Trusting What’s Online: An Interview with Hays Butler

This is the second in a series of interviews with the 2012-2013 chairs of AALL’s three policy committees: the Copyright Committee, Digital Access to Legal Information Committee, and Government Relations Committee.

Hays Butler is the Associate Professor & Librarian at Rutgers University Law School Library and chair of the Digital Access to Legal Information (DALI) Committee. The Government Relations Office recently sent Hays a number of questions about the status of his committee’s work. Here’s what he had to say:

The DALI Committee was instrumental in analyzing the data from AALL’s National Inventory of Legal Materials. Can you explain how people can use the new chart?

The new chart shows state trends concerning online legal materials with respect to authentication, official status, preservation, permanent public access, and copyright. The information contained in the chart can be used to draw conclusions about how a particular state treats online legal materials. The material contained in the chart would provide excellent source material for articles on the importance of official, authentic, permanent online legal information and the need to enact UELMA particularly in states that have begun to replace print legal materials with online materials.

The chart provides links to the underlying inventories of legal materials in each state. The committee hopes to turn the chart into a wiki in the future to enable librarians in each jurisdiction to keep the char up-to-date.

 Please tell us about some of the initiatives that the DALI Committee is working on this year.

The DALI Committee has three subcommittees that do the work of the committee. One subcommittee is devoted to citation reform and is working on a new edition of AALL’s guide to universal citation. The second committee is concerned with the National Inventory of Legal Materials.. In addition to the inventory chart, the subcommittee has been working on definitions of important terms like preservation, permanent public access, copyright, and official statusl. The committee is also exploring working with the Legal Information Preservation Alliance (LIPA) and the Technical Services SIS committee on preservation. The final DALIC subcommittee is working on best practices criteria for online legal information.

 What is the committee doing to support the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act?

Members of the committee are working on articles supporting the enactment of UELMA in individual states.  These articles will be published in state bar journals, in Spectrum and Law Library Journal, as well as online sources, such as LLRX.com. Committee members are also supporting the adoption of UELMA in their own states.

What resources would you recommend to AALL members who would like to learn more about authentication, permanent public access, preservation and citation issues?

There a web page on access to legal information that contains links to  the text of UELMA, as well as to materials on citation reform, guidelines for evaluating government information on the web, and principles and core values concerning public information on government web sites. There is also on that page a link to a web page on digital authentication that contains the 2011-2012 State Legal Inventories Chart, as well as the 2009-2010 state summary updates on authentication of online legal resources. Finally, for those involved in enacting UELMA in individual states, there is  a UELMA page in the Advocacy Toolkit. This page contains many resources that would be very helpful in advocacy efforts concerning UELMA.

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