The establishment of public centers of legal information (PCLI), which are integral components of the state legal information system, on the premises ofpublic libraries has further developed the dissemination of legal information and assurance of its access. The Edict of the President of the Republic of Belarus No. 712 of December 30, 2010 defines PCLI as “centers of free access of citizens to official legal information created by the Ministry of Culture the Republic of Belarus jointly with NCLI on the base of public libraries in order to develop legal knowledge, law-abiding behavior and respect of law”. For the establishment of the PCLI, structures of existing public libraries were used, as part of a centralized library system. These centers function with service and information departments and the essential assistance of their regional library staff. As a rule, all specialists engaged in the activities of the centers have a higher librarian education.
Information resources of the centers can satisfy different inquiries of interested people. For this purpose, each PCLI is provided with an electronic copy of the Standard Databank of Legal Information, National Register of Legal Acts of the Republic of Belarus and other official publications of the National Center of Legal Information. Additionally, most of the PCLI have installed the integrated “Court Practice” Databank and the “Legislation of the Russian Federation” Databank. The referential and bibliographical departments of the library also help to satisfy users’ inquiries by including a card index of the laws of the Republic of Belarus, a factual database and an archive of fulfilled requests.
In accordance with the regulations, the main purposes of the PCLI are:
- to accumulate and adequately organize legal information resources in both paper and electronic form;
- to provide access to sources of legal information;
- to realized methodological functions for libraries on the matters of legislation usage;
- to create conditions for a full-fledged legal-information service for the population;
- to participate in the popularization and dissemination of legal information.
Besides, the PCLI also organizes information and library events which contribute to legal culture improvement, studies user needs in the field of legal information, promotes activities of the centers, prepares and sends bulletins of new legislation, and also provides legal advice to the population with the assistance of the local board of attorneys.
Citizens can get required legal information (texts of legal acts) in a PCLI for a minimum price or even free of charge.
A specially trained employees carries out the search of legal acts in the PCLI, guaranteeing efficient service for the visitors.
In some cases, legislation in the PCLI can be explained by lawyers. Seminars on different matters of social relations are also held by PCLIs with the participation of relevant specialists. PCLIs are established to enhance free access to any legal information, both paper-based or in electronic form, including through the Internet.
The possibility of getting legal information via PCLIs creates conditions for ensuring the constitutional right of citizens to access official legal information, provides the population with official legal information on regional and local levels and increases the efficiency and reasonableness of the decisions made to regulate various spheres of social life in the region on the basis of reliable legal information.
There are about 611 PCLIs in the the Republic of Belarus today.