Eastern Ontario project
Interested in starting your own libraries and justice partnership? Read a full report about this project.
Starting in 2011, the Community Advocacy & Legal Centre (CALC) in Belleville, Ontario, spearheaded a library and justice partnership in three counties in southeastern Ontario to improve delivery of legal and referral information to people who lived in rural and remote parts of those counties. They started off by convening a focus group in Hastings County to consult with head librarians, the local courthouse librarian, and the local law association about their legal information and resource needs.
The focus group made it clear that librarians are key players in providing access to legal information, especially in small urban and rural and remote areas – and shortly after, a fledgling partnership was formed. Janet Freeman, a B.C. courthouse librarian, shared resources and approaches for working with public libraries from the B.C. Courthouse Librarians initiative and the Law Matters project.
CALC, in collaboration with Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO), aimed to reach all public libraries in Hastings, Prince Edward, and Lennox and Addington counties in order to help build legal literacy in those communities.
In autumn 2015, CALC published a full report about the project that you can read or download on their website.
This innovative project had many aspects. Here are some highlights:
• lawyers reviewed the public libraries’ existing holdings to ensure that they were accurate and up to date, and developed a list of credible resources (including CLEO materials)
• CALC and CLEO conducted special training sessions in each county to introduce their resources and websites to library staff, and visited several libraries in more remote areas to learn more about their work
• library staff at several branches embedded links to CALC and CLEO resources on their opening library home pages to help make this information more easily accessible to library patrons
• CALC created a simple website for a local law association to offer another credible portal to accurate legal information both for local lawyers and for the general public
• further to feedback from library staff that many patrons wanted information about what to expect when meeting with a lawyer about a family law problem or to get a will drafted, CALC and the Hastings Law Association developed checklists on both these areas
For more information, read the full project report – it includes more information about the partnership and 10 lessons learned from the related projects.