Scanning in Courthouse & Law Society Libraries

24 Oct 2021 7:13 PM | Michel-Adrien Sheppard (Administrator)

From time to time, this blog will highlight initiatives, ideas, or activities coming from members, committees or special interest groups (SIGs).

Today: Scanning in Courthouse & Law Society Libraries, by Jenny Thornhill (MSc, MLIS, MSL), Law Librarian, Law Society of Newfoundland & Labrador

The pandemic has forced many libraries, my own included, to examine their service models and  be creative in order to continue to provide services despite the lockdowns and other restrictions.

The Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador Law Library (St. John’s, NL) is no different – back in 2020, we closed our doors to in-person services to our members and the public. We continued to offer what we call our remote services (contactless pickup, research and reference in texts and databases, and text scanning, including table of content scans).

Prior to the pandemic the public were permitted to access the print resources only and on-site only, so for the duration of the pandemic they have not been permitted to access the Law Library.

As things have improved, we have opened up to allow in-person access by appointment for our members only (excluding 3 lockdowns). However, we have remained closed to the public in order to comply with government guidelines for the number of persons in indoor spaces.

We traditionally get very few members of the public who actually need to access our legal resources. We find that the majority are in need of legal advice so we refer them to the Public Legal Information Association of Newfoundland & Labrador (PLIAN).

As part of our plan for the pandemic, we knew that limiting public access would be somewhat challenging, but we identified alternatives that would be accessible to the public, such as our online resources, to which staff could direct the public.

We already had a section on our website for SLR’s that had been reviewed by lawyers and approved as appropriate for the public to get answers and aid. This tool and PLIAN have been key resources for Library staff to provide reference services to the public.

Only twice during the pandemic did we get contacted by non-members who felt they really needed to have access to the library resources on-site. 

The most recent of these was a member of the public who needed access to a specific text that only we carried in the city. This was a problem as we do not lend our resources to the public, we remain closed to on-site public access due to the current 4th wave, and we have never provided scanning on behalf of the public (they could come in and make copies for a fee, but we did not copy on their behalf and provide it to them via email).

This situation was resolved by referring her to the Interlibrary Loans department of her local library, but it left me wondering whether other libraries offered a text scanning service via e-mail to the public either as a result of the pandemic or had traditionally offered this service.

I send out a call through the CALL-L listserv and, as I have come to find with this great group, we got a lot of prompt responses.

The chart below is a summary of the results. I found that the majority of libraries who offered a scan service to the public had already been doing so prior to the pandemic, except for Alberta Law Libraries who had allowed the public to access this service during the lockdowns, but no longer.

This helped cement my decision that we would continue to keep our scan service available to our members only.

My thanks again to everyone who responded to this and my other questions over the last year and a half.

Courthouse/Law Libraries – Scanning for the public Summary of Responses

Library Location

Do you offer a scan service from your texts?

If so, do you allow the public to access it during covid?

For the public, do you charge or is it free because of covid?


Hastings & Prince Edward Law Association

We do offer a scan service, but only to the lawyers, Crowns, Judiciary. 



Yukon Public Law Library


Yes (pre-existing service)

No charge (cost covered by LSNL)

Nova Scotia Barristers Society

We do offer a scan service, but only to membership. 



Welland County Law Association


scan service of textbooks to our membership at no charge



Law Society of P.E.I. Library


Yes (pre-existing service)

No charge (before or now)

Courthouse Libraries BC

Scanning from a text though, we would consider document delivery – do for members and public

Yes (pre-existing service)

No charge – was a charged service prior to pandemic, charges will resume shortly

Alberta Law Libraries - Calgary

scan for a fee for members of the law society

Public were offered during lockdown – now required to come in and scan

Free during lockdown – now onsite access only

Frontenac Law Association

Free for members

Not open to public


Law Society of NB

Scan service for members (10%); document delivery



Wellington Law Library

Free for members

Not open to public


Supreme Court of Canada Law Library

Free for staff




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