Improving Access to Civil Legal Justice through Public Libraries
WebJunction and the nonprofit organization Legal Services Corporation have partnered to design and deliver free, national online training for public library staff that will strengthen access to civil legal justice through public libraries.
Closing the justice gap
Barriers to civil legal justice disproportionately affect low-income people in the U.S., creating the justice gap—the divide between the civil legal needs of low-income people and the resources to meet those needs. Though legal issues can be intimidating for library staff, public libraries are well positioned to help reduce the justice gap by providing more access points to legal information and services.
Improving Access to Civil Legal Justice through Public Libraries is a grant-funded training initiative that will strengthen library staff’s knowledge and ability to help identify when there is a civil legal issue at play and to direct library users to relevant, helpful information to narrow the justice gap in their communities.
Legal Aid Organizations and Law Libraries Partner with Public Libraries
Public libraries partner with legal aid organizations and law libraries to support efforts to improve access to civil legal justice. Explore ways to help initiate partnerships with public libraries:
- Legal Aid Organizations partner with Public Libraries (pdf)
- Law Libraries partner with Public Libraries (pdf)
- February 11, 2020: A free webinar to learn about the course. Recording available: Civil Legal Justice: The Crucial Role of Libraries
- April 2020: A five-week, instructor-led online training, Creating Pathways to Civil Legal Justice
- June 2020: Webinar recording, Libraries Prepare to Answer Civil Legal Questions in Times of Crisis
- October 2020: A free self-paced course series available in WebJunction’s Course Catalog, Creating Pathways to Civil Legal Justice. Learn more about the course series, including a short video, in this announcement.
- March 2021: An instructor-led facilitator training to prepare library staff to guide peer learning groups through the self-paced course. Resources shared in the facilitator training have been collected in Learning Groups for Creating Pathways for Civil Legal Justice Courses.
- June 2021: Project evaluation published (pdf)
Topics covered by the training:
- Understanding the role of public libraries in addressing the justice gap
- Recognizing the difference between legal information and legal advice
- Conducting the legal reference interview; addressing patron stress and anxiety
- Reviewing and strengthening your library’s civil legal reference collection
- Examining commonly addressed and important civil legal topics, including family, housing, veterans, and consumer issues
- Exploring trusted local- and state-specific online self-help resources
- Identifying and cultivating relationships with local organizations that offer legal aid, legal referrals
How can I stay up to date on the project?
New information about the project will be posted on Facebook, Twitter, and through our newsletter, Crossroads. Please feel free to print and share an informational postcard about the project (pdf) with your networks. Email project coordinator Brooke Doyle at any time with questions, ideas, or feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Legal Services Corporation (LSC)
LSC is a publicly funded, 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation established by the United States Congress. It seeks to ensure equal access to justice under the law for all Americans by providing funding for civil legal aid to those who otherwise would be unable to afford it.
This project is made possible in part thanks to financial support from these organizations:
Most Recently Added
Publish Date: News / 22 July 2021
In this webinar explore effective and creative library programming that connects patrons to the civil legal resources and information they need.
Publish Date: News / 23 June 2021
While many libraries have had to limit in-person services during the pandemic, the importance and demand for civil legal information related to unemployment or eviction continues to be a pressing concern. A national moratorium on evictions is expecte...
Publish Date: News / 10 June 2021
While the four Creating Pathways to Civil Legal Justice courses are designed for the individual, self-directed learner, they also can be used as the core learning content for a group learning experience with peers – from a small, self-organized group...
Publish Date: News / 18 May 2021
The struggles low-income people face in accessing justice are well documented. These struggles have inspired advocates to search for innovative ways to effect meaningful change. One of the more exciting developments in recent years is the focus on th...
Publish Date: News / 19 January 2021
In March 2021, WebJunction will host a free, three-week learning group facilitator training program. In this online course, participants will receive training on how to guide peer learning groups through the Creating Pathways to Civil Legal Justice (...