The Legal Information Archive is a collaborative digital archive established to preserve and ensure permanent access to vital legal information currently published in digital formats. It represents an opportunity for the law library community to take on new responsibilities as stewards of our digital legal heritage.
The LIA is available to all LIPA member libraries. It offers subscriptions to OCLC’s suite of digital preservation tools and services at an affordable, consortial price through an arrangement between OCLC and the Legal Information Preservation Alliance.
An LIA Webinar sponsored by LIPA and OCLC was held on Thursday, January 27, 2011. During the Webinar, Sarah Rhodes, Digital Collections Librarian at the Georgetown Law Library and a project coordinator for The Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group, discussed the history of the LIA and her experience with it. See Sarah’s slides from the Webinar. Suzanne Butte from OCLC offered more details about OCLC’s hosted tools that the Archive is utilizing such as CONTENTdm (digital asset management solution) and the Digital Archive (for digital preservation). See Suzanne’s slides from the Webinar. A similar webinar that they did in April 2010 is available for listening on the Web.
A Steering Committee was appointed and charged with developing, maintaining and promoting policies and standards for the Legal Information Archive. Its members (Ken Hirsh, Chair, Gail Warren, Taylor Fitchett, Leonette Williams and Brian Quigley) issued a first report in October, 2010, which is posted here. From the report: “The committee believes the mission of LIA is to preserve born-digital materials. As an archive, LIA should work to ensure that born-digital materials are not lost. While including digitized print materials may increase access to those materials, they are not at the same high risk of loss as are born-digital materials. Hence, while LIA member institutions may choose to include digitized printed materials in a given collection, the committee believes that LIA policy should emphasize the priority of archiving born-digital materials.” The Steering Committee’s 2010/2011 Annual Report includes a Best Practices statement and a Guide for New Members.
The Archive is an expansion of the work of The Chesapeake Group, a pilot digital archive established in early 2007 by three LIPA members: the Georgetown, Maryland State and Virginia State Law Libraries, to investigate the feasibility of establishing a collaborative digital archive for the preservation of Web-published legal materials. This effort, now called The Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group, expanded in 2010 to include Harvard University Law Library. The participants use OCLC’s Digital Archive and CONTENTdm to store and to provide access to digital material. Evidence of the need to preserve digital material captured from the Web can be found in the results of the third annual analysis of link rot and legal materials. The same sample of links was examined in 2008, 2009 and 2010. In 2010, link rot was found in 27.9% of the sample titles. From 2007 to 2010, one in every 3.5 titles had disappeared from their original URLs.