Must-Read LITA Blog Post: Cataloging a World of Languages, by Leanne Olson

By Susan Gualtier

online catalogIf there is one thing I have learned during my first few years as an FCIL librarian, it is that our catalogers are rarely as excited as I am when the foreign language selections come in.  This is why I was so pleased to find Leanne Olson‘s LITA blog post, Cataloging a World of Languages, while sorting through all of the #IALL2014 and #LVI2014 tweets this morning.

Olson identifies just a few of the challenges facing the cataloger of foreign language titles and shares a number of free tools that catalogers and others may find useful in working in an unfamiliar language.  She covers language identifiers, translation tools, bibliographic dictionaries, and subject-specific glossaries.  She also has suggestions for how to deal with non-Roman alphabets and transliteration and with those pesky diacritics that may not quite work with your system’s encoding scheme.

As a reference librarian and foreign law selector, I can see these tools being useful in my work, as well. Either way, I enjoy finding sources that allow me to offer even a little assistance to our technical services librarians when it comes to foreign language titles – or, at the very least, to better understand the difficulties they face.  If you have any tips or tricks for cataloging foreign language titles, please share them in the comments section below!  In the meantime, I will definitely be bookmarking Olson’s post for safekeeping.

Introducing…Charles Bjork as the October FCIL Librarian of the Month

By Dan Wade

Photo - Charles BjorkCharles Bjork, International & Foreign Law Reference Librarian at the John Wolff International & Comparative Law Library of the Georgetown Law School received this year’s Newest Law Librarian Award at the FCIL-SIS Business Meeting in San Antonio. After a lengthy legal career, he decided to change careers. For information on his new position, his education and work experience, see the fall 2014 issue of the FCIL-SIS Newsletter.

Charles’ first job while in high school was in the local public library. He has a long interest in international relations and foreign affairs going back to high school. His time as an undergraduate coincided with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War. He spent the summer of his junior year as an intern for a member of the British Parliament. Library School allowed Charles to rekindle his interest in foreign and international law. He created a LibGuide to European Union law as a class project for a government information course. The guide was subsequently published as an official University of Illinois LibGuide (http:// At the Jenner Law Library, Charles assisted Barb Henigman, the head of technical services, and Jane Williams, the FCIL librarian, with the ongoing foreign law reclassification project.

At Georgetown, Charles really enjoys working with students, especially the foreign-educated LL.M. students who come from countries with civil law systems. Charles’ brother is a professor of modern European history at King’s College at the University of London. His father was a public school administrator who also taught courses in the graduate school of education at Roosevelt University in Chicago. So working in the field of higher education runs in the family.

Like many of us, Charles is a news junkie. He wants to know what is going on in the world. He’ll take it any way he can get it—online or in print. He enjoys the popular classics; he likes to sing along to Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of Cole Porter’s “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye.”

Charles enjoys all kinds of foods, but he especially enjoys pastry and baked goods of any kind. He thoroughly enjoys cooking. After spending most of his day sitting at a desk in front of a computer monitor, getting his hands dirty is therapeutic. (You may know the feeling!) He likes to explore his Swedish heritage through cooking. He has even been known to pickle his own herring for the holidays. (He is the first to admit it is an acquired taste!) Not surprisingly, he also enjoys eating out. He has been pleasantly surprised at how vibrant the dining scene is in and around D.C. While it doesn’t have quite the depth of Chicago, it is attracting some innovative young chefs. Recently, while his brother was visiting, they were fortunate to get a table at Rose’s Luxury, which was just named the best new restaurant in the United States by Bon Appetit magazine.

Another hobby/pastime of Charles is visiting historic sites of which there is no shortage in the Washington area. He attributes this interest, in part, to have grown up during the American bicentennial celebration. The great thing about living in the Washington area is that he is within a two or three hour drive of so many historic places. So far he has visited Annapolis and Ft. McHenry in Baltimore. He is looking forward to visiting Williamsburg and Winterthur. He is also looking forward to attending the AALL Annual Meeting next summer in Philadelphia, which he has not visited for more than thirty years.

