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Changing Roles of Law Librarians

Posted by Joan Bellistri on July 20, 2017

MVLS_facebook

What a nice surprise to see Bonnie Sullivan’s post about law libraries on Facebook.  Her comment  on this article is proof that Bonnie Sullivan, executive director of the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) is a champion of libraries and recognizes their value to the legal community.

The article referred to, Law Librarian? Try Chief Knowledge Officer: Our annual survey shows that in an era of digital change, the job of law librarian is evolving rapidly written by Mary Ellen Egan for the The American Lawyer on June 30, 2017  

While this article focuses more on the changing roles of firm law librarians, I can certainly say the role of court librarians is changing as well.  Who we serve, how we work, and what we do has changed dramatically. Court law libraries are the foundation in providing access to justice through access to legal information.

In the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library, I have seen the number of non-attorneys using the library increase to the point that close to 80% of questions we get are from non-attorneys or self-represented litigants (SRLs).  We still assist attorneys and the court but how we do that has changed as well.  Attorneys are more likely to need assistance with technology.  Librarians help with formulating a search on Westlaw or Lexis; show how to email an attachment; or to use a copy machine.  The use of technology is an important tool for meeting the needs of the non-attorney, too.  There is so much information on the Internet – not all is trustworthy or reliable.  Librarians are able to direct users to the sites that will provide the right information.  We often find that someone has found “the law” online that turns out to have nothing to do with Maryland. Librarians can now curate information online for use by special user groups.  See the AACPLL FAQs as an example and the Maryland People’s Law Library.  Technology has allowed the library to expand self-help programs.  Our foreclosure program offered through MVLS suffered from a lack of volunteers and/or clients.  Now, using a webcam, Google Hangouts and scanned documents; we always have MVLS staff on hand, remotely, to assist those in need of help with the foreclosure clinic.  

Librarians have always helped with legal research but now find that they often must perform a triage to find out what library customers really need.  This means knowing what programs and services are available outside of the library.  Librarians need to be able to match the what is needed with the best resource to meet the needs of each user whether print or online.

Partnerships with our Maryland legal service providers like MVLS, Legal Aid, HPRP and the Pro Bono Resource Center are essential in bringing services to those in need, in addition to legal information.  Partnering with the public library allows us to reach more people by taking advantage of the multiple locations and longer hours.

Librarians often hear “why a library when it is all online.”  The fact that so much information is online in so many ways is precisely why librarians are needed more than ever. Maryland court law libraries are always finding new ways and services to meet the needs of all in need of legal information and referrals, now and in the future.

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National Library Week 2017

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 10, 2017

“Libraries Transform” is the theme for National Library Week in 2017.

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation’s libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate.  

The Anne Arundel County Public Law Library would be a “special library.”  How does a law library transform?  The answer can be found in the library’s Strategic Plan Read the rest of this entry »

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Worth a read: Curfew Shall Not Ring Tonight! – the Value of Libraries

Posted by Joan Bellistri on December 6, 2016

This RIPS blogpost is a good response to why a library when “everything is online.” No matter the format of the material, it is the librarian in the library that makes the difference and the case for the library.

The struggle between librarian and technology is real, but the situation is a lot more nuanced than saying that librarians and technology are at odds. We go together. (Like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong.) Yes, there can be entire libraries available on smart phones, but guess what makes them available. Libraries. And guess who makes them navigable. Yup, librarians. Even the free stuff is there because of the efforts of libraries and librarians—both academic and local. In a time where more and more students are having difficulty navigating truth from lies or bogus stories, librarians and libraries—even the ones sans books and chock full of the latest technology—are needed more than ever.Earlier this month, fellow RIPS blogger Paul Gatz wrote about the service aspect of librarianship and how librarians are “at the nexus between the system and the user, benefiting one no less than the other.” A huge part of our service is to connect patrons to information, and not just any information, but relevant and accurate information. We are the navigators, we are the beacons, we are the silent, mostly unacknowledged, partners in research. Take away the librarians, strip down the libraries, and there will be consequences. Maybe not 80 stanzas worth of them, but consequences none the less. We are in the day and age where finding information isn’t a problem—it’s the next step that matters. No matter what you type into a search box, you’re bound to find an answer. Is it the correct answer? Is it the best possible answer?

Source: Curfew Shall Not Ring Tonight!

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Upcoming Expungement Clinic

Posted by Yelitza Conover on July 8, 2016

The Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) is hosting a FREE Expungement Clinic next week at Maryland City at Russett Community Library. Volunteer attorneys will provide FREE legal assistance and information concerning the expungement of criminal records. No registration or appointments necessary; legal services are provided on a first come, first serve basis.

When? Tuesday, July 12, 2016 | 5:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Where? Maryland City at Russett Community Library, Anne Arundel County Public Library, 3501 Russett Common, Laurel, MD 20724

For more information about the FREE clinic, please contact the Law Library at (410) 222-1387. You can also reach us via email at lawlibrary@aacounty.org or via fax at (410) 268-9762.

