New FCIL Librarian Series: Conferencing and Reading…and Researching, Of Course

By Jessica Pierucci

This is the second in a series of posts documenting my first year as a foreign, comparative, and international law (FCIL) librarian. I started in this newly-created role at the UCI Law Library in July 2017. The aim of this series is to document my year in the hope of inspiring aspiring FCIL librarians to join the field (and hopefully not scaring them away!) by discussing one librarian’s experience entering the field.

Happy New Year! To start off 2018, this post will cover three developments during the last few months of 2017: the IALL Annual Course, the start of my self-styled “course” in FCIL research, and a chance to truly test my skills.

IALL Annual Course

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Sculpture outside the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo courtesy of Jessica Pierucci.

Although this is an AALL blog, I would be remiss if I didn’t dedicate part of this post to singing the praises of the International Association of Law Libraries (IALL) Annual Course in Atlanta, Georgia, which I attended right after writing my first post in this series.

This conference was a fantastic experience all around. The truly thought-provoking speakers, museum and library tours, and chances to socialize and network with librarians from around the world were a wonderful blend of professional development opportunities.

Given that this year’s conference was in the United States, the programming was focused on U.S. law and history. This was a fascinating opportunity to think about the international perspective on U.S. law and discuss topics of domestic and international interest, particularly how the U.S. is viewed globally and to what degree the U.S is or is not promoting civil and human rights at home and abroad. I hope to attend future IALL conferences abroad to learn about the host countries’ and regions’ legal systems directly from their local practitioners and researchers. I would highly recommend this conference to any new FCIL librarian.

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The setting for the IALL Annual Dinner at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Note the dinosaurs!  Photo courtesy of Jessica Pierucci.

Becoming a self-taught FCIL librarian

I returned from this conference inspired by the energy of my new colleagues and excited to spend more time in my self-study as to how to be an FCIL librarian from the ground up. From my background reading,[1] I understand that FCIL librarians made a concerted push in the 1990s to train the next generation of FCIL librarians through a series of institutes and resulting publications.[2] Since then, there has been scattered attempts to create something similar, but, as far as I am aware, nothing yet has fully come to fruition.[3] (Someone please correct me if I’m wrong!)

The structured materials from the 1990s are certainly a helpful primer on the work of an FCIL librarian, but don’t reflect the ever-ubiquitous use of the internet and other information technology in legal research. To fill this gap, I am developing my own self-styled “course” in FCIL librarianship, which augments earlier works with recent materials, and am making my way through this course between my other responsibilities at the library.

The course has primarily taken the form of reading a bunch of articles,[4] select books, and taking time to practice what I’m learning along the way. I’ve found two books, in particular, to be invaluable resources: International and Foreign Legal Research: A Coursebook and Public International Law in a Nutshell. I have a number of other books on deck for my studies in 2018, including International Legal Research in a Nutshell and The IALL International Handbook of Legal Information Management. I’m also looking forward to a deeper dive into the major international law treatises on my Jessup Guide.

If you have any recommendations for other foundational readings, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or feel free to reach out to me directly. I plan to share a list of resources for new FCIL librarians as part of my final post in this series.

Testing my skills

While finalizing this post, I was contacted for some in-depth legislative history research for multiple laws of a Spanish-speaking country. I was delighted to have the chance to really put my training to the test. I turned to research guides on the country’s legal system, dusted off my Spanish language skills, and was ultimately able to find resources addressing each of the questions asked. I had so much fun testing myself with this project and learning a lot about the history of one country’s laws in the process. I can’t wait to continue my self-styled FCIL course and I look forward to all the new research questions I’ll encounter in 2018!

[1] The Education Committee of the AALL FCIL-SIS compiled a helpful list of background reading. Education Committee, Articles Considering a Career in FCIL Law Librarianship, AALL, https://www.aallnet.org/sections/fcil/cmtesgroups/Education (last visited Dec. 20, 2017).

[2] See, e.g., Introducing…Lyonette Louis-Jacques as the October 2015 FCIL Librarian of the Month, DipILawMatic Dialogues (Oct. 2, 2015), https://fcilsis.wordpress.com/2015/10/02/introducing-lyonette-louis-jacques-as-the-october-2015-fcil-librarian-of-the-month/; Neel Kant Agrawal. Training in FCIL Librarianship for Tomorrow, 105 Law Libr. J. 199, 207 (2013), http://www.aallnet.org/mm/Publications/llj/LLJ-Archives/Vol-105/no-2/2013-9.pdf.aspx.

[3] Mary Rumsey, Foreign and International Law Librarianship, 25 Legal Reference Services Q., no. 2/3, 2006, at 73, 83, https://doi.org/10.1300/J113v25n02_03.

[4] See, e.g., Neel Kant Agrawal. Training in FCIL Librarianship for Tomorrow, 105 Law Libr. J. 199, 226-29 (2013), http://www.aallnet.org/mm/Publications/llj/LLJ-Archives/Vol-105/no-2/2013-9.pdf.aspx.

One response to “New FCIL Librarian Series: Conferencing and Reading…and Researching, Of Course

  1. Pingback: DipLawMatic Dialogues Needs You: Call for Bloggers! | DipLawMatic Dialogues

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