Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Liberian Law at Cornell University Library

Liberian law at Cornell University Library
This digital collection of manuscripts and legal documentation from the Cornell University library has as its mission statement on the home page : “Liberian Law contains documents dealing with the creation of the nation of Liberia and the laws enacted at its foundation. These materials include the Constitution and the Laws of the Commonwealth going back to the Colonization Society.” This is a very clear definition of what the collection contains and there are no documents that could be considered outside this selection criteria. The site is easy to navigate with few superfluous icons and visual adornments. A user may either browse or search the collection based on author, text, and title key words that use Boolean search logic. Within the search function there is an option to limit the search terms, but when I tried this function the page did not redirect. The site does link to outside pages that I believe are run on a different platform or software due to appearance and format of the pages that are linked. It was not clear from the two times I tried to access these outside pages if the trouble was caused by neglecting site maintenance or if the site is under construction. The documents are broken into six primary categories that are divided by date and subject matter (acts passed, statutes, and constitutions). The images may be seen either as an “online book” or downloaded as a PDF. The online book view has no zoom capabilities and only one size of the image is available. The images are also in TIFF format and this treatment of the images seems to indicate that the purpose of the collection is more of a finding aid than a primary resource as much of the text is illegible and there is no transcript. The metadata for this collection consists of the title of the original document, the author (in many cases this a governmental body or group), the date, and the collection the document belongs to. It would have been nice to have more description of the document and this lack suggests that users must know exactly what they are looking for. The selection criteria for this collection appears to be all the documents relating to Liberian law at the Cornell University library. The page explaining the creation of the collection provides the history of the documents which all appear to be from the same geographical area and dealing with similar issues of Liberian law. The collection appears to be the product of one of Cornell’s professors interests and there is no indication that this collection has not been fully digitized. This collection was digitized based on an increase in demands by scholarly researchers requesting Liberian law documents and inquiring about the size and scope of the physical collection. The site claims this increase in scholarly research in the humanities and interdisciplinary as the reason for the digitization effort.
Cornell University has other digital collections that may be of note including home economics and a history of math collection. They can be found here:

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