Your Feedback Needed on New Datasets Added to Data.gov

February 2, 2010

Last month, agencies were required by the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Open Government Directive to post at least three “high value” datasets on Data.gov.

The Government Relations Office has developed a short survey on the usefulness of these new datasets to your work.

We need your feedback so that we can inform the White House and OMB on which datasets are the most valuable to legal researchers. This is a special opportunity to share your views with a receptive White House that is eager to hear your opinions.

We’d like to know which datasets are most useful to you, which datasets are not currently in Data.gov that you would like to see added, and how you or your library is using content from any of the datasets. For example, we want to know if your library has used the XML versions of the Code of Federal Regulations or the Federal Register to develop new tools.

We encourage you to take advantage of this unique opportunity to share your thoughts with the White House on this new transparency initiative. Please take a few minutes to fill out our survey by February 12.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

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Help Save Connecticut’s Courthouse Libraries

January 20, 2010

Over the last few months, AALL and the Southern New England Law Librarians Association (SNELLA) have been working closely together to oppose funding cuts and the announced closure of six of the fifteen courthouse libraries in Connecticut. We urgently need your help to save these law libraries.

On December 23, AALL and SNELLA sent joint letters to Connecticut’s Governor Rell and to the leadership of the Appropriations Committee strongly opposing the decision to close the law libraries. Judge Quinn, Chief Court Administrator, explained in testimony before the Appropriations Committee that the closures had become necessary because the Executive Branch cut $12.9 million from the budget for the Judicial Branch.

AALL and SNELLA are sponsoring online petitions to save the courthouse libraries in Bridgeport, Hartford, Litchfield, Milford and Norwich. The sixth library, at the Willimantic Courthouse, is unstaffed and its small collection will likely be moved to the local public university.

The closures of Connecticut’s courthouse libraries will prevent attorneys, judges and members of the public from accessing the up-to-date legal information they need. It will also place a heavy burden on pro se litigants, who may not be able to get to another courthouse library if the one closest to home is closed. We need your help to demonstrate that there is broad support for keeping these libraries open.

If you live in Connecticut, please sign each one of these important petitions. If you’re not a Connecticut resident, please pass this message along to your friends, family and colleagues who live in the state.

Thank you in advance for spreading the word and helping to save Connecticut’s courthouse libraries!

[Posted by Mary Alice Baish and Emily Feldman]


Ask Your House Rep. to Vote for PATRIOT Act Reauthorization Bill, H.R. 3845

November 19, 2009

The Government Relations Office again needs your help in contacting your House representative in support of the USA PATRIOT Amendments Act of 2009 (H.R. 3845).

The message is simple: Please ask your representative to support H.R. 3845 when it reaches the House floor.

On November 5, the House Judiciary Committee favorably reported H.R. 3845 as amended. The bill would raise the standard for Section 215 orders to protect the private information of library users, improve the standards for issuing National Security Letters and adopt important new reporting, audit and oversight provisions.

Please use our action alert to ask your representative to vote for H.R. 3845 when it reaches the House floor. Our action alert contains all the information you need to write an email to your representative, including a sample message.

Thank you for taking action, and please let me know if you receive a response from your representative. To learn more about the PATRIOT Act Reauthorization process, please read our newly updated Issue Brief.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


Immediate Action Needed: Ask Your House Rep. to Co-Sponsor PATRIOT Act Reauthorization Bill

November 3, 2009

With the December 31st sunset of Section 215 (the “library provision”) of the PATRIOT Act quickly approaching, we need your help to get your representative to co-sponsor Rep. Conyers’  PATRIOT Act Reauthorization bill, H.R. 3845, the USA PATRIOT Amendments Act of 2009.

Please call your House representative immediately to urge him or her to co-sponsor H.R. 3845, which would raise the standard for Section 215 orders and restore the pre-PATRIOT Act standard for National Security Letters. If your representative is already a co-sponsor, please thank him or her for signing on.

Our action alert has all the information you need to make your call or write your email, including talking points, sample messages, the number for the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121) and links to your representative’s Webmail form.

The House Judiciary Committee will hold a mark-up of the bill on Wednesday at 12:30pm. If you can call your representatives before then, please do so; otherwise, a call or email to your representative later this week will be just as important. Please email me any feedback you receive when you make your call.