As a special gift to his new colleagues, Charles has some tips for those planning to attend the 2016 AALL Annual Meeting in Chicago. (Please share these with your colleagues in the library; everyone will get to know Charles!) As a restaurant recommendation he suggests Russian Tea Time, which is situated half a block west of the Art Institute on the opposite side of Michigan Avenue. In addition to all the Russian classics, they also serve a variety of dishes from the former Soviet republics in the Caucuses and Central Asia. Diners are bound to encounter something they’ve never eaten before, and there are lots of interesting vegetarian options. This is a fun place to go with a group (Our Ukraine reading group?) Best to book ahead.

When Rick Bayless opened Frontera Grill nearly 30 years ago, he introduced Chicagoans to authentic, regional Mexican cooking. If you’ve only experienced Americanized Mexican food, this is a great place to try ceviche, sopes, and mole. Frontera accepts a limited number of reservations each day, but most tables are filled on a first come, first served basis. So book early or book late. If you can’t make it to the restaurant, look for Tortas Frontera in Terminals 1 and 3 at O’Hare.

As for sightseeing in Chicago, Charles highly recommends the walking tours sponsored by the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Their boat tour along the Chicago River is especially recommended for first time visitors. (Maybe these tips will encourage Philadelphians to blog their favorite ethnic restaurants!)

If you are a newer FCIL librarian and would like to be introduced to the esteemed community of FCIL librarians, please let me know at

IALL Program Recap: The Destruction of Literature and Librarians in Argentina during the Dictatorship

By Jim Hart

RJ-Book-BurningThis session discussed the organized program by the military junta in Argentina to burn “subversive literature.” The first speaker, Federico Zeballos, had copies of government resolutions ordering the destruction of various titles. These books came from all kinds of libraries, academic, public, school, and even private. Indeed, having heard about the book burning, some people even chose to burn their own books in their backyards, knowing that their homes were not safe from government searches.

The next speaker, Maria Rondine, focused on children’s books and their authors. The government believed that these books would fill children’s heads with communist ideology. This showed how terrified the dictators must have been about their own legitimacy. These books were not only like those that many of us read to our children; they were the same ones!

The last speaker, Alejandra Nardi, told us of the 25 librarians who disappeared as the result of the book burning. She had photos and biographical information on many of them, and showed us a poignant film about the disappearances. It is not an exaggeration to say that everyone was profoundly affected by this presentation. For there but for the grace of God went each one of us.

IALL Program Recap: The Struggle for Human Rights in Argentina

By Jim Hart

This presentation described how individual Argentinians and international organizations worked together to expose the dictators’ crimes against humanity. Essentially, individuals made the international organizations aware of specific crimes. The international organizations then made them public, thus harnessing the power of shame and public opinion outside of Argentina. Cases were brought in international human rights courts and tribunals. Those inside Argentina were then able to bring pressure in the domestic courts and Congress. Eventually, Argentina gave international human rights treaties constitutional status.

Just as developed countries once practiced slavery and then rejected it, perhaps they have now rejected the practice of crimes against humanity.


IALL 2014 Annual Course Part I: Gender & Human Rights

By Charles Bjork

1450119_10100475958347527_6708231589772581974_nIALL’s 33rd annual course on international law and legal information in Buenos Aires got underway with three informative presentations focusing on Gender and Human Rights in Latin America.

The first speaker was Analia Montferrant, an attorney in the Office of Domestic Violence of the Supreme Court of Argentina. The Supreme Court established the Office, known by its Spanish acronym OVD, in 2004 to address the widespread under-reporting of domestic violence in Argentina. The role of the OVD is comparable to that of EEOC in American employment discrimination law.   After verifying an accusation of domestic violence, the OVD’s team of lawyers, psychologists, and social workers makes an initial determination as to whether legal intervention is warranted and then refers the case to the appropriate civil or criminal authorities for prosecution.

Since it became operational in 2008, the OVD has evaluated approximately 60,000 accusations of domestic violence involving more than 80,000 affected persons. Approximately two-thirds of the affected persons are women, one quarter are children, and the remainder are men, primarily elderly men abused by their adult children. The statistics compiled by the OVD help to guide the development of public policies to combat domestic violence. Among the key findings is fact that domestic violence is not confined to working class households but affect persons of all socio-economic backgrounds.

