Tag: public law library

KCLL Wins National Award for Outreach

The Workshops

We launched Civil Lawsuits Without Tears in March of 2018. It was the first workshop in our then new Self-Represented Litigants (SRL) Workshop series. That series now includes three civil procedure workshops, four family law workshops, a small business law workshop and a power of attorney workshop. Plans for a landlord/tenant workshop are in the works.

When we made that first launch we were confident we had created a new, practical, and sustainable mechanism for helping the self-represented litigants we work with become better prepared for their day in court. It was “new” for several reasons. It leveraged partnerships with volunteers from the local bar and the LLLT community, local public libraries like SPL and KCLS, and other community centers. It married face-to-face classroom instruction with follow-up content support on our website. It brought instruction out to where the self-represented litigants live and work in surroundings they are more familiar with. It was “practical” because KCLL staff worked closely with our volunteer instructors to choose content that was focused on the specific areas of civil procedure that most often confound self-represented litigants. It was “sustainable” because the load or weight of content development, instruction, and marketing was spread across all partners.

We had also hoped that workshop attendees would find the content understandable and immediately useful; that they would appreciate being able to attend the workshops in the local libraries or community centers they were already familiar with, and that access to the blank forms and research links on our custom SRL workshop website would continue to provide support down the litigation road.

To date, over 400 self-represented litigants have attended at least one of the workshops. We are hard at work searching for additional volunteer attorneys to help us develop and present relevant content and have plans for expanding the number of public library branches at which the workshops are hosted. Feedback from attendees has been very positive and they often return to KCLL for further research help.

The Award

The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) is a nation-wide professional association for law librarians who practice in pubic, academic and private firm law libraries. AALL sponsors a number of juried awards that recognize outstanding achievement in various aspects of law library management and services. This year, AALL added a new award called the Excellence in Community Engagement Award. This award focuses on community engagement and public relations and was created to “ …recognize and acknowledge outstanding contributions achieved by the Association’s members in raising the visibility of the profession and its Association.” In February of this year, LeighAnne Thompson and Stephanie Wilson from the Seattle University School of Law Library nominated our Self-Represented Litigants Workshop series. In March, we were overjoyed to receive this communication from Sally Holterhoff, chair of AALL’s Excellence in Community Engagement Award Jury:

“…your library’s Self-Represented Litigant (SRL) Workshops have been selected as one of two recipients of an inaugural AALL Excellence in Community Engagement Award. Congratulations on this honor. Our jury felt that your project does an outstanding job of reaching people in your community at their point of need with practical information. With these workshops, you are involving the legal and library communities in partnering to address the information needs of self-represented litigants and to help them successfully navigate the legal system.”

Many Thanks

We are very grateful to our SRL workshop partners, without whose help the workshop series would not have been possible. KCLL is indebted to the following individuals and organizations for their contributions to the workshop series and is excited to continue the collaboration to support and improve the education of self-represented litigants in King County:

  • Jeff Cowan, Esq.
  • Anthony Gibbs of Moceri Law Group, PLLC
  • Debbie Williams, Esq
  • McKean Evans of Pivotal Law Group
  • Stephanie Wilson, LeighAnne Thompson of the Seattle University School of Law
  • The law student volunteers of the Seattle University School of Law Access to Justice program
  • David Witus, Esq.
  • Jennifer Ortega of Legal Technician Division, PLLC
  • Sarah Bove of Legal Technician Division, PLLC
  • Valerie Wonder and Nika Pratsitsilpsiri of the Seattle Public Library
  • Jose Garcia and Andy Wickens and the staff of the  Kent branch of the King County Library System
  • Julia Gibson and the staff of the Shoreline branch of the King County Library System
  • Maria Arcorace and the staff of the Burien branch of the King County Library System
  • Mason Wiley of the U. Heights Community Center

If you are interested in learning more about our workshops – or the possibility of facilitating them, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us here or  call us at (206) 477-1305.

