Coronavirus’ impact is felt especially hard by professional associations, which were forced to cancel or change the format of their in-person conferences. These conferences not only draw in substantial revenue, but also promotes their projects, membership, and scholarship to the greater professional community. As a newish tech law librarian, one of the first organizations that came to my attention was Stanford’s CodeX, and I was brimming with excitement for their FutureLaw Conference 2020.

CodeX is Stanford’s Center for Legal Informatics. The FutureLaw Conference is a one-day conference that “focuses on the way technology is transforming the law, and redefining the methods in which individuals interact with legal systems and institutions.” Past conferences have been a valuable way to keep up-to-date with new technologies and their impacts on legal education and practice. The cancellation of the in-person conference was blow to the law librarian community, but CodeX graciously offered the conference in a free online format.

Topics from the online conference include implications of recent natural language processing breakthroughs, regulatory reform to increase access to justice, “no-code” platforms for legal tech development, legal innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa, AI and cybersecurity, facial recognition, and VC investment. I noticed a few audio hiccups but overall, the virtual conference was an amazing production considering that most of the presentations came together weeks after the cancellation of the conference.

Given the rise of no-code or low-coding platforms to create technology solutions for law firms, I found the “The Surge of No Code Platforms for Legal Tech Development” of particular interest. The session included CEOs, practitioners, and legal educators with experience with no-code platforms. No-code or low-code platforms refers to technology that allows non-computer programmers (like lawyers) to create legal tech applications that would typically require coding experience. These tools range from document automation to expertise automation. Claire Johnson Raba, a clinical teaching fellow at the UC Irvine Consumer Law Clinic, noted that the ethical and attorney competency concerns of no-code applications should be addressed in a law school environment in order to incubate these technologies to prevent future malpractice. Because these applications are becoming more popular within the private sector, I believe that it will only be a matter of time before law students are expected to have some experience with automation technologies. The presentation itself discussed a wide variety of topics, surpassing my expectations from a one-hour podcast panel discussion.

Virtual conferences may be the current operating procedure given the coronavirus pandemic, but I hope it will not become the norm. While CodeX and several other conferences are switching to a virtual format, I feel that the conferences are lacking without the networking opportunities, questions from the audience, and awesome vendor swag. However, CodeX FutureLaw 2020 still lived up to my expectations providing high-level discussion about emerging technologies.

For the full agenda and links to each presentation to CodeX FutureLaw 2020: https://conferences.law.stanford.edu/futurelaw2020/agenda/

 

On April 10, I sent a note to two co-workers about virtual study rooms that said: “this is a weird yet maybe good idea.” Twenty days later we’ve not only implemented virtual study rooms but have heard positive feedback from our students and plan to continue offering them this summer, particularly for those students studying for the bar.

Why virtual study rooms? While I personally would find it deeply unsettling to “be” in a room online in a group study setting, many people like it for accountability, including legal writing professors. Just a little over a week ago, there was a discussion on the Legal Writing Institute’s LRW-PROF listserv about improving concentration with a writing group that could be replicated online with a platform like Zoom, or with a program called Focusmate. (More about that discussion here.) Another reason: providing students a “place” to study eliminates a small piece of their cognitive load while studying for exams. Yes, they could figure out how to put together an online study group themselves using many of the various technologies at their fingertips, but this option is a simple as a few clicks. It’s one less thing for them to think about.

After we decided to give it a try at Lewis & Clark Law School, we first tested Google Calendar’s appointment feature to offer two-hour appointments but opted instead for LibCal. Because LibCal is a scheduling platform particular to libraries and library spaces, the customization options were better suited to our needs. We decided to offer three study rooms with two main restrictions: the rooms could only be reserved by a student with our email domain, and the rooms should be reserved 12 hours ahead of the meeting time during the weekdays and by Friday at 4pm ahead of all weekend meeting times. Students could also email Reference to request a sooner time during the workday.

The lengthy booking requirement is required because there is not currently a way to automate the process of sending Zoom room credentials when the student reserves a room. Right now, we have one librarian sending the Zoom credentials to the person who made the appointment through LibCal, and that same librarian is the one notified when someone makes an appointment. We will expand this if it gets too unwieldy.

We decided on three study rooms because they needed to be tied to Zoom institutional accounts to allow for meetings longer than 40 minutes and there is a limited number of institutional accounts available on our campus. We were able to use three email addresses that already belonged to the library to register these Zoom accounts. Once a student reserves a room, the librarian emails the student with the Zoom credentials and it’s up to the student to share those credentials with people in their study group. Each time slot is given unique meeting credentials with a password to prevent Zoom-bombing and Zoom settings allow attendees to enter without a host.

