Introducing…Anne Burnett as the May 2018 FCIL Librarian of the Month

anne

1. Where did you grow up?

Reno, Nevada, which is in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

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

I started working in the law library as a 2L and was officious and probably inappropriate in my zeal to answer reference questions from behind the circulation counter. I got to know the law librarians well, especially a brand new librarian named Carol Watson (yes, that Carol Watson) who encouraged me to consider law librarianship as a career. I enjoy helping members of our law school community with their research, and I am especially happy to be able to teach our wonderful students.

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

Before I started law school, I worked as a paralegal in a big law firm in San Francisco and had vague notions of “doing good” with a future law degree. A colleague invited me to an Amnesty International meeting, which spurred an interest in international human rights, leading me to look for law schools with strong international law programs. I was happy to discover that the University of Georgia had such a program in one of the coolest music towns in the world, and I took advantage of many of the school’s FCIL offerings, including a summer clerkship with a London law firm, a course in Brussels on European Union law and editorship of the Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law.

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

I have been at the Alexander Campbell King Law Library at the University of Georgia School of Law for almost 22 years. Before returning to Athens for this job, I worked as a judicial law clerk and a legislative attorney in Nevada, followed by my first job as a law librarian at the University of Arkansas.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I have some reading ability in German and Spanish but do not claim to speak either. I am working on Spanish somewhat diligently but wish I could immerse in a Spanish-speaking country for a year or two!

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I have had the honor of working closely with Mary Alice Baish and Emily Feltren in AALL’s Government Relations Office, first as chair of the Government Relations Committee and then the Digital Access to Legal Information Committee.  I am also honored to be one of the early recipients of the Spirit of the FCIL SIS awards a million years ago, when I was the newsletter editor and created the first web site for the SIS.  If you want see the site as it first existed in 1997, you must put on your Spice Girls or Hanson and then plug http://www.lawsch.uga.edu/fcil/fcil.html (does that win for the ugliest URL ever?) into the Wayback Machine  and discover what the most basic of html skills can build.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Really good pastry.

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

Any early REM. Oh, I also cannot sit still if I hear “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” by the Gap Band.

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

Fluency in several foreign languages. I also wish I played a musical instrument with some competence. I have no excuse. My husband is a musician and I have access to all kinds of instruments but have yet to achieve the ability to play any of them.

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

I’m a hopeless caffeine addict.

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

Through my advocacy work in AALL I have become involved in the Law Libraries Section of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA). Our section, which includes several AALL FCIL SIS and Gov Docs SIS members as well as wonderful law librarian colleagues from around the world, works on global access to legal information issues. For example, former AALL President and current IFLA Libraries Section Standing Committee member Sally Holterhoff recently shepherded the Statement on Government Provision of Public Legal Information in the Digital Age through approval by IFLA’s Governing Board, and several members of the Section have conducted workshops on free access to legal information (including the power of networking with other law librarians) in Uganda and Cote d’Ivoire with plans for a third African workshop in the works. We’d love to have more law librarians join us in this work and at IFLA’s World Legal Information Congress in Kuala Lumpur this year, and in Athens, Greece in 2019!

Introducing…Joan Policastri as the April 2018 FCIL Librarian of the Month

policastri

1. Where did you grow up?

Culver City, CA., right next to MGM Studios (now Sony Pictures, and also the home of NPR West).

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

It wasn’t a conscious decision. When I decided to change careers after ten years as a paralegal, and received my MLIS in July 2007, I was working at the University of Denver Law Library and was very happy to have a good library job. When the FCIL position became available in 2008, I didn’t hesitate to accept it. I was so fortunate to have support and guidance from Mary Rumsey and Sergio Stone as I embarked on work in a field I hadn’t known existed five years before.

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

My interest developed as part of my work with indigenous issues which was long before I thought about librarianship. The Federal Indian Law course that I took in 1984 frustrated me by showing the limits of domestic law for American Indian peoples, and I was fortunate enough to be studying with a professor who was/is very involved with indigenous issues and with the (Draft) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I learned about legal research, including UN documents, in that context. My Masters’ Thesis was a comparative study of seven countries’ policies towards indigenous peoples (in 13 areas), so I developed an interest, and acquired skills, in foreign law research. The progress of indigenous issues in the international arena has allowed for significant movement in domestic laws in many countries.

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

I currently work at the University of Colorado William A. Wise Law Library. January 2018 marked my 5 year anniversary there. (And I couldn’t believe how fortunate we were when S. James Anaya, former UN Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples, was selected as our Dean in 2016.)

