Introducing…Dennis Kim-Prieto as the January 2017 FCIL Librarian of the Month

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1.Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Tempe, Arizona, attended the University of Arizona for my B.A., and then went to the University of Iowa for my Master’s degree in creative writing.  I then also spent time in Central America, South Korea, and San Francisco before returning to the Iowa College of Law.  I took my library degree from the mighty GSLIS at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and we moved out to New Jersey shortly thereafter.

2. Why did you select law librarianship as a career?

In law school, half of the students and the faculty were miserable, largely because they weren’t in (or weren’t going to live in) Chicago.  The law librarians, however?  They were helpful and cheerful and seemed quite happy with their lives.  I saw that and thought, ‘Wow, that’s what I want to be when I grow up!’

3. When did you develop an interest in foreign, comparative, and international law?

When I first started interviewing for law librarian positions, I kept getting asked if I was interested in FCIL work.  After I fielded that question about three times, I thought that it might be worth looking into.  I’ve been very happy with what I’ve found in the FCIL community, and with the work I do bringing awareness about these materials to students.

4. Who is your current employer? How long have you worked there?

I work at the Rutgers School of Law.  I’ve been here for 11 years.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I speak Spanish, and a little bit of Korean, French, Catalan, Portuguese, and Italian.  But Spanish and then Korean are my stronger languages.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I’d have to say that the highlight of my career was presenting my work on bilingual legal dictionaries with Coen van Laer from Maastricht University, at the IALL Annual Course in the Hague, Netherlands, during the fall of 2010. That was an incredible thrill to participate in one of the leading events in our field, and the location was completely breathtaking.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Dark chocolate oranges.  I cannot resist them.  Especially when paired with a nice Malbec.

8. What song makes you want to get up and sing/dance?

Oh, there are so many.  Right now it’s the song “Hein?” by Tom Zé.  FYI, this song has NOTHING to do with HeinOnline.  Ask me this question in twenty minutes or so, and I’ll be sure to give you a different answer.

9. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)?

I wish I knew analysis of variance.  But I was too lazy to get a Ph.D.  I also wish I knew more about coding.  I may take steps to remedy that one.

10. Aside from the basic necessities, what is one thing you do not go a day without?

I try to do the NYT crossword puzzle every weekday.  I take a rest on Saturdays and Sundays.

11. Anything else you would like to share with us?

We have two children at home, Jenara and Gonzalo, and they are delightful young people.  My oldest, Levi, is a student at the University of Arizona. I hope to return to Tucson to visit him some time soon.

Know a Good Candidate for FCIL-SIS Vice Chair/Chair Elect?

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The Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Special Interest Section (FCIL-SIS) of AALL is still seeking nominations for Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect and Secretary/Treasurer.

The position of Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect requires a three-year commitment, as Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect, Chair, and Immediate Past Chair, and will be expected to attend the AALL annual meeting the first two years.  The position of Secretary/Treasurer requires a two-year commitment, and the holder of this office is expected to attend the AALL Annual Meeting both years.  More information is available in the FCIL-SIS Bylaws.

Please be sure to first confirm the interest of anyone you would like to recommend for either position! Self-nominations are also welcome.

Nominations are due by Thursday, December 15, 2016. 

If you have any questions or wish to submit a nomination, please contact:

Dan Donahue, Chair, FCIL-SIS Nominating Committee

Gabriela Femenia, Member, FCIL-SIS Nominating Committee

Deborah Schander, Member, FCIL-SIS Nominating Committee

George Tsiakos, Member, FCIL-SIS Nominating Committee

Introducing…Jim Hart as the December 2016 FCIL Librarian of the Month

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1. Where did you grow up?

Peoria, Illinois

2. Why did you select law librarianship as a career?

I selected librarianship after deciding not to continue pursuing a PhD in classics.  Latin and Greek were OK, but adding French and German to them as research tools was too much.

3. When did you develop an interest in foreign, comparative, and international law?

I was already a law librarian and had worked for one faculty member whose expertise was English legal history and helped Human Rights Quarterly cite checkers.  So I knew that this was a whole area of law and legal research to me.  Since classical scholarship and Roman law were related to Europe culture, I started reading in the field and liked it.

4. Who is your current employer? How long have you worked there?

The University of Cincinnati.  I have worked at the University since 1982 and the law library since 1989.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I don’t speak Latin (I have a friend who can), but I can still read it.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

Probably my article on the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Without a doubt, vanilla ice cream!

8. What song makes you want to get up and sing/dance?

Take your pick.  Any of the Beach Boys, the early Beatles, Benny Goodman’s “Sing, Sing, Sing,” and a few others.

9. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)?

To be able to draw, to be able work with wood, to speak Russian, to understand economics, and to write gracefully.

10. Aside from the basic necessities, what is one thing you do not go a day without? Meditation and coffee

11. Anything else you would like to share with us?

Not unless we could have a two way conversation.

What’s Up In Italy?: The Referendum & Beppe’s Words of Wisdom

By: Julienne Grant

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Flag of Italy

Let’s step away for a moment from the transition drama (particularly the wacky tweets) and focus on an important vote that’s taking place somewhere else in the world—in Italy.  And while we’re on the subject of Italy, I’d like to highlight an Italian journalist’s take on our presidential election, as I think Americans can learn something from it.

The Referendum

This Sunday (Dec. 4), Italians will vote on a far-reaching plan for constitutional reform. The Italian parliament approved the changes in April with an absolute majority, but not a two-thirds majority—thus sending the vote to a popular referendum (per article 138 of Italy’s constitution). There are excellent overviews of the complex proposal available online, so I won’t detail too much here. Specifically, I recommend the Global Legal Monitor’s Nov. 18th post, and the coverage available on the EUROPP blog. In short, though, the proposed platform puts Italy’s parliamentary system on the chopping block.  One element of the program, for example, would streamline the Italian Senate from 315 Senators to 100, with the Senators no longer being directly elected. The Senate would essentially become a consultative chamber, rather than an equal player in the country’s legislative process.

The push for reform has been guided by Italy’s 41-year-old suave Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi. Mr. Renzi is the Secretary of the centre-left Partito Democratico (PD), and he served as the mayor of Florence before becoming Italy’s top executive in Feb. 2014. In a “60 Minutes” interview with Charlie Rose this past Sunday (Nov. 27), Mr. Renzi argued:

This referendum is not a referendum to change democracy in Italy. [It] is a referendum to reduce bureaucracy in Italy. Italy is the worst country for bureaucracy around the world. And this is very important. If we have a system with a lot of politicians the consequence is 63 government change[s] in 70 years.”

EUROPP again does a good job of summarizing both sides of the issue, so I won’t belabor either here. Succinctly, Mr. Renzi’s camp believes the changes will create a more efficient process for law-making, resulting in government stability, and in turn, an economic boost that the country desperately needs. The Italian business community generally supports the platform, and outside of Italy, U.S. President Barack Obama has openly endorsed Mr. Renzi’s plan.

Opponents, though, claim that the reforms will make the legislating process chaotic and place too much power in Mr. Renzi’s hands. Several of Italy’s, shall we say, more colorful political parties have been quite vocal in their opposition—the xenophobic Lega Nord (LN), Silvio Berlusconi’s signature Forza Italia (FI), and the populist Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S), which was founded by comedian Beppe Grillo. By all accounts, the referendum has perhaps become more of a plebiscite on Mr. Renzi than on constitutional reform. Beppe Severgnini, a popular Italian journalist also interviewed on “60 Minutes,” explained what a “Yes” vote will mean as it directly pertains to Mr. Renzi:

“Well, if it’s a yes, “yes” vote, we have to be very careful. We have to find a way to, to anchor Matteo Renzi somewhere down to earth because he’s gonna float in Rome. You see, you look at the sky. This Matteo Renzi’s floating away. Because he’s gonna be over the moon.”

The Implications

Mr. Renzi has indicated that he will resign if the referendum fails, as the UK’s David Cameron did after the Brexit vote. Whether Italy’s Prime Minister will follow through with that pledge, however, is unknown. Predictions abound as to what will occur if there is a “No” vote victory.  The EUROPP blog includes several of these, but the mainstream media in the UK, Europe, and even the U.S. have also chimed in. Most of these “negative outcome” pieces are of the “doom and gloom” type—foreseeing a political crisis in Italy, which would consequently scare investors away from a number of Italian banks that are already on the brinks.  Such a banking crisis in Italy, some analysts contend, could rock European financial markets and spark another Eurozone crisis. (see, e.g., “Next Wild Card for Markets: Italy’s Constitutional Referendum,” Wall St. Journal, Nov. 18).

The Vote

Italian law bans the publishing of opinion polls during the final two weeks of political campaigns, so the most recent polls available are from Nov. 18th. Those polls showed the “No” vote ahead by a fairly wide margin, but a lot can happen in two weeks, and there are still undecided voters. Having been a student of the wild world of Italian politics for a number of years, and having listened to an Italian friend bash Mr. Renzi, my own sense is that the “No” vote will prevail. Pass or fail, however, the referendum is significant; if it’s “Yes,” about a third of Italy’s constitution will be drastically changed, and if it’s “No,” at least one of the predicted financial meltdown scenarios could play out.

