National Indian Law Library at the Native American Rights Fund
September 2018

The National Indian Law Library (NILL) serves the information and research needs of the attorneys and staff of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), a non-profit law firm. NARF’s mission is to assert and defending the rights of Indian tribes, organizations and individuals nationwide. NILL is also a public law library devoted to federal Indian and tribal law. The library’s mission for the public is to develop and make accessible unique and valuable Indian law information and to offer Indian law research support.

This information access policy is intended to serve as a guide to the acquisition, subscription and retention of print resources and electronic databases and as a plan for meeting the information needs of NARF and the public. Modifications to the policy will be made as needed based on the changing needs of the service community.

The NARF attorneys and staff are the library’s main service clientele. Library information access is focused on supporting NARF’s mission and  five priorities. Library service to the public is limited by how much time can be spent per request and time available after offer full support to NARF. Research support is strictly limited to American Indian Law. While research and information requests from the public are important, library resources are limited and information access or collection development practices are focused on resources that meet the information needs not generally met by other public libraries. Types of public patrons served are: tribal and law firm attorneys and legal assistants; tribal governments; educators and students; Native American organizations; businesses, prisoners; librarians; the media; scholars; and the general public.

The information access policy is based on the NILL mission and service goals. Resources include print, fee-based electronic databases, reputable information available freely on the Internet and NILL-created digital collections. Resource selection and acquisition decisions are made by the professional library staff. Resources used by the library’s professional staff are increasingly electronic. The library answers nearly 250 research questions per month and over 90% of the resources used for these request are in electronic format. While the library collection has over 9,000 print resources in its collection, authoritative, current, and quality digital information resources and tools are becoming increasingly vital to meet the varying and challenging information needs of NARF attorneys, staff and the general public. The library staff devotes significant time and energy to maintaining the skills necessary to efficiently locate relevant information in electronic or print formats. Electronic formats and tools enable the librarians to locate and deliver information tailored to the patron’s needs. In addition, many fee-based services regularly utilized by the staff are available without cost in other Boulder area public libraries. As time permits, the library develops and publishes its own digital libraries and services to fill critical information voids in Indian Law. Electronic and print information resources obtained, subscribed to or utilized must generally be:
  1. related to Indian law and the library’s mission;
  2. relevant to the Indian law information needs of the public;
  3. non-confidential and available to the public;
  4. cost effective to acquire, process and maintain;
  5. regarded as authoritative, authentic and of high quality;
  6. not widely available the general public in other public libraries; and
  7. subject to physical space limitations.

Comprehensive - An exhaustive assembly of unique collections.
Intermediate - A collection adequate to maintain knowledge of a subject area for general research.
Basic - A collection sufficient to introduce and define a subject.
Funding and staffing levels impact collection development and acquisitions and priority ratings may change as a result. Our mission states that we will "develop and make accessible a unique and valuable collection." To this extent, we have listed eleven core document collection types below with specific priority ratings and selection and retention guidelines. These collection types must meet the general “selection Priorities” listed above.

Below are selected core collection document types with selection criteria, priority ratings and collection strategies.
This collection area includes tribal constitutions, charters, and codes or ordinances. Content is available on our Tribal Law Gateway.
Selection Criteria:
- availability of documents from tribes or publishers
- permission granted to share content with public researchers
- accuracy, currentness and quality of documents
Priority Rating: Comprehensive
Specific Collection Guidelines and Strategies: Seek to collect all information available as well as updates on a regular basis. Obtain copies in electronic format whenever possible. For tribes that provide these materials on their website, archive a copy in electronic format, create a table of contents for the Tribal Law Gateway and provide link to tribe’s website.
Retention Policy: Retain current copies. Provide superseded copies of codes and constitutions to the law library at the University of Colorado for archiving.

This area of the collection includes written opinions from tribal courts of any level. Selection criteria relates to reported or published opinions only.
Selection Criteria:
-  availability of documents from tribes, associations and publishers
-  preferably in electronic searchable format
-  opinions generally cited by other sources
- highest courts a priority
- accuracy and quality of documents
Priority Rating: Intermediate
Specific Collection Guidelines and Strategies: NILL is collecting and publishing tribal court opinions in the Indian Law Bulletins.  See “about” page for the Tribal Courts Bulletin for more information on selection policy. Several fee-based online services to which the library subscribes, provide access to tribal court opinions. (Versuslaw, Casemaker, Westlaw, etc.)
Retention Policy: Print sources and Indian Law Bulletin opinions are retained.

This area of the collection includes association, academic and non-profit organization materials.
Selection Criteria:
- availability of print or digital documents
- content relevance and quality
Priority Rating: Comprehensive
Specific Collection Guidelines and Strategies: Most documents can be obtained from NARF attorneys who attend and speak at these conferences.
Retention Policy: Retain all historical copies.

This area of the collection includes specialized reference sources dealing with Native Americans and indigenous peoples including: legal and non-legal encyclopedia, indexes, directories, statistical sources and maps.
Selection Criteria:
- relevant to Indian law, economic development, health and social conditions
- similar, reliable information is not freely available on the Internet
Priority Rating: Comprehensive (exclusive of maps)
Specific Collection Guidelines and Strategies: Acquire titles most appropriate to our patron and projected needs relating to Indian Law. Consider purchasing annuals every few years. Retention Policy: Keep superseded or old titles only if they have significant historical value.

