Navigating Civil Legal Issues of Natural Disasters, a Self-Paced Course Series

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Natural disasters are becoming more frequent and are no longer confined to predictable seasons or specific geographic regions. In the wake of a natural disaster, civil legal issues surface quickly as patrons pursue various assistance options, and they often turn to libraries for trusted information. It can be difficult for disaster survivors to navigate this terrain, especially in the aftermath of a very intense and destructive experience.

To assist library staff, WebJunction has launched a three-course series, Navigating Civil Legal Issues of Natural Disasters, as part of its continued partnership with the Legal Services Corporation. This course series builds on the Creating Pathways to Civil Legal Justice courses, which provides the foundational knowledge and skills for recognizing civil legal issues and directing library users to relevant, helpful information and services. The new courses expand these skills to include issues and resources specific to natural disasters, so library staff can prepare for and feel confident in supporting patrons through crisis times.

The three courses in Navigating Civil Legal Issues of Natural Disasters are:

  • Disaster Response Network
  • Trauma Response and Disaster Assistance
  • Ongoing Issues and Mitigation

Enroll in courses

Topics covered in the courses:

  • Learning the stages of the emergency response cycle and the timeline of civil legal issues following natural disasters
  • Recognizing patrons’ civil legal issues that result from a natural disaster and how libraries can support them
  • Planning to prepare the library and their patrons before disasters occur
  • Developing a collection of state and local disaster-related legal resources and legal assistance referrals
  • Connecting with the network of community disaster responders
  • Meeting the immediate needs of disaster survivors
  • Applying trauma-informed care to community members impacted by disaster
  • Understanding the three key sources of disaster assistance in a major natural disaster—FEMA, SBA, and insurance
  • Identifying key disaster-related legal issues when talking to patrons
  • Recognizing long-term legal issues that persist months/years after a disaster
  • Understanding the library’s role in supporting mitigation efforts

By successfully completing these courses, participants will develop a Disaster Response and Recovery binder with hard copies of critical information and resources for survival and civil legal needs. This binder will be crucial for library staff to support their communities when power and internet service are unavailable. These courses aim to empower all library staff to feel more confident about guiding and connecting patrons to important resources and information that can help in difficult times.

Enroll in courses

Learning Groups for Navigating Civil Legal Issues of Natural Disasters Courses

This three-course series is well-suited to be the core learning content for a group learning experience with peers. Learn more about facilitating a learning group to get the most out of this course series. Then, use the Group Activities Guide: Navigating Civil Legal Issues of Natural Disasters [PDF, 9 pages], which has discussions and activities that are intended to take advantage of the kind of knowledge and experience-sharing that a group brings to a complex topic.

Is it really free?

Yes! WebJunction and Legal Services Corporation have partnered to design and deliver free, national online training.

To learn more about the project, visit Improving Access to Civil Legal Justice through Libraries, and enroll in the foundational series of courses, Creating Pathways to Civil Legal Justice.

This project was made possible in part thanks to financial support from these organizations: