By CARROLL JOHNSON and NATALIE GAWDIAK
LC's Law Library has begun the first of what it envisions will be many training sessions to enlist the participation of countries around the world in its Global Legal Information Network (GLIN).
On Feb. 6, legal and computer staff from the legislatures of Argentina, Kuwait, Poland and Ukraine began a monthlong course in how to analyze, abstract and input their countries' legislation on-line. They also learned how to transfer these files to the headquarters of the GLIN project in the Law Library.
The history of GLIN began in the 1950s, when the Law Library's former Hispanic Law Division created a card file to index the laws printed in the official law gazettes of those jurisdictions that had no indexes. In the 1970s, these files were put on-line and became known as Name to Come, or LAWL. While this file can still be searched on-line, the GLIN project will greatly expand both the number of countries involved and the possibilities for foreign legal research. The GLIN partnership allows members to perform work at remote locations that used to be done in the Law Library.
To prepare for this transition of workload, the Law Library hosted a three-day conference on Nov. 28-30, 1994, to provide the first hands-on training for participants. Rubens Medina, the law librarian and GLIN project director, began that session by introducing Dr. Billington, who officially opened the conference.
In attendance at the organizational meeting were representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Mauritania, Paraguay, Poland and Ukraine as well as from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank.
Guest speaker Marybeth Peters, Register of Copyrights, also addressed the group about the ramifications of copyright in the context of electronic databases.
An Internet service provider presented a series of steps each country must take to connect to the Internet as a node for full GLIN participation.
During the preliminary conference, Nick Kozura, the project's technical manager, explained that the GLIN project is being implemented in stages because many countries belong to the network but not all have local workstations.
In its final form, GLIN will have partners worldwide that electronically transmit data from their local workstations to the Law Library via the Internet. They will be able to send full-text images of statutes and regulations along with abstracts and subject terms for the laws in their original, official language.
LC analysts then will be responsible for quality review and for creating English-language abstracts to accompany each entry, making the entire file available to all nations participating in the project.
Important experience was gained from the prototype that connected workstations in Brazil and Mexico with the Law Library. For example, officials in a federal court in Brazil and from the Mexican legislature volunteered to help the Law Library work on a test system, which was inaugurated in October 1992. Ellen Gracie Northfleet, a federal judge from Brazil, became interested in the GLIN project when she was a visiting scholar at the Library. She aided in GLIN's implementation in her native country.
During the February GLIN training session, Law Library staffers presented courses in the technical components of the program as well as the legal and theoretical aspects of the project. In developing GLIN's precursor, the personnel of the former Hispanic Law Division (now part of the Law Library's newly formed Western Law Division) undertook the creation of a legal thesaurus, which was used as the foundation for organizing terms input into the file. The current training teaches the GLIN participants how to use GLIN's thesaurus in their home countries.
Participating in the monthlong GLIN program at the Law Library in February were two groups, legal analysts and technical information specialists. The legal analysts were: Faisal al-Haidar (Kuwait), Ewa Chmielewska-Gorczyca (Poland), Nelida Ines Diaz De Frabosqui (Argentina), and Serhiy Pylypenko and Oksana Horbunova (Ukraine). The technical personnel were: Wajech al-Mansur (Kuwait), Luis Adolfo del Fiore (Argentina), Katarzyna Nowosad (Poland) and Vitaliy Pashkovsky (Ukraine).
Carroll Johnson is a communications specialist in the Public Affairs Office and Natalie Gawdiak is a writer-editor in the Law Library.