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.
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
Project training dates:
- 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 self-paced online training available in WebJunction’s Course Catalog
- March 2021: An instructor-led facilitator training that will prepare library staff to guide peer learning groups through the self-paced course.
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 2020
The WebJunction team of OCLC’s Research and Membership Division recently completed a very successful five-week, online, instructor-led course for public library staff to strengthen their patrons’ access to civil legal justice. The course Creat...
Publish Date: News / 18 June 2020
A collection of links for each state related to COVID-19 civil legal information. Questions related to unemployment, debt/money issues, foreclosures and evictions, or family stressors are all on the rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Libraries ...
Publish Date: Webinar / 11 June 2020
This webinar explores common civil legal issues associated with times of crisis and provides guidance on ways for public libraries to respond to patron questions.
Publish Date: News / 4 June 2020
Sara Pic, Head of Public Services for the Law Library of Louisiana describes the critical distinction between library staff offering patrons legal information and crossing the legal and ethical line into offering legal advice.
Publish Date: News / 19 March 2020
Many rural and frontier communities are facing a shortage of attorneys. Legal aid organizations are increasingly partnering with public libraries in these areas to help people in rural communities connect virtually to free legal services. In this vid...