Posted On: November 10, 2008 by David Badertscher

LLAGNY / AALL Program: Authentic Legal Information in the Digital Age: Is Online Legal Information Trustworthy?

On Thursday November 6, 2008 the Law Library Association of Greater New York (LLAGNY) presented in conjunction with the Electronic Legal Information Access and Citation Committee of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) a program at the New York County Lawyers Association in New York City regarding how findings of the 2007 authentication report published by AALL and its ELIAC Committee can be adopted in the State of New York.

The program consisted of a panel of representatives of AALL, its Electronic Legal Information Access and Citation (ELIAC), and two agencies of New York state government, the New York State Reporting Bureau and the Office of General Counsel of the New York State Department of State discussing the AALL Authentication Report, published in 2007 and approaches, strategies, and challenges to adopting its findings to authenticating and otherwise validating in accordance with accepted standards New York State primary source legal information published on the web.

The following are links to the opening remarks of the moderator, David Badertscher, Slides frm the presentation of Mary Alice Baish,and a summary of the program kindly provided by Theodore Pollack, Senior Law Librarian at the New York County Public Access Library, who attended the program, and to the program announcement from LLAGNY. Other links will be added if they become available.

LLAGNYProgram Announcement.

Opening Remarks - David Baderrtscher

Slides from Presentation of Mary Alice Baish

Summary of Program by Theodore Pollack


The program was indeed excellent--especially in the sense that it tightly encapsulates a massive national problem, bringing it home to focus on the state of New York specifically. Mary Alice Baish, of course, is a superb presenter and knows the topic better than practically anyone else. What especially stands out, for me at least, is the interplay between secure authentication and electronic preservation (E-Life Cycle Management). A central flaw in the present trend, second only to the failure to clearly designate what is "official" and what is not, is the failure to secure primary source documents against bit degradation or obsolescence which can make previous versions unreadable to future generations. In a sense, the trend toward "official" on-line resources is a cop-out on the part of many states. People are comfortable getting the electronic version; so we substitute comfort and popularity for putting out the verifiable thing. Online resources are also cheaper in production as opposed to print. So, again, we cop out to present the appearance of better budgets--even though the result is shoddy workmanship.

Anita Postyn did a fine job from the local New York perspective. She brings it home, effectively making it clear that the local jurisdiction has an obligation (like its 49 sister states) to face the problem.

James Leary was very impressive in that he acknowledged the problem with regard to such resources as the NYCRR. Indeed, he acknowledged it with laudable candor: they have two typists to keep a huge complicated resource up to date. It is a hard enough task in print. Placing trust in uncertain electronic resources makes it worse.

At least from the Pollack summary, I was a little puzzled by Gary Spivey's presentation. He did not appear to address the topic as it applies to your official reports. The emphasis seemed to be more simply on what his office does to produce electronic as well as print versions, but not what (if any) safeguards it envisions to ensure long-term validity of these official texts. Perhaps this reaction is unfair because, after all, one is reading a summary; but that was the impression I got.

hmm. amazing )

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