Collection Policy

A PDF version of the Law Library of Victoria Collection Policy is available online (PDF, 374KB). 

Introduction

The Law Library of Victoria (the 'Law Library') was established in 2014 to provide a comprehensive and sustainable resource for the judiciary and the legal profession. The Law Library contributes to the practice of law in Victoria by offering modern and ready access to legal resources and providing high quality and responsive legal and information services. The Law Library supports the Supreme Court of Victoria (SCV), the County Court of Victoria (CCV), the Magistrates' Court of Victoria (MCV), the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) and the regional and specialist courts which are part of these jurisdictions.

Goals of the Law Library of Victoria:
  • To provide a sustainable high quality legal information service
  • To contribute to a well-informed judiciary and legal profession.

Policy Objectives

The Collection Policy is the key strategic document that underpins the management and development of the collections of the Law Library.

The policy will:

  • Guide strategic decision making related to the collection;
  • Provide a consistent informed approach to acquisition;
  • Inform the wider legal profession and other libraries about the resources collected by the Law Library;
  • Provide guidelines to ensure the preservation of the collection through digitisation and conservation activities;
  • Ensure that the SCV Library collection is maintained as a collection of national significance for the benefit of future generations.

Selection Criteria and Responsibility for Selection

Responsibility for Selection

Primary responsibility for selection lies with the Librarian, Collections and Research Services. Reference Librarians also have input into the selection process. The final decision-making for acquisition of items for the collection lies with the Director, Law Library of Victoria.

Selection Criteria

The selection of resources is based on collecting using the following criteria:
a) Legislation of the Commonwealth, Victoria and all other Australian states and territories and Halsbury’s Statutes of England;

b) Major authorised and general law reports and digests for all Australian jurisdictions, England, Canada, New Zealand and the United States;

c) Specialised law report series from all Australian jurisdictions and England covering subjects collected as outlined in the Law Library Collection Procedures ;

d) Australian specialised and general legal journals published in Australia and England, covering subject areas collected as outlined in the Law Library Collection Procedures;

e) Commonwealth and Victorian parliamentary debates;

f) Victorian government gazettes;

g) Legal encyclopaedias, dictionaries, citators and indexes covering Australia, England, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

h) All legal related texts published in Victoria;

i) Texts covering Victorian law are selected as a first priority followed by Commonwealth and interstate material. Texts on the common law of the following jurisdictions are also collected (listed in descending priority order):

  • England;
  • Canada;
  • New Zealand;
  • United States material is purchased if the subject matter under review has not been dealt with extensively by any of the common law jurisdictions listed above.

j) Texts discussing subject areas with a legislative basis are only selected if the legislation is comparable to the Victorian/Commonwealth equivalent. If the common law is still applicable in Victoria, then no selection of material with a legislative basis will be made;

k) Electronic resources are preferred when available to meet expectations of current users;

l) Costs are considered based on the size and quality of the product, its value to library users and availability from other sources.

Links are provided via the Law Library portal to electronic subscription material, e books and relevant material that is freely available on the Internet.

This policy assumes that courts at all locations are providing an acceptable level of connectivity for online access to facilitate use of electronic and Web based resources. More detailed criteria are defined in the Law Library Collection Procedures document.

Subscriptions

Resources obtained via a subscription, including journals, looseleaf services and online databases are selected if they meet the selection criteria outlined above.

Further criteria are:
a) Licensing arrangements for electronic subscriptions should allow the Law Library to provide document delivery to internal and external customers;
b) Where hard copy is required, preference is to subscribe to bound volumes only (where a subscription includes parts or bound volumes);
c) Where hard copy is required, a retention period for each individual journal title will be developed outlining the period for which a journal will be retained consistent with criteria outlined in this policy.

Monographs

The Law Library actively pursues the purchase of monographs if they meet the selection criteria outlined in this policy. The Law Library Collection Procedures provide detail relating to subject areas collected.

Further criteria relating specifically to monographs are:
a) Hardcover editions of monographs when available are purchased in preference to soft cover;
b) Australian annual publications on commercial and criminal law are purchased as new editions become available and other items are purchased on an as needs or requested basis;
c) The SCV library acquires materials and maintains a small lending collection. This is a generalist legal collection including legal biographies and historical commentaries.
d) E-books are purchased only when they can be loaned via the Law Library catalogue or where a publisher provides electronic lending services;

Judgments

Unrestricted judgments

The Law Library maintains a central historical collection of publicly available judgments from all jurisdictions. Where permissible these judgments are made accessible on the Judgments Database via the Law Library portal. Judgments delivered post 1998 are made available electronically to AustLII, BARNET JADE and legal publishers as per the individual licensing arrangements with those entities.

Restricted judgments

Restricted judgments are managed locally by the Reference Librarians in collaboration with their respective jurisdictions. Access to these judgments is by request to library staff and granted only with the permission of the relevant judicial chambers staff.

County Court of Victoria

The County Court publishes selected judgments to AustLII.

Magistrates Court of Victoria

The Magistrates' Court of Victoria publishes selected judgments and decisions for the Industrial, Civil, Criminal and Workcover Divisions. A limited number of these are sent to the SCV library for publishing to AustLII and BARNET JADE and entered on the Law Library catalogue.

VCAT Decisions

These are stored on AustLII electronically, and also supplied to BARNET JADE.

Judges speeches

The Law Library maintains an electronic collection of judicial speeches of all jurisdictions where obtainable.

Rare Books and the Classics Collection

The Classics Collection of 18th century books was collected during the early years of the establishment of the SCV Library. It consists of a range of generalist texts and classic novels. This collection is housed in the Classics Room to ensure security. Access to the collection is at the discretion of the Librarian. The Law Library does not pursue additional purchasing to supplement these collections. However donations may be accepted. The collections are maintained for historical purposes and are included in the Law Library catalogue.

