ALA Preservation Week and Our Work with HeinOnline

  • ALA Preservation Week Logo

Every April, the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), celebrates the work libraries do and the resources they provide to ensure the preservation of personal and shared collections. This year, ALA Preservation Week celebrates “Preserving Your Family History” and is offering free webinars focused on preserving and caring for family history and keepsakes.

Preservation is something we take very seriously here at Jenkins. We understand that older materials may still be needed for legal research and we have a strong devotion to ensuring those materials stay protected. Many of our older Pennsylvania and Philadelphia primary law resources, like statutes and court rules, are stored in our temperature and humidity controlled Rare Book Room. We also retain older secondary resources in our Historic Collection. Some of these resources, like publications from Pennsylvania publishers Bisel and the Pennsylvania Bar Institute (PBI), would be difficult to find outside of Jenkins.

Yet all this preservation requires space. As we prepared to move the library last year, we ran into a snag - our space was going to shrink from 38,000 sq. ft. to 25,000 sq. ft., a loss of 13,000 sq. ft.! In terms of shelf space, we lost over 4,500 linear feet, or 1,500 shelves. That meant we wouldn't be able to take all of our print materials with us. To ensure that the knowledge in those books wasn't lost forever, we worked with HeinOnline to ensure the longevity of the materials via digitization.

From their beginnings in the 1920s, the William S. Hein & Co., Inc. has been committed to providing legal resources to their customers. This initially included providing out-of-print, yet still valuable, resources. As the company evolved with the times, their distribution included the space-saving microform and CD-ROM formats. In May 2000, HeinOnline debuted. At that time the online platform consisted of only 25 law journals. In the 19 years since its launch, HeinOnline continued to digitize legal materials and now contains over 60 databases with over 146 million pages, making it "the world’s largest image-based legal research database".

Hein's dedication "to satisfy the needs of the law librarian and make his or her job easier" made them an ideal partner to work with. We began our project with HeinOnline in early 2016 and it continued until a few months before we moved in late 2018. For this project we focused on materials that were not heavily used and had the greatest potential to no longer be in copyright. This included older British materials as well as American law materials with copyright dates before 1950. In the end, we determined HeinOnline had already digitized over 1,500 of those titles. We gave Hein an additional 3,100 titles for them to digitize. Combined, this amounted to over 9,000 volumes! This was a tremendous help as we looked for ways to decrease our shelf space.

So this ALA Preservation Week, we'd like to thank the team at HeinOnline for helping us preserve the knowledge in those materials and making it easier for us to part with the physical copies of these valuable legal resources. Their commitment to high quality customer service was demonstrated by everyone we were in touch with - from the top of their management team down to their shipping and receiving department. We appreciate their commitment to the preservation of legal materials and look forward to working with them in the future.

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