There’s still time to learn how to help patrons with those legal information questions. Sign up for one or more of the Legal Research sessions offered by the Minnesota Association of Law Libraries (MALL).
To gain basic legal research skills, library staff typically have three choices:
*take a course in legal bibliography from a local library school
*take a legal research course for paralegals at a local community college
*learn as you go on the job
In Minnesota, there’s another option – the MALL Legal Research Institute. Typically offered every two years, the brief, targeted sessions are taught by local law librarians and colleagues. Open to all. $50 a session or $250 for 5 or more (students: $35 a session or $185 for entire institute). Tuesday evenings, September 13 to November 8 in 2011, from 6:30 – 8:45 p.m., at Hamline University Law School in St. Paul. (Free parking!)
Session One, September 13
The American Legal System
Mary Wells, Research Librarian, Schoenecker Law Library, University of St. Thomas
The first session covers the basics of the legal system of the United States. While not covering any legal sources or legal research processes, it will serve as an introduction and foundation for the rest of the series. Topics include the Constitution, the structure of America’s government, the relationships among governmental branches and between the state and federal governments, and the functions, processes and products of the three branches. Examples, illustrations, and streaming audio and video will enhance the learning experience.
Session Two, September 20
Secondary Legal Materials
Megan Jens, J.D., Reference Librarian, Hamline University Law Library
This two-hour presentation covers sources that analyze and explain or aid in finding the law. It offers techniques for finding and using treatises, periodicals, reference works and practice materials.
Session Three, September 27
Researching Case Law
Karen Westwood, J.D., Head of Reference
Warren E. Burger Library, William Mitchell College of Law
This presentation describes commercial and official reports emanating from American courts at all levels, and includes techniques for finding, using and updating federal and state court decisions.
Session Four, October 4
Federal Statutory Law and Legislative Histories
Sarah G. Mulligan, J.D., Law Librarian, Faegre & Benson LLP
Grace Mills, J.D., Law Library Director and Associate Professor of Law, Hamline University Law Library
This session will cover the federal legislative process, from a bill’s introduction to its codification as law, and emphasizes how to find laws and the documents generated in the lawmaking process. Free and fee sources for these documents will be presented, plus ways to track bills.
Session Five, October 11
Suzanne Thorpe, J.D., Associate Director for Faculty Reseach & Instructional Services
University of Minnesota Law Library
This presentation describes the legal publications emanating from federal administrative agencies and discusses techniques for finding and using federal regulations and administrative decisions in both hard copy and electronic resources.
Session Six, October 18
Minnesota Law & Legislative History
Vicente E. Garces, J.D., Reference Librarian, University of Minnesota Law Library
Paul VanCura, Reference Librarian, Minnesota Legislative Reference Library
This session focuses on the use of primary and secondary sources to research Minnesota law. Statutes, cases and administrative law resources will be examined and discussed in the context of research strategy. A practical overview of how to conduct Minnesota legislative history research will be presented, and electronic resources will be highlighted.
Session Seven, October 25
Intellectual Property Law
Jody Pizzala, Senior Paralegal, Merchant & Gould PC
Hope Porter, Head Librarian, Merchant & Gould PC
This course will discuss the phases of a patent litigation and the ways that librarians and information resources support that process. Examples of searches for patent records will be provided.
Session Eight, November 1
Neal Axton, J.D., Reference Librarian
Warren E. Burger Library, William Mitchell College of Law
This session provides an overview of federal and Minnesota law related to emergency management, including statutes, agency regulations and Presidential Homeland Security Directives. Emergencies discussed will include floods, snowstorms, earthquakes, pandemics and terrorism. The concept of cascading disasters will also be covered.
Session Nine, November 8
Debtor-Creditor Law and Ethics
Randall Ryder, J.D., The Ryder Law Firm LLC
William G. Cottrell, J.D., Cottrell Law Firm PA
Paul Healey, J.D., Senior Instructional Librarian, Jenner Law Library, and
Associate Professor of Library Instruction, University of Illinois College of Law
Randall Ryder will discuss the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and resources for both consumers and creditors to learn more about their legal rights and obligations. Bill Cottrell will present the steps involved in collecting a debt through the legal system. He will take questions from the audience and provide an overview of what typically goes on when collecting a debt or defending against it. Paul Healey’s presentation will explore the concept of professionals ethics, specifically as it applies to providing legal reference services. Specific areas of ethical concern will be addressed, to help librarians understand how to deal appropriately with such issues.
Build a skill set. Build an extended network of colleagues.
For more information and to register: http://www.aallnet.org/chapter/mall/lri2011.htm
In tough times, people try to do quite a few things for themselves, including legal work. The services provided by open-to-the-public, county law libraries are profiled in a great article in today’s Star Tribune.
