Skip to content

Embedded Law Librarians in the Public Library: Saskatchewan’s Law Librarian On-site Initiative

By Alan Kilpatrick

 This talk was recently presented at the 2020 Canadian Association of Law Libraries Virtual Conference.  You can watch the recording here

Legal information professionals can play a crucial role in helping the public locate, access, and connect with reliable sources of legal information.  Our competitive set of skills, our intimate knowledge of the creation, curation, and use of legal information, and our relationships and networks place us in a great position to facilitate public access to legal information.

Since January 2019, Ken Fox and I, Reference Librarians with the Law Society of Saskatchewan, have attended the main branches of the Saskatoon Public Library (SPL) and the Regina Public Library (RPL), respectively, as embedded Law Librarians, one afternoon and evening a month.  We provide on-site legal information assistance: guiding patrons towards online and print sources, highlighting resources for further learning, teaching basic research skills, and, when necessary, suggesting referrals to organizations that provide legal advice.  I am here to talk about our experiences and to update you on what we have learned.

Over the past five years, the Law Society of Saskatchewan has explored the role libraries and information professionals can play in improving legal information access through a variety of initiatives, such as Saskatchewan’s Access to Legal Information project.  Like many courthouse libraries, we are open to the public, encourage the public to visit or contact us, and provide public visitors with information assistance.  However, we have long strived to establish a more direct connection with members of the public searching for legal information.  While brainstorming among our team, we realized that the public library could be an ideal place to better connect with the public.  The public library, after all, is a place those with information needs visit seeking information and resources.

We already had robust relationships with RPL and SPL through Saskatchewan’s Access to Legal Information project.  We approached the heads of programming at both library systems to pitch our On-site Law Librarian idea.  We found them eagerly receptive, open to the suggestion, and actively searching for new program ideas.  The Law Librarian On-site initiative was born!

Arriving for a session, a member of the front desk staff assists us in setting up a table and signage near the library entrance, visible to patrons entering and exiting.  We bring a laptop as well as public legal information pamphlets along with us.  We work with marketing staff at each library system to advertise upcoming sessions in the library program guide, social media, and website.

While facilitating public access to legal information, I see myself as a guide who can help provide those seeking information about the law with a good starting point that supports their burgeoning legal journey.  Legal information access is a building block of access to justice.  It enables people to learn about the law, identify legal options, and may prompt them to seek further legal assistance.

Many do ask us for legal advice, if we are lawyers, and for lawyer referrals.  Here are the guidelines we have developed for our public legal information services.  We are careful to indicate we are not lawyers and cannot provide legal advice.  This does not diminish the value of what we do.  Non-lawyers and legal librarians alike have a powerful role to play in the legal ecosystem.  

Each session is four hours.  On average, we assist six people per session.  Some members of the public visit the library specifically to speak to us.  Most seem to stumble upon us, then sit down to ask a question.  Scheduling one session in the afternoon and another in the evening every month allows us to connect with different segments of public library patrons.  Our evening sessions commonly coincide with a legal advice clinic held by Pro Bono Law Saskatchewan at the public library, leading to a higher number of Law Librarian on Site enquiries.

A typical interaction can take any where from five minutes to two hours.  It is not uncommon to spend an hour or two demonstrating legislative and case law searching.  For longer enquiries, we encourage the public to follow up with us and to come and visit us in the courthouse.

The most common areas of law asked about are criminal, family, residential/tenancy, small claims, and wills/estates law.  Frequently, we are approached by those curious about what we offer, patrons who mistake us for public library staff, and by those who just want someone to chat with.  Most often, we refer the public to Saskatchewan’s public legal information site, the Saskatchewan Court’s site, the Law Society’s site, and CanLII.

How successful is the program?  We are still evaluating its success, though the service appears reasonably popular with a good stream of enquiries.  Since mid-March, the initiative has been on hold due to Covid-19.  We are currently working with RPL and SPL to resume the program virtually.  We are looking forward to eventually resuming Law Librarian On-site as an in-person program in the future.

I encourage you to explore the potential of offering a similar service in your own communities’ public library.  Please reach out to me if you have any questions.  I am happy to help you set up your own Law Librarian On-site initiative.  Let us be bold and actively reimagine what legal information professionals can do.  We have the skills and knowledge to make a difference.

Thank you.

Register For Your Free CPD Hour! Watch CPD 282: Online Legal Resources in the Age of COVID-19 Now!

By Alan Kilpatrick

Last month, Ken Fox and I presented CPD 282: Online Legal Resources in the Age of Covid-19, a free member webinar eligible for one CPD hour.  Fortunately, you can still watch the webinar and register for your free CPD hour!

As you know, your physical library locations are closed until to further notice due to coronavirus. In the webinar, we demonstrate the amazing eBook resources you have access to that compensate for your temporary loss of access to our print resources. The almost 250 members who registered were surprised to learn just how many eBooks they have access to online through the Members’ Resource Section.

Our webinar will ensure you get the most out of our online resources. We’re all dealing with the challenges of working and practicing law remotely during this unusual time. Don’t let legal resources add to that challenge!

Watch here on Vimeo (1:00:33):

 

Five Questions with Alan Kilpatrick

By Alan Kilpatrick (Reposted from the CALL/ACBD Blog.) 

Alan Kilpatrick (@Alan_KilpatLibrarycanuck.com)| Reference Librarian, Law Society of Saskatchewan

1. Tell us a little about your educational background and how you entered the legal information industry.

My journey to legal librarianship was fortuitous.  After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from Vancouver Island University (VIU), I took some time to reflect on what I wanted to do with my life.  Throughout my undergraduate degree, I worked weekends and summers as an Army Reservist and part time as a library page at VIU’s library and the Vancouver Island Regional Library.  Shortly after graduating from VIU, I spent a year working with the Canadian Forces security effort at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. While this was an amazing experience, I realized it wasn’t the correct career path for me.

Here, the connections I had made with the library world as a page paid off.  After speaking with several librarians, I decided that attending Western University’s Master of Library & Information Science program was the right professional move.

At Western, I developed my career goals and identified my professional interests.  I gained an interest in reference service, legal research, and government information after a co-op with Transport Canada’s Ottawa Library as a reference librarian.  I discovered an interest in copyright law and instruction after an exciting opportunity to research and present on Western Library’s Access Copyright agreement.

Following graduation, I received a summer internship with Saskatchewan’s Legislative Library.  During this time, I learned about the Law Society Library.  After handing in a resume in 2013, an opportunity presented itself and I haven’t looked back since. 

2. How has being involved in CALL helped you professionally (e.g. scholarships & grants, continuing education, networking)?

CALL membership has been extremely beneficial professionally.  When I became a law librarian, CALL connected me to a large professional network and with mentors who helped me develop the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in this industry.  Attendance at CALL’s New Law Librarian Institute helped me further develop my knowledge and create a competitive legal information skill set.  I frequently contact the colleagues I’ve met through CALL for advice, assistance, and encouragement.

Our association’s annual conference has been a source of wonderful networking opportunities and topnotch professional development.  As legal innovation accelerates and legal information resources evolve, our skill set must keep pace.  I’m confident CALL will help me do this.

As my career grows, I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve the association through various committees, including being on the Board of Directors for the 2019-2021 term.

3. What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone looking to break into the legal information industry?

Network!  During CALL’s 2018 conference in Halifax, I was privileged to co-present Taking the ‘Work’ Out of Networking: Build Relationships, Not a Stack of Business Cards with Bronwyn Guiton, Veronica Kollbrand, and Megan Siu.  During the presentation, I made five networking suggestions for new and prospective legal information professionals:

• It’s never too early to start networking: It’s been valuable at every stage of my career.
• Get Active: Joining a professional association is a great way to network.
• Network widely and wisely: Don’t limit your networking horizons.
• Share your story: We’re all doing interesting things as information professionals.  Tell people about it!
• Embrace new situations: Networking can be intimidating.  Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone.

4. What are three skills/attributes you think legal information professionals need to have?

• Act Boldly: Boldly market yourself and boldly reimagine what a library can be. 
• Embrace Change: Embrace change in the legal information field.    
• Learn Continuously:  Commit yourself to lifelong learning.  Integrate what you learn into your professional practice.    

