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Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners Resource Guide Collection

Legal Reference: Past Webinars

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

The U.S. Immigration System (04.27.23)

What Public Librarians Should Know about the U.S. Immigration System

Presented by the partners of the Cameron-Micheroni-Silvia Law Offices
Matt Cameron, Esq. and Nicole Micheroni, Esq.

At least 1.2 million Massachusetts residents were not born in the United States, and approximately half of that number have not naturalized to U.S. citizenship. This program will present everything a librarian should know about their non-citizen patrons, from the basics of how the immigration system works to the best resources for anyone looking to know more about their own case or the system generally.

What are the most common forms of immigration status? Is there a way to help to confirm a non-citizen’s status if they aren’t totally sure? Why don’t they just get in line and do it the way that my family did? Should we ever see major immigration reform in the U.S. again, and what might that look like?

How can non-citizens find out the current status of a pending immigration case? Is there a way to find out current processing times for applications filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services? What are the best places to begin looking for reliable information about the immigration system? How can I help someone find a good immigration attorney? What should I do if I suspect that someone who is not an attorney is defrauding non-citizens?

Who is eligible for employment authorization? How can someone receive it? What about international students? What kinds of employment visas might be realistically available to non-citizens? What documents does a non-citizen need to work legally? To drive? To obtain health insurance and other benefits?

When should a non-citizen criminal defendant consult with an immigration attorney? What are the potential immigration consequences of different types of convictions?

Can ICE make arrests inside a library? How does ICE enforcement and detention actually work? Is there any way to know if a non-citizen is at risk of enforcement?

What is the difference between refugee and asylee status, and how are they achieved?  How does refugee resettlement work? What rights and benefits come with refugee status?

What is the role of our family courts in the Special Immigrant Juvenile process? What kinds of custody orders qualify? How else might immigration status come up in divorce and custody proceedings?

Access to Justice Library Initiative (3.30.23)

In 2022, the Massachusetts Trial Court piloted the Access to Justice (A2J) Library Initiative at Norwood’s Morrill Memorial Library as a partnership between the Trial Court and local libraries to offer library patrons access to virtual court resources from the comfort and convenience of their local library. The A2J Library Initiative is now live in other library locations, including Chelsea Public Library and Thomas Crane Library in Quincy, and we are looking to expand throughout the state. The Library Initiative makes Trial Court virtual services, such as the Court Service Centers, Law Libraries, and Virtual Front Desks, more easily found by self-represented litigants who may struggle navigating the voluminous website. For court users that are unable to access virtual court services at home for any reason, or who face challenges getting to the court in-person, it is our hope that their local library can be the bridge that allows them to access justice through the courts.
Join us to learn more about the A2J Library Initiative from panelists within the MA Trial Court and our partner librarians at Morrill and Chelsea Libraries.


(Updated 3/6/23)


Erin Harris, Access to Justice Coordinator
Executive Office of Trial Court

Susan K. Schwartz, VCSC Staff Attorney (Video)
Trial Court Virtual Court Service Center

Lisa Perfetuo Miller, CSE Business Strategy Manager
MA Department of Revenue

Clayton Cheever, Library Director
Morrill Memorial Library

Keith Nalbandian, Case Manager
Probate and Family Court Admin. Office

Liz Reed, Adult Services Dept. Head
Morrill Memorial Library

Keith Tan, Case Manager
Housing Court Department Admin. Office

Sarah Jackson, Director
Chelsea Public Library

Alexandra Bernson, Head Law Librarian
Trial Court Law Libraries

Meg DeMarco, Senior Systems Analyst
JISD - Executive Office of Trial Court

Kristen Wigandt, VCSC Manager (Video)
Trial Court Virtual Court Service Center


What Public Librarians Should Know About Consumer Debt Collection (03.09.23)


  • Nadine Cohen, Managing Attorney, Consumer Rights Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services
  • Joy Sun, Attorney, Consumer Rights Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services
  • Sarah Perlman, Attorney, Consumer Rights Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services

This webinar covers the basics of consumer debt collection and provide guidance for public librarians regarding the services and supports available to consumers in the Commonwealth.

Public librarians can help level the playing field by serving as a resource for patrons who are facing a debt collection lawsuit without legal representation. Topics covered include:

  • An overview of consumer debt collection
  • How to validate & dispute debt
  • Stopping harassment by debt collectors
  • What income is exempt from collection
  • Advice & services for small claims court
  • Relevant resources in Massachusetts
  • Answering your consumer debt questions


Introduction to the Social Law Library Suite of Legal Reference Databases (02.01.23)

Through a partnership with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, the Social Law Library is making available to the Commonwealth’s public libraries access to its self-published, proprietary legal-research databases of Massachusetts court and state agency decisions, listed below, many of which are not publicly available in keyword-searchable format anywhere else.

Social Law Library Reference Attorney Jessica Pisano Jones describes the types of decisions that can be found across the collection and when it is best to use a particular database for a specific type of question. She also demonstrates how to use Social Law’s Boolean search platform, with special reference to the search syntax and fields applicable to particular databases.  She provides context to help librarians know when these databases are most useful, and when to refer users to the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries and other resources.

An Overview of Identity Theft and Fraud Prevention and Learn how to Schedule Local Presentations for your patrons (03.10.22)

This webinar focuses on identity theft and fraud prevention resources across the state. The presentation not only includes an overview of some of the most pervasive scams that are trending in this pandemic, but also offers helpful responses from the state, municipal and Legal Services organizations represented on the panel. In addition, the panel describes how municipal libraries across the state can schedule local presentations to help their patrons deal with identity theft and fraud prevention.


  • Joseph Horan, RSVP Volunteers of Central MA
  • Lisabeth Jorgensen, MetroWest Legal Services
  • Robin Putnam, Mass. Office of Consumer Affairs & Business Regulation
  • Anita Wilson, Consumer Protection Unit - Northwestern District Attorney's Office

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.

Learn the Ins and Outs of CELHP (03.30.21)

This webinar trains public librarians how to access the wide variety of resources and services of the new COVID Eviction Legal Help Project (CELHP). CELHP is a major statewide initiative to help keep low income tenants safely in their homes and to support low income landlords at risk of foreclosure, bankruptcy, or having to evict their tenants after the Commonwealth’s pause of evictions and foreclosures last October. The program is part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s statewide Eviction Diversion Initiative to support tenants and landlords facing financial challenges caused by the pandemic. Delivery of CELHP services throughout the Commonwealth is a collaborative effort of Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, the Volunteer Lawyers Project and six regional legal aid organizations.

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

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