As I pack up my office at Queens, shred all the evidence, and prepare to move to Osgoode Hall, I pose a question for SLAW readers. By the year 2010, does anyone think any law library will still be subscribing to print law reporters? Myself, I think not – a view I know (and hope) will provoke a few.
I think the writing is clearly on the wall. Few law libraries in Canada now subscribe to foreign print reporters – relying on a combination of free and pay online services. Canadian reporters are the last bastion. In my view it is only a matter of time before that bastion crumbles. Our students – the lawyers, academics and judges of the future – increasingly prefer to access (and read) reports online. The cost of printed reporters continues to increase – and to eat up large amounts of diminished library funds. The judgments in those reporters are available in most cases for free via Court web-sites, with neutral citation, and through the commercial online services. They also take up vast amounts of space and take up the time of library staff to process and shelve. In my view they are not economical and, in the future, our users will see them mostly as wall-paper.