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 Partner with Libraries

Public libraries are strong partners with legal aid organizations, supporting efforts to improve access to civil legal justice. Download Public Libraries as Partners in Access to Justice (pdf) to learn more, and please share to help initiate partnerships between public libraries and legal aid organizations.

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:

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

Podcast: The Role Libraries Play in Closing the Justice Gap

Publish Date: News / 5 January 2021

WebJunction and the nonprofit Legal Services Corporation (LSC) have partnered to deliver national online training for public library staff to strengthen access to civil legal justice through public libraries. LSC recently launched a podcast called Ta...

Civil Legal Assistance in Natural Disasters: A Role for the Library

Publish Date: News / 11 November 2020

In the aftermath of a natural disaster, civil legal issues abound. In these stressful situations, when many people have lost so much, they are also faced with untangling legal questions that can be confusing and ever-changing. If property is damaged,...

Creating Pathways to Civil Legal Justice, a New Self-paced Course Series

Publish Date: News / 20 October 2020

WebJunction's new series of free, self-paced courses, Creating Pathways to Civil Legal Justice, will augment your ability and confidence to meet civil legal justice information needs in your community. Created in partnership with Legal Services Corpo...

Legal Language Matters: Protecting Patrons from Notario Fraud

Publish Date: News / 6 October 2020

The Improving Access to Civil Legal Justice through Public Libraries initiative continues to learn about ways to support patrons' civil legal information needs. One learning is the importance of understanding how the meaning of words can change with ...