The Harvard Law School Library is a global library, providing access to the world’s legal information. The Library makes every effort to provide its patrons with at minimum a core collection of the primary law, both contemporary and historical, of each of the world’s jurisdictions.
The Library strives to collaborate with other libraries and institutions toward common goals of continued access and long-term preservation of legal materials. The Library actively collects and preserves in-print legal materials from those jurisdictions where the law is not yet preserved or not maintained in a stable format. In contrast, for jurisdictions where stable preservation measures are already in place, the Library relies on “access only” to the law in digital and electronic formats. For some jurisdictions, the Library collects but does not assume responsibility for preserving legal materials.
The Library Collection Development Policy along with the Collection Development Matrix, a graphical representation of our collection development practices, provide broad parameters for our jurisdictional collecting and a general guide to our current thinking on how best to grow the Library’s collections. We expect to modify the Collection Development Policy and Matrix from time to time as our collecting practices evolve. The Collection Development Country List breaks down individual jurisdictions by collecting level and indicates to what extent, depending upon the current status of a jurisdiction’s ability to preserve its law, we collect and archive its legal materials.
We hope that by sharing these documents those who rely on the Library’s collections will come to a greater understanding of their scope and get a better sense of how we make decisions in the ever changing information landscape.