Since we launched virtual study rooms, students have thanked us and we’ve had repeat users. I’ve been in touch with Springshare about a Zoom integration with LibCal and was told, “We are working on a feature to integrate Zoom with LibCal’s Appointment module 🙂 Please keep an eye on our blog for more information on when that will be released!” I’m hopeful that this feature is coming soon, which will potentially eliminate our need to mediate bookings and Zoom credentials.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the response rate to our virtual study room option for students, and it’s been great to hear the positive feedback.

Update, 5.8.20: Springshare announced a LibCal Zoom integration on April 30. This requires that you have access to your Zoom API/Key. At this point, I haven’t been able to experiment with the integration, so for now, we are using the method described above. 

 

The Computing-Services Special Interest Section is made up of awesome law librarians doing interesting things.   The CS-SIS Member Spotlight is designed to shine light on our membership so that we can learn more about each other and stay connected.

CS-SIS Member Spotlight:  Elizabeth Outler

Elizabeth believed her undergraduate mentors when they told her to study what she liked best in school, which happened to be English.  After earning her bachelor’s degree from Smith College, she had little idea of what she wanted to do, so she delved into career exploration.  She taught as an adjunct at a community college, managed an office publishing the Florida Administrative Law Reports, and worked for an immigration law attorney.  While in Boston, she landed a job as an IT consultant where she built “canned” reports for companies with new data warehouses.  Over the years she applied and was accepted to law school four times, but talked herself out of it the first three times because she knew that she didn’t want to be a lawyer.  She did have a persistent interest in being a law student, however, and enrolled at the University of Florida where she earned her J.D., was research editor for the Journal of Law & Public Policy, and earned Order of the Coif recognition.  She also worked as a student in her law library and found that it was a job she enjoyed doing.  With encouragement from her law librarians, she pursued her Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Florida State University.

Since then Elizabeth has been enjoying law librarianship with its evolving job descriptions, ILS transitions, and new opportunities.  After working as Associate Director of the Legal Information Center at the University of Florida, she moved on to Barry University as Head of Technical Services.  Her life path then brought her to Louisiana where she is now Assistant Director of Technical Services at Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge.  In addition to supervising acquisitions, doing the cataloging, and serving as the systems librarian, she also teaches first year legal research in the spring.

An interest in technology has been a constant throughout Elizabeth’s work history, and she joined CS-SIS to keep up with innovation.  She appreciates being part of our “network of people who know how to do things” and is not shy about reaching out to fellow members.   Elizabeth is committed to pitching in on professional organizations and is serving her second year as a Member at-Large on the CS-SIS executive board.  The board has appreciated her time and expertise.

Elizabeth is a rare librarian in that she does not enjoy reading; she believes this is due to the pressured reading load of law school and studying for the bar exam.  She prefers watching SportsCenter and hanging out with her adopted dog, Keke.

Interesting pet name, eh?  Her dog is named after Barkevious Levon “Keke” Mingo, a NFL Super Bowl-ring-wearing defensive end who played college ball at LSU.   Needless to say, Elizabeth is a football fan who enjoys SEC football rivalries with her pup.

Thanks to Elizabeth for her willingness to be interviewed for this CS-SIS member spotlight.   If you are interested in interviewing and writing a blog post about a CS-SIS member, please contact Tawnya Plumb at tplumb@uwyo.edu.  It is a great opportunity to learn about a fellow member.

—This is a guest post by Sarah Lin—

Working at home during a crisis is a lot different from working at home during normal times, but I’m grateful to have prior experience with one of those situations!  I’m starting my 7th year of working at home as a professional librarian, so the process of working apart from my colleagues and users is something I’m used to.  In 2016, I wrote an article for Spectrum (http://epubs.aallnet.org/i/695274-aall-spectrum-july-august-2016-volume-20-number-6/29) outlining my tips on running a technical services team remotely, and I think those points are useful for any other remote team.  In this short post, I’ve tried to list out the more logistical habits, workflows and structures I’ve put in place over the years that are helping me cope in this new reality.

In terms of work-from-home structure, you want to think about the place you work, the equipment you use and the applications you need to do your job.  My home situation has changed a few times since 2014, and I’ve worked in the dining room, the living room, my bedroom, my very own office, and now back to my bedroom again.  Occasionally I’d work from a coffee shop or the library, or even my patio, but mostly in my home because I’m an introvert who likes to be at home.  What has stayed constant is that I have a dedicated place where I work as well as a special bag where I would keep all my work stuff if I did need to either use my desk for something else or change location. The importance of this is to let my work disappear for a while, so that it doesn’t encroach into every aspect of my life.  When I used our family desktop to log into Citrix, I wouldn’t turn it on at any other time, and I started to use the internet on my phone exclusively after work hours.  Once I got my own work laptop, I would often tuck it in a drawer after work was over, or in my laptop bag.  I’m still very much a paper person, so I have a special shelf where I can throw my notebook and paper detritus so I don’t have to see it on the weekends or evenings.  I was initially resistant to having a second monitor, but have found it tremendously useful to reuse an old monitor we had lying around.  I have noise-cancelling headphones for travel which I never used at home, but now that there are 4 other people at home with me all day, I’m finding them to be very useful.  Earplugs work well, too.

