Some of the many people who have more guts than I do are the people who use library books to do their own legal work. As a person who selects some of those books, I try to always caution patrons that if they are going to act as their own lawyers, they need to set aside a lot of time to figure out what lawyers — or accountants — spend years learning how to do. That said, however, at the Main Library we do gladly provide hundreds of such titles for people who feel they can’t afford professional fees.
For taxes, the most popular series is probably J. K. Lasser’s Your Income Tax, which started publication in 1955. A new edition comes out every year with hundreds of updated pages. A lot of people have money troubles worse than taxes and try to figure out how they can declare bankruptcy. That’s a notoriously challenging process, but there are books that try to help folks through it. An example is The New Bankruptcy: Will It Work for You? by Stephen Elias. It includes sample forms. Other books about specific types of bankruptcy, such as Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, include a lot of forms that can be photocopied and submitted — if you know what you are doing!
Lots of legal hassles pit you against other individuals. There are books for tenants battling landlords, such as American Tenant: Everything U Need to Know about Your Rights as a Renter by Trevor Rhodes and books for landlords battling tenants, such as Every Landlord’s Legal Guide by Janet Portman. An even more frequent area of legal conflict is domestic law, including divorce, paternity and issues involving children. One of the more popular titles in that area is Nolo’s Essential Guide to Child Custody and Support by Emily Doskow.
Wills, criminal defense, small claims and basic guides to how to handle yourself in front of a judge — we have books that address these and many more legal challenges. If you can afford a good attorney or accountant, it’s better to go that route, but if you can’t, we’ll show you professionally written books to assist you.