Re-imagining The Library


Every day I think about this: if I were setting up  my library today, what would it look like? Aside from having lots of windows (I need sunlight!) I haven’t gotten very far on this.


I serve two very disparate client bases: the legal profession, and the general public looking for legal information. The legal resources I purchase are written for lawyers and they’re not readily understandable by someone without legal training. One idea I’ve had is to purchase materials that are at a less sophisticated level and that deal more with procedure rather than substantive law. Perhaps that would be a way to level the playing field for self-represented litigants.

Another idea I’m toying with is separating my footage into two distinct areas – one just for lawyers, and one for everyone else. Lawyers working in the library shouldn’t have to worry that someone is going to ask for free advice, or that they’ll break client confidentiality.

Then there is the difficulty of serving a geographically dispersed client base. Lawyers outside the city contribute the same amount towards library costs, and should get a similar rate of return. All types of libraries end up serving a fraction of their potential audience – my concern is my audience is just a fraction of that fraction. And rural self-represented litigants also deserve access to resources.

A recently published report titled Justice starts here : A One Stop Shop Approach for Achieving Greater Justice in Manitoba may be the catalyst to kick-start the process. I hope I can be part of the solution.


One Response to “Re-imagining The Library”

  1. 1 Brenda

    Thanks Karen for your initial thoughts. The challenge for a library is eternally how to try and serve all potential segments of its audience. By the way, I liked the use of”audience”…as in they are listening to you and not customers, clients or patrons.

    After leaving law libraries and renewing my interest in creative writing, I can appreciate how the average Jane Doe can be intimidated by the procedures, the rituals and the language of the courts and all things legal. As an example, when I was really green, I had the fun task of going to court to give the senior lawyer a document. I was instructed to bow or nod at the gate inside the courtroom before entering. I imagine this is still a sign of respect or deference in British Columbia courtrooms. Oops off on a tangent….

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