Application usage is important to think through, because apps and software can make your life more complicated if they proliferate too much.  Technically, all of the programs I use to help me get my job done, but I think there’s two categories: the software you use to actually do your job, and the software you use to make sure your job gets done.  What you need to do your job is likely predetermined by your employer, but you might have some flexibility when it comes to other apps.  I find that being able to do a modicum of work off of my phone is helpful, both over my morning cup of caffeine and during times (especially now) when I’m splitting my attention between actual work and my new “coworkers.”  For me, having a way to chat with colleagues, either through Hangouts or Slack, is vital to attempt to replicate the social environment of the workplace.  Then I also need tools to manage my to-do list and my time—Rachel Evans posted about Trello & Slack (http://blog.cssis.org/2020/03/19/taking-the-office-home-telework-place-spaces-with-trello-slack/) and I enjoy using Google Tasks and KanbanFlow for my personal to-dos.

With structures in place, I’ve created a number of habits over the years that have allowed me to be productive at home.  I like quiet time in the morning, when I’ve got a cup of tea and can catch up on emails and reprioritize my day based on what I find.  I’ve always had a time zone challenge to my workplaces, so meeting times were often a fairly regular block.  At one employer that ended up being mornings and another was afternoons—these days I home-school in the mornings and work in the afternoons, so meetings have to fall then, with most in the 12-2 range to accommodate my boss in Ohio.  Having those windows and a general feel for my day is something I have always communicated to my coworkers through another habit.  These days it’s a Slack status, but at other times scheduling was something we covered in team meetings so that everyone knew what everyone else had going on.  When spread across time zones, I created a chart showing overlap on days/times to help the team remember who was doing what, when.  Those team meetings were a habit that I was sure to incorporate time to chat—when people work remotely, they don’t get the daily ‘watercooler’ interactions that those in the same space do and it’s important to incorporate relationship-building activities remotely, even if it takes up meeting time.  The last habit that I created was boundaries; though each of my remote positions were slightly different in culture and norms, when I’m off work, I’m off.  I log out, silence my phone, set my status to off, put away my papers and mentally switch off—even if I’m still in the same room as is happening more frequently these days.  Boundaries are slightly more challenging of late, but over the years I’ve explained to my kids again and again what I do and how the money (and health insurance) I earn provides us with things we want.  As a result, they are generally understanding when I remind them what I need to do, and that it has an end time.  Meetings are a hard boundaries for me with my kids, and I try to accept small interruptions outside of meeting time to keep our relationships healthy.

With the framework of my habits and work structures established, it has been fairly easy for me to set up a few workflows so that work goes more smoothly.  Documentation of everything has long been my go-to, especially meeting notes so there’s a communal record of decisions, ideas, and priorities.  This is especially important because meetings—frequent ones, to both build support for initiatives and to share information—are hallmark of remote work and integral to actually getting things done.  With priorities and schedules public and a solid routine at home, remote work has a better chance of success.  This is so helpful now, when you might be interrupted by the emotional and physical needs of the people you live with multiple times a day (and maybe your own!).  I’d always rather be doing work than writing about what work I’m going to do, but transparency is a key benefit of documentation and so essential when we’re not only all working remotely, but also doing it while our lives are in flux.

The last 3 weeks have brought with them a new mantra for my work-at-home life, echoing advice I received as a new mother: lower your expectations and then lower them some more.  If you have others living with you, they will impinge on your plans.  If you don’t, know that others do and you will assuredly run into challenges as their lives have changed and their work is impacted.  Keeping your expectations in line with reality is important because it saves you any resentment when things don’t go the way you planned.  It’s a hard thing to do, to look at the global situation and want things to go back to normal (I miss my home office a lot).  Focusing on what you can do—reconfiguring your space, finding a new task app, catching up on professional reading—rather than how you wish life was takes a little bit of the stress away.  Whenever you do have time in your new normal to turn to your work, I hope that refining your workflows, habits and the structures you use helps you be as productive as possible.

To prevent misinformation and profiteering during these troubling times, both the Apple and Google Play App Stores have cracked down on coronavirus related apps. Apple is only allowing applications from “recognized institutions,” and Google Play displays zero results when searching for “coronavirus” or “covid-19.” This caution was justified given the recent ransomware coronavirus app. In face of these trying times, here is a list of reliable apps that won’t brick your device.

