Book Signing Today: Bill Usery

Photograph of W.J. Usery, Jr.

Photograph of W.J. Usery, Jr., courtesy of the Georgia State University Library.

Today (March 10th) at 4 p.m., the Law Library will host a talk and book signing with a notable guest, Bill Usery. Mr. Usery will be speaking about his distinguished career as a labor activist, mediator, and public servant on the occasion of the release of his memoirs, Laboring for America. He will be signing copies of his book following the talk.

Born in 1923 in Baldwin County, Georgia, Mr. Usery started his career in labor activism when he joined the International Association of Machinists. After holding several positions in the IAM, he moved on to serve in high ranking positions in several Presidential administrations, most notably as Secretary of Labor under President Gerald Ford. As a noted mediator, he helped resolve several major labor disputes, including a public school teacher’s strike in Philadelphia, disputes between airline pilots and airlines such as TWA and United, and a threatened nationwide strike by the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen.

Looking for more information on Bill Usery before this afternoon? Check out the following resources:

  • An interview with former Secretary Usery posted by the Department of Labor.
  • The W.J. Usery, Jr. papers, held in Special Collections at the Georgia State University Library.
  • A biography and timeline of Mr. Usery’s life and career, posted by the University Library.

Please join us for the important occasion at 4 p.m. in the upper level of the Law Library.

The Law Library, RFID, and You

Photo of RFID shelf reader.

Photo by Michael Porter.

Starting tomorrow, January 14th, workers will be going around the library, taking books off of shelves, hopefully not making all that much noise, and in general just doing, well, stuff in the library. What are they doing?

As a part of our move to the new College of Law building, the Law Library is implementing a new system of keeping track of our books using RFID. RFID (which stands for “radio frequency identification”) involves marking each book with a tag that contains a small memory chip. The tag contains information unique to each book that can be read using specialized equipment.

What does this mean for you? Well, many things on the surface won’t change – you’ll still need to check books out at Circulation, and the gates will make noises if you go through them with a book that wasn’t checked out. But an RFID system will help us keep track of what we have more efficiently, particularly if something gets misplaced. For example, if a book isn’t where it’s supposed to be on the shelf (which, yes, does happen, despite our best efforts), we will be able to use a scanner to scan the shelves for the book. We can also check the shelves more efficiently to make sure that everything is where it’s supposed to be. The result is a library where everything is more organized and easier to find. And isn’t that the way a library should be?

We’re aware that this project will result in a bit of noise, but we believe it will be minimal and confined to relatively small areas of the library at any given time. Have questions? Feel free to ask Terrance Manion, the College of Law’s Director of Information Technology.

A Landmark Day for Civil Rights

President Lyndon Johnson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at the signing of the Civil Rights Act.

President Lyndon Johnson and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., at the signing of the Civil Rights Act. Image from the LBJ Presidential Library.

On June 19, 1865, Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger stood on the balcony of a house in Galveston, Texas, and read out the text of General Order No. 3, informing the people of Texas of the effects of the Emancipation Proclamation. Annual celebration of Juneteenth (a portmanteau of “June” and “nineteenth”) began the next year; although celebration of the day declined in the early 20th century and was primarily centered in Texas, in more recent years recognition of the day has increased and spread. Juneteenth was officially recognized as a state holiday in Texas in 1980. Today, 43 states and the District of Columbia recognize Juneteenth through legislation.

The reading of General Order No. 3 is not the only significant event in civil rights history to occur on this day. 98 years after Maj. Gen. Granger read out the order, President Kennedy called for the passage of comprehensive civil rights legislation, and legislation that would later become the Civil Rights Act was introduced in Congress. Exactly one year later, on June 19, 1964, the Senate passed the Civil Rights Act (H.R.7152).

The Consequences of Snow Days

snowWe’ve gotten through another bout with snow, and K-12 students have missed another several days of school. In Georgia, as in many states, the minimum length of the school year is set by statute at 180 days. Although some wiggle room is built into the school calendars, when snow days start to add up, school districts have to scramble to make up the missed days. In Georgia, there is currently a proposal on the table to allow school districts to not make up some days. Other days may be made up in a variety of ways, from adding days onto the school year to adding hours to the remaining school days. Spring break may even be shortened (or eliminated).

One recent idea is to hold “virtual” school days, where students aren’t required to venture out to school, but instead attend classes online. However, this requires students to have computers and internet access, and so may not be feasible for many students.

Your Lottery Winner: Anonymous

Picture by The Reboot

Picture by The Reboot

It’s been all over the news today: one of the winning Mega Millions tickets was sold in Buckhead. And now we know the Georgia winner’s name and where she lives, because Georgia is in the majority of states in requiring that the names of lottery winners be public. In a minority of states the winner can remain anonymous; one of those states is South Carolina, where a recent Powerball winner chose anonymity.

Whether a lottery winner should be able to remain anonymous is debated; financial advisers recommend it, but lotteries argue against it. Pennsylvania is currently considering legislation to allow for anonymity, and other legislation was recently proposed in Michigan and New Jersey.

However, even if the winner has to come forward, there may still be a way to protect anonymity by using a trust; this was the option taken by a recent winner in Houston, who created a trust (with the attorney as trustee) to receive the winnings.

The Librarians Who Stare at Books


Photo by Flickr user Sydigill.

While you’e staring at your outlines, study aids, casebooks, or computer screens, you may have recently noticed an odd sight: library employees staring very, very hard at shelves. We’re not doing this to prank you, or as a part of some incredibly boring performance art piece. What we’re doing is something called “shelf reading.” Shelf reading is a process where the library staff systematically looks at all of the books in the library to make sure everything’s okay. Every year around this time we divide the library up among the library staff and assign rows of books for each person to “read.” If a book is out of place, we’ll put it in the right spot. If a book looks like it needs some attention, like repair or rebinding, we’ll take care of that, too.

So if you see one of the library employees standing in a row for an inordinately long period of time staring at a shelf, don’t worry about us. We’re okay – we’re just shelf reading, making sure that the library’s collection is all okay. Well, unless you see one of us sprawled out face-down on the floor. In that case, please go get help.

Listening to the Law (or Other Things)


Photo by Flickr user DennisSylvesterHurd.

By now you’ve probably seen a sign or a post somewhere, and you know that we have access to AudioCaseFiles so that you can listen to cases rather than reading them. But what if you want to listen to something else?

That’s where podcasts come in. And while there are a lot of podcasts out there (Stuff You Should Know and Pop Culture Happy Hour are my personal favorites), there are a number that are focused specifically on legal topics and are worth a listen.

For example, interested in what’s going on in the Supreme Court? Check out the PBS News Hour’s Supreme Court Watch or the Federalist Society’s SCOTUScast.

Other legally-related podcasts worth checking out include:

Finally, no discussion of law-related podcasts would be complete without a mention of Judge John Hodgman. Judge Hodgman hears disputes submitted for resolution in his court of Internet justice, which comes complete with a bailiff, occasional expert witnesses, and an opportunity for summary judgment.

Have a favorite podcast that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!