The National Assembly Library of the Republic of Korea hosted the joint GLIN/International Legal Information Conference from September 6-10, 2010 in Seoul, Korea. The theme of the conference was “The Future of Legal Information Service: Promoting the Global Open Access.” Some 22 countries presented reports on how they post laws and court decisions (and sometimes legal literature) online as part of the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN), the infrastructure run by the Library of Congress, but with decentralized local workstations. The process is government to government, transferring authenticated official legal information. GLIN has been particularly useful in using technology and a common platform/search engine/thesaurus to help emerging countries in Latin America and Africa make their laws available online. Korea, Argentina, Brazil, Kuwait, and others are major contributors to GLIN. The slides from my presentation at the conference on “Digitizing the World’s Laws: Evolution and Revolution” are available here. For more on the conference, click here.
At the recent International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) meeting in Gothenburg, Sweden, access to information was reaffirmed as a basic human right. Many countries now provide online access to legal information such as statutes, codes, regulations, court decisions, and international agreements. The big question is whether the digital version of this information is official like the print version, and whether the digital version has been authenticated through a secure server or digital signature to ensure that the content has not been altered. Another issue that has emerged is the fragility and obsolescence of the digital medium and the need for preservation and long-term access, particularly for born-digital legal information which has no paper equivalent. Why does it matter? In an environment where online sources are replacing official print versions of legal information, citizens need to be able to trust the “official word of the law.” More information at http://www.ifla.org/files/hq/papers/ifla76/96-germain-en.pdf, and in French at http://ifla2010ulaval.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/seance-1-sur-les-bibliotheques-de-droit-et-les-publications-officielles-ou-gouvernementales/.
The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) just released its new World Report which analyzes freedom of information and freedom of expression in 122 countries, in the form of a country-by-country fully searchable database, complete with graphical map interface. The report includes questions of:
- Internet access in libraries and freedom of access to information;
- Copyright; and
- The role of libraries in universal primary education and environmental sustainability.
The report was developed by a team at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, led by Professor Theo Bothma and contains details of the library environment in 122 countries. The analysis of the data shows that, on the one hand, there are still many countries where violations of intellectual freedom occur — such incidents were reported in 109 of the 122 countries — while on the other hand, many individual libraries have implemented innovative projects to improve access to information.
HeinOnline’s World Constitutions Illustrated is a great new resource for comparative constitutional law research. It contains the current constitution for every country; past constitutions; substantial constitutional histories for the United Kingdom, France, Brazil and Colombia (among others); more than 800 classic books about constitutional law; more than a dozen legal periodicals focused on constitutional law; links to scholarly articles and online resources, and bibliographies of important works. Every country is linked directly to its primary and secondary resources; for instance, you can go to France and view all the resources related to the constitutional and political development of the country, all in one place. The publisher invites librarians, scholars, and constitutional law experts from all over the world to contribute their works and knowledge to help continue building the constitutional development for every country.