The LLNE Service/A2J Committee’s Work of Public Librarian Outreach in New England Continues

On Sunday, October 28th, members of the LLNE A2J Committee and the LLNE Service Committee presented at the New England Library Association Conference (NELA) in Warwick, RI.  The presentation titled “Law, Technology, and Access to Justice” discussed the access to justice gap in both New England and the United States and how technology is being developed to help bridge the gap.  The presenters showcased a variety of current and upcoming technologies that are focused on helping self-represented litigants prepare for court, such as RePresent, Objection! Your Honor, and the Odyssey Guide and File.  The session also tackled ethical concerns and the unauthorized practice of law with presenters role-playing common legal reference scenarios to show setting boundaries with patrons.  Finally, and most importantly, the presenters discussed LLNE’s Legal Link resource for providing legal reference and referrals. The session was well-received and the attendees were engaged with the material. The slides from the session have been uploaded and shared on the NELA website.  

Join the LLNE Service Committee on Friday, November 16th for a Transcription Party!

From 1-4pm, we will be at the Roger Williams University Providence Campus (1 Empire Street, Providence) transcribing historical documents from the Rhode Island State Archives’s Suffrage Association collection.  Afterwards, come enjoy drinks and appetizers (and the company of fellow law librarians) around the corner at Rosalina’s (50 Aborn Street, Providence).

No experience with transcription necessary! None of us have ever hosted nor attended a transcription party before so don’t worry if you are unsure about transcription!  Come ready to have fun and help out a great organization!

Please RSVP to Jessica Almeida at jessica.almeida@umassd.edu or 508-985-1194 by November 9th .

Computers will be available on site or you are welcome to bring your own.  Parking is available on the street or at the Providence Civic Center Garage located on Washington Street.

*Sponsored by Lexis and LLNE*

Empowered by the Legal Research Instruction Program (LRIP)

By Alvin Ealy*

There are some questions that a public librarian will not answer because they fall under the purview of a specialized profession.  We don’t want to do harm to our patrons nor do we want to be liable for questions about health, medicine, or taxes.  You can also add legal questions to this list, but what I learned at LRIP is that there is a world of difference between legal advice and questions about the law.   Information about the law is much more readily available than I realized.  It was useful and instructive to learn how to use Lexis and Westlaw, but most public libraries do not have the funding for such resources.  But LRIP taught me how to find useful legal information via Google as well as state and federal government websites.  The lessons learned in this course certainly made me feel empowered.   Before LRIP, I would refer all legal questions down the road to the Plymouth Law Library.  After LRIP, I feel better prepared to help patrons with questions about the law.

*Alvin Ealy is the Head of Adult Services/Reference at the Kingston Public Library in Kingston, MA and a recipient of the 2018 LLNE Service Committee Scholarship to attend the Legal Research Information Program.

Service Committee Drive for Veterans Inc.: Wrap-up

By Jessica Almeida

For this year’s Spring service project, the Service Committee organized a drive for Veterans Inc.  Helping homeless veterans since 1990, Veterans Inc. provides housing, medical, and employment assistance to veterans in the New England area.  Based in Worcester, Massachusetts, their philosophy is “They were there when we needed them.  We must be there now that they need us.”  Veterans Inc. provides 24/7 support to veterans and their families with emergency, transitional, and long-term housing, career counseling and training, as well as support groups and substance abuse treatment programs.  For more information on Veterans Inc., visit http://www.veteransinc.org/.

To help them supply essentials to veterans in need, the Service Committee asked LLNE members to donate gift cards that provide food, clothes, and medicine.  The committee is pleased to report that $555 in gift cards was contributed by LLNE members.  Thank you to everyone for their generous donations.

Thank you to the members of the LLNE Service Committee for organizing the Veterans Inc. Drive.  The Service Committee is always looking for more volunteers!  If interested, go to https://llne.org/committees/service/.

