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Dispelling the Myth of Spinsters and Shushers: Women and the Law Society Library

By Alan Kilpatrick

This article originally appeared in the Law Society of Saskatchewan Benchers’ Digest, , Volume 30 (2017) Issue 3, Page 15.

The Law Society of Saskatchewan Library has been an innovator and a leader among Canadian law libraries since the 1970s. No history of our library is complete without acknowledging the vital role women played in leading the library and pioneering the state-of-the-art information services that have made the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library a model to be emulated.

 Prior to the mid-1970s, the Law Society Library had never employed a professional librarian or library staff. In the early 1970s, the Freeman Report recognized that members desperately needed modern legal information services and urged investment and professional staff for the library. In 1975, the library’s first ever professional librarian, Judy Brennan, MLS, was hired in Regina. This was followed a few years later in 1978 when Sheila Ann Lidster, MLS, was hired to run the Saskatoon Law Society Library.

 Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the library assertively tackled the challenge of developing and providing modern information services to a disparate and rural province with limited funding and support. Thinking outside of the box, the library staff extended information services to rural areas by telephone and a fax machine network. Notably, the Regina Law Society Library became the first computerized courthouse library in North America. Peta Bates, MLS, a professional legal librarian from Toronto, took over the Saskatoon Branch in 1979, staying for more than thirty years. Pat Kelly, a trained library technician, soon joined her in 1982. Pat remains with the library to this day.

In the 1990s, online library databases were provided to members for a subscription fee through a toll-free dial-up line, a technological feat described by Iain Mentiplay in A Century of Integrity: The Law Society of Saskatchewan 1907 to 2007 as state of the art and a first among law society libraries in Canada.

 Susan Baer, BPHE, MLS, took on the directorship of the Law Society Library in 1998 and desktop access to online legal resources became a major focus. In 2004, Saskatchewan because the first jurisdiction in Canada to provide members with desktop access to Westlaw. The library was one of the first proponents of open access to the law, access to justice, and CanLII, and decided to give free and open access to its in-house databases on the Internet for members of the public and lawyers alike in 1999.

Melanie Hodges Neufeld, BA, LLB, LLM, refocused the direction of the Law Society Library when she became the first Director of Legal Resources in 2012. Under Melanie’s management, the number of online resources available to members on their desktops through the Members’ Section has skyrocketed. CanLII’s free coverage of Saskatchewan case law nearly doubled as a result of a library-led digitization project in 2014. The library’s long-standing publishing program has expanded its scope beyond the Queen’s Bench Rules of Saskatchewan: Annotated to include more titles and formats, now including electronic formats. To provide meaningful information services, law libraries must continually evolve to reflect the needs of their members, and the Law Society Library remains committed to offering high-quality services that meet those needs.

Librarianship, largely a female dominated profession, has been and continues to be undervalued. Librarians and library staff continue to be associated with inaccurate and sexist stereotypes disconnected from the bustling reality of librarianship. It’s time to recognize the innovative and revolutionary services forged by the staff of the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library over the last four decades, and its time to acknowledge the important leadership that talented, forward-thinking women have contributed to make the Library the success that it continues to be.

Read more…

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A Primer to Legislative Research Across the Provinces and Territories

By Alan Kilpatrick

In Spring 2017, the Vancouver Association of Law Libraries (VALL) published a Canada wide legislative research primer in their association’s quarterly publication, the VALL Review (Spring 2017, Volume 29, No. 2).

Legislative research is a major component of law librarian’s labour.  Publication of the primer is timely and apt.  It will be well used by legal information professionals.  I would like to commend VALL for its leadership in developing this excellent resource.

 A Primer to Legislative Research Across the Provinces and Territories was collaboratively developed by some amazing law librarians from Canada’s provinces and territories:

British Columbia
Emily Nickerson, Research Librarian
Norton Rose Fullbright Canada LLP

Alberta
Megan Siu, Community Development & Education Specialist
Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta

Saskatchewan
Alan Kilpatrick, Librarian
Law Society of Saskatchewan Library

Manitoba
Karen Sawatzky, Director of Legal Resources
Law Society of Manitoba

Ontario
Brenda Lauritzen, Reference Librarian
County of Carleton Law Association

Prince Edward Island
Pam Borden, Library Manager
Law Society of PEI Library

Newfoundland and Labrador
Brenda Blundon, Law Librarian
Department of Justice and Public Safety

Jenny Thornhill, Law Librarian
Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador

Nova Scotia
Janet Arsenault, Librarian
Justice Canada

Yukon
Natalie Wing, Law Librarian
Yukon Public Law Library

Nunavut
Riel Gallant, Legislative Librarian
Nunavut Legislative Library

VALL has graciously allowed us to republish their primer on Legal Sourcery.

