Library Juice Academy

Online Professional Development for Librarians

Legal Materials for Information Professionals

Instructor: Jason Sowards

Dates: August 5th through 30th, 2019

Credits: 1.5 CEUs or 15 PDHs

Price: $175


Librarians in a variety of settings are frequently asked to help library users do legal research. Researching the law can be difficult, and when confronted with these types of questions, you will need to know not only which resources are available, but also how those resources are connected to the complex U.S. legal system. This course is an introduction to the U.S. legal system and the types of law each branch of government produces. Specifically, topics covered will include the basic structure of the United States government and its law-making bodies, the evolution of case law through the concept of stare decisis, an introduction to legal citations and abbreviations that an information professional might encounter, and how to determine the currency of legal resources that are continually changing. Students will engage in legal research using free resources, though reference to commercial products legal research services will be made. Students will also learn how to effectively assist a patron without giving information that rises to the level of legal advice and the unauthorized practice of law. Students will also have the opportunity to learn about current issues relating to free public access to legal information.

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Identify whether a particular legal issue is governed by federal or state law;
  • Differentiate between persuasive and binding (mandatory) authority;
  • List the type of law each branch of government produces as well as how and where those laws may be found in print and online;
  • Recognize and interpret common legal citations and abbreviations;
  • Consult resources produced by the American Association of Law Libraries to assist non-law librarians in providing effective legal reference assistance; and
  • Articulate what is meant by the unauthorized practice of law, as well as identify ways to effectively assist customers without crossing legal or ethical lines.
Jasaon Sowards

Jason Sowards is the Law Librarian and Director of the Nevada Supreme Court Library. Jason received his BA and MS in economics, and MSLIS from the University of Kentucky, his JD from the University of Louisville, and his M.Ed. from Western Governors University. He has been a member of the Kentucky Bar since 2004. Jason began his career in academic law librarianship in 2006, having taught legal research to law students at Wake Forest University School of Law and Vanderbilt Law School. In his current position, Jason is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Nevada Supreme Court Library whose central mission is to serve the research needs of the Nevada Supreme Court and Court of Appeals. He is also responsible for coordinating outreach and instructional opportunities for judges and public libraries throughout Nevada.

Course Structure

This is an online class that is taught asynchronously, meaning that participants do the work on their own time as their schedules allow. The class does not meet together at any particular times, although the instructor may set up optional sychronous chat sessions. Instruction includes readings and assignments in one-week segments. Class participation is in an online forum environment.

Payment Info

You can register in this course through the first week of instruction (as long as enrollment is not full). The "Register" button above goes to our credit card payment gateway, which may be used with personal or institutional credit cards. (Be sure to use the appropriate billing address). If you want to pay with Paypal, or if your institution wants us to send a billing statement or wants to send us a purchase order, please contact us by email to make arrangements.