By Eve Ross, LISP-SIS
Background on Access to Legal Information in South Carolina
Unlike many states, South Carolina does not have a state law library or county law libraries, so other institutions in the state must step up to provide public access to legal information. These include the South Carolina State Library, the county public libraries, and the academic libraries, including the law library at the University of South Carolina School of Law.
There is a history, dating back to 2007, of the law librarians at the UofSC School of Law providing in-person workshops for public and academic librarians in South Carolina, to train them to help their patrons with basic legal research. Time and funds for travel were always a challenge when trying to reach all parts of the state with these “Circuit Riders” workshops. A “Circuit Riders: Basic Legal Research Training” libguide was developed and has been updated over the years, which helps to extend legal research instruction to those who could not be at the workshops. However, navigating an online guide is not the same as receiving live training.
Webinar Idea and Working Group
Terrye Conroy responded to an April 2019 survey sent by the Continuing Education Committee of the South Carolina Library Association (SCLA, a state chapter of ALA). The committee wanted to know what continuing education topics would interest South Carolina public and academic librarians, and they hoped to find out who had the skills to teach which topics via webinars. Terrye responded that she would be willing to teach basic legal research. This was a match with the interests of some public and academic librarians.
An informal working group was formed through SCLA’s Continuing Education Committee. The working group consisted of Tiffany Hayes (South Carolina State Library), Megan Palmer (Clemson University Libraries), Lisa Gieskes (Richland County Public Library), and Terrye Conroy (UofSC School of Law).
Webinar Outline and Schedule
Based on her experience with the in-person Circuit Riders workshops, Terrye knew that attention can wane after an hour or two, and that sufficient coverage of basic legal research topics would require more time than that. Thus, the idea for the five webinar series came about. Terrye invited her law librarian colleagues at UofSC School of Law to collaborate, and a schedule was drawn up in which each one-hour webinar would be presented live by a different law librarian, with at least two weeks in between webinars. All webinars were from 2-3 pm, a time that generally worked well for public and academic librarians, in the experience of the SCLA Continuing Education Committee.
April 9, 2020: The Law & Legal Reference Interview
State & federal constitutions; the three branches of state & federal government and the laws they produce; and the reference interview and how to avoid legal advice.
Presenter: Terrye Conroy, Assistant Director of Legal Research Instruction, University of South Carolina Law Library
April 23, 2020: Secondary Sources & Topical Research Guides
How to use books, articles, and topical guides to research legal issues and find relevant state and federal statutes, regulations and cases.
Presenter: Aaron Glenn, Reference Librarian, University of South Carolina Law Library
May 14, 2020: Researching Local, State & Federal Codes
How to research municipal (city & county) ordinances, state statutes (focusing on SC), and federal statutes.
Presenter: Eve Ross, Reference Librarian, University of South Carolina Law Library
May 28, 2020: State & Federal Regulations
The relationship between state and federal statutes and administrative agency regulations and how to research state (focusing on SC) and federal regulations.
Presenter: Rebekah Maxwell, Associate Director for Library Operations, University of South Carolina Law Library
June 11, 2020: Researching State & Federal Cases, Court Rules & Forms
The concept of legal precedent, hierarchy of authority, and how to research state (focusing on SC) and federal cases, court rules and forms.
Presenter: Dan Brackmann, Reference Librarian, University of South Carolina Law Library