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Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository Gives Global Open Access to Legal Articles

Alexander Bickel ’s “The Passive Virtues ”; Charles Reich’s “The New Property”; Fred Rodell’s “Goodbye to Law Reviews”— these are just a few of the classic legal articles written by Yale Law School faculty members. Thanks to a digital repository created by the Law School’s Lillian Goldman Law Library, anyone with web access anywhere in the world can now access these and other legal articles by Yale Law School faculty members.

The Legal Scholarship Repository was born at the Law Library in 2003 when a small army of people began uploading documents, using a platform from Berkeley Electronic Press. Today, the repository contains more than 3,000 papers and continues to grow. The repository’s faculty scholarship section boasts the greatest number of articles (and more than that of any other law school). Student scholarship, SELA (Seminario en Latinoamérica de Teoría Constitucional y Política) Papers, and other special collections round out the offerings. Recent additions include an article by Professor Jonathan Macey ’82 titled “Reducing Systemic Risk: The Role of Money Market Mutual Funds as Substitutes for Federally Insured Bank Deposits” and “Politics Failed, Not Ideas” by Professor Donald Elliott ’74.

“The open access component of the repository is very important. Although there are commercial databases, this is available freely to the whole world,” explains Associate Librarian Fred Shapiro.

“This was accomplished without imposing the kinds of mandatory rules other institutions have implemented,” says Law Librarian Blair Kauffman. “Rather, its success is due to the hard work of our librarians and the willing cooperation of our faculty who understand the importance of making their scholarship as widely available as possible. Our next steps include securing permission to include scholarship published by our faculty in commercial journals and to begin adding complete runs of the various Yale Law School journals.”

The goal is to have all scholarly legal articles ever produced by Yale Law School available within the repository. “We see this as a way to collect the intellectual legacy and institutional history of Yale Law School,” Shapiro says.

Access Services Librarian Julian Aiken reports that there has been a huge increase (a 181-percent jump) in use of the repository in the last year with 371, 775 downloads in that time period. The repository has proven to have geographic reach with 48 percent of the requests coming from outside of the U.S. Of the 41,000 hits to the repository in 2010-2011, fewer than 3,000 came from Yale. “We had visitors from 6,039 cities across the world. One hundred and sixty-eight countries/territories from every continent were represented,” says Aiken. “The repository has become a fabulous tool for global outreach, and it has played a significant role in projecting the Law School’s identity in countries as diverse as Kazakhstan, Iceland, India, and Iran.”

The repository was also the subject of a recent Law Library exhibit titled “From Legal Pads to iPads.” Curated by Aiken and Shapiro, the exhibit was a visual representation—from quill pens to typewriters to digital kiosk — of the developing technology of scholarship. The exhibit displayed the original manuscripts — some handwritten, some typewritten — from some of the most cited legal articles of all time written by YLS faculty members.

“The repository does not replace traditional journals nor is it a threat to online aggregators such as Westlaw, Lexis and HeinOnline,” Kauffman says. “Journals and their editorial review process continue to play a critical role in the production of scholarship, and the aggregators will continue to be important tools for comprehensive research, but the open access movement helps make scholarship more readily available to a much wider audience. We are pleased that Yale Law School is playing a lead role in this movement.”

To access the Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository, visit digitalcommons.law.yale.edu.