County law libraries can enhance their visibility and demonstrate the value of a public law library by taking the lead in the development of services to meet the needs of self-represented litigants. This program will demonstrate how Pennsylvania court libraries with a small staff and limited resources have collaborated with the court to provide improved service to the self-represented litigant with the creation of self-help centers and forms development.
Target Audience: Reference librarians and others interested in access to justice issues
1. Participants will be able to explain the issues affecting the functionally illiterate in their access to justice.
2. Participants will be able to design a reference plan to be able to assist functionally illiterate law library customers.
Many litigants who can neither afford an attorney nor qualify for any assistance programs find their way to the local law library to see if they can proceed on their own. A significant number of these individuals would be classified as illiterate. The National Institute of Literacy estimates that more than 20 percent of adults read at or below a fifth-grade level. Librarians typically supply these customers with written materials because they are the only (or easiest) resources available. Nevertheless, such texts may be too difficult for these litigants, so what other assistance can librarians provide? This program will examine some of the hurdles that face the illiterate as they try to navigate the legal system. It will also offer some ideas on how to help such individuals who come to the law library seeking assistance.
Target Audience: All librarians interested in social networking
1. Participants will be able to identify what legal issues might arise around social networking sites and usage.
2. Participants will be able to explain the pressures on and risks to courts, judges, and judicial staff – including court libraries – when engaging in social networking at the institutional level.
Social networking sites spread information effortlessly. For litigants and courts, this can be both risky and beneficial. Could your spouse gain access to your emails and IMs in Facebook during a divorce? How can courts engage in social networking in such a way that maintains impartiality and ethical standards while promoting public trust and accountability? This panel will discuss social networking issues that arise during litigation, provide an overview of a recent groundbreaking study by the Conference of Court Public Information Officers (CCPIO New Media Report), and survey the federal courts’ reaction to and use of social networking sites. This session will answer substantive legal and policy questions surrounding social networking and the justice system.
Karen Salaz recommends attendees view this YouTube video (EPIC 2015) prior to the session.
Target Audience: Librarians serving rural areas
1. Participants will be able to identify at least five specific instances wherein services to the legal community of a predominantly rural audience are significantly different from those provided to more populous regions.
2. Participants will be able to analyze data documenting these differences and use them to improve library services for their own communities.
Law schools and legal institutions in rural settings have a unique perspective on access to legal resources and instruction of legal professionals. Some vendors no longer support institution-specific representatives for smaller schools. Primary legal resources in low-population states are limited, and secondary sources may be nonexistent. New attorneys going into rural law offices will have neither the resources of large firms nor the benefits of additional training by firm librarians. Given these realities, three central questions need to be addressed: 1) What differences are legal institutions with significant rural populations noticing, and can these differences be documented? 2) What is being done to accommodate for them? 3) Where is it possible to affect change? Many law librarians in rural states are finding ways to benefit from this environment and making resources available to a grateful audience of legal professionals. This program will illuminate the weaknesses of supply and raise awareness among librarians and vendors who service rural areas with a goal toward improvement.
Target Audience: Directors, reference librarians, and IT librarians serving self-represented litigants and other members of the public
1. Participants will be able to assess the development of new national objectives and proposals for serving self-represented litigants.
2. Participants will be able to explain new federal requirements regarding language access and interpreter services to their libraries and parent organizations.
In the last few years, there have been dynamic changes in how government institutions serve self-represented litigants. First, the effects of the 2008 change in federal administration are now reaching the courts and ancillary agencies, including libraries that serve self-represented litigants. For example, the Department of Justice is now mandating significant increases in interpreter services and the use of Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Plans. Second, the Legal Services Corporation has adopted innovative new technologies to reach under-served self-represented litigants. Third, state courts are focusing their attention on the financially driven re-engineering of court services by including streamlined and improved services for the public. Two nationally known innovators in these fields will review these significant changes and explain how participants can best prepare for them.