The FLAG Rebuild Project

Many libraries throughout the UK are helping to update FLAG – the Foreign Law Guide – this year.  The project team to update and rebuild FLAG is based at IALS, the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London.  Team members are conducting surveys of over 60 UK libraries’ collections of foreign, comparative and international law for the project.  The outcome of the project will be a fully updated FLAG database, complete with a new interface, to be launched in 2014.

FLAG is a guide to collections of foreign, international and comparative law (FCIL) in UK libraries.  It started over ten years ago, developed by Dr Peter Clinch and IALS.  It offers guidance on collections of primary material rather than on individual titles, so it does not include individual catalogue records or bibliographic details.  Its scope includes material in print or microform, but not electronic formats.  The database is readily available on the IALS website, and is aimed at librarians and researchers.  FLAG helps librarians to build print collections of FCIL material in a systematic and co-operative way, which avoids duplication of valuable resources.  It helps researchers to identify and locate collections of primary material relevant to their current research.  FLAG aims to answer questions such as, for instance, Where can I find a library in the UK with:

  • current legislation for the Cayman Islands?
  • current law reports for Japan?
  • UN General Assembly resolutions?
  • collections of treaties?
  • codes for France or Belgium or India?
  • the official gazette of Botswana or Cote d’Ivoire?

Three members of the project team are conducting shelf surveys: Peter Clinch, Hester Swift and Gerry Power.  Lindsey Caffin and Gerry Power are updating the FLAG database with survey results, and noting any new collections, cancellations, disposals, relocations etc.  Steven Whittle is developing a new web interface for the database, and the whole project is overseen by David Gee.  Read more about the team on the IALS website!  We will announce the launch of the rebuilt database in 2014 via the usual web and e-mail channels, but do contact David Gee (e-mail ) in the meantime if you have any questions about the project.

Shelf surveying of over 60 libraries is well underway, with over half of the visits completed.  The survey method entails a very close examination of the shelves and stores of foreign and international print material, and includes:
  • checking thoroughly to see which materials are still in stock
  • noting any cancellations, disposals, new subscriptions, or other changes
  • updating shelf locations and library contact details
  • noting all survey results on the FLAG database to bring it up-to-date

A big thank you to all the law librarians in UK libraries who have helped so far by allowing us to survey their library’s collections of FCIL!  They have  given us expert guidance on their print collections.  We appreciate the librarians’ hospitality and patience – there are usually lots of queries arising from each survey.

The project team are grateful for the support of several key libraries and organisations.  The FLAG Rebuild Project is being supported by:

The Flare Foreign Law Research group of libraries (a collaboration between the major libraries collecting primary law in the United Kingdom: The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (Chair), The Bodleian Law Library – University of Oxford, The British Library, The Squire Law Library – University of Cambridge, and The School of Oriental and African Studies Library) and The British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL), and The School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London.

Gerry Power

FLAG Update Project Manager