Law librarians, communicators collaborate to build ‘Chicago Unbound’
A new online repository for scholarship by University of Chicago Law School faculty—Chicago Unbound—was officially launched in January. Developed by D’Angelo Law Library and the Law School’s Communications Department, Chicago Unbound unites the rich record of scholarship produced at the Law School in one online platform, making it accessible to a world audience.
At launch, Chicago Unbound contains publications of current Law School faculty, selected past Law School faculty, the Public Law and Legal Theory working papers series, the Coase-Sandor Working Papers Series in Law and Economics, Occasional Papers, and the Law School Fulton and Crosskey Lecture series. Full-text is provided when possible. For books and book sections, a link to the University of Chicago Library Catalog provides access to the content. Chicago Unbound now contains more than 5000 citations to published scholarship and 2700 full text PDFs. As the database develops, publications of all previous Chicago Law School faculty, for the period they flourished here, will be added, as well as other Law School publications.
Chicago Unbound offers several options for searching for content, including browsing by author and keyword searching across the entire repository. Users can limit a keyword search by field (author, title or document type) and by date range. Results can be sorted by relevance or by publication date. For example, using the searching tool to select articles with “antitrust” in the title published after 2010 produces five results: three from The Coase-Sandor Working Paper Series in Law and Economics and two journal articles. All five have PDF files available for download.
Chicago Unbound showcases the scholarship of the Law School faculty through use of bepress’s Digital Commons platform, widely used by law schools to enhance discovery and access to scholarship through standard online search tools. Digital Commons configures and optimizes its sites to enable “crawling” by web search engines. Being a part of the Digital Commons Network of legal scholarship ensures that when searches are made for legal scholarship on a particular issue, Chicago Law faculty’s scholarship will be among the results.
Chicago Unbound has already reached a substantial audience. Since its inception, readers have downloaded more than 40,000 full-text articles, including more than 15,000 in December 2013, an impressive achievement for a product still in development. Bepress provides usage information on a monthly basis, demonstrating to faculty the impact of the scholarship they produce.
Chicago Unbound was conceived and undertaken in the beginning of 2013 under the leadership of Judith M. Wright, who directed the D’Angelo Law Library for 33 years prior to her retirement in June. The Law School Communications Department, represented by Aaron Rester and Marsha Nagorsky, collaborated with D’Angelo Law Library staff on site design. Led by Benjamin Murphy, Head of Access Services, Library staff created a database to undergird Chicago Unbound. This underlying database, christened the “mothership,” holds all of the publication information, including PDF files of articles and papers. It can be used for multiple purposes, including population of faculty web pages, bibliography requests, and permanent archiving. The mothership also gives the Library and Law School the flexibility to consider alternative platforms and other uses for the data in the future.
Maintenance and improvement of the mothership and Chicago Unbound is a priority for the D’Angelo Law Library for the future. Library staff are reviewing scholarship data of Law School historical faculty, and preparing to post Tables of Contents for the Journal of Law & Economics and the Journal of Legal Studies, both edited by Law faculty through the Coase-Sandor Institute for Law and Economics.
The collaborative nature of the Chicago Unbound project has been especially satisfying for D’Angelo Law Library staff. Spearheaded by current Law Library Director Sheri Lewis, and coordinated by Margaret Schilt, Associate Law Librarian for User Services, Benjamin Murphy, Head of Access Services, Todd Ito, Coordinator of Instruction and Outreach, and Thomas Drueke, Public Services Assistant, all D’Angelo Law Library staff members have contributed to the success of Chicago Unbound. Working closely with Law School staff to gather, promote, and facilitate discovery of the groundbreaking work done by Chicago law faculty creates closer ties within the Law School and fulfills the University of Chicago Library’s mission to build collections and create tools to support research, teaching and writing and to collaborate with other members of the University to enrich the research and learning community.
We encourage all of the University community to visit Chicago Unbound at chicagounbound.uchicago.edu.