14_Reviews

Internet Reviews

Joni R. Roberts is associate university librarian for public services and collection development at Willamette University, email: jroberts@willamette.edu, and Carol A. Drost is associate university librarian for technical services at Willamette University, email: cdrost@willamette.edu

LegiScan: Bringing People to the Process. Access: https://legiscan.com.

LegiScan is a real-time legislative tracking site for state and federal legislation in the United States. The free component of the site allows users to view and monitor changes to legislation in a single state and the U.S. Congress, as well as create basic reports on monitored activity. Paid subscriptions allow monitoring of multiple states and have expanded reporting options.

The site covers 2010 to the present, and bills selected for monitoring prior to the current legislative session are automatically pushed to an archived set of monitored bills. Searches can be limited to a specific legislative year or all content. A major strength of the site is the ability to see at a glance the status, summary, and last activity of a bill in both the brief search results and the user-defined list of monitored bills. There is also a group discussion function, where multiple users can collectively monitor and comment on legislation. Users can create and control access to these groups.

The site appears most useful to policy analysts and researchers concerned with contemporary issues in U.S. politics. Depending on the scope of their activities, it may provide a free or lower-cost option to current legislation-tracking resources. There is also some utility for undergraduates learning in detail about the U.S. legislative process at the state and federal levels. Users may find it easier to digest legislative information from LegiScan rather than relying on existing government sites. The discussion function could also be useful for short-term group projects on legislative activities, though it does create an additional social media feed for students to track. The benefit would be an aggregated feed focused on the project that does not produce persistent connections beyond the project that students would need to manage. Once familiar with the site, politically active students may also find it useful outside the classroom for tracking legislative activity in their area of concern.

LegiScan would be useful to undergraduate and graduate students, U.S. politics scholars, social and economic policy researchers, and professional disciplines impacted by state and federal policy shifts.—Kevin Jones, Linfield College, kjones3@linfield.edu

Public Access to Court Electronic Records. Access: https://www.pacer.gov/.

Most of the daily transactions of our lives now move at the digital speed of the Internet, these daily transactions include legal documents. Once the domain of law firms or law school students, legal documents are now available to the general public. For researchers, such as attorneys, commercial businesses, and the general public, who require access to the federal judiciary cases, the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) website contains all U.S. federal court records.

According to its website, PACER is an “electronic public access service that allows users to obtain case and docket information online from federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts, and the PACER Case Locator.” The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts manages this useful site. Anyone can register for a PACER online account for free, and users can access cases for a nominal fee.

Researchers begin by logging in to their account and then navigating to “Find A Case” at the top of the page. Users are then directed to the “PACER Case Locator,” the national index for district, bankruptcy, and appellate courts. Researchers can also search for cases by individual court websites, which includes the U.S. Supreme Court, and all U.S. Appellate Courts, U.S. District Courts, and United States Bankruptcy Courts. Court cases are added every evening to the “PACER Case Locator.”

A unique feature to the website is the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF), which allows courts to accept legal filings and allows access to filed documents via the Internet. Digital audio recordings, used in many judicial bankruptcy proceedings, are also available at a nominal fee.

The PACER website offers a good example of what the Internet does best—providing a vast body of data and information to the general public that is easily searched and available at an affordable cost. Legal researchers have a comprehensive portal through which they can efficiently search for U.S. court cases. This website is highly recommended.—Larry Cooperman, University of Central Florida Libraries, lawrence.cooperman@ucf.edu

The USC Shoah Foundation: The Institute for Visual History and Education. Access: https://sfi.usc.edu/.

The USC Shoah Foundation, housed at the University of Southern California (USC), was established by Steven Spielberg in 1994. Spielberg created the foundation after his encounters with Holocaust survivors while filming the movie Schindler’s List.

The site is easily accessible. The homepage provides access through a navigation bar to various sections, including the “Visual History Archive,” “Center for Advanced Genocide Research,” “Education Programs,” and the “Stronger Than Hate” program. “Latest News” and “Upcoming Events” are additional resources found on the homepage.

The “Visual History Archive” is the crown jewel of the foundation. It allows subscribing users to investigate the digital collection and view more than 55,000 audiovisual testimonies of survivors and witnesses of genocides and massacres throughout the world. Sixty-five countries and 43 languages are represented in the testimonies, including the Rwandan Tutsi and Armenian genocides, the Nanjing massacre, and the Jewish Holocaust. Users have a manual and FAQ section to assist them in searching, and indexing provides the ability to search by geographical locations, time periods, and experience groups. Full or partial access to the “Visual History Archive” is available to subscribing institutions. A “Visual History Archive Online” was created “to accommodate incredible demand from outside the subscribing institutions,” allowing access to more than 3,000 testimonies with free registration.

The “Center for Advanced Genocide Research” is a “major interdisciplinary hub for Holocaust and genocide studies worldwide.” The Center, founded in 2014, offers fellowships and hosts scholars while also working to advance research on the Holocaust and genocide.

“Education Programs” provides resources including IWitness which contains more than 1,500 testimonies, activities, and resources (free registration required), as well as teacher resources such as lessons, online exhibits, documentaries, and professional development opportunities.

“Stronger Than Hate” is a program motivated by events of the 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was created to recognize and refute different forms of hatred, including racism, xenophobia, and antisemitism. Sections for educators (primary through high school), university students, and the community provide resources for each group.

The mission of the foundation is to “develop empathy, understanding, and respect through testimony.” The USC Shoah Foundation is well on its way to fulfilling its mission of informing future generations about the destruction that hatred can cause.—Karen Evans, Indiana State University, karen.evans@indstate.edu

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