E-LIBRARY AND ITS EFFICACIOUS RESULTS IN LEGAL RESEARCH By C.K. Anyanwu (Lawyer of Promise - Dedicated to my late Parents.)


In our contemporary times, the idea of digital libraries are quickly becoming the norms prevalent in our legal practice since it combines technology and information resources to allow swift/remote access to legal materials and compendiums. It further breaks down the physical barriers of always visiting the library to conduct legal research. To this end, it is enough to say that it helps both the bench and bar search for authorities on any subject and get result in seconds, rather than the traditional days (even weeks of manual search).

What is E-library?

E-library is a collection of legal documents – such as Constitution, Acts, case law authorities, law articles, text book, journals – organized in an electronic form and available on the Internet or on a digital support, for example phones, tablets, laptops etc. Internet-based digital libraries have a plus: they can be updated on a daily basis.

Pointedly, many law report publishers, book authors have already begun the task of converting their traditional collections of law materials to electronic format: some files become available in HTML format while others can be downloaded in PDF format, to be printed if necessary.


Several reasons have surfaced why the traditional and ancient library should be jettisoned for purpose of E-library, the reasons are not exhaustive but can be found catchy and fascinating in the followings ways:

(a) Heightened amount of choice.

Digital libraries give access to multiple contents with a potentially infinite number of resources and selections at hand. The main limit for traditional libraries is represented by physical space: books consume a lot of it and people often have to walk round in search of a particular material. Thanks to Internet and cloud storage, digital libraries overcome this limitation, expanding lawyers horizons in legal research. One can access an enormous amount of knowledge and share contents with others, facilitating the expansion of our Nigeria legal system.

(b) Building a heritage for the next generation.

Online libraries help the scientific society since they act as a reservoir for the storage of important research data, information and findings. For a very long time, the physical records of scientific studies and researches had to live with a critical issue: they were destroyed or lost. But today, thanks to digital libraries, the online copies of studies and researches can be protected and collected to create a virtual heritage of information for the coming generations.

(c) Instant access to any document/material.

As long as an internet connection is available, digital libraries are accessible anywhere and at any moment using a simple technological device, such as a PC, a tablet or even a smartphone. This means anyone can consult online books, law reports, Rules of Court, news in relation to our noble profession and all the other relevant material contents without having to wait and go to the nearest physical library. They can do it in a formal environment, for example at court, or they can relax at their homes getting an instant access to the information they need.

(d) Fighting against deterioration.

The digital storage of materials and, above all, law reports, solve the problem of deterioration. In traditional libraries, a certain text book is shared among a lot of lawyers posing the problem to stand a large number of borrowings. Ancient documents which have become fragile have to resist several handovers and consultations, with the risk of being subjected to breakages or other damages. Thanks to the digitizing of materials, it is possible to access contents how many times anyone needs, using formats which are definitely much safer to use.

(e) An easier information retrieval.

Over the years, digital libraries have developed a range of search features – such as boolean and proximity operators, truncation, etc. – that facilitate the access to materials and allowing lawyers to perform sophisticated searches for a variety of queries.

Conclusively, E-library avails us the rigorous process of carrying books around, because most times, we end up loosing some. Again, it saves us the time and strength of always visiting the traditional library for one purpose or another. With E-library, we conduct research with ease and less stress.

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