For a project I’m working on, I asked a number of county law librarians to share their mission statements with me in order to see how individual law libraries view their services for the community they serve. In addition to the mission statements that were sent to me, I also attempted to go through a list of large US counties (marked with an asterisk*) to see if they listed their mission statements on their websites. Most of the libraries I found online do list a mission statement, but not all. Surprisingly, some of the largest counties specifically don’t have a mission statement at all.
Most of the mission statements listed the county law library’s mission as providing access to legal information and research services to the members of the local community. A “Wordle” of the mission statements points out those common phrases. Although a mission statement may not be necessary to run a county law library, but it does seem that it would be important if you are intending to let everyone know what your scope of business is as well as the value you are bringing to the community. Also, not all county law libraries are “public.” Some are subscriber based or have limited public access because the monetary support for the law library comes from members or from the local bar association. In addition, not every county has a law library. For example, Detroit (Wayne County) Michigan uses the law school libraries as a de facto county law library.
In the era of online research through Westlaw, LexisNexis or Bloomberg, the assistance of services like LegalZoom, and the ease of Google to do your basic research, many may think that the idea of a public law library may seem passé. Fortunately, there are many county law libraries that still seem to believe that they serve a purpose to the community to enhance knowledge of the law and to facilitate access to the justice system (see King County, Washington.)
Just in case you have a county law library mission statement, I’ve listed these all out on an open Google Docs page. Feel free to add yours to the list!
Maricopa County (Arizona)*
For over 90 years, the Superior Court Law Library has provided legal research assistance to the bench, the bar, and the public in Maricopa County, one of the fastest growing counties in the country. The Law Library is a public-court law library with a collection of over 150,000 volumes and a broad array of legal databases. These resources aid the Law Library in the fulfillment of its mission to provide open, reliable access to legal information.
Yavapai County (Arizona)
The Yavapai County Law Library’s mission is to provide access to legal information – print and non-print – and information services to the general public and the citizens, legal community and court staff of Yavapai County in a prompt, impartial, economical manner. The Law Library assists library and self-service users in locating resources to facilitate their research and provides access to legal forms for filing in the Superior Court of Yavapai County.
Alameda County (California)*
Mission: The Mission of the Bernard E. Witkin Alameda County Law Library is to provide access to current legal information to the public, attorneys and residents.
Vision: The Alameda County Law Library is a public Law Library. The Library envisions a future in which all people have effective access to justice. To bring about this vision, it provides access to information required for participation in the legal system, resolving legal disputes, engaging in commerce, and tending to personal affairs and academic projects.
Orange County (California)*
Los Angeles County (California)*
Mission Statement: The LA Law Library provides access to legal information through effective, efficient and collaborative services in order to support current and emerging user needs in a dynamic legal environment.
Riverside County (California)*
The goal of the Board of Trustees for the Riverside County Law Library is to make available to the judiciary, state and county officials, members of the state and local bar, and all residents of the county, current legal materials, modern facilities and adequate trained staff, which will enable them to perform the highest level of research and practice.” (Adopted April 1984).
Sacramento County (California)*
The Sacramento County Public Law Library staff strives to provide excellent service to all members of our diverse community, to respect the dignity and individuality of each community member, and to acknowledge the importance of each member’s access to legal information.
Towards the fulfillment of our vision, it is the mission of the Sacramento County Public Law Library to:
Assist our customers in their effort to use the legal system effectively
Continually improve our services
Cultivate new technologies to best serve customers
Exhibit our values in our daily work
Seek to maximize our customers’ research dollar
Support each other in our individual and team efforts to improve the library
San Bernardino County (California)*
Our mission is to provide public access to current legal information. The Law Library maintains a comprehensive legal reference research collection, including state and federal cases and statutes, national and California treatises, legal periodicals (law reviews), legal encyclopedias, electronic databases, and self-help materials.
San Diego County (California)*
Vision: The San Diego County Public Law Library uses its staff, its collections, and the other tools and programs it develops to promote relevant, pertinent and timely legal information to the residents of San Diego County in order to provide them with access to justice.
Mission: Focus on meeting the needs of the library’s users.
Create a county-wide community resource that promotes interaction and collaboration in the dissemination of legal information.
Maintain a practical, timely and relevant collection and electronic access to legal materials that will meet the needs of the library’s users.
Make legal information available to users in the most appropriate and relevant format possible.
Provide professional library staff that demonstrates excellent communication skills and uses technology to improve workflow and enhance the flow of legal information.
Develop facilities and spaces within the law libraries that enable study and collaboration.
San Luis Obispo County (California)
It is the mission of the San Luis Obispo County Law Library to provide current legal materials that meet the legal research and information needs of Law Library users in San Luis Obispo County. We serve all members of the community and county government.
San Mateo County (California)
The mission of the San Mateo County Law Library is to provide access to legal materials to all persons interested in the law. To meet this end, the Law Library is a resource library open to the Judiciary, members of the State Bar of California, and all residents of the County of San Mateo and the State of California for the purpose of legal research and the examination of law books and other legal materials.
