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Justice says Berkeley County law library position will be filled 'immediately'

April 30, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The chief justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals said Tuesday that he has directed the state court system's executive director to hire a librarian for the 23rd (Judicial) Circuit regional law library in Martinsburg as soon as possible.

"I've asked (Steven D. Canterbury) to get somebody in there immediately," Elliot E. "Spike" Maynard said in a phone interview from Parkersburg, W.Va.

Maynard said he wasn't aware the position wasn't filled at the Berkeley County Judicial Center since January 2007.

Without a librarian, the resource center has remained practically off-limits to the public and the legal community.

"It was an oversight. We're going to fix it," Canterbury said.

Canterbury said he hopes to have the library staffed within a couple of weeks, if only beginning with a temporary hire to speed up the resource center's reopening.

"There were a few issues after the last librarian left," Canterbury said of the transition from the library's move from former magistrate court building along West John Street to the judicial center.

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Last week, the state court's top librarian, Kaye L. Maerz, said she had begun the hiring process after Deborah Hillyard resigned to take a U.S. District Court job, but was ordered to stop after receiving six to eight applications.

Maerz said she was about to schedule interviews.

Maynard said he was told the vacancy may be a bit more challenging to fill than in other regions of West Virginia because of competition around the Eastern Panhandle.

"Apparently, we don't pay as much as surrounding states," Maynard said.

On the judicial center's second floor, the regional library is one of six such facilities in the state. The others remain staffed full time and are open during business hours of the respective courts in Cabell, Harrison, Ohio, Raleigh and Wood counties where they are housed.

The nearest regional law library to Martinsburg is in Clarksburg, W.Va.

The extended vacancy alarmed Maerz and 23rd Judicial Circuit judge David H. Sanders, who said last week they were concerned that county leaders might decide to use the space for something else, if not staffed.

Built to accommodate growth, the library features work and conference rooms, two computer terminals for Internet access to online legal services and volumes of the South Eastern Reporter. The legal reference series contains West Virginia case law and features annotation and editorial comments designed to make the material easier to understand.

Maerz said she hoped the library could eventually host outreach programs for the growing community, including identity theft and credit repair, which have been launched elsewhere.

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