« Back to Education

Layman's Legal Series

Tulsa City-County Library

Innovation Leader: Robbie Sittel, Government Documents Librarian, rsittel@tulsalibrary.org

Problem Statement

The Central Library of the Tulsa City-County Library/TCCL is nestled in between the Tulsa County Courthouse and the Federal Courthouse. As a result of the proximity to the courthouses as well as the strong popularity of the AskUs Hotline where over 6500 phone calls come in each month many involving legal issues, TCCL staff receive a large number of legal questions. Questions vary from a need for a basic form to general statutory information to more in-depth legal questions that staff is unable to answer but can only serve as a gatekeeper to other community entities that provide legal advice. The numbers and types of questions received by staff evidence a need for programming that would educate on the basics of common legal questions and issues.

Innovation

The Tulsa City-County Library teamed with the Tulsa County Bar Association to offer Layman’s Legal. Working with the education committee of TCBA, Layman’s Legal is a monthly hour-long brown bag series where licensed attorneys volunteer to offer information on a legal topic. These sessions do not offer legal advice but do provide attendees with legal perspectives and information that they might not receive without hiring an attorney. Topics covered include Estate Planning, Legal Authorities, Family Law, Bankruptcy, Criminal Law, Credit and Contracts. An example of the April offering - “Understanding Credit and Foreclosures: At the heart of any credit card or mortgage is a basic legal document, a contract. This session will discuss the basics of contracts, the pitfalls of defaulting, and steps to avoid foreclosure.” Other programs have focused on small business law, elder law, and immigration where the expectations and process of becoming a United States Citizen as well as recent court decisions were explained and explored.

Progress

The series has provided 300+ library customers with access to valuable legal information and generalized assistance that compliments and supplements the TCCL legal collections. Additionally, the library has developed a strong relationship with the attorneys of the Tulsa County Bar Association who willingly offer their time for programs and are now more aware of the resources TCCL offers the community.