Michelle Pearse of the Harvard Law School Library has posted Is it Time for Law Libraries to Collaborate on Description for Their Own Institutions’ Legal Scholarship?, on the VoxPopuLII Blog, published by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School.
In this post, Ms. Pearse argues that law librarians should cooperate to create an ontology of legal concepts, to be used by law reviews to describe the articles they publish. Ms. Pearse endorses a model of ontology development described by Dr. Núria Casellas and Dr. Adam Wyner. Accordingly, Ms. Pearse proposes that the ontology would be developed collaboratively by legal subject specialists, including law professors, other legal scholars, and law librarians.
According to Ms. Pearse, the proposed ontology would be made available in open, interoperable formats. This would allow the ontology to link to other ontologies — thereby contributing to the development of the legal Semantic Web — and would facilitate use of the ontology by a range of software and users, and in connection with a variety of systems and data. By providing high quality metadata in open, interoperable formats, the ontology would further the objectives of the open access law journal and open legal educational resources movements.
Ms. Pearse argues that application of such an ontology to law review articles would provide an additional way for law librarians to participate in the law review publishing process. She sees this as a natural next step for law librarians, given their expertise in legal metadata, and the fact that librarians already participate in other stages of the law journal information lifecycle, including providing support for article preemption, research, and cite checking, and the archiving of law review articles in institutional or scholarly repositories.
In her post, Ms. Pearse also addresses many of the questions likely to be raised concerning such an ontology, including questions respecting project organization, ongoing revision and maintenance, staffing, workflow, and software tools.
This post should be of interest to the legal publishing community, especially editors and publishers of law journals; law librarians; legal scholars; and legal technologists involved with Semantic Web development.