The Legal Research Instruction Program and Continuing a Commitment to Equity and Justice

By Heather Diaz*

Beyond supporting patrons’ research and learning interests, I would like to extend the reach of what we can do at the library in terms of patrons’ access to justice. Perhaps because of our proximity to the Trial Court Library, reference services have comprised of referring folks to the expertise of the law librarians there. I felt limited by my own threadbare understanding of the legal system and intimidated by the process of reading the law. In these regards, I certainly related to patrons dealing with complex, unfamiliar, or overwhelming legal issues. The Legal Research Instruction Program exposed me not only to open-web legal resources that I can share, both with patrons and on our library’s website, but also to the types of research methodologies that attorneys, paralegals, and law librarians use. This type of insight strengthens my own research process, which helps me to interview patrons better and prepare them for further research at the Trial Court Library. Furthermore, I’m excited to connect to the law librarians there, build a stronger professional relationship between our two institutions, and better facilitate community access to legal information. Considering the systemic inequalities that play out through the courts, the laws, and law enforcement, I consider this work to be profoundly important for our commitment to equity and justice. It was a great, eye-opening experience to demystify the legal research process!

*Heather Diaz is a reference librarian at Forbes Library in Northampton and a recipient of the 2018 LLNE Service Committee Scholarship to attend the Legal Research Information Program.

Spring Service Committee Project: Veterans Inc.

By Jessica Almeida

In conjunction with this year’s Spring meeting, the Service Committee is partnering with Veterans Inc., an organization that has assisted homeless veterans since 1990.  It began by providing housing to veterans in the Worcester, Massachusetts area but expanded its services to include employment and healthcare assistance for veterans and their families throughout the New England area.  

Veteran’s Inc. is asking for gift cards to aid veterans in need of food, clothing, and medicine.  Gift cards of any domination from Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, or Amazon would be truly appreciated.  There are two ways to give:

  1. If you’re attending the June 8th, Spring meeting at Social Law Library, purchase a gift card and drop it off at the Service Committee table before you leave for the day.
  2. Not planning to attend the meeting?  No problem.  Send a gift card electronically to Service Committee chair, Jessica Almeida, at jessica.almeida@umassd.edu.  Or have the company ship the gift card to:*

Jessica Almeida
UMass Law Library
333 Faunce Corner Road
Dartmouth, MA 02747

*Please email Jessica so she can be on the look out for your generous donation.

Here are some quick links to make donating even easier:

 Thank you, in advance, for supporting our Veterans!

 The Service Committee is always looking for new volunteers!  If you are interested in helping us create and promote new service projects, please email Jessica at jessica.almeida@umassd.edu.

Service Committee Announces LRIP Scholarship Recipients

By the Service Committee

The LLNE Service Committee, in conjunction with the Education Committee and Legal Research Instruction Program (LRIP), is pleased to announce the public librarians awarded scholarships to attend LRIP this year. The Service Committee has awarded the scholarships to Alvin Ealy, Head of Adult Services and Reference for the Kingston Public Library in Kingston, MA and Heather Diaz, Assistant Information Services Librarian for the Forbes Library in Northampton, MA. Both librarians work extensively with the public and have a great interest in learning about responding more effectively to patron requests for legal information.  They are also hoping the strategies they acquire from the program will strengthen the research support they provide and increase their library’s value to their communities. Please help us in congratulating Alvin and Heather and look out for their upcoming blog posts about their experiences in the Legal Research Instruction Program!

Scholarships for LRIP

By Alisha Hennen

All public librarians are encouraged to apply for a scholarship, sponsored by the LLNE Service Committee, to attend our chapter’s Legal Research Instruction Program.

The Legal Research Instruction Program (LRIP) is a six week seminar geared towards public librarians interested in learning more about law librarianship.  Each week, a different aspect of legal research is covered, everything from an overview of the U.S. legal system to finding transactional law documents.  The class will run on Tuesday evenings from April 10th – May 15th. The six classes will be held from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Suffolk Law in Boston.  For more information about the LRIP course, go to https://llne.org/legalresearchinstruction/  or contact Brian Flaherty directly at brian2@bu.edu.

