Your Name and Title: Laura Francabandera, Adult Services Supervisor

Library, School, or Organization Name: Maricopa County Library District

Co-Presenter Name(s): Kacie Nickel, Deputy Public Defender Specialty Group

Area of the World from Which You Will Present: Arizona, USA

Language in Which You Will Present: English

Target Audience(s): Public libraries, legal librarians

Short Session Description (one line): This session will talk about how libraries can leverage their technology access and digital equity knowledge to help bridge the access to justice gap. 

Full Session Description (as long as you would like):

Access to Justice is a fundamental human right - During the past year, the Maricopa County Library District partnered with the Office of the Public Defender to provide free, informative webinars about basic justice issues. Those webinars evolved into a weekly podcast called Know Your Rights, where attorneys and librarians talk about legal issues that affect people everyday and what resources are available within the community.
In addition to the podcast, the library has created a safe space for people to access information and participate in justice system. While our constitution protects fundamental rights, as the courts move toward virtual appearances technology often becomes a barrier to adequate representation. In a virtual court setting, people are required to have a level of technology access and ditigal knowledge that our most vulnerable community segments often do not have. The library has technology such as free wifi, chromebooks and hotspots to loan, digital teaching, and sometimes even bookable private rooms. These offerings can help people access the j\ssutice system in a way that they were not able to on their own. For instance, if someone doesn't have internet or phone capabilities, how are they supposed to attend their virtual court hearing that is set up via Microsoft Teams? 

The reality of the justice system is that about 80% of low-to-moderate income people within the US alone do not get adequate legal representation. This is due to a number of issues spanning from the high cost of legal aid to a lack of legal knowledge. If someone does not know when a problem is legal, what their legal options are, or how to access legal resources, then they do not have appropriate access to justice. Libraries, as digital community anchor points, are in a unique position to bridge that access to justice gap. 
Join those podcast creators as they talk about what libraries have to offer and how it can help people learn about and engage with the legal system.

This session will:
  • Identify the consequences of the access to justice gap
  • Highlight how specific library technologies & services can help bridge the gap
  • Suggest strategic community partnership and collaboration avenues
Websites / URLs Associated with Your Session:

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