Social Library, Law Edition

Jennifer Peterson /

Image courtesy Yakima Valley Libraries on Facebook

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, and services related to the legal needs of community members. Legal aid organizations, legal advocates, and law libraries are working with public libraries to meet this critical community need. If you'd like to see your library featured in an upcoming edition, please let us know via [email protected] or find us on Facebook.

  • Yakima Valley Libraries in Washington recently hosted Lawyers in the Library: Understanding Water Rights as part of their Lawyers in the Libraries program. The presentation was on the history and evolution of irrigation, water law, and water rights in the Yakima Valley and the Pacific Northwest. Matt Kendall, Yakima Valley librarian, shared in an article in the Yakima Herald, "While it might make sense, to some people, to ask for legal help at the library — a place they can otherwise rely on for free, reliable, trustworthy information — we aren’t trained or certified legal professionals, so offering legal advice would be ill-advised, to say the least. To help with this particular need, three years ago we introduced Lawyers in the Library, a free legal aid program where lawyers volunteer their time to give a talk on a specific legal topic and then answer audience questions about personal legal issues relating to the given topic. So far, Lawyers in the Library has focused on topics like identity theft, citizenship, vacating criminal records, estate planning and landlord-tenant rights." In early June, the series included a presentation on LGBTQ+ rights and in August, the Dispute Resolution Center of Yakima will discuss mediation options and tips for settling disputes outside of court.
    Image courtesy San Diego Law Library on Facebook
  • San Diego Law Library in California is a public law library providing free legal information, workshops, classes and clinics for county residents, including the legal community, businesses, and the general public. Chris Cox reached out to us with a request to be included in a Social Library edition, and inspired us to make this a Law edition. "We are a Law Library that embraced social media in the early days and have continued to grow our following. We have a great team that helps to feed our social media on Facebook and Twitter. We strive for an approachable, conversational tone while providing relevant information." In a recent post on Facebook, they shared a video about their programs and services, along with their advocacy efforts.
  • Bellingham Public Library in Washington collaborates with LAW Advocates of Whatcom County, who twice a month, host Street Law @ the Library, a free, drop-in, legal advice clinic where people can ask questions and get civil legal advice in one-on-one consultations with volunteer lawyers. LAW Advocates recently posted an announcement for a Street Law @ the Library co-coordinator volunteer position, which provides some insight on this great work.
  • Pierce County Library in Washington shared a local news story about their Law Library Kiosks, now available in two branches. Through a partnership with the Pierce County Law Library, the kiosks provide access to print and electronic legal resources, and the option to book appointments with a law librarian for research assistance. In a library announcement about the kiosks, Pierce County Library Executive Director Georgia Lomax said, “The Library’s partnership with Pierce County Law Library is another example of good government as we collaborate to make information and resources available to more people."
  • Mesa County Libraries in Colorado is partnering with the Veterans Advocacy Project on a legal outreach event where lawyers come prepared to answer questions about veteran-related legal issues and military discharge upgrades. The listing on the library's website explains, "the lawyers will host a "Pop-Up Clinic" in which veterans will be able to consult with a veteran law attorney on a walk-in basis. Attorneys and students will listen to a veteran’s story to determine if their issue is something the clinic can help with. If the case falls outside the clinic’s domain – as would family law or a housing issue – the students connect them with the appropriate organization."
  • Jacksonville Public Library in Florida was also featured in a WebJunction article for their great work in this area. The library provides legal aid groups with the space and marketing support to offer workshops in the branches on topics ranging from child support to marriage dissolution, and from living wills to online legal resources. They continue to partner with Pro Bono Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and Three Rivers Legal Services to bring "Lawyers in Libraries” to the community.

Learn more about libraries and Civil Legal Justice