AALL Citation Formats

AALL Citation Formats by pendragon David Whelan The incoming president for the American Association of Law Libraries, Tory Trotta, has appointed me chair of the Citation Format Committee for 2004-2005. It’s a fascinating area, although it has diminished in importance, in part because there is a perception that it will happen ‘some day’. It is going to be interesting to work on all the issues related to uniform citation.

The opportunities are boundless:

Opinions This is the area where the most citation work has been done, in part because the content poses the fewest challenges and because it is one of the most important sources, because of precedent.

Administrative Law, Statutes, and Other Sources Some initial work has been done in these areas but adoption of vendor/media neutral formats has been slower here than with case law.

XML The ability to apply a technological foundation to the citation format work, to enable better electronic use of the citation formats, is intriguing. Citation efforts with LegalXML and OASIS have not yet borne fruit but there are always possibilities.

Court adoption A number of courts have looked at the citation format issue and some have adopted a format system, and some have chosen not to. The challenge of getting more courts to adopt a system – and to encourage them to adopt a uniform system – is significant but seems to be more likely as time passes.

Citation education The AALL has developed a guide to uniform citation formats, focused on its own intellectual work, and the promotion of this work – and ongoing discussion about the guide and the format systems – is important. It’s equally important to clarify for many in the legal profession, judges and lawyers, that a uniform citation system does not mean the diminishment of the “Blue Book” citation system. Rather, it enables lawyers to cite in the same general manner, but in a way that does not require their using any particular research source and which enables some online services to offer more competitive products.

It will be an exciting year and I’m looking forward to working with librarians, judges, court administrators, and others who are as energized about this topic as I am. It will also be fun to work with my (former) ABA colleagues with whom I have kept an eye on citation formats over the past few years.

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