Alumna Attends National Conference on Public Libraries and Access to Justice

FRANKFORT, Ky., Feb. 3, 2010 - State Law Librarian Jennifer Frazier, '01, was a member of a three-person Kentucky team that recently participated in a national conference about how public libraries can improve online access to legal information at libraries. The team was one of the 15 teams chosen to attend the conference out of the 42 teams that applied from 31 states. Frazier's teammates were Terry L. Manuel, branch manager of program development for the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, and Marc Theriault, a law and technology projects manager for the Legal Aid Society of Louisville.

The Conference on Public Libraries and Access to Justice took place Jan. 11-12 in Austin, Texas, and was hosted by the Self-Represented Litigation Network in cooperation with the Legal Services Corp. The Self-Represented Litigation Network is hosted by the National Center for State Courts. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded the conference.

"The conference was a great start toward improving access to justice through libraries," Frazier said. "By bringing together public librarians and members of the legal aid community, the conference opened a door of communication between groups that might not think to work together. This communication will benefit everyone by resulting in us better serving self-represented litigants. The number of individuals acting as their own legal counsel in Kentucky has increased and will continue to grow."

During the conference, the teams learned about a broad range of customer-friendly legal resources available in print and online that have been developed by courts, bar associations, law libraries and legal aid programs that support people who do not have access to legal aid or counsel. Participants learned how to access the resources, assist in getting libraries and legal agencies to share them and take part in enhancing and customizing the resources.

The conference was a unique opportunity for participants to meet with public librarians and legal and court experts to discuss strategies for integrating access to legal information into their programs. This included how to best locate content and tools, talk about the content with library patrons, work with content partners to ensure that needed content is developed, share what they learned statewide and use successful programs to advocate for the importance of public libraries as gateways to government institutions.

"Public libraries are critical access points to government institutions," according to the Self-Represented Litigation Network. "As times get tougher, it becomes more and more important that people have libraries where they can find out how to protect their rights and navigate the complexities of our society."

In addition to the Kentucky team, teams selected to attend the conference were from California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

As head of the State Law Library of Kentucky, Frazier oversees an operation that provides research and reference assistance to the Kentucky Court of Justice and houses the central collection of legal research materials for state government.

Frazier has served as the state law librarian since September 2006. She joined the state law library as its legal counsel in March 2003 and served as the assistant state law librarian from April 2005 until she was named the state law librarian. She practiced law in Louisville for a year and a half before coming to the State Law Library. She earned her juris doctor from the University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law in 2001 and received her master's degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Kentucky in 2007. Frazier earned her bachelor's degree in history from Northern Kentucky University.