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Law Library of Congress deposits their legal reports in HeinOnline

According to a new post on the Law Library of Congress In Custodia Legis blog, the Law Library of Congress Legal Reports are now being made available on the subscription legal database HeinOnline. They state that they will continue to publish these important historical legal reports on their law.gov site. There are currently 4072 reports on law.gov.

Please note that HeinOnline is a subscription database — and one to which my library has long subscribed and for good reason! — so these law reports are only freely available via the LOC site. I hope the Law Library will continue to make their legal reports freely available via law.gov. It would be a travesty if these public domain legal reports were sequestered behind a subscription pay wall thus taking them out of the public domain for all intents and purposes.

The benefit of having them on HeinOnline is that researchers with institutional access to Hein can find LOC legal reports within a wider corpus of legal materials including case law, law reviews, US code, US Serial Set, international resources and a whole host of other special and specialized legal collections. HeinOnline also makes bibliographic records available so that libraries can include those materials in their library catalogs. But that benefit does not extend to the general public — unless the general public were to go into an Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) library near them (many if not all of the academic and legal libraries who are FDLP members will also subscribe to HeinOnline and allow on-site access to their subscription databases 😉 ).

Among the many resources that the Law Library is renowned for is the preparation of legal reports on foreign, comparative, and international law topics. As we continue to publish contemporary and historical legal reports on law.gov on a weekly basis, the Law Library of Congress is proud to announce that our legal reports will now also be accessible via HeinOnline. These reports are written by foreign law specialists at the Law Library and cover 300+ jurisdictions, addressing specific legal issues in a particular country or providing a comparative analysis of legal and legislative approaches to an individual problem across a multitude of countries. They are often written in response to requests from Congress or executive branch agencies and may be cited as expert resources. Some of the reports on the Law Library’s website date back to the 1940s, providing a historical glimpse into important legal questions from that time.

To access the Law Library of Congress Legal Reports when visiting HeinOnline, you can simply search “Law Library of Congress Legal Reports,” or browse the databases by name where the Law Library of Congress is currently at the bottom of the left column … The oldest law report in the collection was published in 1911, and there are currently 4,000 legal reports published by the Law Library of Congress on HeinOnline.

Announcing a Congress.gov Virtual Public Forum on September 10th!

Here’s a great chance to offer feedback and learn more about Congress.gov from the Law Library of Congress. Register now for the Congress.gov Virtual Public Forum scheduled for September 10, 2020, from 10:00 a.m. – noon EDT. They’ll be talking specifically about data modernization at the library, and who better to talk to LoC about data than government information librarians?! Sign up now!

This online event is scheduled for September 10, 2020, from 10:00 a.m. – noon EDT.

During the public forum, Robert will provide a recap of the enhancements made to Congress.gov over the last year. I will cover what we are currently working on and initial priorities for the future. We will also have a panel of our data partners, including from the House, Senate and Government Publishing Office that will discuss the data modernization occurring across Capitol Hill and the importance of data standards. Fred Simonton will provide an overview of a new survey for you to share your feedback for Congress.gov. There will also be a question and answer period to discuss enhancements and prioritization.

Law Library of Congress acquires Federal Register from Hein. Yay access, but questions remain

Here’s the good news: The Law Library of Congress has acquired the digital Federal Register (1936 – 1993) from Hein, which until now had only given licensed access to the collection to libraries which had subscribed. The collection is available from the LoC website.

But this raises a few troubling questions:

  1. While the collection seems to be in the Public Domain, the Library of Congress, in its agreement with Hein, states that access “precludes bulk downloading and commercial reuse” and “is provided for personal, educational, and research use.” I’m not a lawyer, but I was unaware that Public Domain material could have license restrictions placed on its use. This small print limits both public access and digital preservation efforts.
  2. Related to #1, I don’t mind the block on the commercial reuse, but bulk access would be very cool for the researchers I know who are interested in corpus and textual analysis. LC should have a process in place to facilitate that kind of access. Bulk access should also be allowed for Web harvesting and preservation efforts of the Internet Archive and others.
  3. The historical content is not yet available via FDsys (which has 1994 – present) or federalregister.gov (also 1994 – present), and I’m not sure if LC’s historical content will be integrated with the current content as it should be since the content 1994 – present is controlled by NARA and GPO. This also limits access as users will need to know that they need to search at least 2 sites to get access to the complete run of FRs.
  4. Related to #3, what will happen to the Government Publishing Office’s project in partnership with the National Archives currently underway to digitize the Federal Register itself and make it available via FDsys/govinfo.gov/federalregister.gov? If GPO and NARA decide that LC’s access is good enough, will they pull the plug on their project? This would be a very bad thing because the GPO/NARA project *will* give access to the historic run (1936 – 1993) in conjunction with the material already available on FDsys and federalregister.gov. And that content will no doubt be in the public domain, will be available for bulk download and will make its way into LOCKSS-USDOCS for distributed preservation by FDLP libraries.

In conclusion, pretty good access to the historic Federal Register is pretty good, but the American public deserve amazing access AND digital preservation assurances for the long term.

The Law Library acquired this collection from William S. Hein & Co., Inc. to make all volumes of the Federal Register available in open access to researchers.  The collection starts with the first Federal Register in 1936 and contains all volumes through 1993. For more recent volumes, see federalregister.gov and FDSys (volumes 1994-2015). The Law Library website for the collection is //www.loc.gov/collections/federal-register/.

via Federal Register Volumes Now Available Online | In Custodia Legis: Law Librarians of Congress.