Law Society Library – A Service not a Space

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By Melanie Hodges Neufeld

This post is a bit wordier than usual, but it is difficult to sum up the amazing resources and services provided by the Library in just a few lines. In the four years since I became the Director of Legal Resources at the Law Society, the Library has undergone significant changes – mostly in the delivery of resources. One of my first duties was to evaluate the Library and develop a strategic plan to make it more relevant to our users.  In late 2012, I gave a presentation to the Benchers entitled “Future of Libraries: A Service, Not a Space” and asked for approval of a new direction for the Library emphasizing services and the provision of digital resources rather than the traditional brick and mortar space. Here are a few important points from the presentation:

  • It is becoming increasingly difficult to justify the expense and space of print collections.
  • Libraries have an image problem and are viewed as increasingly irrelevant.
  • Libraries face extinction if they don’t evolve with new technology and the needs of its users.

What is the result of the new direction?

  • First, we’ve dramatically shifted our resource budget from print to digital resources. The digital resources available to our members in the Members’ Section is one of the most comprehensive collection in Canada and includes:
    • Ebooks:
      • Emond Publications: More than 30 titles in the Working with the Law series and 22 titles in the Casebook Collection.
      • Irwin Law e-Library: More than 100 online textbooks, including the entire Essentials of Canadian Law series.
    • Subscriptions:
      • WestlawNext Canada
        • LawSource – Comprehensive coverage of Canadian case law, federal and provincial legislation, Canadian law reviews and journals, KeyCite Canada case citatory, the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (CED), and the Canadian Abridgment.
        • CriminalSource, FamilySource, and LabourSource – Each contain case law, commentary, annotations, and other tools specific to these practice areas.
      • O’Brien’s Internet: The online version of the popular O’Brien’s Encyclopedia of Forms, a comprehensive online source of Canadian legal forms and precedents.
      • Rangefindr: A tool to help lawyers find criminal sentencing ranges.
    • Journals:
      • HeinOnline: Full text of over 700 legal periodicals from the United States, Canada and the Commonwealth.
      • Lawyers Weekly: Published 48 times a year, it provides lawyers with information essential to maintaining and building a successful practice in today’s competitive business environment.
      • Saskatchewan Law Review: Complete issues in full text from 2013. Prior issues available on HeinOnline.
  • Second, Library staff have transformed into legal information navigators for our members. They provide research assistance, training through webinars and personalized Lunch & Learn sessions, and create valuable resources (such as this fantastic blog) as outlined below:
    • Online Databases
      • Saskatchewan Cases Database: A fully searchable database that provides access to Saskatchewan court cases from 1980s to the present. Summary digests are provided with each decision, as well as considered legislation and case law.
      • Saskatchewan Court of Appeal Sentencing Digests: Often containing the only record of a sentence appeal, this unique database contains searchable digests of sentencing appeals heard by the Court of Appeal from 1982 to the present.
      • Saskatchewan Bills: The Saskatchewan Bills database makes it easier to keep track of a bill’s proclamation date as well as the history of a bill from the first reading to the coming-into-force date. The database is useful for anyone looking for Saskatchewan Acts and their amendments.
      • Saskatchewan Regulations: Updated weekly, the Saskatchewan Regulations database is a searchable resource that indexes all regulations published in the Saskatchewan Gazette. It includes coming-into-force dates for new regulations, amendments to existing regulations since 2000, and links to the original regulations in the
    • Queen’s Bench Forms: As a courtesy to our members and the public, the Law Society Library converts the PDF forms into Word documents for easy use. These forms can be found on the Law Society website.
    • Case Mail: Our semi-monthly online newsletter of recently digested Saskatchewan cases.
    • Online Tutorials: A series of free video tutorials created by the Law Society Library to aid in searching CanLII’s updated website and our Saskatchewan Cases Database. Over the next several months, staff will be increasing topics available.
    • Essential Legal Research Guide: Developed by the Law Society Library, this step-by-step guide provides clear instructions for researching Saskatchewan case law and legislation.
    • The Limitations Manual: Manual containing all Saskatchewan statutes with limitation periods with relevant case law annotations.
    • Subject Resource Lists: Lists of standard texts, key journals, practice guides and forms, legal encyclopedias and sources of case law and legislation for a particular area of practice.
    • Legal Research Guides: Step-by-step guides leading you through specific tasks in legal research.

And our members seem to appreciate the changes. In 2015, our Members’ Section received over 63,000 visits – up 22% from 2014. In 2016, the number of visits nearly doubled to over 120,000 visits by about 82% of our members.

Requests for assistance from staff also increased dramatically in 2015 with an increase of approximately 40%.  If you would like assistance, please contact us via email or phone at (306) 569-8020 (Regina), (306) 933-5141 (Saskatoon). If you are in the Saskatoon or Regina Court House, visit us in person!

Now we are seeking input from our members about the future of the library and the resources we offer. Please review the following notice regarding funding to maintain legal resources available to Law Society members, such as WestlawNext, and the other resources available through the Members’ Section and the Law Society Library. Once you have reviewed the notice, please complete the survey contained within. The deadline to complete the survey is April 7th.

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