The SCV Library also holds many other rare and old books. Currently these are housed within the general collection. Access to these items is at the discretion of the Reference Librarian on duty. Some items in these collections are deteriorating physically and a conservation policy will be implemented to ensure that items of national significance are preserved in accordance with the preservation policy outlined in this policy with appropriate funding arrangements for this purpose.

Koori Collection

A small collection of material relevant to the Koori Court is maintained in the MCV library. It contains monographs, government reports and other related items. The development of this collection will be in accordance with the Selection Criteria outlined in this policy.

Language

English is the predominant language of the collection.

Gifts and Donations

The Law Library accepts donations of hardcopy publications from both members of the judiciary and the legal profession on the basis that they become the property of the Law Library and any item not required will be discarded. Donations will be refused if material does not meet the selection criteria outlined in this policy or is already held by the Law Library and duplicates are not required. The Law Library accepts donations of superseded material from other libraries if they meet the criteria outlined in this policy. The Law Library will not provide a written valuation of donated items.

Purchase Requests

The Law Library provides a facility via the Law Library portal for the judiciary to recommend new items for purchase. The final decision to purchase a resource is made by the Director, Law Library of Victoria.

Preservation

Binding

If a bound volume service is not available to a serial subscription the loose parts are sent for binding on an annual basis. Monographs are not sent for binding unless they are in need of reinforcement, such as softcover texts.

Digitisation

Where funding permits:

  • The Law Library will collaborate with entities such as AustLII and loan rare library items out of copyright to contribute to AustLII’s Victorian Law Resources database. Examples of such items could be Chief Justice’s Law Reform Committee Reports and related Victorian government/statutory authority publications.
  • The Law Library will collaborate with other libraries such as the State Library of Victoria (SLV) and the University of Melbourne to digitise all obtainable Victorian legal textbooks which are out of copyright.
  • The Law Library will collaborate with the courts and VCAT on local digitisation projects, (such as annual reports and hardcopy judgments) which would be hosted locally. Other rare items (such as trial transcripts, e.g.: Eureka Treason Trial, or historical court books, which are only held by the courts and VCAT, but are considered of public interest for educational purposes, will also be considered for in-house digitisation projects.

Conservation

Inadequate storage facilities and high usage have resulted in the deterioration of a number of items in the Law Library collection. To address this, a conservation program will be scoped, funded and implemented to enable the following actions:

  • Assessment of rare, valuable and old items by an expert;
  • Cleaning of collections to remove dust and decrease development of mould or pest infestations, followed by the introduction of a regular cleaning program;
  • Rebinding of significant items, where appropriate;
  • Casual employment of a conservator to work on valuable items which have deteriorated;
  • Significant items will be placed in a designated area with controlled access;
  • Items which are fragile will be prioritised for digitisation, to enable access to content while preserving the original item.

Disaster Management

A Disaster Management plan will be developed using Australian Library and Information Association guidelines, incorporating the following:

  • A disaster manual to be kept off-site as well as onsite;
  • Staff lists with full out-of hours contact details available on and off site – and kept up to date;
  • Computer back up files maintained off site;
  • A list of experts, who can be contacted to provide assistance will be developed. Experts will preferably be local, and will include suppliers of restoration equipment and supplies, conservators, technical expertise;
  • Collection priorities will be set for items that should be saved first.

Collection Maintenance

Storage

The best storage location of material will be determined by: the likely demand on the title; the need for like titles to be consulted together; the scarcity or value of the item; the anticipated growth if it is an updated or serial title; and the adaptability of existing shelving arrangements. As well as general open-access shelves, designated stack areas are maintained in the SCV Library and the MCV Library. Where offsite storage is appropriate, a Public Records Office of Victoria (PROV) approved storage facility is used.

Superseded Material

One copy of superseded material may be retained indefinitely in order to service the following needs of the judiciary and practitioners:

  • The requirement to research a specific law at a particular historical point in time;
  • The requirement to research the development of laws over time; 
  • The requirement to access superseded material that has been cited elsewhere.

Superseded copies of loose-leaf services may be bound and retained for reference purposes, and are stored in the stack area.

Where superseded resources are retained they will be clearly marked;
Items no longer required may be:

  • Discarded;​
  • Offered for donation to libraries in need.

Superseded material will be maintained in the stack area housed at the relevant individual libraries that are most likely to utilise that superseded material or offsite at a Public Records Office of Victoria (PROV) approved storage facility .

Collection Evaluation

Statistics

The following data is collected and maintained:

  • Numbers of titles in the collection;
  • Number of titles added each year;
  • Inter library loan statistics, including document delivery services;
  • Usage of databases and e resources.

Direct Evaluation

Direct examination of the collection by library staff or experts provides relevant information. All formats making up the collection for a particular subject area i.e. books, journals, electronic resources, etc. are assessed on a regular basis.

Cooperative Collection Development

The Law Library strives to cooperate with other substantial local law libraries, such as Melbourne Law School and the State Library of Victoria, to maintain a combined comprehensive collection available locally. This includes community legal service libraries, law firm libraries, university libraries and the Victorian Government Library Service. The Law Library has informal partnerships with the following libraries:

  • University of Melbourne Law Library;
  • Monash University Law Library;
  • Court libraries in other Australian States and Territories.

Review of the Collection Policy

This policy will be reviewed periodically to meet the changing needs of the Law Library, judiciary and the legal profession.

 

Version: 1.0. Last updated: 18 February 2015