Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Legal Information Community Forum: Thompson-Nicola Regional District Library System – Kamloops

Joëlle Samson of the Thompson-Nicola Regional District Library System Library hosted a legal information forum at the TNRD Kamloops branch in November. We had 16 representatives from a variety of community groups attend, including:

Ask Wellness Society
Canadian Mental Health Association, Kamloops
Courthouse Libraries BC, Kamloops
Elizabeth Fry Society
Family Justice Services
Kamloops Immigrant Services
Kamloops Sexual Assault Counselling Centre
MS Society Kamloops
RCMP Victim Services
Thompson Rivers University
TNRD Library

Attendees discussed services as well as challenges in providing legal information and support in the community. They also agreed it was a good opportunity to touch base with other organizations in the area and that it would be beneficial to have more opportunities to keep in contact.

Thank you Joëlle and TNRD Library for hosting it was a wonderful opportunity to learn about the organizations and resources available in the Kamloops community. Thank you everyone for attending and for sharing information about your organizations!

Libraries interested in hosting a forum in their community can view the Planning Guide and contact Shannon McLeod at for more information

Monday, December 7, 2015

LawMatters keynote address at Ontario's Libraries and Justice event

LawMatters Program Coordinator Janet Freeman spoke at an exciting event in Toronto October 29th entitled "Libraries and Justice: Innovative Access for Rural and Remote Communities.” A group of seventy-five lawyers, librarians and other legal information providers met at a day-long event to discuss how Ontario might develop partnerships to provide effective legal information and referral resources in non-urban communities.

BC's experience with both the LawMatters Program and the Legal Services Society's Public Library Program were seen as pioneering and time-tested models of delivery, and our Clicklaw Wikibooks program was also viewed as an innovative legal information publishing tool.

As you can see by the graphic representation I've included, the event brought forth a good deal of valuable discussion and ideas for further action planning.

You can view the LawMatters powerpoint presentation on the LawMatters Conference Materials page.

More details and pictures of the event are included in the blog post "Establish, enhance, engage: reflections on a libraries and justice partnerships event" by Sabreena Delhon, Manager of the Action Group on Access to Justice (TAG) at the Law Society of Upper Canada,

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

History of LawMatters article published by the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice

 LawMatters at Your Local Public Library; A History of BC’s Program for Public Legal Information and Education in Public Libraries has recently been published by the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice in their November 2015 Newsletter. As described in their A2J Blog:
This article, written by Janet Freeman, Courthouse Libraries BC LawMatters Program Coordinator and Nancy Hannum, LawMatters Program Consultant, charts the growing role of public libraries and public librarians as partners in access to justice. It includes a timeline of recommendations for an increase in legal information materials in public libraries and more training for public librarians, that subsequently shaped the current public legal education and information service in BC's libraries. This history references the 1975 Law Commission Report, the 1974 British Columbia Justice Development Commission Report, the 1975 Legal information Services Program (LISP), the Public Library Program (PLP) and the Legal Resource Centre (LRC). Read about the success of this unique program and how British Columbia became the first jurisdiction in Canada (and possibly the English-speaking world) to develop an ongoing program to help public libraries provide legal information to the public.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Announcing: LawMatters Program Coordinator Retirement and New Program Coodinator!

As of January 1, 2016, Shannon McLeod will be the new LawMatters Program Coordinator. Shannon is currently 'learning the ropes' from the current Coordinator, Janet Freeman.

 Janet says goodbye:
"I have had the privilege of developing the LawMatters Program over the last eight years and meeting a great number of wonderful public librarians in the course of my work. I couldn't have done it without the support of my mentors Nancy Hannum, LawMatters Consultant and Johanne Blenkin, CEO of Courthouse Libraries BC. Special mention also goes to Drew Jackson, former Director of Client Services, Courthouse Libraries BC, and also all the staff at Libraries and Literacy who have been such an important support for our training programs. I have enjoyed working with you all, and know that I leave LawMatters in excellent hands!"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Janet Freeman

