Access to Legal Information Week to be observed July 14-20

 
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Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan and the Harris County Law Library will celebrate “Access to Legal Information Week” July 14 through July 20. The “Access to Legal Information Week” was recognized with a July 9 resolution from the Harris County Commissioners Court.

The resolution recognized the role the Harris County Law Library plays in providing legal information to both lawyers and non-lawyers in Harris County and the awards the library has received since becoming a part of the Office of County Attorney Vince Ryan.

The week-long observance is a result of the efforts of County Attorney Ryan and the Law Library staff to improve access to legal information throughout the County. “We continue to promote inclusion in access to legal information,” said County Attorney Ryan. “Everyone in Harris County is entitled to access and understand the legal system if and when they appear in court.”

According to Mariann Sears, Director of the Law Library, the library serves more than 60,000 visitors in person and more than 80,000 digital visitors each year, 90 percent of whom are not lawyers, but members of the public in need of access to legal information.

To increase access to legal information, the Law Library unveiled its Digital Education Nook in late June. Visitors can watch on-demand video content on a wide range of topics relevant to both the general public and practicing attorneys in an accessible space and engage with legal information regardless of technical ability or their ability to pay for access.

In 2016, County Attorney Ryan was recognized by the American Association of Law Libraries Government section as the Law Library Advocate of the Year for his support for the revitalization of the Law Library and expansion of resources and services to all. The Law Library staff will travel to Washington D.C. later this week to receive four more awards from the association.

In April, AALL announced that the Harris County Law Library was the recipient of the 2019 Joseph L. Andrews Legal Literature and Connie E. Bolden Publication Awards for the Pro Se Litigant Handbook and Manual para Litigantes Pro Se, which connect self-represented litigants with local legal aid and information about representing themselves in local courts.

The third award was the 2019 Excellence in Community Engagement Award for the Harris County Law Library’s Harvey Recovery Resources page, which provides storm victims with an extensive source of legal aid and information resources.

The fourth award went to Law Library Director Mariann Sears. She received the prestigious Bethany J. Ochal Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession for her role in refocusing the Law Library’s mission on public service.

As part of the observance, all residents are encouraged to visit the Harris County Law Library to participate in the Digital Destinations Passport program, where they will receive training and insight into the digital resources offered.

About the Harris County Law Library
The Harris County Law Library opened in 1915 and has continued to serve Harris County’s legal information needs for more than a century. Since joining the Office of Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan in 2011, the Law Library greatly expanded its technology offerings and educational opportunities. The Law Library is open to the public Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Visit www.harriscountylawlibrary.org for more information.