Virus Tracker

HealthLynked’s COVID-19 tracking app released on February 27, 2020 for iOS (I couldn’t find it in the Google Play store so I’m assuming it’s still pending verification). This app displays a somber dashboard that tracks COVID-19 infections worldwide. The app also allows users to report their own symptoms and compare them to COVID-19 symptoms, chat with other members, and self-report infection locations. All infection information is displayed on a global map. Because the app draws statistics and infection information from the CDC and WHO, infection cases reported by local news outlets were not immediately shown on the infection map (just might be a delay in reporting and showing up on the app). However, if you’re looking for a virus tracker, this may be the best (and only) reliable app I found.

(Healthlynked’s COVID-19 Tracker’s Dashboard).

Symptom Checkers

Generally, I am cautious about any app that allows you to self-diagnosis your symptoms. Every symptom checking app cautions you (legally mandated I am sure) at the very beginning, that the information provided is not a diagnosis and to consult with your medical provider. WebMD has been a popular bane of medical professionals, but the current climate will likely bring in a new wave of self-proclaimed health experts. Based on my review however, WebMD does not allow you to check for coronavirus symptoms at this time.

Apple has officially released an app in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the White House, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The app is a screening tool for those who believe they may be at risk. The screening tool asks questions about your symptoms, travel, and contact with others. The results I received after I imputed hypothetical mild symptoms of COVID-19 were concise and gave real-life instructions about next steps. For me, it was to self-isolate but not to seek testing (likely due to the lack of testing for low-risk individuals). Overall, after my experience with other “expert systems,” I found that the Apple’s app was the best symptom checker available.

(Apple’s COVID-19 App’s results screen).

ADA is a similar app that allows you analyze symptoms including COVID-19. Again, not a big fan of trying to self-diagnose but the interface is clean and the explanations are straightforward. However, after several attempts of inputting coronavirus symptoms in varying permutations, I could not get a COVID-19 result.

(ADA feels like SIRI for symptoms and diseases).

K Health is another symptom checker app that includes a free coronavirus assessment test. The test asks directed questions related to coronavirus symptoms based on information from the CDC. After the assessment, the app offers to connect you with a medical professional. While I didn’t connect with a doctor, I was able to quickly assess symptoms related to coronavirus.

A much more practical app given the nature of shelter-in-place is Heal. This app puts you in touch with a medical professional to schedule a house call, but is currently only available in some parts of California, Georgia, New York, and Washington D.C. Given that the app works in partnership with licensed physicians, I wonder how long the app will remain viable as our healthcare system experiences the full crush of new coronavirus infections. The app states that a house call without insurance runs around $159, but that approved insurance providers cover much of their service. The concept is a great idea for those high-risk and elderly patients that will find it difficult leaving their home.

News Apps

CDC and Relief Central apps both offer specialized news services with up to date health information and are found when you search for coronavirus in the Apple app store. Relief Central includes information from the CIA World Factbook, CDC Health Information for International Travel (Yellowbook), daily updated COVID-19 Guidelines, Field Operations Manual from USAID, Prime PubMed Search, and relief news from the Red Cross, UN, CDC, and FEMA. While Relief Central is created for medical practitioners, the COVID-19 guidelines includes information for the general public. Given how coronavirus is effecting everyday life on the local level, I also highly recommend setting up alerts from your local news provider. I attempted to review local news apps for the Los Angeles area but many were behind paywalls, painful ads, or were just generally buggy. I found it much easier to view the news through my traditional feeds than any one specific app.

This was a short review of some of the apps available in the sparse coronavirus app market. I hope everyone stays informed, safe, and healthy through these hard times. I look forward to the time when we all delete these apps from our devices!

 

Guest post by Sarah Lin, Information Architect and Digital Librarian, RStudio, Inc. 

For eleven years, I worked at a large global law firm, Reed Smith, and during that entire time, I cataloged books that were not located where I was and managed our entire ILS and materials workflow with a dispersed technical services team.

Logistically, we handled this by having staff in other locations scan the title page, verso, and sometimes the table of contents to me via PDF.  I gave them the information on how to calculate height, which led to a funny conversation over the phone as I tried to communicate that height meant spine, not the height of the book if you laid it flat on a table, nor the width from spine to edge.  The situation was challenged by the fact that the folks on the ground in other locations were usually contractors in the office anywhere from twice a month to three times per week.  Communication had to be timed, emails responded to promptly when timezones didn’t interfere, and I had to be absolutely consistent in what I asked of each person so far away from me.  Indeed, because my team was used to not seeing me in person when I lived in Chicago and they were around the globe, when I moved to California and started working from home there was not any notable difference in our interactions save the time change!

