The Prison Law Library: From Print to CD-ROM

By Vogel, Brenda | Corrections Today, June 1996 | Go to article overview

The Prison Law Library: From Print to CD-ROM


Vogel, Brenda, Corrections Today


Editor's note: The following is the third in a series of articles dealing with libraries, information technology and corrections.

Every few months a lawyer in private practice calls the Maryland Correctional Education Libraries offering a collection of used law books. This, in itself, is not unusual. For years, prison libraries have been dumping grounds for old, out-of-date law books weeded from retired or deceased attorneys' offices. What is unusual is that the books now being received are the Annotated Code of Maryland and the Maryland Reporter with the latest revisions (pocket parts). These books are current and relevant for a prison law library collection.

This generosity is not due to the merging of small law firms or a mass exodus from the legal profession. It is because computers now have an edge over books as tools used in legal research. Very small law firms cannot afford to spend the amount of time it takes to do research using books versus a computerized search.

Attorneys today cannot justify the cost of maintaining the space needed to house books that are essential to their practice. At least 45 feet of shelf space is required just for Maryland state statutes and court reporters - and Maryland is a small state. California needs about five times that amount for state materials. Adding federal materials (court reporters, statutes, encyclopedias and digests) doubles the needed space.

Users also need space in the library - for searching through all the different titles and volumes that relate to each other. The nub of legal research is that it requires looking through many volumes to associate current legal issues with precedent.

Managing a library collection of law books is labor intensive. It requires organizational procedures for information retrieval and extensive hands-on work in processing, filing, lending, photocopying and shelving. Legal books constantly must be updated (inserting revision pages in existing volumes) and occasionally replaced.

Electronic database technology, both on-line and in compact disc read-only memory (CD-ROM) format, eliminates much of the labor involved in operating law libraries and in doing basic legal research. The allocation of space required for users to handle the multivolumed titles and to contain the collection diminishes considerably with the introduction of technology. It is the computer that organizes and retrieves the information. The computer delivers the information to the screen or printer.

This technology is portable. A stand-alone computer with an internal or external CD drive, a printer and the CD-ROM discs can be placed on a media cart and wheeled to an electrical outlet anywhere in the facility. An entire law library or any segment of one can be in use, anywhere, at any time.

In contrast, with books come higher costs, continuous purchases, control and circulation difficulties, storage and maintenance problems, and the need to identify, allocate and secure suitable and accessible storage space.

Despite these disadvantages, converting from print to CD-ROM seems problematic for corrections, perhaps because of security concerns about hacking or other criminal activities associated with computers or because of the perception of computers as rewards for inmates.

However, by converting their law books to CD-ROM databases, correctional agencies can save money and provide court access to inmates cost-effectively. Other advantages include:

* The library is brought to the user (e.g., inmates in lock-down units).

* One resource can be used by more than one person at a time.

* There is no need to purchase duplicate copies of in-demand titles.

* Less research time is needed.

* Less space is needed - one disc may contain 200,000 pages of typed text or 100 volumes.

* Easy-to-use, menu-driven software allows users to search by word, subject area, court jurisdiction, historical sequence, and current and previous rulings. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Prison Law Library: From Print to CD-ROM
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.