Santa Clara County (California)*
Mission: To empower our residents to do their own legal research
Stanislaus County (California)
The Stanislaus County Law Library provides free access to legal information for the judiciary, members of the State Bar, public officials, and to all residents of the county for the purpose of education and research.
Brevard County (Florida)*
The mission of the A. Max Brewer Memorial Law Library is to collect, preserve, and provide access to legal resources and information to Brevard County judges, attorneys, government officials and the public
The A. Max Brewer Memorial Law Library strives to provide courteous, confidential, and cost-effective service to all members of the community.
Broward County (Florida)
Hillsborough County (Florida)*
Mission: Collect, maintain, and make available legal research materials in print and electronic format not generally obtainable elsewhere in the County for use by the bench, Bar, students, and the general public.
Miami-Dade County (Florida)*
Palm Beach (Florida)*
The Palm Beach County Law Library serves the legal and law related information needs of the county, including county residents, judges, attorneys, students, county officials and pro-se patrons. It provides legal reference and referral services, within the guidelines of Florida Statute 454.23.
The law library cooperates with the community to enhance knowledge of the law and to facilitate access to the justice system.
Our goal is to provide the patrons with accurate up-to-date legal information.
Pinellas County (Florida)
The Pinellas County Law Library is committed to providing cost effective and timely access to significant print and non-print legal resources at the local, state, and federal level useful to the Courts of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, the practicing Bar, Pinellas County Agencies, and the public in their search for law-related information and their pursuit of justice.
Cook County (Illinois)*
Provide a practitioner focused legal research facility; Maintain a practice-oriented collection of legal material in print and electronic format; Provide legal and legislative research assistance; Operate in a manner consistent with sound fiscal management.
Champaign County (Illinois)
The Mission of the Champaign County Law Library is to provide access to legal research materials to members of the public, lawyers, judges and other county officials in order to facilitate the just and equitable disposition of cases heard in Champaign County.
DuPage County (Illinois)
The mission of the DuPage County Law Library is to provide legal information services to all licensed attorneys, judges, as well as members of the public. Our goal is to provide our patrons with accurate up-to-date legal information. To achieve this goal we are committed to increasing the law library’s collection to meet the needs of the legal community. At its present pace, the collection will double in size every nine years. Presently the DuPage County Law Library contains more than 26,000 volumes including compilations of statutory and case law accessible through state and federal statutes, digests, encyclopedias, regional reporters, treatises and legal periodicals.
Kane County (Illinois)
In support of its governing statute, 55 ILCS 5/5-39001, the Kane County Law Library & Self Help Legal Center staff strives to provide outstanding service, recognizing, supporting, and furthering open and equal access to legal and governmental information for all.
Towards the fulfillment of our mission, it is the vision of the Kane County Law Library & Self Help Legal Center to openly advocate for and fiercely support equal access to justice through:
Assisting the public in their efforts to understand and use the legal system effectively and efficiently
Creating informed consumers with realistic expectations of the legal system
Ensuring equal access to legal and governmental information in the most cost effective manner
Continuing to educate ourselves and others about new technologies and services and supplying those technologies and services deemed appropriate at no or low costs
Actively advocating at local, state and national levels individually and through professional associations for open and equal access to legal and governmental information
Supporting not only the Judiciary, County Personnel and those in the legal professions, but the public and its diverse membership in their quest for legal and governmental information.
Creating positive contacts and experiences between the public and the legal system
Jefferson County (Kentucky)
The mission of the Jefferson County Public Law Library (JCPLL) is to provide the community with a current collection of legal reference materials based upon the belief that access to knowledge and information is essential to the promotion of justice and respect for the law.
Oakland County (Michigan)
The Oakland County Library provides free and open access to specialized collections and services generally not found in local public libraries for its residents, elected officials and county employees.
Wayne County (Michigan)
No law library – Relies upon the local law school libraries.
Middlesex County (Massachusetts)*
Dakota County (Minnesota)
To provide adequate and timely legal information to the judiciary, governmental employees, the members of the bar and the citizens of Dakota County, in the form most comprehensible to all types of users, bearing in mind that ready and convenient access to such information is vital to the justice system of a democratic society.
To collaborate with existing organizations to maximize the delivery of legal information and to avoid costly and ineffective duplication.
To utilize information technology to deliver legal information wherever financially feasible and acceptable to users.
Our mission is to provide access to legal information, a basic component of access to justice, to all citizens of the County, in ways that are reliable, efficient, respectful, innovative, and economical.
Ramsey County (Minnesota)
Mission. The mission of the Ramsey County Law Library is to provide the best legal information services to its patrons, using print and online material, in the most cost effective manner. Legal information is a basic component of access to justice.
Clark County (Nevada)*
VISION STATEMENT: A research library dedicated to providing equality of access to sources of law, related information and community resources.
MISSION STATEMENT: The Clark County Law Library provides access to the most recent precedents and the best available commentary regarding legal issues.