5. What are three things on your bucket list?

• Explore Cold War history by doing a road trip through Eastern Europe
• Restore a 1970s American Motors Corporation (AMC) Gremlin
• Travel to India again (I spent the final semester of my Library Science degree on an amazing internship with a literacy organization in Bangalore)

Can Covid-19 Help Us Build a Better Law Library?

By Alan Kilpatrick

You may have heard that the Law Society’s office and library locations are closed until further notice due to Covid-19.  Despite the closure, your top-notch law librarians and information professionals continue to operate at full capacity on a remote basis.  We’re actively exploring how we can maximize your access to resources and best serve you remotely.  In short, we’re innovating remote legal information & law library services.

Here’s what we’re doing to support you right now:

Information & Research Assistance
Contact us by email or phone with your legal information questions. As your legal information navigators, we can find whatever you are looking for. If it takes longer than five minutes to find, ask us! 

reference@lawsociety.sk.ca
1-877-989-4999 or 306-569-8020
9:00am – 4:30pm

Online Resources
You have access to one of Canada’s leading online legal resource collections.  Simply log into the Members’ Resource Section to access an outstanding online law library right on your desktop.  Technology enables us to push the limits of how we support your information needs.

Remote Resources Video Tutorials
Last month, we launched a video series, Remote Resources for Law Society Members, to highlight the online resources you can access remotely!  SlawTips described the series as “perfect for a time when more people than ever are working away from their office or usual workspace.” Watch it here.

Online Legal Resources in the Age of Covid-19 (CPD 282): June 18th @ 1200pm
We’re all dealing with the challenges of working and practicing law remotely during this unusual time.  Don’t let legal resources add to that challenge.  This is a CPD opportunity you can’t afford to miss!  Register here.

Print Resources & Library Access
Our physical libraries remain closed.  If you require print materials, contact us and we’ll work with you to identify alternate online resources.  Excellent online resources exist in many research areas.  If necessary, we may retrieve print materials or scan short excerpts for you as needed.  We will also not require items to be returned at this time unless to meet another member’s urgent request.

Primo: Your Library Catalogue (CPD-178)
To get the most out of our print resources, search Primo, our integrated library catalogue.  Watch our free recorded webinar on using Primo, eligible for one free CPD credit!

We appreciate your support as we continue to assist you during this unusual and challenging time.

New Video Series: Remote Legal Resources

By Alan Kilpatrick

Today, we’re launching a new video series, Remote Resources for Law Society Members, to highlight the key legal resources Saskatchewan members can access remotely, right on their computer’s desktop, simply by logging into the Members’ Resource Section! Produced by Alan Kilpatrick and written by Ken Fox, this five-video series is freely available on Vimeo. New videos will be developed frequently. Please contact us if you have suggestions for future videos.

Watch the series introduction here (1:43):

While our physical library locations might be closed and many of you are dealing with the challenges of working and practicing law remotely, rest assured you have access to one of the best online legal resource collections in Canada. Watching the series will ensure you get the most out of our online resources.

My Twitter feed, like yours, has been dominated by frequents calls to use this pandemic an opportunity to innovate within the legal and judicial system. Look to your legal librarians and information professionals as your innovation partners: innovation is our bread and butter. Technology has fundamentally changed how legal information is created, aggregated, sold, and used. Over the past three decades, your Library professionals have adeptly navigated the waves of this change and aggressively negotiated with information vendors to pioneer the development of one of Canada’s leading remotely accessible online collections.

Watch the rest of our series here:

Remote Resources for Law Society Members Series

  1. Remote Resources: Series Introduction (1:43) – In this video series, we’ll highlight some of the key resources that you can access remotely by logging into the Member Resource Section.
  2. Need an Online Text? Try the CED! (7:18) – If you are a Saskatchewan lawyer, you have online access the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest (CED) through the Member Resource Section.
  3. Irwin Law: Essentials of Canadian Law – Online! (5:36) – Irwin texts have the distinct advantage, more relevant now than ever, that they are all available to Saskatchewan lawyers online.
  4. Finding Irwin Law Books on Des Libris (6:46) – In this video, we will give you a few tips on finding Irwin Law eBooks using the Des Libris platform.
  5. O’Brien’s Internet: Online Encyclopedia of Forms (7:01) – If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a law librarian, it’s that every lawyer loves O’Brien’s Encyclopedia of Forms.

