What is better, print or electronic?? The debate between print and electronic resources continues to wage in libraries across the country, but now an unlikely stakeholder is weighing in.
Dwayne Harris has been incarcerated in a Ohio state prison, serving a sentence for rape, kidnapping, felonious assault and aggravated assault since 1989. The prison library replaced the print copies of law books with an electronic subscription to WestLaw and upon doing so upset Harris. Now, Dwayne Harris has filed a lawsuit against the prison and is asking for $80,000 in compensatory damages and up to $200,000 in punitive damages because in Harris’ opinion this shift from print to electronic has violated his constitutional right to a law library.
Prisoners do, in fact, have a right to a law library or legal assistance ever since Bounds v. Smith in 1977, but the question is whether the resources in this Ohio state prison law library are adequate. Although the library that Harris uses contains some books, 7 computers with WestLaw, and assistance from law librarians, he alleges that this is not enough. In Harris’ complaint he states that the prison is missing 14 vitally important books from the American Association of Law Libraries minimum collection, that he is computer illiterate, and that 7 computers are not enough for all the prisoners to conduct legal research on.
As you can see, many people are weighing in on the debate between print and electronic resources. What do you think?
~ Brian Trippodo~