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I studied French for over ten years, but never actually used it. I can still read it and sometimes understand it when spoken, but …. Spanish would have been a much more useful language.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

The Electronic Resource Guide on International Humanitarian Law that I did with co-author and FCIL colleague, Sergio Stone. I didn’t think I would enjoy IHL, but it is now an area I truly enjoy working in and I have met some wonderful attorneys working in that specialty.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Chocolate and pasta are probably tied (but not together!).

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

ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen,’ and any Classic ‘60’s Rock.

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

Speak Spanish.

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

Smiling

[editor’s note: awww!]

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

Working with colleagues in the FCIL-SIS and IALL is just the best! Thank you to everyone!

 

Introducing…Sherry Xin Chen as the March 2018 FCIL Librarian of the Month

Sherry Xin Chen_Cropped

1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Shanghai, China and moved to the United States in my twenties to pursue my graduate study. That was almost 16 years ago.

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

When I was a law student at the University of Michigan, I took an Advanced Legal Research class with the Director of the Law Library at that time, Margaret Leary. She showed me not only the method of doing legal research, but also the possibility of a joyful and rewarding career as a law librarian. Before I took that class, I have to say, as a law student I did not have any good idea what are good research skills and how to acquire them. That class really opened my mind and made me see what I was genuinely interested and capable of doing. After graduation from law school, I enrolled in the UM School of Information almost immediately and also worked part time at the UM Law Library. The experience I gained and the librarians I met there helped me start my career as a law librarian and I have always been very grateful.

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

Because of my background, I am naturally interested in this specialty. Within 2 or 3 years after I started my first full time position at the Boston College Law Library, Mark Sullivan, our former FCIL librarian retired so I stepped into his shoes to serve as a specialist in this area. For the most part, I am learning my trade by doing it—-by teaching the International Legal Research class every spring, by serving as a liaison to faculty and students with a FCIL interest, by working with our collection development librarian in acquiring FCIL materials, and by volunteering for FCIL’s Electronic Research Interest Group to reach out and serve a bigger community. It has been a challenging but fulfilling journey from the very start and I enjoy every bit of it.

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

I have been at the Boston College Law Library since January 2013.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I am a native speaker of Mandarin Chinese so English is my foreign language. I also studied Korean for four years back in college. I am proud to say that my Korean is still good enough for me to order in any Korean restaurant or understand the lyrics of the Korean pop song Gangnam Style with no special difficulty.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I would have to say that it is to teach a class almost every semester, either Advanced Legal Research or International Legal Research. Teaching forces me to really learn about my field, to internalize the knowledge and to be able to communicate it, to conquer my worst fear of speaking in public, to be super-organized but also expect the unexpected, to form close connections with my students, and to always find new goals or areas for me to work on.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Anything that is salty and fattening. The worst thing is that I feel no guilt for indulging myself with that.

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

Now I have a five year old who takes dominant control of our audio or video entertainment, my taste is forced to align with the kindergartener’s. The songs that make me get up and dance (if the songs do not, my daughter would!) are Let it Go in Frozen, Can’t Stop the Feeling from Trolls, and I’m Still Standing from Sing. I hope you are laughing with me instead of at me now.

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

Cooking like an Iron Chef! I love food, cooking and anything about it (but not baking though). My biggest dream is to enroll in a professional culinary school someday, in addition to being a very good law librarian at the same time.

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

Keys?

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

It’s a privilege to work with all of you in this field. The wisdom, enthusiasm, and comradeship I feel in this community is something very special and I cherish every day.

Introducing…Katherine Orth as the February 2018 FCIL Librarian of the Month

Katherine.Orth

1. Where did you grow up?

Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

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

I realized early on in law school that I didn’t want to practice law.  I would often get so wrapped up in research that I didn’t want to stop!  I had already become friends with some law librarians at UNC and Duke before I started law school, so law librarianship as a career option had been on the back burner for quite a while before I started my MLS program (part-time) in the fall of 2013.

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

I developed an interest in the “F”, “C,” and “I” long before I developed an interest in the “L” !  I grew up in a university town, so I had been exposed to different cultures for as long as I can remember.  The neighbors two doors down from my childhood home were from Argentina, the neighbors two doors up were from Germany, and the neighbors on the street behind our house were from Vietnam.  In college, I majored in Modern European History and I spent my junior year abroad in Bristol, England.  After graduating, I planned on building a career in some aspect of international development or international policymaking, so I did stints in Ghana, Ecuador and New Zealand.  By the time I got to law school, I was interested in taking as many FCIL classes as I could.

