David Whelan

Explorations with information and technology.

Blog Authors

Latest from David Whelan

I wrote last week about using country detection to allow or deny access to information. And earlier this week, I posted about using referral URLs to get your researchers to publishers. This will be the last post about tools to manage a visitor’s experience. I’ve been playing around with a WordPress plugin that allows me to look at other browser attributes to try to customize a visitor’s experience, including language. The plugin Redirection has been around for a decade and has a large install base. It’s got a number of uses that you might want to implement in a…
This has come up periodically over the years and so I’m going to take a bit more technical look at it. I blogged last week about rethinking your contract so that you can leverage remote access in times when your physical library access is restricted. There are a couple of ways that law libraries can create authenticated connections to legal publisher sites. You do not need a lot of technology knowhow to do this. This post will offer a mix of technical and non-technical solutions and revolves around referral pages. Before I dive in, the idea I’m focused on is…
I’ve been curious for some time about the various methods for controlling content access based on country of origin. If you’ve browsed the European internet or tried to access US video from Canada, you’ve probably experienced a geo fence. It’s different from a paywall and serves a different purpose. I’m using it on this site now, which shows how it can operate without visitors being aware, if they’re not impacted. The biggest challenge is to gather information from the visitor’s browser in order to determine what country they are from. As I say, whether you spoof your country in browser…
Our organizations have business continuity plans. I’ve been thinking recently about how that doesn’t always extend to our electronic subscriptions. If your courthouse law library is like ours, there is a physical requirement for some license access. Researchers must be in library or corporate space to use the license. That doesn’t work when we lose our space in a pandemic – or a fire, earthquake, hurricane, flood, locusts – and need access without restrictions. I’ve posted about negotiating the electronic license you want by asking for clauses that represent your needs. There’s no guarantee a legal publisher will go…
There has long been a tension in the legal world in the web browser space. While most lawyers use Microsoft products – Windows, Windows Server, Office Suite – the Microsoft browser, Internet Explorer, has been an also-ran against better browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox. The broad release of the new Chromium-powered Microsoft Edge … Continue reading “Microsoft Edge Beckons”
This was a busy week. I was fortunate, because when there is media interest in your situation, it can often be a surprise. It made me realize how, over the past year and a half, I’ve learned a thing or two about dealing with media. As a law library director, this may not be a skill set you’ve developed. It wasn’t one I had. So I thought I’d share some ideas. Law libraries talk a lot about marketing and I’ve got mixed feelings about that. We obviously have stories to tell. We frequently highlight the wrong thing, focusing on…
Our organization is reviewing its web content to ensure we comply with a statutory accessibility obligation. Our lack of information governance has meant that we are short on tools to manage the challenge. The fallback position, as it so often is, is to count pageviews and delete things that aren’t visited. It’s a short-sighted approach because it is using a measurement without considering the purpose of information. As it has been said before, “not everything that counts can be counted.” Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for weeding both physical and digital collections. There is no need to…
Work from home has meant that I have 4 hours a day – my 2-hour-each-way commute – that I didn’t have before. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t use some of those early hours for sleep. But the idle brain is the devil’s playground. When our company starting using desktop video conferencing, I started playing around with the virtual backgrounds. Part of my interest is just curiosity. But also my home workspace is shared with 2 other people and I’m intensely private about my family members. If I was going to have to do video conferences, I…
It can be hard to give and receive feedback. It seems as though experience can actually make it more difficult to receive feedback. People may be reluctant to offer it; the experienced person may not look for it. I recently had to do a challenging activity and did my own self-assessment of how it went. It clashed, as it sometimes does, with the feedback I was getting. Sometimes, you need to really clear the thicket to get to allow yourself to grow. Historically, I struggle at receiving feedback. Sometimes it’s due to imposter syndrome. Sometimes it’s a cognitive bias
Leaders need time. For the observational leader, the pandemic has allowed us to see bad habits get amplified. One reason seems to be a penchant for busyness. Things we did that were a distraction have now become a drain. We value people being busy rather than thinking about the value of what that busyness produces. A Harvard Business Review article came by that put some of that in perspective. Here’s the article (the HBR edition is paywalled). TL,DR: you need time for strategy. If you value busyness, you are creating impediments to having that time. Busyness is a term of…
It’s Friday. Well, not when I’m writing this but … anyway. I’ve had a couple of things rattling around in my head that didn’t really fit anywhere else. One is an idea I’m starting to rough out a little bit for our law library. Another is something that other libraries have done that I want to emulate in spirit. One is just a “how would that work” idea. Thinking Outside the Physical Box This is an easy one. Amplify your in-building wireless when your physical access is closed. Google “wireless parking lots ‘public library’” for plenty of results. I like…
I license information for a living. That is what law libraries do. We are intermediaries between someone who is selling content and someone who wants to access content. Unlike law libraries, apps tend to fail at delivering licensed content. One reason is that most apps are either one-to-one (publisher provided) or one-to-none (free access). If I were to build an information app, these are my druthers. Let me start with two scope comments. First, I’m mostly going to talk about non-legal resources. It’s easier and the app market is bigger. But the challenges are the same since I’m going…
DO SOMETHING! It’s been 8 weeks since our law library closed. Our corporate management has started to plan our return to work. We have another 8 weeks before we’re back in our physical space, and more time until we return to regular operations. This is the period where there will be urges to rush. It’s a good time to pause and think: what are we trying to solve and do we need to do it now. There is no question we all have pots boiling and you may have one that seems like it’s going to boil over. For us,…
Law libraries aren’t restaurants but we face similar challenges in a pandemic due to our reliance on physical space for delivery. A restaurant may have multiple channels – dine-in, take out, catering – to generate revenue. When the pandemic closes your restaurant, a commercial success is maintaining those channels without in-person contact and potentially creating new channels. When our law library closed, our reference interactions dropped like a restaurant that relied on seating diners. I’ve been thinking about what this means. One last analogy and then I’ll let restaurants go. If your primary channel (in-person) disappears, that’s obviously a huge…
A crisis can bring out extremes in behavior as people adapt to their circumstances. My extremes have been at both ends of the spectrum. Some things I find harder to do, and things that used to grate on my nerves don’t phase me at all. I found this article on preppers an interesting read on one extreme. It got me thinking about how to prepare better for the next crisis of this sort. I don’t align with the survivalist mentality, which seems to rest on societal breakdown. Preppers themselves warn about those of us who aren’t all in