The Promise of a Level Playing Field for Legal Information
For libraries, change is nothing new. Everything flows, and nothing stands still. But for years change meant material growth as law reports and other serials expanded along shelves and collections did what collections do—collect, amass and grow.
Now, across North America, print collections are contracting. This is the new reality for law libraries. The gradual migration to digital has made our collections less tangible. I say gradual because the digital migration started for us 33 years ago. In February 1980 Courthouse Libraries BC unveiled its first “Quic/Law” computer at the then-new Vancouver Law Courts downtown. It boasted some consolidated statutes and some headnotes from seminal law reports—novelties in the grand scheme of things.
Today, we have computers in every branch. Digital products from HeinOnline, Quicklaw, Westlaw, CLE, Canada Law Book and others transform every terminal into a virtual oracle of legal information. And increasingly, we are transcending the walls of the libraries themselves, serving subscription resources (journals and ebooks) directly to lawyers’ desktops and mobile devices via the Reading Room.