Legal research: resources for libraries

International Legal Research

Information about Legal research: resources for libraries in free legal resources:

Treaties & Agreements

International Organizations

Jurisprudence $ Commentary

European Union

IP Law

Some of the Websites presented in this section were created by universities or government agencies. Other sites come from professional associations or other organizations. The Websites are presented in alphabetical order.

American Association of Law Libraries Washington Affairs Office
The American Association of Law Libraries includes a number of items that are of interest to libraries and librarians, including:
The Copyright Office report on the first sale doctrine and archival copying of computer programs.
The library community statement on the proposed anti-terrorism measures.
The library community statement on freedom of speech and access to information.
Mission and policy documents, formal letters and comments, testimony, legislative updates and reports, and action alerts.

American Association of School Librarians Intellectual Freedom Page
Most of the challenges to books take place within the context of school libraries. Internet filtering is also a hot topic in school settings. As a result, the AASL has compiled a resource guide for school library media centers that find themselves at the center of controversy. Some of the materials include:
Access to Resources and Services in the School Library Media Program: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.
Access to Electronic Information, Services, and Networks: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.
Challenged Materials: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights.
Materials on the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and filtering.
Strategies and tips for dealing with challenges to school library materials.
A workbook explaining how to write writing collection development policies for school library media centers.
The site also includes a bibliography of print resources that are helpful in dealing with intellectual freedom issues.

American Association of School Librarians Copyright Page
This page contains articles dealing with the application of copyright law in the context of the school library and media center. The Website also contains listings of print resources about school libraries and copyright law.
American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom
The office for Intellectual Freedom is the primary administrative office of the American Library Association (ALA) for issues dealing with censorship and challenges to books, Internet filtering in libraries, and other issues relating to the First Amendment. Some of the documents to be found on the Website include:
The Intellectual Freedom Manual.
Freedom to Read Statement.
The 100 most frequently challenged books of the year.
What to do if a book is challenged in your library.
Internet Use Policies, statements and papers opposing filtering, and resolutions of state library associations.
Court decisions relating to Internet filtering.
A memorandum on Internet filtering in public libraries from the law firm of Jenner & Block
Library Bill of Rights, along with several interpretations.
Guidelines for the development of policies and procedures regarding user behavior and library use.
The ALA’s Code of Ethics for librarians.
News stories about censorship, the Internet, and filtering.


The Office of Intellectual Freedom also has information about the Freedom of Information Act and about open-records laws, as well as sample policies, court decisions, and other materials on the privacy and confidentiality of library records. I find the sample policies to be especially helpful, since a well-written policy will take care of most situations and help avoid litigation.

ALA Office for Information Technology Policy
The Office for Information Technology Policy contains information on its Website, which deals with copyright, telecommunications and E-Rates, Internet Governance, cyberspace issues, and Internet Filtering. This Website also contains the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). In addition, the Website contains information about the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA), which is a proposed State law concerning the licensing of computer databases.
ALA Washington Office
The Washington Office of the ALA deals with lobbying and policymaking initiatives. This Website is a good place to look for recent information on library-related legislation.
ALA Washington Office Copyright Tutorial
The Washington office of ALA has a very good copyright tutorial that answers many questions for librarians and authors. The Website also includes a tutorial that explains the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA).
ALA Office for Human Resources Development and Recruitment
This Website includes materials on library salaries and personnel utilization. Although not strictly legal in nature, this type of information is often needed for contract negotiations and collective bargaining. Statistical information on job availability, salaries, and personnel utilization is also needed for immigration purposes. Employers who use guest workers from other countries must provide this information to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
American Society of Journalists and Authors
This Website contains both fact sheets and position papers on various aspects of copyright law. It is a good resource for authors.
American Society of Newspaper Editors
This Website contains a summary of legal issues faced by newspaper editors. It also explains the association’s position on these issues.
Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) Washington Office Legislative Issues
The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) is a division of the American Library Association. ACRL’s Washington Office deals with intellectual property and technology issues, access to government information, and information on the association’s lobbying efforts for budgetary appropriations for government agencies. Some of the topics covered include:
Database protection.
Distance Education .
Copyright and the first sale doctrine.
Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA).
Information on E-Government and electronic government initiatives.
Telecommunications policy, including advanced services and broadband.
Intellectual freedom issues, including Internet filtering.

ACRL Intellectual Freedom Principles for Academic Libraries
ACRL has posted an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights. This interpretation is relevant to college and university libraries.

ACRL Guidelines and Standards
This Website contains model guidelines and standards for academic libraries. Some of the documents include:

Materials on academic and faculty status for librarians.
Model Statement for the Screening & Appointment of Academic Librarians Using a Search Committee.
Model Statement of Criteria and Procedures for Appointment, Promotion in Academic Rank, and Tenure for College and University Librarians.
Guideline on Collective Bargaining.
Statement on the Terminal Professional Degree for Academic Librarians.
Statement on the Certification & Licensing of Academic Librarians.
Guidelines on theft and security.
Standards for ethical conduct.
Guidelines for policies on access to library materials, services, and facilities.

Association of American Publishers

Home Page

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) is the pre-eminent professional association for publishers. This Website includes information on copyright, Piracy , and intellectual freedom.

