The Chesapeake Project Legal Information Archive has just published its 4th annual study of link rot among the original URLs for online law-related materials it has been archiving since 2007.
The Project has built a digital archive collection comprising more than 7,400 digital items. Most of the material archived is American. The Project is an initiative of the Georgetown Law School and Harvard Law School Libraries, and of the State Law Libraries of Maryland and Virginia.
Link rot describes “a URL that no longer provides direct access to files matching the content originally harvested from the URL and currently preserved in the Chesapeake Group's digital archive. In some instances, a 404 or ‘not found’ message indicates link rot at a URL. In other cases, the URL may direct to a site hosted by the original publishing organization or entity, but the specific resource has been removed or relocated from the original or previous URL.”
The Project reports that nearly one-third of the archived titles have disappeared from their original URLs since the beginning of the program in 2007. However, the rate of link rot has been decreasing. Only 2.5 percent of URLs were lost to link rot within the past year.
Overall, the report points out the vulnerability of digital collections that draw upon web resources, even when they apparently originate from “serious” sites such as law-related or government sources.
This issue is also of major concern to Canadian legal researchers, as illustrated by the following posts on the collaborative Canadian law blog Slaw.ca:
Labels: digital collections, law libraries