Jul 8, 2013

The Library of Congress is Archiving Legal Blogs

3 Comments · Posted by Robert Ambrogi in General

Blawg Archive

On the Internet there is no rule against perpetuities. To the contrary our perpetuation seems assured. Latest case in point: the new Legal Blawgs Web Archive from the Library of Congress. Yes, just as the LOC is archiving all of our tweets, turns out it is also archiving a selection of legal blog posts, and has been doing so since March 1, 2007.

Thanks to our tax dollars, future generations of Americans will be assured the opportunity to revisit posts from blogs such as The Volokh Conspiracy, Overlawyered, Slaw, SCOTUSblog, Concurring Opinions and Patently-O. To my eternal disappointment, the LOC did not deem my LawSites blog worthy of preservation. However, I managed to sneak into the collection through my several years of co-authoring Law.com’s Legal Blog Watch, which the LOC did find preservation-worthy.

The LOC describes this archive as a “selective collection of authoritative sites” associated with law schools, research institutes, think tanks, and other expertise-based organizations. “These blogs contain journal-style entries, articles and essays, discussions, and comments on emerging legal issues, national and international,” the LOC says.

Despite what the description says, several practitioner blogs, not affiliated with any school or organization, are included in the archive. Among them are Marc Mayerson’s now-defunct Insurance Scrawl, Howard Bashman’s How Appealing, Curacao lawyer Karel Frielink’s Karel’s Legal Blog, Victoria Pynchon’s Settle it Now Negotiation Blog, Scott Greenfield’s Simple Justice, Ken Lammer’s CrimLaw, Diane Levin’s Mediation Channel, and Jeff Beard’s LawTech Guru.

In a post this week at the Law Library of Congress blog In Custodia Legis, Matthew Braun, senior legal research specialist, provided further background on the archive. It was created, he says, “so that the legal events detailed and analyzed in the blogs of today can be studied for years to come.”

The site launched this week is actually a “new and improved” version of an archive that was already available through the LOC site. Among the features of the new site, according to Braun, are:

  • Thumbnail images for each of the archived blogs, which are embedded into both the results list and the individual item records.
  • Faceted search options on the left-hand side of the results list, which allow search results to be narrowed by the year of the web capture, the specific legal subject of the blog, and the state, country or continent of origin for the blog.

Each archived blog gets its own record page, with general information about the blog and its source URL. Click on the thumbnail image of the blog to bring up the full captured view. A pull-down menu lets you adjust the view to specific dates, or you can use a calendar to access posts by date.  The archive is searchable, although in a fairly tedious way that gives you a list of blogs with matches, but then requires you to go through each blog and find the match.

Although the archiving began in 2007, it appears to have stopped for most of the blogs in 2010. Regrettably, that means that future generations of scholars and historians will be chilled in achieving a full understanding of important, later-occurring events in our nation’s legal history, such as the day Scott Greenfield’s KitchenAid refrigerator malfunctioned.

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