Reviewing the Michigan partnership-p.1
2– Building the off-site scanning program-p.2
3– Gifts from near and far- p.3
4– Useful links from LLMC-Digital -p. 4
Reviewing the Michigan Partnership
1 September 2006 we will celebrate the third anniversary of LLMC-Digital going live. We also will be completing our fourth year
of what was originally conceived as a four-year “incubation period” in
partnership with, and more or less under the tutelage of, the University of
Michigan Library System's digital library program. Time sure do fly!
stated, our original agreement with our Michigan partner envisioned a vaguely
defined initial incubation period, after which LLMC-Digital
would begin to strike out on its own. It should be stressed at the outset that
there is no urgency or deadline involved here. Nobody at the University of
Michigan is yet hinting that we have over-stayed our welcome. For our part, we
are fully conscious of our debt to Michigan. There is no question that we could
not have come to even our present modest level of maturity without their help.
Piggy-backing on their proven expertise was perhaps the only way we could have
entered this field in such relatively trouble free fashion. Knowing what we know
now, our minds boggle at what might have befallen us had we started out
completely on our own.
time has passed, and we owe it to our Michigan partners and ourselves to start
serious planning for our future. The digital world is changing rapidly. Our
Michigan partner is changing too. The whole world is aware that Michigan has
embarked on a major partnership with Google. This will involve a substantial
redirection of its institutional attention and energies. As for LLMC-Digital, it cannot afford to rest on its own modest laurels. As
technology changes and improves, we also must change and improve to remain
relevant. The time has come to take stock and rationalize another
four-or-five-year plan. Next week the full LLMC Board will begin that review in
joint meetings in Ann Arbor with Michigan's digital library principals.
The four main functional
areas in which we partner with Michigan in the creation and management of LLMC-Digital
are as follows:
LLMC itself generates all of the digital content for the site. Once the
digital images are created and proofed, they are shipped to Michigan and
put through a process of Optical Character Recognition (OCRing), which converts
the static images into the digital text needed for full text searching.
The OCR-enhanced images are then mounted on Michigan's large servers, from which
they are “broadcast” to our universe of subscribers.
— Interface maintenance &
development: Our images would be relatively worthless to our users if they were
not imbedded in a system which permits their manipulation and searching in the
many ways we now take for granted in this digital era. The care and feeding of
his system, called the interface, is the responsibility of high end computer
programmers. Their work involves, not only the trouble free maintenance of the
interface as a going opera-tion, but its continuous enhancement and fine tuning
to keep up with progress and rising expectations in the wider world of digital
— Access authentication: A final, if pedestrian, requirement for maintaining the integrity
of a subscriber-financed library in the digital era is the maintenance of a
secure access system that restricts usage to eligible parties. While LLMC's HQ
in Kaneohe serves as the filter for verifying eligibility, Michigan maintains
the actual access mechanisms in combination with the management of its servers.
At present LLMC subsidies
to the University of Michigan for fulfilling the above functions hover at
roughly $500,000 per year. Were we to make no changes, and given our projected
growth over the next four to five years (both in our subscriber base and in
quantity of images being OCRed and mounted on the site), the projected annual
subsidies at the end of that period would likely be in a range of from
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to $1,000,000. These then are the assets we have at our disposal.
meetings in Ann Arbor will focus on all of the above technical areas. We will
seek to identify which functions, or even subfunctions, may be amenable to
transfer in-house within roughly the planning time frame and under what
schedule. In addition, our Board will be canvassing with our Michigan partners
the system improvements that might be achievable within our budget parameters
for all functions, regardless of whether they are brought in-house or remain at
Michigan. Finally, we will be exploring with them, and tapping into their
expertise, on general trends in the digital library world. Where are things
heading? How enduring are our present models? How do we position our service so
that we will be somewhere near the front, rather than at the tail, of future
technological and user-preference developments?
is decided in Ann Arbor next week, the members of our community can rest as-sured
that the LLMC Board is not likely to act precipitately. We have a lot invested
in our present systems, and we will have substantial amounts of money available
for their improvement. Any decisions made in Ann Arbor undoubtedly will require
a serious amount of time and planning in the implementation.
What we hope to be able to report in a subsequent issue of this
newsletter is a general plan that we all can discuss at our annual meeting
during AALL this July in St. Louis.
