Wednesday, December 13, 2017

LawMatters Year in Review: Part 1

As we approach the end of another year, I wanted to write a 2-part post to reflect on the LawMatters program in 2017.

It's been another busy year, and I wouldn't have it any other way!
Here's an overview of some of our activities:

Grants & Collections

Grants are distributed annually to help purchase legal information and reference materials.

This year, LawMatters distributed grants to 57 library systems in British Columbia!
The Law Books for Libraries (LBL) list was updated and, since the LBL List can be a little overwhelming, we created 2 new guides to help get you started:

“Getting Started” with your Legal Collections – A collection guide for librarians new to legal material and./or the LawMatters Program

“How to turn $125 into a Legal Collection” – A guide for small libraries (recipients of small grants) on purchasing legal materials

Training & Outreach

LawMatters offers professional development for public librarians to improve their confidence helping the public with legal information questions.

Beyond Hope Conference - Prince George

LawMatters teamed up with Legal Services Society to present a session at the Beyond Hope Conference on Family Resources Online. We went over great resources you can add to your legal reference toolkit including Clicklaw, Family Law in British Columbia, and MyLawBC.

BC Library Conference 2017 – Vendor Display

This year, LawMatters set up a vendor table at the BC Library Conference in Vancouver. Thanks to those of you who were able to pop by! It's always nice to see familiar faces (and some new faces too!) from around the province. Of course, you don't have to wait for a conference if you want to chat about legal info - send me an email anytime!

Introduction to Legal Reference and Resources – Presentations

We gave introductory presentations/workshops on legal reference and resources for libraries in the following communities:


“Legal Collections 101 for Public Libraries” Webinar

We presented this webinar in March to correspond with the release of the 2017 Law Books for Libraries List. In this webinar, we discussed different legal publishers, subscription models, and weeding tips! You can still check it out - the recording of our webinar is available here!

“Introduction to Legal Information & Help Online” Webinar

Back for its second year, we presented our Introduction to Legal Information & Help Online aka our Clicklaw Refresher webinar in June. Need a quick refresher? The recording is available here!

This year, library staff we trained reported an 88% increase in confidence using legal information and answering legal information questions.

Part 2 coming soon!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

LawMatters at Saskatchewan Access to Legal Information Conference

Guest Written
By Janet Freeman

I was fortunate to be able to present at two events of the Saskatchewan Access to Justice Week.                         
 On October 19, I gave a talk at a public library on "How can your library help you access legal information?", which was part of the library's Free Legal Resource Fair.  Last spring the provincial government passed a budget that reduced public library budgets by 58%, which led to many public protests and the funding restored, but perhaps still in peril. Access to Justice organizers felt that the BC LawMatters experience pointed to one example of the real value of public libraries: getting legal information to laypeople.

 I then attended the Saskatchewan Access to Legal Information Conference on The Role of Legal Information Providers and Public Libraries in Promoting Access to Justice, and gave a keynote talk on the history of the LawMatters program and how we selected titles for the recommended purchase lists for public libraries. The audience consisted of law librarians, public legal education lawyers, and public librarians. I was impressed that the Deputy Attorney General attended the whole conference (he received a round of applause). We had some great brainstorming sessions about how to collaborate on future training and resources, and I learned about the fun of getting to work on a snowmobile, or being a Library Director of 55 library branches.

Thank you, Janet, for representing LawMatters and the importance of public libraries in access to justice!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Wikibook Announcement: New JP Boyd on Family Law

The newest edition of the print JP Boyd on Family Law has just arrived here at Courthouse Libraries!

Written in plain language, with definitions for key legal terms, JP Boyd on Family Law provides practical, in-depth explanation of family law and divorce law in British Columbia.

As I mentioned in a previous post, this year LawMatters planned to distribute 3 Clicklaw Wikibooks titles to BC public libraries for free! We distributed Legal Help Guide for British Columbians and the Law Students' Legal Advice Manual in August.

We are now preparing our mailout of this title - your library should be receiving copies soon!

Just as a reminder: 
All public library systems in BC will be receiving copies - your library does not have to be participating in the LawMatters grants program to receive this publication.

Copies will be distributed with library size in mind. Smaller libraries or libraries with one location will receive 1 copy and larger libraries will receive 1 copy for each branch location.


If you have any questions about this, please email me at

Friday, September 15, 2017

LawMatters Evaluation: Results

Last year, Courthouse Libraries BC embarked on an evaluation to assess the LawMatters program. We are pleased to share a summary of the results through this infographic:

These documents are also available on the LawMatters Website.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Coming Soon! New Clicklaw Wikibooks for your Library!

We will begin our mail out of Law Students’ Legal Advice Program (LSLAP) Manual and the Legal Help Guide for British Columbians next week!

This year, LawMatters is pleased to announce that we will be providing print versions of the following Clicklaw Wikibooks to public libraries:

Legal Help Guide for British Columbians (Updated)

For over 40 common legal problems, the Guide provides first steps to address the problem and options for further information or help - all written in plain language!

