Go-To Resources for the Non-FCIL Librarian

Int_lComArb_Wordle_Word_Cloud__on_Navy__2016By Janet Kearney & Michelle Penn

Hello DipLawMatic Dialogues readers! This is the first in a set of posts from Michelle and Janet on FCIL for non-FCIL librarians; the next post will focus on teaching. Michelle and Janet are both from Fordham Law Library, where Michelle is Faculty Services Librarian and Janet just made the leap from Reference Librarian to FCIL Law Librarian. Thanks for having us!

Where can I find Singapore cases on surrogacy? How do I cite check this Russian statute?  How do I find the main sources of international humanitarian law? As librarians, we often receive questions that we don’t know the answers to. What sets us apart is the ability to strategize and efficiently learn the answer. So for those of us who dabble in FCIL or only rarely get questions or are just interested, here’s a collection – a research guide of research guides and a couple of databases. While this is from the perspective of two academic librarians, these should get you started and answer the most frequently asked questions regardless of your work environment!

Research Guides:

GlobaLex – For those of you on the FCIL-SIS listserv, you have probably seen the great (and frequent!) updates to Globalex. From the publisher,       “The guides and articles published are written by scholars well known in their respective fields and are recommended as a legal resource by universities, library schools, and legal training courses.” What does this mean for users? It provides the location of various documents, but it also puts the documents in the context of their legal system. This is helpful for both those incredibly specific (and seemingly random) journal student requests and questions with broad strokes. “I need Icelandic adoption laws” – Globalex will get you started. “I want to establish a standard as customary international law” – Globalex will help you there too! Available for free online, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/index.html.

UN Library Research Guides, are unsurprisingly, wonderful resources for areas of law involving the United Nations. The researcher should keep in mind though, that the guides apply to United Nations resources and are thus not complete regarding international law as a whole. For example, the resource guides on international law may inadvertently give the novice researcher the impression that international law begins and ends with the United Nations. Available for free online, http://research.un.org/en?b=s&group_id=2087.

Databases

The World Legal Information Institution, (World LII), is home to a number of free and non-profit databases helpful to the FCIL researcher, developed by the Australasian Legal Information Institution, British and Irish Legal Information Institute, Canadian Legal Information Institute, Cornell’s Legal Information Institute, Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute, and Wits University School of Law. The searchable databases include case law, legislation, treaties, law reform, law journals, and specialist subject databases from 123 jurisdictions. Though the interface may not be as flashy as those of paid resources, it allows for an impressive level of advanced Boolean searching, including proximity searching. Note that coverage and currency can vary widely by jurisdiction. http://www.worldlii.org/databases.html

vLex Global is similar to World LII, but it is a subscription resource. It also contains case law and statutes, occasional regulations, and journal articles from over 100+ jurisdictions. The added value comes from a wider variety of materials such as forms, administrative decisions, regulations, and legislation from countries that can be harder to navigate, especially when you do not speak the language. What really gets me excited about this is the translation tool and the ability to navigate collections in my native language – sure I can use Google translate and try to parse things out, but this eliminates some of the guesswork. Translations, although not perfect, can be made between multiple languages and is not limited to English. https://vlex.com/p/vlex-global/

For primary and secondary source research, HeinOnline is home to many databases helpful to the foreign and international legal researcher. One of the most useful databases is the World Treaty Library, which includes over 160,000 treaties from 1648 to the present, as well as related articles and publications. While much of the material on Hein’s World Constitutions Illustrated is available on free websites, the database is still a useful resource, consolidating constitutional information in one place with quality English translations. For secondary sources, Hein’s Index to Foreign and Legal Periodicals is the the go-to index for over 500 legal journals. https://home.heinonline.org/

Teaching a FCIL Research Course for the First TIme

By Sarah Reis, Foreign and International Law Librarian, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

 This is the third post in a series of posts over the next year about adjusting to my new position as a foreign and international law librarian. I started my position at the Pritzker Legal Research Center at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in February 2018.

A couple of weeks ago, I started teaching my Foreign, Comparative, and International Legal Research course for the spring semester. (Perhaps in Chicago, it would be more accurate to refer to the “spring semester” as the “winter semester.”) Not only is this the first time I am teaching a FCIL research course, but it is also the first class that I am teaching on my own, which has been simultaneously exciting and nerve-racking.

Reis - Photo 1.jpgTo help me feel more comfortable with teaching, I spent the fall semester co-teaching an Advanced Legal Research class with one of my colleagues. I learned so much from my co-instructor, Clare Willis, about how to ensure that assignments are appropriately meeting learning objectives, how to develop useful rubrics for grading assignments, and how to effectively employ creative teaching methods to keep students engaged during class. I am grateful I had the opportunity to work closely with an experienced instructor for a semester prior to teaching on my own.

In designing my FCIL research course, I consulted materials other librarians have generously shared and read through the DipLawMatic posts about teaching. Additionally, the teacher’s manual for International Legal Research in a Global Community has been an essential resource in preparing my class materials (thank you, Heidi Kuehl and Megan O’Brien!). I chose not to require my students to purchase a textbook, but rather assigned selected chapters from International Legal Research in a Nutshell, which is available electronically through our West Study Aids subscription, along with a few chapters from International Legal Research in a Global Community and International and Foreign Legal Research: A Coursebook, for which we have copies on reserve.