To learn more about expungement, check out these articles on the Maryland People’s Law Library, our wiki page and our past blog posts! The MDexpungement app is a great tool to help expunge your records. In addition, the Maryland Courts website includes information on how to expunge your records.

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MLA Legislative Day Wrap-Up

Posted by Chi Song on February 5, 2016

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On February 3, 2016, Librarians and library supporters from across the state of Maryland gathered in Annapolis to take part in the Maryland Library Association’s (MLA) Library Legislative Day. The day began here at the Law Library with a breakfast provided by the Law Library Association of Maryland (LLAM). During breakfast, Margaret Carty, Executive Director of MLA, and Denise Davis and Mary Baykan of the Legislative Panel of the Maryland Library Association (MLA) briefed attendees on current issues affecting public libraries in Maryland and provided talking points for library supporters to keep in mind as they met with their Maryland senators, delegates and other officials later in the day.

After the morning’s briefing, librarians and library supporters met with their legislators to discuss public libraries in Maryland and, in particular, the following two House Bills:

  • HB 138 – Task Force to Study the Placement of Library Services with the Education Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland – This bill seeks the creation of a task force to study where the most effective place should be for Maryland public libraries within the current education framework as public libraries’ educational mission has expanded significantly since the current Maryland library law was written over 60 years ago.
  • HB 144 – Libraries – Regional, State, and County – Funding – This bill does not seek additional funds. Rather, it seeks to shorten the length of time to realize the full increase in funding support for public libraries that was previously passed by the General Assembly.

Later in the afternoon, Citizens for Maryland Libraries (CML) held its Annual Meeting at the Law Library. CML is a Maryland statewide network of individuals and organizations that advocates for libraries and library services. To learn more about CML, check out their website here. The evening concluded with the Library Legislative Reception at the Miller Senate Office Building. For more information, check out MLA’s website and the MLA Legislative Panel Blog!

Support Maryland Public Libraries! Marylanders are visiting and using public libraries more than ever before with 28 million Marylanders visiting a library in 2014, and more than 7 million people utilizing their public library to access the internet. Public libraries provide many Marylanders with their primary access to information services and technology. Educational opportunities at public libraries include programs and services for children to improve reading skills and STEM-related programs. Adult learners access continuing education at public libraries in a wide variety of areas such as basic computer skills, professional development and writing as well as job search assistance.

At the Law Library, which is open to the public, we organize and coordinate programs that connect Marylanders with free legal information and limited legal advice. This includes our weekly Ask a Lawyer in the Library program where people can sign up to talk to a volunteer attorney for up to twenty minutes about a civil, non-family law matter. Each month, we have a Foreclosure Clinic that connects people facing foreclosure with volunteer attorneys. In addition, the Law Library has hosted programs on personal bankruptcy and other legal topics. To date, over 2,600 people have received FREE legal information and limited legal advice on matters including auto accidents, bankruptcy, civil procedure, contracts, foreclosure, licenses, property, trusts and wills.

 

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MLA Legislative Day Tomorrow

Posted by Chi Song on February 2, 2016

Tomorrow, February 3, 2016 is the Maryland Library Association’s (MLA) Library Legislative Day. Librarians and library supporters from across the state of Maryland will convene in Annapolis to support and advocate for public libraries in Maryland. The day will begin here at the Law Library with a breakfast provided by the Law Library Association of Maryland (LLAM). During breakfast, the Legislative Panel of the Maryland Library Association (MLA) will provide a briefing on current issues affecting public libraries in Maryland and provide talking points for library supporters to keep in mind as they meet with their Maryland senators, delegates and other officials later in the day. For more information, check out MLA’s website and the MLA Legislative Panel Blog!

Why do we support and advocate for Maryland public libraries? The majority of Maryland’s total population are card carrying library users, and these 3 million plus library users span every age group. Public libraries provide support, resources and educational opportunities for children of all ages with programs such as pre-school reading preparedness, STEM and coding classes for school-aged children and summer learning opportunities. Library users also include adults of all ages and occupations. Maryland public libraries support and sustain Maryland’s workforce and communities through professional development, job search assistance and resume writing. Public law libraries, like the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library, provide library users, including self-represented litigants, with access to legal information and legal resources, which include FREE legal aid programs such as our weekly Ask A Lawyer in the Library Program and monthly Foreclosure Clinic.

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New Series: American Law Reports

Posted by Katharine Ayerst on October 9, 2015

ALR 7 Volume 1 Image

Volume 1 of ALR 7

A new series of the American Law Report (ALR) has been released! ALR 7 will succeed ALR 6, bringing along helpful updates. Much like ALR 6, ALR 7 includes summary and analysis of cases as well as providing a jurisdictional Table of Cases and Research References with each article.