And Shannon says hello:
"I want to wish Janet congratulations on her retirement! It has been a pleasure working with her and learning from her experiences. Certainly big shoes to fill! 
I am excited to be the new coordinator for LawMatters, a wonderful program that provides training in legal reference and helps BC public libraries add legal titles to their collections. Public libraries are an amazing source of information: collections, knowledgeable staff, programming and more all make libraries an integral part of their communities. Empowering librarians to work with legal materials and legal reference are my priorities. I am so pleased to be able to combine my passions and experiences in this role.  
A little about me: I started my library journey shelving books at my local library and I've been hooked ever since! After graduating with my MLIS from UBC, I have worked in both public and special library settings. I joined Courthouse Libraries BC as a Client Services librarian and my interest in legal reference and legal materials grew quickly. It wasn’t long before I took on the responsibility of print collection development at CLBC’s Vancouver location.  I understand the importance of finding reliable materials and having support in order to get your patrons started with their legal research.
I am happy to answer any questions or just say hello!
Read any good books lately? I am currently reading Pot Luck/Pot-Boille by Emile Zola.
I look forward to working with you in the future!"
                                                                                                            - Shannon McLeod

Shannon will be the new editor of the LawMatters Blog; and you can reach her at

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

New Legal Information Online - November 2015

New on Clicklaw:

Behind the Scenes of Mediation: Videos Mediate BC Society, 2015

Complaints and Inquiries Regarding Insurance Companies Trust Companies and Credit Unions Financial Institutions Commission of BC  [4pp PDF] 2015

Family Law Act Orders Picklist Provincial Court of British Columbia, 2015

How to Start and Manage a Registered Disability Savings Plan in British Columbia BC Ministry of Social Development & Social Innovation and Disability Alliance BC, 2015

I want to know what my rights are as a condo/strata owner Clicklaw Common Question November 2015

I’m buying a house Clicklaw Common Question November 2015

New Service Alert: Human Rights Clinic Provides Advocacy & Legal Representation  Clicklaw Blog August 5, 2015.

Thinking of moving in together? [Fact Sheet] Legal Services Society, 2014

What happens if I don’t follow a court order or agreement? [Fact Sheet] Legal Services Society, 2015

Other web resources:

Transgender Rights in Federal Prisons West Coast Prison Justice Society, October [8pp PDF] 2015

Visits: Your Legal Rights West Coast Prison Justice Society, October [8pp PDF] 2015

Blog posts and journal articles:

Asked & Answered: How do I order a Transcript? The Stream Blog, Courthouse Libraries BC, October 2, 2015

Asked & Answered: What is the Family Law Picklist?  The Stream Blog, Courthouse Libraries BC, November 19, 2015

Court of Appeal Releases Important Decisions on Spousal Support JP Boyd on Family Law, September 11, 2015

Do I need a lawyer to file for Bankruptcy?  LawNow, September 3, 2015

SRL Experience “the same” Both Sides of the Border The National Self-Represented Litigants Project Blog, September 8, 2015

Summary Judgments – the backstory that may shock you The National Self-Represented Litigants Project Blog, November 16, 2015

Tax Issues for Older Adults LawNow, November 3, 2015

Update on the Margot Bentley case Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre, July 9, 2015

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Beginner’s Guide to Finding Legal Information Clicklaw Wikibook Launch

Courthouse Libraries BC is pleased to announce that our new Clicklaw Wikibook, The Beginner’s Guide to Finding Legal Information; A how-to for legal research and representing yourself in court in British Columbia  is now available online. Our news release gives detailed information about the publication.

We describe the Guide as a new resource that "helps people handle their everyday legal problems. It is particularly useful to people who are representing themselves in court in British Columbia. Written by librarians at Courthouse Libraries BC, the new Guide gives a basic introduction to understanding laws & legislation, and gives how-to instructions to find specific legal resources on a given topic."

A copy of the Guide can be printed  by using the PDF download option, or you can download it as an ePub on a mobile device.

We encourage feedback on the Guide's content, because one of the great features of wikibooks is that they can be updated so easily. Please send your comments to

Thursday, July 9, 2015

New Legal Information Online July 2015

New on Clicklaw

Adoption Canadian Bar Association BC Branch [Dial-a-Law script] 2015

Benefits Finder Government of Canada, 2015

Clear Skies Legal Services Society [graphic novel, 20 pp PDF] 2015

Developing Human Rights Workplace Policy and Procedures Community Legal Assistance Society [4 pp PDF] 2015

Do you know how a Bill becomes Law in Canada? Clicklaw Blog July 2, 2015

The end of assigning maintenance rights: What does it mean? Clicklaw Blog May 27, 2015

Getting Your Judgment Paid Canadian Bar Association BC Branch [Dial-a-Law script] 2015

How do I know if a will has been probated? Clicklaw Common Question June 2015

How to prepare for a trial in Provincial Court: Family Law in British Columbia [fact sheet] Legal Services Society, 2015

