We have heard many of you are asking when we are going to open our locations again, and we wish we had an answer. The San Diego Law Library is considered a higher-risk workplace, so based on California’s Resiliency Roadmap, we are included in Phase 3 of re-opening. Right now, while California is in Phase 2, we are busy obtaining all of the supplies we need so we can resume in-person services we get the go-ahead from the state and county public health departments.

Library Services ARE Open: We Now Help More People Than Ever Before

Our mission remains making the law accessible to EVERYONE. In the past, we were limited to providing service from our two San Diego County locations for walk-in reference help, using print, and accessing our legal databases. Our two satellite locations at the Chula Vista Public Library, Civic Center Branch and the San Diego County Public Library, El Cajon Branch were also available to everyone who could travel to those locations from around the county.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have embraced the opportunity to provide new resources that are reaching more people than ever before. We have increased our number of legal databases and made many of then available remotely — meaning from where YOU are, your home or office. This includes remote access to CEB Pro, Gale California Legal Forms, Lexis Advance, NOLO Legal Information Resource Center, and Westlaw Edge. Additionally, we have added a NEW legal database called FastCase that is available from your home office computer. Check out the Legal Databases section of our webpage for more information how to gain access to these helpful resources.

Zoom Classes Reach Hundreds at a Time

Additionally, we have partnered with local attorneys and legal service providers to create a series of Zoom webinars to provide education on topics important to you. Not only are these webinars FREE, we are posting them to our YouTube channel so they can be long term resources for you! At the Law Library, we were limited to about 35 attendees and we would be lucky to have 10 attend because people found it difficult to come Downtown or to the Vista Courthouse Complex for a mid-day class.

We have been hard at work creating online resource guides to help you navigate the ever-change legal landscape. We have created a COVID-19 Legal Issues webpage that has information about the new law, rules, regulations, and guidance that effect health, employment, housing, government benefits, utilities, consumer debt, businesses, quarantine info, contract claims, tax issues, legal deadlines, scams, domestic violence, family law, and estate planning. Thanks to our bilingual reference staff, these guides are available in Spanish as well.

And So, What Does It Mean for the Law Library Doors to “Re-Open”?

Although our buildings may not be open, the Law Library certainly is! As we have reported here, never before have we been more accessible to more people, more engaged in direct communication with our customers, and more valuable to the people of this county.

Still, we know people want to come back to the physical law library setting they know and love.  We do too. But, unfortunately, it will not be the same as before.

Due to social distancing rules, we won’t be holding classes and programs in the 3rd floor training rooms anytime soon, especially since our online classes are so popular. The book stacks will be closed to non-staff to help prevent contagion and transmission of the virus. Also, the restrooms will be single use-only.

Just as your local Trader Joe’s limits the number of people who may enter at one time, so will we. To maintain a safe distance from other patrons, only one or two people may safely sit at a reading room table, which cuts down on available research space to perhaps a dozen people. A limited number of computers will be available. Patrons and staff must wear masks and gloves and law library services will be conducted behind plexiglass barriers.

As the only free public resource in the county to provide access to legal resources, we have to make sure that everyone who wants to access onsite materials has their turn. That means we will have to limit each person to spending only 45 minutes in the library at a time. To guarantee access, we will have an appointment system that ensures your entry at the time you choose so you will not be turned away at the door. It will be a very different experience.

But remember, although our building may not be open or are restricted, your friendly neighborhood reference librarians are just a phone callemail, or statewide chat away! We have waived document delivery fees so we can provide any documents your can’t access online. And, if you would like even more updates from us, please follow us on Facebook, and Twitter!