on July 16, 2021 Library Education Webinars

Webinar: Assisting Library Patrons with Legal Questions: Legal Reference Interviews, Referrals, Programming, and Outreach

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Originally presented July 14, 2021

Do you ever feel panicked when someone asks you a legal reference question?  Are you not sure if you can answer or how much information you can provide?  What can libraries actually do to assist self-represented litigants?

According to the National Center for State Courts, in 76% of civil cases in the United States, at least one of the parties represents him or herself.  Unlike criminal cases where you have the right to an attorney if you cannot afford one, civil cases do not offer this protection. As more people represent themselves in court, more are coming to the library to seek answers to their legal questions. 

In this webinar, Deborah Hamilton focuses on how to handle legal questions from patrons.  She looks at how to do a legal reference interview and what types of information you can provide; how to connect with legal service organizations in the community so you can make good referrals; and discusses possible ideas for legal programs that you can offer to your patrons. 

Libraries Unlimited is pleased to offer a special 20% discount on Deborah’s book, Helping Library Users with Legal Questions Practical Advice for Research, Programming, and Outreach, to webinar attendees on direct orders through abc-clio.com

Enter promo code NICHE at checkout to apply your discount. Offer ends 8/30/21.

Click below to experience this webinar as a tutorial. When you continue past the introduction to the webinar, you'll be prompted to log in. We require login to view the whole tutorial so we can provide certificates of completion for your records and for professional development credit. No purchase is required and you can create a Niche Academy account if you don't already have one. The certificate will be available for download when you have completed all sections of the tutorial.  


Click the link below to download the presentation slides:
Assisting Library Patrons with Legal Questions

Deborah Hamilton

Deborah Hamilton is the Strategic Services Librarian overseeing the Law Collection for the Pikes Peak Library District, a position she has held since 2014. Deborah currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Justice Center, a non-profit offering free and low cost legal services and she is a member of Colorado’s Fourth Judicial District Access to Justice Committee. She served as president for the Colorado Association of Law Libraries during the 2018-2019 term and has served on the Government Law Libraries and Legal Information Services to the Public Committees for the Southwest Association of Law Libraries. Deborah is the author of: Helping Library Users with Legal Questions: Practical Advice for Research, Programming, and Outreach, “Public Libraries Helping Patrons with Legal Needs: Virtual Pro Se Clinic of Colorado” in The Relevant Library: Essays on Adapting to Changing Needs; and “Google Video and YouTube” in The Complete Guide to Using Google in Libraries: Instruction, Administration, and Staff Productivity (Volume 1).

The Niche Academy marketplace contains hundreds of tutorials created by our global pool of experts, including:

Health, Legal, and Social Service Tutorial  1

Health, Legal, and Social Services Questions: Reference and Resources 

Health, legal, and social services questions are common in public libraries, but staff aren’t always trained on how to answer them. In this first part of the Health, Legal, and Social Service Questions series we will cover social service basics, reference interview best practices, and quality reference resources.


Health, Legal, and Social Service Tutorial 2

Health, Legal, and Social Services Questions: Referrals, Partners, and Programs

In this second part of the Health, Legal, and Social Service Questions series, we will cover referrals, partnerships, programming, and reflective practice. 


The reference interview thumbnail

The Reference Interview

At the heart of reference services—and library services—is the reference interview, a consultation between staff and patrons that matches information to a need. You'll help patrons interpret, evaluate, and use information to meet their needs. It is one of the most complex, important, and rewarding jobs in the library. 


Welcome to the reference desk thumbnail

Welcome to the Reference Desk

As a reference employee, you work at one of the most important services in the library. In many ways, you’ll be the “face” of the library for your library, responsible for helping patrons find answers to their questions.


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