From the Reference Desk: When Librarians Google

By Lora Johns

Google.pngToday’s post is a reminder that sometimes, even for information professionals, Google really is the answer.

A patron forwarded a Google Alert to the library that linked to an article on India Today. The article reported a ruling from one of India’s High Courts holding that solitary confinement, even for death row prisoners, amounted to torture and violated basic human rights. It runs afoul of the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the “Nelson Mandela Rules”) and the Constitution of India.

The patron wanted to read the ruling itself. Easy! I thought to myself. I can find that. While I am far from an expert in the law of India, I knew from GlobaLex that Judis would surely contain the ruling I wanted. Off I went to the High Court website and searched by Court and date of judgment.

No dice. What the heck?

Here’s what I knew from the news article:

  • The article about the ruling was published April 27
  • The issuing court was the Uttarakhandi High Court
  • The petitioners were two men sentenced to capital punishment and solitary confinement
  • The justices who wrote the opinion were Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Alok Sing

I tried searching by justice (both names), multiple dates (just in case the article was off)… and still, I found nothing.

Sensing that the task may require an expert rather than a neophyte, I consulted my colleague John Nann, who literally wrote the book on legal research and is more adept at finding obscure Commonwealth case law than any other human being alive. Half an hour later, like magic, the ruling materialized in my inbox and the patron’s.

Rather awed, I asked John how he executed this feat of librarianship, when even the official court website was useless. I felt a tiny bit less self-critical once he said he’d followed the same research path that I had, without luck — except that he had additionally consulted SCC Online, “India’s premier legal database,” which also had no trace of the ruling.

So John — the consummate reference librarian par excellence — turned to Google. Pulling key terms from the India Today article, John added a twist that, in its simplicity, betrayed sheer genius. He added the word “judgment” to the Google search.

When I recreated his research trail (partly because I wanted to read the judgment, partly to practice being a better reference librarian for next time), Google immediately gave me another news article, published on LiveLaw.in. Its headline proclaimed, Solitary Confinement of a Death Convict Before the Exhaustion of His Complete Legal and Constitutional Remedies Unconstitutional: Uttarakhand HC [Read Judgment].

Published two days after the judgment issued, the article had embedded a PDF of the court’s judgment at the end. Success at last!

What are the takeaways of this story?

  • Sometimes, the “right,” librarian-y methods are not necessarily the best or fastest path to an answer. I would have saved time if I’d tried Googling first. In fairness to me and John starting with more specific sources, it’s still a mystery why both the High Court website and the paid database both lacked this important judgment.
  • Google pays software engineers full-time salaries to design the best and brightest search algorithms. There is no shame in using them. (With the caveat, of course, that we must acknowledge that algorithms are as prone to bias as any human.)
  • I have brilliant, patient, and kind colleagues who invite me to reach out to them for help and generously lend me a hand when I need it. Especially as a baby librarian, I am grateful for the mentorship and guidance, and I hope to pay it back someday when I’m older and wiser.
  • I will be bookmarking in and following Apoorva Mandhani, the reporter who wrote the story, on Twitter to keep up-to-date with developments in Indian courts. Who knows when it may come in handy?

April GlobaLex Issue Now Live

By Lucie Olejnikova

The next issue of GlobaLex (April 2018) is live. This time around we bring you one new articles and three updates. Webmasters and content managers, please update your pages. Big thanks and congratulations to all of our authors, whose contributions are priceless.

FATCA: Citizenship-Based Taxation, Foreign Asset Reporting Requirements and American Citizens Abroad by Andrew Grossman at  http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Fatca_Citizenship_Based_Taxation.html.

