Developments in Comparative law research

Possibilities for cost (and time) efficient Comparative law research are now much broader thanks to the Hathi Trust. The Hathi Trust is a partnership of over sixty Libraries and research institutions worldwide and currently contains 11 million digitized volumes. Access to these materials is predicated on statutory user-rights instead of contractual licensing: Ironically the Hathi Trust is named after a fictional elephant named Hathi which is a central character in Rudyard Kipling’s series of moral tales set in the African jungle. In these stories, Hathi represents order and respect for the laws of the jungle: Even a new paradigm can follow old rules! Examples of interesting comparative titles available through the Hathi Trust include: Concordance entre les codes civils étrangers et le Code Napoléon, Essai sur la symbolique du droit: précédé d’une introduction sur la poésie du droit primitif and the Zeitschrift für vergleichende Rechtswissenschaft. Many classics of Common Law mythology such as Ancient law: its connection with the early history of society, and its relation to modern ideas are available but a majority of items in the Hathi Trust are in languages other than English and the OCR throughout is very clean. A new take on the old cliché characterizing Law as “chaos with an index” would show that thanks to metadata, Law’s “index” has transcended both the static and unitary classification schemes of the Civil Law and the (understandable) predisposition of “K” towards a Common Law mindset. As for the “chaos”, our collective holdings are not a digital Pandemonium; au contraire users of Law Libraries can now access Comparative Legal materials with unparalleled serenity. Both the search possibilities and contents of the Hathi Trust buttress this overarching trend by giving its members access to unique multilingual legal materials with ease and speed.

Daniel Boyer