The role of the libraries in providing access to legal information in Africa was the focus of the first session of the Law Libraries Standing Committee (SC) on Tuesday: Access to Legal Information and Legislative Data in Africa: the Role of Libraries and Librarians. This session was organized in collaboration with two other sections: Library and Research Services for Parliaments and the Regional Office for Africa. The session was chaired by Margo Jeske, from the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa and Victoria Okojie from Nigeria.
Four speakers presented papers:
- Rosemary Shafack from the University of Buea Library in Cameroon, Enabling Legislation for Access to Information in Cameroon
- Mariya Badeva-Bright, project director of the African Legal Information Institute, Facilitating Free and Open Access to Legal and Legislative Information from Africa
- Yolanda Jones, from Florida A&M University, College of Law and Caroline Ilako, from Makarere University in Uganda, approached the topic from a comparative perspective Dynamic Law Libraries: Access, Development and Transformation in Africa and the United States.
Speakers highlighted for some of the countries the enactment of laws or the creation of institutions to encourage building local capacity to collect, publish and keep legal information up-to-date. Across the countries the speakers enunciated similar challenges to sustain technical and physical capacity to publish the law; barriers are not only financial and technical but also institutional, changes in government organizations, for example. Kenya Law was presented as a model to be followed. Speakers discussed the role that libraries can play as collectors and providers of legal information and services, especially public libraries; several examples were given in the United States. One hundred and fifty librarians attended this first session.
On Tuesday evening the Law Libraries SC held its second business meeting chaired by Sonia Poulin (filling in for Claire Germain who was unable to attend). During this second business meeting the SC reviewed the events of the week and heard the reports of the members that attended relevant business or professional meetings. Sally Holterhoff and Marisol Floren reported on a meeting they had Sunday with Patrice Landry and Frederick Zarndt from IFLA’s Committee on Standards regarding the possibility of developing a standard on authentication of online legal materials. Sonia Poulin, Elizabeth Naumczyk and Marisol Floren, as new incoming officers, attended two leadership forums and a training session on IFLA about its operation and strategic plans, which provided guidelines for the operation of the sections. The topics of next year’s programs in Ohio were defined and program coordinators and teams were assigned. Two main areas of interest for next year’s programs were (a) digital privacy including the issues raised by “the right to be forgotten;” and (b) outreach by law librarians to public libraries to increase access to legal materials, improving access to justice for the public. The section has agreed to be involved with a 2016 IFLA pre-conference in Toronto on managing human resources in the library context.
Today is the last Law Library SC session, on the Future of Law Libraries. This session will be chaired by Sonia Poulin, from Alberta Law Libraries and Information Services, Canada. Speakers are Kirsty MacPhee from Tottle Partners, Australia; Carole Aippersbach (Alberta Legal Information Society, Canada); Allen Guerra Bustamante (Library of Congress Chile); Ali Irhamni and Joko Santoso (National Library of Indonesia), Yani Nurhadyani (Bogor Agricultural University, Indonesia); and Denisse Espinace y Carolina Salas (Library of Congress Chile).
This is our last report…later today we both begin our long journeys back to the U.S., tired but very inspired and full of new ideas and information from our 2015 IFLA experience. All papers from IFLA sessions are posted in IFLA Law Library and please watch for a full report from us in the fall issue of the FCIL Newsletter.