Andrew Grossman is a retired U.S. Foreign Service Officer who served in Seoul, Abidjan, London, Tehran, Algiers and Geneva. He holds the degrees of B.A. in Economics (Clark), LL.B. (Columbia), M.A. in L.I.S. (University College London) and of Licencié en droit européen et international, Maître & Docteur en droit (Louvain-la-Neuve) and is a member of the New York Bar. He now lives in Switzerland, where he writes on private international law issues, especially in the fields of nationality and tax. Among his publications are “Conflict of Laws in the Discharge of Debts in Bankruptcy”, 5 Int’l Insolvency Rev. 1 (1996), “Nationality and the Unrecognized State”, 50 Int’l & Comp. L.Q. 849 (2001), “Birthright citizenship as nationality of convenience”, Proceedings, Council of Europe, Third Conference on Nationality, Strasbourg, Oct. 11-12, 2004; and “‘Islamic land’: Group Rights, National Identity and Law”, 3 UCLA J. Islamic & Near E.L. 53 (2004). His previous work in this series is “Finding the Law: the Micro-States and Small Jurisdictions of Europe” and “A Research Guide to Cases and Materials on Terrorism”. He has begun a project analyzing the limits of national autonomy in matters of nationality under European law.

UPDATE: A Legal Analysis of “Space Asset” Under the 2012 Space Protocol to the International Interests in Mobile Equipment by Pai Zheng at http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Space_Asset_Protocol_Cape_Town_Convention1.html.

Pai Zheng is an Assistant Professor at International Law School of East China University of Political Science and Law (ECUPL), Shanghai, China. He is also an Assistant Researcher at the ECUPL Center for Rule of Law Strategy Studies. He holds an LL.M. (Air and Space Law) from Leiden University, the Netherlands, an LL.M. (Public International Law) and a Ph.D. in Law (Cum Laude) from ECUPL.

UPDATE: “Paper Satellites” and the Free Use of Outer Space by Iulia-Diana Galeriu at  http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Paper_satellites_free_use_outer_space1.html.

Iulia-Diana Galeriu is a Legal and Corporate Analyst at SMBC Aviation Capital, Dublin, Ireland. She has previously been a Legal and Procurement Intern at Star Alliance Services GmbH (2015-2016) and a Legal Intern at International Air Transport Association Geneva (2014-2015). She is an International Institute of Air and Space Law Alumna and holds an LLM (adv.) in Air & Space Law from Leiden University (2013-2014), and the Bachelor’s Degree in Law from the University of Bucharest (2009-2013).

UPDATE: International Sports Law by Hunter Whaley & R. Martin Witt at http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/International_Sports_Law1.html.

Hunter Whaley is a Lecturer in Law and a Reference Librarian at Columbia Law School. Primarily fielding research questions at the reference desk, Hunter also teaches introductory legal research classes as part of the Law School’s first-year Legal Practice Workshop and LL.M. Legal Research and Writing. Prior to coming to Columbia Law School in 2015, Hunter earned his B.A in 2008, J.D. in 2013, and, finally, his M.L.I.S. in 2014 in Florida.

Martin Witt is the Head of Public Services and a Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School. He joined Columbia Law as a Reference Librarian in March 2013. Just prior to joining Columbia Law School, he was the Reference Librarian and International/Comparative Specialist, as well as an Adjunct Professor, at Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, Fla. He earned his B.A. in Urban Studies and Planning from the University at Albany, his J.D. from Albany Law School, and his M.L.I.S. from the University of Denver.

 

For more articles on international, foreign, and comparative law research, visit http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/index.html.

The Organization of American States: Brief Comments on Occasion of Its 70th Anniversary

By Carlos Andrés Pagán

The Organization of American States (OAS) is about to mark its 70th anniversary.[1] This is a matter for celebration. Regardless of some of its more controversial history,[2] this intergovernmental organization has accomplished many impressive milestones for human rights in the Americas. The foundational charter of the OAS was adopted in the same meeting that adopted the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man,[3] the first international human rights instrument of a general nature. It is widely accepted that the inter-American human rights system was born with the adoption of these two instruments.

