Updating and Rebuilding of FLAG, the Foreign Law Guide

The project to update and rebuild FLAG, the Foreign Law Guide, has been completed in June 2014.  You can now search the updated and rebuilt database!  FLAG is a guide to collections of foreign and international law held in UK libraries.  It describes holdings of primary materials in print and microform, (but not electronic resources, which are beyond the scope of the guide).  FLAG contains a wealth of information to help researchers and librarians discover and locate collections of treaties, papers of the United Nations and other international organisations, the law reports and codes and legislation of many jurisdictions, and useful indexes and other finding tools.  FLAG helps researchers to answer questions such as:

  • Where can I find current law reports for Germany and Italy?
  • Which library in my region has collections of treaties?
  • Where can I find the law codes of Argentina, of Brazil?
  • Can I find older consolidations of the law of Nigeria as well as the current law?
  • Which library holds a comprehensive collection of United Nations material?

The project team to update FLAG visited 56 libraries between June 2013 and May 2014.  We surveyed shelves to record any changes in collections of foreign, comparative and international law.  We noted any materials discarded, moved to store, or reclassified.  We also noted all collections which were still active (live subscriptions) in 2010 but which have since been cancelled.  Our survey findings have helped us to update the FLAG database as much as possible.  It was not possible to visit 6 libraries for the survey, mainly because of building works, but descriptions of these collections may be updated in due course.


You can read our project report and statistics in full shortly on the IALS website.  Among the findings are:

  • Hundreds of collections have been disposed of since 2010, due to space re-development in libraries
  • Many collections have been relocated within libraries, again for space reasons
  • Many collections have been reclassified
  • Over 1200 collections, which were recorded as active in 2010, have since been closed, because the trend towards electronic holdings is increasing
  • We recorded hundreds of collections for FLAG which were not previously in the guide, and we noted many new compilations of laws and editions in print to update the database

The project team would like to thank many organisations and people who have made the project possible.  Thanks to all the law librarians in almost 60 libraries who agreed to meet us and to have their collections surveyed – we appreciate your time, expertise and hospitality.  Thanks to the FLARE groups of libraries for their sponsorship and continuing support – the Library of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, the British Library, the Bodleian Law Library in Oxford, the Squire Law Library in Cambridge, and the Library of the School of Oriental and African Studies.  Thanks also to BIALL, the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians, for its support and thanks to the School of Advanced Study in the University of London.

Thanks, finally, to all the members of the project team, most of whom are based in the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, for their hard work on surveying shelves, recording changes on the database, and refreshing the web interface.  We are very grateful to Dr Peter Clinch, who created the Foreign Law Guide between 2000 and 2002, for his continued support and expertise throughout the project.

Gerry Power

FLAG Update Project Manager


For further information, contact David Gee, Deputy Librarian, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, e-mail: David.Gee@sas.ac.uk