Ok, so we have not had an actual party . . . yet. However, we are celebrating the completion of construction in the DuPage County Law Library! The self-help center is open and being used by our pro se patrons. We now have six additional computers that are available to the public. The additional computers were greatly needed and are being well used. We have a new desk, the Westlaw/LexisNexis terminals have been moved, and the entryway door is now handicap accessible.
An added bonus is that our staff area received an update also. Since we knew we were going to have a new space with shiny new walls on which to hang things, we put out a call to all DuPage County employees to let us display their art in the law library. Seven people responded, and from those seven we received 21 pieces of art. We received everything from photographs, watercolors, oil on canvas, and cross-stitch pieces.
Construction officially began back in February. The main project at that time was the creation of the self-help center. If you tuned in last time you know that we were not sure how this area would be staffed. For now our library manager and I take turns in shifts assisting patrons with the navigation of legal websites or anything else we can without crossing into giving legal advice. As for the future, it may be staffed by students or volunteers. The best thing about the creation of this space now is that before we only had three laptop computers that had internet access. The other five desktops were and continue to only be used for Westlaw/Lexis. The laptops were used by everyone from attorneys to other court staff on break and of course our pro se patrons. This means that those three laptops were busy, particularly in the morning. The attorneys almost always needed access to the internet in the morning right before or right after court. The attorneys were usually printing or editing something for court. The pro se patrons, however, were probably working on a motion, a complaint, or in some cases an appeal and did not have the amount of time or space to really work. They were always getting interrupted because we had to set time limits so that everyone had a chance to use the laptops. Now with the addition of six internet ready computers in the self-help center, pro se patrons can get on a computer and take their time and just work. This is only the beginning of our experience with the self-help center. I’m looking forward to seeing what it develops into.
If you happen to be in the area stop by, say hi, and take a look around.