Are There Drawbacks to Law Libraries Going Digital?

Are There Drawbacks to Law Libraries Going Digital?

It's good that people can get access to materials much more easily. But our concern is that the government or a court agency, publishing online, might run out of space on its hard drive, and decide on its own what to delete. Then, all of a sudden you don't have it online and you don't have it in print, either.


There are some groups that are working to address these issues. One is the Law Library Microform Consortium. LLMC preserves legal material in microfilm format. They have been scanning the microfilm and making digital files that are available on the LLMC Digital website.

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It's the same problems that come up again and again with new endeavours.
Bandwidth being one issue. Profitability being another. If a company isn't going to get the (often excorbitant) money from selling either the print or access to their online systems then they can just close up shop. There are of course groups that are backing up print and electronic version of publishing companies output with their permission and help in case a company goes bust or a title becomes orphaned when dropped or lost when a company is taken over but it costs money to not only host (storage and bandwidth), maintain (updating materials to new storage and display mediums in the future) and regulate (needs staff to make sure things are actually done, contracts made and followed up on). This is something that only really a governmental organisation can do under the mandate of a national law. These issues need to be enforced and especially funded from on-high with a non-ending mandate to capture, host, maintain and manage all materials that would be of use for it's population.
Sometimes things do need to be done by governments and not just left to well-meaning (and hard-working consortia and volunteers.

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