(Reposted from Legal Sourcery)

Six Things the Library is Doing to Improve Access to Justice

By Alan Kilpatrick

It is widely recognized that access to justice is inadequate and legal services are becoming increasingly inaccessible.  Fortunately, libraries across Canada are working together to improve access to legal information and create solutions to the barriers self-represented litigants face.

What are we doing at the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library?  In the past three years, the Law Society Library has participated in a multitude of innovative access to legal information partnerships with justice, community, and library stakeholders.  For example, we:

  1. Provide the public with legal research assistance
  2. Have nearly doubled the coverage of Saskatchewan case law on CanLII
  3. Host weekly family law clinics
  4. Teach the public about legal research at the Regina Public Library’s Legal Resource Fair
  5. Provide Pro Bono Law and CLASSIC lawyers with free legal research assistance
  6. Are a founding partner of the Saskatchewan Access to Legal Information Project

Click here to learn more about what the Law Society Library is actively doing to improve access to legal information and justice in Saskatchewan:

• Access to Legal Information Innovation in Saskatchewan
• The Saskatchewan Access to Legal Information Project (SALI)

Do you participate in access to legal information and justice initiatives?  Post a link or picture on Twitter using the hashtags #SKA2J and #justiceforall.

(Reposted from Legal Sourcery)

Searching Google Efficiently and Effectively

By Alan Kilpatrick

 The Internet is home to a growing body of high quality materials such as research guides, government reports, and legal commentary.  Accessing this material is as easy as typing keywords into Google and hitting enter, right?  Wrong!

The challenge to using Google efficiently is wading through the overwhelming volume of results retrieved.  Fortunately, there are tools to help pinpoint what you are looking for.  There is far more to searching Google than you might think.

Identify the Core Concepts

The first step to searching effectively is selecting effective search terms.  Identify the core concepts.  These will become your search terms.  Remove vague terms from the query.  They do nothing to improve the quality of the results.  Do not type a full question in the search bar.  Focus on the core concepts and eliminate everything else.

Search Operators and Filters

Operators and filters enable you to search with precision.  Advanced searches can be conducted with Google’s advanced search page or by incorporating operators and filters directly into Google’s search bar.  I recommend incorporating them into the search bar.  The real power of operators and filters comes from combining them together.  The search bar enables you to combine them with ease.  It is awkward to combine them with the advanced search page.

Here are the most useful operators and filters:

AND: AND separates terms that are distinct concepts, such as robbery AND weapon.  It narrows a search by retrieving results that contain both terms.  It is Google’s default operator.  As such, it is not necessary to type AND.  A space between terms is automatically interpreted as AND: robbery weapon.

OR: OR is used to separate terms that are synonyms of the same concept, such as (armed OR weapon OR knife).  It broadens a search by retrieving results that contain any of the search terms, but not necessarily all.  Enclose OR statements in brackets.

NOT:  NOT is represented by the minus sign.  It excludes results that contain a particular term.  For example, tort -defamation will not retrieve results that contain the term defamation.

PHRASE: To search for an exact phrase, enclose the phrase in quotes.  For example, “child of the marriage”.

SITE: Site limits the search to results from a certain website or domain.  For example, divorce site:gc.ca only retrieves results from the Government of Canada domain.  divorce site:plea.org retrieves results from plea.org.  This makes it easy to locate results from trustworthy websites.

ALLINTITLE: Title limits the search to results that contain the terms in the title.  For example, allintitle:legal regulation will retrieve results with these words in the title.  If your terms appear in the title of a document, it is likely relevant.

FILETYPE: File type limits the results to a certain file format.  For example, lsat filetype:pdf will retrieve results in PDF.  lsat filetype:ppt will retrieve results in PowerPoint.

Combining Operators and Filters

Combining operators and filters together will enable you to craft powerful queries and locate good results.  For example, (paralegal OR “legal technician”) “legal regulation” site:lawsociety.sk.ca filetype:pdf will retrieve PDF documents from the Law Society of Saskatchewan domain on paralegals and legal regulation.

Evaluating the Results

Not everything Google retrieves is credible.  It is up to you to evaluate the results.  Consider authority, objectivity, and authorship.  Recognise that the order of the search results is not based on authority.  It is based on Google’s search algorithm.  The results most relevant to you may appear much farther down the results list.  Consider searching Google Scholar if you need scholarly and academic resources.

We have only just scratched the surface of Google today. Please contact the library if you have any other questions.

