LA Law & LLMC Sign FCIL Compact

Regular readers of this newsletter will have been tracking that, over the past year and a half, LLMC has steadily been developing strategies, and upgrading its capabilities, for scanning and delivering to our member libraries much enhanced offerings of research materials relating to Foreign, Comparative, and International Law (FCIL).

  • We began in February, 2012, with a report that a greater FCIL focus would be a big part of our Next-Ten-Year Plan.[1]
  • In April, 2012, we announced the recruitment of Stephen Wiles, Senior Librarian for Foreign, International and Comparative Law at Harvard Law Library to our HQ staff; thus bringing greatly enhanced language and subject capacity to the effort.[2]
  • In July, 2012, we reported on the building out of our off-site scanning network to increase our capacity to access FCIL materials.[3]
  • In November, 2012, we reported that a major focus of our 2-year renewal of our partnership with the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) would be building up our FCIL collections, and early in this year we described how we had established the FCIL content goals for the LLMC/CRL partnership for 2013-14.[4]
  • Finally, in this year’s February & May newsletters we reported on major gifts of FCIL titles for scanning from the New York City Bar Library, Fordham University Law Library, the New York Law Institute Library, and the University of Washington Law Library.[5]

With this issue we are pleased to report on the creation of yet another vital, indeed essential, new link in the LLMC FCIL Preservation Program ­– an exciting new expansion of our long-time collaboration with LA Law Library, the second largest public law library in the country.

As readers know, many of the FCIL titles held by our member libraries are locked in copy-right and won’t be accessible for scanning and distribution for many years. Also, as far too many readers are personally and sadly aware, some of our libraries are losing the physical capacity to safely store their FCIL materials, or for that matter, even all of their domestic legal heritage.

Economic pressures are forcing many libra-ries to downsize and abandon parts of their FCIL holdings; including official government gazettes, statutes, case law, treatises, and journals. This creates a real danger that, unless suitable storage solutions are found, many titles will not survive to that day when they can be digitized. The need for interim storage, which could last for decades, applies particularly to FCIL titles, where the holders of original print volumes are few, and where the loss of even one or two of the current repositories poses a significant threat to the survival of much of the literature.

Since LLMC is not equipped, either organiza-tionally, or with the requisite infrastructure, to provide orderly and safe interim storage for the large amount of FCIL material awaiting digitization in future years, it has been seek-ing a partner in the traditional library world to take on that role. We are honored to reveal an enhanced linkage with LA Law Library, an exceptionally capable institution, that is willing and able to take on two new key functions.

First, LA Law Library will assume the vital role of providing interim storage for the bulk of now-in-copyright FCIL materials until the time when they become accessible for preser-vation scanning and online distribution to the wider legal research community. Second, LA Law Library will catalog and submit to OCLC each of the titles it accepts so that there will be a high-quality, reliable, globally accessible and searchable description for each item.

LA Law Library is one of the nation’s prin-cipal repositories for in-depth collections of FCIL materials. As such, it is deeply interest-ed in the survival of the literature upon which its historical mission, and its standing in the world research community, was established.

In addition, LA Law has recently been en-gaged in the development of a strategic plan addressing its future as a vibrant community education center and a leader in providing public access to legal knowledge. The survival and methodical growth of its FCIL collection, and the Library’s role in the global legal community, have been pivotal points in this planning process.

On another front, LA Law has already under-taken the digitization of its massive holdings of California appellate court records and briefs. This project, while worthy on its own terms, also frees up Library shelf space which can be used to accommodate growth in the FCIL collection.

Building on their existing and very successful scanning program, which has contributed thousands of volumes to the LLMC-Digital holdings, these sister institutions, LA Law Library and LLMC, have undertaken another long-range effort to secure their common ends.

LLMC offers the digitization capacity that could eventually enable LA Law Library to migrate at low cost the bulk of its collections, especially its uniquely valuable FCIL core, to a modern, searchable, and enduring format.  In addition, LLMC has in place a permanent archival storage facility in its Kansas salt mines that can absorb unlimited amounts of print material post-digitization and thus en-sure the permanent preservation of the paper.

LA Law Library has the capacity to catalog and integrate FCIL titles that are divested from other collections, but fully deserving of eventual digitization. LA Law Library can thus ensure, both that the imperiled materials will survive long enough to be scanned, and also that, in the interim, they can be made accessible to the public and other libraries as part of LA Law Library’s own extensive in-copyright holdings.

To effect their common purpose in achieving this synergy, the two parties recently conclud-ed a formal agreement spelling out the work-ing details, and the LA Law Library Board of Trustees has given its formal approval.

Further details regarding the implementation of the LLMC/LA Law Library FCIL compact will be elaborated upon in future newsletters. But for now, those who have worried that little or nothing was being done in the area of FCIL preservation can breathe a bit easier. This problem is going to be solved. LA Law and LLMC are on the case![6]

[1] See archive on, Issue 50, p.2

[2] See Issue 51, pp. 1-2

[3] See Issue 52, p. 4.

[4] See Issue 54, p. 1 & Issue 55, p. 1,

[5] See Issue 55, pp. 2-3, & Issue 55, pp. 2-3

[6] LA Law Library and LLMC would like to give special recognition to Marcia Koslov and Jerry Dupont, two farsighted librarian colleagues who developed the initial concept that ultimately led to the current partnership.