Probably my biggest remote challenge came when I was asked to catalog the books in one of our German offices.  There wasn’t a dedicated library staff member in the office, and due to the time difference between California and Germany, my schedule never overlapped with the secretary who was the keeper of their Excel spreadsheet.  In the end, that didn’t matter because I was instructed that she didn’t have time to help me anyway.  So, I took a spreadsheet, plus my college German, OCLC Connexion and Google, and proceeded to get bib records and create item records for just about every title.

Now, unless librarians today had the foresight to scan title pages and versos before they left their offices for the last time for the foreseeable future, there isn’t anyone left to send a scan, much less open a shipment of new books.  And more impactfully, there aren’t any users to read those print titles!  What advice I have left to offer, though, is actually the most important aspect of successful remote cataloging, and really any kind of remote metadata management: be ok with imperfection.

If I worked with actual books now, I’d be thinking about running a report of all records entered during my time working from home once I was back in the office.  In the interim, I’d be going with the best guess if I wasn’t certain which of the many OCLC records I had to choose from and moving on to the next task.  I’d be thinking about metadata cleanups that I could do without needing to see a book in person—typos in the catalog, authority control, and the like.  I might spend time updating procedural documentation or working through what’s likely to need to be done once the doors open again.  My best guess is that access to online resources and expanding online collections are top of mind (if my Twitter feed from academic friends is any indication), and you can run a URL check and import records from home just as well as you can from the office.

If working remotely is new for you, give yourself some time to adjust and expand your thinking—you can probably do all of your jobs, so long as you accept the substitutes you have for your usual workflow, and think creatively about making do with the situation you’re in.

If you’re like the majority of us and are stuck at home for 2 weeks+ you may need some help to avoid going stir crazy, or just take your mind off of things.

WHAT TO WATCH

TV / Movies
If you’re looking for mainstream TV and movies, some internet providers make streaming content free to their customers (see Xfinity Stream). If you’ve cut the cord from cable TV and your internet provider doesn’t offer something like this, the big 3 providers offer 30 day free trials for new customers. (*Previous customers with a different email address are also usually eligible for free trials…)

See this post for other providers offering 7 day free trails (Disney+, HBO, CBS All Access, Apple+, etc.)

If you don’t already have one or more of these streaming services, you could sign up for the trials back to back to extend your options for as long as possible. (Just don’t forget to cancel before the end of your trial if you don’t want to pay!)

Arts / Culture
If you already have one or more of these or you’re just looking for something a little more artistic / less mainstream, research your local hotspots for performing arts/artists to see if they’re streaming anything online. For example, a jazz club in my town is live-streaming a lot of their previously booked performances via Facebook live.

image of a jazz quintet

Source: YouTube, “Live @ the Dirty Dog – Straight Ahead”

The Metropolitan Opera has been streaming their performances for free. You’ve probably also seen that many major institutions around the world are offering “virtual museum tours.” These range from virtual tours of the spaces themselves to scrolling images of the items in their collections. Many zoos, aquariums and animal nurseries are also offering live feeds of their adorable occupants. (If you’re stuck at home with kids, put on a live feed of some penguins and play a game of narrating what you think the animals would be saying to each other.)

Educational / How To
You could also try to catch up on all those Ted Talks you’ve bookmarked to watch later… You don’t have a ton of those saved? Just me? Ok.


WHAT TO READ
(After you’ve gotten through everything at your local public or institutional library. ♥)

Black and white image of potted plants

Source: CNN’s The Wisdom Project, “Inspirational quotes to get us through the coronavirus shutdown”

Inspirational / Funny
I’m a big fan of The Wisdom Project by David Allan. He just posted a timely piece on inspirational quotes that also includes references to a lot of good books, movies, shows and songs. I especially love the quote from Eddie Izzard, who, if you don’t already know, is a fantastic comedian. And who couldn’t use some laughs right now? (Here’s one of my favorite skits of his to get you started: Cake or Death. He’s also written a book, which I’m currently listening to him narrate–Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens.)

Feel Good Stories
If you’re like me and have signed up for a ton of newsletters despite knowing you probably won’t have time to read them, now might be the time to go through a few of the most recent and decide if they’re worth continuing to subscribe to. CNN’s The Good Stuff is one I like and am planning to keep, mostly for the feel-good stories, and partly because it only comes once a week.

Self-Improvement
If you’ve been too busy to catch up on your reading  now’s the time to get through that book (or 10) you’ve been wanting to read. Same goes for catching up on reading for professional development. Sometimes it feels like I’m too busy doing my job to spend time reading about how I could be doing it more efficiently, or with more compassion, or [fill in with whatever applies to you].


