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August 2011

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This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.

 

PACER Training Program Underway


A program aimed at having public libraries enhance the public’s knowledge and use of the federal Judiciary’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service has begun this summer.

Two libraries—the Library of Congress in the District of Columbia and the Law Library for San Bernadino, California—kicked off the program July 1, and up to an additional 50 libraries may join them in future months.

“Our recent assessment of the Electronic Public Access program, told us a lot about what our PACER users like and need. We’re responding to those needs,” said Michel Ishakian, chief of the Administrative Office’s Public Access and Records Management Division. “We’ll continue to expand public access to our services because that’s what the public wants.”

PACER allows users to obtain case information from federal courts without having to visit the courthouse. The service allows an Internet user to request information about a particular case or party, and makes the data immediately available for printing or downloading at a cost of eight cents per page.

PACER allows users to obtain case information from federal courts without having to visit the courthouse.

Participating libraries will conduct at least one training class for the general public every three months, and offer training or refresher opportunities for library staff at least once a year. Those staff members, in turn, may assist library patrons in the use of PACER. For participating libraries, the first $50 of PACER use fees each quarter will be waived.

The Administrative Office (AO) is
developing PACER training that will be made available free of charge as part of the program. The site will contain actual court dockets and documents.

The AO last September announced the results of a year-long assessment of PACER, which found a high level of
satisfaction overall among users. The study, conducted by an independent consulting firm, was designed to gauge users’ satisfaction and identify opportunities for new or expanded services. Findings of the PACER Service Assessment are available at http://www.pacer.gov/documents/assessment_slides.pdf.

The new training program is one of the improvements stemming from the PACER assessment. The program is a joint undertaking of the AO, the Government Printing Office, and the American Association of Law Libraries.