September 2016 Bar Bulletin
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Library Welcomes New Executive Director and More

By Rick Stroup
Interim Director


After a careful and thoughtful search process, the Board of Trustees and the staff of the Public Law Library of King County are pleased to announce the selection of our new executive director, Barbara Swatt Engstrom. Swatt Engstrom, who holds a J.D. from the University of Wyoming College of Law and an MLIS from the University of Washington Information School, has more than 15 years of experience in law librarianship, most recently as librarian and adjunct professor at the Seattle University School of Law.

She joined the Library’s team on September 1 and is already hard at work learning the day-to-day ropes and planning for the future. We hope you will join us in welcoming Barbara to the Public Law Library and to the “extended family” of practitioners, judges and court system staff who all work hard to provide justice services to the citizens of King County. Welcome, Barbara!

September marks the six-month anniversary of the official opening of the Rita R. Dermody Legal Help Center. Named in honor of recently retired Director Rita Dermody, the Legal Help Center (LHC) is managed by our public services attorney, Marc Lampson. The LHC provides free, limited legal help for patrons across a wide variety of topics. It is one of only three such programs across the nation and is designed to bridge the gap between the traditional research services provided by law librarians and the legal help only a licensed attorney can provide.

This service model is new to county law libraries in Washington and is also in line with many related initiatives to address the ever-growing unmet legal needs of our citizenry. Lampson operates the LHC in our Seattle branch on Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon and in our MRJC Kent branch on Thursdays, starting at 9 a.m.

Since its grand opening in April, the LHC has served more than 150 patrons. The average time Lampson spends with any one patron is 45–60 minutes. He has provided limited help in cases dealing with topics ranging from minor work permits and probate to RALJ appeals, guardianship and replevin.

The services of the LHC enhance but do not replace the legal help services provided by our partners at KCBA, the Northwest Justice Project and Columbia Legal Services. Their valuable clinics continue to operate in our Seattle branch as well.

The “space under construction” signs you may have seen in our Seattle branch mean space planning is on our plate for this fall. The switch from paper to electronic formats for state codes and some federal materials has created a “space opportunity” for expanding the number of conference rooms we provide in our Seattle branch as well as building out dedicated space for the LHC. We are working with the County Facilities Department to nail down build-out costs and will be seeking grant funds shortly thereafter.

If you are in need of a quiet space to meet with a client, catch up on paperwork or conduct an interview, don’t forget the Library. We have six conference rooms in our Seattle branch and one in our MRJC branch. All are available on a first-come, first-served basis or can be reserved for a modest hourly fee.

Reservations can be as short as an hour or as long as several weeks. If your reservation lasts for a full day or more, we also offer an amenities tray, which includes light lunch snacks, bottled water and standard office supplies.

Our staff can help you when you visit, but we can also help you virtually. You can send research or service questions to our email — — and we will respond within one business day, often sooner.

As always, you can reach us via phone at 206-477-1305 or learn more about our services at our website,

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