Beppe’s Words of Wisdom

Just a final note as Italians approach their monumental vote, and many Americans are still coming to grips with the Nov. 8th vote here.  Ironically, it is perhaps an Italian who can best put the U.S. presidential election into perspective.  Journalist Beppe Severgnini, mentioned above, is about as astute as they come in terms of cross-cultural savvy, and his recent observations about our election are worth noting here. Mr. Severgnini’s piece, “What a Trump America Can Learn From a Berlusconi Italy” (New York Times, Nov. 15) serves concurrently as a warning, a sign of hope, and a scolding.  As a warning–that the similarities between Silvio Berlusconi and Donald Trump are eerily striking. As a sign of hope—that Italy survived Mr. Berlusconi.  And, as a scolding—“We [Italians] just hope that this [presidential] election, and what comes after, makes America less willing to lecture the rest of us on what does and does not constitute good government.” It is this last point, in particular, that I hope Americans will heed.

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Italian Senate

Introducing…Alyson Drake as the November 2016 FCIL Librarian of the Month

1. Where did you grow up?alysondrake1

Elmira, NY, a small city in upstate New York.  Looking back, I always wanted to escape, but now that I live so far away from home, I long to get back there to see my family, especially in the fall, when the hills are all lit up in oranges and reds.

2. Why did you select law librarianship as a career?

I began working in libraries through work study as a freshman in college and never left—I just always felt comfortable surrounded by books.  After going to gets my M.L.I.S., I decided to go to law school, because I wanted to specialize in a subject that I would find interesting.  As a philosophy and history major in college, law seemed like a good fit.

3. When did you develop an interest in foreign, comparative, and international law?

I’ve always been interested in other cultures.  As a history major, I focused on the classical world and have always been its fascinated by its norms.  Studying abroad in Greece only increased my interest in other countries and so once I was in law school, my interests leaned strongly toward international law.  I was lucky enough to serve as a research assistant to one of my international law professors at William & Mary.  She focused on international criminal law and I became hooked.  Because of my background in international research from law school, international legal research questions started coming my way almost as soon as I began working as a reference librarian.

4. Who is your current employer? How long have you worked there?

I worked at Texas Tech University School of Law.  I started here in January of 2016, so I’m still relatively new here.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

Speak?  No.  I read Ancient Greek and Latin, and can pick my way through some Italian and Spanish, thanks to the Latin background.  I took a little French and some Modern Greek in college, but they’ve fallen to the wayside due to lack of use.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

Probably the recent scholarship I’ve been working on.  My first (post-law school) scholarly publication is coming out in the next issue of Law Library Journal.  I also just completed an update for a Globalex article and had a second article accepted by a law review.  That being said, I think the best is yet to come—and I’m particularly excited to be the Vice Chair/Chair-Elect of RIPS-SIS this year, especially as we are starting work on an exciting initiative with other SISes (including FCIL-SIS) to bring instruction to law librarians on how to be better teachers!

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Cheese.  Which is especially problematic as someone who is lactose intolerant.

8. What song makes you want to get up and sing/dance?

Anything by Tom Petty.  It used to accompany all my trips back and forth to college.

9. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)?

I would like to be able to teleport anywhere in the world.  More realistically, I’d like to have better foreign language skills.

10. Aside from the basic necessities, what is one thing you not go a day without?

Puppy snuggles.

11. Anything else you would like to share with us?

As the co-chair of the FCIL-SIS Publicity Committee, I love getting to hear about all the exciting initiatives that FCIL-SIS members are working on.  We’re always looking for new content for the blog, especially in the areas of technical services, collection development, and instruction.  Instruction is a particular passion of mine, and I’m hoping to start a monthly column sharing teaching ideas from FCIL members, so if you have any ideas, please contact me.

Antiquarian/Rare Books Vendors and Dealers: Foreign and International Law

By Lyonette Louis-Jacques

domesday-book-1804x972For those building special collections of rare law books, here is a list I compiled recently after a call for suggestions to the AALL FCIL-SIS (Foreign, Comparative, and International Law) and LHRB-SIS (Legal History & Rare Books) e-Communities, and the INT-LAW (International Law Librarians) listserv. Thanks especially to Mike Widener, Andreas Knobelsdorf, and Jonathan Pratter for suggesting names of antiquarian vendors/dealers/publishers, etc. of foreign, comparative, and international law rare books. Please send any other suggestions or updates to me at llou@uchicago.edu).

