Law Library Celebrates 125 Years

February 1, 2013 — “The Georgetown Law Library has in its lifetime been dedicated to ensuring access to legal information by current users and future generations....” said Library Director Michelle Wu at a symposium in celebration of the library’s 125th anniversary. “Today, we continue that tradition of exploration by talking about the newest frontier, big data, and what this development brings to governments, policy makers, information professionals and researchers.”

Big data is “all information,” Wu said. We contribute to it every day, whether we’re Tweeting or providing information to a health care provider. The research promises of big data include predicting the outbreak of disease and studying societal trends across billions of pages of news reports.

Professor Kathy Zeiler, Professor Josh Teitelbaum, Visiting Professor Vicki Arroyo (L'94) of the Georgetown Climate Center and Adjunct Professor Mark E. Herlihy of the Institute of International Economic Law discussed how studying medical malpractice claims can shed light on tort reform, how legal systems across the globe can be examined for successful economic outcomes, how flood data can be used to adapt structures for climate change or how insurance data can shed light on risk.

Meanwhile, Adjunct Professor Paul Ohm helped explore some of the challenges of big data, like privacy. Law Librarians Marylin J. Raisch, Kumar Jayasuriya, Andrew Christensen and Jason Zarin moderated the discussions. 

Georgetown University’s Spiros Dimolitsas reported on the university’s work with data at a global level to reduce threats to health, security and sustainability. 

“Could we actually capture the entire world, seven billion people … into a model that we can do predictive analytics on?” Dimolitsas said. “In fact, that is what we are trying to do.”

A webcast may be viewed here.