MSLL Logo 2000 Annual Report

Public Services

Thank You For Calling, Faxing, E-Mailing Or Visiting The Library

Daniel Lunde, Head of Public ServicesThe Public Services Department is responsible for reference, circulation, interlibrary loan, photocopying and faxing materials, as well as other public services functions of the Library. In that regard, the Department responsibilities at the Library are not that different from twenty years ago. Our mission is the same, and many of our techniques and procedures are the same - for example, the reference interview - but the tools for providing assistance or information have changed dramatically.

In the past, Library staff provided answers to many questions that are now easily answered by the patron viewing the many individual webpages of the Library's website. Also in the past, patrons were encouraged to visit the Library to do legal research or check out a book, or Library staff would fax or mail out a statute, case or regulation. Today, the Reference Librarians often refer the patron to a specific Internet website instead, at which the patron can research a topic or copy information. Different methods of information delivery (online, Internet, CD-ROM, microfiche, etc.) require librarians to instruct and encourage patrons in using the information product, whatever its format.

We fully expect that trend to continue within the foreseeable future. Whatever changes time and technology bring, however, we will continue to assist our patrons with their research in the best way possible, using whatever means are available and necessary.

Staying The Course - Or Doing What We Do Best

The Department continued its high level of service with almost 15,000 reference questions answered, over 8000 Library items borrowed, almost 3500 pages copied and mailed out to patrons, and almost 2000 pages faxed. The Department provided interlibrary loan service to the appellate courts and Westlaw database searches for our patrons on a cost-recovery fee basis. As always, we continued to serve the appellate and lower courts, the Legislature, executive agencies, other governmental bodies, other libraries, attorneys, students, and the general public.   [Public Services statistics]

MSLL Library For The World  
We deliver information and assistance to individuals and organizations all over the world. The examples that follow reveal the breadth and variety of our services:

  • A post-graduate student from Germany contacted us during the summer of 2000. She was researching the cultural and legal aspects of rape in the Hmong community. Over the course of seven to eight months, we assisted her and provided her copies of briefs, transcripts and court documents.
  • A patron from Macquarie University Library in Sydney, Australia, contacted us by interlibrary loan in the early winter of 2000. A court decision was delivered to the patron.

  • These examples are only two of the more exotic questions and requests we received last year from all over the United States and the world. Most of our assistance was provided for the Minnesota Judicial Center staff and our large and varied local patron-base. We literally received thousands of requests by phone, fax, e-mail, and interlibrary loan. We even assisted patrons the old-fashioned way: within the Library using books.

      Reference And Beyond
    The Department does many things in addition to providing reference service, lending books and other library materials, and providing interlibrary loan. Loquitur, the Library's newsletter, bibliographies, and pathfinders are created for patron use. Many tours are given each year to groups of librarians, lawyers, law clerks, judicial staff, and the public in fact to any interested patron or group. Each spring and fall we organize a series of Showcase events with guest speakers on many topics. The Department staff, in cooperation with other Library staff, maintains our Library's many collections. Inevitably, this requires several massive shifts of materials each year. We have also established a sizable popular reading book exchange consisting of hundreds of volumes that our patrons may have for free. We take a broad view of the role of Public Services and plan many events that bring our staff together with our patrons for an exchange of information or - sometimes - just for fun!

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    This page was posted on May 2, 2001.