What Can Librarians Do To Facilitate Access to Justice?

Latia Ward, JD, MSLS

May 31, 2019


Access to Justice

Access to justice is the ability to bring your case to court and get a fair resolution or the ability to advocate for your legal rights in situations outside of court and get a fair resolution.

The justice gap is the absence of a resource to meet a legal need.

Legal Information

Legal information consists of general knowledge regarding the law and the legal system.

Legal Advice

Legal advice is part of what we know as the practice of law.

Legal advice is the application of law to facts.

Libraries have policies that prohibit librarians from practicing law.

Legal Advice

Does the state maintain a monopoly on the practice of law?

Is the state protecting the public?


Generally, patrons who are not affiliated with a law school do not have access to the law school’s subscription databases and in those cases librarians have directed patrons to print resources available in the general reference collection of the library.

Many open access resources are available on the Internet.

Nolo.com's Legal Topics

Screenshot of Nolo.com's Legal Topics

ABA's Find Legal Help

Screenshot of ABA's Find Legal Help

Cornell's Legal Information Institute

Screenshot of Cornell's Legal Information Institute


Screenshot of Congress.gov


Some patrons feel more comfortable using print resources.

Budgetary constraints may cause law libraries to stop purchasing print resources.

What will law librarians do to assist patrons who prefer using print resources?


To what extent should the records of library patrons be kept confidential?

Confidentiality often refers to a professional's duty to keep information secret.

Privilege is a legal concept.


American Library Association's

Code of Ethics

American Association of Law Libraries' Ethical Principles

Reference and User Services Association's Professional Competencies for Reference and User Services Librarians 

Confidentiality of Library Records

map of the United States

Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have statutes addressing the confidentiality of library records.  Kentucky and Hawaii have opinions from their attorneys general on maintaining the confidentiality of library records.

map created using mapchart.net


Warrant Canary

This is a warrant canary created by Librarian Jessamyn West.  The warrant canary is a sign that reads "The FBI has not been here (watch very closely for the removal of this sign)."

What Can Librarians Do To Facilitate Access to Justice?

By Latia Ward

What Can Librarians Do To Facilitate Access to Justice?

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