Extras – Book Review: Toward A Cyberlegal Culture

Sabrina I. Pacifici is the Editor, Publisher, Web Manager of LLRX.com.

Toward a Cyberlegal Culture, published by Transnational Publishers, Inc., is authored by Mirela Roznovschi, the Reference Librarian for International and Foreign Law at New York University School of Law Library , the Webmaster and Editor of the library’s Guide to International and Foreign Law Databases , and a contributing editor to this web site’s International/Foreign Law portal. She has taught and lectured around the world on international and comparative law.

Ms. Roznovshi’s book is organized into the following chapters:

  • Electronic Reference and the Internationalization of Legal Research
  • Legal Research on the Frontier of Innovation
  • Guiding Principles on the Evaluation of Legal Databases
  • Teaching Versus Reference Versus Teaching: Restructuring the Mission of the Law Library
  • Appendix: International and Foreign Law Databases

I was pleased to have an advanced look at the book as it was being written, and to provide editorial comments. As a law librarian and legal researcher for twenty two years, and legal web site publisher for five years, I deeply appreciate Ms. Roznovschi’s perspective concerning the growing synergy between legal research and Web-based content. This evolving process has resulted in the increased availability of legal documentation from countries throughout the world, as well as from the United States. Although some of this documentation remains available only via fee-based services, a significant amount of data is finding its way into publicly accessible databases on academic, government and institutional web sites. Ms. Roznovshi addresses these issues directly, and offers researchers insightful guidance in how to optimize their efforts.

Legal professionals and legal institutions worldwide are in no small measure responsible for the increased emphasis on accessibility to such materials, as well as for the organization and dissemination of invaluable research content. However, impediments to accessing this data do exist, and include issues of bandwidth, telecommunications cost, lack of interface compatibility, budgetary restrictions, and language barriers, among other challenges. The goal of greater access is inexorably intertwined with the parallel processes in which law librarians have significant expertise: training, teaching, publishing, locating and organizing information, creating web sites and databases, and providing high quality research and reference services. One of the most important factors associated with using such databases on the Web is the evaluation of their content to establish the reliability, current nature, and value of the resources. The author provides important benchmarks for this process.

Ms. Roznovshi stresses the need for cooperation, communication, training and greater access to information for researchers, and proposes ways in which this access may be increased. She provides a wealth of annotated web sites to foreign and international law, and offers clearly documented pathfinders in response to specific research assignments. In addition, her Appendix on International and Foreign Law Databases is a detailed useful resource to which researchers will often refer.

I recommend this book to any practitioner, law library, special library, government agency, group or institution for whom international and foreign law is a focus. The author’s expertise as a researcher, teacher and librarian shine through this text, resulting in a book that merits inclusion in your collection.

(Toward a Cyberlegal Culture, Mirela Roznovsch, July 2001. Transnational Publishers, Inc., Hardcover. 230 pages. ISBN: 1-57105-168-6. 1 volume. $95, available via Amazon.com.)

Posted in: Book Reviews, Extras