The new legal aid: Do it yourself
Minneapolis Star Tribune, 4/20/10
In bad economic times, public law libraries boom with visitors needing legal advice. Do-it-yourself legal work has become the way, from bankruptcy filings to fighting an eviction.
Librarians referenced or quoted:
Susan Larson, Minnesota State Law Library, which coordinates county law library service
Sara Galligan, Ramsey County Law Library (MN)
Gene Myers, Anoka County Law Library (MN)
Judy Meadows, Montana State Library
If you are looking for a county law library near you, check out the Minnesota County Law Library Directory. If you are asked to assist patrons with legal questions and could use some direction, take a look at Legal Reference and “Do It Yourself” Resources (Guest Blogger, Sara Galligan).
Many thanks to Sara Galligan, Ramsey County Law Library, for preparing this entry:
Do patrons appear in your library as a first step in their search for legal help? If so, self help resources are available on court and legal aid websites. Public librarians can help promote self help legal information, including online materials for low literacy and non-English speaking users. The organizations creating these resources know that self help resources CAN assist litigants who are unrepresented in court. The Ramsey County Law Library has created “Self-Help Legal Resources—A Guide for Minnesota Public Librarians” to assist librarians in answering legal reference questions. The 3-page guide provides current legal resources and referrals to attorneys.
Do you feel challenged by zealous patrons who try to badger librarians for legal advice? Learn how to avoid the unauthorized practice of law by reading the chapter, “Legal Reference vs. Legal Advice”, from SCALL’s Locating the Law: A Handbook for Non-Law Librarians, 5th Ed. (2009).
Librarians can also refer patrons to attorneys. Referring patrons to attorneys for help is a good option for those who want to pay, but low and no-cost attorney resources are also available. Public defender and legal aid attorneys are available when parties meet certain low income requirements. In addition, free and low cost services are available through self help clinics, courts and legal services organizations.
Any thoughts or concerns about your legal information seekers? Feel free to contact the Ramsey County Law Library, the Minnesota State Law Library, or any of the metro area county law libraries to discuss legal reference. Collaboration between public libraries and law libraries helps promote access to new legal resources that are specifically created for the general public.
Ramsey County Law Library Director
Many libraries in Minnesota recently started participating in a form of digital reference, AskMN. According to the website, AskMN is “An online service for information and research help available to all Minnesota residents and students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. AskMN is a cooperative service of Minnesota libraries.” Individual libraries offer additional forms of “virtual” or “digital” reference to their local populations.
If you’re interested in learning about the trends and tips in digital reference with a panel of special guests, consider participating in the WebJunction-sponsored Digital Reference Summit, online, 9/30/09, 1-2:30pm Central time.
There is no cost, but registration is required.
The Summit recording will be available after the event in the WebJunction Event Archives.
Wordnik http://www.wordnik.com is a new free online dictionary with a twist.
Besides giving definitions from several authoritative sources, it also provides examples of how it is used, a graph that shows proportionally how often it was used through the years, how many times it has been looked up at this particular site, synonyms, an audio pronunciation and images pulled from Flicker that had a tag with the word.
You have to register to access the site.
For more information, go to the Christian Science Monitor article, where I learned about this. http://tiny.cc/ihE9m
Have you seen the blog, Librarian By Day? http://librarianbyday.wordpress.com/ It’s written by Bobbie Newman, who will be coming to Minnesota in April to present the workshop, Reference in the Electronic Age. Should be fun! It’s open to all Minnesota library staff and is sponsored by the Minnesota Certification program. And, no registration fee!
At this workshop, attendees will learn how to conduct effective reference interviews, incorporate computer based resources and new technology into library services, how to fill information using resources beyond the immediate collection, and federal, state, and local requirements for Internet and computer usage in the library environment. Follow up by training a patron or a group – apply those skills to strengthen Minnesota’s residents!
Bobbi Newman serves as Digital Services Librarian, Missouri River Regional Library in Jefferson City, MO and as adjunct instructor at the University of Missouri, School of Information Science & Learning Technologies.
Seven Workshop Locations: 4/6 Wyoming, 4/8 Mountain Iron, 4/9 Detroit Lakes, 4/27 Rochester, 4/28 Mankato, 4/29 Redwood Falls, 4/30 St. Cloud
For more details and registration information visit the Calendar of Events at http://evanced.info/minnesota/evanced/eventcalendar.asp Click on April. Click on the desired date.
To go directly to the online registration form, visit http://www.arrowhead.lib.mn.us/certification/formref.htm.
By the way, Rebecca Patton, Public Library Consultant, Arrowhead Library System is providing the leadership on speaker arrangements and organizing this workshop. Thanks, Rebecca! In addition, the workshop carries no registration fee for participants, thanks to federal LSTA grant funding approved by State Library Services and administered by Arrowhead Library System!