Pandemic. A word which immediately brings to mind, at least for me, pandemonium. Yet out of this pandemonium, we as law librarians have been given a golden opportunity to help bring order to chaos and continue to prove how invaluable we are to our institutions and our communities.
As information experts, law librarians are even more vital as procedures and policies in the court system and our organizations shift daily, if not hourly, based on the fluctuating health data in our geographic areas. From untangling federal and state executive orders with their time extensions and strings of accompanying orders, to brainstorming, then putting into action ways in which to address remote court access for self-represented litigant needs, we as law librarians have stepped to the forefront of this existence where constantly shifting and changing information is the new normal. But really, this is not new to us. We bring order to the chaos of information. Keeping up with rapidly changing information is what we do.
In my personal experience during the pandemic, not only are we volunteering our assistance deeper into our organization (we are a county law library) but we are being recognized, called upon, and relied upon at higher levels. There is something so affirming watching other county departments come to the ‘aha!’ moment when they realize the law library has already created and put into place the plain language website resources for the public; a circuit-specific Zoom court graphic instruction sheet (in both English and Spanish) is available for all departments and bar association to distribute as needed; the Facebook posts are written and posted; volunteer attorney call centers set up; and the free remote Lexis Advance access is established. We grin with pride when a Judge lets us know court information has changed and we are able to immediately email them back the link to the courts website page where we have already updated it. Because this is what we do.
We stand at the front doors of the physically closed courthouse with iPads and Zoom court instructions for those who show up for their court dates, not realizing what ‘remote court’ means. We answer questions via chat, email, and the phone. We constantly create and recreate public information flyers and website additions and press releases as new COVID-19 legal resources and support become available, change, and sunset. We do these things because this is what we do.
The pandemic certainly does bring its strains and frustrations, but as a law librarian, I choose to see this as a time for us to flex our professional muscles and show off our skills just a little bit more than we normally do. A chance for us to step to the forefront as we support our court systems and in so doing our communities as a whole. We provide accurate, up-to-date, understandable information in a warm and empathetic manner that we hope will help people sort through this pandemonium of life we are currently living. This is what we do.