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Legal Information Innovation in Saskatchewan

By Alan Kilpatrick

The Law Society of Saskatchewan Library’s ground-breaking efforts to improve access to legal information and justice were recently featured in Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research. This peer-reviewed journal is the official publication of the Partnership, a national network of Canada’s provincial library associations.

The article, “Legal Information Innovation in Saskatchewan”, explores the work libraries are doing to innovative access to justice.  We encourage you to read the article and share it widely among your colleagues.

Access to legal information enables people to identify the full range of legal options available to them. In some cases, access to legal information allows people to resolve legal problems outside the court system altogether. Unfortunately, access to legal information in Canada has been described as poor. At the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library, we have been exploring the role libraries can play in improving access to legal information. Over the past three years, we have participated in a multitude of legal information initiatives with justice, community, and library stakeholders. I am here to tell you about these initiatives and what we have learned about promoting access to legal information in a library setting. This article is adapted from presentations given at the 2017 Canadian Association of Law Libraries Conference and the 2017 Saskatchewan Library Association Conference.

Suggested Citation

Kilpatrick, A. (2017). “Legal Information Innovation in Saskatchewan”. Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 12(1).



Ordinances of the Northwest Territories

By Alan Kilpatrick

Saskatchewan, or the area that now makes up Saskatchewan, was part of the Northwest Territories before it became a province.  The Ordinances of the Northwest Territories helped form Saskatchewan’s laws when the province was created in 1905.  Where can you locate these Ordinances?

The Law Society of Saskatchewan Library carries a complete print set of the Ordinances of the Northwest Territories.  Additionally, the Alberta Heritage Digitization Project has scanned and digitized all of the Ordinances from 1877 to 1905 and made them freely available on their website.  They can be found online at:

It can be difficult to trace particular sections of the Ordinances.  If you require any assistance researching the Ordinances, please contact a Law Society Librarian.


Alberta Heritage Digitization Project. (2010). About the Alberta Law Collection. Retrieved from


Subscribe to HeinOnline’s Blog!

By Alan Kilpatrick

HeinOnline is a popular full-text journal database available in the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library’s Members’ Section.

Did you know that HeinOnline has an excellent blog?  Here are some recent research tips from their blog:

• Five Things You Can Do in Less Than 15 Seconds in HeinOnline
• Primary Sources, Secondary Sources and Beyond
• Comprehensive Search Results in HeinOnline Just Got Better
• Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals: Did You Know…?
• HeinOnline: Where Books Rule

We encourage you to consider subscribing to HeinOnline’s blog!

(Reposted from Legal Sourcery)

Free Legal Resource Fair During Saskatchewan’s Second Annual Access to Justice Week

By Alan Kilpatrick

On October 19th, the Saskatoon Public Library’s Francis Morrison Central Library Branch hosted a Free Legal Resource Fair in recognition of Saskatchewan’s Second Annual Access to Justice Week.

During the busy come-and-go tradeshow, members of the public had the opportunity to learn about their legal rights and connect with a variety of non-profit, government, and community legal service providers in Saskatoon.  The fair’s participants included the Saskatoon Open Door Society, Saskatoon Polices Services, Community Legal Assistance Services for Saskatoon Inner City, Public Legal Education Association of Saskatchewan, Law Society of Saskatchewan Library, Government of Saskatchewan’s Family Law Information Centre, Saskatchewan Office of Workers’ Advocates, and the Pro Bono Student University of Saskatchewan Chapters.

Volunteer lawyers from the Family Law Information Centre and Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan offered free legal information drop-in sessions for members of the public requiring family law assistance.  Members of the public were entitled to up to 30 minutes to ask questions about family law relevant to their situation

The Free Legal Resource Fair coincided with an enlightening lecture sponsored by McKercher LLP in the Francis Morrison Branch’s Film Theatre: How can your library help you access legal information?  Janet Freeman, a law librarian from the British Columbia LawMatters program, spoke about how public libraries can connect the public with legal information and can fill gap in access to legal information, education, and referrals.

Thank you to the organizations and partners who helped make the fair a real success!

(Reposted from Legal Sourcery)

CBA Toolkits and Practice Tools

By Alan Kilpatrick

Did you know that the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) website provides a wealth of free practice resources?  We encourage you to check it out!

Here is a break down of the amazing resources provided by the CBA:

• Practice Tools: CBA’s Practice Tools feature a broad selection of online guides covering child rights, tax law, and legal ethics.  For example, check out the Child Rights Toolkit.

• Practice Link: CBA’s Practice Links focus on work/life balance, mental health, and networking skills for legal professionals.  For example, check out Got Stress? What to Do Before the Burnout Hits.

• Sections and Forums:CBA features over thirty sections that explore and develop resources for specific areas of the law.  For example, check out the Aboriginal Law Section.

(Reposted from Legal Sourcery)

SlawTips – Advice about Technology, Research, and Legal Practice

By Alan Kilpatrick

Are you familiar with SlawTips?  It is a blog that provides lawyers and legal professionals with helpful advice about technology, research, and legal practice.  SlawTips explains that it offers:

“…brief, clear, useful nuggets of advice at the easy-going rate of one a day. In fact, it’s even simpler than that. You’ll get a tip about technology every Tuesday, a tip about research or writing each Wednesday, and a tip about practice on Thursdays.”

Consider checking out SlawTips if you would like to learn more about time saving technology, research databases, or practice tools.  The blog is researched and written by Susannah Tredwell, Neil Guthrie, Andrea Cannavina, Ian Hu, Sandra Bekhor, Michael McCubbin, and the Law Society of Saskatchewan Library.

Some recent posts on SlawTips include:

• Just How Frequently is that?
• Searching Google Efficiently and Effectively
• New Lawyers and Articling Students: Support Staff is a Great Resource
• What are Marginal Notes?

Access SlawTips online at

(Reposted from Legal Sourcery)

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…