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Wonder what those three things have to do with each other? More than you might think at first.

As many of us have recently experienced, I was asked to add some thoughts about the latest developments in artificial intelligence to a state of the library presentation I gave earlier this summer. While trying to give a nuanced answer in a short amount of time, I fielded questions about why I focused so much on collection preservation when some of the audience members’ law firms had emptied their libraries of print and others were setting up working groups on how to best use generative AI. I did my best to explain that an academic law library’s collecting role is different from a firm library’s, that firm librarians frequently count on us to supply access to things they can’t collect and which don’t appear in their subscription databases, and that the newly-available Large Language Model products show some interesting potential, but it’s not yet clear how revolutionary that might or might not be for the practice of law.

I suspect the questioners might not have been fully satisfied with my answers then, but within a matter of days, news broke of Mata v. Avianca, Inc., No. 22-CV-1461 (PKC), 2023 WL 4114965 (S.D.N.Y. June 22, 2023), which I hope provided a bit more context for consideration. The first but already not last “ChatGPT lawyer” case, Mata highlights many concerns about generative AI in its current state of development: incompleteness, untimeliness and unreliability in a given product’s training data; the tendency of LLMs to “hallucinate” information that doesn’t exist; and our own ability to suspend skepticism if the language outputs appear coherent and are presented confidently enough. Claiming to be unaware of those dangers, the attorneys in Mata swiftly had to face significant sanctions in addition to public shame, and firms and judges are now rushing to set parameters for the use of generative AI.

While Mata was playing out, my library was contacted by an area firm needing to copy from one of our print reporters an older Pennsylvania case they couldn’t get from the Big 3, exactly the kind of regular occurrence I’d pointed to in my talk. Both of these examples demonstrate a fundamental reality of law: it’s grounded in sources, and not all of those sources are going to be available online. How do you prove a case, statute, or treaty provision cited in a court filing both exists and says what the advocate says it does? Conversely, how do you prove it doesn’t exist and the advocate isn’t practicing law competently? What do you do when a case that is still good law somehow didn’t get digitized and uploaded to a place you can access? You go back to a reliable source, and at least for the foreseeable future, that relies on the continued availability of legal information in physical formats, held and preserved by libraries and archives.

This is why I think collection preservation is just as important as staying on top of technological developments, and why LIPA is a great resource for those of us whose work is balancing the two. As even ChatGPT can acknowledge, LIPA provides a critical forum for discussing the importance of legal information preservation, resources for those with collections needing preservation, and advocacy, which is good both for humans practicing law and for building better data sets for machine learning.

If you’re interested in sharing your thoughts about legal information preservation in the age of generative AI, please bring them to our upcoming member meeting on July 26, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. (Eastern). Click here to register (all are welcome) and if you’re not already a member, please consider joining!

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By: Michele Knapp

As I travel to Chicago for the annual LIPA Board Retreat, I’m thinking about my last visit to the city. In September 2022, I arrived as a prepared researcher. I’d done some digging in advance and discovered the University of Chicago held resources I wanted to dive into. I used the finding aids to peruse materials available in the Hyde Park Historical Society Collection. I scheduled an appointment and requested the boxes of documents I wanted to examine. Once in the city, I trekked from the South Loop to campus and found my way to The Joseph Regenstein Library.

I arrived on time and settled in at my assigned seat among other inquisitive types, each of us at individual tables. An archival box stood at attention in front of each researcher. One box at a time, mind you, to avoid commingling of materials between boxes. What are they exploring? I wondered. All of us going back in time. Together in one room while off in our own little worlds, each of us imagining what it must have been like to have experienced that event or to have lived during that time.

I turned to my first box. Several folders inside held newspaper clippings on the state of the Chicago River, a program from Hyde Park’s 100th anniversary celebration, an ancient call to donors to save the Fountain of Time from crumbling into oblivion. Even now, it surprises me this was my first personal visit to a library for archival research. Sure, I’d requested documents from archives of other libraries for the benefit of legal scholars at my university. I’d pulled on the white gloves to handle fragile books and art objects on occasional museum and library tours, and I’d taught students how to handle and clean microfiche. But, until that point, I’d never sought out archival material for research and writing of my own.

Now I’m heading to the LIPA Board meetings, where we’ll discuss where we’ve been, where we are today, and where we expect to go next. The Regenstein Library made possible my research into Chicago’s past. Understanding the importance of being able to access what I wanted and needed for my own purposes changed my perspective on preservation.

What gets preserved and why? The value judgments we make today may have a more significant impact on our future than we realize. What does preservation look like in Chicago? What does preservation mean to Chicagoans? I intend to find out.

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By: Molly Brownfield

Molly: Hello ChatGPT. I am writing a blog post this month for LIPA, the Legal Information Preservation Alliance and thought it might be fun to have a conversation with a chatbot as the topic. Can you tell me what you know about LIPA and what we do in a paragraph or two?

ChatGPT: Sure, LIPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving legal information in all forms, including print, digital, and audiovisual. LIPA works to ensure that valuable legal information is accessible to the public, scholars, and practitioners for both current and future generations. LIPA offers resources and expertise to libraries, archives, and other organizations to help them preserve and provide access to legal information. Additionally, LIPA advocates for policies that promote the preservation and accessibility of legal information, such as the digitization of historical legal materials and the development of best practices for preservation.

Molly: Thank you! Can you explain why preservation of legal information is important?

ChatGPT: Absolutely! Preservation of legal information is critical for a number of reasons. First, legal information is an essential component of the rule of law. Without access to legal information, individuals, businesses, and governments cannot make informed decisions or comply with legal requirements. Legal information includes statutes, case law, regulations, and other legal documents that provide guidance on how to interpret and apply the law. Second, legal information serves as a historical record of our society's laws and legal processes. Preserving legal information ensures that future generations can understand and learn from the evolution of our legal system over time. Third, as more legal information is created in digital formats, there is a risk that this information may become lost or inaccessible over time due to technological obsolescence, data corruption, or other issues. Preserving legal information in a variety of formats and ensuring its long-term accessibility is therefore critical to maintaining an accurate and comprehensive record of our legal system.Overall, preserving legal information is essential to upholding the rule of law, understanding our legal history, and ensuring that legal information remains accessible to all.

Molly: Thanks! Can you summarize in one paragraph why law librarians should consider becoming members of LIPA?

ChatGPT: Absolutely! Law librarians should consider becoming members of LIPA because the organization offers a wealth of resources and expertise for preserving legal information. As a member of LIPA, law librarians gain access to a network of professionals working in the field of legal preservation, as well as educational resources and best practices for preserving legal information in all formats. Additionally, LIPA offers opportunities for professional development and advocacy for policies that promote the accessibility and preservation of legal information. By becoming a member of LIPA, law librarians can help ensure that legal information remains accessible and available to all, both now and in the future.

Molly: Great! One last thing - can you provide a link to LIPA's website?

ChatGPT: Sure! Here is the link to LIPA's website:

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