2018/11/02: A new free website spearheaded by the Library Innovation Lab at the Harvard Law School makes available nearly 6.5 million state and federal cases dating from the 1600s to earlier this year, in an initiative that could alter and inform the future availability of similar areas of public-sector big data.
Led by the Lab, which was founded in 2010 as an arena for experimentation and exploration into expanding the role of libraries in the online era, the Caselaw Access Project went live Oct. 29 after five years of discussions, planning and digitization of roughly 100,000 pages per day over two years.
The effort was inspired by the Google Books Project; the Free Law Project, a California 501(c)(3) that provides free, public online access to primary legal sources, including so-called “slip opinions,” or early but nearly final versions of legal opinions; and the Legal Information Institute, a nonprofit service of Cornell University that provides free online access to key legal materials.
The conversion, done in-house at the Harvard Law School Library to preserve the chain of custody of millions of cases it had collected, used a hydraulic cutter to trim the binding from thousands of volumes; and a machine similar to those employed in the meatpacking industry to vacuum-seal them after scanning. Scanning costs were in the millions of dollars. Scanned, resealed volumes were shipped out-of-state for long-term storage underground at a former limestone mine in Louisville, Ky. Pages were subsequently uploaded to an optical character recognition (OCR) vendor for extraction into text files.
The project, which was funded by venture capital-backed startup Ravel Law and the Harvard Law School, doesn’t aggregate every court battle. Its legal trove primarily focuses on supreme court and appellate decisions, but is limited, the Lab’s director said, by the extent to which bygone officials “cared enough at the time” to compile decisions. Director Adam Ziegler said the project has a high concentration of federal trial opinions and lots of trial opinions from the state of New York, an early legal center, but fewer from some other states.
In standing up the project website, Ziegler said the Lab hopes to provide “anyone and everyone” with easy access to the law via court opinions, but noted that concept will have different meanings to different groups and “definitely means things we don’t even envision ourselves.”
2006/10/15: The Digital Collections and Archives of Tufts University and Manuscripts and Archives of Yale University have recently completed a National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) electronic records research grant (grant number 2004-083) entitled “Fedora and the Preservation of University Records.” The Tufts-Yale Project focused on three main areas of research: requirements for trustworthy recordkeeping systems and preservation activities, the ingest of records into a preservation system, and the maintenance of records in a preservation system.
The project aimed to combine electronic records preservation research and theory with digital library research and practice. In particular, the Tufts-Yale Project planned on answering the question: Does Fedora have the ability to serve as an electronic records preservation system. Tufts University has been using Fedora as the basis of the Tufts Digital Repository for several years. As it was already strongly invested in developing and managing this repository with an expanding set of services, Tufts was keen on exploring Fedora’s ability to serve as a preservation system for electronic archival records. At the start of this project, Yale had been considering various alternatives for a preservation system, including a Fedora-based solution.
The Tufts-Yale Project focused on university records because each institution has a primary responsibility to preserve these records. However, the findings of this project are not particularly university-specific and are easily applicable to the management and preservation of electronic records in most industries.
2009/05/09: The ABC have a piece from National Library of Australia web archiving manager Paul Koerbin, about the importance of digital records preservation. Of equal importance, how can we be sure that we can actually read those archives in the future?
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One of the most important decisions you face when scanning anything with your scanner is choosing what dpi ("dots per inch") to scan with. And specifically for this post, what is the best dpi to use when scanning and archiving your 8x10" and smaller paper photographic prints - which for most people, make up the majority of our pre-digital collection. Making this decision was very challenging for me and certainly a huge part of my 8 year delay. The reason for this is that dpi is the critical variable in a fairly simple mathematical equation that will determine several important outcomes for your digital images.
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