The Legal Information Preservation Alliance (LIPA) is a non-profit consortium dedicated to the preservation and accessibility of legal information through collaboration, education, and advocacy.
Systems of government and justice throughout the world are dependent on the preservation of the written records of their activity and on the ability of citizens to access and use that information. Not only government officials, legislators, and judges, but also lawyers, legal scholars, historians, and individual citizens have the need and the right to their written legal heritage. In the broadest sense, these “records” comprise both the primary documents emanating from all branches of government as well as secondary legal compilations and writings that organize, explain, and evaluate them.
Collectively the entire body of legal information constitutes an essential element in the foundation of human society. Throughout history mankind has created progressively more sophisticated methods and often fragile materials for keeping its records. Librarians, archivists, and scholars remain steadfast in their commitment to assure the survival of the written chronicle. Legal texts are among the most important examples of what needs to be preserved.
The evolution of publishing into the electronic environment, while offering significant advantages for textual research, compact storage, and instant wide dissemination of information, has added complexity to age-old concerns with the preservation of information. At this relatively early stage in the electronic era, the digital medium is unstable and still unproven as a long-term means of preserving the written record. Ironically, the relatively unrestricted freedom and technological capability to disseminate text electronically has resulted in unfathomable quantities of digital text issued not only by proven institutions and publishers, but also by anyone who chooses to send it forth via the Internet. Both government and private businesses and institutions have eagerly adopted digital publishing and record-keeping both as ways to save money, time, and space and to promote efficiency and control. In their haste to abandon what they perceive as cumbersome paper records and methods of dissemination, they have too often failed to take into account the long-term preservation of their electronic publications and archives. Neither administrative commitments nor technical solutions have been sufficiently important in their political and business agendas to result in widespread efforts to save what they have produced nor to assure its authenticity. Consequently, without an initiative to preserve it, important electronic could be lost or rendered unreliable.
A number of respected universities and scholarly organizations have launched efforts to bring about national consistency in the preservation of print and electronic legal information. Their endeavors show the need for defining objectives, developing standards, exploring models, creating networks, and fostering financial and political support for long-term sustainability. Up to this point, none of the efforts has concentrated specifically on the preservation of legal information. The goal of LIPA is to provide the necessary organizational framework and professional commitment to coordinate this effort and carry it forward. Nothing less than transmission of the permanent, accurate record of legal knowledge to future generations is at stake.
Founding Mission Statement (replaced June 2014)
The mission of the Legal Information Preservation Alliance (LIPA) is to provide the leadership, the organizational framework, and the professional commitment necessary to preserve vital legal information by defining objectives, endorsing and promoting the use of appropriate standards and models, creating networks, and fostering financial and political support for long term stability.