Partnering with Libraries

Why partner with libraries? With increasing costs of providing legal reference resources and often limited library budgets, libraries are collaborating together and with courts to provide services to pro se litigants. Because libraries typically allow access to public computers and because library staff are already trained in assisting the public with research issues, they are a natural partner for providing self help services. A well designed self help website, online forms, and informational videos become even more effective with the assistance of trained library staff.

See the following for additional information:

Lawson, Joseph D. Collaborating with the public library system on legal resource programs for public librarians. AALL Spectrum, Volume 17, No. 7 (May 2013). This article discusses the benefits of sharing information about legal research tools with public librarians as a method of increasing access to legal research.

The Probono.net Libraries and Access to Justice Webinar Series provides information to librarians and community stakeholders about online access to justice resources that are available to them, how librarians can access and utilize those resources to better educate and assist their patrons with legal needs, and models for legal aid-library collaborations to connect people with legal information.

Richard Zorza. Public Libraries and Access to Justice. (2010). National Center for State Courts, Future Trends in State Courts 2010. Courts are working with public libraries to provide court-related information to self-represented litigants. The Internet is a key component of this effort.

Self-Represented Litigation Network, Law Librarians’ Working Group. Directory of Library-Based Self-Help Programs. (Feburary 2009).

Fritschel, Barbara L. Trends in Library Collaboration to Provide Access to Legal Information. (2007). National Center for State Courts, Future Trends in State Courts.

American Association of Law Libraries . This site provides a number of publications on the topic of assisting the self-represented litigant.

Just Ask a Law Librarian . 20th National Legal Research Teach-In. The National Legal Research Teach-In is an annual campaign to give law librarians the opportunity to share materials and ideas for legal research instruction.

Standards for Appellate Court Libraries and State Law Libraries.  American Association of Law Libraries. (2005). This report discusses the state law library’s unique role in providing access to justice for all litigants and provides standards for governance, collection policies, personnel, and service to the public. 

Examples of State Resources include:

California

Sacramento Public Law Library Online resources include research guides, forms, and self-help videos. 

Connecticut

Connecticut’s Law Libraries The mission of the Law Library Services Unit is to provide the courts and the public with access to comprehensive and current legal materials and resources in an efficient and timely manner.

Maryland

The Peoples Law Library of Maryland The People’s Law Library (PLL) is a legal information and self-help website maintained by the Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, and supported by Maryland's non-profit legal services providers.

Texas

The Travis County Law Library in Austin Texas has a self-help center that provides online information and forms and appointments with a library reference attorney who can look over paperwork and explain the basic steps in an uncontested family law case.  The attorney is also available in the courtroom to assist in complex situations.