I'm trying to find a will  Clicklaw Common Question June 2015

Immigrating to British Columbia Canadian Bar Association BC Branch [Dial-a-Law script] 2015

Safety in Relationships for Trans* Folk Legal Services Society and QMUNITY [23 pp PDF] 2014

Safety in Same-Gender Relationships Legal Services Society and QMUNITY [24 pp PDF] 2014

Other new web resources

Avoid abuse with safeguards for personal planning Ask Joanne, Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre, June 15, 2015

BC Laws User Guide Government of BC [22 pp PDF] undated

Don’t smoke, don’t be poor, read before signing: Linking health literacy and legal capability (summary or full report) Community Legal Education Ontario/PLE Learning Exchange, April 2015

First Peoples Law by Bruce McIvor [31 pp PDF or read online or order in print $15] 2014

Legal Information vs. Legal Advice: What is the Difference? The Centre for Public Legal Education Alberta, 2015

Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre Direct Representation (Tenancy issues) Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre, 2015

Blog posts and journal articles

Asked & Answered: How do I find a business number in BC? The Stream Blog, Courthouse Libraries BC, June 19, 2015

Asked & Answered: How do I draft a Final Order for an undefended divorce? The Stream Blog, Courthouse Libraries BC, July 3, 2015

Get Over It, Part One: Why It Pays to Let Bygones Be Bygones in Family Law Disputes JP Boyd on Family Law, June 3, 2015

Incarcerating Self-Represented Litigants for Overzealous Advocacy National Self-Represented Litigants Project Blog, June 23, 2015

John Lennon: Working Class Hero and Legal Activist LawNow June 30, 2015

The Purposes and Activities Divide in Charity Regulation LawNow June 30, 2015

The Vexatious Litigant LawNow June 30, 2015

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

New Legal Information Online May 2015

New on Clicklaw

Buying Defective Goods The Canadian Bar Association, BC Branch (CBABC) 2015

For the Public in BC: Privacy and Access Rights Information for Individuals Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC, 2015

I'm doing my own legal research as a self-represented litigant Clicklaw Common Question, May 2015

Income Assistance Application Process for People with Disabilities Disability Alliance BC [6 pp PDF] 2015

Introducing the CanLII Primer from the National Self-Represented Litigants Project  Clicklaw Blog, April 8, 2015

New Fact Sheet on Refusing Health Care: What are my Rights? Clicklaw Blog, April 9, 2015

Online Dispute Resolution in BC: Case Study #1 Clicklaw Blog May 13, 2015

People with Disabilities on Reserve: The PWD Designation Disability Alliance BC [16 pp PDF] 2014

Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity Refugee Claims Out/Law Immigration Legal Services, 2015

Social Insurance Number (SIN) Privacy Fact Sheet Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada 2014

Social Security Tribunal Disability Alliance BC [42 pp PDF] 2015

Your Child's Trust Fund: FAQ Public Guardian and Trustee of BC [8pp PDF] 2014

Blog posts and journal articles 

Asked & Answered: How do I stop a bailiff/possession order? The Stream Blog,Courthouse Libraries BC, February 24, 2015

Asked & Answered: Where can I find information on an arrest warrant? The Stream Blog, Courthouse Libraries BC, March 16, 2015

Asked & Answered: How can I find out who owns apartment buildings in BC? The Stream Blog, Courthouse Libraries BC, March 9, 2015

Common Myths When Planning for Your Future Ask Joanne, Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry, April 2015

Essential Services and the Right to Strike LawNow, May 7, 2015

Family Law Agreements and Independent Legal Advice JP Boyd on Family Law, March 2015

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dial-A-Law Scripts Now Available as a Clicklaw Wikibook

Clicklaw, Courthouse Libraries BC and LawMatters are very pleased to announce that the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) BC Branch’s long-serving collection of Dial-A-Law scripts are now available as a Clicklaw Wikibook. The scripts join a growing library of content from other key producers of public legal information, including People’s Law School, TRAC, BC CEAS and others including some authors Courthouse Libraries BC helped to publish, such as Cliff Thorstenson and John-Paul Boyd. The collection of scripts will be printed in a 500+ page book to be shipped to public libraries in BC, at no cost to the libraries, in conjunction with the LawMatters program.

