Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dial-A-Law Scripts Now Available as a Clicklaw Wikibook


Clicklaw, Courthouse Libraries BC and LawMatters are very pleased to announce that the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) BC Branch’s long-serving collection of Dial-A-Law scripts are now available as a Clicklaw Wikibook. The scripts join a growing library of content from other key producers of public legal information, including People’s Law School, TRAC, BC CEAS and others including some authors Courthouse Libraries BC helped to publish, such as Cliff Thorstenson and John-Paul Boyd. The collection of scripts will be printed in a 500+ page book to be shipped to public libraries in BC, at no cost to the libraries, in conjunction with the LawMatters program.

Courthouse Libraries BC and the CBA BC announced this news by formal press release on April 14th, during Law Week. The announcement is exciting since Dial-A-Law scripts are perhaps the longest-surviving example of the BC legal profession's dedication to helping the public with free legal information. The scripts cover over 130 legal topics, and have existed in various formats for over 30 years. Dial-A-Law started in 1983 with help from the BC Law Foundation and its scripts have been edited by volunteer lawyers ever since. More information about the various ways you can access Dial-A-Law is on Clicklaw’s page for the service.

Yesterday's announcement is significant because now the scripts are even more accessible. Clicklaw Wikibooks are able to keep legal information in a single spot so that editors and lawyers can update it, but also let the end user choose whether to print, read online, or otherwise export the content in a way that meets their needs. 

Users can download whole contents, or only portions, of Clicklaw Wikibooks in PDF or EPUB formats. They can order a printed book for cost, or they can of course read it online. The open-source nature of the Mediawiki publishing platform means it is a tool that is affordable to implement, but also well-supported by a community of developers who believe in open access and the democratization of information. 

CEO for Courthouse Libraries BC, Johanne Blenkin, says in the joint release "many continue to rely on community libraries and printed materials, so keeping quality legal information in print is also important. Clicklaw Wikibooks is about helping content partners offer their up-to-date legal information in a range of digital and physical formats.”