Building the Off-Site Scanning Program
functional area that has been totally under our own control from the beginning
is data capture. Because of that control, we have been able to adjust rapidly to
new circumstances and to changing expectations for both image-quality and costs.
started out less than four years ago our expectation was that the bulk of the
images mounted on LLMC-Digital would
be de-rived from our masterfiche backfile by means of digitization from the
film. However, within a short time, we learned that substantially better images
could be obtained by scanning from the original paper. Far more important, we
learned that with the right equipment the cost of scanning from paper could be
brought equal to, and in some cases even below, the cost of digitizing from our
fiche. Armed with that knowledge we made a quick, major, mid-course correction,
investing most of our available equipment money into a production line based on
high-speed, industrial-scale scanners. Those high-speed scanners now ac-count
for roughly 90% of our image production. Conversely, we now reserve digitization
from the fiche for only those titles where we are fairly certain that we will
not be able to locate hardcopy. These changes have meant that for eligible
titles we are obtaining better-quality images at roughly one-third the cost.
There is, of
course, a catch. The improved quality and cost savings of the high-speed
scanners works only for dis-bound material. There will always be a class of
rarer books that cannot be sacrificed on the guillotine of lower costs. Of
course, industrial-scale equipment also exists for scanning bound books gently
without destroying their bindings. We already own four of these machines and
will be getting more. These “step-and-repeat scanners resemble somewhat in
mechanical operation the cameras LLMC used in its fiche era.
major improvements with the digital step-and-repeats is that they “take better
pictures” and they treat the books kinder. Another great bonus with the new
digital equipment is that it is much more amenable to operation off-site right
in libraries. No more dark rooms! No more messy chemicals and film-processing
equipment! Instead we now have clean, compact equipment that can be placed
We have capitalized on this new
flexibility by “taking our shovels to the mine”; placing LLMC
step-and-repeat book scanners in libraries with rare book collections too
valuable for shipping to our home plant in Hawaii. Basically we are giving away
scanners (cost roughly $50K apiece) to libraries willing to use their own labor
to scan materials and share digital copies of their treasures with our community
of users. This program enables us to give our users access to research materials
that were beyond our reach in our filming years. As regular readers of this
newsletter know, we now have step-and-repeat scanners at George Washington
University Law Libra-
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Saint Louis University Library (SLU), and the Hawaii State Archives (HSA). All
three of these off-site operations are now providing our LLMC-Digital users with access to valuable research materials
hitherto accessible only by God and the truly anointed among legal researchers. (Endnote
delighted to be able to announce a new recruit to our off-site scanning program.
The Library of Congress (LC) recently agreed to host one of our scanner
installations. Details are still being worked out, but it looks like the
installation will occur in August. Scanning targets for this installation will
come from throughout LC, not just its Law Library. Given that timing, it is
likely that the LC scanner will be the one chosen for live demonstrations at the
LLMC booth at AALL in St. Louis. Do come and check it out.
Gifts from Near and Far
component of the high-speed scanning side of our operations is a steady supply
of discard copies of books that can be dis-bound for scanning purposes. LLMC has
been extremely fortunate in the number of volumes it has received for this
purpose. The list of donors continues to grow.
In the past
two months we have received major gifts of books from three libraries: St.
John's University Law Library in New York City, Lincoln's Inn Library in London,
and the Library of the Honourable Society of Middle Temple, also in London.
Among them the three libraries will be donating roughly 25,000 volumes to the
program. Some of the St. John's books are already in transit. Books from the two
Inn libraries will be consolidated into an ocean shipment that will set out in
June. We know that all LLMC-Digital
sub-scribers will join us in an expression of thanks to these three libraries
for their outstanding contributions to our program.
The bulk of
the St. John's donations are Canadian statutory materials and case-report
series. Their other major contribution is in the area of Irish and Scottish law
reports. The materials accepted from the two London Inn libraries cover a wider
range concentrated mainly in two subject areas: early U.S. and Canadian
statutory material, and statutes and cases from countries targeted in LLMC's
Common Law Abroad project; particularly India and South Africa.
A first consideration in accepting any
gift books is the quality of the paper. In case of duplicates, we accept the
copies likely to yield the best digital images. An additional concern in
assessing and selecting the materials proffered by Middle Temple Library was the
very scale of the offer. We actually were offered roughly 35,000 volumes.
However, the cost of shipping from such a great distance meant that we had to
take an even more judicious approach than usual. Basically your agent (Endnote
No. 2) cherry picked his way through the library's offerings, taking
only those materials that he knew would be difficult to obtain from closer
sources. Thus, while we were offered almost-complete runs of the session laws
for the American states and Canadian provinces up through the World War II
period, he only picked the earlier volumes for each of the states, assuming that
later years were publish-ed in greater quantity and collected more widely, and
thus quite likely to be available later from more economical sources.