As the forerunner forum of human rights in the Americas, this anniversary provides a unique opportunity to reflect on the OAS’ role in establishing the most significant human right bodies and agreements in our region. In its first decade, the organization was responsible for the creation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights,[4] followed by the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR)[5] in 1969. In 1979, the OAS established the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR)[6] and, in 2001, the Inter-American Democratic Charter.[7]

To highlight the importance of these inter-American institutions and agreements, let us glance at some of the contributions that the IACtHR has produced through is rulings. To begin, the Court is considered a highly productive one, having rendered hundreds of decisions, judgments, and advisory opinions. But more importantly, some of its decisions have grounded and expanded our notion of what human rights stand for. For example, the case of “The Last Temptation of Christ”, Olmedo-Bustos et al. v. Chile,[8] regarding freedom of religion and expression, led Chile to revise its Constitution to comply with binding obligations arising from the ACHR. This was the first time a regional human rights court ruling led to a constitutional modification. The case of Hacienda Brasil Verde v. Brazil, related to modern-day slavery, is also deemed a breakthrough in its area.[9] More recently, the landmark advisory opinion issued last January regarding same-sex marriage and transgender rights is set to establish precedent for 19 other Latin-American and Caribbean countries who have agreed to abide by the Court’s decision.[10]

As we celebrate its historic achievements, let us also take notice of the plethora of available secondary sources for conducting research on the OAS. Many of these can be found through a library catalog search or by browsing through some of the many great research guides available on the topic. The OAS website can also be very helpful for this research. There you will find the organization’s primary documents along with other key reference materials, such as annual reports of the Secretary General, OAS resolutions, agreements, and treaties. Through the years, the OAS document search feature has improved significantly and their subject index with their close to 60 categories (ranging from Access to Information to Youth), is also a good starting point for research.

[1] Established in April 30, 1948, the OAS’s members are the 35 independent states of the Americas.

[2] I am mainly referring to the ideological divisions that in the past has disrupted the organization’s progressive agenda.

[3] Charter of the Organization of American States, April 30, 1948, 119 U.N.T.S. 3.

[4] http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/

[5] American Convention on Human Rights, Nov. 21, 1969, 1144 U.N.T.S. 143.

[6] http://www.corteidh.or.cr/

[7] http://www.oas.org/en/democratic-charter/

[8] “The Last Temptation of Christ” (Olmedo-Bustos et al.) v. Chile. Merits, Reparations and Costs, Judgment, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R. (ser. C) No. 73 (Feb. 5, 2001).

[9] http://www.corteidh.or.cr/docs/asuntos/trabajadores_15_02_16_por.pdf

[10] Gender identity, and equality and non-discrimination with regard to same-sex couples. State obligations in relation to change of name, gender identity, and rights deriving from a relationship between same-sex couples (Arts. 1(1), 3, 7, 11(2), 13, 17, 18 and 24 American Convention on Human Rights), Advisory Opinion OC-24/17, Inter. Am. Ct. H.R. (ser. A) No. 24 (Nov. 24, 2017), http://www.corteidh.or.cr/docs/opiniones/seriea_24_esp.pdf

March GlobaLex Issue Now Live

By Lucie Olejnikova

The March 2018 issue of GlobaLex is now live, featuring four updates. We invite you to take a look and be sure to update your pages. Congratulations to our contributors!

UPDATE: The Crisis in Darfur – Researching the Legal Issues by Andrew Dorchak at  http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Darfur_Crisis_Research1.html.

Andrew Dorchak is Head of Reference and Foreign/International Law Specialist at The Judge Ben C. Green Law Library at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Law, University in Cleveland, Ohio. He has assisted law students researching international criminal law topics since 2002.

UPDATE: Immigration Law – A Comparative Approach Guide to Immigration Law of Australia, Canada, and the United States by Colin Fong, Angas Grant, and Daniel Costa at  http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Comparative_Immigration_Law1.html.

Colin Fong is a Senior Visiting Fellow, Faculty of Law, UNSW Australia. Before becoming an academic, he worked in various libraries such as the University of Sydney Law Library and the law firm, Allen Allen & Hemsley. Mr. Fong holds Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney, a Masters of Legal Studies from the University of Technology Sydney and an Associate of the Australian Library and Information Association.

