Thursday, September 19, 2013

Text on Free Scholarship: Developing a National Legal Scholarship Library

The Social Science Research Network features a recent text on Free Scholarship: Developing a National Legal Scholarship Library, authored by three Australian academics including Graham Greenleaf, co-founder of the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII).

From the abstract:
"This article considers how a country’s legal scholarship can become a major resource on a free access legal information institute (LII), and the relationship of such a national facility to global legal scholarship facilities such as SSRN’s Legal Scholarship Network (LSN) and Google Scholar. It commences with an analysis of the attractions of those global services to authors and users, and by comparison what advantages a nationally-focused scholarship facility can provide. The initial conclusion is that a combination of the two could be the most desirable result for both users and authors. 'Open content' is distinguished from 'free access,' and it is argued that the latter is more important than the former to the public interest in access to scholarship."

"AustLII's development since 2008 of the 'Australasian Legal Scholarship Library' is explained. The current version (Stage 1) includes about 55,000 searchable items of free access Australasian legal scholarship in 93 databases (over 100 if law reform databases are counted). The Library includes law journals (most back to their first issues); law school research repositories; judicial scholarship; law texts from open content publishers; and law thesis abstracts. It may be the Internet’s second largest national free access collection of legal scholarship, after the US collection in the SSRN/LSN). It also includes the LawCite citator, which automatically tracks citation of scholarship in the case law on AustLII and on all LIIs with which AustLII cooperates."

"From 2013-14 the Library is to be expanded (Stage 2) to at least 100,000 searchable items, and improved technically, with research infrastructure funding from the Australian Research Council. In addition to expansion of existing categories, digitised historical law texts and law reform reports are being added. The article considers how the Library Stage 2 must be re-conceptualised in light of what is provided by global legal scholarship services, and the ongoing relationship with such services which is desirable in the interests of its authors and users. Matters discussed include approaches to permissions, collaboration with commercial publishers and other repositories, and proposed technical enhancements such as ‘AustLII authors pages’, metrics (citation and usage) for each item of scholarship, and for each law journal, improved feedback mechanisms to authors and readers, and similarity-based searching."

"The article concludes with an assessment of the factors in the Australian context that have been most conducive to the Library’s development so far. While not all of these may be replicated elsewhere (eg numerous law-school-published journals; research infrastructure funding), most elements are not jurisdiction-specific (or have analogs), and therefore may be of broader relevance."
The text is being presented later this month at the 2013 Law via the Internet conference on the Island of Jersey in the English Channel. The conference brings together people from the Legal Information Institutes (LIIs) from different countries and continents that together form the Free Access to Law Movement.

The goal of the LIIs is to maximize free access to public legal information such as legislation and case law from as many countries and international institutions as possible. CanLII, the Canadian Legal Information Institute, and Lexum, which publishes the decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada online, are prominent members of the movement.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:54 pm


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