In the mid 1990's a group of insightful Presidents of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), the Australian Law Librarians' Group (now the Australian Law Librarians' Association – ALLA), the British and Irish Association of Law Libraries (BIALL), and the Canadian Association of Law Libraries/Association Canadienne des Bibliotheques de Droit (CALL/ACBD) conceived of an Institute where learning of the host country's legal heritage and traditions was to be featured. Designed to be "high level" these Institutes were to attract faculty who were otherwise respected professionals in the law library community, leading scholars, academics, authors, think tank specialists, futurists, philosophers, jurists, lawyers and historians. The meetings were to be held in a desirable venue for an intensive, but informal several days of thinking and learning. The hope was to attract delegates primarily of the other nationalities but not to the exclusion of the host country's citizens.
Such was the success of the first JSI hosted by BIALL at the University of Cambridge in 1998 that the ALLA asked to be included as a host country. In 2000 Yale University was the venue for the JSI on behalf of AALL. 2002 saw CALL/ACBD hosting the JSI at Royal Roads University on Vancouver Island and in 2004, the ALLA hosted a very successful JSI in Sydney with some helpful input from the New Zealand Law Librarians' Association (NZLLA).
Having completed the first cycle of Joint Study Institutes, a meeting was held at the Sydney JSI to discuss whether they had a future. All the associations were represented and it was unanimously decided that the Joint Study Institutes performed a very useful function in bringing law librarians from the common law jurisdictions together, not least because of their size (they vary from 30 – 60 people which enables excellent networking) and that they should therefore continue. The first JSI of cycle two was hosted by BIALL at Oxford University in 2006. During that JSI, the New Zealand Law Libraries Association requested to officially join the sponsorship group.
The links below provide more detailed information on each of the preceding Joint Study Institutes.