Answering Legal Reference Questions on a Shoestring

ARSL-for-web-600pxThe Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) is one of my favorite library organizations. I have had the privilege of presenting at the national conference and working with their leaders over the years. Join us for Answering Legal Reference Questions on a Shoestring, a webinar with Paul Healey, Senior Instructional Services Librarian at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

When: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 (75 minutes)

Start times by time zone: 11:30 am (Pacific), 12:30 pm (Mountain), 1:30 pm (Central), 2:30 pm (Eastern)

Cost: $10.00

Sponsored by the Association for Rural & Small Libraries (ARSL) and produced by Siera: Learn. Teach. Inspire.

Click here to register and pay.

If you have problems with the link above, please cut and paste it into your browser:

  1. Click on the radio button that says Webinar Registration.
  2. Click on the button that says Next on the righthand side of the browser window. (Sometimes it likes to hide, so make sure your browser window is opened wide.) This will take you to the registration page.
  3. Click on Webinar – Answering Legal Reference Questions on a Shoestring, and then click on Next.

After you pay, you will be directed to go to the GoToWebinar link, where you will register for the webinar itself. You will not need a microphone to participate, but speakers or headphones will improve the sound quality.


Photo Credit: State Library of Queensland 1948. No known copyright restrictions. Description

Do your library’s customers want help with legal issues?

Reference questions seeking legal information are fairly common, but most libraries do not have the materials, or the expertise, to answer such questions. This webinar will explain the ins and outs of answering such questions, including potential legal issues when providing help. We also will look briefly at the array of legal materials and resources available for free on the Internet.

Although this webinar focuses on the needs of smaller and rural libraries, the information will prove useful to any type or size institution.

Presenter Bio

Photo of Paul Healey (ARSL presenter)Paul Healey serves as Senior Instructional Services Librarian at the Jenner Law library of the University of Illinois College of Law. He teaches Legal Research and Advanced Legal Research courses in the law school, and also teaches courses on legal materials, information ethics, and library administration at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science. He holds a JD in law and MA in library and information science from the University of Iowa, and a PhD in library and information science from the University of Illinois.

Paul is considered a national expert on librarian professional liability and on legal issues pertaining to pro se library users. More information about Paul here.

Contact info

For more information about ARSL, contact Becky Heil at For help with GoToWebinar contact Pat Wagner at


Seats Available for Live FL Everyday Library Ethics Class March 14, 2013

I understand some seats are still available. If you live near Tallahassee, will be at FAMU library.

Ethics is one of my favorite topics to share with live or online audiences. It is about asking questions, understanding different points of view, becoming well-versed in a variety of topics, and always remembering that you might be wrong, and they might be right. My experience has been that people who think in terms of black-and-white often have trouble with sometimes ambiguous and complex ethical challenges.

Although there are many flavors of ethics and ethical theories, I stick to a pretty vanilla party line: I currently (notice I am hedging here) prefer a standard description that ethics is “the study of morality and right and wrong”. Sounds simple to some, but when good people have conflicting ethical principles, and those principles collide in a workplace where decisions have to be made on the clock (and in front of a surly group of taxpayers) – and you might have no laws to fall back on for guidance – simple it ain’t.

Ethical practices – and particularly the paths by which those ethical decisions are made – can earn us trust and respect, even from our opponents. And, an ethical life earns you a good night’s sleep. You can live with your decisions, and the cliché is true: You can look at yourself in the mirror without flinching.

In 2010, the Kansas State Library created a year-long program on ethics in libraries. I was very flattered to be invited to participate. The videos and materials are posted at:

We have several program topics related to practical ethics in workplaces.

What are your favorite resources?

Start Up The Music

Everybody is a teacher. Everybody is a learner. Everybody inspires everybody else. This is the underlying philosophy of Siera, the newest project from Pattern Research, Inc.

We create affordable and effective educational programs – online and face-to-face – by which working adults can learn new skills and further their careers. We also provide resources for employers, educators, consultants, and teachers who want to elicit the best from the people they support. We partner with our clients and participants to leverage knowledge and success.

My name is Pat Wagner, and I am part of a team of dedicated educators, technologists, artists, instructional designers, and subject matter specialists.

We know that everyone reading this knows more than we do about some important aspect of the work we share. That trust and respect need to be earned every day and that credentials don’t automatically confer special virtue. That online education is new enough that no one is really an expert and that dozens of different theories about education, instructional design, and online learning contradict each other. And that good will and empathy go a long way towards building effective learning environments.

The lovely shot of Hill Country wildflowers in Texas below, taken by Leif Smith, one of our founders, represents the beauty of spontaneous order, a concept that impacts our work.