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Useful Links from LLMC-Digital
From time to time LLMC-Digital
receives re-quests from non-profit organizations and for-profit companies to add
links from the LLMC site to their online offerings. Some requests would require
substantial programming costs. The LLMC Board has declined that type of linkage,
however worthy, as being premature at this stage in our development. Other
re-quests turn out to be fairly easy to implement. We will assent to the latter
on a case-by-case basis when it appears that establishing the link would provide
real value for our site's patrons.
following two links from LLMC's United Kingdom and Irish collections will be put
in place as part of the next monthly content up-date, appearing in their title
listings along with the following explanatory text:
British & Irish
primary legal materials: “More British and
Irish primary legal material may be accessed in searchable format on a free web
site maintained by the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII).
The major, and constantly growing, feature of this web site is access to all
British and Irish court reports from 1996 to date. In addition to providing free
texts of the cases, the web site (http://www.bailii.org)
manages to provide text with a timeliness unmatched by most other sources. This
speed of delivery results from an arrangement with the British and Irish
judiciaries, which provide BAILII non-exclusive access to the electronic texts of their judgments. By utilizing low-cost methods,
BAILII provides a growing amount of primary and secondary legal material that
can be browsed by the user and/or located by using BAILII's search engine. The
service is a major tool for contemporary legal research and the practice and
teaching of modern British and Irish law. BAILII is a non-profit, charitable
trust hosted in the UK by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Lon-don, and
in Ireland by the Law Faculty of University College, Cork. Donations via the
link on the home page are welcomed.”
Legal history, the
“The Year Books, which were the law reports of medieval England, are
essential to the study of early English Law. They are our main source for the
development of legal doctrines, concepts and methods from 1290 to 1535, a period
during which the common law developed into recognizable form. About 20,000
separate reports or ‘pleas’ have been printed. Others remain in manuscript.
In the words of Price and Bittner: ‘It is generally believed that these
reports ... were originally written down by students or practitioners in open
court, for educational purposes.... Although the first-year law student may have
little occasion to read them, they profoundly influenced the progress of the law
for over three hundred years through their use in treatises and digests.’
One reason why first year law students, and others don't much read the
Year Books is that their mass is difficult to navigate and the cases are
difficult to read once located. Some of those difficulties may now be obviated
through use of a free web site containing an index and para-phrase of all the
printed Year Book reports. The web site is the work of Prof. David J. Seipp of
Boston University Law School. All records in the database identify the opening
line of text (incipit), the length of the report, a full citation, a unique
identifying number, where possible the type of lawsuit (writ), the names of
parties, names of other persons and places mentioned, cross-references to
Abridgements and to related cases, and statutes cited or quoted. All cases
before 1481 name every justice and lawyer who spoke or was mentioned in the
report. All cases before 1481 that
have never before been translated from the original Anglo-Norman law French have
been substantially paraphrased. Full
lists of keywords and descriptions of the process and pleading are given for all
case reports for 1399–1481. Some records index and paraphrase cases that are
only printed in the Abridgements under alphabetical hea-ings. More of these
Abridgement cases will be added over time. The database URL is: http://www.bu.edu/law/seipp
1.) For example our Kaneohe staff is currently processing the tiffs for one
of the rare titles scanned by GWU, Malleus
Maleficarum, an incunabulum and an early Canon Law classic in criminal
procedure. SLU is currently working on scanning a rare set of maps detailing
countrywide the initial allotments by the United States of lands to American
Indians. Finally, HSA already has scanned the official journals of the
legislatures of the Hawaiian Kingdom (1841–1892) and Republic of Hawaii. HSA
now has moved on to the manuscript journals of the Privy Council of the Kingdom.
Until now most of this material has been totally inaccessible to most of
Hawaii's citizens; to say nothing of the rest of the research world. With this
project LLMC will go some way toward repaying its debt of gratitude to the State
of Hawaii for serving as our host for these many years.
Lest this posting inspire unseemly envy, it should be noted that the inspection
occurred during one of the coldest London winters on record and that the
Temple's books were housed in an unheated attic. However, your agent's
discomfort was mitigated when the Inn provided shelter in a cozy
apartment-cum-fireplace-and-kitchen once assigned to the use of the late Chief
Justice Warren Burger.
3rd. ed., Boston, Little, Brown & Co., p. 319. Note that P&B give the
coverage dates for the Year Books as being 1282–1537.