Angus Grant is a lawyer and legal scholar, based in Toronto, Canada. He has practiced in the area of refugee law for many years, the last several of which have been focused on appellate litigation. Having completed his doctorate in law in 2016, Angus now teaches Refugee Law and Administrative Law at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University.

Daniel Costa is the director of immigration law and policy research at the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank in Washington DC. An attorney, his current areas of research include a wide range of labor migration issues, including the management of temporary foreign worker programs, both high- and less-skilled migration, and immigrant workers’ rights, as well as various forced migration issues.

UPDATE: Researching Haitian Law by Marisol Floren Romero at  http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Haiti1.html.

Marisol Florén Romero is the Assistant Director for Library Services and Foreign & International Law Librarian at Florida International University (FIU) College of Law.

UPDATE: Researching South African Law by Salona Lutchman at  http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/South_Africa1.html.

Salona Lutchman is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Public Law at the University of Cape Town. She is an admitted Attorney and Notary of the High Court of South Africa. Currently, Salona is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Law at the University of Cape Town. She holds an LL.B. from the University of KwaZulu Natal and an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from New York University.

 

For more articles on international, foreign, or comparative law research, see http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/index.html.

Teaching Religious Law Research as Part of Comparative Law: Focus on Jewish Law

By Marylin Raisch

Why bother to learn about legal research and methodologies in the niche area of religious law? From the perspective of training lawyers in law schools, this pursuit appears to be completely and literally academic (read: useless for the practice of law). In order to move from “what?” to “so what?” and beyond that to “ok, how?” one has to move into a mind-set that opens up to comparative legal systems generally and wants to find out if learning about the unfamiliar, even obscure, legal cultures helps one better understand one’s own. Practical inquiries made through comparative law may illuminate the impact of legal systems on economic development in their respective jurisdictions.[1] This topic can be a good way into comparing our common and many civil law systems with a system which permits conflicting opinions and is ultimately not driven by precedent at all.[2]

What follows below is an outline of selected sources that have been presented in a 40 minute research talk to a Jewish Law seminar at Georgetown. Some editions of texts we use are not necessarily definitive, but I list what we reference for the students. Unless otherwise indicated, web sites listed are free sources.

Jewish Law in General; together with issues relating to American law

  • Hollander, David. Resources to Begin the Study of Jewish Law in Conservative Judaism, 105 Law Libr. J. 305 (2013) available via HeinOnline (fee-based).
  • ______________. Jewish Law for the Law Librarian, 98 Law Libr. J. 219 (2006) available via HeinOnline (hereafter Hollander, Jewish Law)
  • Elon, Menachem. Jewish Law: History, Sources, Principles = Ha-mishpat ha-Ivri; translated from the Hebrew by Bernard Auerbach and Melvin J. Sykes. 4 vols. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1994.
  • University of Miami Law Library, Jewish Law Research Guide
  • WashLaw: Legal Research on the Web (Washburn University Law School), Jewish Law portal.
  • Cardozo Law-Yeshiva University Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization, blog Ancient Traditions, New Conversations (highlights legal questions within Jewish law along with book reviews useful for new title acquisitions.

Talmudic Law and Primary Texts

The Halakha (transliterated variously) is defined broadly at the Jewish Virtual Library’s Encyclopedia Judaica as the totality of oral and written law from the Bible (Torah/Pentateuch) down from Moses through sages, codification, and rabbinic literature, with some of the latter in the form of specific decisions answering thorny legal questions, called responsa.

