The Third Branch
Public Library Initiative hits Fitchburg
By Bonnie MacRitchie, Office of Court Operations
On June 10, an educational session of the Public Library Initiative was held at the Fitchburg Public Library in the Fifth Judicial Administrative District.
The Public Library Initiative is an effort co-sponsored by the Planning and Policy Advisory Committee (PPAC) of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the State Law Library, and the South Central Library System aimed at educating Wisconsin librarians about resources available to assist self-represented litigants.
The Public Library Initiative was initially launched in District 10 in 2007 and reached all but two judicial districts by 2011. The project's goal is to foster communications between local courts and public libraries in an effort to assist the public in understanding the legal system and to better meet the legal service needs of the self-represented litigants.
Presenters at the June event included Dane County Circuit Court Judge Shelley Gaylord, Dane County Clerk of Circuit Court Carlo Esqueda, District Five Court Administrator Gail Richardson, Rock County Register in Probate Louis Mineau, UW Law School Professor Marsha Mansfield, and Wisconsin State Law Librarian Julie Tessmer.
"It was a pleasure to present practical information to a group of Dane County librarians," Gaylord said. "They serve as the 'front bumpers' for answering questions from the public about basic information in the legal system. I hope they found the directions to websites, the information about 'what we do,' and the forms useful. Whenever we have a chance to promote understanding about the legal system, I think we are all better served. Thanks for their interest and continued service."
The program provided an overview of assistance to self-represented litigants in Wisconsin, both statewide and in Dane, Rock, Green, and LaFayette counties. The speakers also gave an overview of the duties of their respective offices and the type of services they provide to self-represented litigants. Mansfield presented information about the pro se clinics available through the law school. Tessmer shared information that can be found on the State Law Library's website.
The Public Library Initiative will travel next to District Two in the fall.
Wisconsin State Law Librarian Julie Tessmer presents information about resources available to the public on the legal system and to assist self-represented litigants in the Wisconsin court system.
District Five Court Administrator Gail Richardson was among presenters who met with librarians at the Fitchburg Public Library to discuss resources available to assist self-represented litigants. The session, held June 10 at the Fitchburg Public Library, is part of the Public Library Initiative.