By Alan Kilpatrick
LawMatters is a Courthouse Libraries BC (CLBC) program directed towards public libraries in British Columbia. Through this program, CLBC collaborates with public libraries to provide members of the public with accurate legal information at their local public library. Public libraries receive a large volume of legal reference questions. A recent CLBC study estimated BC public libraries receive more than 35,000 legal reference questions per year. As such, public libraries are the natural place to connect with members of the public who have legal information needs.
What exactly does the program offer? Public libraries are able to develop, update, and increase their print legal collections through LawMatters program grants. To ensure libraries carry the correct legal resources, the program produces the Law Books for Libraries List for small, medium, and large libraries. The program also provides libraries with legal reference training and ongoing support to give public library staff the skills needed to help members of the public with legal information needs. You can find more information on the LawMatters website.
Libraries across Canada are working together to improve access to justice and create real solutions to the barriers self-represented litigants face. For example, the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library hosts free family law information sessions in collaboration with the Saskatchewan Family Law Information Centre and provides members of the Saskatchewan public with basic legal information.
It’s time for the Saskatchewan legal community to include libraries and librarians in the access to justice discussion. We’ve earned our place at the table.