By LYDIA BERGLAR
One way the Dade County Public Library addresses patrons’ questions and needs is through legal help.
First, Mindy Haworth (library manager) is a notary. For a $4.00 fee, anyone can use the notary public service. Haworth recommends calling ahead to make sure she is available.
Second, Gale Legal Forms is a digital resource that is free to patrons of the library. With a library card, you can access and print legal forms that are valid in Georgia. The forms are drafted by attorneys and cover business, personal, federal, and litigation matters.
Haworth notes that librarians can’t offer legal advice, but they can assist people in accessing the forms. Haworth recalls one patron who printed off a form for free from another site, but it had a watermark and therefore could not be used in court. The patron was able to quickly use GALE to print off the necessary form without a watermark.
While Dade’s librarians can’t offer legal advice, lawyers with the Georgia Legal Services Program can. GLSP has been hosting Ask a Lawyer days at the library from 12-2 p.m. for residents aged 60+ and low income residents. The last three Ask a Lawyer dates in 2023 are October 5, November 9, and December 7.
The program helps with civil (not criminal) issues including: domestic violence, elder abuse, advanced directive for healthcare, housing, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps, financial power of attorney, probate, and unemployment.
Appointments are required to ensure that patrons have all the necessary information and documentation on hand. Do not call the library to make an appointment; instead, call GLSP directly at 706-272-2924 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. (Haworth recommends making sure to speak with someone and confirm all details before your appointment.)
Haworth reports, “One patron was very impressed with Ask a Lawyer, saying it saved her time and money and she is thrilled that we offer it to our community. She had filled out a form improperly, but she was able to use Gale Legal Forms to print off a new one and fill it out right then.”