By Julienne Grant
The Latin American Law Interest Group met at 7 a.m. on Sunday, July 13th. Seven people attended, including invited guest Irene Kraft (2014 Schaffer Grant recipient.) A number of agenda items were discussed. First, Chair Julienne Grant announced that the Group’s new webpage is up and running. Next, the Group discussed the weekly e-update and whether e-mail was the best format for distribution. Several of the attendees wondered whether the updates could be moved to the webpage, or the information could be moved to a blog; these options will be explored. News sources that members are looking at include La Jornada (Mexico), El País (Spain), the Latin American Herald Tribune, and the Miami Herald.
Jonathan Pratter next unveiled the “Mexican Law and Legal Research” guide (available on the webpage) that was prepared in conjunction with the July 15th Mexican Law program. Eight members of the Group contributed pieces to the guide (Jonathan Pratter, Julienne Grant, Marisol Floren-Romero, Bianca Anderson, Teresa Miguel-Stearns, Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Jootaek Lee, and Sergio Stone.)
Next on the agenda was the topic of Latin American vendors of legal materials. Teresa had compiled a vendors list for SALALM (Seminar on the Acquisition of Latin American Library Materials) in 2010. She will update this and post it on the Group’s webpage. After a brief discussion of Latin American vendors, the attendees discussed an earlier proposal (originating with Joyce Manno Janto) to establish a formal exchange program between U.S. and Chilean law librarians. Feasibility issues were noted, including language barriers. Teresa will speak with Claudia Cuevas (Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional de Chile) at IALL (Buenos Aires) about the overall feasibility of the project, and Irene generously offered to help in any way possible.
The attendees next talked about other future projects, including the possibility of assembling another law/legal research guide, focusing on a different Latin American country. The Mexican guide was a tremendous amount of work, but attendees expressed interest in participating in a similar project. Country possibilities mentioned were Argentina, Colombia, and Cuba.
2014 Schaffer Grant recipient Irene Kraft (currently at the International Criminal Court) next provided an update on the Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional de Chile (BCN). Irene worked there from 2008-2013—first as a general reference librarian, and then did FCIL work because she is multilingual. Irene explained that every major piece of legislation proposed to the Chilean Congress has a comparative law component/justification, so comparative law research is important at the BCN. Irene indicated that the BCN is currently undergoing a major internal restructuring, which involves a number of retirements. Soledad Ferreiro retired as Director; she had pushed for the BCN’s legislative database, which was funded by the World Bank. Manuel Alfonso Pérez, a historian and long-time BCN employee, now heads the Library.
Irene also noted that Chile’s most recent elections resulted in a huge change in the composition of Parliament, and that recently-elected President Michelle Bachelet (also President from 2006-2010) is pushing for various fiscal, educational, and electoral reforms. One attendee asked Irene about the Rapa Nui and Mapuche communities in Chile. She indicated that controversies involving these indigenous groups still rarely make the news.
Many thanks to Irene for joining us!!