March 18, 2004
The Law Library of Congress has awarded a five-year contract to develop and implement major enhancements to the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN). The improvements are necessary to respond to the challenges of globalization and an increasing demand for online legal research resources. Initial designs for the upgraded GLIN system are expected to be unveiled this August. “This major system re-design will keep in step with 21st Century expectations for GLIN performance,” said Dr. Rubens Medina, the Law Librarian of Congress and Chairman of the GLIN Executive Council.
Initiated by the Law Library in 1993, GLIN is a voluntary federation of governments that contribute official legal documents to its Internet database. GLIN was recently honored at a Worldwide Forum on e-Democracy as an organization that “has made outstanding e-political and e-government achievements that have forever changed the political process.” Currently, 25 national and international governing bodies contribute legal documents to GLIN. The growing online digital database contains statutes, regulations and related legal materials that originate from countries in the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia.
The contract was awarded to Advanced Technology Systems (ATS) of McLean, VA, which will work with the Law Library to design an enhanced system using appropriate technology to expand GLIN digital resources, including the capability to input documents such as court decisions and legislative records, improve the user interface with contemporary graphics and “user friendly” features, and expand GLIN’s multilingual features. “We are pleased to have been selected and we are excited by the opportunity to work on this important initiative to build a world-class legal information system,” said Andrew Spell, Project Manager for Advanced Technology Systems.
GLIN offers newly emerging democracies such as Afghanistan a ready-made system to organize, process, preserve, and retrieve their laws. In addition, GLIN complements efforts by many countries to create national-level legal information systems by offering a digital online tool to disseminate their laws for study by researchers not specially trained in their legal systems.
The newly upgraded system will support the policy, adopted by GLIN members in September, to open the entire database to the public except where copyright or distribution agreements of particular countries preclude this. Only summaries of laws have been available to the public while access to the full texts was restricted to GLIN members.
The technical upgrade is made possible by a Congressional appropriation that also provides funds for targeted promotion to expand GLIN membership in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Further, Congress provided support for a retrospective project that will provide unprecedented access to the laws of 19 Latin American GLIN members.
The mission of the Law Library of Congress is to provide research and legal information to Congress, the federal courts and executive branch agencies, and to offer reference services to the public. It contains the world’s largest collection of law books and other resources from all countries. GLIN was developed to support the Law Library’s research and reference services and increase digital access to its unparalleled collections.