Don’t hesitate to contact us by email at reference@lawsociety.sk.ca for legal information assistance. As legal information navigators, we can quickly and efficiently locate whatever you are looking for. If it takes longer than five minutes to find, contact us!

Covid-19 Legal News Roundup

By Alan Kilpatrick

The COVID-19 pandemic, and its impact on the practice of law, is changing rapidly. We want to help you stay up to date with the latest news.

Each week we aggregate the leading legal news headlines on COVID-19 on topics that matter to you: access to justice, the Courts, legal innovation, legal practice, remote working, students & articling, and wellness.

Access to Justice
Can a chatbot answer legal questions? | Heather Douglas, Slaw (April 29)
• Sounds good, but what are we missing? | Julie Macfarlane, Representing Yourself Canada (April 30)
• That was then and this is now | Julie Macfarlane & Justice Aki Choudhury, Jumping Off the Ivory Tower (April 30) Podcast

Courts
• Coming out of the stone age | Michael Lesage, The Lawyer’s Daily (April 27)
• Losing ground on the backlog | Dale Smith, CBA National (April 29)
• Our civil justice system needs to be brought Into the 21st century | Rosalie Silberman Abella, The Globe and Mail (April 24)

Legal Innovation
COVID-19 could catalyze the legal industry renaissance | Nancy Rapoport & Joe Tiano, Above the Law (April 29)
Learning from “building planes in the sky” | Kari Boyle, Slaw (April 29)
Pandemic IX: Law firm transformation | Jordan Furlong, Law 21 (April 30)

Legal Practice
7 Ways the pandemic will forever change law practice | Bob Ambrogi, Above the Law (April 27)
How will your marketing evolve after COVID-19? | Attorney at Work (April 30)
We must act before COVID-19 spells the end of an independent criminal bar | Bill Trudell, Canadian Lawyer (April 28)

Remote Working
The Great migration: How remote-work has transformed the legal profession | Aidan Macnab, Canadian Lawyer (April 28)
Ready or not — your legal hearing may now be video conferenced | Anita Balakrishnan, Law Times (April 29)
Zoom backgrounds: Looking good in a tiny square! | Bull Garlington, Attorney at Work (April 27)

Students & Articling
Are we entering a new era of legal education during the novel coronavirus crisis? | Ari Kaplan, ABA Journal (April 24)
LSO ‘actively’ pursuing online bar exams, live convocation technology |Anita Balakrishnan, Law Times (April 27)
Please don’t go to law school because of COVID-19 | Jordan Rothman, Above the Law (April 29)

Wellness
Get organized! Time investments for better legal information habits | Amelia Landenberger, Slaw (April 29)
Lawyers on Zoom drinking coffee | Canadian Bar Association (CBA) Ontario Branch (n.d.) Podcast
My post-COVID hopes for the profession | Darryl Singer, Canadian Lawyer (April 27)

Staying Informed in the Age of Covid19: Fight Fake News and Information Overload with These Helpful Tips

By Alan Kilpatrick

Our personal and professional lives have been dramatically impacted by Covid-19.  We’re are all trying our best to stay informed, remain physically and mentally healthy, and to live and work in this brave new world.  I’m certain that I am not alone in suggesting that staying informed about this pandemic and experiencing this constant barrage of information about Covid-19 through the media, social media, and web has become mentally and physically exhausting.  How do you stay informed, prevent information overload, and remain mentally well all at the same difficult time?

Last week, nurse and legal consultant Chantel Josiak, for Lawyer’s Daily, wrote about the Struggle to Stay Informed during this crisis.  Aptly, Josiak identified the need to combat fake news and for credible information:

Knowing when to trust not only the information, but the informer, is challenging. For instance, I wonder how many people believed Fox TV’s Geraldo Rivera saying that if you can hold your breath for 10 seconds, you don’t have the virus… Accurate information is the single most powerful weapon we have right now.

