MEMORANDUM 01-13

 

March 29, 2001

 

To: Deans of Member and Fee-Paid Schools, Directors of Law Libraries
From: Carl C. Monk
Subject: Electronic Access to Scholarship in Law Reviews

 

In 1999 AALS President Gregory Williams appointed an Advisory Group on Electronic Publishing. The charge to the Advisory Group was to recommend to the AALS Executive Committee what role the AALS should play, if any, in electronic publishing. The members of the initial Advisory Group were Richard A. Danner, Duke University; Pamela Brooks Gann, Claremont McKenna College (Chair); Jonathan L. Entin, Case Western Reserve University; Joan S. Howland, University of Minnesota; Deborah Jones Merritt, The Ohio State University; W. Taylor Reveley, III, College of William and Mary; and John A. Sebert, University of Baltimore.

In January 2001 the Advisory Group presented its final report to the Executive Committee. The primary recommendation of the Working Group was that the AALS should support the separate projects of Hein Publishing Company and JSTOR to provide electronic access to law journals. A brief description of those projects and the type of support they are receiving from AALS follows.

The goal of the Hein project, known as "Hein-On-Line", is to "make all legal journals available on-line in their original print format." The first 300,000 pages converted by Hein were from twenty-five of what Hein considered to be the most prominent legal journals. Although the focus was on pre-1925 materials, some more recent materials were included with a small number of journals converted from the first through the Electronic Access to Scholarship in Law Reviews current volume. As of March 2001, 58 journals had been partially converted. The subscription price for Hein-On-Line is $4,000. The Hein project focuses primarily on law school audiences in the United States and offers a good product at a reasonable price that should benefit AALS member schools in both access to scholarship and potential savings in subscription costs and library shelf space. AALS will offer any guidance that Hein may request as it continues to develop this product.

JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping the scholarly community take advantage of advances in information technologies. JSTOR was founded in 1995 with funding from the Mellon Foundation. JSTOR's product is an electronic database comprised of the complete backfiles (generally up to five years ago) of core academic journals; that database is accessible to colleges and universities via the World Wide Web. The current JSTOR Collection contains well over 100 journal titles from about 15 disciplines, primarily in the humanities and social sciences. JSTOR is now expanding to include physical science journals, and intends to add a law collection. JSTOR fees are determined by a sliding scale based on an institution's potential user base. Currently more than 750 libraries from 35 countries participate in JSTOR.

The JSTOR law collection will begin with 25-50 journals selected through JSTOR's usual selection process. The AALS emphasized to JSTOR the importance of employing neutral selection criteria and has offered comments about previously published articles regarding such criteria. JSTOR's law collection will dramatically expand access to legal scholarship for U.S. scholars in disciplines other than law who often do not have ready access to legal scholarship, and to foreign scholars in all disciplines. JSTOR already has over 152 subscribers from outside the U.S and offers its database at a discounted rate to subscribers in less developed nations. The JSTOR project also offers some potential cost savings for U.S. law schools.

Because of the anticipated benefits to member schools of the JSTOR project, the AALS urges law schools to assist JSTOR in securing the necessary permission for retrospective electronic publication. The AALS will also offer whatever additional support is appropriate and feasible.

If you have questions regarding either the Hein or JSTOR projects or the AALS role in promoting those projects, please feel free to contact Deputy Director Harry G. Prince or me, or members of the Advisory Group. If you would like more information about Hein or JSTOR in general, their websites are www.wshein.com (Hein) and www.jstor.org (JSTOR).

 


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