Congratulations to Blacktown City Libraries and Campbelltown City Library, winners of the 2017 LIAC Centre of Excellence Award! The Award was presented at the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW Justice Awards dinner, held at Parliament House on Thursday 19 October.
Both of this year's winners worked collaboratively with another organisation to increase awareness of the Find Legal Answers service, and to provide helpful and timely information about the law to the community.
Blacktown City Libraries
Blacktown City Libraries delivered a three-part initiative over nearly a year, between December 2016 and November 2017, to promote free access to legal information at the library.
The three elements of the initiative were:
- collaboration with the local police station
- Law Week display and event
- staff training.
Collaboration with the local police station
The collaboration with the Blacktown police station began with the police delivering a safety talk Working with the public to library staff. Library staff then had the opportunity to do an 'all areas' tour of Blacktown police station. More importantly the collaboration provided an opportunity for Blacktown City Libraries to offer Blacktown police station an abridged version of the local courthouse partnership. This new partnership allows Find Legal Answers promotional material to be permanently displayed at Blacktown police station. Library staff can then visit the station to refill the display and connect with local officers. Having the promotional material on display at the police station has the potential to help those who need access to free simplified legal information in the initial stages of dealing with the legal system or prior to going to court.
Staff were motivated to form the collaboration after conversations with library customers showed that often people had little idea of the legal process or their rights when charged by the police. Placing promotional material at the police station would be useful not only to the alleged offender but also to their family who may be waiting at the station.
Law Week display and event
A large double-sided display was placed in the Max Webber Library foyer two weeks prior to Law Week highlighting the Find Legal Answers Tool Kit. Included in the display was a TV monitor looping a 'debt dating' video which linked to the Law Week talk Financial hardship – debt management delivered by a solicitor from the Financial Legal Rights Centre. Another Law Week talk was delivered by a local solicitor on the subject of wills.
As part of the planning for their Law Week display, the Library conducted an audit of legal brochures and booklets across all five branch libraries, which included an assessment of library display locations. As a result 1,970 items were ordered, in addition to the 500 items usually ordered each month. At the Max Webber Library, a review of the ground floor display spaces led to a more strategic approach in the placement of legal brochures, with targeted co-location of library material:
- Adult fiction and large print - wills, advocacy, housing
- Multicultural resources area - multilingual poster, immigration, drug info, housing
- Young adult - housing, police powers, drug info, youth and community justice
- Children’s area - keeping your child safe booklets
- First floor (a high traffic area between the reference and technology areas) - Hot Topics, Find Legal Answers Tool Kit, Law Books for Libraries titles and numerous brochures in stands, along with a separate dedicated area for Drug Info resources
Staff training will be delivered to library staff in November 2017 by members of the State Library LIAC team. The training will be the final component of the year-long initiative to create awareness and promote free access to legal resources to the community.
Campbelltown City Library
The Let’s Talk Legal program is a series of legal talks presented by qualified legal professionals from the Macarthur Legal Centre, Campbelltown in partnership with Campbelltown City Library. These talks provide the community with access to free legal advice and information delivered in an easy-to-understand manner with the option of further information or assistance via one-on-one consultation, or with the use of resources from the Find Legal Answers Tool Kit or Find Legal Answers online. The theme of the sessions is often set to coincide with special events throughout the year, eg the session held in Senior’s Week was on elder law issues, including wills, financial management and guardianship.
This program is a collaborative project between the Macarthur Legal Centre and Campbelltown Library Service. The pilot was launched in 2016 with the aim of increasing the community’s awareness of and access to quality legal information through the provision of free community legal education (CLE) talks by qualified legal professionals.
The 2016 pilot program presented talks on the following subject areas:
- Elder law - wills, financial management and guardianship
- Youth law - employment, driving
- Parenting after separation, dividing property after separation, divorce - a step by step guide
- How to get legal help if you can’t afford a lawyer
- Homelessness and the law, tenancy
- Workplace rights and responsibilities
- What to do when Family and Community Services comes to your door
- Mental health laws explained - a talk for carers
- Domestic and family violence - legal protections
- Legal issues for carers - guardianship, financial management and trusts.
Following the 2016 pilot program, the Library and Macarthur Legal Centre staff evaluated and refined the talks for 2017. Presentations were given on:
- Elder law - wills, financial management and guardianship
- Free legal advice clinic for young adults during Youth Week
- Debt - having trouble paying your bills, fines or loans?
- Wills for everyone
- Legal issues for people with disabilities and mental health problems - a talk for carers.
Campbelltown Library provides a venue for the legal talks in a relaxed, trusted and friendly environment. The program raises awareness of the services of the Macarthur Legal Centre and highlights the valuable legal information available online and in the Library via the Find Legal Answers service, providing the community with multiple avenues for legal information and advice.
Congratulations to both libraries! Both collaborations offer great ways of increasing access to legal information for the community.