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Creating and Building a HeinOnline Collection

Dick Spinelli, Counsel to the President, William S. Hein & Co., Inc., &
Sheila Jarrett, Senior Editor, William S. Hein & Co., Inc.

Since the release of the first HeinOnline collection in 2000—the Law Journal Library—75 other individual collections have been added to the database. The impetus for developing these individual libraries or collections comes from a variety of sources. These include the company’s decision to convert a print and/or a microform collection to an online format (Federal Register); librarian/subscriber suggestions (Animal Studies); current hot topics (Immigration Law); and collection ideas by a Hein staff member (Religion and the Law and Women and the Law).

Throughout its history, the Hein Company has carefully considered recommendations offered by librarians. During HeinOnline’s seventeen-year existence, suggestions regarding new subject collections, search enhancements, and content addition to existing collections have played a major role in the development of HeinOnline.

The Federal Register Library.  After the well-received release of the Law Journal Library, both our staff and interested librarians began to review other potential additions to our image-based and fully-searchable database. The clear “winner” for the next collection was Federal Register. Since Hein already had print and/or micro of this vital material, we were able to convert the complete set and begin the process of tagging the files and filling in metadata, eventually adding everything beginning with the first volume in 1936 through today’s daily updates. This second collection was a happy confluence of librarians’ desiderata and Hein’s existing resources.

Animal Studies.  An excellent example of new topical content development, again at the suggestion of a librarian, is our Animal Studies: Law, Welfare and Rights collection. In a conversation in early 2012 with Jennie Meade of the George Washington University’s Jacob Burns Law Library, the discussion that began with her interest and accomplishments in horse training and equestrianism led to the subject of animal law. Jennie remarked that animal law was an important subject and one eminently suitable as a collection for HeinOnline. Animal law’s origins can be traced back many centuries; it touches upon countless areas of society, and is part of the curriculum in numerous U.S. law schools.

Identifying other librarians willing to assist in the initiative was not a difficult task. The American Association of Law Libraries has an Animal Law Caucus, and in conversations with some of its members, we found an enthusiastic reaction to the idea of developing an animal law collection for HeinOnline. In July 2012, Hein staff members met at the AALL Annual Meeting in Boston with Jennie Meade, Tami Gierloff of Lewis and Clark Law School, and Michele Finerty of the McGeorge School of Law (now retired) who at the time was President of AALL’s Animal Law Caucus. Ideas were exchanged and an outline designed to help develop the collection. During this time other librarians became involved with the project, especially Vicki Steiner of UCLA’s Darling Law Library.

This group of librarians proved invaluable as the collection took form. Each librarian was instrumental in helping us design the structure of the collection, in identifying materials to include, and in critiquing the content as the beta site was built over a period of more than two years. They introduced or pointed us to faculty who were among the leading instructors in the field, such as David Favre of Michigan State University, Joan Schaffner of the George Washington University, Rebecca Huss of Valparaiso University, Taimie Bryant of UCLA, and Kathy Hessler of Lewis and Clark Law School. The librarians also identified key organizations such as the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Animal Welfare Institute. As a result, the publications of these two groups are included in the Animal Studies collection.

Today this collection contains more than 830 titles, 1,440 volumes and 395,000 pages.

Immigration Law.  Immigration law has been a hot topic for a number of years. When the Immigration Law & Policy in the U.S. collection was released in 2014, there was considerable controversy both at the local and federal levels as attempts were made to define the status of those who were considered illegal immigrants. Between the prior administration’s approach to the subject, including its response to DACA, and the current administration’s approach as it wrestles with the subject, immigration matters are in the headlines almost on a daily basis. This collection highlights both historical and current issues and contains, among other materials, legislative histories on immigration acts, Board of Immigration Appeals precedent decisions, and highly cited scholarly articles and treatises on immigration.

Today this collection contains more than 1,500 titles, 2,140 volumes and 510,000 pages.

Religion and the Law.  An example of a collection idea initially conceived internally is Religion & the Law. The breadth and depth of the subject matter led to the conclusion that it would make an excellent à la carte library for HeinOnline. As the research into this wide-ranging topic began, we identified relevant publications and journals, divided material into sub-collections (such as Canon Law, Church & State, and Religion & Freedom), and found organizations and centers at academic institutions with material that would be pertinent for the collection.

At the outset, we contacted the Christian Law Society and Catholic University of America about licensing their publications. All of the Society’s publications were soon licensed for inclusion in the collection, which was followed by the licensing of Catholic University’s 500+ Canon Law Studies publications. Later we collaborated with the Jewish Law Society to include their publications, and Regent University agreed to contribute numerous titles from their unique collection. In addition, a number of individuals offered suggestions about content and pointed us to other potential partnerships.

Today this collection contains more than 2,200 titles, 3,440 volumes and 1,127,000 pages.

Women and the Law (Peggy).  Another internally-conceived collection is Women and the Law. The inspiration for this library came from the legacy of two accomplished and creative women connected with the Hein Company: Ilene N. Hein, who co-founded the company alongside her husband, Bill, and worked actively in it from 1961-1992, setting the highest standard for customer service and values; and Margaret (Peggy) Marmion, who was an avid supporter of women’s rights in addition to being passionate about her family and serving their needs. This library offers a wealth of material and sub-collections (including Abortion, Biographies of Famous Women, Legal Rights & Suffrage, Women & Society), and is supported by partnerships such as Emory University Law School’s Feminism and Legal Theory Project, which provides a platform to view the effect of law and culture on the female gender.

Today this collection contains more than 1,330 titles, 2,180 volumes and 655,000 pages.

Conclusion.  A new HeinOnline collection begins with an idea. From this abstraction the collection takes shape through the development stages which follow. These include designing the structure of the collection, including any specialized search fields, subtopics and sub-collections gleaned from partnerships; identifying, borrowing, imaging, and creating metadata for the tens of thousands of pages of relevant material; and filling in our standard features which contain scholarly articles, bibliographies of other works, and external links. We at the Hein Company don’t consider our work done once a new collection is made available, of course—we’re continually updating its current content and looking for new material to include. Maintaining a collection’s value to our customers is very important to us.

To reiterate: as HeinOnline has evolved over the past seventeen years, the law library community has played a significant role in helping develop and expand individual collections. The Hein Company has always welcomed guidance and counsel from its customers, whether relating to its print publications or microform collections. Today, HeinOnline benefits from the thoughtful advice of its many librarian friends and subscribers. In addition to suggestions about potential materials to add and topics to cover, the law library community’s invaluable recommendations regarding enhancements, new features, and the interface itself continue to improve the database and help ensure the future of HeinOnline.

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