Thursday, January 28, 2010

LawMatters Training Follow-Up Survey Report

The LawMatters Training Follow-Up Survey Final Report (PDF, 32 pp, December 2009) was recently published on the LawMatters website. The report summarizes the findings of a survey of 70 public library staff who attended the LawMatters Legal Reference Introductory Training in 2008-2009. Two interesting findings:

* Public librarians answer a lot of legal questions: half of those surveyed get at least one legal question per week.

* The LawMatters training significantly raised the confidence of public librarians to handle legal questions, and that confidence increase didn't fade, even 1-2 years after the training was provided:

Medium or High Confidence Level of Public Librarians:
Before training: 42%
Immediately after training: 83%
1-2 years after training: 89% [adapted from p.17]

Librarians also reported on trends in legal reference topics:

"... funding cuts had limited information sources for citizens, potentially leading to more use of free library services. Two librarians noted that unrepresented litigants are bringing more legal reference questions to the library.

Five library staff said that legal documents or court forms are often difficult for patrons to understand, copy or print out. Many questions also require reference to case law and historical reference materials.

Three librarians noted that answers to simple legal reference questions can now be answered on the internet, meaning that librarians are now asked more complex questions. "

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