Law on the ‘Net: A Workshop for Non-Law Librarians
(An Infopeople Online Learning Course)
November 4, 2008- December 8, 2008
This class will take a Thanksgiving break from November 24, to November 30, 2008. During that period students are free to work on the class but the Instructor will not be available.
Few people get through their lives without encountering the law in one form or another. Libraries are often people’s fist stop as they attempt to navigate the murky waters of the legal system. If you have ever felt you lack expertise in answering users’ legal reference questions, this course is for you! You’ll come away with practical tips on answering common reference requests such as:
- Finding good sources for legal information on fighting speeding tickets
- Where to go to find good resources on divorce law
- Helping users find reliable legal information regarding conflicts with landlords or neighbors
This online course will help you gain confidence when confronted with legal reference questions. By understanding more about “the law” you’ll know the right questions to ask during the reference interview, the best web sites to show your users, and the pitfalls of legal research on the ‘net. You’ll also be able to develop web pages and guides for answering common legal reference questions. Best of all, you’ll have a strategy for facing even the most daunting legal questions.
Workshop Description: This four-week online learning course will provide you with an understanding of what the law is and where to find it on the web. We’ll discuss user – and librarian - perceptions about the law, why it’s not as scary – or as easy – as some people think, and how to effectively provide legal reference service. Weekly exercises will give you the opportunity to experience the helpfulness – or lack thereof – of legal web sites. You will also participate in online discussion forums where you and fellow students can share successes and challenges in handling legal questions.
Preliminary Course Outline: Using your web browser and your Internet connection, you will log in to the Infopeople online learning site and complete the following learning modules:
- Module One: Legal Reference Boot Camp
- Debunking legal myths
- Cases, statutes, regulations, ordinances: what they are, why they are important.
- Initial questions for your user
- Where to begin when you don’t know where to begin
- Module Two: California and Federal Law
- What is readily available and useable on the web
- No, you cannot throw away those self-help books yet
- Module Three: Forms! Forms! Forms!
- Why what seems so easy isn’t
- Module Four: “Referral” Is Not a Four-Letter Word
- Finding and evaluating attorneys
- Law libraries want your business!
- Strategizing for legal reference success
Pre-workshop assignment: Please gather legal questions that you or your colleagues have encountered to use as illustrations throughout the course.
Online Learning Details:
This four-week course will be taught online using the web. When you register, you will receive a registration confirmation, which will include the URL to get to the course, as well as a username and password.
Every student proceeds through the online learning modules at his or her own pace. Students should expect to commit to spending a minimum of 3 to 3½ hours per week on this course in order to be successful. You can work on each module at your own pace, at any hour of the day or night. However, you will be expected to log in to the course each week to do that week's assignment. We ask that you log in sometime during the first week of the course to begin the course work.
Your instructor will be available for limited consultation support for two weeks after the official end date of a course, and the course material will stay up for an additional two weeks after that, to give those who have fallen behind time to work independently on the course. However, you will be expected to accomplish the majority of the course in synchronization with your peers during the first four weeks.
Who Should Take This Course: Anyone from the library community who staffs a reference desk where legal questions may pop up. It is also appropriate for webmasters developing legal web pages and those responsible for collection development. No prior knowledge of legal materials is needed.
This course is taught over the web. You must:
- Be able to save Microsoft Word .doc or Adobe .pdf files to your computer and print them out. (For .doc files, a free Word Viewer is available at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/search.aspx?displaylang=en. Search for "Word Viewer." For .pdf files, a free Adobe Acrobat Reader is available at http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/main.html).
- Be comfortable navigating on the web and navigating back and forward on a website that uses frames.
- To be most successful in this course you should be willing to share information with your colleagues and be willing to spend time reading and participating in the weekly discussion boards.
System Requirements: The online learning product that Infopeople uses is called Angel. The following are minimum system requirements for using Angel. You will need access to a computer that has at least these specifications to participate in an online course:
- Microsoft Windows XP or Microsoft Windows Vista
- Internet Explorer 7.0 and above, Mozilla Firefox 2.0 and above
- Phishing Filter disabled (IE 7)
- OS X and above (OS 9 will NOT work with our online learning product)
- Mozilla Firefox 2.0 and above, Safari 2.0 and above
If you are not comfortable with any of the above, please consider taking this course with a colleague who does meet these requirements.
Fee: $75 for those in the California library community and $150 for those out-of-state.
Course Start: This 4-week-long online learning course starts on November 4, 2008.
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