with faculty status.

West has divided its marketing of Law School Exchange into three categories: Share, Publish, and Collaborate.

You can upload PDFs, Photos, PowerPoints, Word Documents and Mutlimedia files. This is a good way to share articles and syllabi with colleagues. You can easily share documents under the Materials tab.

This feature has the ability to integrate with TWEN and allows distribution of course materials. Don't forget to mindful of copyright! West Academic Publishing and Foundation Press materials are available. Text books can be viewed in a document viewer. This is the feature that I saw that impressed me. You could highlight portions of the text as well as annotate. From what I was told, this feature would come for a fee to students.

You can join groups and add colleagues. This allows you to reach beyond your school for guidance and provides networking opportunities.

Other things to note
There are tabs for Collections and Blogs that are in development. Also, the version I saw at AALL seems to be a bit different, so it took some getting use to. Additionally, you have to log in with your unique Westlaw password.

To join Law School Exchange go to and click on create an account. You will need your Westlaw password (the unique numeric-alpha password, not your custom password). Next, you select the areas you teach in, you also have the option of adding areas that you are interested in. You then must agree to the terms of use and then you can register.