From a library collections point of view, primary texts would include:

  • The Mishnah, and edited collection from the late Second century CE attributed to Rabbi Judah the Prince that collected oral law or the oral Torah to transmit teachings after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70.
  • The Mishnah = [Shishah sidre Mishnah] [Jerusalem : Eliner Library, Dept. for Torah Education and Culture in the Diaspora, 1994-1996].
  • The Babylonian Talmud (TB) is a commentary on the Mishnah (and its commentary, the Gemara), and this version predominates in general study over a version produced at another Talmudic academy in Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Talmud, dating from 350–400 CE.
  • The [Babylonian] Talmud: the Steinsaltz edition, translated and edited by Adin Steinsaltz. New York: Random House, 1989- .  Digital copies are emerging, such as the one at the Jewish Virtual Library.
  • The Mishneh Torah (MT) of Maimonides, dating from 1170-1180 CE has been described as “the most comprehensive and significant code of Jewish Law ever compiled.” (see Eliav Shochetman, “Jewish Law in Spain and the Halakhic Activity of its Scholars before 1300” in work cited at footnote 2, above).
  • Maimonides, Moses, 1135-1204.The Code of Maimonides. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1949- .
  • The Shulchan Aruch of Rabbi. Joseph Ḳaro, in the sixteenth century, used the ṣefer halakhot and Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah to create an authoritative statement of halakha.
  • Karo, Joseph ben Ephraim. The Concise code of Jewish law: compiled from Kitzur Shulhan aruch and traditional sources: a new translation with introduction and halakhic annotations based on contemporary response. 2 vols. New York : Ktav Pub. House, 1977- .

(See Hollander, Jewish Law cited above at 228-233 for citation guides to these complex works).

Judaica Electronic Texts: This site at the University of Pennsylvania, contains texts in several languages, notably Hebrew-English parallel Bible from the Masoretic text, and “Internet Resources for the Study of Judaism and Christianity.”

Internet Sacred Text Archive, Judaism (older texts no longer in copyright)

Dafyomi Advancement Forum, at which provides hyperlinks to free online resources. Can be used as an easily accessible English summary of the Talmud, for basic orientation through daily study, from The Ministry of Religion and Culture of the State of Israel, Estate Distribution Fund of the State of Israel, Dr. Lindsay and Rivki Rosenwald, Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture.

CCAR (Central Conference of American Rabbis) Digital Responsa Collection (fee-based),

Bar-Ilan University Responsa Project

Article Indexes ISpecific to Jewish Law and available free on the Internet

RAMBI – the Index of Articles on Jewish Studies: A multi-lingual bibliography of selected articles on Jewish Studies, from the Jewish National and University Library, also via The Library of the Faculty of Law at Bar Ilan University, maintains its own Index to Legal Periodicals in Israel. This platform is the same Aleph platform as RAMBI. It contains articles, written in Hebrew and in English that address matters of Jewish Law. This index can be found by going to, choosing the hyperlink at the top left for English, and then the Index to Articles. The difference? This additional resource also searches for books.

Article Indexes II: General & Legal Periodicals Indexes; search within them for Jewish Law

Law reviews: via Index to Legal Periodicals and Books and the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals; Lexis and Westlaw with easy search strings that add in the narrower topic, for example this search string: arbitrat! w/s divorce AND “Jewish law”

Google Scholar (with library links to your institution’s catalog)

Digitization, Notable Journals and Collections: Specific to Jewish Law

HeinOnline Religion and the Law collection, section on Jewish Law. Many valuable titles, some older or discontinued journals.

Hebrew digital library Otzar HaHochma: (fee based). May be cataloged as Otzar Online, containing “over 90,200” electronic texts, though not all are on Jewish law.

Treasures of the Library, Jewish National and University Library, Writings of Maimonides, Manuscripts and Early Print Editions

Jewish Theological Seminary, archives and links to other e-content and holdings,

HebrewBooks.org– digitization and free download, all in Hebrew, not all specific to law.

Touro College, Jewish Law Institute, Lillian Goldstein Traveling Judaica Collection – Upon request, they will loan your law school a teaching collection!

