On August 17th, county law librarians throughout the state were joined by local legislative representatives and dignitaries in celebrating the 125th Anniversary of California’s county law libraries held at the Wedgewood Sterling Hotel in Sacramento. The Senate Resolution (SR 83) declaring August 17, 2016 as County Law Library Day was the highlight of the evening ceremony. John Adkins, President of the Council of California County Law Librarians (CCCLL) accepted the proclamation on behalf of the CCCLL members and thanked Senator Wolk for her support and the recognition of county law libraries’ vital role in accessing and delivering justice by providing essential services to the people of the State of California.
CCCLL held its annual Fall Meeting at the California State Library the following day. The subject of declining filing fee revenue and legislative advocacy for supplemental funding strategies for county law libraries were discussed. The CCCLL’s Statistics and Needs Assessment Committee reported a 37% statewide decrease in filing fees from FY2009 – FY2016. While many county law libraries are starting to see a reduction in the rate of decline as indicated in revenues received in the last 13 months, others are still experiencing continuing decline including the county of Riverside at 44% and San Bernardino at 43%. The committee also reported 65% of county law libraries in California are currently operating at a deficit. A survey on the impact of budgets on county law libraries services conducted in March 2016 revealed majority of the libraries canceled their subscriptions, reduced their number of full time and part time employees, decreased outreach activities, and cut back hours of operation since 2011. All libraries responding to the survey have instituted some cost-cutting measures since 2008 with nearly 75% of them reported delaying replacing equipment and two-thirds of them charge a fee for use of their meeting spaces and raise their printing charges.
The Legislative Advocacy Committee presented an alternate strategy to obtain state funding for county law libraries. It laid out a four-phased approach in seeking and garnering the support of Governor Brown, state and local legislative leaders, the Judicial Council, local Bar groups, and other pertinent organizations in CCCLL’s efforts to secure a stable and long term funding source for county law libraries.
A panel discussion on “Unauthorized Practice of Law: Legal Information vs. Legal Advice” provided attendees with expert advice and practical tips in providing legal reference assistance to self-represented litigants. New product demo included Koha by WaterSolutions, which is an open source Integrated Library System and Ravel Law, an alternative electronic legal research platform that combines traditional case law research with data visualization and analytics. A program session on “Law Library Autonomy & Partnerships: Challenges & Opportunities” and “Dealing with Patrons with Mental Health Issues” rounded up this year’s CCCLL Fall Meeting.