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Celebrating National Library Week: The 21st Century Library

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 10, 2018

Why libraries? Why law libraries?

The age of Google and smartphones may seem to put all the world’s knowledge at our fingertips, but the reality is that we still need trained professionals to curate all that information, contextualize it and point us toward new sources an algorithm might miss. There is a serendipity in browsing the stacks of a library that the Internet has yet to replicate.

This from a Baltimore Sun editorial published last October that I clipped and saved : The 21st-century library .  It included a description of how libraries “are an indispensable font of information and support that enables them to meet life’s everyday challenges” and that “it’s not a stretch for them to see their mandates broadly and to seek to help those who come through their doors however they can.

This editorial was in reference to how the Pratt Library in Baltimore City would be making social workers available at neighborhood libraries.  I couldn’t help but compare the program to our Ask a Lawyer in the Library program offered in the courthouse and public library branches.

Law libraries long thought to be the province of lawyers and judges are now also the spot where anyone in need of legal information or referrals can find what they need to assist in solving legal issues.  As a result, public law libraries must find ways to meet the needs of these varied user groups. We are meeting those needs, through existing traditional resources still needed for lawyers and the court; and those resources created for the non-attorney.  We are lucky to have the Maryland People’s Law Library available.  We have also created FAQ pages available on the library’s Pro Bono and Self-Help Wiki. Librarians provide assistance to the non-attorney, too, by explaining legal research and the traditional sources of law. The law library has increased its digital resources and as a result, provides online assistance to attorneys and non-attorneys alike. The court law library is ever-changing as it adapts to changes in legal information and the users of that information, making it relevant as a 21st century library. The AACPLL is a 21st Century Library:

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Celebrating National Library Week

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 9, 2018

Why libraries? Why a law library?

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Batgirl is a Librarian

Posted by Joan Bellistri on March 27, 2018

Loved reading that Batgirl is a librarian in AALL’s KnowItAALL on 3/19/2018 citing of CITYLAB’s article: The Latest Supervillain Attacking Batgirl’s Gotham City: Gentrification by KRISTON CAPPS on MAR 19, 2018

Obviously, this is my favorite part of the interview:

…. It also ties into her history of being a librarian. She’s a human computer, a human catalog.

That’s right—so why does Barbara Gordon need a library science degree?

We wanted to bring that back to her character. She’s historically always been a librarian. This character goes back to the early ‘60s. One of the things that is so cool about librarians is that they’re really involved in their communities. It’s not just that you’re dealing with books and research. You’re also helping out folks who may not have any other resource for computers, how to deal with stuff like taxes, small-business stuff. Libraries are really a community resource. I wanted her to be thinking about other ways she could be helping to build up her community, other than being just a crime fighter.

Couldn’t say it better myself.  I might have to start reading Batgirl comics.

 

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AACPLL Welcomes New Staff: Introducing …..

Posted by Joan Bellistri on March 1, 2018

The AACPLL is happy to announce that the law library is now fully staffed.  The Blog will pick up again now that the workload can be shared.

ice_cream_printBrianne Phillips is a new librarian and acquired her Masters of Library and Information Science from the University of Maryland in December of 2017. Before library school she earned a BA in English literature, and a double minor in creative writing and classical studies. Her current educational pursuit is learning to speak and read in Spanish. With experience working in both public and academic libraries in Maryland, Brianne is looking forward to serving both circuit court visitors and staff in their pursuit of information and the overarching goal of supporting the democratic values of our nation. She also enjoys the close proximity of her new workplace to the multiple ice cream shops in historic Annapolis. Her favorite flavor (currently) is caramel bananas foster.

audio booksJean Stephens came to the law library in February to help people looking for answers to legal questions. In a prior life, she managed the K-12 marketing program for audiobook publisher, Recorded Books, LLC, in addition to operating her own online book-selling business. She graduated from St. John’s College and did post-graduate work in literature and journalism at Johns Hopkins and Georgetown University. A reader and a writer, Jean is still giving in to the lure of academics at recent seminars on Racine’s. (Fortunately, her husband Charlie lightens things up with an occasional infusion of Me TV or a doo-wop rendition of an old standard!.) Very impressed at the enormous print and online resources of the library, and the human expertise of the lawyers and staff, Jean is enjoying the chance to learn how to support this vibrant community. Britannicus and Sapolsky’s Evolution of the Mind

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Library Curses

Posted by Joan Bellistri on August 30, 2017

monkA tweet by Tinkering Librarians @tinkeringlib  on August 23 caught my eye with its link to this article Protect Your Library the Medieval Way, With Horrifying Book Curses on  Atlas Obscura,  a website exploring hidden spots around the world.

In the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library we hope that no one ever takes anything from the law library without asking but when anything goes missing, the curse I first saw in Mel Hirshman’s Maryland Bar Journal column (July/August, 1994, p. 52) comes to mind. Mel Hirshman was Bar Counsel for the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission for almost 30 years. This column , “By Special Request (Sad Information From Our Law Librarians),” reported on the problem with books missing from Maryland law libraries. It included the curse found on the door of an ancient monastic library in Barcelona, Spain:

For him that stealeth a book from this library, let it change into a serpent in his hand and rend him. Let him languish in pain, crying aloud for mercy and let there be no surcease to his agony til he sink in dissolution.

Let bookworms knaw his entrails in token of the worm that dieth not, and when at last he goeth to his final judgment, let flames of hell consume him forever and aye.

So next time you are tempted to “borrow” something from a library permanently, beware of the library curse.

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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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