One of the primary changes to take effect in ALR 7 is a new citation method. Now, ALR 7 cites section numbers (i.e. article numbers) instead of page numbers. As a result, this new method allows for the same citation to be used interchangeably between print and online sources. When using the new citation, be sure it is only in relation to ALR 7 and not previous ALR series.

See examples below:

NEW citation for ALR 7
25 A.L.R. 7th Art. 3

OLD citation for ALR 6
84 A.L.R. 6th 589 (Originally published in 2013)

Additionally, new components relating to content have been introduced to the sleek, new ALR 7. These elements include:

Jurisdictional headings for case summaries
Checklists of important factors
Graphic visualizations of case law outcomes for selected articles
Article indices consolidated into a single, full-volume index

To verify you are using the most current version of an article, be sure to check the back of the volume for pocket parts, or use WestlawNext (available in the library).

 

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National Library Week: Partnerships and Programs

Posted by Chi Song on April 17, 2015

ALA_NLW2015_336x280This week, the Law Library celebrated National Library Week, so what better time than now to highlight the Law Library’s partnerships and programs. The Law Library’s mission is to serve the information needs of the judiciary, court and government agencies, the legal community and the citizens of Anne Arundel County. We are committed to providing access to legal information, resources and referrals for our community. In connection with our mission, the Law Library has developed partnerships with the Anne Arundel County Public Library, the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, the Anne Arundel Bar Association and the Anne Arundel County Local Pro Bono Committee to promote access to justice through access to legal information and resources.

poster raglandThe Law Library coordinates and administers the Ask a Lawyer in the Library Program, which is a FREE program where volunteer attorneys provide limited legal advice on a one-on-one basis for a wide variety of civil matters (excluding family law matters). Every Wednesday, attorneys from the Anne Arundel County legal community donate their time and expertise to provide program participants with legal assistance and guidance on issues ranging from foreclosure, debt and bankruptcy, real estate transactions, landlord/tenant disputes, employment and wage claims, contract disputes and estate planning.The Ask a Lawyer program is offered monthly on the third Wednesday at the Glen Burnie Regional Library.  Program partners include the Anne Arundel County Public Library, the Anne Arundel Bar Association and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers service. Since its inception in 2009, 124 attorneys have volunteered over 1,200 hours to assist nearly 2400 participants!

In addition to the ongoing Ask a Lawyer in the Library Program, the Law Library hosts and coordinates a variety of standalone or short term clinics. One upcoming program is the Personal Bankruptcy Clinic provided by the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, which will be held on April 30, 2015 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Law Library. This clinic is an opportunity for attendees to learn experience attorney about filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  This program will be repeated September 17, 2015.

For those you who cannot visit the Law Library in person, we are available via phone (410-222-1387) and email (lawlibrary@aacounty.org). The Law Library has developed and continues to update the AACPLL Self Help and Pro Bono WIKI, a public wiki that serves as a guide to pro bono and self-help resources and referrals. Check out the wiki to learn more about family law resources available online, attorney referrals, pro bono and reduced fee legal services and volunteer opportunities.

Don’t forget, the Law Library is open Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and can provide you with one-on-one legal reference assistance.

If you are interested in participating in the programs described in this post as either a volunteer or program participant and would like more information, please contact us!

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Guest Column: Let’s Celebrate National Library Week

Posted by Chi Song on April 14, 2015

Check out this Guest Column in honor of National Library Week, written by Anne Arundel County Public Library CEO Hampton “Skip” Auld, which was published in The Capital yesterday.

Guest column: Let’s celebrate National Library Week.

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National Library Week and National Legal Research Teach-In!

Posted by Chi Song on April 13, 2015

ALA_NLW2015_336x280This week is National Library Week! Let’s celebrate the contributions made by libraries and librarians, both past and present, across the United States. National Library Week, sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA), has a long history in the United States, with the first celebration occurring in 1958. Running from April 12, 2015 through April 18, 2015 this year, National Library Week celebrates the contributions made by libraries of all types, including public libraries, school libraries, academic libraries and special libraries, all of which will participate in this weeklong celebration in order to promote library use and support. If you are interested in participating in a National Library Week event, check out the National Events posted on the ALA’s website.

In conjunction with this week’s National Library Week celebration, the American Association of Law Libraries is sponsoring the 23rd National Legal Research Teach-In. The National Legal Research Teach-In was born in 1993  to address the need to improve the research skills of students and new attorneys and to celebrate legal research instruction and acknowledge and demonstrate the value of law librarians in teaching legal research skills. Law Librarians are uniquely positioned to address the research instruction needs of the legal community.The Law Library will be celebrating the National Legal Research Teach-In by launching a series of instructional presentations later this year. Stay tuned, but in the meantime, come visit the Law Library for one-on-one training and a tour!

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