As your Regina Law Librarian, one of my skill sets lays in navigating, curating, aggregating, and communicating sources of information and content.  At the Law Society, we are doing our best to guide you towards reliable sources of information about Covid-19 and its impact on your physical and mental health, the practice of law, and the judicial system.

In this vein, we offer four suggestions that may help you to stay informed:

1. Fight Fake News:

Misinformation and unsubstantiated stories about Covid-19 have become rife. Don’t forget to critically evaluate and assess the content you view.  In this infographic, the International Federation of Library Associations suggests you evaluate the source, check the author, consider the supporting sources, and more!

2. Follow Legal Sourcery Daily:

Legal Sourcery, the Law Society’s award-winning blog, is already the most reliable and trusted source for Saskatchewan legal news.  It’s now your leading resource for everything you need to know about Covid-19’s impact on the legal profession and judicial system in the province.  Your first step should be follow our blog daily, as well as the Law Society’s Covid-19 page.  Look no further afield than Legal Sourcery!

3. Follow These Information Sources to Learn More:

We encourage you to follow these excellent resources for frequent posts and accurate information regarding Covid-19 and the practice of law:

Corona Virus Guidance / LexisNexis Practice Advisor
This document provides practical guidance regarding the virus’s impact on Canadian employment law, commercial law, corporate law, and litigation practices.  This material is only available to those firms that have access to LexisNexis Quicklaw.

• Court and Law Firm Updates and Roundups / Canadian Lawyer Magazine
Canadian Lawyer provides a daily post aggregating updates from Canadian courts and law firms.

• Covid-19: Emergency Measures Tracker / McCarthy Tétrault
Lawyers at McCarthy Tétrault are monitoring and gathering all emergency measures being made by Canada’s Federal and Provincial governments during the pandemic.

• Covid-19 Legal Materials / Westlaw Next
Westlaw Next, available to our members through the Members’ Resource Section, is collecting and curating all case law, decisions, and bills related to Covid-19.  Scroll to the bottom of the Westlaw Next homepage and select the “Covid-19 Legal Materials” link.

• Covid-19 Resource Hub / Canadian Bar Association
The CBA resource hub provides legal and justice system updates, a great collection of mental health resources, and a variety of professional development resources you may want to take advantage of during the pandemic.

• Covid-19 Updates / Lawyer’s Daily
Perhaps the leading news source for news about the legal and justice systems during Covid-19, follow Lawyer’s Daily for multiple daily posts about the Corona virus.

• Law21 Blog / Jordan Furlong
How is the pandemic driving innovation in the legal sector and the justice system?  Follow Jordan Furlong’s Law21 blog to learn more!

4. Take a Break!

Finally, don’t be afraid to take an “information break” from the news media, social media, or any other sources of information about Corona virus.  This is an overwhelming situation and we are experiencing a global pandemic after all!

Despite the closure of the Law Society’s physical office and library spaces, our top-notch law library professionals are still here to support you virtually.  Don’t hesitate to contact us by email at reference@lawsociety.sk.ca for research assistance and legal information questions. As legal information navigators, we can quickly and efficiently locate whatever you are looking for.  If it takes longer than five minutes to find, contact us!

Legal Resources Has Your Back

By Alan Kilpatrick

Due to the ongoing situation with coronavirus, the Law Society’s Library locations in Regina and Saskatoon have been closed to members and the public. Despite the closure, our top-notch legal librarians and skilled information professionals are working remotely and still here to support you. We’ll continue to add value to your legal work during this uncertain time. Never fear, we’ve got your back.

As a member of the Law Society of Saskatchewan, you have access to some of the best online legal resources and law library services in Canada:

Research Assistance
Don’t hesitate to contact us by email at reference@lawsociety.sk.ca for research assistance and legal information questions. As legal information navigators, we can quickly and efficiently locate whatever you are looking for. If it takes longer than five minutes to find, contact us! 

Members’ Resource Section
This is your online law library and resource gateway. Library staff regularly evaluate and test new resources and negotiate with legal vendors to ensure that you have access to the leading resources, wherever you are in the province, right on your desktop or device, at an outstanding value. Technology enables us to push the limits of how we support you.

