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Maryland Libraries and 2017 Maryland Legislative Session

The Maryland Legislative Session ended at midnight last night and Maryland librarians can be happy with the outcome. There were two bills in the 2017 Legislative Session of special interest to libraries.  Both bills passed both houses unanimously and are on the way to becoming law.

Maryland Libraries – Reorganization of Governance Structure  (SB587/HB1094)

Under the current or soon to be previous law, libraries were a part of the Maryland Department of Education with K through 12.  Now there will be a separate, independent agency on the same level as the Department of Education and the Department of Higher Education.  Maryland will now have a State Library Agency headed by the State Librarian with a State Library Board made up of citizens appointed by the Governor. This way there will be an agency devoted solely to the issues of libraries that will ensure that funding intended for libraries is used for libraries.

UELMA (SB137/HB165)

The LLAM (Law Library Association of Maryland) information sheet states: The Maryland Uniform Electronic Legal Materials Act (UELMA) provides online legal material with the same level of trustworthiness traditionally provided by publication in a law book. It is the People’s insurance policy that official electronic legal materials are  authenticated, by providing a method to determine that it is unaltered;  preserved, either in electronic or print form; and accessible, for use by the public on a permanent basis.  This means that if a publisher of Maryland legal material such as the code, regulations or case law would cease to be published in print, the publication would become official and would have to be authenticated, preserved and accessible.  As long as the print exists, the provisions will not be activated.  However, if and when the time comes, Maryland is ready to make sure that this important information is still available.


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UELMA Update

An interior view of the State House dome.

Today, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will have a hearing on the Maryland Uniform Legal Materials Act (UELMA, “yoo-el-mah”). This proposed law would require legal materials that are only published in electronic form to be designated as “official”. The law would then require “official” materials to be capable of authentication, preserved, and permanently accessible to the public.

Why is UELMA so important? Many state governments have moved to online only publication of legal information. Consumers of this information, which include students, attorneys, legislators, and librarians are increasingly accessing this information online. It is critical that there is a way for everyone to know that the electronic information is accurate. UELMA provides Maryland’s citizens with this assurance and ensures that the law in the digital age will be accessible, authenticated, and preserved.

For more background information, check out our blog post from January here. If you have any questions about UELMA or navigating the Maryland General Assembly’s website, please contact us at the Law Library!

*The Maryland Uniform Legal Materials Act, sponsored by Delegates Vitale, Ghrist, Glass, McComas, McConkey, McMillan, Metzgar, Saab, and B. Wilson, was introduced to the House of Delegates and first read on January 28, 2015.* The proposed act, sponsored by Senator Astle, was introduced to the Senate on February 6, 2015. The text of Senate Bill 611 is available here, and the text of House Bill 162 is available here. For those of you interested in tracking the progress of the proposed act through the Maryland General Assembly, check out these summary pages here and here.

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An Introduction to UELMA

Untitled drawing (5)
This Enactment Status Map as well as other resources are available at

What is UELMA? UELMA (“yoo-el-mah”) is the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act, a uniform law* that addresses the issues of trustworthiness and access raised by the increased electronic distribution of state primary legal materials through the provision of an “outcomes-based approach to the authentication and preservation of electronic legal material . . . to enable end-users to verify the trustworthiness of the legal material they are using and to provide a framework for states to preserve legal material in perpetuity in a manner that allows for permanent access.”**  UELMA requires legal material that are only published in electronic form to be designated as official.  Official information must then be (1) capable of authentication (i.e., the appointed government agency or official provides the user with a way to determine that the legal information is trustworthy as an accurate copy), (2) preserved (i.e., in print and/or electronic formats)  and (3) permanently accessible to the public.

As of October 2014, the following twelve states have adopted the act:  California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon and Pennsylvania.  UELMA was introduced in the Maryland General Assembly in January 2014 (HB 46 / SB 275), but was withdrawn from further consideration in February 2014.  The full text of UELMA is available at If you are interested in learning more about UELMA, check out the UELMA Resources page (, available on the American Association of Law Libraries’ website.

Why is UELMA important? UELMA will help ensure that online legal information deemed official will be publicly accessible, free and reliable.  This, in turn, will promote government transparency, promote acceptance by the courts of online legal sources and assist legal researchers.  For more reasons why UELMA is important, check out this article by Judy Janes, the director of the University of California, Davis, Mable Law Library –  Advocacy materials are available at  UELMA supporters include the American Association of Law Libraries (  and the American Bar Association (

*In the United States, multiple legislative bodies may address the same area of law.  The goal of uniform laws is to encourage uniformity throughout the United States by encouraging state legislatures to enact the same law. A uniform law is only a proposal until it is adopted by a legislative body.

