The Mobile Law Network RV visits two St. Paul (Minn.) Public Library branches per month. Photo: Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Meeting Legal Needs

May 1, 2020

Aaron Mason, Cleveland Public Library’s (CPL) director of outreach and programming services, says that example from one of CPL’s monthly legal aid clinics shows how a number of libraries are filling a significant need in their communities by connecting patrons to civil legal aid. Civil legal matters encompass noncriminal issues such as health care, housing, … Continue reading Meeting Legal Needs



2019 Year in Review

2019 Year in Review

January 2, 2020

Macmillan Ebook Policy Draws Fire Macmillan Publishers announced a policy preventing libraries from purchasing more than one copy of a new ebook title for the first eight weeks after a book’s release. In protest, American Library Association (ALA) launched the #eBooksForAll petition, which by November 27 had garnered more than 216,000 signatures. Said ALA President … Continue reading 2019 Year in Review


bystander training

Know Your Rights—and Theirs

January 2, 2020

Will that change? No one is certain. Though ICE’s official policy states it will avoid carrying out enforcement actions at “sensitive locations” such as daycares and places of worship, libraries are not specifically named among those locations. In this politically tense climate when immigration has been a major focus, some libraries wonder how they should … Continue reading Know Your Rights—and Theirs




Graphic: Letters of the Law with Mary Minow

Can My Library Ban Guns?

October 17, 2019

Letters of the Law is a new online column exploring a wide range of legal issues that arise in libraries, from a pair of leading authorities: Mary Minow, a librarian who became a lawyer, and Tomas A. Lipinski, a lawyer who became a librarian. Together they have authored four books on the subject, including The … Continue reading Can My Library Ban Guns?


2020 Census (Image: Rebecca Lomax/American Libraries)

ALA Statement on SCOTUS Census Ruling

June 27, 2019

“The American Library Association agrees that there is a ‘substantial mismatch’ between the Commerce Secretary’s decision and the rationale he provided for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to at least temporarily block the addition of the question. ALA has consistently opposed the addition of the question on … Continue reading ALA Statement on SCOTUS Census Ruling


Mary Minow

Following the Letter of the Library Law

June 23, 2019

Queries addressed topics ranging from privacy issues to unruly teens, from how to respond to police warrants to dealing with people experiencing homelessness. The topic of patron behavior—and attendant issues of penalty policy and compassion—struck a chord, as the session’s format evolved from question-and-answer to open exchange among librarians raising questions and weighing in to … Continue reading Following the Letter of the Library Law


Sonia Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor Embraces Librarians—Literally

June 22, 2019

Her talk was moderated by her longtime editor Jill Santopolo, associate publisher of Philomel Books. Sotomayor noted that as a child she could never sit still and was soon walking the aisles of the auditorium—followed closely by her security detail—telling her story, hugging attendees, and being serenaded for her upcoming birthday (June 25). Sotomayor said … Continue reading Sonia Sotomayor Embraces Librarians—Literally


Spokane Community Court, held in the Spokane (Wash.) Public Library, connects about 1,000 participants per year with onsite social services.

Courting Libraries

June 3, 2019

That’s the reasoning behind the community-court model, which has been around since the early 1990s. Designed with restorative justice in mind, community courts typically focus on nonviolent cases. The legally binding sentences they issue usually include community service as well as a commitment on the part of the defendant to get help, such as drug … Continue reading Courting Libraries