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Legal Reference: Overview
Record training webinars, information on the Social Law Library proprietary databases for use by Massachusetts Public Libraries, and related materials.
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..
Over 30 proprietary, Massachusetts-centric, databases provided to public libraries from the Social Law Library.
"Substantive" databases Include:
the Massachusetts General Laws
the Code of Massachusetts Regulations
Building codes Appelate and Superior Court Decisions
US District Court and US Court of Appeals Decisions for Massachusetts
The collection also includes "administrative" databases of decisions from numerous state agencies and boards.
Conditions of Use—
Participating libraries must abide by the following conditions:
1) The Library Credential [barcode] for access to the Databases is confidential for library staff use only and shall not be disclosed to patrons. Patrons wishing to access the Databases shall be logged in by a library staff member.
2) Access to the Databases shall be limited to in-library use by staff and patrons and no content shall be used by library staff to fulfill document delivery requests.
3) Patrons desiring additional assistance with their legal issues will be referred to branches of the Trial Court Law Library system and in no event shall they be referred to Social Law.
If you need to find out your password, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and provide your name, position and library affiliation.
IMPORTANT: The Handling Patron's Domestic Violence Related Legal Questions webinar, originally scheduled for May 13, has been postponed for a few weeks. We will post a new date and time as soon as it becomes available.
How to get a 209A Domestic Violence Restraining Order
How to get a 258E Harassment Prevention Order
What if you need to end a lease early because of domestic violence
Do you have questions you’d like the presenters address? Please submit them here: email@example.com. They will also respond to live questions at the webinar.
Topics of Interest: Results of Spring 2020 Survey
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.
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.
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.
Handling Patrons' Legal Questions During the Pandemic (07.07.20)
Massachusetts Trial Courts PowerPoint Presentation, including both the Trial Court Law Libraries slides presented by Genesis Vanderhorst Batista, Law Library Assistant, Middlesex Law Library and Court Service Centers slides presented by Karen Duffy, Manager, Springfield Court Service Center.
Rochelle Hahn, attorney at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, presents a wide variety of legal help websites. Rochelle co-manages the Civil Legal Aid for Victims of Crime Initiative (CLAVC) and is the Co-Director of the Massachusetts Legal Aid Websites project.
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.