Wednesday, February 23, 2011

No more print journals?

Two years ago, a group of law library directors issued “The Durham Statement,” which recommended open access to legal scholarship and called for the end of printed law journals.  A January 2011 update on the statement’s effects, The Durham Statement Two Years Later, reports that although open accessBooks for blog2  to legal scholarship has increased, there has been “little movement toward all-electronic publication.” 

The article discusses some issues that must be resolved before all-electronic publication will become pervasive. Perhaps because current readers are accustomed to the visual cues of the printed page, many electronic articles are posted in PDF format, which mimics print.  But computers are capable of doing much more than that—for example, they can substitute hyperlinks for footnotes. Planners must determine what format to use in order to best utilize computer capabilities.

Another concern is document preservation.  Storage media and software undergo frequent changes, which means stored data may become inaccessible. This concern must be addressed in order to preserve electronic publications as reliably as we now preserve print publications.

Those of us who teach legal research, analysis, and writing have an interest these issues, which we will no doubt confront in the not-too-distant future.


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