Tag Archives: Betty Thomas

Using Tech to Make Tenure


Like many academicians, librarians in academic environments also go through a promotion and tenure process. Deborah Tritt of the University of South Carolina Aiken and Kaetrena Davis Kendrick of the University South Carolina Lancaster presented their Guide on the T&P Side: Using Tech to Make Tenure at the 10th annual Metrolina Library Association Conference. They shared a number of great no-cost tools that anyone could use.

As a side note, the Association of College and Research Libraries supports tenure track academic librarians. Two websites of interest: ACRL Joint Statement on Faculty Status of College & University Librarians and ACRL’s Guideline for the Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure of Academic Librarians.

Rule 1: Stay Focused

These tools can help you achieve that objective. Part of the process is writing narratives. Take chunks of time to work on the project.

eggtimer  E.gg Timer. E.gg Timer.com is a simple countdown timer. Set the timer for a specific amount of time like 25/5 minute cycles and focus on the work for that amount of time before taking a break.


noisli  Noisli is a background noise and color generator for productivity or relaxation. There are background noises like White noise, Rain, and Coffee Shop. I am listening to birds singing and water in a babbling brook. Now it’s thundering. I am switching to the coffee shop to wake up.  Noisli also includes a distraction-free Text Editor as well as a timer.

coffivity  Coffitivity is another tool that streams the sounds of a coffee shop. The site claims research showing moderate ambient noise helps enhance creative cognition. You can even choose from different types of cafes. I am hoping the University Undertones helps me get this blog post written.

rainymood Rainy Mood is a rain simulator. You can even add their recommended mix or one from You Tube. Today’s recommendation is Rainy Mood + Beethoven. It’s very pleasant.

momentumMomentum through Chrome Web Store is a tab homepage replacement. When you open the tab, it asks you to type in your focus for the day. The photography is awesome.

Rule 2: Keep Yourself Organized

kanbanflow  Kanbanflow is a project management tool. The Kanban board provides a way to have an overview of your current work and collaborate in real-time. Kanban can also use the Pomodoro technique of working with full focus for 25 minutes before taking a short break. Then you repeat the cycle.


trello Trello is a board with lists of lists filled with cards used by a group or on your own.


milkRemember the Milk is an on-line to-do list. This tool was one of the first.


wunderlist Wunderlist is good for a grocery list and to set due dates and reminders.


Rule 3: Keep Everything

evernoteEvernote is a good tool for collecting information off the internet like a web article, handwritten notes, or photos of your projects.

googledocsGoogle Docs is a way to create and share online documents, spreadsheets and presentations.


dropboxDropbox is a secure file sharing and storage solution. Dropbox is great for collecting your work and using it on various computers.


zoteroZotero is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources. It is good for information management in that you can store articles.


Rule 4: Track Everything

academiaAcademia.edu is a free platform for academics to share research papers and get feedback on working papers. Academia provides in depth analytics and statistics.

researchgateResearchGate is a like a social networking site for researchers to share papers and find collaborators. The site provides statistics on downloads and citations.

journoJourno Portfolio is a platform geared to journalists to capture their writing and photographs. JP also tracks how many people visit the site, how long they spent there, and where they are located.

digitalcommons Digital Commons is a hosted institutional repository that some universities and law schools use.  According to their website, DC hosts everything from faculty papers, student scholarship, and annual reports to open access journals, conference proceedings and monographs.

figshareFigshare is another open repository where research documents can be uploaded and the site makes research “citable, shareable and discoverable” while also creating a DOI.

googlescholarGoogle Scholar Citations is a way for authors to track citations of articles. Through Google Scholar Citations, a researcher can check who is citing your publications, graph citations over time and compute other metrics.

Other Tools for Keeping and Tracking Scholarship Activity

preziPrezi is free presentation software that uses motion, zoom and spatial relationships to add to presentations.



screencastScreencast-O-Matic is a free screen recording platform that comes with statistics. It can also be added to academic.edu.


googlefusionGoogle Fusion Tables is a data visualization application to gather, visualize and share data tables. The presenters use Google Fusion Tables for reference analytics.


wordpressWordPress is an open source blogging and website content management system. It also provides analytics about who visits the site.


Most tenure and promotion processes require candidates to provide justification and evidence of the academic activities such as librarianship, teaching, scholarship and service. These free tech tools can help in sharing activities, collecting metrics, and organizing files for anyone.

~Betty Thomas~

Leave a comment

Filed under Free Online Resources, Library

Attention Bar Studiers: A New Resource!

The Charlotte Law Library now has flashcards.

Law in a Flash: Multistate Bar Exam

This two part set is available for 3 day checkout from the LUX desk.

Come Check Them Out!

