MSLL Logo 2000 Annual Report

Outreach Services


Karen Westwood, Head of Outreach Services Still Reaching Out After All These Years

The Outreach Services Department was established to provide advice and assistance to county law libraries throughout Minnesota. For twenty years the County Law Library Program (CLLP) has provided such assistance through on-site visits, its newsletter, an annual training conference and manual for county law library managers, and telephone and e-mail consultations.

For sixteen years the Department has participated in an Inter-Agency Agreement with the Minnesota Department of Corrections to provide law library service to inmates incarcerated in Minnesota. Circuit-riding prison law librarians and legal collections in individual prisons provide this assistance. Law Library Service to Prisoners (LLSP) has grown from one full-time librarian with one half-time assistant (serving five prisons) to two and one-half full-time librarians with one half-time assistant (serving eight prisons).

CLLP will continue to help counties provide the highest quality law library service to their patrons, and the program will continue to expand the collaborative system among the county law libraries and with our Library. LLSP anticipates the ongoing challenge of providing legal research skills and information to increasing numbers of inmates.

 
From Asphalt to Electronic Highway
The first County Law Library Program Librarians visited each of the eighty-five county law libraries in Minnesota. Currently, site visits are made upon request, and the CLLP Coordinator visits about one dozen each year. Now, more consultations take place by e-mail, and the CLLP Coordinator anticipates saving postage costs by eventually distributing the County Law Library Bulletin online. There are several other possibilities for using technology to boost the program: a chat group for county law library managers, e-mail alerts of breaking news, and perhaps even electronic resources housed in one location and shared by several county law libraries.

Getting Books Into The Right Hands

Twenty years ago, many county law libraries lacked some basic primary Minnesota resources. Now, CLLP distributes Minnesota Statutes, Minnesota Rules, Laws of Minnesota and the Legislative Manual to county law libraries that need them. In addition, LLSP distributes the same titles to prisons for their legal collections. CLLP facilitates exchange of materials among libraries and makes replacement volumes available to counties. The Library's storage collection allows county law libraries to discard materials for space reasons - with the assurance that copies of older materials can be obtained from the Library.

Locked Up, But Not Locked Out
In 2000, LLSP provided record levels of service to its inmate clients and processed more than 24,000 requests (a 17% increase over 1999). In July, a half-time position was added to provide service to the new institution in Rush City. It has been several years since LLSP has added staff, and we are pleased that the Department of Corrections continues to value and fund this important program.   [LLSP Statistics]

I Want my ITV

When the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Moose Lake opened in 1995, its distance from the Library posed a problem for LLSP. The solution: using interactive television. The LLSP Librarian assigned to assist Moose Lake prisoners uses the videoconference facility in the Centennial Office Building, which is across the street from the Judicial Center. This arrangement saves drive time and still allows for a face-to-face interview. A LLSP Librarian visits the institution quarterly, but in between site visits uses the videoconference technology to provide high-quality reference service to distant inmates. ITV is being considered for two other institutions as well.

Rush to CDs
In 2000, LLSP Librarians established a core collection of Minnesota legal titles at the new prison in Rush City. Two other Minnesota Correctional Facilities have purchased primary Minnesota materials (cases and statutes) on CD-ROM, and other prisons are interested in this format. The CD-ROMs save valuable space at the institution, allow for more powerful searching, and introduce inmates to computer technology. LLSP continually seeks efficient and cost-effective ways of building and maintaining the prison law library collections.

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This page was posted on May 2, 2001.