Law Students’ Legal Advice Program (LSLAP) Manual (New)

The Law Students' Legal Advice Program's (LSLAP) Manual provides quick answers to many legal issues. Originally designed as an educational resource for LSLAP students, it is now used by hundreds of organizations across BC. Clicklaw Wikibooks and LSLAP have joined efforts to bring the Manual to the Clicklaw Wikibooks format.

JP Boyd on Family Law (Updated)

Written in plain language, with definitions for key legal terms, JP Boyd on Family Law provides practical, in-depth explanation of family law and divorce law in British Columbia.


What are Clicklaw Wikibooks?

In a nut-shell, Clicklaw Wikibooks are online, collaboratively published, plain language resources covering a range of legal information topics.

Why provide print copies?

One of the goals of the print initiative is to help libraries have an established core collection of legal information. The other goal is to provide a format (print & online) that can make legal information accessible in every community.

Who gets a print copy?

All public library systems in BC will be receiving copies of our new publications – copies will be distributed with library size in mind. For example, smaller libraries or libraries with one location will receive 1 copy (of each wikibook).

Your library does not have to be participating in the LawMatters grants program to receive these publications.

If you have questions about this, please email me at 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Weeding Tips Part 2: A Tour of Legislation

Your may have legislation in your collection – what do you do with it?

Just for clarification here are some images of legislative volumes – your library may have one or all of these.

1996 Revised Statutes of British Columbia – aka“the grey binders.”

The main benefit of these binders is that one can see, in print, a fairly up-to-date version of British Columbian laws. The ‘1996’ refers to the last time the laws were consolidated; subscription filings are what make them current.*

Fortunately, this information is all freely available now on The online versions will be the most current. These binders are updated by subscription so if you are thinking of weeding these binders, make sure your subscription is not still active.

Statutes of British Columbia - BC Legislative Volumes (bound)

These are the official published BC Laws. These can be a little tricky to navigate as they don’t contain BC Laws consolidated (all in one place). Legislative volumes contain new legislation, amendments, and tables of legislative changes.

Statutes of Canada (bound)

These are the printed laws of Canada (Federal legislation) – Please note that these are also available online - the online version and the print are BOTH considered official.

* Please note that the online version of BC laws and the content in the binders are not considered the ‘official’ versions; the official laws are bound in statute volumes. Conversely, Federal Laws online at are considered official.


Having legislation available in print can be an important access point for your patrons researching the law. There are a few things to consider when evaluating this portion of your legal collection:

  • Space – do you have room for these volumes?
  • Format – is print access to laws important for your community? BC Laws are all available online now – will this be accessible?
  • Time – are you filing updates to your legislation?

If you are receiving bound (federal) legislative volumes, before weeding your legislation, it might be good to check if your library is actually designated as a depository for those materials: You may have to refer to the Depository Services Program of Canada and contact them to see what requirements are needed for your library.


If you can access laws and provide print from the online resource BCLaws, you do not have the space or time to maintain legislative subscriptions (like the grey binders), and you are NOT a depository – you can weed your legislation as needed for your library.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Weeding Tips Part 1: General Guidelines for Legal Collections

General Guidelines for Legal Collections

Jurisdiction and currency are important factors in retention and weeding. The jurisdiction should be Canada and/or British Columbia. The currency can get a little tricky:

In general a title may be considered current if published within the last 5 years BUT there are some important exceptions:

If the laws have changed, materials should be updated to reflect the most recent changes.

As a general rule, in the following areas of law, items should be discarded and replaced if they are published before the following dates:
  • Criminal Law – Most current possible (within 2-3 years max)
    • The Criminal Code is amended every year
  • Family Law – March 2013
    • New Family Law Act repealed and replaced the old Family Relations Act, effective March 2013.
  • Immigration – Most current possible (within 2-3 years max)
    • The Immigration and Refugee Protection has had massive changes in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015; there are changes made fairly regularly.
  • Insurance Act – July 2012
    • The Insurance Act was revised in 2012 consolidating the previously existing act and its amendments.
  • Local Government Act – January 2016
    • This act governs municipalities –if your library collects municipal legal information, update to reflect the latest updates.
  • Societies Act – November 2016
    • A new Societies Act will replace the existing Society Act effective November 2016. This act governs how societies (not-for-profit corporations) are created and run in BC.
  • Wills, Estates, and Personal Planning – March 2014
    • Effective March 2014, the Wills, Estates, and Succession Act (WESA) repealed and replaced:
      • Estate Administration Act
      • Probate Recognition Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 376 
      • Wills Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 489 
      • Wills Variation Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 490 
      • And parts of…
        • Law and Equity Act
        • Survivorship and Presumption of Death Act

This information can be found in the full Retention and Weeding Guidelines (Word).
See also the Retention and Weeding List (Excel)