The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Globe Life

August 8, 2008

Book review: Library resources provide legal information

The Joplin Public Library Reference staff answers all kinds of questions throughout the day on many different subjects. Some subjects come up rarely while others generate several queries a day.

If you ask Reference staff what they help with most often, you would hear directory assistance (phone numbers, addresses, etc.) and legal questions. For directory assistance questions, the staff uses phone books, city directories, Web sites and ReferenceUSA.

For legal questions, the source used depends on the information sought. Books, forms, databases, and websites are all used to help answer questions.

A legal issue that comes up frequently at the Reference desk is pro se divorce. For those who are seeking a divorce without the aid of an attorney, the library can provide varied resources to use. The resources can sometimes be confusing but library staff is not legally allowed to offer advice on the forms needed or how to fill them out.

A new Web site from the Missouri Supreme Court should help alleviate some confusion. Representing Yourself in Missouri Courts (www.courts.mo.gov/page.asp?id=5240) is designed to help those who are going to court for family matters. The site provides valuable information for anyone going to court without an attorney.

Be sure to look at the First Time Visitors link to get information on how to use the site. The Legal Forms section includes a Dissolution of Marriage form package, which should prove very helpful for those seeking to file for divorce.

If your legal question is not divorce related, the library offers many other resources.

One source used is the database Lawchek. When the Library added access to Lawchek in 1999, the database offered some basic Missouri legal forms and information on topics associated with the forms.

Today the database still offers these basic forms and information but for all 50 states. It has also been redesigned to offer help to both the layperson and legal professionals.

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