New Mobile Library Law Center Is on the Road

August 10, 2021 | By Baltimore County Public Library

Photo of a group of people standing in from of the BCPL legal vehicle

Baltimore County Public Library’s new Mobile Library Law Center (MLLC) will be on the road this week. The vehicle will travel to underserved areas on the east and west sides of Baltimore County and serve as a mobile legal office with attorneys offering free civil legal advice to community members in need.  

The library is launching this new initiative as an expansion to its successful Lawyers in the Library partnership. Lawyers from Maryland Legal Aid (MLA) will provide free civil legal advice for those who are financially eligible (specifically targeted will be individuals with disabilities, seniors, veterans and those who are economically disadvantaged) in areas such as:

  • Bankruptcy
  • Child custody and support
  • Debt collection
  • Expungements
  • Government benefits
  • Housing
  • Landlord/tenant
  • Veterans’ benefits
  • Unemployment benefits

Vehicle Amenities and Schedule

Retrofitted to include two private meeting spaces, solar panels to reduce the vehicle’s carbon footprint and all the necessary electronic equipment and internet access, the MLLC will set out on Wednesday, August 11. The vehicle will travel to the Woodlawn area on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., visiting facilities such as the Islamic Center of Baltimore County; and the Essex area on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., visiting facilities such as the Essex Senior Center. On board will be an attorney from Maryland Legal Aid and a librarian to help with general resources.

While the project was designed pre-pandemic, the fallout from COVID-19 has only exacerbated the legal issues the library and its partners plan to mitigate with this service.

When the current eviction moratorium ends, thousands of families could face homelessness. According to Maryland Matters' study of eviction cases in Baltimore last year, tenants with legal representation are more likely to avoid eviction, and one percent of tenants had counsel in eviction cases compared to 96 percent of landlords. 

Thanks to Donors

The Mobile Library Law Center is made possible through the generosity of Foundation for Baltimore County Public Library and its donors, including:

  • American Bar Endowment
  • BGE
  • Maryland Bar Foundation 
  • Maryland Legal Services Corporation
  • PNC Foundation
  • Wheels for Change

From the Director

“We are proud to be the first library system in the country to own and operate a mobile legal vehicle, servicing those who don't have access to legal help due to financial means, immobility or lack of transportation,” said Baltimore County Public Library Director Sonia Alcántara-Antoine. “Libraries are democratic institutions, giving everyone equal access to resources that will truly create an inclusive society. Initiatives such as this ensure that those most in need have equal access to justice.”  

Category: News