Bronx County (New York)*
The primary mission of the law libraries of the Unified Court System is to contribute professional library services to the process of providing just and timely resolution of all matters before the courts.
In order to fulfill this mission, timely, adequate, accessible, and effective resources are provided in an efficient, cost-effective manner. Library staff manage, acquire, evaluate, store, distribute and clarify information deemed appropriate to the mission of the library.
Kings County (New York)*
The library’s mission is to serve the bench, the bar, & the public by providing professional library services.
Nassau County (New York)*
The library’s mission is to serve the bench, the bar, and the public by providing professional library services.
New York County (New York)*
To acquire, process, and to provide access to legal information resources in all formats including digital, to library patrons; To provide research support and training for court personnel and other library users; And to provide library related technology support, including opportunities for web based searching and access to materials for library users throughout the Unified Court System.
The library also responds to reference queries from throughout the world if time and resource permit.
Queens County (New York)*
The library’s mission is to serve the bench, the bar, and the public by providing professional library services.
Suffolk County (New York)*
Cuyahoga County (Ohio)*
** Dues-Paying Membership — Public access only on Wednesdays from 8:30 -5:00 only **
Lane County (Oregon)
Mission Statement: The Lane County Law Library is dedicated to providing a high-level of service to all members of the community. As part of this mission, the Law Library strives to provide access to legal materials and related resources needed for legal research by members of the bar, the judiciary and the public.
Vision Statement: The Law Library will be recognized within Lane County as a major contributor to programs providing access to and use of legal resources.
Allegheny County (Pennsylvania)*
The Center for Legal Information advances the effective and efficient legal research competencies of the law school’s faculty and students, the local legal community, and the general public in a collaborative community environment.
(Joint partnership with Duquesne University Center for Legal Information)
Philadelphia County (Pennsylvania)*
** AKA “Jenkins Law Library” – Member Library… Not Public**
Our mission: Since its founding in 1802, the Jenkins Law Library has been dedicated to bringing people and information together within the legal community. As the nation’s oldest law library, it is committed to providing value through its outstanding service, comprehensive access to legal and other information, relevant educational programs, the latest technologies, and a hospitable place to work and visit.
Our vision: Jenkins Law Library will be seen as a destination to an ever expanding clientele, as a result of innovation and adherence to an excellence in maintaining, preserving and providing access to legal information by the public and legal communities.
Bexar County (Texas)*
The Bexar County Law Library provides the bench, bar, governmental agencies and the public with cost-effective access to the most recent statutes, case law and the best available commentary regarding legal issues.
Cameron County (Texas)
The Cameron County Law Library’s mission is to provide access to legal information to the citizens of Cameron County in ways that are reliable, efficient, respectful, innovative and economical.
Collin County (Texas)
The Law Library’s mission is to serve at a place that is both convenient and accessible and to maintain a legal reference for the judges, litigants, and residents of Collin County. The Law Library Fund is provided by fees collected in connection with civil suit filings.
Dallas County (Texas)*
Grayson County (Texas)
The mission of the Grayson County law Library is to provide specialized legal reference resources in a variety of formats to the legal community, litigants, and residents of Grayson County, TX.
Harris County (Texas)*
Hidalgo County (Texas)
The Hidalgo County Law Library’s mission is to provide access to information on legal research for the Judiciary, State, and County Officials, Members of the State and Local Bar Associates, and all Citizens of Hidalgo County with the best collection of law books and services available.
Tarrant County (Texas)*
The Tarrant County Law Library serves the legal research needs of the Tarrant County legal community and the general public.
Fairfax County (Virginia)*
To Promote Justice by Providing All Citizens with Access to Legal Information.
The Fairfax Public Law Library provides citizens with access to information about laws and legal procedures. Its resources include more than 35,000 books and legal periodicals as well as several public computer research terminals. The legal resources available in the law library are not available to the public at any other single location within the County of Fairfax. Although staff may not offer legal advice, they provide bibliographic instruction and assist more than 70,000 patrons each year in locating legal information and sample legal forms. The library is available to all, including members of the general public, members of the legal profession, and public officials such as judges, prosecutors, and public defenders. The Fairfax Public Law Library is a critical component of the county’s efforts to provide meaningful access to justice.
King County (Washington)*
The Public Law Library of King County serves the legal and law related information needs of the county, including the judges, county officials, members of the Bar and other county residents. The Public Law Library cooperates with the community to enhance knowledge of the law and to facilitate access to the justice system.
The Public Law Library will be conducted as statutorily directed in a fair, honest and courteous manner while avoiding debt and extravagance. The Public Law Library’s goal shall be to exceed user expectations by reason of superior performance and dedication by the Public Law Library’s employees.
Pierce County (Washington)
The mission of the Pierce County Law Library is to provide legal information services to the bench, bar, state and local governments and the public to assist them in their efforts to use the legal system effectively. Our mission is also to provide trained and knowledgeable Library staff to assist patrons in meeting their legal information needs.