The Evolving Congress – Publicly Available Volume of the CRS Reports

H/T The Criv Blog.

The Congressional Research Service has a volume publicly available in Scribd called “The Evolving Congress,” celebrating 100 years of the CRS. Sections include The Members of Congress, The Institutional Congress, and Policymaking Case Studies. Take a look at it here.

An Update on Ello

By Carli Spina

In the most recent issue of the LLNE News, I wrote about the new social network Ello. Since that article was published, Ello has continued to add some new features to respond to user concerns, such as settings that will make sure that you don’t encounter “not safe for work” content and the ability to block or mute other users. Perhaps even more interesting to LLNE blog readers, Ello also changed its legal status to address concerns that it would ultimately sell user data or allow ads to be placed on the network. In an effort to alleviate these concerns, Ello has converted to a Public Benefit Corporation (“PBC”) under the laws of Delaware. In a letter posted on the site, the founders and investors argue that this will bind them to their stated mission of remaining ad-free. Specifically, the letter states,

“Ello’s PBC’s charter states that Ello shall not for pecuniary gain:

  1. Sell user-specific data to a third party;
  2. Enter into an agreement to display paid advertising on behalf of a third party; and
  3. In the event of an acquisition or asset transfer, the Company shall require any acquiring entity to adopt these requirements with respect to the operation of Ello or its assets.”

This is an interesting and fairly high profile use of the relatively new (at least in Delaware) Public Benefit Corporation structure to alleviate a specific public relations problem for a company. Under Delaware law, a Public Benefit Corporation is “a for-profit corporation organized under and subject to the requirements of this chapter that is intended to produce a public benefit or public benefits and to operate in a responsible and sustainable manner. To that end, a public benefit corporation shall be managed in a manner that balances the stockholders’ pecuniary interests, the best interests of those materially affected by the corporation’s conduct, and the public benefit or public benefits identified in its certificate of incorporation.”[1] This provision was enacted on August 1, 2013 and on the first day Delaware saw a record 17 businesses file to become PBCs. However, after that initial rush to become a PBC, the incorporation of new PBCs or the conversion of other entities to PBCs slowed and in the end only 55 PBCs existed in Delaware 90 days after the effective date of the provision.[2] It remains to be seen how popular PBCs will become, but with several states offering this kind of corporate structure, it is important to understand the basics of how they differ from other corporate entities.

But, what does converting to a PBC mean for Ello? As a Public Benefit Corporation, Ello will have to state its principles in its certificate of incorporation and at all times balance these principles with stockholder interests when making decisions. This type of organization is specifically intended to benefit organizations that are not nonprofits but nevertheless wish to commit to a purpose beyond pure monetary gain, so it seems like a good fit for Ello, but at the same time, there is not much law clarifying exactly how this balancing should be done and, as some critics have noted, the company could always convert away from PBC status in the future if a sufficient number of shareholders agreed to the plan. Ultimately, for Ello, this conversion will likely have the desired effect of reassuring users to at least some degree that the company will remain true to its stated principles. And, the plan seems to be succeeding in at least one way: the company has already received $5.5 million in venture funding.

 

[1] Del. Code tit. 8, §362.

[2] Alicia E. Plerhoples, Delaware Public Benefit Corporations 90 Days Out: Who’s Opting in?, 14 U.C. Davis Bus. L.J. 247, 259 (2014).

 

Book Drive Update from the Service Committee

In the fall of 2013, the LLNE Service Committee decided to organize a book drive in connection with the Fall Meeting at Social Law Library as a service initiative. The book drive was intended to benefit one non-law public library in Massachusetts. The response to the book drive was incredible. Once we understood the potential impact of such a project, the Service Committee decided to replicate the book drive efforts in the other five New England states. For more information about which titles we chose and how we selected them, see the state book lists at https://llne.org/committees/service/.

Book Drive

One year later, the committee is finalizing the collections, choosing recipient libraries, and donating the books. The book drive would not have been possible without the generous assistance and support of LLNE members, libraries, vendors, publishers, authors, editors and the LLNE Executive Board. At the LLNE business meeting in Fall 2014 the members of the Service Committee gave a short presentation about the book drive and thanked all of the contributors and partners. If you missed it, below is a link to our slide deck which includes all of the names of the donors and partners: https://www.haikudeck.com/p/baRL0bH0kI/llne-fall-2014.

The Committee is in the process of developing ideas and planning projects for the coming year. Recognizing a need for a stronger relationship with non-law public librarians in the region, the Service Committee is exploring ways to further enhance those connections and contribute our knowledge and talents. Our goal is to promote the institutions currently working in our communities, to partner with public librarians and to try and find new ways to support the amazing work already being done by libraries and librarians in New England.

As always, we encourage LLNE members who want to volunteer to contact the current members of the Service Committee (https://llne.org/committees/service/#members). We have big plans and always have room for more volunteers!

Finally, the Service Committee co-wrote an article for a forthcoming issue of AALL’s Spectrum and we invite you to read about our project in even more detail.

Mass Trial Court Law Libraries’ website has moved

Important information from Barbara Schneider of the Mass. Trial Court Law Libraries:

“On November 19, 2014 the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries’ website was moved and consolidated with the judiciary website. The new internet address is http://www.mass.gov/lawlib  . Access is also available from the ‘Case and Legal Resources’ Tab at http://www.mass.gov/courts/ .

“At this time, if you use the old URLs, you will be redirected to new locations.

“Information previously found on our website will continue to be available after the migration. You will be able to access the catalog of materials held by the law libraries, our Law About. . . pages on various legal topics, the law blog, our popular name index, the court rules, ebooks, and much more.”

Welcome & Greetings from the Editors

Hi everyone! Welcome to the LLNE Blog from the editors, Anna Lawless and Brian Flaherty.  We’re looking forward to making the LLNE Blog a place where readers can find out what’s happening with LLNE, it members, and its committees.  We also hope it will be a place to come for discussions and general advice and thoughts about law librarianship.  If you’d like to contribute to the blog please contact Anna at lawlessa@bu.edu .  We’re looking forward to working with all of you!

About the Editors

Anna Lawless is the Collection Development Librarian at the Fineman & Pappas Law Libraries at Boston University.  She’s interested in collections and the technical services side of libraries.  Brian Flaherty is a Reference Librarian at New England Law Boston.  He is interested in teaching and providing reference services to the academic population.