January 23, 2006
Survey of Library Practices Regarding Paper Law Reviews
Recently I posed a query to Law-Lib and the ALL-SIS list asking if libraries were starting to discard paper law reviews to save space and for any relevant policy language. We are considering adopting such a policy here to conserve space. Here is a summary of the responses I received:
Sidley Austin LLP
When it is on Hein Online, we generally toss. Functionally, it means current year plus one. We tossed the WL/Lexis materials in a prior purge. One law firm in Chicago held a rolling 20 years of law reviews. I forget the percentage, but only a small number of works are cited or used after 20 years. Tax is the exception, much to their chagrin.
Western New England College School of Law
We have begun a major weeding of paper law reviews. We are discarding hard copies of selected journals before 1990. We make sure they are on Hein. We also have WestlawPro for public access. We have severe space problems. Although we will be getting additional library space during a forthcoming renovation we still need to trim our print collection.
University at Buffalo
We're moving old law reviews to offsite storage. The cutoff date for our journals sent to storage is 1989.
University of Cincinnati
We are “full” (i.e. over 80% of shelf space is occupied).
We do not discard print law reviews to save space because we can send that sort of material to off-site storage. The decision parameters for moving any serial title to storage are: (1) discontinued titles (either by subscription, cancellation or cessation of publication); (2) infrequently used titles that are available on HeinOnline, JSOR, etc;
Before we send law reviews to storage based on the above criteria, we would try to send other periodicals (e.g., social science, professional journals, “law & …” titles) there.
We tend not to use LN or Westlaw availability to justify moving any serial to storage. And when we decide to move a title to storage, we move the complete run there.
But for the fact that we have free (and virtually unlimited) storage with excellent turn-around time for document retrieval, many of the titles we current store probably would be discarded.
As a new law school, we made a decision to start subscriptions to law reviews but not bind the journals and to only keep 5 years on the shelf. It was my view that over the next five years those journals that were not available in digital format would become available on line.
We will continue to review titles and see whether we need to revise our decisions when we have reached the five year on the shelf point.
We have now two years of unbound on the shelf. I am not sure that I would even start print subscriptions if the title was available on Westlaw or Lexis and also on Hein if I was starting the collection today.
We are likewise out of space and have shifted all but the last 10 years of law reviews to remote (but on campus) storage. This is a rolling 10 years so that each year puts another year's worth in storage. We actually do not get that many requests for retrievals.
California Western School of Law Library
We do not discard paper copies, but we have been moving selected journals that are available on Hein to storage. (Fortunately, our storage is on campus and items are easily recoverable.) The criteria we have been using is that the Hein title has ceased publication or been cancelled. For some lesser-used titles we have also sent volumes prior to 1995 to Storage. We have also sent some non-law titles that are not on Hein and have been cancelled because they are no longer needed to support the current curriculum or faculty research interests.
We have decided that bound periodicals will take no more space than they currently occupy. We are moving to electronic access where feasible. When the periodical section nears capacity we'll decide what makes the most sense at that point, which might be some combination of relying on electronic access, removing older materials that are accessible on HOL, and ending the binding of many items.
We sent all of our pre-1980 paper law journals that are on HeinOnline to a storage facility several years ago. We will soon send at least another 10 years worth to the storage facility, as we rearrange our entire collection over the summer.
Widener University School of Law
We too are running out of space for bound journals and last spring suggested several possible solutions to our director who has since retired. Rather than purchase more compact shelving or actually discard bound volumes we have boxed bound journal volumes that fall into the following categories:
* On Hein Online
* Older than 1975
* Runs of at least 20 volumes per title (including title changes)
* Volumes for law review from the 10 "top" law schools are shelved in Tech Services and are available if requested, but the rest are boxed and stacked solid.
We are shifting the remaining journal volumes to make space for several years growth and are tracking requests for these volumes. We plan to evaluate the situation after a new director is appointed.
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is planning to transfer all bound volumes, and new volumes as they are bound, to a high density storage facility on campus. The facility will not open until 2008; in the meantime the journals will be in temporary offsite storage.
We are still getting and keeping print law reviews. Eventually, I assume that many of them (mostly those in Hein Online) will go to offsite storage.
University of Minnesota
Our library doesn't discard anything. Also, our journals expect to have access to the hard copy even when they can get the PDFs from Hein Online.
New Collection Development Tool from John Doyle.
For more help managing print journal collections check out this excellent new tool by John Doyle of Washington & Lee Law School (creator of the Most Cited Legal Periodicals Index). John writes:
Just for the fun of it, I've made a webpage that dispenses advice on what U.S. legal periodicals should be purchased with any user-selected budget. It's at http://law.wlu.edu/library/mostcited/selecting.asp
Aside from entering what you want to spend, you may specifically select any of the listed periodicals for inclusion (you'd do that if you wished to include to some lower cost-effective-ranked journals, perhaps because of their jurisdictional or subject interest).
Once you submit the page it will return with a title listing of:
(a) the periodicals you actively selected (if any) and their total price,
(b) periodicals, in cost-effective order, that are within your budget
(c) excluded periodicals, in cost-effective order, outside your budget
(d) other U.S. periodicals from the "most-cited" list that are excluded because they have an unknown or a zero price
Most non-U.S. titles are excluded and the prices are those paid by U.S. academic libraries.
Suggested Reading: For an interesting article discussing options for law review cite checkers demanding print sources check out: Mary Rumsey and April Schwartz’s Paper versus Electronic Sources for Law Review Cite Checking: Should Paper Be the Gold Standard? 97 Law. Libr. J. 31 (2005)
Lee Peoples, Oklahoma City University Law Library
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