(Reposted from Legal Sourcery)

One Book One Province: Saskatchewan Libraries Promoting Culture

By Alan Kilpatrick

This article originally appeared in the Law Society of Saskatchewan Benchers’ Digest, , Volume 30 (2017) Issue 2, Page 16.  

In 2017, the Saskatchewan Library Association (SLA) celebrated 75 years of steadfastly advocating for libraries, culture, and communities in Saskatchewan. To help mark the occasion, the SLA held Saskatchewan’s inaugural provide-wide literacy and reading campaign, One Book One Province (One Book) in March.

One Book encouraged Saskatchewan’s residents to read The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir by Joseph Auguste Merasty and David Carpenter throughout that month. The memoir, published by the University of Regina Press, describes Merasty’s painful experiences as a student at a residential school in Northern Saskatchewan in the mid-1930s.

Beyond simply promoting literacy in Saskatchewan, One Book’s goal was to encourage residents to learn about and discuss residential schools, Indigenous culture and reconciliation, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. SLA’s intent was to provide “opportunities for residents to become more socially engaged in their community through a shared story.” Libraries across the province were encouraged to host community events about the memoir. In addition, the co-author, David Carpenter, participated in a province-wide reading tour.

Unfortunately, Merasty passed away at the age of 87 mere days before One Book’s launch on March 1. One Book One Province was a fitting tribute to his memory and legacy.

Please note that One Book One Province was a pilot project for 2017. A report is currently being drafted measuring the success of the campaign. The SLA Board of Directors will review the report and make a decision about the future of the campaign. For more information, visit the Saskatchewan Library Association website: https://saskla.ca/program/one-book-one-province.

We’re Here to Help! Access to Justice Innovation in Saskatchewan

By Alan Kilpatrick

This talk was presented at the 2017 Canadian Association of Law Libraries Conference by Alan Kilpatrick, Reference Librarian, BA, MLIS.  Please find the transcript of the presentation and the PowerPoint slides here. 

We all know access to justice is inadequate and legal services are becoming increasingly inaccessible. The justice system, overwhelmed by the increase of self-represented litigants (SRLs), is not meeting the needs of all Canadians.

At the 2015 Canadian Association of Law Libraries conference, Melanie Hodges Neufeld and Natalie Wing presented, “Law Libraries Accept the SRL Challenge.” During that session, they considered the services that law libraries can provide to help SRLs and the role that law libraries can play in improving access to justice through collaboration.  Encouraged by feedback, we became convinced that law libraries have a role to play in promoting access to justice and increasing access to legal information.

In the two years since, the Law Society of Saskatchewan has made improving access to legal services a priority in its strategic plan and mission statement. The Law Society Library has participated in a multitude of access to justice partnerships with justice, community, and library stakeholders.  I am here to talk about these initiatives and update you on what we have learned about promoting access to justice in a law library setting.

Serving the Public

Our basis for assisting SRLs is the fact that our library is open to the public and that we encourage the public to take advantage of the library’s resources. Our staff is ready to provide basic assistance in person, over the phone, or via email.  We will teach the public about conducting legal research and, when necessary, make referrals to the appropriate organizations that provide legal advice.  However, we are always cautious of the distinction between legal advice and legal information and cognisant of the challenges inherent in serving SRLs.

CanLII

Our first access to justice initiative involved working alongside CanLII to expand online access to Saskatchewan case law. CanLII provides a tremendous benefit to the public by making the law freely accessible to Canadians.  Unfortunately, coverage of historical cases on CanLII varies by province.  We determined that coverage of historical Saskatchewan case law was lacking.  With support from the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan, an organization with a mandate to support justice initiatives we began a digitization project to increase this coverage.  In all, our staff digitized about 16000 cases.  CanLII now features a virtually complete record of Saskatchewan cases back to 1907.

Pro Bono Librarians  

One of the most interesting ideas that came from Melanie and Natalie’s session at CALL 2015 was the idea of “Pro Bono Librarians.” Law librarians who provide free research assistance.  We followed through on this idea and partnered with Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan and Community Legal Assistance Services for Saskatoon Inner City to assist with their legal research needs.  Legal research can be time consuming for the volunteer lawyers who work with these organizations.  We offer these lawyers free legal research services and training whenever they need it.

Family Law Clinics

Our most successful initiative is our family law clinic. For the past two years, we have collaborated with the Ministry of Justice, Pro Bono Law, and the Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan to host weekly family law sessions in the Regina Law Society Library.  We call these sessions, “Walk-in Wednesdays.”  We have set up an information centre, a waiting area, and offices for consultations in the basement of the library.  Walk-in Wednesdays are first come, first serve.  Individuals can meet with a lawyer individually for about twenty minutes.  The lawyer can provide information on family law, court procedures, and options for settling disputes.

