Sunday, May 04, 2008

law library, part 5

you'd think I'd get sick of writing about of this, but it's nice to see something happening...

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Law library: on road to repair?

By Sam Bhagwat

of the Valley Mirror

A man with a plan.

That’s Butte County law librarian John Zorbas, who presented ideas Thursday for making Glenn County’s broken law library work.

He negotiated with a Berkeley publisher for access to OnLaw, a basic, easy-to-use online legal research tool, and listed some basic sets of law code books to buy: annotated code, rules of procedure, evidence, and so forth.

And, the total price was well within Glenn County’s $11,000 yearly budget.

Those present were impressed with Mr. Zorbas’s ideas and enthusiasm.

“What would it take for you to be our law librarian?”, asked county counsel and board member Tom Agin.

The financial administration would still come through Glenn County, Mr. Again proposed, “but the hard questions would come to you.”

“I think that would work,” Mr. Zorbas replied.

Mr. Zorbas runs a tight, efficient operation, especially compared to Glenn’s.

Butte has seven times the population and its law library 20 times the budget, but receives 100 times more usage, as the MIRROR documented in a four-part March series. The few Glenn County users are frustrated with a slow online system designed for legal professionals rather than the average citizens.

Mr. Zorbas proposed running the law library largely in the same manner it is run now, off of the public library computers, with legal self-help program SHARP possibly helping out with shelf space.

But, says the experienced Mr. Zorbas, OnLaw is actually user-friendly, instead of the currently-used LexisNexis system, designed for lawyers.

On the book side, Glenn County libraries have only a couple shelves of outdated law books now; Mr. Zorbas’s ideas would add many resources who prefer to flip instead of browse.

The proposed system for Glenn County, Mr. Zorbas added, is also something he wants for outlying regions in Butte County, like Paradise.

The law library board met without a quorum, as Judge Angus Saint-Evens and two lawyers were tied up unexpectedly in court.

Mr. Agin, who resigned a month ago as the law librarian, was appointed at the last supervisors’ meeting as a library member.

At the meeting, he said he never knew he had been made law librarian in the first place, and didn’t particularly care to be involved longer.

“I would be more than happy to not have anything to do with this anymore,” he said.

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