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Archive for the ‘Legal Information’ Columns

When Justice Doesn’t Scale: Some Thoughts on the First Nations Court

I was recently lucky to attend the Law Courts Center‘s Truth and Reconciliation Dialogues – “A View from the Bench” with Judge Marion Buller. Judge Buller talked about having a crisis of conscience in adjudicating cases with Aboriginal defendants and approaching the Chief Justice with the idea of a First Nations court, which was founded almost ten years ago.

The court is run out of the courthouse in New Westminster, British Columbia, with duty counsel and elders who get honoraria, but it has been unfunded until recently. It is a sentencing court that is open to people who self . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Locating Foreign Civil Codes

[from – on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Code Napoléon in 2004]

One of the frequently asked foreign and comparative law research questions is how to find a country’s civil code. A researcher might not know they need a civil code, but they often do. A civil code is the key to accessing all types of private law for many civil law jurisdictions. Modeled after the Code Napoléon or Code civil des Français (1804), a civil code usually contains laws relating to personal status, contracts, torts, “delict”, “obligations”, real and personal property, inheritance and succession, marriage, . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Product Life Cycle of Knowledge Management

I recently taught “Legal Information Sources and Services” at the School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies at the University of British Columbia. One of the topics that gave rise to a particularly interesting conversation was knowledge management. I was informed (very politely and gently) that at the school knowledge management is mainly discussed in the context of the archival program, but that as a term of art it is now considered old fashioned in information studies, as it is difficult to define and measure among other problems. Instead other terms like information management are taking its place.

This is . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Artificial Intelligence in Law: What Are the Consequences for Law Librarians?

Several Slaw contributors have written recently about the use of artificial intelligence in law (Tim Knight here, Nate Russell here) with particular reference to the program on “Computers in Legal Research” at the conference of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries held in Vancouver this past May, moderated by Slaw’s Steve Matthews. I attended the program. I was disappointed though not surprised that none of the speakers was a librarian; and, while there was much discussion of the potential and possible consequences of artificial intelligence (AI) in legal practice, there was, aside from the moderator’s . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

License to ILL

Inter-library loan (ILL) is one of the oldest forms of sharing collections in libraries. Cooperative collection development arrangements have existed since time immemorial. As each library has focused on building collections to meet the needs of their primary patrons, they have relied on other libraries for the ad hoc, out-of-scope user requests for books and journal articles.They either initiate ILLs formally via OCLC or another network or informally by calling, emailing, or otherwise contacting librarians at other institutions who own or have access to the needed item. Everyone ILLs. It is expected and needed. Librarians have a license to . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Spring Update From Washington, DC

No, I am not going to comment on the amazing circus our U.S. presidential election has become. I want to bring you up to date on the Law Library of Congress’s latest news and their continuing progress in providing free U.S. government information to the world.

David Mao, former Law Librarian of Congress, is still the Acting Librarian of Congress. But Carla Hayden, CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore Maryland, has been nominated by President Barack Obama to become the first African American and first woman to hold this position. I hope that the U.S. Senate will . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Current Awareness Services in Law Libraries

One useful service that libraries can provide is current awareness. This service lets lawyers know about new or proposed developments in legislation, case law of interest, and articles relevant to their practice. It can also function as a business development tool by keeping lawyers up-to-date with what is happening in a specific industry or by letting them know if a client (or competitor) has been mentioned in the news.

Journals and newsletters

Traditionally libraries have routed a periodical or a photocopy of its table of contents around the firm. Routing a physical copy has problems: it is fine for the . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Be Careful What You Wish for – the Pitfalls of Electronic Legal Deposit

Legal deposit

‘We all start out with hope and end with experience’

I wrote in the past about our role as a legal deposit library, and the joys and frustrations this brings. Things have moved on a lot since then, and the changes that have come about have created a whole new range of issues for us to consider.

For a law library the downside of paper legal deposit was that not all publishers deposited as a matter of course; that parts of loose leaf services often were missed and unable to be claimed; and the law report and journal . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

The Tension Between Library Collections and Other Work in Law Libraries

There has been an interesting trend in law firms recently of gradually reducing staff in libraries, but adding information specialist positions with various job titles to business development groups. It seems like a missed opportunity for firm libraries to redefine their roles, and for library staff to explore interesting work that increases the return on investment of the library budget. Wondering why this is happening in this way, I started to think about what work takes the majority of library staff time in a firm. It seems that the likely target is the commitment to maintaining print collections, which still . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

New, Changed, Dead, and Dying FCIL E-Resources

We had many exciting developments in the foreign, comparative, and international law (FCIL) e-resource landscape in recent years. The newest one was the launching of the United Nations iLibrary in February 2016. It’s described as “the first comprehensive global search, discovery, and viewing source for digital content created by the United Nations.” I’m still waiting to explore the iLibrary fully and have some many questions about it. The OECD also has an iLibrary – will the UN one serve the same purpose? How will the UN iLibrary play with the UN’s Official Document System (ODS), the UNBISnet UN catalog, and . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information

Weeding and the Half-Life of Books

Weeding is a process in which librarians remove books from the library. (Karen Sawatzky wrote previously for SLAW on the subject.) Reasons for weeding include to remove materials from the collection that are no longer useful or that are actively dangerous. Weeding is also a good way of reclaiming shelf space, a particular concern in the era of shrinking library space.

Typical questions that librarians ask themselves when weeding a collection include:

  • Is there a newer edition of this title and do we own it?
  • Do we own anything more current on the subject?
  • Is the information available electronically?
. . . [more]
Posted in: Legal Information

Change and Tradition: Identity and the AALL

2016 began with a strange drama in the world of law librarianship in the United States. The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) held a referendum on changing the organization’s name to the Association for Legal Information (ALI). The name change was unanimously approved by the Executive Board of the AALL at a meeting in November of 2015. To make the change official, the AALL’s bylaws had to be amended. Amendment of the Bylaws necessitates the approval of the membership, hence the referendum. Voting was conducted online between January 12 and February 10, 2016. The Board explained its rationale, even . . . [more]

Posted in: Legal Information