Help Save Connecticut Courthouse Libraries By Spreading the Word

Since first hearing about the planned closure of of six of the fifteen courthouse libraries in Connecticut I have contacted I have heard from a number of people (both librarians and non-librarians) from throughout that state. By all accounts the announced closures will prevent attorneys, judges and members of the public from accessing the up-to-date legal materials they need. They will especially hurt disadvantaged citizens and pro se litigants, who are especially vulnerable and may be unable to access official legal resources and will be required to struggle to travel to far-away courthouses. While the dire budgetary circumstances are the state currently faces are understandable, it is essential that Connecticut’s public law libraries and courthouses remain open. They are irreplaceable.

To help spread the word, the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) has been working closely with the Southern New England Librarians Association (SNELLA) to oppose the announced closures . Kate Hagan the AALL Executive Director has distibuted an e-mail (see below) which details that effort. It includes some useful links for those who want to become active in saving Connecticut court libraries.

People are also urged to search the directory of state legislators and government employees at the of Connecticut Website for other contacts that could be helpful in this effort. This web site includes a directory of state employees, a directory of state legislators, and a directory of federal legislators serving Connecticut, all with links for e-mail contact information.

Additionally I have included a link at the end of this post to enable you to download the November 18, 2009 written testimony of Judge Barbara Quinn, Chief Court Administrator at an Appropriations Committee public hearing on Deficiencies. In this statement she includes a section on “Closing law libraries”.

Please help spread the word about the importance of saving Connecticut courthouse libraries.

David Badertscher
AALL has been working closely with the Southern New England Law Librarians Association (SNELLA), to oppose the announced closure of six of the 15 courthouse libraries in Connecticut. They are jointly sponsoring online petitions to save the courthouse libraries in Bridgeport, Hartford, Litchfield, Milford, and Norwich. The sixth library, at the Willimantic Courthouse, is not staffed and its small collection will likely be moved to the local public university. Each petition includes a compelling statement by a leader of the local bar association, whose members stand ready to join forces with us. Attorneys and pro se litigants will be deprived of local access to current and historic legal materials, as well as the knowledge and expertise of professional librarians, if we do not stop these proposed closures.

The petitions are open to all residents of Connecticut, so please help spread the word so that our efforts are successful in quickly getting as many signatures as possible to keep these public law libraries open and staffed.

In addition to the petitions, on December 23, AALL and SNELLA sent joint letters to Connecticut’s Governor Rell and to the leadership of the Appropriations Committee strongly opposing the decision, which was announced by Judge Barbara M. Quinn, chief court administrator. The closures became necessary, according to Quinn, after the executive branch cut $12.9 million from the budget for the judicial branch.

Kate Hagan Executive Director American Association of Law Libraries Suite 3300
105 W. Adams Street Chicago, IL 60603
Written Testimony of Judge Barbara M. Quinn, Chief Administrative Judge of Connecticut to the Appropriations Committee Public Hearing on Deficiencies, November 18, 2009

Contact Information