lawlibrary Pro Bono Self Represented

Ask a Lawyer in the Public Library Program Continues

Elizabeth, Patricia and Brian

Law Week was off to an early start with the Ask a Lawyer in the Library program returning to the Maryland City at Russett Branch of the Anne Arundel County Public Library on Saturday.  Elizabeth Leight, co-chair of the AABA Pro Bono Committee, enlisted  AABA attorney Brian Markovitz and  Maryland Hispanic Bar Association attorney Patricia Chiriboga-Roby to provide free legal advice in the library.  By 12:30 p.m. the attorneys had already assisted 11 clients with a total of 18  clients being seen by the end of the day.  I was on hand to provide back-up reference assistance. 

Issues for which consultations were sought included consumer contracts, immigration, child support and custody, legal malpractice, home construction disputes and employment. 

The program will be held in the Brooklyn Park branch on May 4 and continue in the Circuit Court on Wednesdays.


Social Media Use at the Library of Congress

Reading that the Library of Congress has and will archive all Tweets led me to find the  LOC on Twitter which lead me to the Library of  Congress Blog and Facebook page.

I am now following the Library of Congress on Twitter, subscribe to the blog with Google Reader and am a fan of  the LOC on Facebook.

The LOC Twitterfeed consists of announcements with links to more information such as a Press Release or Blog post such as the one concerning the archiving of all Tweets or an announcement that the Librarian of Congress would be interviewed on ABC World News.   The most recent Tweet, today, was as follows:  “First Japanese Diplomatic Mission to U.S. Is Subject of May 24 Lecture: “Samurai 150! The First Japanese Diplomati…”  The link will take you right to the news release page.  The Library of Congress Blog is a great site to find out about LOC events and news such as a Shakespeare birthday event scheduled for tomorrow or the announcement that Tweets will now be archived.   The LOC Facebook page most recent post was about a C-SPAN interview concerning the Twitter archive with a link to the video.  There are lots of fan comments.  (The Law Library of Congress has a Facebook  page, too.)


Library of Congress to archive all of Twitter

It was first announced yesterday, appropriately, on Twitter.  As you can imagine there is an explosion of Tweets on Twitter concerning this news.  You can read all about it on the Library of Congress Blog:

How Tweet It Is!: Library Acquires Entire Twitter Archive

from April 14th, 2010 by Matt Raymond


Why the law library stayed open

It was impossible for the law library to provide adequate notice to those who would be using the library during the carpet installation.  We could notify the court via email and post signs for those who visit the library frequently.  However, many who use the library have never done so before and as unknown members of the public we could not contact them directly nor did we have time to publish a notice in the paper.

By remaining open, even with limited access, we were able to provide  library services to all who visited the law library.  To have turned away those who expected to use the library would have greatly inconvenienced them.  We had attorneys who needed to run child support guidelines during a trial, an attorney who needed to redo a pleading, more than one Self Represented Litigant needed information on eviction from a rental due to foreclosure,  another Self Represented Litigant needed information on  a motion to stay a foreclosure,  and another needed to find information on an administrative appeal with the deadline for filing fast approaching.  This is just a sampling of the requests we get in the library everyday and the reason we felt it important that we remain open to the best of our ability.

I am glad we were not responsible for the possibility of perhaps adding one more frustration to someone’s busy life.


Law Library is back online

We still have pictures to hang and boxes to unpack but all is in place for full reference service.  The custodial department worked hard to get everything clean and back in place for this morning.  IT got all of the computers back in the computer room ready to go.  No more “limited library services.”


Not quite ready to go

There seems to have been a bit of a miscommunication here.  Somehow I missed the part of the conversation that discussed the closing of the law library today.  We are doing the best we can under the circumstances.

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Carpet installation: Day 2

Carpet has been laid as far as the “reading room.”   It has been interesting providing service in the library today with most of the stacks wrapped in plastic.  Some still want nothing to do with online research and still want to hold that book in their hands.  Some books  could be retrieved from the stacks but some were just too wrapped up.   Many users were able to find what they needed using Westlaw or Lexis and others just decided to come back when it was all over.  The library certainly was not able to offer  the usual comfortable spot in which to work.  It was appreciated that we could at least  use the computer room  making it so we didn’t have to ration computer time.

