Preserving and ensuring long-term access to digitally born legal

Rhodes, Sarah; Neacsu, Dana

Written laws, records and legal materials form the very foundation of a democratic society. Lawmakers, legal scholars and everyday citizens alike need, and are entitled, to access the current and historic materials that comprise, explain, define, critique and contextualize their laws and legal institutions. The preservation of legal information in all formats is imperative. Thus far, the twenty-first century has witnessed unprecedented mass-scale acceptance and adoption of digital culture, which has resulted in an explosion in digital information. However, digitally born materials, especially those that are published directly and independently to the Web, are presently at an extremely high risk of permanent loss. Our legal heritage is no exception to this phenomenon, and efforts must be put forth to ensure that our current body of digital legal information is not lost. The authors explored the role of the United States law library community in the preservation of digital legal information. Through an online survey of state and academic law library directors, it was determined that those represented in the sample recognize that digitally born legal materials are at high risk for loss, yet their own digital preservation projects have primarily focused upon the preservation of digitized print materials, rather than digitally born materials. Digital preservation activities among surveyed libraries have been largely limited by a lack of funding, staffing and expertise; however, these barriers could be overcome by collaboration with other institutions, as well as participation in a large-scale regional or national digital preservation movement, which would allow for resource-sharing among participants. One such collaborative digital preservation program, the Chesapeake Project, is profiled in the article and explored as a collaborative effort that may be expanded upon or replicated by other institutions and libraries tackling the challenges of digital preservation.


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Information & Communications Technology Law

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Academic Units
Diamond Law Library
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November 7, 2011