Do you find yourself struggling with keeping up-to-date on the latest news in your areas of interest? Do you want a more convenient way to get your daily updates than going to a dozen bookmarked sites? RSS Feeds may be the solution. Almost all websites with continually updated content (such as this blog, for example) use RSS (short for Rich Site Summary, but often also called “Really Simple Syndication”) to push content in a format-neutral form (so that future site redesigns automatically update old content). The plus side is that these RSS feeds can be read by other programs that aggregate them into one place.
Aggregating feeds is done with an RSS reader program. There are a number of them out there, but I recommend Feedly, which is 1) free; 2) available on the web or as an app for iOS and Android; and 3) really clean and user-friendly. You can add feeds by just searching the name of the website or entering the page URL. There are even alternative apps that connect to your Feedly subscriptions if you don’t like Feedly’s interface.
Once you’ve found the Reader you like, you just need to add feeds. Depending on the site and your reader, you can generally just either search for the site or the URL, but you can also look for the RSS feed icon, which looks something like this:
Clicking on the RSS icon will take you to a URL that is just the feed you can add to your reader. Once you’ve added sites, you can then go to your reader and start reading. It’s also easy to add or remove a site at a later time, so you don’t have to worry about getting it right the first time.
To help you get started, here’s a few sites I subscribe to with my RSS reader (with feed URLs):
I hope this helps you find ways to keep up-to-date on your latest news.
Do you love to research and write? Did you know you can get paid for it if you have the winning submission to one of the many legal essay competitions that happen each year? Some contests provide a specific topic or hypothetical for students to respond to, while others simply want an essay on a general field of law, leaving the specifics up to the prospective authors. There are monetary prizes and the winners often also get the opportunity to attend a conference or be published in the hosting organization’s publication.
Our friends at Richmond Law keep the Legal Essay Contest Catalog, a comprehensive list of all the essay competitions out there targeted at law students. You can filter your search by topic and contest deadline. There are lots of contests open this spring and summer–on topics from maritime law to constitutional law to labor & employment law, so get researching and writing! Don’t forget to come see a librarian if you need help coming up with a topic–we can get you started on the right path!
Wednesday, February 24th at the Library’s biweekly PB&J . . . and a Demo program, you can win a prize just by showing up with a friend. So grab your law school bestie and stop by the Collaborative Commons for a delicious, FREE sandwich.
In addition to regular old creamy and crunchy peanut butter, and grape jam and strawberry jelly, recent PB & J sandwich offerings have included these tasty fillings:
- Almond butter
- Marshmallow Fluff
- Sunflower seed butter
- Apple butter
It’s so much more than just plain old PB&J, so come check it out on Wednesday!
Students will also learn about an awesome study tool, CALI lessons!
There is a new app that is freely available which provides “extensive user-friendly information on Texas courts.” This new app launched in November, 2015, Texas OpenCourts, is freely available for Apple and Android devices (Google Play and Amazon). This app is the creation of Texas law firm, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP.
This app allows the user to search for court information which can be saved as favorites and emailed to colleagues. The information includes; contact information for courts, judge bios and court rules (when available). There are also interactive maps to help located courts at the Federal, State, and Appellate levels.
“This delivers all the information you need to know about Texas courts and judges directly to your phone.” This app is easy to use and navigate and very useful for anyone who is using or working with the Texas court system.
Starting Wednesday, January 27th from 11a.m.-1:15p.m., you can come by the Creative Commons (1st floor west side Law Library) and make your own FREE peanut butter and jelly sandwich and see a quick demo!
This week we will help you find out how to contact a Reference Librarian when you have questions! Alyson Drake, our new Student Services Librarian will be there as well.
We will have this program every other Wednesday during the spring semester!
Whether you’re a master wordsmith with a hundred publications or a struggling student who has trouble keeping the active and passive voices straight, you will at some point find yourself either struggling with how to properly structure a sentence, use a word, or drop in punctuation. For those times, it’s a good idea to have a reference guide of some sort. With the new semester starting, students will soon be writing memos, briefs, and seminar papers, and faculty will be diving into the spring submission season, so getting a good reference guide is fairly timely.
First off, getting a copy of The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. is not a bad place to start, though it’s not a cure-all. The original text, published in 1918, is considered the authoritative statement on English usage, even if there has been resistance to it in recent years. There have also been updates to it over the last century. The most well-known version is the “Updated and Expanded” edition written by E.B. White, the author of Charlotte’s Web and other stories, which is commercially available through a number of sources (and in its 5th edition). However, the original Strunk text is public domain and available freely on the web in a number of locations. John W. Cowan, a computer programmer who codifies the syntax of programming languages, maintains an updated version of Strunk’s text on his website.
Moving on from The Elements of Style, there are hundreds of guides, publications, tip sheets, and so on with writing, grammar, punctuation, and style advice. I can’t possibly review all of them here, as each writer has their own needs. Instead, let’s assess your needs with the following questions:
- What is your general proficiency level? If you are a highly proficient writer, you’re probably good just picking up a fairly mechanical reference book (for academic writers, your fields’ publication manual may be sufficient). If you’re moderately proficient, you’ll want something that’s thorough, but written for more advanced writers. If you struggle at the basic level, consider some of the books written by the test prep companies, as they have exercises and tips targeted towards struggling writers.
- What do you struggle with? If you’re struggling at the sentence level (grammar, punctuation), then you’ll want to focus on guides on proper usage. Punctuation and grammar handbooks abound, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble. If you struggle with putting sentences together into paragraphs or sets of paragraphs, you’ll want to find a guide that helps with broader organization and composition. If you write technically sound compositions that fail to be persuasive or impactful, then you may want to consider guides on rhetoric.
- What are you trying to write? If you’re struggling at the most basic level, then this question should wait until you’re more comfortable with the ins and outs of general composition. For those who are more advanced, however, this can be a big question. The practices for journalism, fiction writing, and legal writing can be quite different, so you may want to consider a style guide appropriate to what you’re trying to write. For legal writing, there are three books you may want to consider:
- The Redbook, by Bryan A. Garner — This style guide for legal documents contains extensive guides on usage, grammar, punctuation, style, and formatting, and also includes the specifics on a number of document formats. Currently in its 3d Edition, published by West (978-0-314-28901-8)
- Academic Legal Writing, by Eugene Volokh — This guide is a little more advanced, and is geared towards those writing seminar papers, law review articles, and other works of scholarship. It’s relatively cheap (around $30 on most online retailers), and has advice from the word-level to the rhetorical-level, as well as tips for finding topics and getting on law review. Currently in its 4th Edition, published by Foundation Press (978-1-59941-750-9)
- Making Your Case, by Bryan A. Garner and Antonin Scalia — This book is about argumentation, and specifically about the forms of argumentation in the process of a legal case. If you’re fine with the general mechanics of writing, but are having difficulty being persuasive, this is probably a good place to start. Published by Thomson West (978-0-314-18471-9)
Have questions? Feel free to contact me or the Office of Academic Success and we’d be happy to help!
We here at the Reporter will be taking a few weeks off with the coming holidays, so this will be the last post here until January. We have exciting things happening in the new year that we’re looking forward to sharing when they’re ready to go. However, we won’t be sitting idle until then. As Librarians, we will all be reading over the break. I’ve gathered a few recommendations from the TTU Law Librarians as to what we’ll be reading.
Continue reading “Holiday Reading Lists from the TTU Law Librarians”