The Legal Information and Resource Network (LiRN) is pleased to announce that The Law Foundation of Ontario has accepted our proposal to fund a special two-year project. The $1.4 million project grant will help foster innovation and promote equity of access to legal resources.
“This project was developed by LiRN’s Board and staff over several months in response to data we have collected since 2020 to address a discrepancy in access to legal resources and a need for innovation across the network,” said Neil Guthrie, Chair of LiRN’s Board of Directors.
The Innovation and Equity of Access in Ontario Courthouse Libraries Project includes two streams of activity.
Stream one: Innovation sandbox
The Innovation Sandbox is an opportunity for individual libraries to experiment with ways to expand the traditional courthouse library service model. Network libraries will have the opportunity to execute their ideas on how to provide library users with the tools they require – now and in the future.
Libraries will be invited to propose ideas that allow them to experiment with and pilot new technologies, equipment, and service models. Successful pilots may be scaled up to include to other libraries in the network.
Over time, the Innovation Sandbox may provide a menu of tested options for expanding or modernizing services, without requiring large financial or human resources risks.
Stream two: Equity of access to standard library collections
Over the past several years, fewer available funds, pandemic closures and staff vacancies have left some libraries unable to keep their collections up to date. This has resulted in smaller collections being available to lawyers in some communities. This project stream aims to begin closing that gap by ensuring collections meet a defined minimum standard across the province.
In year one, libraries will be invited to submit an acquisition list for a one-time purchase of essential print resources, resulting in consistent access to the titles most essential to meeting the access to justice needs of their specific communities.
In year two, LiRN will pilot electronic resources for future inclusion in e-LiRN, a suite of electronic resources acquired centrally and available in all courthouse libraries that was launched in 2022.
Addressing the discrepancies in both print and electronic resources will allow lawyers across Ontario to access the critical resources required to maintain professional competence and meet the public’s need for effective legal services from anywhere in the province. LiRN thanks The Law Foundation of Ontario for its funding support of this project.