Access to Legal Information: A Look at the Legal Information Preservation Alliance

by Brandon Wright Adler

Access to legal information is something that law librarians, scholars, and even the general public fight for every day. Preserving historical print legal information was once the primary focus among law librarians, i.e. preserving a books binding, making sure to have multiple copies, repairing ripped pages, etc. However, due to ever-evolving technological advances and the ease and financial efficiency of disseminating legal information through digital means our focus on the preservation of legal information has taken a shift to match that of modern day technology. The Legal Information Preservation Alliance (LIPA) is just the organization to lead the way for law libraries across the nation interested in preserving today’s born-digital legal information materials as well as continuing to preserve our beloved print collections. This blog post serves as a glimpse inside the LIPA organization; it is in no way meant to be a comprehensive summary or analysis of the consortium.

The Legal Information Preservation Alliance (LIPA) is a non-profit consortium of academic, federal, state, and public law libraries who are currently working on or may need assistance in beginning projects on the preservation of print and electronic legal information. LIPA can assist member libraries with a whole host of preservation activities including directing law libraries as to standards and best practices, connecting you with those who have experience with similar preservation projects, and suggesting resources for your library preservation projects.

As a member of the LIPA consortium you gain access to the Legal Information Archive. The Legal Information Archive is invaluable as it is a collaborative digital archive that aims to preserve and ensure permanent access to vital legal information, some which may now only be published in digital format; or born-digital.[1] A large part of this archive is made up by the Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group which includes collections from Georgetown Law Library, Maryland State Law Library, Virginia State Law Library, and Harvard Law Library. The Legal Information Archive contains government, policy, and legal information archived from the internet through this partnership between the respective state and academic law library partners. [2]  A quick perusal of this database lets the user see that there is legal information preserved as far back as 1912 and as current as 2018.[3]

Notably, LIPA collaborated with Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress) to create the Law Review Preservation Program. With funding support from LIPA, law reviews that choose to publish on the bepress Digital Commons platform may be automatically archived in CLOCKSS.[4] CLOCKSS is a non-profit  venture between academic publishers and research libraries who aim to build a sustainable dark archive to ensure the “long-term survival of Web-based scholarly publications for the benefit of the greater global research community.”[5] A dark archive is a secure digital repository that does not typically grant public access, but only preserves the information it contains. However, in the event that a law review becomes unavailable from the university or the publisher, “it will be triggered from CLOCKSS under and open-access Creative Commons license, guaranteeing that the law review articles will remain in the public domain forever.”[6] The content in CLOCKSS dark archive is secured with LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe) program out of Stanford University Libraries.[7]

A final noteworthy project developed by LIPA and the NELLCO Law Library consortium is PALMPrint or Preserving America’s Legal Materials in Print. PALMPrint is devoted to preserving U.S. federal and state primary legal materials. All of the materials are housed in a 125,000 square foot facility at William B. Meyer high density library storage in Windsor, CT. PALMPrint currently contains approximately 70,000 volumes of federal and state materials that have been donated by an ever growing list of law libraries. It is good to note that unlike CLOCKSS, PALMPrint is not a dark archive. While LIPA and NELLCO expect there to be minimal use of the collection, it is available to participating libraries.[8]

It goes without saying that as law librarians we all understand the importance of continuing access to legal information. Not to mention, access to information goes hand-in-hand with access to justice and both of those access tenets are central to our democratic nation. Hopefully, the information provided here will spark renewed interest or possibly lead new libraries to the wonderful organization. Links have been provided throughout and in the footnotes so that readers may explore the LIPA webpage and gain a more thorough understanding of this incredibly necessary and important consortium.

[1] LIPA, https://lipalliance.org/related-projects/legal-information-archive/ (last visited Feb. 28, 2017).

[2] LIPA, https://lipalliance.org/related-projects/the-chesapeake-project/ (last visited Feb. 28, 2017).

[3] The Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group, http://cdm266901.cdmhost.com/cdm/search (last visited Feb. 28, 2017).

[4] LIPA, https://lipalliance.org/related-projects/law-review-preservation-program/ (last visited Feb. 28, 2017).

[5] The CLOCKSS Archive, https://clockss.org/clockss/Home (last visited Feb. 28, 2017).

[6] LIPA, https://lipalliance.org/related-projects/law-review-preservation-program/ (last visited Feb. 28, 2017).

[7] Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe, https://www.lockss.org/ (last visited Feb. 28, 2017).

[8] LIPA, https://lipalliance.org/related-projects/print-retention/ (last visited Feb. 28, 2017).

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About bwadler

Brandon is a Reference Librarian (and unofficial Rare Book Librarian and Inter Library Loan Librarian) at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law Library. She joined Loyola Law after nearly two years of service to the judiciary at the Louisiana Supreme Court in the Law Library of Louisiana. A graduate of the Loyola New Orleans College of Law, Brandon completed her J.D. in Common Law with a certificate in Civil Law. In addition, Brandon has a Master's degree in Information Science from the Florida State University. She focuses on Louisiana legal history and issues concerning access to information. Her research interests include: mixed jurisdictions, rare law books, Spanish and Louisiana legal history, canon law, the intersection of law, religion, and society, and the relationship of graphic novels and the law. Brandon is the President of the New Orleans Association of Law Libraries and is an active member of the American Association of Law Libraries as a contributor to the RIPS Blog and an Outreach Committee member for the Legal History and Rare Book Special Interest Section.
This entry was posted in Access to Justice, ebooks, Issues in Law Librarianship, Library Collections, Open Access and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Access to Legal Information: A Look at the Legal Information Preservation Alliance

  1. Melissa Bernstein says:

    Thank you for raising awareness about LIPA! We are always looking for new members…https://lipalliance.org/

  2. Margie Maes says:

    Thank you for helping to promote LIPA and its mission! Anyone can subscribe to the LIPA listserv (contact mkmaes@gmail.com) or follow our blog at https://lipalliance.org/blog-2/. We are introducing new projects and services this year, and we offer webinars and conference programs regularly.

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