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WSLL @ Your Service  no. 6, June 2001 
An E-publication of the Wisconsin State Law Library

Focus On: Historic Documents  

During the past decade, rare and historic documents have become more accessible to the public through digitization projects.  Leading research libraries throughout the United States and the world are creating digital images of their document collections and providing access to them on the Web.  While participating in these projects, libraries have become aware of the benefits and drawbacks of digitizing, which will likely affect the continuation of the digitization trend. 


What are the benefits of digitizing document collections?  Web access to digital image collections provides better access to materials.  Researchers can easily find specific images through hyperlinked indexes or by keyword searching, shortening the length of time it would take to locate information.  Travel to a host library to examine a collection will not be necessary because researchers can access the digital images or audio/video on the library’s website.  Fragile materials will be better preserved because digitization reduces repetitive handling and exposure to hazardous environmental conditions.  Finally, web access to collections creates new user groups for the library.  Web-based digitized collections are accessible to anyone with an Internet connection, which increases the use of the collection and the presence of the library. 


If there are so many benefits associated with digitizing document collections, why aren’t more libraries doing it?   As with most things in this world, it comes down to money.  Librarians have realized that digitizing collections may be cost prohibitive due to software/hardware costs and the intensive labor necessary for preparing and scanning collections.  Some libraries have turned to institution-based or fee-based access to digitized collections.  Others have rejected digitization projects altogether.  Decisions will need to be made on a case-by-case basis to determine if the pros outweigh the cons. 

Where Can I Access Digitized Collections on the Web?

The Wisconsin State Law Library recently added a Historic Documents page to our website.  The page links to digital images and text of prominent, law-related U.S. documents, including the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, Bill of Rights, the U.S. Constitution, the Federalist papers, historic Statutes at Large, the Dred Scott decision, Gettysburg Address, and the Emancipation Proclamation. 

In addition to directly linking to these documents, the page includes links to digital image collections and text collections.  The Library of Congress, National Archives and Record Administration, and other institutions have created outstanding image and text collections.  The Library of Congress, through its American Memory Collection, has made over 5 million items relating to American history available on the Web.  The Collection contains the papers of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln as well as documents from the Continental Congress and Constitutional Convention.  It also features first person accounts, biographies, promotional literature, and local histories from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin in the Pioneering the Upper Midwest Collection.  The Library of Congress was recently appropriated $100 million to develop a national program of preserving digital collections to ensure their accessibility. 

Other collections of interest on the Historic Documents page include: White House Web Sites During the Clinton Administration; the Avalon Project at the Yale Law School:  Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy; and Famous Trials which contains trial transcripts, court decisions, observer's accounts, biographies of key participants, and photographs from famous trials in American history.     -- Amy Crowder

Future Focus On:  topics will include "Judicial Council Materials : A Very Special Collection", "Native American Resources @ WSLL",  "What is BadgerLink?"

WSLL Web  -- Elaine Sharp   Tech Tip in Brief  -- Heidi Yelk

Going to a meeting or conference? Whether your destination is across the county or across the country, you will find websites to help plan your trip. Links to many of the sites mentioned below can be found on our website.

Getting there by car: MapQuest makes finding the exact location of your meeting easy. You supply the starting and ending addresses and MapQuest will supply driving directions and a map.

Getting there by plane: Numerous sites such as Travelocity, LowestFare.comExpedia.com, and OneTravel.com allow you to compare airfares and book your own flight. To connect to a specific airline's website, try Airlines of the World. Use the Airport & City Code Converter to find airports, cities, or their industry-designated codes.

Hotels, restaurants, etc:  Citysearch provides major U.S. and selected international city guides in which you can locate hotels by price or neighborhood and restaurants by cuisine or neighborhood .To locate other businesses at your destination, try the yellow pages at AnyWho or YellowOnline.

Weather: From driving in Wisconsin winter to packing for a summer conference, weather is often a consideration. Click on a state to get weather information for cities in that state at WxUSA or check WeatherHub's International Weather for more distant destinations. Another popular site is The Weather Channel.

Time Zones:  Use World Time Server to find the current local time in countries and major cities.

Guidebooks: Standard travel guidebook publishers such as Fodors, Frommer,  and Michelin now provide travel information via their websites. Other guidebooks which have established a web presence include Lonely Planet, the Rough Guides, and Insiders' Guides (yes, there is even one for Madison). Other comprehensive travel resources include Kasbah and World Travel Guide.

Going abroad: Passport Services and Information tells you how and where to apply for or renew your passport. This site also provides visa and entry requirements of foreign countries as well as health, safety, and travel information. To convert one currency to another (eg. U.S. dollars to German marks or vice versa), try FX Converter: 164 Currency Converter .

Need help searching the web? Please contact our reference staff.

Ergonomics and the Computer Operator
June is National Safety Month; June 24-30 is Workplace Safety Week

It is estimated that over half of today's jobs require the use of a computer, so it’s not surprising that computer-related injuries are becoming more common among office workers. Hand and wrist pain, eye strain, neck pain and back pain may be associated with extended hours at computer workstations. Understanding ergonomics, choosing the right equipment and establishing a comfortable workspace can be a challenge.

The World Wide Web has many resources that can help.  UCLA’s Ergonomics website has a dedicated section on office ergonomics which provides information on workstation set-up, the use of pointing devices, selecting the right chair and more. Cornell University’s CU Ergo site has information for adult and child computer users.  This website also provides evaluation forms for choosing workstation equipment. 

