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Avalon Update: YLS Online Document Project Continues to Grow

The Avalon Project at Yale Law School currently offers a troop of around 6,600 historical and legal documents online, which received around one million hits a week during the academic year. And the archive continues to grow under the direction of William Fray, the manager of network services at YLS and founder of Avalon.

Fray has recently added a complete version of Blackstone's Commentaries (it runs four volumes in paper), as well as a collection of African-American history and autobiography. The section on government documents relating to the terrorist attacks of September 11 on Avalon now encompasses more than 1,500 individual entries. Future additions will include the transcripts of the trial of Joan of Arc.

Fray was invited to speak at the Computer Assisted Legal Instruction Conference at the end of June, to share his approach to online document archiving with an audience of law school computer professionals, librarians, and professors. He says that the technology he uses, mostly HTML and JavaScript, is relatively simple and inexpensive, allowing him to post documents quickly and easily. Instead of rigging an elaborate back-end database or learning a new programming language, Fray says, "I'd rather spend more time getting content up."