FLAG Origins Introduction to the Project and Methodology

The original FLAG development project ran from August 1999 to October 2002.

FLAG original bid document to RSLP

The project aimed to:

  • improve access to foreign, comparative and international legal materials available within United Kingdom libraries,
  • lay the foundations for the development of a collection development policy, which will ensure a full collection of the world's law, is available to researchers within the UK.

The main output of the project has been the creation of a prototype web database providing a gateway to foreign, international and comparative law collections held within UK university and national libraries. The database describes the contents of each collection and provides searching by:

  • country (jurisdiction) or the name of an international organisation
  • the type of legal literature
  • the regional location in the UK of contributing libraries and provides links to the web catalogues of contributing libraries

The project lead institution is the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies Library, University of London (IALS).

The project partners are: the Bodleian Law Library, University of Oxford; the British Library; the Squire Law Library, University of Cambridge; and School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

The initial stage of the project ascertained the nature and extent of the collections of the five core partner libraries. In the second stage participation was extended to all other appropriate UK university libraries and the national libraries of Scotland and Wales. Finally, further relevant libraries outside the Higher Education sector were invited to contribute. The design and content of the database has been assisted by the results of a survey carried out during Summer 2000. Academics and law librarians across the UK were asked about their research needs for foreign, comparative and international law materials. The report of the survey will be found in the Activities section of the project web site.

The project has been financed by The Research Support Libraries Programme (RSLP), which, in turn, is financed by the UK higher education funding bodies. The British Library is providing additional support, as are other academic institutions including, particularly, the core partner libraries, noted above.

FLAG is the Collaborative Collection Management Project for Foreign, Comparative and International Legal Materials and is one of twelve collaborative collection management projects in a variety of subjects supported by the RSLP.


  1. A survey of researchers in law and related fields has established their present and future needs for foreign legal materials. The survey has provided information about the expectations and needs of researchers when tracing the location of foreign legal materials. The results have informed the design and content of the web site. The full report of survey is available in the Activities section of this web site. Edited versions were published in Amicus Curiae (November 2000) and the Journal of Legal Information Management (Summer 2001).
  2. The collections of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies have been appraised in the early part of the project to develop a methodology for the collection of data and to test objective indicators of the strength of the collections. Details of the conventions used in data collection and in the construction of entries in the database are available from here. Download Conventions (Word).
  3. Once the methodology was tested the collections of the other project partner libraries were appraised.
  4. In the current, final phase of the project the methodology is being used to appraise the collections of higher education libraries throughout the UK, and the national libraries of Scotland and Wales. Data collection was preceded by a postal questionnaire survey, the responses to which indicated where substantial holdings of foreign legal materials are held. The results of this survey are available in the Activities section of this web site.


The development of FLAG was financed by the Research Support Libraries Programme

The FLAG Rebuild Project is being supported by the Flare Foreign Law Research group of libraries (a collaboration between the major libraries collecting law in the United Kingdom: Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (Chair), Bodleian Law Library - University of Oxford, British Library, the Squire Law Library - University of Cambridge, and School of Oriental and African Studies ), the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians (BIALL), and the School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London.

Page last updated: 28th July 2016