Kane County Law Library & Self Help Legal Center

Ellen Schmid
  • Library Employee
Zoom cart and attorneys who volunteer for the Divorce and Family Law Help Call-in Service

My library is…changing and creating services to meet the needs of our patrons during COVID-19

My library, the Kane County Law Library & Self Help Legal Center, has run a very successful walk-in program, Divorce and Family Law Help, every Thursday for the last three years. We pair self-represented litigants with volunteering family law attorneys for a one-hour legal help service. Then COVID-19 hit.  We had to physically close our library due to the pandemic, leaving people representing themselves without the usual services to receive free legal help when they most needed it.

Within one week of our library being closed due to COVID-19, we transitioned our walk-in Divorce and Family Law Help service to a call-in service.  Out of concern for everyone’s health and safety, we continue to offer this free weekly program as a call-in program even though the Law Library has physically reopened. The photos represent just a few of our call-in volunteering attorneys who never missed a beat in continuing their volunteer efforts.

The pandemic also gave us the opportunity to envision and institute a successful new service. Our 16th Judicial Circuit was one of the first circuits in Illinois to begin using Zoom for court appearances and we knew we had to be ready to help the public with this new technology and process. We quickly equipped our public access computers so people could quickly and seamlessly attend their Zoom court hearings from them.  We added monitors with cameras,  Zoom software, links for court-goers to directly enter their Zoom courtroom, as well as pairing people with interpreters when they need them, supplying earbuds for a more private experience, and providing Zoom instruction to those who have never used video-conferencing tools before. We also sought out the donation of a computer, camera and cart which we turned into a moveable Zoom station! It can be wheeled into others areas of the courthouse if needed. (Zoom cart pictured in photo.)

Within the first three months of COVID-19, we, along with our volunteers, have successfully shifted our core services and created new ones to meet the pandemic head on, and we will continue to do so in our mission to help people access the courts successfully.