BONUS! WHAT TO LISTEN TO

While this post focused on things to read and watch during the Coronavirus shutdown, I feel I can’t end it without also recommending some tunes to sample when you’re tired of reading and watching all of the stuff listed above. Check out the Coronavirus Awesome Mix 2020 on Spotify. (Not saying Coronavirus is awesome. But this playlist sort of is. Also Spotify (with ads) is free.)

If you’re more of a talk radio person, NPR is curating two podcast playlists to help you manage anxiety and stay informed.

NPR playlist of podcasts on Spotify

Source: NPR.org, “Coronavirus Podcast Playlists: Manage Stress And Stay Informed”

Stay healthy!

By: Artie Berns, Research/Emerging Technologies Librarian, Western New England University, School of Law

With the coronavirus giving many of us a reason to work from home a, wouldn’t it be nice if there was some sort of app to do video conferencing and screen sharing? Actually, there are quite a few: Skype, Google Hangouts, and many others. Many of them provide users with a free option to do video conferencing. In this post, I have been asked to talk about one in particular: Zoom. Given our circumstances, I thought it would be good to create a step by step guide on using Zoom.[1]

Many of you are probably familiar with Zoom already. I had many Zoom meetings even before I became explicitly aware of its existence; I would follow the link provided when others would invite me to a Zoom meeting without paying much attention to the platform they used.

Earlier in this school year, I was shopping for a screen sharing tool to assist our LLM students remotely[2] and a colleague suggested Zoom. With the free account, users have unlimited one-on-one meetings and screen sharing options; this seemed like a good choice for what I intended.

I’ve asked my good friend and fellow AALL member Mandy Lee from Chicago-Kent College of Law Library to help with this post by having a Zoom meeting with me.

To hold a Zoom meeting, you’ll first need an account. To sign up for Zoom, follow this link, then follow the directions to create an account. Even if you don’t have an account, you probably already have Zoom’s client program since it gets downloaded if you attend a Zoom meeting.

Assuming you have an account and the client, to start a one-on-one-meeting, start the client and sign in to your account.

Once you’re logged in, hit the New Meeting button.

This begins your meeting and, by default, will give you the option of setting up your audio. If you are new to using Zoom, you should test your microphone and speakers before joining the meeting. There are also options to call into the session. Checking your audio before joining will help ensure your meeting runs more smoothly.

Once you confirm your audio is working, you will be in your personal meeting room. Congratulations, you have started your first Zoom meeting.

Right now, it’s a meeting of one. By clicking on Invite Others, you’ll get a pop-up screen with methods for sending invitations. Zoom will automatically populate your Contacts screen with other people who are signed up for Zoom and have the same domain as you in their email addresses. You can also hit the Copy Invitation button and send several options for joining your Zoom meeting will be placed in your clipboard that you can then paste into an email message.

Here I’m sending the copied invitation information to Mandy.

Since I’m using the free version and I’m not sure how long the meeting will last, I’m not inviting more than one person. I could have a meeting of up to 100 people using the free version, but the meeting would be limited to 40 minutes. To get longer group meetings, I would need to upgrade my plan. The Pro plan is the next tier up and costs $14.99/month. You can explore Zoom plan options here.

A few minutes after I sent the invitation, Mandy joined the meeting with her video off.

She was able to turn her video on by hovering over the Zoom client window, so her controls appeared, then hitting Start Video.

Notice how Mandy’s video has a yellow outline? That signifies she is the one who either is talking or has talked most recently. Now that we were both on video we decided to take a virtual work-from-home coffee break before moving on.

Having caffeinated ourselves properly, it was time to get back to work.

First, some screen sharing. You can screen share by hovering over the client and hitting Share Screen. This launches a dialog box with all of the options for sharing the screen. Options include sharing whatever is on the screen currently, a Whiteboard, an iPhone or iPad, or any application currently open on your computer.

Initially, I chose whiteboard, just to see how it works. Whiteboard is built into Zoom and seems to be a convenient way to communicate visually.

Next, I intended to screen-share a blog post that I was working on at the time. Instead, my cat Burnley decided to Zoombomb our virtual meeting.

I understand that this can be a problem when hosting a Zoom meeting, but I was surprised one of my family members decided to engage in such behavior. You can prevent users from Zoombombing your meeting by going to the Advanced Sharing Options menu and limiting who can share to the host.[3]

After Burnley’s interference subsided, I was able to screen share my blog post in progress with Mandy.

Depending on how you have your meeting configured, participants may not be able to screen share. In those cases, you may want to make one of your participants the host. You can do this by clicking on Manage Participants, then hover over the participant who you want to make host and hit More >. Then select Make Host from the drop-down menu. When you make someone else host, you stop being host.