Finally, Office-ergo.com   is a site dedicated solely to office ergonomics and offers articles, checklists and current events.

Can I make an email disappear after I’ve sent it?

You can if you use one of the new self-destructing email utilities.  These packages allow the sender of an email to control the life of his or her message.  Senders can prohibit forwarding, cutting, pasting or printing of the message.  A sender can also limit the number of times a message can be opened and read and the sender can set a time for message destruction. These tools have obvious appeal to anyone who conducts business via email.  Some of the more popular programs are Disappearing Inc., Interosa, ZipLip and SafeMessage.  Security conscience computer users may also be interested in software dubbed “shredder programs” that permanently erase deleted files.  We’ve all heard the stories of investigators recovering files and emails that had supposedly been deleted long ago.  Shredder programs work by repeatedly overwriting files.  Most programs claim to live up to the Department of Defense’s shredding standard of overwriting files seven times. Popular shredding programs include Bestwipe, Destroy It, Shredder, Evidence Eliminator, Dataeraser and Cyberscrub. 

Send your suggestions for future Tech Tips to the editor.

What's New at...   -- Amy Crowder Odds 'n' Endings  -- Connie Von Der Heide
On June 1st, Heidi Yelk attended Spring Documents Day 2001 at the State Historical Society.  Sponsored by the Document Services Section of the Wisconsin Library Association, this year’s conference theme was “Listening to the Expert Users."  Librarians had the opportunity to learn how a lobbyist, policy strategist, and newspaper reporter use government documents in their work. The Wisconsin Distinguished Government Document Award for 2000 was also announced at the conference.  The Dept. of Natural Resources’ publication, Wetland Restoration Handbook for Wisconsin Landowners, is the winner and will be submitted along with the four Honorable Mention documents for nomination to the "Notable Documents List," chosen by the Government Documents Roundtable of the American Library Association.

Summer Associate orientation sessions were offered at the State Law Library the week of June 11th.  Connie Von Der Heide led seven sessions with approximately 70 people from local law firms, businesses, and government agencies attending.  Associates were given information about the Library and its services and a tour of the facility.  Heidi Yelk introduced attendees to electronic resources available at the Library and on the Web.  Contact Connie if you would like to schedule an orientation session. 

Connie taught a 75-minute session on how to use Lexis, LOIS, and the Internet for legal research at the WDAA/SPET Summer Conference in Door County on June 12th.  On the way to the conference, Connie was able to view some of the $8 million worth of damage done to the Oshkosh area by the previous night’s storm. 

Jane Colwin and Connie Von Der Heide will present the print resources portion of their Legal Reference in a Nutshell Workshop to members of the Winding Rivers Library System in La Crosse on June 28th.  Tammy Keller and Angela Sanfilippo will also be attending the workshop.  If your group is interested in having a workshop, contact Jane or Connie at the Library’s toll free number. 

Paulette Sharkey, Reference Librarian at the Dane County Law Library, has left her position to pursue new challenges as a Technical Editor in the Research Services Department of the Madison VA Hospital. We appreciate Paulette’s dedication and her efforts in making the DCLL a great resource for judges, attorneys, and the public.  Good luck Paulette; we will miss you.  

Do you ever feel like...?:

...the Internet is like "a library where all the books have been dumped on the floor and there is no catalog." -- Arlene Taylor, in The Organization of Information. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1999, page 11.

...it's not an "Information Superhighway," it's a "Stuff Swamp."  "First, what's there is stuff--partly information, partly pure nonsense; second, it's not a superhighway, it's a swamp."  -- Walt Crawford, in American Libraries, vol. 30 (Jan. 1999), page 58.

Or maybe you're curious about how this whole Internet thing works.  If so, you might want to try some of these online guides and tutorials, which can help you make the most of your searching and surfing.  Even if you consider yourself a proficient navigator, you might find some helpful tips and tricks!  

The Living Internet www.livinginternet.com is an excellent resource for learning how it all works.  It covers the Web, Newsgroups, Email, Chat and more. Find out how they were invented, how they work, how to use them, why they're important.

The LINC (Low Income Networking and Communications) Project has designed a very nice Internet Basics Tutorial that takes you from "what is a mouse?" to searching the Web and sending email. On the final screen are links to additional, more advanced tutorials.

UC-Berkeley has put together a comprehensive tutorial, Finding Information on the Internet, which takes you from the basics, to evaluating the Web information you've found, to advanced search techniques using search engines, directories and the Invisible Web.

For help finding legal information, a great resource is the Legal Research Guide on The Virtual Chase (see left sidebar of homepage). There you'll find guides to legal mega sites and good starting points as well as pages devoted to specific practice areas. 

Of course, sometimes it's just nicer to talk to a real live person.  So stop in or call us for assistance with your specific Internet question.  We look forward to working with you!

Ask a Librarian:  800-322-9755; 608-267-9696 (In Madison); wsll.ref@wicourts.gov
Library Hours/Locations:  WSLL (WI State Law Library), DCLL (Dane Co. Law Library), MLRC (Milwaukee Legal Resource Center)
Visit Our Website: http://wilawlibrary.gov

Connie Von Der Heide 608-267-2202 Comments welcome!