Tip of the OOTJ hat to Grace Mills at Hamline, who alerted me, and to Brian Huddleston of Loyola, New Orleans, who alerted the rest of the world that the U.S. Code now has 51 Titles. In December President Obama signed Pub. L. 111-314, which took sections from titles 15, 42 and 49 to create a new title, "National and Commercial Space Programs." So far, it is only accessible on Lexis. Westlaw does not have it yet. I have not found it at GPO Access' FedSys service. You cannot yet get the Public Law itself at FedSys, or at Thomas.loc.gov. At Thomas, I link you to the page where you can follow the original bill, HR 3237, and, eventually, it will include a link to the Public Law. You can also access a House committee report at this link, HR 111-325.
But now, we are informed that the floodgates have opened! Rick McKinney at the Federal Reserve Board reports:
Title 41 USC on Public Contracts was also just "revised, codified, and enacted" by Public Law 111-350 on January 4, 2011. In addition, Titles 52 thru 55 are in the works to be codified as well. SeeIf you look at the Codification website above, it's really fascinating. The nice thing is that it provides the names of the new titles of the Code, as well as alerting us to a reorganization of Title 35, Patents, Trademarks and other Intellectual Property and Title 41, Public Contracts. You can click on the links at this site, and apparently be taken to the full text as it exists now for each Title. But don't try Title 51!! It's agonizingly slow, apparently because it's the only title with any real content. That's kind of too bad, because it's the only non-commercial access to Title 51 right now. It's not available in print form anywhere yet, and not on the government websites yet. I suppose the public will have to wait to see the U.S. Code on space programs.
I understand why they are adding new titles. A few years ago, I attended a fascinating program at AALL that featured a speaker from the Office of Law Revision Counsel, the same guys who codify the U.S. Code. The speaker urged the listeners to join him in lobbying Congress for new Titles in the U.S. Code because certain titles had become so overcrowded that citations were unwieldy and the logic of the structure was destroyed.
However, the unintended consequence of adding new titles to the Code is that many libraries will be making deaccession decisions based on this new development. The cost will not be trivial. Libraries will be expected not only to purchase new volumes with the additional titles, but every re-organized title will require new volumes to be purchased as well. I don't know how many libraries still retain print copies of the annotated U.S. Code, much less how many still have it in both U.S. Code Annotated and U.S. Code Service. But of those libraries, many will agonize (as will mine) over whether they will retain a copy of both services, or even one, in print, in the face of this new expense.
This is an interesting development, coming right on the heels of an interesting discussion sparked by a question asked by Simon Canick at William Mitchell – Why not cancel print statutes? There were only a few who spoke up in favor of retaining print statutes in a large number of jurisdictions. Most libraries said they only retained a small number of print statutes in order to teach their Legal Research classes, and for their own state, a few adjacent states, and a few of the largest jurisdictions. And many librarians said they had checked back with users and, after making certain that folks knew they had access to online substitutes, they had no complaints. The voices that held firm for print made a few points worth noting, though:
* Bluebook rules require referring to print versions; the interlibrary loan requests from faculty and journal students sometimes seem overwhelming. There have been a lot of difficulties in obtaining the correct version of a statute book through interlibrary loan;
* Statutory research online can be more difficult for novice researchers than in print;
* If school mission includes public access, print may be an important aid, (though some directors offered online alternatives, that they said were cost effective. Lexis State Capital Universe was mentioned;)
* Preferences of faculty, and legal research and writing instructors;
* Authentication issues with online versions of statutes;
* The only online annotated versions of statutes are expensive proprietary databases. There are no free annotated statutes available;
But the most interesting comment, to me, came from Greg Laughlin, at Samford University, who commented
As a philosophical matter, I view this as a trade off of two goods: having all American primary law in print versus saving money for our students (whose tuition pays the lion's share for our collection). Given the huge debt loads with which many students leave law school and the growing chorus of complaints about the rising cost of legal education (which I believe are justified), I concluded that the greater good is to save our students money when we can provide more than sufficient access online less expensively than in print. I certainly understand that different law libraries have different needs, responsibilities and priorities and don't believe there is one right answer here that applies to all law libraries. The question for me is whether I can meet my patrons' needs adequately without maintaining everything in print. I believe we can based on our experience.