As word has spread, the clinic has become increasingly popular. Typically, there are about ten people each week.  With its success, the lawyers involved have begun to replicate the Walk-in Wednesday concept in other parts of the province.

SALI

Our latest collaboration has the potential to be the most influential. We are a partner in the Saskatchewan Access to Legal Information Project (SALI).  SALI is a new partnership among libraries, justice industry stakeholders, and community organizations, working to advance access to justice for Saskatchewan’s residents.  It arose in 2016 out of the recognition that gaps exist in the public’s access to legal information.  It is generally accepted that legal information is more accessible than its ever been before.  However, many are unaware of the wealth of resources available online and are not sure how to determine if online legal information is reliable or up-to-date.

Realizing that libraries are suited to act as intermediaries to help the public identify reliable legal information, a working group was formed with representatives from the Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan, the Saskatoon Public Library, the Law Society Library, and the University of Saskatchewan College of Law.

We have held a one day meeting with representatives from every library region in the province, the Ministry of Justice, and a variety of community organizations to discuss the potential for collaboration. We have another meeting planned for the fall and are beginning a pilot project to collect statistics on public library patron’s legal questions.

Conclusion

Law libraries have a role to play in improving access to justice and increasing access to legal information. My hope is that I have encouraged you to consider adopting a similar initiative.  Obviously, challenges exist when serving SRLs.  I urge you to not let this prevent you from making access to justice a priority.  Try taking on small projects or grass roots initiatives when beginning to help SRLs.  You will be amazed at what you can achieve.

The Saskatchewan Access to Legal Information Project (SALI)

By Alan Kilpatrick

This talk was presented at the 2017 Saskatchewan Library Association Conference by Alan Kilpatrick, Reference Librarian, BA, MLIS.  Please find the transcript of the presentation here.

I am here to share a remarkable library collaboration that is going to revolutionize access to justice and legal information in this province.  The Saskatchewan Access to Legal Information Project (SALI) is a new partnership among urban, rural, and remote libraries, justice industry stakeholders, and community organizations, working to advance access to justice for Saskatchewan residents.

The project arose in 2016 out of a discussion at the Dean’s Forum on Access to Justice and Dispute Resolution.  This is an initiative from the University of Saskatchewan that brings together justice stakeholders to discuss access to justice and to find solutions to the justice system’s inaccessibility.  During this discussion, the forum realized that serious gaps exist in the public’s access to legal information.  It is generally accepted that legal information is widely accessible through the internet.  However, many people are not aware of the wealth of resources available online.  It can be difficult to determine if online legal information is credible or reliable if you do not a background in the law.

Recognising that libraries are suited to act as intermediaries to help the public locate and identify authoritative legal information, the forum made it a priority to partner with Saskatchewan’s public libraries as a way of improving access to legal information.

Under the coordination of Brea Lowenberger, Saskatchewan’s Access to Justice Coordinator, and Beth Bilson from the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Law, a working group was formed with representatives from the Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan (PLEA), the Saskatoon Public Library, the Law Society Library, and the University of Saskatchewan College of Law to investigate turning this idea into reality.  PLEA, Saskatchewan’s official public legal education provider, has developed a variety of accessible legal resources and has experience partnering with public libraries to distribute legal materials.  The Saskatoon Public Library, the Law Society Library, and the College of Law Library all possess legal collections and expertise that enhance PLEA’s materials.

This working group realized it would be valuable to bring together a broader group of library and community partners.  A one day meeting was hosted in Saskatoon last September to exchange information and to discuss the role libraries might play in improving access to legal information.  Those invited included representatives from every library region in the province, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice, Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan, Community Legal Assistance Services for Saskatoon Inner City, and Saskatchewan 211.

The morning featured discussion on the access to justice crisis and potential opportunities for libraries to help improve access to legal information.  The afternoon featured break-out sessions.  Several themes emerged during the day.  They included how to collect statistics on public library patron’s legal questions, identifying opportunities for legal reference question training for library staff, and utilizing public library space to increase access to legal information.

Based on the momentum of the meeting, the attendees formally established the SALI project and embraced several next steps.

What’s next for SALI?  Key updates include a two-day conference to be held during Saskatchewan’s second annual access to justice week in October 2017.  This will continue the discussion started at the first meeting.  SALI is also began a pilot project to collect statistics regarding public library patron’s legal questions at six public library locations in May 2017.

Do you participate in improving access to legal information initiatives?  Post a link or picture on Twitter using our hashtag #SKA2J.  Want to get involved with SALI?  Contact us at sali_project@usask.ca!  You can learn more and sign up for the SALI newsletter at law.usask.ca/createjustice.