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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 email@example.com and provide your name, position and library affiliation.
Providing Access to Justice for Public Library Patrons : Navigating the statewide Trial Court Law Libraries & Court Service Centers, With specific illustrations addressing family and housing proceedings—including evictions is scheduled for Wednesday, February 10, from 3-4pm EST. Registration instructions will appear here shortly (01.08.21)
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.
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.