New Seattle Library Hours

Beginning Monday, April 2nd, the Seattle library branch, located inside the King County Courthouse, will observe new hours of operation:

Monday – Friday: 8:00am – 4:30pm

Please note that these changes will affect the Seattle library branch only.

Should you have any questions about these upcoming changes, please do not hesitate to contact us.

New Class: Civil Litigation without Tears – The Basics of Representing Yourself in Court

Representing yourself in court is a complicated process and can be overwhelming. In this workshop you will learn the basics of the civil litigation process with a focus on court rules, court procedures, forms, scheduling, and deadlines. Attendees will receive blank copies of some of the most commonly used civil litigation forms and will be granted access to a password protected website with additional information and resources. (Note: This class does not cover criminal litigation.)

The workshop will be 90 minutes and will run from 7-8:30pm.

When: Thursday, March 15, 2018 (7:00PM – 8:30PM)

Where: Kent Branch of the King County Library System

212 2nd Avenue North
Kent, WA 98032
Phone: (253) 859-3330

Get Directions

**Registration is Required.** Register online at the KCLS website.

Suitable for: Adults

Language: English

New Kent Library Hours

Beginning Wednesday, February 14th, the Kent library branch, located inside the Maleng Regional Justice Center, will close every day from 2pm – 3pm for lunch.

Starting March 1st, the Kent library branch will observe new hours of operations:

Monday – Friday: 8:30am – 4:30pm; closed from 2pm – 3pm for lunch.

Please note that these changes will affect the Kent library branch only; there will not be any changes to the hours of operation for the Seattle branch.

Should you have any questions about these upcoming changes, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

New Library Catalog!

We have migrated to a new, more user-friendly library catalog! Check it out here.

New features include:

  • Mobile Friendly: A responsive mobile-friendly interface, so you can use the catalog on your smart phone.
  • Two-Week Loan Period for Book Checkouts: We have also changed our loan periods – books are now checked out, automatically, for two weeks, with no renewals. Instead of checking out a book for one-week and then having to call to renew the book, subscribers now check out books for two weeks at a time.
  • List of New Titles: Are you interested in the newest titles the library has to offer? Every month, the library will update its list of New Titles on the Catalog homepage with the most recent acquisitions, keeping you up-to-date on the law.
  • Purchase Suggestions: Not finding the book that you want or need? You can now make purchase suggestions to the library, letting us know what you would like us to include in our collection. If a suggested book is popular or highly relevant to the majority of our subscribers, we will take it into consideration when completing our acquisitions process.

Are you having trouble using our new catalog? Do you have questions about the services we offer? Feel free to call and speak with a librarian: (206) 477-1305.

How Libraries Became Public

Written by Barbara Fister. You can read the original version of this article here.

Of all of our cultural institutions, the public library is remarkable. There are few tax-supported services that are used by people of all ages, classes, races, and religions. I can’t think of any public institutions (except perhaps parks) that are as well-loved and widely used as libraries. Nobody has suggested that tax dollars be used for vouchers to support the development of private libraries or that we shouldn’t trust those “government” libraries. Even though the recession following the 2008 crash has led to reduced staff and hours in American libraries, threats of closure are generally met with vigorous community resistance. Visits and check-outs are up significantly over the past ten years, though it has decreased a bit in recent years. Reduced funding seems to be a factor, though the high point was 2009; library use parallels unemployment figures – low unemployment often means fewer people use public libraries. A for-profit company that claims to run libraries more cheaply than local governments currently has contracts to manage only sixteen of over 9,000 public library systems in the U.S. Few public institutions have been so impervious to privatization.

