History of LIPA
LIPA’s roots go back to a number of initiatives on the part of AALL in the late 1980s and in the 1990s. It came into being as a direct result of a conference, “Preserving Legal Information for the 21st Century: Toward a National Agenda,” which was sponsored by the Georgetown University Law Library and AALL and held at Georgetown in March 2003. Participants at the conference decided to establish LIPA as an organization that would provide a framework for creating solutions to the problems of preserving legal information.
The new organization commissioned a white paper and an inventory of existing and completed preservation projects. The white paper, Preserving Legal Materials In Digital Formats issued in 2005, is available on the LIPA web site. The first Strategic Plan was drafted in 2006.
A small group of LIPA libraries has been working on developing a print retention program (LIPA-PRP) to make sure that a minimal number of paper copies of core materials will be kept as more and more law libraries are under pressure to discard the paper versions of texts used primarily through digital systems. Participants agree to place collections of print legal materials into a protected environment for the indefinite future and to record that decision at a central site so everyone who is interested can check to see if a print item has been retained according to the principles of the program. LIPA has established an informal agreement with the Law Library Microform Consortum (LLMC) to set up an inventory control website.
Another group of libraries carried out a project aiming to establish the beginnings of a strong regional digital archive collection of U.S. legal materials as well as a sound set of standards, policies, and best practices with the potential to serve as a model for the future realization of a nationwide digital preservation program. The Chesapeake Project was implemented as a two-year pilot project in early 2007 by the Georgetown Law Library and the State Law Libraries of Maryland and Virginia. Today, these three libraries have expanded the archive beyond the pilot phase. Negotiations with OCLC are ongoing in 2009 to set up a group pricing structure that would permit other LIPA members to place born-digital legal information in preservation storage.
A recognition of the need for paid staffing resulted in the hiring of the first Executive Director in 2007, and in the spring of 2008, Margaret Maes, who had been active in LIPA since the beginning, became the new Executive Director. She will guide the implementation of the new Strategic Plan, which was drafted in the spring of 2009.
AALL’s Support for LIPA
The Legal Information Preservation Alliance is an independent organization whose members are law libraries that have joined together to develop ways to preserve paper and electronic legal information. The American Association of Law Libraries supports the work of LIPA by making an annual contribution beyond the annual membership fee, by hosting the LIPA website, and by appointing an official liaison to LIPA. The liaison for 2009/2010 is Gail Warren.
See also “Permanent Public Access to Legal Information,” Members’ Briefing in the December 2005 issue of Spectrum, the monthly magazine of the American Association of Law Libraries.