Thanks for taking action to ensure the passage of a strong law that balances the needs of law enforcement with safeguards for our civil liberties.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


Take Action to Help Get Free Online Access to CRS Reports

October 16, 2009

On Wednesday, October 14, AALL held a free online advocacy training session, Join AALL’s Advocacy Team: How to Deliver Our Message, with Director of Government Relations Mary Alice Baish, Advocacy Communications Assistant Emily Feldman, and “Advocacy Guru” Stephanie Vance. Thanks to all of you who made our Webinar a success! Webinar resources are now available in AALL’s Advocacy Toolkit and the recorded Webinar will soon be available on AALL2go.

As we explained during the Webinar, we need your help to urge your senators and representatives to support legislation in the Senate (S. Res. 118) and House (H.R. 3762) that would provide the public with free online access to Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports.

In the Senate, we need you to put pressure on Sen. Schumer (D-NY), Chairman of the Rules and Administration Committee, to bring S. Res. 118 before the committee immediately. In the House, we need your help in getting additional co-sponsors for H.R. 3762.

We have issued an Action Alert that makes it easy for you to write to your members of Congress. The Alert includes our specific asks, sample emails, and links to the Webmail forms of your members of Congress so that you can start writing an email with just a click of your mouse.

We hope you’ll take a few minutes to write to your members of Congress. With your help, we can keep the momentum going on this important issue.

Thanks,

Mary Alice Baish and Emily Feldman


There’s Still Time to Endorse Transparency Recommendations for Obama and Congress

November 13, 2008

Yesterday, November 12, 2008, OMB Watch released the 21st Century Right to Know Project’s Transparency Recommendations to President-elect Barack Obama and key members of Congress. The recommendations are included in a report titled Moving Toward a 21st Century Right-to-Know Agenda: Recommendations to President-elect Obama and Congress. The 21st Century Right to Know Project developed these recommendations with the help of a diverse set of organizations and individuals, including AALL and many law librarians. AALL has signed on to endorse the recommendations.

Last month, we called on law librarians to take action and endorse the Transparency Recommendations. An impressive number of you heeded our call! Seventy-five individual law librarians and eight AALL chapters, including GPLLA, LLOPS, NOCALL, SANDALL, SCALL, SFALL, SNELLA, and WestPac, signed on. AALL’s Government Relations Committee and AALL’s Technical Services Special Interest Section also signed on. Thank you all!

For those of you who haven’t signed on, it’s not too late! OMB Watch is still accepting endorsements. We invite you to read the recommendations and join the more than 240 organizations and individuals by signing on to endorse the recommendations. This is your opportunity to show President-elect Barack Obama and the 111th Congress that access to information and government transparency are important issues to you!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


Act Now to Endorse Transparency Recommendations for the Next President

October 30, 2008

As we frequently report on the Blawg, the Bush administration’s efforts to keep information secret and out of the hands of the public has been a cause for significant concern among law librarians. Of course, we’re not the only ones concerned with the shift toward greater secrecy. Just take a look at the diverse set of partners of OpenTheGovernment.org, including AALL, the Northern California Association of Law Libraries (NOCALL), and the Southeastern American Association of Law Libraries (SEAALL), and you’ll see a group of organizations that cross interests, political ideologies, and professions.

In July 2007, representatives of some of these organizations, including Mary Alice Baish and myself, met for a two-day conference to kick off what became known as the 21st Century Right to Know project. Organized by OMB Watch and OpenTheGovernment.org, the group set out to take some first steps toward collaboratively developing recommendations for the next president on how best to improve federal government transparency.

After that first conference, OMB Watch set off on a mission to gather more ideas. They interviewed experts; held listening sessions in Jacksonville, FL; Phoenix, AZ; Seattle, WA; and Minneapolis, MN that included many AALL members; and convened expert panels to lay the groundwork for what would become the transparency recommendations.

The draft report and its more than sixty recommendations is now available and OMB Watch is looking for endorsements. The draft report covers three main areas: National Security and Secrecy, Usability of Government Information, and Creating a Government Environment for Transparency. It also includes recommendations for the new president’s first 100 days and for a long-term vision to strengthen government openness.

AALL has endorsed it and we are encouraging our chapters and members to review the report and sign on. After eight years of policies that promoted government secrecy, now is the time for law librarians to show the next president that we believe access to information is key to a democratic society!

[Posted by Emily Feldman]


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