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

I’m the Acquisitions Assistant in the K.R. Everett Law Library at the University of North Carolina School of Law.  I’ve worked here since May of 2013, and in January of 2016 I took on some reference desk duties as well.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I speak some French and Spanish, but probably only well enough for tourist purposes at this point.  I also speak a bit of Mandarin.  I lived in Shenzhen, China, the year after I graduated from college.  Although my speaking abilities plateaued at a pretty low level, I remain fascinated by the language.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

Fiscal close, which happens in May and June, is a stressful time for all Acquisitions folks.  At the same time that our library is working to spend down all of our fund lines, we’re also waiting on our main campus library to disburse remainder amounts to us that we use to replenish our deposit lines.  We often don’t know how much to expect from main campus until very late in the process, so there’s not much turnaround time on this “use-it-or-lose-it” funding.  Normally, our library has a team of three working on fiscal close.  But in 2016, my immediate supervisor had retired, and my department head was on vacation, so for a ten-day period, I had to take care of a lot of the fiscal close procedures on my own.  It so was nerve-wracking (I had fever dreams about our fund lines for the entire time!), but I’m pleased to say that everything went smoothly in the end.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Probably doughnuts.  My boss can attest that I’m always hovering around the box of doughnuts after staff meetings, waiting to snap up the extras!

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

There are too many to name!  But a selection from my most recently-created Spotify playlist includes “Dreams” (Beck), “Amidinine” (Bombino; production by Dan Auerbach), and “Mi Gente” (J. Balvin, Willy William).

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

I wish I could draw really well.  I would love to supplement my travel journals with drawings of the places I’ve been, and the people and things I’ve seen.  If I could confidently draw portraits, I’d give them as gifts to friends and family.  Perhaps one day I’ll splurge on drawing lessons to see how far I can go with it.

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

Coffee. (Close runners-up are my phone and Post-It Notes)

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

My Masters paper, which I’ll submit in the Spring, involves looking at works of art and “spotting” the legal issues depicted in them.  I’m looking forward to injecting a big dose of the humanities into my final semester as an MLS student.

 

Introducing…Beau Steenken as the January 2018 FCIL Librarian of the Month

Steenken

1. Where did you grow up? 

My family moved around a bit when I was small, but I lived in Memphis, TN, from 4th grade through high school.

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

I’ve always been a huge history nerd. While studying English history in college, I became interested in the law and legal history. There didn’t appear to be a whole lot of jobs in legal history, but I viewed law librarianship as a career that would also support my interests.

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

It was an outgrowth of my history nerdiness. I took a legal class in law school at the University of Texas called the Emergence of Modern European Law. It inspired me to spend my third year of law school on an exchange program to the University of Nottingham, where I obtained an LL.M. in Public International Law. I mean, what is evidence of customary state practice other than history?

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

I have worked at the University of Kentucky College of Law for just over seven years.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages? 

Speak, not so much. I can mostly read French, though I’m better at reading legal texts and formal writing than anything with informal language or slang. 

6. What is your most significant professional achievement? My duties include both FCIL work and general instruction, so I’ll include two achievements, one for each (mostly so I can work in a shameless plug). On the FCIL side, I successfully proposed and taught an upper level FCIL research course, which was a first for the University of Kentucky. In terms of general instruction, <shameless plug> I wrote a 1L Legal Research e-textbook with one of my colleagues that is available through CALI’s eLangdell press. If you find yourself in the market for a 1L research text, it’s called Sources of American Law: an Introduction to Legal Research, is completely free for students, and is published under a creative commons license, so you’d be able to modify it to suit your individual class needs. </shameless plug>

7. What is your biggest food weakness? 

Pretty much anything spicy. I don’t know that I would have survived my year in England if it weren’t for the presence of Indian restaurants to supplement the traditional British fare.

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

Tobacco Island by Flogging Molly

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

coding/programming

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

That depends. Does coffee count as a basic necessity?

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

Yes, I’m chairing the Teaching FCIL IG this year, so if you teach an FCIL class and have a syllabus, assignment, rubric, or any other teaching material you would be willing to share, please email it to me to put into our database. I know all the syllabi in the database were extremely helpful when I was designing my course! My email is beau.steenken@uky.edu.

Introducing …Meredith Capps as the December 2017 FCIL Librarian of the Month

1. Where did you grow up?

My father worked in the horse racing industry, so I grew up in the Triple Crown states—New York, Kentucky, and Maryland.

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

I worked at a student assistant in the Cataloging & Serials department in the law library at George Washington University when I was an undergraduate student at GW and loved it.  I found myself practicing at a big firm in DC for a number of years after I graduated from law school (at Vanderbilt!), but periodically found myself researching library science programs.  When I was ready to take a step back from legal practice, I finally acknowledged that nagging feeling that I should, perhaps, consider librarianship.  I’m fortunate that my husband (who is also a lawyer) thought it was a fantastic, and not entirely, crazy idea, and supported me as I went back to school and made the transition.

