By JANICE HYDE
Seoul, South Korea, was the site of the 17th Annual Meeting of Directors of the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN). Hosted by the National Assembly Library of the Republic of Korea Sept. 6-10, the meeting brought representatives from 17 nations to the first annual meeting of GLIN directors to be held outside of Washington, D.C.
The meeting was also attended by representatives of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), one of the newest members of GLIN, as well as two potential GLIN member jurisdictions: Republic of Congo and Papua, New Guinea.
Jae Il Yoo, Chief Librarian of the National Assembly Library, offered opening remarks. He commended the goal of GLIN to provide access to credible and authoritative legal information and expressed his hope that the meeting would be a turning point for the National Assembly Library to collaborate and become a hub for legal information.
In his welcoming comments, Deputy Law Librarian of Congress David Mao stated that this year there have been some “remarkable efforts to move GLIN forward,” including a comprehensive assessment of GLIN.
Via a taped video recording, Law Librarian of Congress Roberta Shaffer welcomed attendees and extended her gratitude to the meeting hosts. She said that GLIN Central was eager to hear about the accomplishments and challenges of GLIN members and “to learn from your best practices and share ideas about future directions for GLIN.”
Following presentations about several parliamentary support organizations, two keynote addresses were delivered. Rep. Yoon Keun Woo, chair of the Legislation and Judiciary Committee, Korean National Assembly, spoke about “The Future of Legal Information Service: Promoting the Global Open Access.” Rep. Woo emphasized the importance for legislators to have timely access to relevant information to do their jobs, but suggested that with the current flood of information it is not always easy to select speedily what is useful from all that is available. He stated that any sufficient legal information database should “enable its users to search easily and use effectively the desired legal information anytime, anywhere.” He urged GLIN members to implement such efforts through their “steady research and development of the GLIN service.”
The second keynote address, “Keeping Our Laws Safe,” was delivered by Barbara Bintliff, Joseph C. Hutcheson Professor in Law and director of the Tarlton Law Library and the Jamail Center for Legal Research at the University of Texas at Austin. She urged governments to keep their laws safe by authenticating them.
“It stands to reason that, before governments can transition fully into the electronic information environment, they must develop procedures to ensure the trustworthiness of their electronic legal information, just as they ensure the trustworthiness of their print information,” she said.
David Mao moderated an open discussion about the comprehensive GLIN assessment report. The final report from the assessment was circulated to various stakeholders, including GLIN members.
There was a general consensus among members on the importance of providing access to official, authentic texts of laws, and that the target audience for GLIN should be broad. Some members expressed an interest in having more European countries participate in the network, while others felt that access to laws from sub-national governments was also desirable. The importance of implementing security features was a concern. A range of options for funding was discussed, such as charging fees to download texts from GLIN; assessing membership fees; and commercializing GLIN by creating products such as comparative law studies that could be sold. Members expressed uneasiness with the idea of selling access to public information, and indicated a preference for membership fees.
GLIN directors reported on the status of their respective GLIN stations and highlighted new initiatives. The presentations revealed an emphasis on training and outreach efforts.
The GLIN Director from the Democratic Republic of Congo reported training 1,000 judges, who had recently graduated from universities and their outreach effort to inform university students about GLIN.
The representative from the Nicaraguan Supreme Court of Justice told of a nationwide campaign to reach out to all types of courts and target judges and legal professionals for training. A special effort was made to conduct personal training for judges who could not attend group presentations.
The GLIN station in Ecuador conducted four workshops for legislators and staff to inform them about the availability of GLIN. Kuwait reached beyond its borders to invite neighbors in the region to participate in GLIN.
Representatives from Saudi Arabia and Uruguay mentioned the development and distribution of brochures to inform potential users about GLIN. Taiwan offers RSS feeds and access through PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants) to GLIN. GLIN Mexico created a Twitter account to post new laws and regulations from Mexico as well as laws from other GLIN member countries that are focused on topics of legislative interest. The Twitter account was created to make legislators, internal and external researchers, and other users aware of GLIN and to facilitate comparative legal research.
Three new members signed the GLIN charter, signaling their jurisdiction’s formal accession into the GLIN network: Dinos Olouna, technical specialist for GLIN Gabon; Francisco Vergara, Secretary General of the National Assembly of Ecuador (formally transferring membership from a non-governmental organization to the legislature); and Jasmine Honculada, director of GLIN WIPO.
David Mao presented several awards to recognize ongoing excellence and special achievements. GLIN stations in Argentina, Democratic Republic of Congo, Costa Rica, Kuwait, Mexico, Paraguay, Romania and Taiwan earned Exemplary Performance Awards, given to previous recipients of the GLIN Model Station award that continue to lead by example. A Special Achievement Award was presented to Uruguay in recognition of its success in recruiting more than 20 affiliate stations to contribute sub-national legislation to the database. Nicaragua also garnered a Special Achievement award for establishing high-quality standards for the contribution of judicial decisions.
The 2010 GLIN Model Station award was presented to GLIN El Salvador.