~Betty Thomas~

1 Comment

Filed under collection, Library, Student Information

Know Your Law Library: Reference Carolinas Collection

The Reference Carolinas Collection has resources that are particularly useful for students working in clinics and attorney members of the library. The resources in this area of the library are state specific materials for both North and South Carolina. They are available for use in the library only. They are not available for check out.

The Reference Carolinas Collection can be found on the 5th floor of the library adjacent to the Study Aids Collection.


The Reference Carolinas Collection includes….

Legal encyclopedias: Strong’s North Carolina Index 4th and South Carolina Jurisprudence are located here.


State Statutes: Both the General Statutes of North Carolina Annotated (Official) and West’s North Carolina General Statutes Annotated for North Carolina are in this section as well as The Code of Laws of South Carolina.


Digests: West’s North Carolina Digest and South Carolina Digest.


Practice Materials: These include everything from Pattern Jury Instructions and Douglas Forms to more specific treatises like Lee’s North Carolina Family Law and Shuford North Carolina Civil Practice and Procedure.


The collection is arranged in Library of Congress Classification System (LC), so check the Charlotte School of Law Library’s online catalog, ENCORE to find the location of a state specific resource.

Interested in becoming an attorney member? Check the Charlotte School of Law website and complete a Membership Application.

~Betty Thomas~

Leave a comment

Filed under Books & Stuff, collection, Library, Student Information

The Library Freedom Project: Surveillance threats and technology tools

Recently there was an article in the Washington Post about the FBI using planes with thermal imaging technology to spy on protestors in Baltimore during the Freddie Gray unrest. Only through a Freedom of Information Act request made by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) did privacy advocates learn of these new advances in surveillance technology.

This is the sort of surveillance threat that Alison Macrina and the Library Freedom Project highlight. During her recent presentation in Charlotte to the Metrolina Library Association, Macrina taught librarians about surveillance threats and privacy-protecting technology tools. Usually an ACLU representative reviews some of the major surveillance programs and another staff attorney for ACLU conducts a “Know Your Rights” training session on how to respond when served with a National Security Letter, administrative subpoena, or warrant.  Macrina covered all this information in a three hour workshop.


Threat Assessment

Macrina started the presentation by walking us through a hypothetical threat assessment for a LGBTQ teenager using the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Surveillance Self-Defense:  Introduction to Threat Modeling. The guiding questions of the model follow:

  • What do you want to protect? (assets: like computer, phone, text messages)
  • Who do you want to protect it from? (parents, other students, bullies)
  • How likely is it that you will need to protect it? (capabilities)
  • How bad are the consequences if you fail? (being bullied at school, relationship with family)
  • How much trouble are you willing to go through in order to try to prevent those?

The Threats

Macrina then highlighted a variety of surveillance threat models. Some of those she mentioned follow:

The Drone Papers – documents leaked by a whistleblower about the U.S. military’s targeted assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

National Security Agency’s XKeyscore software which allows analysts to narrow reams of intercepted internet data to focus on selected targets and Prism which is a system where NSA gains access to all the private communications of users of nine popular Internet services including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, and Facebook. NSA collects bulk cell phone records to harvest data traveling over fiber optic cables. These are examples of “collect it all” type programs. While there is nothing wrong with a properly served search warrant based on individual leads, routine government surveillance into everyone’s lives is another matter.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). According to Macrina, the FBI is monitoring lawful First Amendment activities of Muslim college students by trawling websites and planting bugs in meeting rooms. Furthermore, she says an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force tracked a Black Lives Matter protest at the Mall of America. Finally, the government has had software companies create “backdoors” in software to gain access to information. However when software is designed to provide law enforcement with access to everyone’s personal information, there are potential security gaps that can be exploited by hackers.

Local Police. Macrina listed counterterrorism fusion centers and the militarization of local police through the 1033 military surplus program as threats. And the ACLU website adds the following:

  • Stingrays, also known as “cell site simulators” or “IMSI catchers,” are invasive cell phone surveillance devices that mimic cell phone towers and send out signals to trick cell phones in the area into transmitting their locations and identifying information. When used to track a suspect’s cell phone, they also gather information about the phones of countless bystanders who happen to be nearby.1
  • Automatic license plate readers, mounted on police cars or on objects like road signs and bridges, use small, high-speed cameras to photograph thousands of plates per minute. The information captured by the readers – including the license plate number, and the date, time, and location of every scan – is being collected and sometimes pooled into regional sharing systems. As a result, enormous databases of innocent motorists’ location information are growing rapidly.2

Corporate Entities. Facebook knows our relationship networks and has developed facial recognition software.  Google has seven advertising agencies and has acquired Boston Dynamics, a military robotics company. Online advertising is learning everything about us. The hacking industry is selling malware to other sovereign states, police, campus police, and others. Online ads track you even if you do not click on them.

