Sunday, March 02, 2014

Open Access for Law School Journals and more

The Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship was signed by the Directors of twelve major University Law Libraries in February of 2009. In the statement, they call for “all law schools to stop publishing their journals in print format and to rely instead on electronic publication coupled with a commitment to keep the electronic versions available in stable, open, digital formats.

What is open access? Last December, Sarah Glassmeyer published an article called “Give Open a Chance in Law” in LLRX, Sabrina Pacifici’s Web journal. Sarah says “Open means the material or tool is unencumbered by legal and physical traits that inhibit its use by others.” It means we can find the law that we are looking for. She goes on to discuss open access to primary law, scholarship produced in the academic world, treatises and practice materials, and tools that analyze or manipulate legal material. Her audience includes practicing attorneys and law professors.

What does this mean for patrons of the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries? It means that we all need to be keeping our eyes and ears open to determine the best way to access legal material as formats and access points change. Your librarian would be a good person to ask about this. As for those law school journals that you used to read in print, you will find better, if not exclusive, access in the electronic world. For now, with your Trial Court Law Libraries Library Card, you can have remote access to HeinOnline, which includes full text for nearly 1200 Journals.