Montell Davenport, Executive Law Librarian



The Cook County Law Library promotes access to justice byproviding residents with access to legal information through implementation ofnew services, technologies, and best practices.


Establish and maintain a County Law Library (StateAuthorization - 55 ILCS 5/5-39001)Establish and maintain a County Law Library, including branchlaw libraries that shall be freely available to all licensed Illinoisattorneys, judges and other public officers of the County, and to all membersof the public. (Cook County Code of Ordinances, Chapter 50, Article II)

Key Activities and Services

  • Assists members of the bench, bar, public officials, self-represented litigants and the public with legal research.
  • Provides educational programming to increase patron legal information literacy and enhance legal research skills.
  • Supports access to justice by developing and expanding services for self-represented litigants including increased access to legal information and support through a help desk/clinic environment.
  • Identifies the changing research needs of the legal profession and public through ongoing client contacts and evaluation insuring optimal service in the areas of greatest demand.
  • Acquires, develops, and maintains a practice-oriented collection of materials in print and electronic format to meet the legal research needs of our diverse patron clientele.

Discussion of 2017 Department and Program Outcomes 

The Law Library is a public-facing department that directly serves more than 115,000 residents per year onsite at its main library and five branch locations. Our Patron Services Program provides access to legal information through direct patron interaction. The Library tracks program performance through several metrics including number of patron inquiries/public services staff member at the main library (number represented as a daily average) and the number of hits on the Law Library’s website.

The 2017 target for the number of patron inquiries at the main library is 24,600. As an efficiency metric, the Law Library goal for the daily average number of inquiries per public services staff member is 20, or 80 inquiries for the main library as a whole. The number of patron inquiries is outside of the library’s control and cannot be predicted. However, extrapolating from previous years 20 daily inquiries per public service staff member is sustainable in 2018.

The Law Library is dedicated to providing useful legal information through its website. In 2017, the projected number of hits is 11,000. For 2018, the Law Library plans to add more content and resources and projects a target of 12,000 website hits.

Outcomes for the Patron Services Program remain strong. The satisfaction level with library services for the first half of 2017 is 93 percent, exceeding our target of 91 percent.

The Law Library hosts two to three free educational programs monthly that are open to the public. The programs focus on legal research skills, database training, and legal topics of interest to the community. The Law Library anticipates increasing the number of free educational programs offered to three to four programs per month in 2018.

Budget, Cost Analysis and 2018 Strategic Initiatives and Goals

The main cost drivers for the Law Library as a special purpose fund are personnel, resources (print/electronic legal resources and databases), rental lease and indirect costs. As a public-facing department providing direct interaction with residents, personnel costs are a critical component of our service model.

In promoting access to justice through access to legal information, the Law Library ensures that it offers current, reputable, and authoritative legal information to residents. To meet the needs of the greatest number of residents, the Law Library provides information through a balanced combination of electronic subscription databases and permanent print publications. The department seeks to ensure that our resources are discoverable by residents though an online integrated library system and web-based catalog, in conjunction with staff assistance.

A space rental lease and indirect costs support the main law library located in the Daley Center and five branch libraries in suburban courthouses. The location of the law libraries in the courthouses enables ready access to the resources and technology residents require as they address their legal needs within the court system.

2018 Strategic Initiatives

  • Increase community outreach: Offer public interest programming that is open to all residents. The projected impact based on existing capacity is 1,000 persons.
  • Increase community outreach: Expand “Representing Yourself in Court” page on County website. This information would be accessible to residents at all times.
  • Increase community outreach: Establish help desks and clinics for self-represented litigants. The program would be open to all eligible residents. The projected impact based on existing capacity is 300 persons.

Budget and Full Time Employee Data