Not ANOTHER !?$#@ Law Question?!: Reference Strategies for Business Librarians


BRASS Program, ALA Annual Conference, July 10, 2000

Presentation Outline

M. Uri Toch
Corporate and Small Business Liaison Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library
Schaumburg, IL

Schaumburg Township District Community - Who We Serve
  • 125,000 population
    • Schaumburg, Elk Grove Village, Roselle, Hanover Park, and Hoffman Estates, Streamwood
    • additional requests from general Chicago Metropolitan areas
  • Home to major corporations
    • Motorola, Woodfield Mall, Zurich American
    • 70,000 workers (daily)
Schaumburg Township District Library (STDL)
  • 18 Adult Reference Librarians
  • Open 81 hours per week
  • 430,000 volume collection, including:
    • local, state, and federal laws and other primary documents
    • loose-leaf services and other explanatory materials
    • handbooks, encyclopedias, and legal dictionaries
  • Extensive electronic reference products
    • CD-ROM products
    • Web-based subscriptions
  • 40 adult public access Internet terminals
  • Annual circulation of 2.0 million volumes
Typical Scenarios
  • Business Law
    • "Do I need a lcense to start this business?"
    • "I need a copy of IRS Tax Code 275."
    • "What is the difference between a corporation and a limited liability company?"
    • "How many times has split since 1968?"
  • Personal Law ( with a business slant)
    • "I was just fired. Can they do that?"
    • "My landlord won't fix this. What options do I have?"
    • "I want to see the laws on speeding tickets."
  • Directory questions ( with a business slant)
    • "I need an attorney for ."
    • I want to know the qualifications for this attorney."
  • Business Forms
    What forms do I need if....
    • I want to start my own business.
    • I want to sell my business.
    • I want to hire consultants.
Barriers to Service
  • Internal
    • insufficient resources
    • resources that are difficult to use
    • laws difficult to use / interpret / understand
    • low occurrence of questions
  • External
    • demanding patrons
      • want it now!
      • actual answers vs. information
    • first and last point of contact
    • Patron provides partial or incorrect citation / information
Overcoming Barriers
  • The Legal Reference Interview
    • Don't be intimidated by the question
    • Don't be afraid to ask questions
    • Use of call back
  • Creative use of resources
  • Multiple resources
  • Try "Non-Legal" sources
  • Other staff members can be good resources
  • It's okay not to have the answer, but provide them with an answer or options
  • Staff Training
    • Train staff on new or existing resources
    • Attend open houses at local law libraries
    • Library consortia (outside classes)
    • Librarian exchange
    • Additional coursework
    • Bookmark legal web sites at Reference terminals
  • Outreach
    • Public programs
    • Bibliographies / Pathfinders
    • Establish "Law Liaison Librarian"
  • Overcoming barriers is key to
    • marketing your library's service capabilities
    • improving staff confidence
  • Building relationships will alow librarians to meet tomorrow's questions

bullet Not ANOTHER !?$#@ Law Question?!: Reference Strategies for Business Librarians
BRASS Program, ALA Annual Conference, July 10, 2000

Disclaimer: This publication has been placed on the web for the convenience of BRASS members. Information and links will not be updated. Posted 9 August 2000.