After I made Mandy the host, she was able to share a photo of a partially printed legal form filled in by John Adams.

I hope that this blog post will be helpful to many of you who are just getting started using Zoom while answering the call to be socially distant. Thanks to Mandy Lee for her help with putting together this blog post. I realize that Zoom has many more features than I have covered, but I wanted to just cover the basics here.

[1] I am aware that the normal audience for this blog probably doesn’t need this kind of help.

[2] Western New England University School of Law offers a fully online LLM in Elder Law.

[3] This would not have prevented Burnley’s intrusion.

Is our new online teaching reality exacerbating your copyright anxiety? In this post, we’ll provide some sources and search strategies for images you can use freely. 

 Photograph of tall bookshelves, with marble busts along the ends of the shelves.

Photo by Giammarco Boscaro on Unsplash

Several sources for free stock photos have popped up in the past few years. Unsplash bills itself as “the internet’s source of freely usable images,” and hosts over 1 million high-resolution photographs made available under the Unsplash license. Under the license, all photos published on Unsplash can be used for free, for commercial or noncommercial uses, without permission or attribution (although attribution is encouraged). The exception is that you may not compile Unsplash photos to create a similar service. Similar free stock photo sites include Pexels, Reshot, and StockSnap.io; see also this great roundup of 28 free stock photo sites. Be sure to check the license for each site to make sure it permits your particular use of the image. 

An illustration of an armored knight on horseback.

A Tournament Contest, artist unknown, ca. 1560-1570. J. Paul Getty Museum.

Many museums have made their collections (well, digital images of their collections) free to use, whether with the Creative Commons CC0 license or another license permitting reuse. The Creative Law Center has a great roundup (scroll to the bottom of the post). The jousting knight to the left comes from a digitized 16th-century German book in the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Open Content Program

Some image sites and search engines that aren’t exclusively free-to-use also permit you to filter results by license. On Flickr, for example, you can filter your search results by license type to identify images with any Creative Commons license, images for which commercial use or modifications are permitted, or images without any copyright restrictions. You can filter Google Images search results by usage rights as well (after running your search, click “Tools” underneath the search bar, then “Usage Rights”). Just double-check the rights with the image source – Google doesn’t always get the usage rights right. 

Photograph of a white ptarmigan on a branch

Ptarmigan, Denali National Park and Preserve (from Flickr)

You can use the Creative Commons Search to search across more than 300 million images usable under Creative Commons licenses. Most of the images come from Flickr, but hundreds of thousands come from museum collections (including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Rijksmuseum). After searching, you can filter by the specific Creative Commons licenses to find images that permit (or prohibit) commercial use and modification, or images that require attribution (or don’t). 

Black and white drawing of an ice cream coneWhat if you just want an icon or symbol, not a photograph? Try The Noun Project. You can create a free account and use the entire collection as long as you credit the icon’s creator; with a paid account ($39.99/yr/person), attribution is not required. Without a pro account, the attribution will be a part of the image you download.

What if you see an image on Wikipedia that you want to use? Good news – you probably can! Subject to the terms of its license, that is. To check, click on the image, then on “More Details” in the lower right-hand corner. You’ll get to the image’s page on Wikimedia Commons, and the license details will be described at the bottom of the page. Most of those images are under some sort of Creative Commons license, so you may be required to attribute the creator or be restricted from commercial uses. You can also search across all Wikimedia Commons images.  

Finally, images don’t stay under copyright forever, and although it’s not always easy to determine copyright status, you can at least be sure that any work first published in 1924 or earlier has now entered the public domain in the United States. The Library of Congress has gathered free-to-use images from its digital collections, most of which are in the public domain. Check out Old Book Illustrations for, well, old book illustrations; most are in the public domain but you should check the image details to be sure. Project Gutenberg provides e-book versions of works in the public domain, many of which contain illustrations; for example, poor Conrad, above, from Heinrich Hoffman’s Struwwelpeter

There are many, many more sources for free-to-use images online! We haven’t even talked about images created by the U.S. government, which cannot be copyrighted (try USA.gov’s image search). There are also some great free-to-use fonts; I’m itching to find a project where I can use Dana Library Hand or the beautiful initials from this digital edition of Euclid’s Elements (scroll down for initials font). Do you have any go-tos we haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments!  

 

Use apps like Trello and Slack to create places for both business and community.

Amidst the anxiety, fear and overwhelm we are all feeling, many of us across the country have been scrambling to figure out teleworking for our libraries while setting up physical spaces at home. I have been extremely lucky to have such enthusiastic teammates (big shout out to my partners in establishing our library’s Trello board and Slack workspace, Student Services Librarian Geraldine Kalim and Copyright & Research Services Librarian Stephen Wolfson) to share in this transition with our colleagues at UGA Law Library. And I am happy to report that everyone who has joined these online spaces so far seems to be enjoying them (and communicating pretty effectively too)!

