Law Library News

Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Security Planner for Online Safety

Posted by Joan Bellistri on May 24, 2018

computerSecurity Planner by Citizen Lab is an online tool that provides information on improving online security.  It is described on the site’s “about” page like this:

Security Planner is an easy-to-use guide with expert-reviewed advice for staying safer online. It provides recommendations on implementing basic online practices, like enabling two-factor authentication on important accounts, making sure software stays updated, and using encrypted chats to protect private communications. More advanced users can receive advice on where to go for more help.

Security Planner is a project of the Citizen Lab, an interdisciplinary group based at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. It was incubated by Jigsaw (then known as Google Ideas) and handed off to the Citizen Lab in December 2015.

Security Planner recommendations are made by a committee of experts in digital security and have gone through a rigorous peer review evaluation, led by the Citizen Lab. We’re supported by a community of organizations, including non-profits, educational institutions, and foundations, and never accept funds or services in exchange for making a recommendation.

The Law Librarians Working Group of the Self Represented Litigation Network recently had the opportunity to hear about this service on a recent conference call meeting.  As a result we will be doing what we can to get the word out about this tool.  Please share with those who might benefit.

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

Updated MDEC Manual Available Online

Posted by Joan Bellistri on August 15, 2017

MDEC_manualThe Judiciary’s August newsletter included an article on recent updates to the MDEC Policies and Procedures Manual (See page 36 in the version 1.19 regarding submissions in an envelope.)

The Manual can be found on the judiciary’s website MDEC page’s Here you can find links to information on registration and to MDEC FAQs for attorneys and the public. The link to the Manual can be found in the E-Filing Resource List on the efiling page that includes links to the e-filing brochure, MDEC Acronyms, attorney efiling codes and an overview of MDEC Rules.

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

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 »


Posted by Joan Bellistri on June 20, 2017

wifiThe law library along with other public spaces in the court like the Jury Office now has WIFI.  After waiting for years, it is exciting that we can now answer the question – “do you have WIFI?” – with a “YES.”

Many thanks to our Court Administration, JIS and the Court’s IT Department.

Registration is required as is a Username and Password:

  • Select the “Judiciary Public” WIFI network.
  • Click on the “Don’t have an account?” option.
  • Create an account by entering information in the form.
    • Fields marked with a * must be filled in.
    • Be sure to choose your cell phone provider in order to get a text message.
  • Once registered, a Username and Password will be sent via text message or email.
    • Username and Password will work for 60 days.
  • Enter your Username and Password.
  • Finally, “Accept,” the “Acceptable Use Policy” and you should be connected.

I had trouble accessing the registration form using Chrome.  Edge worked fine as might Firefox.  There are instructions at the information desk and we will be happy to help you connect in any way that we can.

Posted in lawlibrary | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Maryland Judiciary Data Dashboard

Posted by Joan Bellistri on May 18, 2017

Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera and Pam Harris, State Court Administrator,  announced the launch of the Maryland Judiciary Data Dashboard on May 16, 2017.

The Dashboard “is an interactive compilation of trial and appellate courts caseload and performance data.  The Data Dashboard is a user-friendly site from which to access data about total incoming and outgoing cases, clearance rates, active caseload volumes, and case processing performance measures.  Data is available county-by-county and statewide.” 

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

Maryland Judiciary Launches Comprehensive Attorney Information Database

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 24, 2017

Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera and Pam Harris, State Court Administrator,  announced the launch of the Attorney Information System (AIS):

AIS is a comprehensive database that brings together information about Maryland attorneys maintained by the court-related agencies that support the Court of Appeals in its role regulating the legal profession in Maryland.  AIS represents a significant investment by the Judiciary to improve the internal management of attorney records.  Beginning this month, each Maryland attorney will receive a letter from the Maryland Judiciary with information about AIS and how to activate his or her account.

More information about AIS be found in this press release dated March 23, 2017: http://www.mdcourts.gov/media/news/2017/pr20170323.html

Posted in lawlibrary | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Virtual Reality Attorney Training

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 17, 2017

The MSBA Young Lawyers Section has a posted a number of virtual reality trainings for attorneys on YouTube @ https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLpNB33ElBfOsECWfYdilf3PRr7Pa1Zav4.

The trainings were created for new attorneys but could be helpful for self-represented litigants as well.  They were shot with a 360 degree camera and should be viewed with virtual reality headset. According to a blog post at Technical.ly Baltimore the trainings are the work of Matthew Stubenberg of MVLS and William Buschur.

The videos available include:VR cardboard

Guardianship Hearing

Consumer Protection – Intention to Defend Debt Collection

Expungement – Determination of Marijuana Weight Hearing

Expungement – Good Cause Hearing

Business Record

Photo Evidence

Family Law Divorce Settlement

The videos can be viewed without a VR headset but then the viewer will not get the full courtroom experience.  There are many models for virtual reality headsets but the least expensive recommended was Google Cardboard.  (I once got one as part of the New York Times – I will bring it to the law library in case anyone would like to try out VR attorney training.)

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

Anne Arundel County 311 APP Announced

Posted by Joan Bellistri on April 7, 2017

Anne Arundel County has announced the release of  an app and 311 voice services:

“This 311app allows Anne Arundel County citizens to report non-emergency incidents or problem requests digitally through their mobile devices. The 311 app has geo functions and is tied to both the AA County web and Facebook pages. The app allows citizens to track their reported incidents via the web or their mobile devices until such time as the incidents are closed. The app has a clean interface and is easy to navigate. Currently, the app enables Anne Arundel County users to report service requests such as:

• Lost and found pets
• Recycling cart requests
• Broken recycling carts
• Missed curbside collection
• Bulk pickup scheduling
• Potholes
• Drainage complaints
• Recreation and Park concerns
• Unregistered vehicles”

The App can be found in the iPhone App Store (search “AACounty 311″and at Google Play for Android:


Citizens can still just call 3-1-1 and get the help they need if they aren’t comfortable with using an APP or don’t have a smart phone.


Posted in lawlibrary | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

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!

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