The LLNE Service Committee is providing two scholarships to cover the cost of registration.  Applicants must be public (non-law) librarians from the New England area.  For more information and to apply, go to https://llne.org/committees/service/.  Please send applications to Jessica Almeida at jessica.almeida@umassd.edu by Friday, March 30, 2018.

We encourage all LLNE members to share this scholarship opportunity with their local public libraries and any public librarians that would be interested in this excellent professional development opportunity.

Changes to LLNE’s Service Committee

By Michael VanderHeijden

I’m writing to relay a change to the LLNE Service Committee approved by a vote of the attending members at the Fall meeting in Salem, MA.

In an effort to more effectively pursue two divergent initiatives (service projects and Legal Link), LLNE’s Service Committee has become two committees. The Service Committee will remain focused on planning and executing the public service projects associated with LLNE’s Fall and Spring meetings. A new Access to Justice (A2J) Committee has been created to continue the work on Legal Link and to pursue projects promoting access to and understanding of legal information.

The committee’s charge is copied, below.

Jessica Dziedzic Almeida, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Law School, is chairing the Service Committee. If you’d like to volunteer for the Service Committee, please contact Jessica at jessica.almeida@umassd.edu. Mike VanderHeijden, Yale Law School, is chairing the A2J Committee.

Members of the A2J Committee:

Sherry Xin Chen (Boston College School of Law);
Nicole Dyszlewski (Roger Williams University School of Law);
Suzanne Hoey (Barnstable Law Library);
Jessica Pisano Jones (Social Law Library);
Natalia May (Vermont Law School);
Sara McMahon (Western New England School of Law);
Misty Peltz-Steele (University of Massachusetts School of Law);
Jennifer Robble (Boston University School of Law)
Mike VanderHeijden (Yale Law School)

Access to Justice Committee Charge:

  1. The Access to Justice Committee shall consist of a chair, or co-chairs, and such additional members as the President shall designate.
  2. Recognizing the acute need in many New England communities for access to legal information and recognizing the unique training, expertise, and resources of New England’s law librarians, the Access to Justice Committee shall partner with public librarians, court personnel and others to leverage collections, professional knowledge and skills to promote access to justice through greater understanding and availability of legal information.
  3. Further recognizing that there are many as-yet unidentified opportunities to partner with Access to Justice communities of interest, the Committee shall not limit itself to familiar librarian roles. Rather, the Committee shall remain open to new and alternative modes and methods of supporting the Access to Justice movement.

Service Committees Raise $7,700 for New England Innocence Project

By Jessica Almeida

In conjunction with the fall meeting, the Service Committees for LLNE and SNELLA partnered up to raise funds for the New England Innocence Project (NEIP).  Since 2000, the NEIP has been promoting criminal justice reform and exonerating the wrongfully convicted in the New England area.  To date, the NEIP has helped free 70 wrongfully convicted individuals through the use of DNA testing, questioning of faulty eyewitness testimony, and revealing the misconduct of the police.  To read their stories, go to http://www.newenglandinnocence.org/new-england-exonerees/.

Thanks to the generous donations of our members, the LLNE Service Committee is pleased to announce that $3,850 was raised to help NEIP provide legal assistance to the wrongfully convicted in the New England area.  This amount was matched anonymously, so a total of $7,700 was donated to this worthy cause.  This is the most money the Service Committee has ever raised for one cause and we couldn’t have done it without the kindness and generosity of our members.  A special thanks to Kathy Ludwig and her father, Bruce Williams, for their substantial donation.  For more information on the New England Innocence Project or if you would still like to donate, please see their website at http://www.newenglandinnocence.org/.

Thank you to Nicole Dyszlewski and the rest of the Service Committee for organizing the New England Innocence Project Drive.  The LLNE Service Committee is always looking for more volunteers!  If interested, go to https://llne.org/committees/service/.