vol. 13, no. 3: May 1999
The American Society of International Law Annual
Thematic Dinner Program "International E-Pubs: Evaluating,
Cataloging, Using, Archiving
Reference Librarian and Adjunct Professor
Brooklyn Law School
On Thursday, March 25, 1999, M. Kathleen
Price, Director of the Law Library and Professor of Law, New York University
School of Law Library, and Jill Watson, Director of Library and Information
Services, The American Society of International Law ("ASIL"), led a provocative
discussion on international electronic publications. Professor Price noted
that the American Journal of International Law ("AJIL") is
the only legal journal included in JSTOR, a database of well-known scholarly
journals in fields such as mathematics, history, and political science.
By establishing an archiving arrangement (currently, 1907-1995 AJIL
materials are available) with JSTOR, ASIL is setting a positive example.
Professor Price and Director Watson emphasized that information professionals
and other researchers cannot rely on LEXIS-NEXIS and WESTLAW databases
as official archives for legal journals. The LEXIS-NEXIS and WESTLAW standards
for legal journal availability are not comprehensive. Also, journals available
today may not be accessible tomorrow through these vendors.
Professor Price explained that William
S. Hein & Co., Inc. is developing a prototype for complete backfiles
of all journals (to which Hein can secure the rights) in the Index to
Legal Periodicals and Books. To enhance word-in-text searching of the
journal data, Hein will do bitmapping plus "dirty ocr." Hein hopes to contract
with George Washington University, which has already begun indexing the
journal data by author, title, and subject. Interested persons may contact
Daniel Rosati of Hein, 1 (800) 828-7571, for a free trial. Hein would like
feedback regarding 1) which journals are most important to researchers
and 2) whether recent or old articles would be more likely to be used,
given some preexisting availability of data through services such as LEXIS-NEXIS
The program leaders and attendees noted
that there are a few examples of true international law-related
electronic journals. Yale Law School publishes the electronic Yale Human
Rights & Development Law Journal. The web page for this journal,
includes the helpful instructions "How To Read Our Articles Online" and
"How To Cite and Link to Our Articles." Each article in a particular issue
receives a number on the "Contents" page, and the Editorial Board instructs
researchers to cite to particular paragraphs of an article. The staff also
is publishing print volumes of this journal. Additionally, Duke University
School of Law has mounted all of its journals in electronic format, including
the Duke Journal of Comparative & International Law (see http://www.law.duke.edu/journals/djcil/).
Those present defined key issues regarding
international electronic journals: pricing, licensing, cataloging versus
not cataloging on the World Wide Web, archiving, customizing, determining
the future of the traditional print law school journal, and establishing
faculty "peer reviewed" legal publications. Director Watson then asked
attendees to consider: How long will the current form of HTML last? Will
old files in HTML slip away if a new format replaces HTML?
As explained by Professor Price, the Research
Libraries Group ("RLG") has decided that digitizing everything (such
as all laws of a foreign country) is too expensive. RLG participants such
as New York University and the University of Pennsylvania plan to digitize
indexes and to continue to microform text. New York University has purchased
digitization on demand equipment from Canon to deliver microform as electronic
files or in paper copy.
Marylin Raisch, International, Comparative,
and Foreign Law Librarian, Arthur W. Diamond Law Library, Columbia Law
School, noted that her institution electronically archives human and constitutional
rights materials. Refer to the documents available at the Human &
Constitutional Rights Web Site http://www.hrcr.org/docs/index.html.
Radu Popa, Associate Director for Global
Library Services and International Law Librarian, New York University School
of Law Library, pointed out that as long as an electronic resource is not
paginated in the same manner as its print equivalent, and The Bluebook
discourages citation to Internet sources, law professors and students will
still ask librarians for print sources. Others supported him, noting the
language of current Bluebook Rule 17.3.3: "citation to Internet
sources is discouraged unless the materials are unavailable in printed
form or are difficult to obtain in their original form." Associate Director
Popa also reminded participants that there are still some print publications,
such as the Netherlands International Law Review (which includes
status information on many private international law treaties), that provide
data which is not yet fully available through World Wide Web sites.
John Gamble, Professor of Political Science,
The Pennsylvania State University, said that faculty members still need
to publish in print reviews and journals for promotion and tenure.
Others commented that law faculties, unlike astronomers, have not yet embraced
the concept of an e-article that might change form as others responded
to the article. Many agreed that if the next edition of The Bluebook
deals with electronic publications in a more detailed, positive manner,
a greater number of legal scholars will cite to electronic data.
Participants learned that ASIL's currently
free, valuable electronic publication, International Law in Brief,
might soon become a fee-based product. Professor Gamble led the discussion
of how much readers would be willing to pay for this current awareness
source that links to World Wide Web primary data. He asked whether those
who use this source value the editorial commentary or primarily regard
the electronic publication as an "events and documents alert" service.
Please share your views regarding the content of, and pricing for, International
Law in Brief with ASIL.
Those interested in electronic publications
should note that at the 1999 Annual Meeting of the American Association
of Law Libraries 1) the FCIL-SIS Electronic Issues Working Group will meet
on Sunday, July 18th at 8:00 am, and 2) "At the Crossroads
in the Age of Electronic Publishing: The Potential Impact of Electronic
Publishing on Law Libraries, Legal Education, and Legal Scholarship" (Program
A-2) will occur on Sunday, July 18th at 10 am.
The existence of Dynamic HTML should not
preclude browsers from reading lower levels of HTML.
ASIL is offering individual ASIL members
World Wide Web access to the AJIL (1907-1995) in JSTOR for a low
fee. The introductory 6-month offer costs $15.00. ASIL members may telephone
1 (202) 939-6000 for further information.
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