Committee to Protect Journalists
This Website contains news about journalism, legal challenges, and journalistic safety. It also includes legal resources for covering news in specific regions of the world. Although this Website is not specifically about the American legal system, it does contain a profusion of interesting and valuable legal information.
Copyright Crash Course
This tutorial was created by Georgia Harper, manager of the Intellectual Property Section of the General Counsel’s Office at the University of Texas system (the state university system in Texas). The site includes information on Fair Use , creating Multimedia and distance Education courseware, copyright in the digital library, and licensing. The site also includes online presentations aimed at faculty, students, staff, librarians, artists, and administrators. This site is especially helpful in determining whether a use of copyrighted material falls within the Fair Use exemption.
Digital Future Coalition
The Digital Future Coalition is a collaboration of library associations, educational organizations, and other non-profit professional groups. The consortium undertakes research on “hot topics,” including database protection, UCITA, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The Website includes official documents, statements of position, and analyses of relevant legislation.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
According to their Website, “The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was created to defend our rights to think, speak, and share our ideas, thoughts, and needs using new technologies, such as the Internet and the World Wide Web.” As an Advocacy group, the EFF tracks copyright, intellectual property, and intellectual freedom issues. EEF works to influence current legislation, as well as undertaking litigation on behalf of individual rights. The EEF has a great deal of material on its Website pertaining to these issues.
Federal Communications Commission
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the federal agency charged with setting the nation’s telecommunications policy. As a result, the FCC deals with many library-related issues, such as E-Rates and Internet filtering. This Website contains a large amount of primary material, including regulations and Administrative law decisions. I also recommend the FCC radio and television databases for information on licensed broadcast stations, such as ownership, frequency, and mailing address.
A Guide to Copyright for Music Librarians
The Music Library Association (MLA) has created this copyright guide, which is very comprehensive, and covers many of the questions that come up in the field of music and music librarianship. Non-music librarians also encounter some of these issues, such as electronic reserves. Some of the topics discussed include:
The MLA’s statement on copyright law and fair use in music.
Guidelines on library reserves and the digital transmission of electronic reserves.
Guidelines for educational use of music.
Fair use guidelines for educational Multimedia .
Book and article copying guidelines for classrooms in not-for-profit educational institutions.
Guidelines for recording broadcast programs off the air for educational purposes.
A copy of the ALA’s model policy concerning college and university photocopying for classroom, research, and library use.
The ALA’s proposed guidelines on “Fair Use in the Electronic Age.”

Guidelines for Medical, Legal, and Business Responses at a General Reference Desk
The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) is a division of the American Library Association. RUSA has many guidelines on its Website, including recommendations for dealing with medical, legal, and business questions. Working with patrons on complicated medical and Legal topics requires care. We must always help our patrons, but at the same time we must make sure that we are not practicing law or medicine without a license. The RUSA guidelines are a good place to start.
Institute of Museum and Library Services
“The Institute of Museum and Library Services is an independent Federal grant-making agency dedicated to creating and sustaining a nation of learners by helping libraries and museums serve their communities. The Institute fosters leadership, innovation, and a lifetime of Learning by supporting the nation’s 15,000 museums and 122,000 libraries. The Institute also encourages partnerships to expand the educational benefit of libraries and museums. Created by the Museum and Library Services Act of 1996, P.L. 104-208, IMLS administers the Library Services and Technology Act and the Museum Services Act.” [Description from Website.]
The IMLS Website contains grant information for libraries and museums, as well as application forms. In addition, the site contains reports and publications commissioned by the IMLS or created by grant recipients. These materials are available in full text on the IMLS Website.
Medical Library Association Governmental Relations Page
The MLA has information on this page about some of the issues with which the organization is concerned. The site includes MLA Copyright Position Statements and FAQs, court cases, and a copy of the 1976 Copyright Law. Other topics on the Website include:
Telecommunications (both universal service and communications decency).
Access to government information.
Intellectual property and copyright.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Database issues and licensing of electronic resources.
Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act (UCITA).

National Commission on Libraries and Information Science.
The NCLIS is an independent government agency whose purpose is to advise the executive branch and other administrative agencies on library and information policies. The agency also works with libraries and library associations to create a unified national information policy.
The NCLIS Website contains materials on the Freedom of Information Act , governmental information policy, copyright, and community technology access. In addition, the site contains a number of reports and publications, many containing statistical data. This Website is a good place to go for material on U.S. and international information policies.
National Information Standards Organization (NISO)

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
Library of Congress
U.S. Copyright Office
Needless to say, if you are interested in copyright law you will eventually have to go to the Copyright Office’s Website for information or forms. This Website is a treasure trove of copyright information. There is a great deal of good background information, as well as information about legislation, copyright office circulars and publications, and even a database to search copyright records. You can also download and print all of the forms you need in Adobe Acrobat .pdf format, which uses the free Adobe Acrobat reader. This reader is found on most computers. Even WebTV users can read .pdf files, so the Copyright Office Website is a good place to obtain your copyright forms.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Looking for materials on patent or trademark law? The place to start is the USPTO Website. The site contains a variety of tutorials and explanatory information on Patents and trademarks. In addition, there are searchable databases, forms to download, and a wealth of other pertinent information.




See Also

References and Further Reading

About the Author/s and Reviewer/s

Author: international

Mentioned in these Entries

Administrative law, Advocacy, Boolean and Free-text Searching for Legal Research, Classification for Law Libraries, Education, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fair Use, Freedom of Information Act, Learning, Legal Gateways Resources, Legal Research, Legal topics, Multimedia, Patents, Piracy, State law.

Leave a Comment