The Chesapeake Project

The Chesapeake Project began as a two-year (2007-2008) pilot digital preservation program established to preserve and ensure permanent access to vital legal information currently available in digital formats on the World Wide Web. The purpose of The Chesapeake Project is to successfully develop and implement a program to stabilize, preserve, and ensure permanent access to critical born-digital legal materials. The goal is 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 that have the potential to serve as a model for the future realization of a nationwide digital preservation program. See below for evaluations of the project’s work and for other related documents.

Project Description

This project is a collaborative venture by three members of the Legal Information Preservation Alliance: the Georgetown University Law Library, the Maryland State Law Library, and the Virginia State Law Library. Their efforts are informed by the mission of LIPA as well as by the institutional priorities and missions of the individual participant libraries.

In the fall of 2006, representatives of the three libraries met and decided to utilize the capabilities of the OCLC Digital Archive to set up a project for preserving legal information in digital format. Training was received in the winter, and a group symbol and logins were set up for the purposes of the project. Using OCLC’s Connexion client, librarians began harvesting documents from the web in March 2007 and placing them on servers in Ohio. The content was stored and preserved in the Digital Archive and, once cataloged, made available through the Open WorldCat program and FirstSearch. For an example of a stored document, see the WorldCat record for A review of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s use of national security letters and see also the document itself.

In spring 2008, OCLC migrated the Chesapeake Project’s collections and metadata from the original Digital Archive to an enhanced, two-tiered digital preservation and access system. Master files are now preserved in a dark digital archive, while access to content is provided through CONTENTdm. The Chesapeake Project has a web page that can be used to discover and access its documents. In addition, the documents continue to be accessible by searching OCLC WorldCat.

Collection Scope

  • Georgetown Law Library: The digital archive collection of the Georgetown University Law Library consists of secondary legal sources, such as reports and studies from commissions, task forces, agencies, organizations, scholarly societies and lobbying groups. The initial collection scope for the project covers District of Columbia documents as well as the following subject categories, chosen based on the research and educational areas of interest at the Law Center: animal law, journalism and the law, copyright law, law and public health, environmental law and policy, conflict resolution and problem solving, human rights, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Maryland State Law Library: The digital archive collection of the Maryland State Law Library consists of selected digital material that describes, analyzes, documents, proposes, clarifies, or defines public policy and legal issues that affect the citizens of the state of Maryland. Of particular interest are task force reports mandated by the Maryland General Assembly and reports of gubernatorial commissions. The Law Library seeks to capture not only the final report, but, when available, interim reports and meeting minutes. Finally, the Law Library collects selected publications from Maryland community and research organizations whose studies and reports provide an analysis of major issues of public policy and law. The Library will seek and retain copyright permission for those materials not in the public domain.
  • Virginia State Law Library: The digital archive collection of the Virginia State Law Library consists of all publications issued by the Supreme Court of Virginia, such as annual reports, special studies, handbooks, directives, etc. The Law Library is also committed to collecting all publications issue by the Judicial Council of Virginia and the range of administrative divisions, commissions and task forces operating within Virginia’s judicial branch of government. The Library will seek and retain copyright permission for those materials not in the public domain.


  • Georgetown Law Library: Janice Snyder Anderson (email), Associate Law Librarian for Collection Services; Sarah Rhodes (email), Digital Collections Librarian.
  • Maryland State Law Library: Steve P. Anderson (email), Director; Mary Jo Lazun (email), Head of Electronic Services.
  • Virginia State Law Library: Gail Warren (email), State Law Librarian; Dee Dee Dockendorf (email), Assistant Law Librarian, Collection Services.

Related Documents

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