Technology Solutions

These are just a few of the technology solutions offered by Alison Macrina to ensure privacy. Some are more extreme than others and all depend on the level of your own risk assessment.

  1. Keep your software up-to-date.
  2. Use free software (FOSS) that is open source rather than proprietary. Source code shared openly can be examined by people who can identify backdoors.
  3. Realize that storage in the cloud is just storage on a server somewhere out of your control. Secure and encrypted connections should be a concern.
  4. Passwords. Use 5 random common words so computer cannot figure out pattern. People are creatures of habit and that is how computers figure out patterns. Check out KeePassX, an open source, cross platform password manager that also includes a password generator. Roll a die five times and using Diceware’s list get your first word.
  5. Use encryption. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a good explanation about encryption at https://ssd.eff.org/en/module/what-encryption and how strong encryption can avoid online surveillance.
  6. Install Tor Browser. The Tor software protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, Tor prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked.
  7. Add HTTPS Everywhere. HTTPS Everywhere is produced as a collaboration between The Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure.
  1. Change default browser to DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo does not track your searching and sell your information.
  1. Have only one antivirus software because having two lessens effectiveness. Check out ClamAV, an open source mail gateway scanning software. Malwarebytes is an anti-malware product but it is not free or open source. Malwarebytes only works on Windows; however, there are very few attacks on Macs. If your risk of surveillance is high, there is Detekt , a free tool which checks for governmental surveillance spyware.
  2. Look into Firefox privacy extensions like Privacy Badger, uBlock Origin, or NoScript which block ads and trackers.

These are just some of the technology tools and threats that Alison Macrina mentioned in her presentation. The Library Freedom Project website https://libraryfreedomproject.org/ has many more tools and information to consider.


So are you wondering why these surveillance threats are an issue for librarians?  Intellectual freedom and the right to privacy are core values of the library profession. The Code of Ethics of our profession has two applicable principles:3

  • We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor   library resources.
  • We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect    to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.

The threats and tools detailed in this article are those of Alison Macrina and the ACLU. Each librarian and each library will have to make their own threat risk assessments. There are trade-offs for using these technology tools. For example, even though DuckDuckGo does not track your search results, this search engine has a lot to be desired in returning extensive search results. And while Lebanon Public Library in New Hampshire decided to continue with their TOR relay after being challenged by the Department of Homeland Security, some law enforcement  officials cite examples of TOR’s use by child pornographers and in illegal sales of large quantities of drugs and firearms.

Alison Macrina travels across the country giving her workshop, funded by a grant from the Knight Foundation, to train librarians about the threats to privacy and how to use various technology tools  to educate and protect patrons. The threats to privacy and the increasing amount of unchallenged surveillance gives impetus to all of us to be more aware and learn more about this issue and these tools. The Library Freedom Project gives us much to consider.

Note: This blog post was written prior to the terror attack by ISIS in Paris. While we have to be vigilant in making sure our government stays within the law with respect to the threats identified in this presentation, balance is needed between safeguarding our basic rights and enabling our government to protect us from events like those in Paris. This point of balance is something that deserves thorough and thoughtful consideration.


1American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU]. (2015). Stingray tracking devices: Who’s got them? Retrieved from https://www.aclu.org/map/stingray-tracking-devices-whos-got-them

2ACLU. (2015). You are being tracked. Retrieved from https://www.aclu.org/feature/you-are-being-tracked

3American Library Association. (2015). Code of ethics of the American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/advocacy/proethics/codeofethics/codeethics

~Betty Thomas~

Leave a comment

Filed under Library, Of Interest to Law Students

New Study Aids Have Arrived!

The Charlotte Law Library now has new study aids available for checkout.

Questions & Answers (Q&A) Series


The latest editions of…

  • Civil Procedure
  • Contracts
  • Criminal Law
  • First Amendment
  • Intellectual Property
  • Payment Systems
  • Property
  • Torts
  • Wills, Trusts and Estates

Examples & Explanations Series


The latest editions of…

  • Administrative Law
  • Civil Procedure
  • Constitutional Law: Individual Rights
  • Criminal Law
  • Corporations
  • Evidence
  • Family Law
  • Federal Courts
  • Federal Income Tax
  • Intellectual Property
  •  Legal Writing
  • Legislation, Statutory Interpretation, and Election Law
  • Professional Responsibility
  • Property
  • Real Estate Transactions
  • Remedies
  • Sales and Leases
  • Secured Transactions
  • Torts
  • Wills, Trusts, & Estates

Law in a Flash (Flashcards) Series


Law in a Flash (Flashcards): Multistate Bar Exam Series


Part 1 – Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure

Part 2 – Evidence, Real Property, Torts

Come Check Them Out!

~Betty Thomas~

Leave a comment

Filed under Books & Stuff, Library, Student Information