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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.

Making Casebooks

Accounts

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.

Get Started

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.

A screenshot of the top of the page, with the Create Casebook button highlighted.

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.

Drafts

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.

A screenshot showing a casebook in draft mode, with the publish button highlighted.

Revisions

You can modify published casebooks anytime by clicking the 'Revise' button.

A screenshot showing a published casebook, with the revise button highlighted.

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.

Casebook Contents

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.

A screenshot showing the metadata edit form for a draft casebook.

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.

A screenshot showing a draft casebook, with the add resource modal displayed so an author can select the type of resource she wants to add.

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.

For Students

Accounts

You don't need an account to read casebooks, but you'll need one if you want to clone or export casebooks. If you want an account, sign up here for free.

Reading Casebooks

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.

For Librarians

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 info@opencasebook.org.