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Digitization in the Law Library: Transforming Collection Development in the 21st Century

Kate Miller Emporia State University 7/31/13

Introduction Can you envision a world where library users can freely access every resource they may need, regardless of their location, or resources? We may not reach that goal in our lifetime; however law libraries have the potential to access a much more extensive collection with greater ease than ever before. Academic research libraries in the United States have been digitizing their collection, individually and collaboratively, for approximate twenty years. Law libraries are facing a particularly steep challenges as the digital revolution changes the atmosphere. One of the primary goals of academic libraries is to acquire, develop, and preserve a top-notch collection for scholarly research in the most efficient and effective formats. The material has to be easy to access including online databases and catalog search capabilities.

Digitization of Academic Law Library Collections Digitization can be quite expensive. In order to deal with the limited budget, libraries have a renewed interest in collaborating together to share and preserve print and online materials. Converting print materials to digital versions is not always a simple process. Digitization issues range from obtaining library funding, legal and copyright issues, and sufficient electronic skill. Technological advances have changed the way that we look at library materials. It has affected the selection and order process, as well as the way we catalogue and access library materials. The pervasive quality of the Internet has created a boon for online legal publishers

and database vendors. The quantity of legal resources is vast and the costs continue to increase to produce these materials. Electronic materials are by nature unreliable, because they require a computer or other device to access. These same formats may be different in the next ten or twenty years. However even with these reliability issues, current uses mostly prefer digital resources to print. Providing electronic access can preserve the library collection, and furthermore can increase access to formerly unattainable materials. Library materials that have typically been found only in print are now available in digital format. Although all facets of law librarianship are ever-changing, collection development has faced the biggest change due to the shift to digital and away from print. Various law library materials that previously would have been ordered in print only, are now available online or as an e-book. As digital communication becomes increasingly popular, scholarly monographs have been slow to move to the online format. Statutes and scholarly legal monographs tend to be easier to use in the print rather than the electronic version. Additionally some online resources lose some of their usefulness because things like cut and paste are not typically possible.

The Legality of Digitization Legal issues surrounding the digital shift tend to revolve around the thorny issue of copyright. It can be confusing to make the determination of what collection material is regarded as part of the public domain or when materials are not allowed to be digitized. (Lopatin, 2006, p. 277) Copyright law was initially adopted for various reasons, including reduction of printing errors and better control of distribution of materials. The first law granting copyright protection

was the Statute of Anne in England. The United States enacted the Copyright Clause in 1787 was intended to promote the advancement of learning and public knowledge (Wu, 2011, p.537). As technology has advanced, copyright law has tended more towards the right of the owner of the copyright over the public good. Old statutory language is ill-equipped to deal with ever-changing technology.

Budget for Legal Digitization Spurred by the economic recession, collection budgets for many libraries have been greatly reduced. When making purchasing choices, the library must weigh the risk of losing future access to databases, or keeping a book in print that may not be as well used as its corresponding electronic version. It is essential to the modern law library to find ways to lessen the cost while still maintaining a solid collection. The United States has approximately two hundred American Bar Association (ABA)-accredited law schools, and collectively, they spend more than $230 million annually on building and maintaining their library collections, (Hooke, 2008) Within that budget, duplication is significant, including rarely used materials.

Possible Solutions for Modern Legal Digitization In order to deal with the financial and legal issues, some libraries have banded together to collaborate the digitization efforts. Academic law libraries have combined their materials to create a centralized collection of legal texts and other materials, and have worked to transfer much of the print material to digital. Thus the materials are easier to access and more cost

effective for all the consortium members. It is reasonable to use consortiums that are free or moderately priced in place of making a distinct database. Many consortiums also allow for multiple users to access the materials at the same time. One example of such a digitization of print materials is the collaboration called HathiTrust, which is a digital preservation collaboration project formed by more than 60 different research libraries in the United States, Canada, and Europe (HathiTrust, 2008) HathiTrust is a good illustration of how libraries can come together to reach a common goal. Since 2008, they have preserved digital copies of over 10 million volumes of print material (HathiTrust, 2008). The digital copies include the copyright status of the materials in those collections. Another example of a digital collection of print materials is Google Books. Google Books is one of the biggest and most diverse commercial ventures in this field. The Google Books has tacked several legal challenges, including copyright holders rejection of their settlement plan (Authors Guild v. Google, 2011). It is near impossible for any individual library to comprehensively cover all the areas that its scholars and researchers may seek as well as also preserve print resources for future access. Together as a consortium, academic law libraries can help to carry the burden together when developing their library collection. Law libraries can then have a greater depth of knowledge in less common areas of law, such as historical sea bound transport legislation, while still maintaining a strong collection is highly used materials such as Civil Procedure: Examples and Explanations. Consortiums help libraries access digital materials for current patrons while preserving the collection against loss of access for future users.

One of the advantages of having a consortium is the centralized efforts that limit duplication within the affiliated libraries. If libraries were working without collaboration, they may not realize if a different library had already digitized a particular legal document. Consortiums could list the materials already digitized and those materials waiting to be converted. A commitment from every affiliated library to preserve a section of the worlds legal materials by working together could decrease duplication efforts and safeguard the maintenance of those materials for future generations. Another benefit of a consortium of libraries working together is that libraries in the future would only have to convert one format to an future formats, in place of having to convert many different types of format to the new formatting.

Conclusion The digitization revolution shows no sign of slowing down. No library today can afford to build as comprehensive a collection as in the past, (Wu, 2005, p. 237). Academic law libraries that collaborate can achieve a stronger collection than can be constructed by any individual library. Information professionals will have to continue to adapt to the changes in access and technology within libraries. Law libraries place a high level of value on digital preservation of content for present and future scholarly uses. Although digitization is still in the early stages of development, law students tend to gravitate towards electronic resources. The goal of the law library is to meet the needs of the current law student, and having multiple formats, print as well as electronic can better meet their research needs. Libraries are a repository for human knowledge, in a multitude of formats. It is paramount that scholarly institutions to follow existing law in good faith to act in the best interest

of the public. Law libraries must create digital collections to continue to contribute their collective voice in the future. A collaborative digital academic law library can combine the collections strengths yet still allowing individual collections the ability to thrive and grow. It is the law library for the next generation and beyond.

References Authors Guild v. Google, 770 F. Supp. 2d 666 (S.D.N.Y. 2011). Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, 17 U.S.C. 12011205 (2006). HathiTrust: Digital library. (2008). Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan. The Recession Mounts the Ivory Tower: How the Lillian Goldman Law Library at Yale has met the Challenges Posed by a Declining Economy. (December 01, 2010). Legal Information Management, 10, 4, 275-279. Hooke Lee, Sarah. (2008). Preserving Our Heritage: Protecting Law Library Core Missions through Updated Library Quality Assessment Standards. American Association of Law Libraries. Lopatin, L. (April 01, 2006). Library digitization projects, issues and guidelines: A survey of the literature. Library Hi Tech, 24, 2, 273-289. Malpas, C., & OCLC Research. (2011). Cloud-sourcing research collections: Managing print in the mass-digitized library environment. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Research. Wu, Michelle. (2011). Building a Collaborative Digital Collection: A Necessary Evolution in Libraries. Law Library Journal, 103, 527-551. Wu, Michelle M. (2005). Why Print and Electronic Resources Are Essential to the Academic Law Library. American Association of Law Libraries.