Connecticut's Executive Branch has cut $12.9 million in the budget for the Judicial Branch, forcing the proposed closure of six law libraries across the state including the Norwich Superior Court Library.
These courthouse libraries serve to meet a diverse range of legal research needs from the judiciary, corporate and government attorneys, solo practitioners, average citizens and the indigent. The physical collections and online services available through these libraries, as well as the professional knowledge and expertise of law librarians, contribute to making Connecticut’s court law libraries essential partners in the delivery of justice.
Connecticut’s fifteen Judicial libraries annually receive an average of 480,000 web site visits, 250,000 walk-in visits, and staff answer a total of approximately 42,000 reference questions. These statistics demonstrate that our court law libraries are unique and essential.
The proposed closure of the Norwich Superior Court Library is especially alarming because, with the planned closure of the Willimantic Superior Court Library, there will be a gap of 48 miles between the two remaining public law libraries in eastern Connecticut, New London and Putnam. Library users depend upon Norwich’s current and historic legal materials in all formats, and they value the court librarian for her unique knowledge and expertise.
Closure of this library will have a serious negative impact on pro se litigants who rely on the law library to gain access to legal materials they need to defend themselves in court. These already disenfranchised individuals often lack transportation options to travel to a distant law library. While we understand the dire budgetary circumstances that the state currently faces, it is essential that the Norwich Superior Court Library remain open. It is indispensable to the city’s residents.
The American Association of Law Libraries and the Southern New England Law Librarians Association
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