During this closure, we’ll be reviewing some of the online resources available through the Members’ Resource Section. Clicking on these links will take you to some of our existing research tips:

DivorceMate
HeinOnline 
Emond eBooks
vLex Canada
WestlawNext
O’Briens Encyclopedia of Forms
Rangefindr

Print Resources
Despite the extensive online resource collection, we understand that our members might require access to our print collection during the COVID-19 outbreak. Access to our print resources is dependent on the Queen’s Bench Courthouses remaining accessible to our staff. We cannot guarantee your access to the print resources at this time. Please reach out to our dedicated Library professionals (reference@lawsociety.sk.ca) and we’ll work with you to arrange delivery through electronic means or identify alternate online resources.

HeinOnline: More Than Meets the Eye!

By Alan Kilpatrick

You likely know that HeinOnline is a popular online legal journal database accessible directly through the Law Society Members’ Resource Section.  It provides access to an abundance of legal journals, more than 2000 titles, from Canada, the United States, and the Commonwealth.  What you might not know is that there is far more to HeinOnline than meets the eye!

We recently received this comment from a member about HeinOnline:

“I use Hein at least once a week, and it’s rarely for the articles.  It’s the statutes that I use it for.  It’s an excellent source for statute law.  But, people don’t know about it.  I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve advised people to look on Hein for statute research, and they’re surprised to know that resource even exists.”   

In the past, we’ve written on this blog about HeinOnline’s growing coverage of historical case law, legislation, and secondary legal sources.  For example, did you know that, among many other things, you can use HeinOnline to:

Access American case law,
Generate instant citations,
Browse over 300 legal dictionaries, and
Locate historical legislation?

Notably, HeinOnline features an impressive collection of historical legislation from Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.  Once you access HeinOnline, select your jurisdiction from the browsable menu at the top of the screen.  Coverage is Canadian legislation is particularly impressive:

• Federal Revised Statutes: 1886 to 1985
• Federal Annual Statutes: 1792 to 2018
• Saskatchewan Revised Statutes: 1909 to 1978
• Saskatchewan Annual Statutes: 1906-1968

Rather than being a mere journal database, HeinOnline is a true online law library.  Do yourself a favour and spend some time taking a tour of HeinOnline’s many offerings.  The browsable menu (Browse Databases by Category) is a great way to learn about all of the content that can be accessed!

If you have any questions about legal research or resources, ask a Law Society Librarian! We are pleased to provide high-quality assistance to Saskatchewan members in person, on the telephone, or by email.

Email reference@lawsociety.sk.ca
Call 306-569-8020 in Regina
Toll-free 1-877-989-4999

Book Training with a Law Society Librarian

By Alan Kilpatrick

It’s no secret that Law Society of Saskatchewan members have access to the best collection of legal resources available to members of any law society in the country. Unfortunately, if your legal research and resource skills are lacking or less than stellar, you’re missing out. Can you afford to lose the competitive advantage in the courtroom or waste your client’s time researching aimlessly?

Fortunately, the Law Society librarians are here, and they have your back. Members can book one-on-one or group training with our legal information gurus, Ken Fox (Saskatoon) and Alan Kilpatrick (Regina):

Want to earn CPD credit while updating your legal research skills?

• Need a review of the incredible suite of resources, services, and expertise available to you through the Law Society’s library?

• We’ll craft a customized session to help you or your firm develop solid research strategies, identify leading legal resources, and save time and money through efficient research.

• Sessions are a great value, only $60.00 per member per hour for 1.0 CPD credit!

Located in Regina or Saskatoon? We’ll come to your office for the session in person! For members outside Regina and Saskatoon, we can provide training remotely over the computer in a live session.

Still not convinced? Here’s a testimonial from a member who recently scheduled a session with us:

“Thank you for taking the time out for our training sessions and for the well-prepared reference materials as well. I learnt a lot about using research tools and search strategies which will help me in my daily tasks. I look forward to implementing all I that I have learnt so far. Thanks once again!”

Book your session today!

Email reference@lawsociety.sk.ca
Call 306-569-8020