Law Libraries Section: Working to Ensure Public Access to Digital Law and Legal Information
21 September 2022
The IFLA Law Libraries Section has been involved in promoting access to government information, with a particular emphasis on access to law and legal information, for many years. Access to legal information is a critical part of ensuring citizens can be active participants in democratic governance.
In December 2016, the fruition of many years of effort saw IFLA Governing Board endorsing the Statement on Government Provision of Public Legal Information in the Digital Age, prepared by the Law Libraries Section. Noting that in the digital age, many governments now made law and legal information available online, the statement regarded such publication as an important first step in ensuring widespread availability of law and legal information. However, electronic publication on its own is insufficient; rather, the Statement called out the need for citizens to have access to digital legal information that was available free of charge in a format that was authentic and preserved and the need for governments to provide this access. Only then can people have access to law and legal information that need, and that fulfills their right to information.
Since the adoption of the statement, the Law Libraries Section has done additional work to make the statement more usable to people around the world. To that end, the statement has been translated into all of the official IFLA languages. There are ongoing efforts to publish the statement into additional languages. Additionally, the Law Libraries Section is currently working on guidance and “best practices” documents to help IFLA members and others who wish to engage in advocacy efforts to encourage their governments to publish digital legal information that conforms to the Statement’s recommendations. Additionally, the “best practices” guidance documents will showcase a number of jurisdictions around the world who have made government legal information available in a way that conform to the goals of the Statement.
It is the goal of the Law Libraries Section to play a role in encouraging governments to make law and legal information available to the public. We welcome partners and others who wish to engage with us on these efforts.