Approved July 2021, Board Meeting, Minutes: Tab 10
Law librarianship is built upon the foundation that a free and democratic society depends upon public access to legal information. Public access to legal information plays a key role in achieving access to justice.
The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Ethical Principles and the AALL Government Relations Policy reflect the legal information profession’s enduring commitment to promoting public access to official legal information. AALL believes that federal, state, and local governments have a duty to ensure open, equitable, and reliable online access to legal information.
The Guiding Principles for Public Access to Legal Information on Government Websites (Guiding Principles) build on the AALL Ethical Principles and the AALL Government Relations Policy. The Guiding Principles are intended to help law librarians and legal information professionals support government efforts to provide greater public access to legal information on government websites.
Open access to legal information is supported by policies that allow information to be accessed and used without restrictions and at no cost to the user. The following elements support open access to legal information:
- Information is available to the public at no cost.
- Clear instructions are provided on how to conduct searches, with plain language explanations of any materials that are retrieved.
- A statement is provided about whether the legal information on the website is an official or unofficial version.
Equitable access to legal information is supported by policies that promote unrestricted public access to all, including those with disabilities and those with limited internet access. The following elements support equitable access to legal information:
- All federal, state, and local web accessibility laws, regulations, and policies are adhered to.
- Accommodations are provided for the use of assistive technologies.
- Compatibility with all devices including desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones is offered.
- Options are available to support low bandwidth use.
- Accurate translation options are accessible for non-English speaking users.
- Privacy and security protections are enforced to ensure that any personally identifiable information is made anonymous.
Legal information published on government websites is reliable when the information is trustworthy and accurate. The following elements support reliable access to legal information:
- Information is comprehensive, current, and provided in full text.
- Historical versions, including amendments, additions, and deletions are retained and accessible.
- Appropriate safeguards are in place to protect the integrity and authenticity of the materials, including when updates are made to new technologies.