Introduction: a Guide to Reading this Textbook
Legal Issues in Libraries and Archives is an open educational resource for library and information science courses. Chapters in this textbook are organized: (1) statutory and case law, (2) commentary, (3) discussion scenarios, (4) works consulted, and (5) author information.
This open textbook is designed to acquaint library and information science students with legal issues they are likely to encounter in their professional careers. Each chapter begins with the text of a legal opinion or statute, followed by a brief commentary to introduce the students to the legal concepts. Chapters contains two or more scenarios to spur classroom discussion or written assignments and conclude with a list of works consulted and author information.
Most of the chapters begin with the text of a court opinion. [Note that for brevity in this textbook, we have excerpted some sections of the opinions (indicated by …) and have deleted concurring and dissenting opinions. To find the full text of the original opinions, we recommend Cornell Law’s LII Legal Information Institute or Google Scholar’s Case Law.]
(see also Case Briefing Resources below for further examples of the IRAC/FIRAC method)
When you read a chapter in preparation for class, we recommend that you read and “brief” the initial court opinion using the IRAC (Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion) method of briefing a case. After you have read through the opinion, write a “brief” or summary of the case, using the following outline:
Facts and Procedural History: Write a brief summary of the facts, including the names of the parties (plaintiff/appellant and defendant/respondent), court proceedings (which court issued the opinion and the disposition of the case in the lower courts), and a description of the relevant facts that led up to this case.
Issue: Explain the question that the parties have asked the court to decide.
Rule: Define the rule(s) of law that the court applied to make its decision.
Analysis: Discuss the arguments made by both parties and explain the court’s interpretation of the facts and the court’s application of the rule of law to those facts. What was the court’s rationale for its decision?
Conclusion: State the court’s decision in the case.
Relevance to libraries: Professor Cross, who teaches the Legal Issues for Librarians course at the University of North Carolina School of Information and Library Science, suggests that students write an additional outline section “detailing their personal impressions of the case and their understanding of how the case might impact librarianship” (Cross, “A Five-Year Review” 164).
Cross, Will. “A Five-Year Review of a ‘Legal Issues for Librarians’ Course.” Coaching Copyright, edited by Kevin L. Smith and Erin L. Ellis, ALA Editions, 2020, pp. 163-178.
Cross, William M. and Phillip M. Edwards. “Preservice Legal Education for Academic Librarians within ALA-Accredited Degree Programs.” portal: Libraries and the Academy, vol. 11, no. 1, Jan. 2011, pp. 533-550.
Kerr, Orin S., “How to read a Legal Opinion: a Guide for New Law Students,” The Green Bag 2d, vol. 11, no. 1, Autumn 2007, pp. 51-83, papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1160925.
Baez, Beau, “FIRAC Case Briefing Method,” Learn Law Better, www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BhYlLMQ7XU.
“How to Brief a Case Using the ‘IRAC’ Method,” www.csun.edu/~kkd61657/brief.pdf.
“How to Raise Your Law School Exam Grades by Using the IRAC Method the Right Way,” www.jdadvising.com/raise-law-school-exam-grade-using-the-irac-method-right-way/.
Milbrandt, Jay, “How to IRAC a law case,” www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuX_xQRdhGk.
Case Law Resources
Cornell Law School, LII Legal Information Institute, www.law.cornell.edu/lii/get_the_law.
Google Scholar, Case Law, scholar.google.com/scholar_courts.