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

I took several international law courses whilst getting my JD at Vanderbilt—public international law, EU law, human rights, international civil litigation.  The government investigations I helped to manage were almost entirely domestic in scope, so I’m excited that librarianship is now affording me the opportunity to immerse myself in FCIL.

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

I just started working at Vanderbilt in October, so I’m very new to my current position!

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

Very, very rudimentary Spanish.  So rudimentary as to hardly be worth mentioning.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I don’t know that quitting something can be considered an “achievement,” but it certainly took a lot of courage and planning to quit practicing and try something new professionally.  I know many readers of this publication have done the same, and probably also experienced sleepless nights and periodic nausea.   In general I’ve found that the times I helped people in concrete ways were the most personally satisfying, even when they weren’t the most challenging work.  I managed some complex investigations when I was practicing law that required patience, creativity, and long hours, but the client I remember most fondly was a pro bono asylum client, and I’m always happy when a student is appreciative of my help and returns for advice.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Sweets.  Peanut Butter M&Ms and anything covered in very sugary frosting, such as grocery store sheet cake.

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

This could be an entire blog post!  Most recently noted myself doing this to Dancing Queen by ABBA.

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

See question 5—I really wish that I had taken language instruction more seriously.  I also wish that I could play the piano, and did not experience anxiety when faced with numbers.

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

Some kind of movement.  I’m a certified Pilates instructor and try to get on the equipment a few times a week, but also enjoy yoga and long walks or hiking.  I have foot and ankle issues from years of ballet/pointe, so I try to go really easy on my joints.

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

I’m really excited to join such a welcoming (and fun) professional community.  I attended IALL’s annual conference in Atlanta last week, and it was really encouraging to meet so many wonderful people and see how many resources I’ll have available to me.

Introducing…Carlos Andrés Pagán as the November 2017 FCIL Librarian of the Month

Carlos Andrés Pagán (FCIL photo)

1. Where did you grow up?

I was born, and mostly raised, in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. Growing up, I also lived in North Florida (Jacksonville) and South Florida (Boca Raton), where I went to elementary school to learn English. As an adolescent, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel abroad extensively, including tours in: South America, Australia, and Europe. I count these trips as part of my upbringing because they significantly shaped and defined my development from childhood to young adult.

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

Between April 2013 and August 2015, I served as the Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation. From that position I was responsible for the supervision of the Academy personnel, as well as the direction of its multiple agendas, including the editing of the Academy Law Journal and the oversight of two key research projects on Puerto Rico’s legal history. The first focused on the recovery, editing, and publication of the civil sentences of the Real Audiencia Territorial de Puerto Rico, the highest court during the Spanish Regime’s presence on the Island. For the second project, I published and edited a book on the legislative records of the Cámara de Delegados de Puerto Rico, the first elected representative body of Puerto Rico. This work made me realize how a career as a legal researcher and librarian is a marvelous way to practice law and that’s when I decided to enroll in library school.

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

Coming from Puerto Rico, a mixed-law jurisdiction, where common law and Spanish civil law intertwine, I have always been fascinated by the study of foreign and international law.

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

I work at the amazing Boston University School of Law’s Fineman and Pappas Law Libraries! I started working there this past August and, so far, I love it!

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I am fluent in Spanish (native). I also read Portuguese and Catalan. I picked up Catalan while studying my Bachelor of Laws at the University of Barcelona in Catalonia and I owe learning Portuguese to my many friends from Brazil.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

Receiving my LL.M. degree from Harvard Law School (HLS) allowed me to work in close concert with a highly diverse group of students. I had the privilege of serving as an LL.M. Class Representative in HLS’s Student Government, and was a member of its Diversity and Inclusion Committee. In the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, I was involved in numerous projects, ranging from research on faculty hiring practices to actions making HLS a safer and more inclusive environment for the LL.M. LGBT community. For my contributions, I was recognized with the Dean’s Award for Community Leadership.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Mofongo de Platano Verde y Maduro (traditional mashed plantains green and sweet); no doubt about it.

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

Suavemente from Elvis Crespo. But honestly, I dance to most salsa and merengue songs out there. I really love dancing; I guess it’s my Caribbean heritage/DNA.

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

Flying planes.

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

Dark-roast coffee (no sugar, no milk.) If it comes from my family’s coffee plantation (located in the main mountain range in Puerto Rico), even better!

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

I can’t wait to see you all at next year’s AALL’s Baltimore conference!