The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law has received a grant that will allow librarians to broaden public access to information about Utah laws.
The LSTA Grant from the Utah State Library will support the digitization of the superseded Utah Code Annotated for the years that legal search tool Lexis Nexis does not cover – approximately 1943-1991, said Valeri Craigle, associate librarian and head of digital and e-publishing services at the U’s James E. Faust Law Library.
When the law school closed its doors last March in response to the pandemic, many people lost access to these older versions of the code because the only way they could access it was to physically come into the law school and look in the books, Craigle said. BYU Howard W. Hunter Law Library and the State Law Library also closed, so people lost access to those collections as well.
Craigle said people need the UCA to see what the laws of Utah looked like in a particular time period. It is a vital source of legal research for scholars, lawyers and the self-represented. Having the UCA digitized will also provide online access to these materials to researchers in parts of rural Utah, she said.
“It’s a good thing for the College of Law and the Faust Law Library in that it helps us fulfill our mission of serving the research needs of the legal community, which has experienced disruptions in information access during these challenging times,” said Craigle. “We have also pledged in the grant to assist our sister libraries – BYU Howard W. Hunter Law Libary and The Utah State law Library in fulfilling requests for the UCA, which have doubled, even tripled, in some cases over the last 10 months. On the tech side, this project will support the development of an open access digital infrastructure for historic annotated state codes, something few states have accomplished.”