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Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Resource Guide Collection

Legal Reference: Overview

Record training webinars, information on the Social Law Library proprietary databases for use by Massachusetts Public Libraries, and related materials.


A Legal Reference and Referral Partnership

Massachusetts Courthouse, including Trial Court Law Libraries and Court Service Centers, as well as the Social Law Library, are closed to the public due to COVID-19.

MBLC has partnered with the Social Law Library, the Massachusetts Trial Courts, including the Trial Court Law Libraries and Court Service Centers, to provide legal reference continuing education to librarians. This partnership has also drawn on help from the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute.

Our goal is to provide public librarians with the tools they need to help patrons find legal assistance, prepare themselves for court appearances, including completing court forms, locate legal reference materials in print and online, and understand the availability of lawyer referral services..

Social Law Library Logo  Massachusetts State Seal  Massachusetts Access to Justice (A2J) Logo

Social Law Library Databases

If you need to find out your password, please contact and provide your name, position and library affiliation.

Upcoming Webinars

There are currently no webinars scheduled.  Please check back later in the summer. Webinars are also advertised on the and (public library directors) mailing lists.

(Updated 6/15/21)

Webjunction's "Improving Access to Civil Legal Justice through Public Libraries"

In addition to the Massachusetts webinars, you also have access to a parallel set of trainings through WebJunction.   WebJunction has partnered with the nonprofit  Legal Services Corporation with a series of trainings and webinars.  A May 27 post in OCLC's research blog Hanging Together extensively documents some of the lessons learned to date.




Past Webinars

Handling Patrons' Domestic Violence Related Legal Questions (06.15.21)

Domestic violence remains a major area of concern in Massachusetts. This program begins with an overview by Jamie Subino of two of the primary tools available: the Domestic Violence Restraining Order (209A) and the Harassment Prevention Order (258E). She then discusses options for ending a lease early or holding onto public housing when experience a domestic violence situation. Jamie is the Lead Advocate, Domestic Violence Legal Assistance Project and the Co-manager, Civil Legal Aid for Victims of Crime Initiative (CLAVC), Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI).

Rochelle Hahn, Co-Director, Massachusetts Legal Aid Websites Project, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, follows with a demonstration of several critical websites to help users find local advocates, help with legal forms and legal aid related to domestic violence issues. These include Mass Legal Help, the Massachusetts Legal Resource Finder, CLAVC (Civil Legal Aid for Victims of Crime), MassAccess (a guided interview that helps survivors prepare paperwork for a 209A restraining order) and Mass Legal Answers Online.

Providing Access to Justice for Public Library Patrons (02.10.21)

Presenters: Executive Office of the Massachusetts Trial Court

  • Kathleen Ludwig, Head Law Librarian, Franklin Law Library
  • Mary G. Klaes, Esq., Manager, Greenfield Court Service Center

Even with the myriad challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis, both the statewide Law Libraries and the Court Service Centers of the Massachusetts Trial Courts are busy providing assistance to local attorneys, self-represented litigants and the courts serving your community. The same services are also available to both public librarians and members of the public throughout the Commonwealth—even in the midst of the pandemic.

Do these patron questions and comments sound familiar?

  • "My landlord told me I have to leave. I have no place to go. What are my rights?"
  • "My landlord shut off my heat and hot water and told me to get out."
  • “My tenants have not paid rent in two months. How do I evict them?”
  • “I want to get custody of my children.”
  • “I need child support.”
  • “How do I get divorced?”

Kathy Ludwig and Mary Klaes and their colleagues throughout the state provide help and assistance with these types of legal issues every day.

Recorded 02.10.21

Handling Patrons’ Landlord Tenant Questions (12.02.20)

Attorneys Rochelle Hahn, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, provides an overview of key legal-help websites when assisting patrons presenting landlord-tenant problems. Attorney Gordon Shaw, Community Legal Aid, then walks through specific scenarios, such as eviction notices, bad housing conditions, and rent increases, showing how these web resource can guide patrons to the specific information and legal help resources based on geography, income levels and other factors.

Recorded 12.02.20

Handling Patrons' Legal Questions During the Pandemic (07.07.20)

Court Service Centers (06.19.19)

Court Service Centers

Services provided by new walk-in centers to help the public navigate the court system.

Presenters: Executive Office of the Massachusetts Trial Court

  • Sheriece M. Perry, Esq. - Acting Co-Director of Support Services
  • Jorge A. Colón, Esq. - Court Service Center Circuit Manager
  • Constance "Connie" Mortara, Esq. - Worcester Court Service Center Manager
  • Carolin P. Hetzner, Esq. - Boston Court Service Center Manager


  • locations, hours, in-take procedures, and items to have in-hand before arriving
  • types of hands-on assistance provided
  • practical guidance to court proceedings, rules, procedures, and practices
  • access to information and assistance in other languages
  • referral services to other court services, Trial Court Law Libraries, community services, legal assistance programs and social-service agencies

Recorded 06.19.19

Legal Reference and Beyond (11.08.18)

Legal Reference and Beyond for Public Librarians.

Hosted by Robin Bates, Kathy Ludwig, and Barbara Schneider of the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries.


  1. “Who We Are” (Starts at 2:15)
  2. “Where the Law Comes From” (5:55)
    • Overview of the Court System (10:45)
  3. “How Each of the 7 Trial Court Departments Processes Cases”
    • Probate and Family Court (13:45)
    • Juvenile Court (19:33)
    • Housing Court (20:11)
    • Land Court (22:32)
    • District Court and Boston Municipal Court including Small Claims Court and District Court Appellate Division (24:05)
  4. “How the System Works” - A Traffic Ticket Example (33:57)
    • Superior Court (37:40)
    • Appeals Court (39:42)
    • Supreme Judicial Court (41:40)

Recorded Fall of 2018

Database Training (12.05.17)

Database Training.

Reference Attorney, Jessica Jones walks through the use of the Social Law Library's 30+ legal research databases.
Recorded 12.05.17

This website, and other programs of the MBLC, is funded in part with funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency that fosters innovation, leadership, and a lifetime of learning.