Welcome to the 2017 MLA Annual Conference! This year’s theme is Radical Librarianship - the power of libraries to provide access to the truth, strengthen our community voices, create opportunity for exploration and innovation, and assist our patrons to build a better future. Libraries have always been radical, but what does Radical Librarianship mean for us today? Join us at the 2017 MLA Annual Conference to help shape that conversation!
Back To Schedule
Friday, October 6 • 9:15am - 10:05am
Tricky Legal Questions: A Radical Approach to Making Them Satisfying for Patrons and for You!

Sign up or log in to save this to your schedule, view media, leave feedback and see who's attending!

Many librarians are afraid of legal questions at the reference desk. When asked something legal-ish, the gut reaction is to reply, "I'm not a lawyer, I can't give you legal advice." However, when the first thing the patron hears is, "I can't help you," they may not be receptive to the legal information you can provide. Can you provide a successful legal reference experience without giving legal advice? Yes, you can! The speakers will first review differences between legal information and legal advice, and then share a series of tactics and helpful phrases to employ when answering legal information questions. Finally, the presenters will role-play some legal reference interactions to demonstrate how to be helpful and effective without giving advice. The audience will participate by suggesting which phrases could be employed in that situation and then critiquing the overall reference interview.


Pauline Afuso

Law Librarian, Washington County Law Library
Pauline Afuso is the Law Librarian for Washington County, and she provides reference service to self-represented litigants and others needing legal information. She received her MLS from UCLA in 1993, and has experience in working with patrons and legal information in a variety of... Read More →

Karen Westwood

Law Library Director, Hennepin County Law Library
Karen Westwood received her M.S. in Library and Information Science in 1987 and worked in public and university libraries before launching her law library career as a circuit-riding prison law librarian for Law Library Service to Prisoners, a program of the Minnesota State Law Library... Read More →

Friday October 6, 2017 9:15am - 10:05am CDT
Meeting Room 111