Finally, do not overlook the often-cited In Custodia Legis blog of the Law Library of Congress. Search this comparative law blog in the box at the upper left with phrase in quotations “Jewish law” for posts such as this one from 2011, highlighting their Jewish Law collection and rare materials within it.

[1] See Chapters 9 and 10 on legal systems and legal change in Milhaupt, Curtis J., and Pistor, Katharina. Law & Capitalism: What Corporate Crises Reveal about Legal Systems and Economic Development around the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. Accessed February 28, 2018.
[2] “Stemming from the original prophetic concept of divine revelation, the concept persisted that rival, apparently (to humans) contradictory traditions, could subsist simultaneously, each claiming the validity of divine law. No ‘rule of recognition’ … could deprive such revelation of its validity. From this stems the understanding here propounded of both the ‘either-or’ phenomenon of the Talmud…” in Ben-Menahem, Hanina. “Postscript: The Judicial Process and the Nature of Jewish Law” in An Introduction to the History and Sources of Jewish Law, N. S. Hecht, B. S. Jackson, S. M. Passamaneck, Daniela Piattelli, and Alfredo Rabello, eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996 at p. 434-435. Oxford Scholarship Online, 2012. doi: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198262626.003.0016.

From the Reference Desk: Research in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

By Lora Johns

IACHR“Can you find me the case mentioned in this article?”

The article in question announced that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights had ruled that far more substantial rights must be extended to same-sex couples. The ruling came earlier this year, amidst a movement within the Western Hemisphere towards greater acceptance of gay rights. Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, some Mexican states, the United States, and Uruguay already recognize same-sex marriage.

According to the article, the Court was prompted to rule on the issue by Costa Rica, which moved for the Court to tell it whether it must extend property rights to same-sex couples and allow transgender people to change their names.

Knowing the general subject matter, time frame, and country of origin suffice to locate this case in the IACHR. The court’s website is http://www.corteidh.or.cr/ (reflecting its name in Spanish: La Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos). Based on the general and forward-looking nature of Costa Rica’s request, I suspected this opinion was amongst the Court’s Advisory Opinions (opiniones consultivas). Navigating to “Jurisprudence” on the (thankfully bilingual) site presents a drop-down menu, from which you can select Advisory Opinions and search by country, date, and keyword.

¡Y listo! Here’s our case: I/A Court H.R. Gender identity, and equality and non-discrimination with regard to same-sex couples. State obligations in relation to change of name, gender identity, and rights deriving from a relationship between same-sex couples (interpretation and scope of Articles 1(1), 3, 7, 11(2), 13, 17, 18 and 24, in relation to Article 1, of the American Convention on Human Rights). Advisory Opinion OC-24/17 of November 24, 2017. Series A No. 24. This one is only available in Spanish, but sometimes the court provides translations.

Even more interestingly, you can view a snapshot of procedural history by clicking on the “observations on the request of an advisory opinion” link below the opinion title. This leads to a gold mine of documents, including brief-like submissions from individual countries, commissions, national organizations, private organizations, and academics. You can read, for instance, the submissions of the John Marshall Law School Human Rights Clinic and the American University Impact Litigation Project.

While it does not follow a particularly rocky research trail, this case is a great reminder of the wealth of interesting documents—including amicus briefs—that are right at our fingertips, if only we know where to look. It also highlights some common pitfalls when searching by date and keyword in non-U.S. courts. First, we in the U.S. are the odd ones out in the global community for using the date format Month-Day-Year. For example, if you enter a date to find a judgment—let’s say September 10, 2017—as “09-10-2017”, you will instead get results for judgments entered on October 9, 2017. Be aware that the rest of the world expects you to search in Day-Month-Year format. It will save you many headaches.

The second caveat is for keyword searching. In this case, we profit from the IACHR’s translation of its case titles, if not the whole opinion, into English. Not all courts are so convenient. Use a translation tool like Linguee.com to find some equivalents of English search terms in context. Linguee is particularly nice because it pulls real-life examples from business and legal websites, meaning the translation you get will probably be in the correct linguistic register. If you click through the Linguee hyperlink here, you will see that the source documents come from UN domains and EUR-Lex Europa—perfect for our purposes.

