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2.7. Central collections - Multi-country legal databases

An alternative to the `distributed' methods of legal research discussed in the previous parts of this chapter is the approach of providing all documents from around the world in a particular area of law on the one centralised web site, where they can form part of one database and be searched by one local search engine.

2.7.1. Global Legal Information Network (GLIN)

GLIN (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/glin/glinhome.html) is the most ambitious centralised collection of laws. Its home page explains its purpose:
The Global Legal Information Network (GLIN) provides a database of national laws from contributing countries around the world accessed from a World Wide Web server of the U.S. Library of Congress. The database consists of searchable legal abstracts in English and some full texts of laws in the language of the contributing country. It provides information on national legislation from more than 35 countries, with other countries being added on a continuing basis.
GLIN is different from the approach taken in DIAL, because the copies of the texts that are indexed (and which the user accesses) are in one location on the GLIN server. The DIAL Search facility, on in contrast, relies on the original documents being mounted on the web in other locations, and merely provides one central searchable word index of those remote documents. The two approaches are potentially complementary: GLIN is creating a centralised searchable database of legislative materials which are not otherwise available on the web; and DIAL is creating a search facility over legislative materials which have already been placed on the web.

Countries may join GLIN and contribute their legislation texts and abstracts to the GLIN collection. In order to do so, each country must nominate a GLIN Team comprising a Project Director, English-speaking legal analyst and technical expert, and must raise funds for an evaluation visit by personnel from the Library of Congress, and for the local GLIN Team to receive training in Washington[56]http://lcweb2.loc.gov/glin/glin-mem.html].

For non-member users, GLIN covers some legislative materials from 35 countries[57] (a list of which can be seen on the search form below), many from Latin America but also from Africa, Europe and some Asian countries. The items retrieved are abstracts in varying degrees of detail of legislation in all forms (Acts, regulations, decrees etc).

GLIN's current scope is explained by Julius J Marke[58]http://library.ljextra.com/global.htm]:

As of August [1997], GLIN consisted of 11 contributing member nations (Albania, Argentina, Brazil, Lithuania, Mexico, Romania, South Korea, Tunisia, Ukraine, United States and Uruguay); five trained and ready to assume membership (Hungary, Kuwait, Mauritania, Poland and Sweden); and 12 others whose membership is pending for training at the Law Library and local funding (Bolivia, Costa Rica, Egypt, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Nicaragua, Paraguay, People's Republic of China, Peru, Russia and Sri Lanka).
GLIN contains files relating to some 34 countries, most in abstract format. GLIN will eventually consist of the full texts of partner nations' laws, court decisions and related materials. To date, South Korea and Lithuania are already transmitting full texts of laws on a regular basis.
Each record contains an abstract and indexing terms in both English and the original language. In addition each record now contains the full text of the relevant law in the original language.
The full text legislation on GLIN is only available to its contributing member countries[59]. It appears that the legislative indexes or summaries of 23 of the 34 countries included in GLIN must be contributed by the Library of Congress itself.

As it exists at present, GLIN does not provide any general answer for Bank DMCs that wish to obtain access to the text of other countries' legislation, unless their country is a contributing member of GLIN. Even then, it appears as though it will be some years before it is clear how extensive the scope of legislation on GLIN will be.

Nevertheless, GLIN's coverage of some legislative material from 34 countries is already a valuable contribution to the resources for identifying legislation via the Internet, and this will no doubt increase.

GLIN's retrieval system

The retrieval system used by GLIN is Inquery[60]http://ciir.cs.umass.edu/]. It allows a variety of search methods[61], including retrieval by indexing terms in the GLIN Thesaurus (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/glin/the-find.html), and simple retrieval by search terms (single words and phrases only, not boolean or proximity searching).

Part of the GLIN Search form - http://lcweb2.loc.gov/glin/mdbquery.html

One of the most interesting things in the GLIN approach is its use of its Thesaurus as a retrieval mechanism. For example, when a search retrieves the summary below of a 1995 Korean law, listed below it are the subject terms by which it has been indexed in GLIN. If the user selects one of these hypertext links, all other records indexed under that term are retrieved. There are some similarities between this and the `embedded searches' used in the DIAL prototype, but the approach is easier to implement in GLIN, as documents are pre-indexed with the desired search terms, whereas DIAL is using thesaurus terms for a free text search. Nevertheless, the potential use of the GLIN thesaurus in DIAL deserves consideration.

Example of part of a record retrieved by a GLIN search

2.7.2. Specialised subject collections

In some specialised subject areas, major efforts are being made to create on the Internet centralised world-wide collections of legislation on a particular topic. Some notable examples include: These collections, and others like them, are very valuable resources. However, they are often not easy to find from existing intellectual indexes, and some do not have their own search engines.


[57] Albania; Angola; Argentina; Bolivia; Brazil; Cape Verde; Chile; China; Colombia; Costa Rica; Cuba; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; Egypt ; El Salvador; Equatorial Guinea; Guatemala; Guinea-Bissau; Haiti; Honduras; Hungary; Korea; Kuwait; Lithuania; Madagascar; Mauritania; Mexico; Mozambique; Nicaragua; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Philippines; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Rwanda; Sao Tome e Principe; Senegal; Spain; Sweden; Tunisia; Ukraine; United States; Uruguay; Venezuela

[58] Julius J. Marke, `Use of the Global Legal Information Network'The New York Law Journal, September 16, 1997

[59] Marke, ibid

[60] Developed by the Center for Intelligent Information Retrieval at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst -

[61] GLIN has separate search facilities for member governments and for the general public, but the difference is not explained on the site.




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