February 22, 2010
It's Time for LAW.GOV, Part II: AALL To Aid LAW.GOV Project By Way of State Working Groups
The February 2010 issue of the AALL Newsletter announces that AALL's State Working Groups to Ensure Access to Electronic Legal Information will collaborate with the LAW.GOV project. Initially, the AALL Government Relations Office's (GRO) Jan. 4, 2010 call for law librarians to organize state working groups to respond to "challenges that threaten the authentication and preservation of legal resources" by the recent and expanding trend to develop at the state level data transparency portals for online-only legal materials that are neither official nor authentic made no reference to LAW.GOV. The revised call, dated February 2010, now does.
With assistance from the GRO, we would like the working groups to:
First, take action to oppose any plan to eliminate an official print legal resource in favor of online-only in your state, or to charge fees to access legal information electronically. This is an increasingly common problem as states respond to severe budget cuts.
Second, ensure that a disclaimer is added to any legal resources in a state’s raw-data portal so that users know that the information is not an official or authentic resource.
Third, collaborate on the ground-breaking effort led by Erika Wayne at Stanford University’s Robert Crown Law Library and Carl Malamud of PublicResource.Org to develop a national inventory of all primary legal resources at every level of government.
The AALL Newsletter explains:
As a result of the first [LAW.GOV] workshop, Stanford's Wayne has taken the lead in developing a prototype for a national inventory of all primary legal resources extending to all levels of government. She is working with the Northern California Association of Law Libraries (NOCALL) and AALL's California Working Group to test the prototype, after which they will begin to populate the inventory with data. Once the prototype has been successfully tested, AALL's other state working groups will begin to inventory their own states' legal information to add to the national database. Currently, there are more than 100 AALL and chapter volunteers from 42 states and the District of Columbia involved in the working groups. More volunteers are needed, so please sign up today to join this important initiative.
To sign up, volunteers should go here.
Kudos to Erika Wayne and NOCALL for Taking the Lead. Clearly there is overwhelming support in the law librarian community for the LAW.GOV project so we should welcome our professional association's better late than never involvement at the national level by amending the state working groups' goals. Carl Malamud, after all, officially announced the launch of the project on Oct. 15, 2009, well before the AALL Government Relations Office's original Jan. 4, 2010 call. See LLB's Oct. 20, 2009 post entitled It's Time for LAW.GOV. One has to wonder whether AALL would have done anything if Erika Wayne and NOCALL didn't take the initiative. ""What NOCALL is starting can and should be replicated in other areas," wrote Wayne in her Law.gov: National Inventory of Legal Materials post about NOCALL's decision to aid the LAW.GOV project. Kudos to them.
Now that our professional association has institutionalized the initiative taken at the local level, is an AALL statement of support for LAW.GOV, the project itself, not merely the "Law Library of Congress' vision for LAW.GOV" on the horizon? Maybe, maybe not. From the February issue of the AALL Newsletter:
AALL continues to work with Law Librarian of Congress Roberta Shaffer and Carl Malamud of PublicResource.Org on "LAW.GOV" ... The Law Library of Congress is pursuing the registration of the "LAW.GOV" domain to serve as a portal for authoritative local, state, national, foreign, and international legal and legislative information. It is planned for the site to serve as a one-stop URL and repository for this information. AALL issued a letter in support of the Law Library of Congress' application for the domain name in early January.
Since AALL is officially working with LAW.GOV now, it seems logical that a public statement of strong support for LAW.GOV from AALL should be made (and posted on the LAW.GOV site). For background see, here and here. More generally, see AALL's Draft Strategic Directions Statement for 2010-2013: Good Job as Long as It Does Not End Here. [JH]