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In the 1870s, Christopher Columbus Langdell, then dean of Harvard Law School, set out his classic theories on legal education in his seminal piece A Selection of Cases on the Law of Contracts: With References and Citations. In this work, he drew an analogy between the law and science, an analogy that he was to build upon a few years later at the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of Harvard College when he stated, “The library is the proper workshop of professors and students alike; that it is to us all what laboratories of the university are to the chemists and physicists.” The law and science analogy is one that still holds true today. What has never been clear, however, was what role Langdell envisioned for the law librarian in his analogy. Taking this a step further, we must now question what role the Internet and its accompanying search engines play in this laboratory of the law. It is worth spending a moment considering the impact that search engines have had upon legal research. There is little doubt that Google and similar search engines have transformed the way certain aspects of legal research are performed. Our ability to obtain a government report from Germany or a court ruling from Australia in a timely fashion is light years ahead of where we were just 10 years ago. As recently as November 2001, the Chronicle of Higher Education explored the phenomenon of the “deserted library,” partially in response to the increased reliance of college students on Internet resources, and questioned the need for libraries and librarians on college campuses. While there is no denying the impact that the Internet has had on the profession, the primary effect has been to raise the bar for librarians. Students and legal professionals now know that some of the information they might require can be obtained readily on the Internet and therefore expect the law librarian to obtain this information more quickly. Expectations as to what is possible within a certain time period have thus increased, although not always in relation to the actual ability of the librarian to supply the necessary material. Three years ago, Professor Richard A. Danner wrote in The National Law Journal of the challenges facing law schools as a result of students’ reliance on online materials. See Richard A. Danner, “Focus on Information Literacy,” NLJ, July 17, 2000, at C1. Today, those challenges not only still exist but also have been magnified by students’ reliance on search engines such as Google to supply an instant answer to their research problems. Ironically, rather than simplifying the task of performing legal research, Google has only succeeded in making it more difficult. Information literacy, defined by the Association of College and Research Libraries as the ability to access, synthesize and apply retrieved information, may well have suffered a sharp decline in recent years. Three recent studies, by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, the Digital Library Federation and the Online Computer Library Catalog, have expressed concerns regarding fluency among students with information technology. See www.pewinternet.org/reports/pdfs/PIP_College_Report.pdf; www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub110/contents.html; and www5.oclc.org/downloads/community/informationhabits.pdf. Certainly it is true that search engines have put many students, attorneys and other legal professionals in touch with vast amounts of information previously thought unattainable, but the ability of the end user to sift through this information and produce quality research has inevitably taken a toll. The quality of the research methodology employed by end users may also have been negatively affected by user reliance on Google. Users now think primarily in terms of simple keywords when searching any database, a methodology that may work with surprisingly good results on Google, but does not always translate as well when applied to resources like Westlaw and LexisNexis. This decline in the end user’s ability to formulate complex search queries and clearly understand the search process behind databases that are not “Google compliant” has created an alarming need for instructors and qualified searchers-namely, librarians. It’s not always out there Compounding the problem further is the ubiquitous nature of the phrase “everything is on the Internet,” an adage that is both incorrect and potentially negligent. By adhering to this train of thought, one almost automatically excludes a vast amount of information, most of which is still only available through more traditional, hard-copy sources. While a law student or attorney might expect to find articles from last year’s law reviews online or copies of this term’s U.S. Supreme Court records and briefs on various Web sites, they are often surprised to learn that articles from law reviews published prior to the early 1990s may not be available electronically, and that the electronic availability of Supreme Court records and briefs becomes very spotty before the late 1980s. This raises the specter of “the threat of the available,” first noted by Karl Llewellyn more than 70 years ago in Jurisprudence: Realism in Theory and Practice. The pedagogical role for librarians in all of this is very clear: They should be the ones providing assistance in selecting the correct tool for the job. Just as a caddy would recommend a particular golf club to Tiger Woods, the law librarian recommends the use of a particular resource in legal research. It is the job of the librarian to understand how best to access information regardless of format. A distinction must be made-one that is not always apparent to most users of the Internet-between searching the Internet and performing research on the Internet. Consider the difference between finding a bill and putting together a legislative history. Law students and attorneys can easily search on the Internet for a bill introduced into Congress; however, they are more likely to turn to the librarian if they need assistance in tracking the bill through Congress, locating accompanying documents and identifying the relevant intent sections within these documents. While searching the Internet using popular search engines is an effective methodology for the efficient retrieval of known information, it is less effective as a research methodology when the discovery of new, and previously unrealized, information can be paramount. The use of search engines and searching the Internet must therefore be placed in context. They are but one tool that, when used effectively, can be incorporated into a more comprehensive research strategy. David Novak’s recent article, “The Evolution of Internet Research: Shifting Allegiances, in the January/February 2003 issue of Online, concludes that Internet research is very much a part of library science, and that the need for sophisticated users with backgrounds in library science will only increase in the years to come. Adding to the complexity of modern legal research are Web-based subscription databases. The content on many of the databases used in legal research, such as Westlaw, LexisNexis, the United Nations treaty database or Congressional Universe, is not searchable by Internet search engines. Independent subscriptions must be established and maintained, licenses enforced and users instructed in their usage. The proliferation of these Web-based databases has created a more intricate system of legal research tools, one in which the librarian is often the only person with the big-picture view of how they interact. It is not, and should not be, the responsibility of the attorney or law professor to understand the ever-changing mosaic of electronic and print legal research tools. D�j� vu all over again Thirty years ago, when the first Computer Assisted Legal Research (CALR) systems were being developed, eventually to emerge as today’s behemoths, LexisNexis and Westlaw, a similar discussion regarding the need for librarians and the library was hashed out in law schools, law firms and government agencies around the country. Once CALR found its place in the legal environment it became apparent that there was a need for someone to act as the resident expert in this area, someone who could provide training, stay abreast of developments in the field and be called upon to use these systems in the most efficient and effective ways. This need inevitably led to an enhanced role for the law librarian. The introduction of these systems expanded the role of the librarian and the library. The introduction of Google and similar search engines into the world of legal research does not replace the need for librarians any more than the introduction of a new piece of equipment in the laboratory replaces the need for lab assistants. Just the opposite reaction occurs: Users of the laboratory now need to know how to use the new equipment effectively and, perhaps even more importantly, which experiments call for which piece of equipment. Google’s revolutionary impact on the way we use the Internet to harvest legal information has not proved the Luddites to be correct in their fears of librarian redundancies. The decline in the ability of end users to formulate search queries effectively, the constant cries from end users of information overload and the proliferation of non-Google-compliant databases require the skills and resources of librarians. It is interesting to note that the title of an article in one of the more recent issues of the Chronicle of Higher Education is “New Allies in the Fight Against Research by Googling.” However, this time librarians are looked upon as essential to assisting students and faculty with their research. Stephen Young is a reference librarian at the Kathryn J. DuFour Law Library of the Catholic University of America in Washington. He has worked in academic law libraries since 1986.

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