Bringing Law to the Community: Facilitating Access to Justice in Metropolitan Detroit

APPLEBAUM, Beth and BISSETT, Jan B. and LALONDE, Michelle M. and SAMSON, Michael and THOMAS, Virginia C. (2016) Bringing Law to the Community: Facilitating Access to Justice in Metropolitan Detroit. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2016 – Columbus, OH – Connections. Collaboration. Community in Session 179 - Law Libraries with Public Libraries and Government Information and Official Publications.

Bookmark or cite this item: http://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1369
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Language: English (Original)
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Abstract

Bringing Law to the Community: Facilitating Access to Justice in Metropolitan Detroit

Wayne County is Michigan’s most populous county with 1.7 million residents and its county seat in Detroit. Unlike many other counties throughout the state, Wayne County does not provide a government-supported law library to serve its residents. The Arthur Neef Law Library which serves the Wayne State University Law School has a long-standing tradition of opening its doors to provide legal research services and resources to members of the community. A fundamental mission of the Law Library, as well as the entire University, is “…meaningful engagement in its urban community.” Legal professionals, students and faculty from other educational institutions, and community residents who need legal information are referred to, and depend on, the Arthur Neef Law Library collections and librarian expertise. Community patrons typically account for approximately seventy percent of reference desk patrons. Librarians provide traditional reference and research services, as well as instruction in basic legal research and the use of databases, government information, open access and free web resources, legal self-help materials and print publications to community patrons. The diverse experience levels of community patrons, including literacy and technical skills, familiarity with legal materials, and communication abilities provide unique challenges. One of the most compelling is the need for librarians to balance patron expectations with the best use of the library's resources. Collaboration with, and connections to other librarians and libraries (law and non-law), as well as knowledge of their collections plays a significant role in facilitating access to justice for community patrons.

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