News

Webinar Helps Public Libraries Respond to Civil Legal Questions

June 9, 2020

Many Texans whose lives have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are turning to their local public libraries for help and information on civil legal issues. A webinar created by two law librarians helps public libraries learn how to respond to patron questions about civil legal problems.

Joe Lawson, the Deputy Director of Harris County Law Library and Jenny Silbiger, the State Law Librarian and Access to Justice Coordinator at the Hawaii Supreme Court Law Library have partnered with WebJunction (a project from OCLC Research) to put together "Libraries Prepare to Answer Civil Legal Questions in Times of Crisis", a webinar aimed at helping public librarians respond to issues their community with information on common civil legal problems that arise in times of crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased a variety of legal problems for library patrons. Here are a few common legal issues people may be facing during this time:

  • housing issues like eviction and foreclosure
  • issues accessing unemployment benefits
  • family issues, including child custody and visitation
  • estate planning, including simple wills and medical directives

Many people are representing themselves as they navigate these issues, and public libraries can help by providing access to legal knowledge and pointing patrons in the direction of appropriate legal aid, Pro Bono, and community legal organizations. Some libraries also partner with law libraries, legal aid organizations, and bar associations to provide programs like Lawyer in the Library in-house to help their patrons.

Registration for the webinar is full at this time, but the recording will be made available on Friday, June 12th. Please see WebJunction's announcement page for more information and a list of related links and resources.