Law Library News

Report on Resources for Self-Represented Litigants in Maryland Courts 2017

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 16, 2018

The Maryland Courts’ Access to Justice Department has released its report: Resources for Self-Represented Litigants in the Maryland Courts – FY2017. For the first time all of the resources provided by the courts for self-represented litigants has been presented in one place.  The report highlights the work of Family Law Self Help Centers, the District Court Self Help Resource Centers, the Maryland Courts Self Help Center and Court Law Libraries.

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Keeping up with new laws now that the 2018 Session has ended

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 13, 2018

Keep track of bills that passed or bills that were vetoed at the Maryland General Assembly’s wepage.  Look for the Synopsis of New Legislation, the Status of All Legislation, and Vetoed Legislation as illustrated below.


Looking forward to more analysis and the 90 Day Report for this session coming soon.

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Celebrating National Library Week: The Future of County Law Libraries

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 12, 2018

Last fall I participated in the Allegheny County Law Library 150th Anniversary Symposium: The Future of County Law Libraries.


Larry Myer, Joan Bellistri, Laurel Moran, and Joel Fishman (Sara Galligan participated remotely)

I was invited to speak by Joel Fishman, law library director emeritus, along with Sara Galligan of the Ramsey County Law Library in St. Paul, Minnesota, Larry Meyer of the San Bernardino County Law Library and Laurel Moran of the San Diego County Law Library. We tasked with answering the question: do county law libraries have a future?  Our answer was, indeed, “YES”, there is a future for the county law library, but not without challenges.  County law libraries are facing an increasing need for legal services and legal information and at the same time are experiencing decreased funding and staff. However, there are new opportunities to expand county law library services through partnerships and technology.

Sara and I concentrated on the role of the county law library in access to justice. Sara described how law libraries make a major contribution to access to justice by providing access to legal information on the basic level and the advice of an attorney at the most advanced level. I continued with a discussion of partnerships that aid in the expansion of library programs.  Partnerships with the bar, legal service providers or, as in the case of the Allegheny Law Library, a law school,  provide the ability for the county law library to be seen as an integral and important component of access to justice.

 Larry started with the fact that most county law libraries have insufficient funding and that as result are doing so much more with less. He described libraries as the great equalizers and as such should have stable finding.  Larry encouraged looking outside the box by utilizing advocacy and partnerships for support.

Laurel seemed to describe what so many county law libraries are experiencing with  decreasing budgets.  She described the development of a new acquisition policy emphasizing access rather than collection. Laurel set out a good plan for making it through the transition with tips on balancing the needs of users and access to needed legal information.

You can hear and see it all right here: https://law-duq.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=5ba86ca6-b329-4550-a728-36240c7c656

We hope that county law libraries can continue well into the future for at least another 150 years just like the Allegheny County Law Library.




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Celebrating National Library Week

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 11, 2018

Why libraries? Why law libraries?


It might be “all online” but can you find it?  Ask a librarian, it could save you some time.

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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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Ask A Lawyer Wrap-Up 2018

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 5, 2018






Attorneys provided assistance with issues such as landlord/tenant, wills, power of attorney, judgments, reals estate and contracts.

The Ask a Lawyer In the Library program is a civil, non-family law, self-help program sponsored by The Anne Arundel Bar Association and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. Every Wednesday, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., you can talk with a volunteer attorney for up to 20 minutes. No appointment is necessary, but sign-up is required at the law library’s information desk. Sign-up begins at 10:45 a.m., and time slots are determined by a lottery. In addition to the weekly program, the Ask A Lawyer In The Library program is held monthly at two Anne Arundel County Public Library branches: Glen Burnie Regional Library on the 3rd Wednesday and Eastport-Annapolis Neck Community Library on the last Tuesday. For more information, please see http://circuitcourt.org/legal-help/lawyer-in-the-library.


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Ask a Lawyer and Pro Bono Review: 2017

Posted by Joan Bellistri on March 29, 2018


Volunteers were recently honored at the annual Pro Bono Recognition Lunch.  Without the attorneys who donate their time these services could not exist. These programs are coordinated by the AACPLL and Local Pro Bono Committee and sponsored by MVLS.


Ask a Lawyer in the Library


MVLS Foreclosure Clinic


Freetown Legal Fair and Expungement Clinic – a Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. – Rho Eta Zeta Chapter Event


Homeless Resource Day

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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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Recognizing Anne Arundel County Pro Bono Volunteers!

Posted by Joan Bellistri on March 20, 2018

The Law Library hosted the 7th Annual Pro Bono Recognition Lunch on Thursday, March 8, 2018. This event recognizes and celebrates the attorneys who provide pro bono legal service in Anne Arundel County. Joan Bellistri, Law Librarian and Liaison, Court of Appeals’ Standing Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services, and the Hon. Ronald Silkworth, Circuit Court Judicial member of the Anne Arundel Local Pro Bono Committee, provided opening introductions. Judge Silkworth emphasized the importance of pro bono and or reporting the hours each year.  Joan Bellistri mentioned that the Local Pro Bono Committee has an “APP” or Pro Bono Hours Tracker to help attorneys keep track of their pro bono work.  Administrative Judge, Hon. Laura Kiessling, thanked the volunteers for their service and introduced special guest, Judge Clayton Greene, Jr. of the Maryland Court of Appeals. Judge Greene’s remarks were thought provoking as he addressed the need for legal representation for those who cannot afford it and  thanked those pro bono attorneys in attendance for their service.

Those being honored included Court Facilitators and attorney volunteers from the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, the Law Library’s Ask a Lawyer in the Library program and Foreclosure Clinic and the annual Anne Arundel County Homeless Resource Day.

Check out our Program 2018  to see the full list of volunteer attorneys and facilitators.

We had a great turnout for the event, and we would like to thank the following judges and magistrates from the Court of Appeals, Court of Special Appeals and the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County for joining us.

J. Greene

  • Hon. Clayton Greene, Jr.                          
  • Hon. Timothy E. Meredith                           
  • Hon. Laura S. Kiessling
  • Hon. Alison L. Asti
  • Hon. Mark Crooks
  • Hon. Glenn L. Klavans
  • Hon. Stacy W. McCormack
  • Hon. William C Mulford, II
  • Hon. Ronald A. Silkworth
  • Hon. Michael Wachs
  • Hon. Cathleen M. Vitale
  • Hon. Sandra F. Howell
  • Hon. Charles J. Muskin
  • Hon. Timothy P. Thurtle

Attendees were honored, too,  having AABA President, Steve Wrobel and AABA Executive Director, Fran Czjaka representing the bar association. Also, we would like to thank Nancy Faulkner from Court Administration; and Kim Klein, Liz Stephens and Sarah Adams from Case Management for attending the Recognition Lunch. It was great to see Bonnie Sullivan, Susan Francis and Amy Hennen from Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service. MVLS’ support of Anne Arundel County programs is much appreciated as well as the great photos that Bonnie took of the event.. Special recognition and thanks must also be given to the Maryland Judiciary’s Mediation and Conflict Resolution Office, the Anne Arundel Bar Association and the James C. Cawood Inns of Court for funding the lunch provided by Main and Market.

Last, but not least, thank you to the Anne Arundel Local Pro Bono Committee for its leadership in providing pro bono service to Anne Arundel County!  Chair, Tasnima Apol, Joan Bellistri, Anita Bailey, Nancy Faulkner, Kim Klein, Lisa Sarro,and Hon. Ronald Silkworth, all members of the committee, were present at the event.

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