December 2015 Bar Bulletin
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A Fond Farewell to Rita Dermody

By Rick Stroup: Interim Director


On November 6, Rita Dermody retired as director of the Public Law Library of King County, bringing to a close nearly two decades of dedicated service to the courts, practicing bar and citizens of King County.

She began her work with us as our Regional Justice Center librarian when we were still KCLL -King County Law Library -and was instrumental in getting what was then our new branch off to a good start. This, despite a difficult budget climate and the uncertainties of being the only Washington county law library to operate multiple sites.

When opportunity knocked, Rita became our Collection Services librarian and managed the purchase and maintenance of our extensive paper collection and our burgeoning electronic resources. With her capable help, we negotiated our first contract for an automated library system, expanded our off-site storage facilities to preserve access to unique historical resources, and began the long process of reshaping the content and physical layout of both libraries to better serve our patrons.

In between “regular” library work, Rita helped guide us through several minor and a couple of major floods in various library spaces. She helped us relocate and then return the entire Seattle library collection as part of the Seattle courthouse’s seismic retrofit project, and redesign that same library’s public areas to take advantage of the revenue generated by our 85th anniversary campaign.

When opportunity knocked again, Rita took the helm as library director, this time leading the library through fundamental structural and organizational changes, a rebranding as Public Law Library of King County to better emphasize the critical role we play in providing information services to self-represented litigants, and organizing many related efforts to improve and expand our partnerships with other court offices and local bar projects that provide services to this same population.

She spearheaded the creation of a new walk-in legal clinic with an expanded service scope, bolstering the existing set of clinics with which we partner. Most recently, she worked diligently to plan for the creation of a new library service called the Legal Help Center. Managed by our new staff public services attorney, the Center will provide free, limited legal services in a number of needed areas for the ever-growing population of self-represented litigants using King County courts. By unanimous decree, our Board of Trustees recently voted to officially name the center the Rita R. Dermody Legal Help Center, in recognition of her hard work and commitment to providing the best possible library services in this critical area.

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