It  is expected that it should all be finished by tomorrow so that the library can be back to normal sometime on Monday.

Old and New
Progress: Day 2
My office is ready.

Library is up and running on day #1 of carpet installation

Working in the temporary mini-library


 Services are limited to the reception area but so far we have been able to serve everyone who visited the library today.  There are only three public computers available today.  They are located in the reception area as you enter the law library.  Although we had users moving from one computer to another in order to accommodate others needing to access information only available on certain computers, it all worked out.  

The copy machine is accessible today and we hope that it will still be tomorrow.  

Access to the print collection is restricted but I should be able to see that you get anything that you need.  

I have moved my office to the small conference room.  

So far the new carpet has gone as far as the end of  the reference counter and half of the staff area behind the counter.    



Carpet installation begins

Today we moved the furniture out of the reception area and small conference room to get ready for the first night of the carpet installation.  All artwork hanging on library walls has been moved to the large conference room along with everything normally kept out on the desks and counters. 

The library will settle into the reception area and small conference room for the next two days and will be offering limited services with closed stacks and just  3 computers available for use.  Computers will have to be limited to legal research. Time at the computers will be limited as well.  Access to the collection will be restricted to library staff. 

We will being doing our best to meet everyone’s legal research needs during this time.


Anne Arundel County Attorneys and the AACPLL Partner to Provide Pro Bono Legal Services at the 3rd Annual Anne Arundel County Homeless Resource Day


Attorneys from the Anne Arundel Bar Association and the Anne Arundel County Chapter of the Maryland Women’s Bar Association  volunteered to provide free legal services to the county’s homeless (or those in danger of being homeless) on Saturday, March 27, 2010 at Glen Burnie High School for the 3rd Annual Anne Arundel County Homeless Resource Day.  A variety of services ranging from doctor visits to hair cuts were offered.  Clothing and food was distributed and lunch provided to all.  This was the second year that legal services were offered thanks to the Anne Arundel County volunteer attorneys.

There were twelve attorneys representing a wide range of legal backgrounds.  Bill Davis and Ginina Stevenson from the Public Defender’s Office with Anne Leitess of the Office of the State’s Attorney provided help with criminal issues.  Anita Bailey director of the Anne Arundel County Legal Aid Office with Sarah Frush who heads Legal Aid’s new District Court Self Help Center and Lisa Sarro of Legal Aid’s Elder Law Program had the perfect background to deal with the variety of civil issues presented as they see clients with many of the same issues as those attending Homeless Day on a daily basis.  Susan Wyckoff and Jessica Quincosa are family law attorneys.   Jessica also has experience with immigration issues and speaks Spanish.  Gloria Shelton, Kelly Kenney, and Jana Wiener of the WBA were able to cover a wide range of civil issues from consumer to employment.  Dan Andrews, AABA Pro Bono Committee Co-Chair, was able to draw from his experience as an Anne Arundel County Prosecutor and with Maryland administrative law.  I coordinated the event and provided back-up reference assistance to the attorneys.

Homeless Resource Day began at 8:30 a.m. and ended at 2:00 p.m.  Participants were provided transportation from various points around the county.  The morning proved to be the busiest with the number of visitors dropping after lunch.  30 of the 45 clients were seen before 12:15.  We will be able to plan accordingly for next year so that we have more attorneys for the morning shift rather than the afternoon shift like we did this year.

Almost 1/3 of the questions concerned criminal matters and the bulk of those questions involved expungement of criminal records.  The Maryland court form and brochure on expungement online were accessed and printed numerous times.   Family issues of divorce, custody, and visitation comprised the second largest number of questions.  Other issues for which assistance were sought included housing, motor vehicle insurance, employment, unemployment, estate taxes, disability, bankruptcy, debt relief, consumer, mortgages and veteran’s benefits.

All of the volunteer attorneys enjoyed the day and expressed a desire to participate next year.  It was clear that those who took advantage of their services were truly appreciative.

More photos on Flickr