The next speaker was Paola Bergalla, a member of the law faculty at the Universidad de Palermo in Buenos Aires. Professor Bergalla began with brief overview of disputes concerning reproductive rights that have arisen in Latin America during the past 35 years, including assisted reproductive technology, emergency contraception, and abortion. She went on to discuss the impact of Artavia Murillo v. Costa Rica, a case in which the Inter-American Court of Human Rights held that Costa Rica’s absolute ban on in-vitro fertilization (IVF) was in breach of the American Convention on Human Rights. In doing so, the Court applied a proportionality test to balance the rights of infertile couples who want to become parents against the right to life of embryos created via IVF. The Court ultimately concluded that an embryo does not attain the legal status of a person until it is implanted in the womb of the prospective mother. National courts in a several Latin American jurisdictions have begun to cite the decision in the Artavia Murillo case, particularly for its proportionality test and for its treatment of infertility as a disability. Prof. Bergalla concluded her presentation with a summary of the evolution of abortion law in Argentina.

The final speaker was Natalia Gherardi, an attorney with the Latin American Team for Gender Justice, known by its Spanish acronym ELA. She spoke about her organization’s efforts to help bridge the gap between laws on the books designed to promote gender equality and how those laws are applied in practice. In 2009, ELA established a judicial “observatory” to evaluate decisions issued by national courts in Latin America pertaining to the rights of women. The ELA posts each decision on its website in PDF format, along with a brief analysis of the outcome. In addition, the ELA grades each decision based on the extent to which the author(s) of the decision employ gender stereotypes. Decisions that rely on gender stereotypes receive one or more thumbs down, while decisions that eschew gender stereotypes receive one or more thumbs up. The twin goals of the ELA’s judicial observatory are to promote greater understanding of how courts in Latin America resolve disputes concerning the rights of women and to make these decisions more accessible to the public.

IALL Opening Session Recap

By Jim Hart

On Sunday afternoon the National Library of Argentina hosted the opening session of the IALL Conference in the Luis Vargas Auditorium. Jeroen Vervliet, the IALL President, presided over the program that featured Horacio Gonzales, the Library Director, Elisa Barber, the Associate Director, and Professor Lucas Grossman of the University of San Andreas Law Faculty. Dr. Gonzales gave an interesting description of the founding of the Library by Mariano Moreno. Next, Ms. Barber spoke of the importance of the work we do and her pleasure at hosting our conference.

Professor Grossman gave us a scholarly overview of the Argentine legal system, which is a combination of civil and common law systems. Although the Argentine Constitution is modeled on the American one, procedural law is promulgated by the states. The federal government consists of a strong president, a Congress with a House of Representatives and a Senate, and a judiciary with some independence.

This was followed by a tour of some of the Library’s most prized rare books and the Library’s reading rooms and a delightful reception.

The day was topped off by a tour of the lights of Buenos Aires and a good night’s sleep.


Getting To Know You, Buenos Aires

By Jim Hart

Buenos Aires seems to contain all the other cities of the world. It has the barrios of east LA, the gardens of Osaka, the docks of London, the architecture of the 16th arrondissement of Paris, and the skyscrapers of New York, while the countryside around it reminds one of the steppes of central Asia. A tour of the city shows why it is called the Paris of the South. The Ricoleta district was features mansions and palaces of the 19th century French style. Nearby is the serene Japanese garden. The Avenue of the 9th of July is a 460 ft. wide, 12 lane boulevard where the obelisk that celebrates the 400th anniversary of the city’s founding stands.

But the culture of the tango and the beef of the Pampas are ubiquitous. The tango began in the barrios, was rejected by high society, charmed wealthy Parisians, and returned to the embrace of the creme de la creme of Agentine society. Now tourists are encouraged to try it in local clubs.

When you go out to eat, no one will force you to eat meat, but the fragrance will entrance you. Not all of it is beef, but it is all tender and juicy.

Whenever we walked to a cafe or sat down for coffee, we saw friends and colleagues.

Conference; what conference?   I hear it begins this afternoon.