COCHISE COUNTY, AZ (Tucson News Now) - After more than half a century the Cochise County Law Library will receive a much-needed facelift.
Located in the historic Bisbee Courthouse, the space is set to be transformed to meet the changing needs of its customers and to provide more space for the interpreting staff.
For decades, the Law Library has housed thousands of books, which were available to both the public and legal experts looking for information or help with research.
But technology and the Internet have lessened the need for these bulky and expensive volumes, which means the area they occupied can be repurposed and recreated as a more user-friendly resource.
"In the past the Law Library was more focused on attorneys," explained Veronica Olivares, Chief Interpreter/Translator for Cochise County's Superior Court, who oversees the facility. "But in recent years we've noticed our customer service has shifted to people who are representing themselves, or who need various legal forms, packets and instructions."
At its regular meeting on Nov. 28, the Board of Supervisors approved the award of $84,600 to B-R Construction Inc., which is expected to finish the remodel within 75 days.
In the meantime, most of the books have been recycled, given to relevant County departments, or sent to be archived by the Recorder's office – a number of volumes dated back to the 1880's.
The extensive refurbishment will see the current interpreters' office converted into a reception area, and the translating team will move into a new area above the adjacent library.
"That means we will have more privacy when we're translating for the judges," said Olivares. "Right now, we have people coming into our office wanting information and forms and if we're on the phone translating that can cause some issues. The new space will make our jobs much easier and it will make the public feel more welcome."
Thanks to the money saved through no longer having to purchase expensive books, the Law Library has been able to hire a librarian to help clients with their needs.
The Superior Court is also working with the County's public libraries to train staff to direct people to the law library for legal information and help.
"A lot of people in the really rural areas go to their local libraries looking for assistance in what we provide, so we will help those employees understand what we do," said Court Administrator Eric Silverberg. "We are also working on putting more of the legal forms online and increasing our electronic presence so people don't have to drive to Bisbee."