(h/t to Teresa-Miguel Stearns for a fabulous wealth of background info on the IACHR.)

Useful links and tools:

Getting to Know the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals

By Marci Hoffman

IFLPThe Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals (IFLP) has been a stable and reliable tool for the FCIL librarian and researcher for nearly 58 years.  I have been the general editor since 2011 and IFLP has undergone some major changes since 1960.  Chief among these changes is the move to the HeinOnline platform and access to many full-text articles from the index record.  Another major change is the creation of the new advisory board structure and the infusion of new ideas from our vibrant members.  Members of the board thought that a series of blog posts about IFLP would help librarians (both seasoned and new) get to know this important FCIL resource.  In the coming months, this series will cover the following:

  • The breadth and scope of IFLP.
  • Examples on how to use the Index.
  • Highlights on unique features.
  • A preview of what IFLP will be doing at AALL.

One of the major issues discussed by the current (and previous) advisory board is how to get students, faculty, and practitioners to understand the value of IFLP and how to promote usage of the Index in a variety of settings.  Most of us encourage (should I say battle with) our patrons to use indexes and go beyond searching Google for legal journal literature.  And, we all subscribe to databases that cost our libraries a great deal of money and usage statistics and experience shows us how many of these wonderful resources are not being fully utilized.  Therefore, we aim to provide you with a better understanding of what’s contained in IFLP and arm you (remember, it’s a battle) with ideas and examples that you can use in your own libraries.

As you gain a better understanding of the scope and breadth of IFLP, we hope you will think about how the Index can improve, what subjects and jurisdictions should be included, and suggest journals that we should consider adding to the Index.  We also encourage you to submit examples of how you have used IFLP for research, ideas on how others can promote usage of the Index, and ideas or examples of how to teach patrons to search the Index.  To this end, we will be adding a form to the IFLP website where you can submit your suggestions and comments. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to contact me or one of the other board members with any thoughts and ideas (contact information is below).

By the way, each year I invite several law librarians to join the Advisory Board.  Board members must have the appropriate qualifications for being asked to join. The qualifications include: 1) expertise and proven work experience in international, foreign and comparative legal research and collection development (or some sort of equivalent experience); 2) work experience in these areas for at least two (2) years; and 3) foreign language abilities beyond English.  Members must be able to meet deadlines and dedicate the time needed to complete the assigned work. The Board meets annually at the AALL Annual Meeting as well as virtually several times during the year.  If you have questions about serving on the Board, let me know or ask one of the current members.

Here’s how to contact us:

Marci Hoffman
Associate Law Library Director
Berkeley Law
mhoffman@law.berkeley.edu

Charles Bjork
International and Foreign Law Reference Librarian
Georgetown Law
chb39@georgetown.edu

Alyson Drake
Assistant Director for Public Services
Texas Tech University School of Law
alyson.drake@ttu.edu

Susan Gaultier
Reference Librarian
University of Pennsylvania Law School
sgua@law.upenn.edu

Sarah Jaramillo
Reference Librarian for International and Foreign Law
New York University School of Law
saj6@nyu.edu

Mike McArthur
Foreign, Comparative & International Law Reference Librarian
Duke University School of Law
michael.mcarthur@law.duke.edu

Some blog readers might wonder if this is a way to try to boost subscriptions to IFLP.  Well, yes.  IFLP is a subscription database and it will only develop and thrive if libraries continuing to recognize the importance of this resource by subscribing.  Keep in mind that most of the subscription dollars go back to AALL, which has always served as the operational organization for the Index and is the holder of its copyright.  IFLP is a major source of revenue for AALL and helps the organization bring programs and benefits to the membership.

So, this is the end of the first in the series of IFLP posts.  Thanks for your continued support of IFLP and we look forward to working with you all to further develop this trusted FCIL research tool.