Improving Access to Civil Legal Justice through Public Libraries

"Legal Clinic @ YOUR Library" Wicomico Public Libraries
"Legal Clinic @ YOUR Library,"
Courtesy of Wicomico 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. Register here: Civil Legal Justice: The Crucial Role of Libraries
  • April 2020: A five-week, instructor-led online training. Registration will open in February 2020
  • 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:

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

Civil Legal Justice: The Crucial Role of Libraries

Publish Date: Webinar / 11 February 2020

In this webinar, learn about the ways public libraries can address the justice gap, connecting people with information as they navigate the complexities of the legal system.

Social Library, Law Edition

Publish Date: News / 4 June 2019

With seven examples of libraries providing their communities with access to legal information and services, we've made this the 'Law Edition' in our Social Library series. Libraries are collaborating with partners for programs, workshops, clinics, an...