Law Library News

Posts Tagged ‘MVLS’

Changing Roles of Law Librarians

Posted by Joan Bellistri on July 20, 2017


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.

Posted in lawlibrary, Legal Technology, Libraries, Self Represented | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Ask a Lawyer In the Library and MVLS Foreclosure Clinic – Wednesday Wrap-Up

Posted by Joan Bellistri on July 19, 2017


Dan Mellin

Today, Wednesday, July 19, 2017, the Law Library hosted the “Ask A Lawyer In The Library” program and the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) Remote Foreclosure Clinic. Daniel Mellin of Hillman, Brown & Darrow helped three people with issues such as real estate, a quit claim deed, and a trust. The next program date is Wednesday, July 26, 2017.

Today was also the first remote MVLS Foreclosure Clinic.  A couple came to the library for the “Ask A Lawyer In The Library” program with a foreclosure issue.  We are able to scan their documents and program agreements and email them to Ellyn Riedl, an mvls-logoattorney with MVLS.  The couple was able to talk with Ellyn face-to-face using a webcam with Google Hangouts. Ellyn was able to review their documents and advise. Their first language is Korean so we were able to use the Language Line so that language would not be a barrier to getting the help needed.  The couple was very happy with the attention and help.  The remote access MVLS Brief Legal Advice Foreclosure Clinic will continue on the 3rd Wednesday in the law library from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. More information can be found here: http://aacpll.pbworks.com/w/page/99877141/Foreclosure%20Clinic

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 (except for the months of June and July) and Eastport-Annapolis Neck Community Library on the last Tuesday. For more information, please see http://circuitcourt.org/legal-help/lawyer-in-the-library.



Posted in lawlibrary, Pro Bono, Self Represented | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Expungement Clinic Wrap-Up

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 19, 2017

Monday night the law library partnered with the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS) and the Eastport-Annapolis Neck Community Library to provide assistance with expungement of criminal records.  Matthew Stubenberg, IT director for MVLS, brought IMG_1522in two volunteer attorneys,  Jennifer L. Wazenski and David Mitchell,  who were able to help 4 people to determine if their charges could be removed from their record and prepare the paperwork if they were. (A fifth person had a question about a Virginia criminal charge.  We were able to direct her to information for Virginia at VALegalAid.org.)


Matthew Stubenberg, provided a training review in the use of the expungement app, MDexpungement.com, that he developed.  This app makes filling out the forms so much easier than filling them out by hand or typing in the required information, especially when there is more than one charge.  With the app the case number is entered and the program will report if the charge is expungeable.  If it is, the information will have been pulled from Maryland Case Search for review and edit.  It will then generate the form for filing.

This a valuable program as criminal record can be a barrier to employment and housing.  Having charges removed from a criminal record and case search can make a big difference in someone’s life.

For more information on expungement in Maryland please visit the law library’s wiki page @ http://aacpll.pbworks.com/w/page/40922164/Expungement  where you can also find links to other expungement clinics sponsored by MVLS and Legal Aid.   

Posted in lawlibrary, Pro Bono, Self Represented | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

New Hours for the Free Foreclosure Mediation Brief Advice Project in the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library

Posted by Yelitza Conover on July 15, 2016

The Foreclosure Mediation Brief Advice Project in the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library has NEW HOURS!

  • Registration: None. First come, first served basis.
  • When: 3rd Wednesday of the month,  11:00 am—1:00 pm
  • Where: Anne Arundel County Public Law Library, Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County – RM 303, 8 Church Circle
    Annapolis, Maryland 21401

July 20, 2016 is the date of the next Foreclosure clinic in the Law Library at the new time.

The Foreclosure Mediation Brief Advice Project, a service of the Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, provides FREE brief legal consultations for homeowners facing foreclosure who do not have legal representation.  Foreclosure Mediation Brief Advice Attorneys will:

  • Answer questions about foreclosure mediation;
  • Give legal advice regarding your foreclosure;
  • Help you understand court papers and documents you received regarding your foreclosure.

Foreclosure is the legal process that the lender starts with the courts when you have not made your mortgage payments, and the lender wants to force the sale of the house to recover the balance of the mortgage. Foreclosure mediation allows the homeowner to discuss their situation with the lender under the facilitation of a mediator. Foreclosure Mediation Brief Advice Attorneys will NOT attend mediation with you, but may help direct you to other options for obtaining legal representation for your mediation.

More detailed information about the foreclosure process and foreclosure mediation  is available on the Anne Arundel County Public Law Library Self Help and Pro Bono Wiki  and the Maryland People’s Law Library.

Can’t make it to the clinic?  Call the helpline: 443-808-0076
      Mondays from 1:30 pm—6:00 pm
Wednesdays from 8:00 am—12:00 pm

MVLS offers the program in other locations.  Check the website for more information.




Posted in lawlibrary, Pro Bono, Self Represented | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »