Public Libraries & Access to Justice

With a surge in the number of people seeking assistance for issues with a legal dimension, partnerships between libraries and access to justice organizations in their communities are more important than ever. (Have you been approached about unemployment, divorce, eviction, power of attorney, social security? A little help would be nice!)

Richard Zorza provides an excellent overview of the role of the public library in his article, Public Libraries and Access to Justice. Materials from a related 2010 conference provide additional context. The library webinar series offered by probono.net in 2012 make it easy to get up-to-speed in serving the public.

The aim of this portal is to help you help your patrons address their legal issues with relevant resources. It can help with a broad range of legal needs, such as: attorney referral, education about legal rights and responsibilities, basic legal research, and more. In addition, we hope that your use of the portal will lead to a greater level of comfort and confidence when it comes to assisting patrons with legal needs. We can't give legal advice, but we can help connect the public to the resources they need.

Initially, the resources in this portal were developed through in-kind contributions from a collaboration of Minnesota legal services, courts, law libraries, public libraries, and the state library agency with inspiration from a grant by the National Center for State Courts from funds provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Additional partners across the U.S. will assist us to grow this site over time. If you are interested in participating, watch this site for future opportunities.

Before using the information on this site, please read our disclaimer.

-- The Minnesota Libraries & Access to Justice Team

 

Most Recently Added

Legal Research by Topic

 Document / Last Modified: 03 October 2013

Legal Research presents the basic resources for legal research, including court decisions (cases), statutes, administrative rules, court rules, and ordinances. These are often referred to as “primary resources.”

New Webinar Series will Help Librarians Assist Patrons with Legal Needs

 News / Last Modified: 28 September 2012

With rising numbers of Americans facing legal problems unassisted, Pro Bono Net will offer four national training webinars this fall for librarians, with the goal of increasing awareness about free, online resources for people with legal needs. ...

Legal System Overview

 Document / Last Modified: 26 February 2012

Includes differences between types of courts (state vs. federal and trial vs. appellate), differences between types of law (criminal vs. civil), and differences between types of legal assistance (courts and litigation vs. transactional assistance).

Legal Reference Pathway - U.S.

 Document / Last Modified: 26 February 2012

Links to resources on statutes, rules of court, case law, forms, and more