Here is the list:

Sometimes FCIL rare books are sold through auctions via Bonhams or Doyle.

Mega-catalogs or rare book search pages for identifying rare FCIL titles include AbeBooks.com, viaLibri, ZVAB (Zentrales Verzeichnis Antiquarischer Bücher), WorldCat, and KVK – Karlsruher Virtueller Katalog (you can limit your search to the Buchhandel = Book Trade section). You can use these sources to check if a law title is unique or owned by few law libraries.  You can check these sources or digital libraries or commercial databases directly to see if a rare law book you own has already been digitized (if you’re thinking of special digitization projects).

For tracking the literature related to FCIL history, it’s useful to regularly review the Bulletin of Medieval Canon Law which includes an annual bibliography of essays and books) and “Orientamenti Bibliografici”, a bibliography coordinated by Rosalba Sorice with contributions from Manlio Bellomo, etc. published  in the Rivista Internazionale di Diritto Comune.

You can enroll in Mike Widener’s course for training in law rare book collecting. It’s a Rare Book School class called Law Books: History & Connoisseurship. He teaches it every two years or so. A reading list is available. Mike’s most recent law rare books class was in June 2016 and covered Roman, canon & civil law in addition to Anglo-American law. Bill Schwesig reported on this year’s class in the summer 2016 issue of the CALL Bulletin. Susan Gualtier, Teresa Miguel-Stearns, Sarah Ryan, and Fang Wang reported on the summer 2014 class in the March 2015 issue of AALL Spectrum.

It might be also useful for FCIL rare book collection development to check the catalogs and new acquisitions lists of research center libraries such as the Library of the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History (which, BTW, has a great digital library!).

Some of the libraries that have strong collection of rare FCIL book include Yale (including the Library of the Stephan Kuttner Institute of Medieval Canon Law), Berkeley (Robbins Collection on Religious and Civil Law), Law Library of Congress (The Rare Book Collection), and the Peace Palace Library (Grotius Collection). Sharing knowledge with them, generalist rare book librarians, or EXLIBRIS-L subscribers, on FCIL rare book collecting would be important for others new to selecting materials in this area. What are some strong FCIL rare book collections or specialized vendors?

Introducing…Xiaomeng “Alex” Zhang as the October 2016 FCIL Librarian of the Month

alex-zhang1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Shenyang, a city in northeast of China. It was the capital of Manchuria Qing dynasty, the last dynasty of China and it was also occupied by Japanese for quite a few years during the World War II. As a result, Shenyang, today, has a diversity of history, culture and architectural styles.

2. Why did you select law librarianship as a career? 

As a philosophy and law major, I always enjoy critical thinking, researching, and writing. My advanced legal research class experience at the University of Kansas Law School and my later internship at the Law Library of Congress exposed me to the law librarianship field and made me realize that law librarianship is a perfect field that would not only allow me to continue to develop my critical thinking, legal research and writing skills, but also give me the opportunity to share my knowledge and expertise with others through teaching, research, and reference work.

3. When did you develop an interest in foreign, comparative, and international law? 

I was extremely lucky to get to know many great mentors at the very early stage of my career: Jenny Selby (former Head of Reference and International Law Librarian at Michigan Law Library) introduced me to the profession. Barbara Garavaglia (current Director and former Assistant Director of Michigan Law Library) trained me and is still training me to become a better FCIL Librarian day by day. I started to learn about FCIL selection from Barbara and Jenny while I was still a student at the School of Information of the University of Michigan and I fell in love with and became attached to the area immediately.

4. Who is your current employer? How long have you worked there? 

University of Michigan Law Library. A bit over 7 years.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages? 

I work with materials in many different languages on a daily basis, but I do not speak any besides English and Chinese (which is actually my native tongue).

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I would say the best is yet to come 🙂 But I feel VERY honored to become the vice chair and chair elect of FCIL-SIS this year and look forward to working with all of you to accomplish something significant!

7. What is your biggest food weakness? 

Thai food.

8. What song makes you want to get up and sing/dance?

I am a big fan of K-pop (Korean Pop Music), so I would say Super Junior’s Sorry, Sorry.

9. What ability or skill do you most wish you had (that you don’t have already)?

I would like to improve my empirical research skills a bit if time allows. I would also like to learn Spanish.

10. Aside from the basic necessities, what is one thing you not go a day without? 

My new watch 🙂

11. Anything else you would like to share with us? 

I enjoy reading, writing, and traveling.