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.