November 28, 2011
Thank You LLMC. I Heart You!
Law journals seem to be taking the brunt of the space burden in the world of the shrinking library. My impression is that many libraries are tossing them, though there are some old fashioned librarians like me who are philosophically opposed to throwing out our legal scholarship without a comprehensive preservation plan in place - even if many think those articles are useless or impractical. From what I understand, the tossing libraries will depend on currently friendly commercial vendors like Hein Online, or the currency of SSRN.com, for future access. It really isn't the fault of the librarians. Tossing those titles is just the best of several bad choices that responsible librarians are being forced to make.
[Perplexing note: Dean wants Library space for law professors' offices so that they have a place to write more law journal articles that will be published in law journals that their library will buy and then throw out, or may not purchase at all.]
So what is LLMC doing that I find so wonderful? LLMC is saving the law journals. More importantly, and quite selfishly, they are saving my (my as in the UH Law Library) law journals. And, in a very James Bond sort of operation, are storing them in a salt mine 5 miles under the mantle of what us terrestrials call Kansas. Our journals will be neighbors to the Hollywood vault, financial institution 'stuff' and who knows what else people store in 50 foot salt bays that sit in a 42 acre underground storage facility made of NaCI.
I inherited this stroke of brilliance so I cannot take credit for it, but I will certainly benefit from it and so will you.
Right now, articles published from 1923 forward, are still in copyright. They cannot legally be scanned by LLMC to be added to their digital collections. But, they can take the paper copies and scan them year-by-year as they fall out of copyright (LIPA is responsible for the digital only journals that are now being produced by schools). The staff at the UH Law Library is diligently boxing up hundreds of volumes and the boxes are pilng up all over our staff space waiting to be carted over to Kaneohe across the island. Understandably, it is a slowish process but one to which we are all excited to contribute. (Well, I am excited but I'm not so sure about the students who are doing the labor.) And it frees me from having to make the hard decision about tossing legal scholarship produced by the academy, and hopefully, might make the decision a little less painful for others.
Along with taking over the stacks at the Richardson School of Law, comes a closer working relationship with LLMC. Closer physically, and professionally. I feel like we need to shed some PR on the good work this organization is doing with regard to preserving what many libraries are tossing in the dumpster - relying for one reason or another on commercial database vendors to replace print titles in favor of the latest space needs for the school. After JH's post last week (see Right-sizing Academic Law Library Print Collections), which summarized some of the problems with the tossing policy, I wanted to remind all of us that there are groups out there, like LLMC, who are fulfilling a mission that has traditionally been part of research library operations.
Some other current digitization projects include:
- Court records for California, New York (joint Google project re:Records and Briefs series) and South Carolina
- Inner Temple Manuscripts (12th to 20th Century Inns of Court materials)
- LLMC Native American collection
- Haiti Legal Patrimony Project
Take a look at LLMC's most recent newsletter for more information about these projects.
So thank you LLMC Staff, Board of Directors and members of the Advisory Council for your vision and good work. (VS)