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Harris County Law Library Wins National Awards

The Harris County Law Library was named a 2019 recipient of the Joseph L. Andrews Legal Literature Award by the American Association of Law Libraries on Tuesday, April 30, for its publication entitled Pro Se Litigant Handbook and the Spanish-language translation, Manual para Litigantes Pro Se.

The Pro Se Litigant Handbook was developed by the Harris County Law Library staff as a source of self-help guidance for individuals without the means to afford a lawyer. It is produced in both print and digital formats, to organize and promote access to a wide range of legal services provided by local organizations to the most vulnerable and marginalized populations in our community.

“On behalf of all my colleagues who worked diligently to bring this work into reality, I am honored to accept the Joseph L. Andrews Legal Literature Award,” said Mariann Sears, director of the Harris County Law Library. “The Pro Se Litigant Handbook was created to help ensure those who cannot afford a lawyer don’t suffer because of their inability to pay, but instead can find a path toward justice. My colleagues and I are so proud of how this handbook has been received and adopted, and I thank AALL for honoring our work.”

The Harris County Law Library is a public library open to both lawyers and non-lawyers. It was established in 1915, and became a part of the Harris County Attorney’s Office in 2011. The library greatly expanded its technology offerings and educational opportunities through the support of County Attorney Vince Ryan.

“Many Harris County residents cannot afford legal help, so this handbook is essential to help them find the resources they need,” said County Attorney Ryan. “The law exists to serve everyone and I am pleased that the County’s Law Library is being recognized for its efforts to help our community.”

The Joseph L. Andrews Legal Literature Award is an annual award that recognizes a significant textual contribution—a book, pamphlet, periodical, website, database, or other publication—to legal literature. Nominations are measured by their creative, evaluative elements, and the extent to which originality and judgment factored into the work’s formation.

The Harris County Law Library also won the AALL’s Excellence in Community Engagement Award for its Harvey recovery resources webpage, an effort to organize legal aid information for our storm-impacted neighbors. Additionally, Law Library Director Mariann Sears received the prestigious Bethany J. Ochal Award for Distinguished Service to the Profession from AALL’s government section.

Harris County Law Library staff will travel to Washington D.C. in July to receive the awards at the AALL 2019 Annual Meeting.

The handbook can be found at the Harris County Law Library located on the first floor of the Harris County Attorney’s Office or online at http://www.harriscountylawlibrary.org/self-help.