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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the authors
  • Reviews

Serving as both an accessible introduction for LIS students and a go-to reference for current practitioners, this book offers an incisive examination of the numerous ways in which law about information directly impacts the roles of information professionals and information institutions.

Learning the basic concepts of information law and the many legal concepts that come into play in the field of librarianship can seem like an overwhelming endeavor. Drawing upon the authors’ unique backgrounds in both law and librarianship, this text is designed to empower readers to understand, rather than be intimidated by, the law. It melds essential context, salient examples of best practices, and stimulating discussions to illuminate numerous key legal and social issues directly related to the information professions. Helping readers better understand the role of law in their work, this primer

  • discusses information law as part of a continuum of interrelated issues rather than an assortment of discrete topics;
  • examines information law in the context of different types of libraries;
  • delves into the manifold legal issues raised when interacting with patrons and communities, from intellectual freedom topics like censorship and public activities in the library to the legal issues surrounding materials and information access;
  • elucidates operational and management legal issues, including library security, interacting with law enforcement, advocacy, lobbying, funding, human resources, and liability;
  • promotes literacy of the law, its structures, and its terminology as a professional skill;
  • gives readers the tools to find and understand different sources of legal authority and demonstrates how to interpret them when they conflict; and
  • explores information law as a national and cross-national issue.

Examination copies are available for instructors who are interested in adopting this title for course use.

List of Acronyms and Abbreviations

Chapter 1. Searching for Information (Law)
Chapter 2. Structures and Terminology of the Law
Chapter 3. Sources of Legal Rules: Statutes, Regulations, and Constitutions
Chapter 4. Sources of Legal Rules: Reading and Understanding Case Law
Chapter 5. Laws and Intellectual Freedom
Chapter 6. Laws and Intellectual Property
Chapter 7. Laws and Information Access 
Chapter 8. Laws and Law Enforcement
Chapter 9. Laws and Professional Practice
Chapter 10. Information and Law and the Future

About the Authors

Paul T. Jaeger

Paul T. Jaeger, PhD, JD, MEd, MLS, is a professor and Distinguished Scholar-Teacher in the College of Information Studies, director of the Museum Scholarship and Material Culture certificate program, and associate director of the Maryland Initiative for Digital Accessibility at the University of Maryland. He studies the impacts of law and policy on information access and behavior as issues of human rights and civil rights. He is the author of more than two hundred journal articles and book chapters; Foundations of Information Law is his twentieth book. His research has been funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the American Library Association, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, and the National Science Foundation, among others. He is an editor of Library Quarterly and an executive editor of Including Disability. He is cofounder and cochair of the Including Disability Global Summit. He has also previously served as an editor for Advances in Librarianship, Government Information Quarterly, the International Journal of Information, Diversity, and Inclusion, and the Information Policy Book Series from MIT Press, but not at the same time. In 2014 he received the Library Journal/ALISE Excellence in Teaching Award. A 2019 study published in Public Library Quarterly named him one of the two most influential scholars of public library research in the past thirty-five years (it was a tie), and a 2020 study published in Library Quarterly found his publications to have the highest prestige value in the field.


Jonathan Lazar

Jonathan Lazar PhD, LLM, is a professor in the College of Information Studies (iSchool) at the University of Maryland, where he serves as executive director of the Maryland Initiative for Digital Accessibility (MIDA) and is a faculty member in the Human-Computer Interaction Lab (HCIL). Professor Lazar has previously authored or edited sixteen books, including Accessible Technology and the Developing World (coedited with Michael Stein), Research Methods in Human-Computer Interaction (2nd ed., coauthored with Heidi Feng and Harry Hochheiser), Ensuring Digital Accessibility Through Process and Policy (coauthored with Dan Goldstein and Anne Taylor), Disability, Human Rights, and Information Technology (coedited with Michael Stein), Universal Usability: Designing Computer Interfaces for Diverse User Populations, and Web Usability: A User-Centered Design Approach. Professor Lazar has published nearly two hundred refereed articles in journals, conference proceedings, and edited books, frequently serves as an advisor to US government agencies, and regularly provides testimony at the federal and state levels. Multiple US federal regulations cite his research. At the University of Maryland iSchool, Dr. Lazar teaches courses on human-computer interaction, user-centered design, accessibility in libraries, and legal research methods. Dr. Lazar’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation; the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR); Adobe; and Google. He is the recipient of the 2021 ACM SIGCHI Academy Award, the 2020 ACM SIGACCESS Award for Outstanding Contributions to Computing and Accessibility, the 2017 University System of Maryland Board of Regents Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, and the 2016 ACM SIGCHI Social Impact Award. Dr. Lazar recently served as the general chair of the ACM ASSETS 2021 conference, and he is a member of the Disability Rights Bar Association. Prior to joining the faculty of the University of Maryland, Dr. Lazar was a professor in the Department of Computer and Information Sciences at Towson University, where for fourteen years he served as director of the Information Systems program.

Ursula Gorham

Ursula Gorham, PhD, JD, MLS, MPM, is an associate director in the Office of Faculty Affairs at the University of Maryland (UMD). Previously, she was a senior lecturer in the College of Information Studies at UMD and served as the director of the Master of Library and Information Science program. She is admitted to practice law in Maryland and previously served as a law clerk in Maryland appellate and federal bankruptcy courts. Dr. Gorham’s recent research has focused on public policy issues related to libraries and she has also written extensively on access to legal information and government documents. She is the author of Access to Information, Technology, and Justice: A Critical Intersection (2017), as well as the coauthor of Public Libraries, Public Policies, and Political Processes: Serving and Transforming Communities in Times of Economic and Political Constraint (2014), Libraries, Human Rights, and Social Justice: Enabling Access and Promoting Inclusion (2015), and Understanding Human Behavior: When, How, and Why People Interact with Information (2021).

Natalie Greene Taylor

Natalie Greene Taylor, PhD, MLIS, is an associate professor at the University of South Florida’s School of Information and serves as the coordinator for the Master of Library and Information Science program. Her research focuses on the intersection of information access, information literacy, and information policy. Dr. Taylor serves as an editor of Library Quarterly and has published articles in School Library Research, Journal of Information Science, Computers & Education, and Journal of Documentation, among others. She has coauthored five books, including Foundations of Information Literacy; Foundations of Information Policy; Digital Literacy and Digital Inclusion: Information Policy and the Public Library; and Libraries, Human Rights and Social Justice: Enabling Access and Promoting Inclusion. She has edited two books: Libraries and the Global Retreat of Democracy and Perspectives on Libraries as Institutions of Human Rights and Social Justice.

"An exploration of potential obvious and not-so-obvious legal issues is a highlight of the book. Access to information, intellectual freedom, censorship, and the impact of geographic-specific legislation are discussed. These topics are helpfully considered using examples in the context of a librarian’s actual interactions with patrons ... Perfect for novice librarians or readers seeking an introduction to information law."
— Library Journal

"The authors present information contextualized in relatable scenarios, which enables the reader to process complex and unfamiliar ideas within the framework of their experience ... The content is strikingly contemporary, including discussions on Artificial Intelligence, Supreme Court rulings from 2023, and very recent laws, 'directly promoting censorship in public and school libraries' (p. 91) ... I fully intend to re-read it soon to reinforce the ideas presented and to catch details that I missed the first time through."
— Technicalities