All the information in the world is of no use if it is not accessible. Search-ability is key to any well functioning knowledge program, and the Harvard Law Library agrees.
You may have seen the recent New York Times article about Harvard's digitization process for its outstanding courts decisions collection. That's right: they are slicing up the books to scan the pages and offer a "complete, searchable database of American case law that will be offered free on the Internet, allowing instant retrieval of vital records that usually must be paid for".
Though the primary documents are formally in the public domain, many are not put online in a convenient format, if at all. Many states even rely on commercial services to post court briefs and decisions, which then provide them to paying subscribers.
While Harvard’s “Free the Law” project cannot put the lone defense lawyer or citizen on an equal footing with a deep-pocketed law firm, legal experts say, it can at least guarantee a floor of essential information. The project will also offer some sophisticated techniques for visualizing relations among cases and searching for themes.
Look out for the first releases next year, with the full project scheduled for completion in 2017.