New Jersey Digital Legal Library

The following chapter excerpt is from the third section of Digitization in the Real World; "The Digital Campus: Digitization in Universities and Their Libraries." Download the entire chapter for free (PDF) or purchase the book online at Amazon.com.

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Author

Wei Fang (Rutgers University)

Abstract

The New Jersey Digital Legal Library (NJDLL) was launched in 2003 and it’s been up and running since then. NJDLL has sixteen collections with about 500 video clips and 20,000 electronic documents. It has served over 300,000 visitors and is popular among legal professionals and researchers. The goal of this project is to create a Web-based digital library where patrons can browse and search for previously unavailable New Jersey legal information. In this article, the author presents the background history of the NJDLL, how it was constructed, workflows, and how problems were solved in depth. Future development suggestions are also discussed.  

Introduction

As part of the Rutgers University School of Law, the Rutgers University Law Library – Newark with its more than half a million volumes of printed books is the largest law library in New Jersey. Its collections include state and federal statutes and court decisions, federal and New Jersey regulations and administrative decisions, federal and New Jersey legislative history materials, the codes of ordinances for many New Jersey municipalities, Anglo-American legal periodicals, the primary materials of international law, extensive historical materials on English law, and a special collection of criminology and criminal justice materials. The library has served the law school and the surrounding legal community for more than a century. Our law librarians wanted to share the unique collections that the law library had with others in the world and the only way to do it was to convert the collections into digital documents and host them online via the Internet.

The NJDLL project focuses on legal materials related to New Jersey. The target audience groups are legal professionals, historians, researchers and the general public.  After more than five years of development, its collections include electronic legal documents as well as New Jersey Supreme Court oral arguments archives. The NJDLL project was first proposed in the fall of 2000 by Paul Axel-Lute, the collection development librarian, and was initialized in spring of 2002 with hardware and software funded by Rutgers University. In April 2003, the digital library was inaugurated with three collections: 1) New Jersey Administrative Reports 2) New Jersey Executive Orders and 3) New Jersey Attorney General Opinions.  In 2005, the law library negotiated with the Supreme Court of New Jersey to be the host of its Oral Argument video clips using Microsoft Windows Media Video technology. We are also hosting the digital collection of the New Jersey Council On Affordable Housing’s decisions. The NJDLL has now grown to become a popular digital library with sixteen collections ranging from year 1779 to present.

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