Reaching the diverse public of Alberta, Canada: How law librarians helped fill a gap in legal information delivery and access to justice through an innovative and collaborative new website

AIPPERSBACH, Carole and MOORE, Katy (2015) Reaching the diverse public of Alberta, Canada: How law librarians helped fill a gap in legal information delivery and access to justice through an innovative and collaborative new website. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2015 - Cape Town, South Africa in Session 209 - Law Libraries.

Bookmark or cite this item: http://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1250
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Language: English (Original)
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Abstract

Reaching the diverse public of Alberta, Canada: How law librarians helped fill a gap in legal information delivery and access to justice through an innovative and collaborative new website

LegalAve is a new public legal information website in Alberta, Canada. The project was initiated by public and law librarians to help deal with the gap in legal information delivery and access to justice in Alberta. The founding librarians recognized that while much legal information can be found freely on the internet, this increased access can mean trouble for many members of the public who are not discerning consumers of legal information. Information overload, confusion over jurisdiction, and a disconnect between substantive law and the legal process are continual concerns for law librarians committed to making “access to justice” a reality for their users. Similarly, geographical hurdles, language barriers, funding challenges, and navigating the fine line between legal information and advice affect law librarians’ ability to deliver legal information to Albertans. Faced with these challenges, the founding librarians determined that, rather than trying to bring Albertans to the legal information, law libraries should instead work with other experts in the field, and with the reigning paradigms and inescapable hurdles, to bring legal information (and the law library) to Albertans. Thus was born LegalAve. Through LegalAve, librarians and other legal information providers reach the public indirectly, contributing their resources and information to its non-threatening online environment. LegalAve’s “Guided Pathway” feature helps users find the information that fits their situation based on question-and-answer “decision trees.” The website makes the connections between legal information, community services, legal processes, and the basics of legal research (including referrals to law libraries for further assistance). In short: LegalAve is a success story about how Alberta law librarians brought together the strengths of all members of the legal community, and thereby expanded their role to meet the needs of users while remaining a key player in facilitating access to justice.

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