This area of the collection includes the standard Indian law treatises, reports and handbooks written for use by legal practitioners and law students.
Selection Criteria:
- written by experts in the field of Indian law
- frequently cited by the courts
Priority Rating: Comprehensive
Specific Collection Guidelines and Strategies: Collect everything we can obtain that meet general selection priorities since there are not many Indian law titles in this area. Do not collect every edition of all Indian law casebooks.
Retention Policy: Keep all superseded classics such as Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law.
This area of the collection includes any tribal-state, tribal-federal, tribal-county, etc.
compacts or agreements on any subject.
Selection Criteria:
- availability of documents
- documents are not readily available elsewhere or are difficult to find on the Internet
Priority Rating: Intermediate to Comprehensive
Specific Collection Guidelines and Strategies: Seek copies in electronic format or best possible copy and omit gaming compacts since most of these are freely available on the Internet. Establish links to gaming compacts on NILL website. Follow other guidelines and strategies under "Tribal Self-governance.'
Retention Policy: Retain current and historic agreements. Archive/download non-gaming compacts to library sever.

This area of the collection includes law review and legal periodical articles dealing with American Indian law and select international law issues. Articles are generally indexed in the library catalog and/or are obtained on the Internet or fee-based electronic databases. Print subscriptions are very minimal.
Selection Criteria:
- pertains to American Indian law
Priority Rating: Intermediate (select international) - Comprehensive
Specific Collection Guidelines and Strategies: Locate Indian law articles on a regular basis in Current Index to Legal Periodicals, on Westlaw and the Turtle Talk blog. Catalog individual articles in the library catalog in addition to publishing them in the Indian Law Bulletins. Whenever possible, create hypertext links from indexed articles to full text freely available on the Internet.
Retention Policy: Do not retain physical copies in the collection but retain the catalog records.

This area of the collection includes briefs and pleadings from NARF cases as well as other Indian law cases. While this was once a core document type, it is no longer a priority.
Selection Criteria:
- generally only briefs from cases prior to 2000 as newer case briefs can be located in PACER and other resources
- legal issues are Indian law, not just case involving Native Americans
- pleadings are substantive - exclude most motions, affidavits, etc.
- issues of cases are related to NARF's mission
- priority for NARF cases and NARF amicus cases
Priority Rating: Historically this was intermediate – comprehensive 1970 – 1999 but no longer an active collection area.
Specific Collection Guidelines and Strategies: Library no longer builds this collection due to priorities, quantity of potential documents, time to process, and space requirements.


This area of the collection includes nonfiction works relating to American Indian law and important historical and cultural works relevant to law and tribal sovereignty.
Selection Criteria:
- consider interlibrary loan before purchase
- anticipated needs justify expense (hot topic area or new area of interest)
Priority Rating: Basic
Specific Collection Guidelines and Strategies: Acquire titles most appropriate to our current and anticipated patron needs including titles that represent different points of view. Catalog full or partial table of contents and consider including publisher abstract. Acquire classic works written by well-known and highly respected authors.
Retention Policy: Keep superseded or old titles if they have significant historical value. Donate fiction titles and other non-legal titles to other libraries.

This area of the collection includes congressional hearings, reports and other publications relevant to legislative history. Our collection needs are generally met by the library’s ProQuest Legislative Insight database purchase, Hein Online as well as government-related free databases such as
Selection Criteria:
- weed duplicate print collection as space is needed
Priority Rating: Comprehensive access to digital collections
Retention Policy: Keep hard copy of all documents except weed when space is needed and documents are freely and reliably available from an electronic source. Archive the NILL U.S. Legislative Bulletins.

This area of the collection includes regulations, executive orders, solicitor opinions and memos, government manuals, federal recognition petitions and findings and other documents.
Selection Criteria:
- not easily obtained elsewhere of freely on the Internet
- available from our flat-fee electronic services
- available in federal depository libraries
Priority Rating: Intermediate
Specific Collection Guidelines and Strategies: The library generally relies on subscription fee-based services and reliable government websites for access to administrative documents. Hard to find Department of the Interior solicitor opinions and memos relating to Indian law are collected and cataloged/digitized in the library catalog. 
Retention Policy: Keep hard copy of all documents not generally available from the library’s subscription databases or reliable Internet sources.

NILL does not generally lend physical items to public patrons but provides digital copies and scans of documents, book chapters and other legal materials where copyright permits. Items are available for loan only to NARF employees.
NILL utilizes local, regional and national interlibrary loan opportunities to obtain materials for NARF that are not available in the NILL collection. This service is for items that are needed for isolated research projects that do not generally meet the collection development goals. Interlibrary loan service is not available to the public but NILL will often refer public patrons to other libraries and/or their interlibrary loan services in their geographic area for items the public patron may wish to borrow.
Donations made to the library may be incorporated into the collection or disposed of based on the collection development policy and the librarians’ discretion.




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