Welcome to H2O!
Why did we build H2O?
The casebook - annotated collections of court cases - has been a cornerstone of legal education for over 150 years. But casebooks today are heavy, expensive and way too difficult to use.
We believe casebooks can be better for authors and students. Authors should be able to easily create or customize their own casebooks online. And students should be able read the casebooks online or in print for little or no cost.
What is H2O?
H2O is a website that helps faculty authors make casebooks that are free, simple to modify, and easy to access and print. H2O is offered by the Harvard Law School Library, through its Library Innovation Lab.
How does H2O work?
H2O gives authors access to the entire database of U.S. court decisions made available through the CaseLaw Access Project, another initiative of the Library Innovation Lab. Authors can pull any of those cases into their casebooks, together with their own texts and links to external sources on the web. These casebooks, in turn, are free to access and can be copied, shared and adapted under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license. In addition, H2O's software is open source and available on Github.
You'll need to register for an account to make casebooks. You don't need an account to read casebooks.
Accounts are free for anyone with an email account at an academic institution. Go here to register for an account: sign up.
Check out our video how to make a new casebook here.
To make a casebook, login and click the 'Create Casebook' button at the top of the page.
You'll be prompted to choose whether you want to make a new casebook from scratch or search existing casebooks for one to clone and customize.
Your casebook will remain in draft mode, visible only to you, until you publish it. When your casebook is ready, publish it to the world by clicking the 'Publish' button.
You can unpublish casebooks by clicking the "Unpublish" button available on the "Settings" tab of your casebook. This will make the casebook private and accessible only to you and any collaborators.
You can modify published casebooks anytime by clicking the 'Revise' button.
The original version of your casebook remains available to readers while you're working on revisions. When you finish your revisions, click the 'Publish' button to merge the revisions into the public version of the casebook.
A casebook consists of (1) metadata, which provides details about the book, (2) sections, which provide the overall structure of the book, and (3) resources, which make up the content of the book.
You can modify your book's metadata - title, subtitle, headnotes - from the casebook page. Once modified, click the Save button to save changes.
You can add sections to a casebook using the 'Add Section' button to the right of the casebook, and you can move sections around within a casebook by dragging and dropping.
You can add resources in the form of cases from the H2O case database, texts that you create or links to external sites. To add a resource, click the 'Add Resource' button and select the type of resource.
You also can clone sections, cases, texts or links from other casebooks into your own casebook. Just visit the content you want to add to your casebook, click the "Clone" button, and then designate which of your casebooks you want to receive the cloned content. Then you can view the cloned content in your casebook and make whatever changes to it you wish.
For more detail, visit the Making Casebooks section of this help guide.
Export & Print
To print your casebook, click the Export button. H2O will download a Word file containing the entire contents of your casebook. Open the file in Word to make any layout, formatting or other changes before printing.
To archive a draft casebook and remove it from your dashboard, go to your casebook's "Settings" tab and click "Archive." The casebook no longer will be visible on your dashboard but you'll still be able to access it by clicking the "[View Archived Casebooks]" link on the upper right-hand side of your dashboard. If necessary, you can "Unarchive" the casebook from there.
You don't need an account to read or export casebooks, but you'll need one if you want to clone casebooks. If you want an account, sign up here for free.
To find a particular casebook, either get the link from your professor or search H2O for your professor's name or the title of the casebook.
Here's an example of a casebook, for contracts: https://opencasebook.org/casebooks/25965-contracts/. Navigate through it by clicking on sections or individual cases or other resources.
Export and Print
You can print H2O casebooks or portions of casebooks. Use the Export button to download a Word file with the contents of the casebook. Open the file in Word, make any formatting changes you like, then print it from Word.
H2O works best when faculty and students can turn to the trusted experts in their law libraries for questions about preparing and using casebooks.
We offer specialized training and assistance for law librarians interested in helping their faculty make the most of H2O. If you'd like to learn more, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.