Minnesota Library Association 2012
Submitted by Mary Lukkarila

Can You Have Chickens
in Your Back Yard?
Can you have chickens in your back yard?  The title caught my eye and proved to be a
very interesting session at MLA.  
Librarians from the Minnesota State Law Library walked the audience
through government web sites that provide assistance with questions about the
law.  The audience was cautioned not to
answer the following types of questions:
What does … mean?
How do I ….?
What do you think I should …?
The librarians referred us to State Statute 481.02 which
pertains to penalties for unauthorized practice of law.  They use a disclaimer on their web site and
encouraged the audience to do likewise. 
Their disclaimer:

DISCLAIMER:  As librarians and not lawyers, we
can suggest resources but cannot give legal advice (such as which form to
file), or legal opinions, (such as how a statute might apply to particular
facts.)  To do so could be considered the unauthorized practice of
law.  Even though we try to suggest materials that will be of help,
further research is usually required to find a complete and correct
answer.  For many questions, the best answer may be to consult an
attorney.  For links to resources on finding an attorney, see http://www.lawlibrary.state.mn.us/selfhelp.html#atty.

Notice and
Inclusion of a link on this page is not an
endorsement of the site or a guarantee of the accuracy of the information found
there. The Minnesota State Law Library does not give legal advice. Although
self-representation is a right, many legal matters are more complex than they
first appear. In such cases consulting an attorney is recommended.
Make sure you point to resources and do not give
answers.  The same is true with
forms.  Legal forms may be found at http://www.lawlibrary.state.mn.us/legaltopicsforms.html.  However another disclaimer is made about
forms.  We were reminded that the term
‘forms’ may not actually be a form that one fills out.
“The Library does not
have copies of forms that can be filled out. Within the legal community a form
does not necessarily mean a fill-in-the-blank form; often it can mean a stylized
sheet or a set of instructions. There are hundreds of forms out there
(including variations.) Forms are not one-size-fits-all; they need to be
adapted to the particular situation. As librarians and not attorneys we are not
in a position to tell you what form to use.”
The Minnesota State Law Library also has a page with links
to city and county ordinances: http://www.lawlibrary.state.mn.us/ordinance.html.  This is where you would find out if you can
have chickens in your backyard.
Another site that was demonstrated was the Minnesota
Judicial Branch site: http://www.mncourts.gov.
This site also offers a self help center and walks people through the steps of
representing themselves in court and how to obtain free legal advice.  There are also video tutorials of different
court proceedings as well as instructions in other languages.  Web link to suggested referral resources: http://www.lawlibrary.state.mn.us/refer.html.
Finally, they reminded the audience that we can always refer
people to a reference librarian at the Minnesota State Law Library. http://www.lawlibrary.state.mn.us/index.html.

Other useful links:
I’ll See You in Court tutorial: http://www.mncourts.gov/selfhelp/?page=256
Online legal dictionary: http://thelawdictionary.org/
Webjunction/Public Libraries and Access to Justice: http://www.webjunction.org/partners/minnesota/mn-topics/platj.html