Access to justice begins with access to information.
To promote access to legal information for all South Carolinians, the reference librarians at the USC School of Law’s Law Library created the Circuit Riders Outreach Program.
The Circuit Riders Outreach Program began in 2007 as a series of workshops entitled Legal Research for Non-Law Librarians. The purpose of the all-day workshops was to teach basic legal research skills to public and academic librarians who would then share their new expertise with their fellow librarians. The desired result would be librarians across South Carolina who are better equipped and more confident when assisting their patrons with legal research.
To reach the largest possible audience in the most economical way, we created this online guide that includes all of the Circuit Riders training materials and videos. With our new online presence, we hope to make it more convenient for busy librarians to access our materials and to encourage libraries to use these materials to conduct their own in-house workshops on legal research.
In fact, because this online guide may prove helpful to any new legal researcher, we recently changed its name to Circuit Riders: Basic Legal Research Training.
In the spring of 2007, with the goal of promoting public access to legal information for all South Carolinians, the reference librarians at the USC School of Law Library initiated its Circuit Riders Outreach Program.
The Circuit Riders program began as a series of all-day workshops designed to teach non-law librarians basic legal research skills to better help their patrons access legal information.
In 2009, just when the future of the Circuit Riders program was in jeopardy from lack of funding, we received an anonymous grant that we used to provide additional workshops and to produce videos on the legal system and how to research South Carolina statutes, regulations, cases, and municipal ordinances.
Our reference librarians traveled to 23 libraries in 13 of South Carolina's 16 judicial circuits conducting all-day Legal Research for Non-Law Librarians workshops, and have promoted the Circuit Riders program through presentations and poster sessions at state, regional, and national conferences.
For the convenience of librarians across South Carolina who are busy assisting their patrons, and to reach the largest audience possible in the most economical way, the Circuit Riders materials and videos are now available here online for librarians to use to as in-house training materials and for all South Carolinians to access at their convenience.
The Circuit Riders Outreach Program has had a significant impact in South Carolina and beyond. In recognition of the program's accomplishments, its founder, Terrye Conroy, received the 2009 Roy M. Mersky Spirit of Law Librarianship Award and in 2013 was asked to serve on the American Association of Law Libraries' Access to Justice Special Committee.
The Circuit Riders program was featured in the University of South Carolina's Fall 2010 Carolinian magazine. In that article, Steve Smith, the Director of Reference Services for Spartanburg County Public Libraries, stated, "If this program wasn't available, there would definitely be a void. This program fills in a knowledge gap of specialized law information for librarians that ultimately benefits the everyday citizen."
After learning of the Circuit Riders program at the annual meeting of the American Association of Law Libraries in Denver, Florida law librarians utilized the Circuit Riders materials to establish their own outreach program. In the summer 2010 edition of the Southeastern Law Librarian newsletter, law librarians from the University of Florida and Florida Coastal School of Law reported that they used the resources from the Circuit Riders website extensively, "... with changes made only when it came to explaining the law in Florida versus South Carolina."
Most recently, we shared our materials with the Legal Education and Assistance Program (LEAP), a project of the Louisiana State Bar Association, in collaboration with the Law Library of Louisiana.