Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today marked the 50th anniversary and rededication of the Cook County Law Library (CCLL), pointing out that equal access to legal resources is critical to a properly functioning system of justice.
The Law Library’s main branch, located in the Richard J. Daley Center in downtown Chicago, is open to judges, lawyers, government officials, researchers, self-represented litigants and the public at-large. Law Library branches also are located at courthouses in Skokie, Markham, Maywood and Bridgeview, and in the Leighton Criminal Courts Building at 26th and California.
“Free and equitable access to the law is essential to the fair administration of justice. And the Cook County Law Library has played a critical role in ensuring that anyone can use its services, regardless of income or circumstance,” Preckwinkle said during an event marking the CCLL’s anniversary and rededication at the Daley Center. “I am pleased to mark the first 50 years, and to help rededicate the Cook County Law Library as an important institution charged with providing a key service to our broad and diverse Cook County community.”
The CCLL was founded on Sept. 30, 1963. It opened in its current location in 1966. From its inception, the CCLL has been dedicated to serving the legal information needs of any interested group or individual. Almost 100,000 visitors are expected to visit the county’s law libraries in 2013. The Daley Center Library alone has hosted an average of more than 1,400 visitors per week this year.
The CCLL boasts a rich collection of print and electronic resources. For example, the CCLL maintains government documents, foreign and international law, contemporary and historical federal and state law resources. It also offers free onsite public access to subscription databases such as WestlawNext, Lexis, HeinOnline, the EBSCO Legal Information Reference Center, LegalTrac and, in the Daley Center Library, the Foreign Law Guide.
Beyond its collection, the Law Library is embracing new services to deliver information, especially to self-represented litigants. A planned addition of an Education Center at the Daley Center Library would allow extra space for patron access to electronic resources, as well as provide a set-aside area for meetings, conferences and training.
The Law Library is partnering with outside organizations to provide added services. The Cook County Board recently approved a memorandum of agreement with the Chicago Bar Foundation to staff a self-help center in the Daley Center Library. The center will provide assistance to people who need help navigating online legal resources and the court system. It is exploring similar partnerships to increase services.
This year the downtown library has hosted a series of “brown bag lunches” open to the public on a variety of topics, such as one on voting rights.
“With its commitment to embracing technology and increasing outreach, the Cook County Law Library will continue to provide important legal resources and services to professionals and ordinary citizens alike,” Preckwinkle said. “Today, in its 50th year, we affirm the critical role of our public law library, the Cook County Law Library, in the ongoing pursuit of equal access to justice.”