I find it intriguing that the American public library grew out of an era that has many similarities to this one – the last quarter of the 19th century, when large corporations owned by the super-rich had gained the power to shape society and fundamentally change the lives of ordinary people. It was also a time of new communication technologies, novel industrial processes, and data-driven management methods that treated workers as interchangeable cogs in a Tayloristic, efficient machine. Stuff got cheaper and more abundant, but wages fell and employment was precarious, with mass layoffs common. The financial sector was behaving badly, too, leading to cyclical panics and depressions. The gap between rich and poor grew, with unprecedented levels of wealth concentrated among a tiny percentage of the population. It all sounds strangely familiar.

The changes weren’t all economic. A wave of immigration, largely from southern and eastern Europe and from the Far East before the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, changed national demographics. Teddy Roosevelt warned of “race suicide,” urging white protestant women to reproduce at the same rate as other groups to make America Anglo-Saxon again. The hard-won rights of emancipated African Americans were systematically rolled back through voter suppression, widespread acts of terror, and the enactment of Jim Crow laws. Indigenous people faced broken treaties, seized land, military suppression, and forced assimilation.

How interesting that it was during this turbulent time of change when the grand idea of the American public library – a publicly-supported cultural institution that would be open to all members of the community for their enjoyment and education – emerged.

Like so many grand social projects dreamed up by our current tech billionaires, the first great public libraries were started by the Bill Gates and Koch brothers of their day. The architecture of these libraries emphasized that culture was the province of the elite, palaces guarded by lions and approached up flights of stairs. These impressive institutions were supposed to provide immigrants with a carefully curated introduction to the treasures of Western civilization, but the masses had their own ideas; they filled newspaper reading rooms and skirmished with librarians over adding popular literature to the canonical collection of uplifting literature. (Long story short: they won).

NYPL

But even these early palaces of culture had one distinguishing feature: they were designed to be free and public (though in the Jim Crow south, “the public” didn’t include African Americans, who were excluded from the libraries their taxes helped pay for until the civil rights era). Joshua Bates, a financier whose funds kick-started the Boston Public library, had three conditions for his gift: the library building should be an ornament to the city; it should include a large reading room with tables that could seat up to 150 people; and “it shall be perfectly free to all, with no other restrictions than may be necessary for the preservation of the books.”

These palatial libraries were ambiguously democratic. Though “free to all” might be inscribed over the doorway, their policies were often conservative, with ungenerous opening hours that discouraged workers with limited free time, closed stacks to prevent unsupervised browsing, and architectural hints that culture was a purifying pursuit, consistent with the City Beautiful movement which proposed serene and classical beauty as the cure for urban problems. Yet they were popular, and they laid the groundwork for a durable expectation that communities would have free public libraries. Toward the end of the 19th century, another vision for public libraries emerged, championed by women in towns across the country and boosted by another industrialist with a philanthropic bent. But that’s another story for another blog post.

This response to turbulent social stress would be unimaginable today. President Trump’s proposed budget completely defunds the Institute of Museum and Library Services and cuts LSTA grants to local libraries. Our new FCC commissioner has cut out a program that made internet access affordable for resource-poor schools and libraries, rolled back privacy protections so ISPs can get into the targeted advertising game, and now is attacking net neutrality rules so that our telecoms will be able to favor their content and limit access to competitors’ – or to sites that aren’t run by deep-pocket corporations.

County law libraries in Washington State, like the King County Law Library, are open to the public but in fact receive no public tax dollars.  Unlike general public libraries, we lack the ability to levy taxes and instead rely almost entirely on fees assessed on paid civil filings in Superior and District court.   If you file a civil case in one of these courts and pay the filing fee, the law library in your county receives a very small portion of that fee.  If you use your county law library for some reason but don’t need to file a case, or do file a case but ask the court to waive your filing fee, you don’t pay anything for the law library’s services.

What made the vision of “free to all” so attractive in the late 19th century? Why now do we have to pay for “free” information services with our privacy and, ultimately, our freedom? And, given this dismal state of affairs, why do free public libraries persist?

(CC-licensed image of New York Public Library courtesy of ktbuffy.)