**Prefatory Note of the Uniform Electronic Material Act.

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CTC2011 – Day 1, A Law Librarian’s Summary

If you were in Portland for AALL in 2008, you have an idea of how entertaining the keynote speaker, David Pogue, technology columnist for the New York Times, was this morning.  His speech, “Disruptive Tech: What’s Coming and How It will Change Everything,” will soon be available at the NCSC website’s CTC2011 page  and I recommend it, if only for the songs about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates he performed at the end.  Pogue spoke of cultural shifts resulting from technology in terms of apps/smart phones, web2.0 and the huge generational changes we see now.  He demonstrated some augmented reality apps: one that can produce information such as the location of a subway station based on your location and a view of where you are standing through your phone and an app, word lens, that translates English and Spanish with the  phone’s camera.   He described web2.0 as audience as creators.  He also cited the surprising, to me, results of a study in Nature that found Wikipedia to more accurate than the Encyclopedia Britannica.  Through technology we now have a generation who expect everything in real-time and on demand and have little regard for privacy.  These are just some of the concepts discussed.

I couldn’t resist David Pogue’s session that followed his keynote, “The Best Mobile Apps.”  We saw apps that were fun and useful.  Songify will convert plain speech to song.  There are travel apps such as JetLagRX  that helps you adapt to a new time zone and Flight Track Pro that can tell the status of your flight. There is a speech recognition app (Dragon Dictation) that works great and is free and an app that can be used as a remote presentation slide changer (Keynote Remote).  I have always been reluctant to download apps to my phone but when asked about security issues David Pogue said he doesn’t really worry.  I just might try some of the apps he recommended.

“Abandoning Law Reports For Official Digital Case Law” described Arkansas’ decision to make the digital court opinions the official in 2009.  Professor Peter Martin of Cornell and co-founder of the Cornell’s LII was reassuring when he said that if UELMA were to be enacted in Arkansas the provisions for authentication, preservation and access would already be met.  Arkansas has also done away with the idea of published and unpublished decisions.  All are “published” now.  Arkansas has also adopted its own vendor neutral citation system based on the clerk’s numbering system.  Professor Martin discussed the  benefits of digital opinions in terms of cost savings, timeliness and access.  There were some interesting questions and discussion afterwards.  Why is authentication important and can’t we just trust that whatever is available on Westlaw or Lexis is authentic?  I think Professor Martin made a good case for authentication, even if it was just to assure the public.  There were a number of comments on the difficulty of coming up with a vendor neutral citation system. Another asked, ” Won’t this mean the end of physical space for law libraries?”  I was sitting next to him and must have looked horrified.  Professor Martin pointed out there are other materials  of value such as treatises in a law library other than case law that might still be preferable in print.  I was able to mention that AALL had developed a Universal Citation System that might be helpful and that law libraries might have changed the formats of legal information they provide, how they provide it and the space that they need but still provide an essential service in the court.

“Innovations in Serving Self-Help Court Users: Montana and California”  consisted of an introduction by  Claudia Johnson of LawHelp Interactive, Pro Bono Net, on the development of interactive forms using interviews for document creation with HotDocs and descriptions of different models used for serving self represented litigants.  In California, Los Angeles is able to serve  large numbers of family self represented litigants through work shops and interactive interview forms and San Bernardino County uses are more of  a one-on-one method.  However, by partnering with the San Bernardino County Law Library they have been able to have remote broadcasts using library space and technology.  Montana,  a large state with limited IT resources, has developed kiosks with options of live help or online resources for the user.  This program is in partnership with the Montana State Law Library,  Montana courthouses and public libraries. It was good to hear that law libraries are considered as important elements in providing court services.

I am afraid that the  program, “E-Filing and Web Services in a Nutshell,” was more technical than I expected.  However, the need for standardization was stressed as it can reduce costs and streamline sharing among court entities.

The day ended with a reception for the opening of the exhibit hall.  I visited just a few vendors this evening.  One that  provides systems for the video recording of court proceedings and a court management system vendor. is exhibiting this year, too.  I didn’t see the familiar West and Lexis until the reception was over and that was because they have a much smaller booth at this conference compared to AALL.

The conference is going well but I have to say I am disappointed in the weather.  I  expected sunny weather but it looks like clouds and rain for the rest of the week.