Trello

Some of us in the law library were already using Trello for smaller teams (our library bloggers), and to track large and long-term projects (the library systems team has a robust board for our transition to OpenAthens authentication). Even this very CS-SIS blog uses Trello to share ideas and assign writers to posts with due dates. Based on this experience the library thought Trello would be a good space to share with librarians and staff resources related to our COVID-19 preparations and planning, and to track the progress of tasks related to this unprecedented time.

For our library, the Trello board includes columns for:

  • Resources (a place to keep links or attached documents we might need access to like VPN instructions)
  • 5 Departments (administration, access services, collection services, research services, and I.T.)
  • Various Teams (for tasks involving members from multiple departments)
  • Done (for tasks completely finished)

We are also using Trello’s color-coded labels for identifying items on the board by type, and most task cards in addition to title include short descriptions, related attachments, due dates and activity notes. Task cards are then “assigned” to the individuals responsible. This has been excellent for everyone having one primary location they can access from anywhere, without getting lost in email strings, to check on the progress as we were in the early stages of planning our responses related to COVID-19 closure.

Why not KanbanFlow? Two of the reasons we decided on Trello instead of the similar application KanbanFlow was the nice mobile device app counterpart that Trello offers, and the ability to include attachments on task cards for free.

Not all channels have to be serious business. Create community with channels for laughing or venting.

Slack

We thought about starting everyone off in Slack instead of Trello, but initially decided Slack might have too high of a learning curve. With at least a few others already using Trello, it was our starting point. Earlier this week though we broadened our Slack workspace invites to the entire library and it has really surprised us at how much fun our colleagues are having in that space. The two serve slightly different purposes at this point but the main thing that sets Slack apart from our “all business” Trello is the sense of community it is creating. We have a mixture of channels for serious work (ex. #reference, #digital_commons, #systems) and several that are lively with /giphy [keyword] commands running wild (#what_ya_watching, #home_office_with_a_view, #positive_panda, #anxiety_primal_scream_zone) where people can share how they’re feeling about the current events, recommend movies or series to each other, and post photos of their home office spaces. When coworkers join everyone has been awesome about welcoming them to the space, and we have a channel for keeping tips and tricks related to using slack called #slackhelp.

Connect other apps with Slack.

App Integrations

A huge benefit to using these two tools together is that you don’t have to check both spaces. One of the many apps Slack offers to add in is Trello. Using the Trello app, you can connect boards and use commands to push notifications from one space to the other. There are many other apps too! We are all using Zoom as our face-to-face meeting alternative, and using either One Drive or Google Drive to share docs and collaborate from. There are app hook-ups for each! There’s even an Outlook Calendar app to sync calendars with if your institution uses Outlook. (A quick test of this automatically updated my status to match my calendar’s “In Meeting” and reset my status when the meeting was over. It was beautiful!)

Getting Users Onboard

Some librarians and staff were already using these two tools while others had never used either tool. To our surprise, Slack has been better received than Trello. We credit this to the GIFs, and the ease with which we can all share pet photos. We started small and invited a few people to each platform first (groups of 3 and 4 at a time). As the spaces were more established with columns and tasks in Trello and channels in Slack we expanded our invitations gradually by department. As I am writing this post, I have sent an email to the entire library sharing the “invite” links to each, and a calendar invite for a Zoom screen-share demo session early tomorrow morning. In this session I plan to walk users through the following in Slack:

Status can be a fun or serious way of letting coworkers know when you are available while teleworking.

1. how to set up your profile, edit your display name and photo, and customize your status
2. demo creating, finding and sharing channels
3. tour our channels so far (ex. #slackhelp)
4. show examples of attached docs
5. how to share gifs using /giphy [keyword]
6. how to use threads for discussion
7. starring content and searching content
8. how to connect and integrate apps
9. using direct messages with individuals
10. differences between the mobile, web and desktop apps

Welcome colleagues that are just joining the space.

 

I’m also planning to use this time for Q & A from those that attend, fielding questions about both Slack and Trello, and let our other slack super-users (our I.T. folks, I.T. Librarian, and our Copyright Librarian) to screen-share and show tips or tricks I may not know myself. Scheduling a time for everyone to attend is not any easier teleworking than it was in real life, so I plan to record this session and upload the video for us to refer back to or watch later. So far I have been relieved and amazed by the quick adaptation my colleagues of varying technical backgrounds have had with these two tools.  How are you and your colleagues communicating while working from home? Are there other applications working well for you, and what tools are you taking this opportunity to experiment with?

 

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