Why We Need Your Help
County law libraries are funded almost entirely by a small portion of Superior Court civil filing fees. The California court system is in the midst of a major financial crisis. Over the past five years, high filing fees and and full court dockets have prompted many litigants to seek non-judicial alternatives for resolving disputes, such as mediation, arbitration, and private judging. California courts have responded by reducing hours and services, resulting in even fewer filings and decreased filing fee income.
The financial impact on county law libraries has been devastating. Since the beginning of FY 2009-2010, the Alameda County Law Library’s annual filing fee income has dropped by 45%, or approximately $500,000. During this same period, the cost of subscribing to legal publications rose by approximately 68%.
The library has responded to these alarming trends with proportional reductions in expenditures- drastically cutting subscriptions and eliminating a full-time librarian position. Further cuts will seriously impair the library’s ability to effectively meet the legal information needs of our community.
The library can no longer rely exclusively on court filing fees to adequately meet expenses, and must seek alternative sources of funding to sustain essential collections and services.
Who We Are
Since 1891, the Alameda County Law Library has served the residents of Alameda County and beyond by providing the public free access to current, authoritative sources of legal information. The library has locations in Oakland and Hayward, and maintains a satellite collection of legal materials at the Dublin Public Library. We are governed by a seven-member Board of Trustees, consisting of five Superior Court judges and two attorneys appointed by the Board of Supervisors.
The public and attorneys use the library's free print and electronic resources to research legal issues. Library visitors enjoy free access to costly legal databases, print treatises and encyclopedias on all major legal topics, and numerous books on running a law practice. Professional librarians are available for personalized research consultations and legal database training at the point of need.
The library is located adjacent to the Oakland courthouse and has low-cost meeting rooms for rent by attorneys and litigants preparing for court or conducting a deposition, mediation, or arbitration.
The library also offers inexpensive copying, printing and faxing services. We are a continuing legal education provider and recruit local legal experts to present educational programs to attorneys and the public.
Who We Serve
The general public, self-represented litigants, and attorneys use our print resources and legal databases to participate in the legal system, resolve legal disputes, engage in commerce, and complete legal transactions. Approximately 35,000 people visit the law library's Oakland and Hayward locations each year, and many more connect with us by phone, via email, and through the library's website. Seventy-five percent of law library users are members of the general public and 25% are solo and small firm attorneys.
Over half of the library’s users are self-represented litigants, most of whom are low to middle-income and cannot afford attorney services. These individuals rely on library resources and services to resolve a variety of serious legal problems. On a daily basis, we help the public obtain information on topics including child custody and divorce, probate, eviction and foreclosure, debt collection defense, bankruptcy, restraining orders, government benefits, civil rights, labor laws, and starting a small business.
Local attorneys take advantage of the library's free legal database access, large selection of practice materials, low-cost conference rooms, and continuing education programs to reduce overhead expenses and keep up-to-date with the latest changes in the law.