What are libraries for, if no longer just places for books?

More than just places to find or read books, libraries offer access to the information resources and technology needed by their communities. As safe, neutral public spaces and hubs for community education, libraries are essential to access to justice for many reasons, including:

• Libraries are places where people come to access information

• Librarians are key players in forming partnerships and collaborations to implement live assistance in the Library

• Public libraries have evolved into a primary source for public Internet access in many communities

• Librarians are trained to help people access the resources and online information they need

• Law librarians provide training to public librarians to expand public access to legal information and facilitate referrals

Public Libraries

The American Library Association (ALA) represents all types of libraries - public, school, academic, state and special libraries. The State of America’s Libraries 2015: A Report from the American Library Association recognizes American libraries as “community anchor institutions” whose missions include providing equitable access to information, technology and digital content as well as building communities. Learn more about the American Library Association’s advocacy efforts at, an initiative that focuses on getting communities to value their libraries.

Law Libraries

Facilitating access to legal information is a core function of law libraries. More information about the three general categories of law libraries – academic, government and private - can be found on the website of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), the primary professional association serving law librarians and other legal information professionals. The American Association of Law Libraries’ 2014 Law Libraries and Access to Justice report underscores the critical role that librarians of all types have in helping to expand access to and understanding of legal information.


COVID-19 Resources

This page will be updated as more resources are identified. Last updated 12-9-20. SRLN COVID Response Memos 

Survey: SRLN Library Working Group National Self-Help in Libraries Survey (SRLN 2019)

SRLN Report (March 2021) Evaluating Library Services to Self-Represented Litigants: A Story of Two Surveys
American Association of Law Librarians Logo

Conference: American Association of Law Librarians Annual Conference (Baltimore 2018)

The 2018 AALL annual conference will occur in Baltimore, Maryland and will focus on moving from knowledge to action. For more information see the AALL Conference webpage.

SRLN Brief: Intro to Design Thinking (SRLN 2017)

In the Access to Justice space, design thinking practices from the technology space are increasingly embraced to improve the way people access legal services and to improve and simplify the processes themselves.

Resource: Resource Guide on Serving Self-Represented Litigants Remotely (SRLN 2016)

The Resource Guide provides options for courts and other entities interested in providing services to self-represented litigants using means that are not face-to-face, instead of, or in addition to, in-person alternatives
 Maryland State Bar Association logo

Article: Delivery of Legal Services to Maryland Public Librarians (MSBA 2016)

In Maryland, each year the use of public library services rises as the state’s population increases. Along with this increase in library customers, the number of people who need, but struggle to afford legal help, continues to grow.
Maryland State Bar Association Logo

Article: Public Legal Information: Pro Bono that Keeps on Giving (MSBA 2016)

The article, Public Legal Information: Pro Bono that Keeps on Giving, offers a look at People’s Law, an educational outreach program of the Maryland State Law Library, that works to provide clear, reliable summaries of Maryland law, links

Survey: SRLN Library Working Group National Self-Help in Libraries Survey (SRLN 2013)

The Law Librarians’ Working Group of the Self-Represented Litigation Network surveyed law libraries in the summer of 2013 about their services, including self-help programs.

Resource: Equal Access Unit of the California Center for Families, Children & the Courts (Judicial Council of California 2015)

The Equal Access Unit of the Center for Families, Children & the Courts has materials available for courts, court-­based self-­help programs, and other nonprofit providers of lega
ABA Logo

Report: The Self-Help Center Census: A National Survey (ABA 2014)

Using responses to an online survey, the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services issued “The Self-Help Center Census: A N