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/.

LLNE/SNELLA Service Project: New England Innocence Project

By the LLNE Service Committee

For the upcoming fall meeting, Hysteria, Hyperbole, and Witch Hunts: 1697 & 2017 on November 17th, the Service Committees from both LLNE and SNELLA have teamed up to raise funds for the New England Innocence Project. NEIP provides pro bono legal representation to the wrongfully convicted all over the New England area. With a very small staff, including attorneys, paralegals, interns, and volunteers, the New England Innocence Project have exonerated over 70 individuals. Recently, due to budget concerns, NEIP has been unable to take on new cases. Please consider donating to this worthy cause.

To donate, please go to https://secure.squarespace.com/commerce/donate?donatePageId=57326d1a9f726693272775f8.

For more information on volunteering, please go to http://www.newenglandinnocence.org/volunteer-or-intern/.

SolutionsWear: Service Committee Project for the LLNE Spring Meeting

By the LLNE Service Committee

Because the theme for the spring meeting (register here!) is professional development, the service committee asks you to consider donating professional clothing, toiletries, or money to SolutionsWear. SolutionsWear provides interview-appropriate clothing and accessories to homeless and low-income men and women. Check out the list of especially needed items, as well as a complete list of the kind of donations SolutionsWear accepts. We will be collecting clothing and toiletry donations at the meeting. If you would like to make a monetary donation directly to SolutionsWear, you can do so here.

Helping My Neighborhood Library through the LRIP Program

By Emily Todd*

Legal literacy is an important area that can often be overlooked by public librarians, despite the fact that our patrons come to us regularly with questions involving a variety of legal issues. While I cannot interpret the law for my patrons or offer them legal advice, I can conduct a reference interview in which I can determine the nature of their legal information request. For example, do they need a lawyer, or do they simply want to find out what the law says (minus an interpretation)? Typically, my inclination is to err on the side of caution with these types of reference questions. Sometimes the offer of the number for the Lawyer Referral Service or a public law library where a qualified law librarian could assist them is the best answer. However, for patrons with legal research questions, I am missing an opportunity to serve my patrons and instruct them in information retrieval.

The Legal Research Instruction course is equipping me with the skills and knowledge to assist my patrons in tackling their legal reference questions. Like many people, the last time I learned about the legal system of the United States was in high school. During each session, the experienced teachers guide us through the ways our legal system works.  We discuss leading our patrons to the information they seek, whether it is publicly accessible (e.g., on a government website) or a fee is required.  This opportunity is invaluable to me professionally. Developing these skills will allow me to take my legal research training back to my neighborhood library, where I can put them to good use helping my patrons and perhaps teaching them some basics about the legal system along the way.Professional Headshot

*Emily Todd is the Program and Community Outreach Librarian for the Fields Corner Branch of the Boston Public Library.  She is a recipient of the 2017 LLNE Service Committee scholarship to attend the Legal Research Information Program.