Courthouse Libraries BC and the CBA BC announced this news by formal press release on April 14th, during Law Week. The announcement is exciting since Dial-A-Law scripts are perhaps the longest-surviving example of the BC legal profession's dedication to helping the public with free legal information. The scripts cover over 130 legal topics, and have existed in various formats for over 30 years. Dial-A-Law started in 1983 with help from the BC Law Foundation and its scripts have been edited by volunteer lawyers ever since. More information about the various ways you can access Dial-A-Law is on Clicklaw’s page for the service.

Yesterday's announcement is significant because now the scripts are even more accessible. Clicklaw Wikibooks are able to keep legal information in a single spot so that editors and lawyers can update it, but also let the end user choose whether to print, read online, or otherwise export the content in a way that meets their needs. 

Users can download whole contents, or only portions, of Clicklaw Wikibooks in PDF or EPUB formats. They can order a printed book for cost, or they can of course read it online. The open-source nature of the Mediawiki publishing platform means it is a tool that is affordable to implement, but also well-supported by a community of developers who believe in open access and the democratization of information. 

CEO for Courthouse Libraries BC, Johanne Blenkin, says in the joint release "many continue to rely on community libraries and printed materials, so keeping quality legal information in print is also important. Clicklaw Wikibooks is about helping content partners offer their up-to-date legal information in a range of digital and physical formats.”

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Library Events and Resources for Make a Will Week and Law Week 2015

Public libraries are actively participating in the upcoming Make a Will Week and Law Week 2015, with events running from April 6 to April 28.

The following libraries are offering free public law education classes on a variety of topics:
  • Burnaby:
      McGill - Power of Attorney, Wills and Estates
      Bob Prittie - Immigration Law
  • North Vancouver City- Wills and Estates
  • Port Moody - I'm an Executor, Now What?
  • Richmond:
       Main Library - Employment Law
       Brighouse - Consumer Law (Mandarin and English)
  • Surrey:
      Fleetwood - Power of Attorney and Being an Executor
      Cloverdale - Wills and Estates
      Guildford - Landlord and Tenant Law
      Ocean Park - Wills and Estates
      Semiahmoo - Power of Attorney and Being an Executor
  • Thompson Nicola: (not currently on the Law Week list; call (250) 372-5145 for details)
      Kamloops Downtown - Wills and Estates
      Merritt - Wills and Estates
  • Vancouver Island Regional:
      Chemainus - Wills and Estates
      Cowichan - Wills and Estates
      Ladysmith - Wills and Estates
      Nanaimo - Wills and Estates
      Parksville - Wills and Estates  
  • West Vancouver - Wills and Estates
Other Law Week events that include mock trials and community displays in 11 communities around the province are listed on this locations  page, and the province-wide Dial a Lawyer event will take place April 18.

Courthouse Libraries BC has created pages of wills resources for lawyers, community workers and the public - read all about it on the Clicklaw Blog post today.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

New Legal Information Online February 2015

New on Clicklaw:

50 Years of Freedom: A Festschrift Celebration for the Golden Anniversary of the BCCLA BC Civil Liberties Association [121 pp PDF] 2014

Aboriginal Prisoners’ Spiritual Accommodation  West Coast Prison Justice Society  [11 pp PDF] 2014

BC Hydro Advocacy Factsheet BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre (BCPIAC) 2014

Coping with the Courtroom: Essential Tips and Information for Self-Represented Litigants The National Self-Represented Litigants Project [25 pp PDF] 2014

I want to contest or dispute a will. What can I do?  Clicklaw Common Question, 2015

If You Have A No Contact Order Made Against You  Legal Services Society [factsheet] 2014

More than we can afford: The costs of mandatory minimum sentencing BC Civil Liberties Association [86 pp PDF] 2014

New Law Focuses on Aboriginal Matrimonial Rights on Reserve Clicklaw Blog, January 29, 2015

Property Assessment Complaints: The Complaint Process Step-by-Step  BC Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development [18 pp PDF] 2012

Your Rights: First Nations Court Legal Services Society [web page) ]2014

Workers' Advisers Office Factsheets BC Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training

Other new web resources: 

DecisionMaking Checklist  Alzheimer Society of BC [4pp PDF] 2012


Criminalization of HIV Non-Disclosure in Canada Video Series Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network [23 videos, 1-3 min] 2014

Life, Death and the Law Global News [video, 20 min] January 24, 2015 

Blog posts and journal articles:

Can I sell the house if my spouse is incapable? Nidus - Ask Joanne, September 25, 2014

What, Why and Where: Untangling Jurisdiction in Family Law  By John-Paul Boyd, LawNow, 
October 6, 2014