My two-credit class meets twice a week for 55-minute periods. Already, I recognize it is going to be challenging to fit in a lecture/discussion and an in-class exercise while leaving sufficient time for a debriefing or review. I am looking forward to experimenting with various methods to give students time to practice using research tools and resources. For instance, some class sessions are set up with short exercises scattered throughout the session, while other class sessions are going to be dedicated workshop days where they will spend almost the entire class period working on a research problem in a guided environment.

One of the most exciting things about this class is the student diversity. The class has fifteen students, which includes a mix of JD students, LLM students, and students from our LLM in International Human Rights program. Some students have taken several international law courses, other students have already spent a semester working on projects for the Center for International Human Rights, whereas still others are completely new to international law concepts. I am encouraging the students to work together on in-class exercises so that some of the students who are more familiar with international law can help others who might not have taken an international law course before. Because the LLM students are familiar with legal systems in other countries, I am really looking forward to our class sessions on foreign law because I know the students will learn a lot from each other.

Throughout the semester, students will be required to submit four assignments accompanied by research logs so I can provide them with continuous feedback. Because I anticipated that that they would have diverse interests in areas of law (which was confirmed by the responses to the intro survey I had them fill out during the first week of class), I have incorporated an element of choice into the course by allowing them to select their own final project topic.

I realize that my first semester teaching this class will be the most challenging semester because over the next three months I’ll be getting a feel for what works well—and what doesn’t. After each class session, I have been carefully documenting and keeping track of how I felt the class session went so I can remember to adjust things as needed in future semesters. I am looking forward to reviewing all of these self-assessment notes alongside feedback from the course evaluations at the end of the semester. I also always welcome stories, suggestions, and teaching tips from other librarians—both from those who are newer to teaching like me, as well as from those who are experienced pros!

 

New FCIL Librarian Series: Supporting the International Team Project Program

By Sarah Reis

This is the second post in a series of posts over the next year about adjusting to my new position as a foreign and international law librarian. I started my position at the Pritzker Legal Research Center at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in February 2018.

At the start of this academic year, I took over as director of the International Team Project (ITP) program at Northwestern Law. In this program, students spend a semester studying the legal system, culture, and political system of another country and then travel to that country to conduct interviews with in-country contacts. Since the program started in 1999, students have conducted research in more than 40 countries.

During this initial first year of taking over this program, my goal is to provide a research guide and an in-class research presentation for each class. The countries of study differ from year to year and are typically not repeated in consecutive years, which is both a challenge and a great learning experience for a new FCIL librarian because it means that I need to quickly familiarize myself with researching the law of various foreign countries.

ITP courses are student driven: students are responsible for developing the syllabus with the approval of a faculty advisor, leading class discussions, setting up interviews with in-country contacts, and arranging travel. Generally, the law school offers one ITP course in the fall with travel occurring over winter break and four or five ITP courses in the spring with travel occurring over spring break.

Students in the fall ITP course will be traveling to Tanzania in a few weeks. Earlier this semester, I created a research guide on researching Tanzanian law and also visited their class to give a research presentation. This presentation provided the students with a basic introduction to international legal research as well as an overview of how to research the law of Tanzania and keep up with current events in that country. I customized the presentation to include hands-on exercises geared toward their research topics.

I have also been brainstorming methods to support the ITP classes beyond a research guide and in-class presentation. Students in an ITP class form small research groups of 3-4 students who work together on a research topic and write a paper together. I am eager to explore possible opportunities for students to publish these papers (as long as their interviewees give consent). Countries of study are selected in the spring prior to the academic year when the courses will be offered. The countries of study for the ITP courses being offered this academic year were set prior to my taking over this role, but I am looking forward to assisting students and faculty advisors with selecting countries and providing resources to help generate research topic ideas for next academic year’s course offerings.

So far, this role has been a helpful way for me to get to know students outside of the classroom and beyond the reference desk because approximately a hundred students participate in the program each year. I held a few trainings for the student team leaders earlier this year and frequently communicate with them on an ongoing basis about logistics pertaining to travel, curriculum, and finance. The program has also been a great way for me to get to know faculty members who I may not otherwise work with often because our library has a liaison system. Additionally, this role has provided me with the opportunity to work with other law school and university departments, including the Registrar, Office of Financial Aid, Alumni Relations, and the Office of Global Safety & Security.

Students in our five spring ITP classes will be traveling to Morocco, Switzerland, Iceland, South Africa, and Argentina. If other law schools have a similar program to this one or offer comparative law classes that require presentations or trainings by FCIL librarians on researching the law of particular foreign countries, I would love to be able to share materials, ideas, and exercises.

Reis - ITP Photo

New FCIL Librarian Series: Collection Development and Electronic Resources

By Sarah Reis, Foreign and International Law Librarian, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

This is the first post in a series of posts over the next year about adjusting to my new position as a foreign and international law librarian. I started my position at the Pritzker Legal Research Center at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law in February 2018 and was formerly a general reference librarian at another law school.

Back in February, I started my position as Foreign & International Law Librarian at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. Weather-wise, February is admittedly not the most ideal time to move from northern California, where I had previously been working as a general reference librarian at Stanford Law School, to Chicago. But the timing was perfect for allowing me to become acquainted with foreign and international law resources at my own pace. Rather than scrambling to offer various in-class research sessions for the students in the international human rights clinic or immediately diving in to teaching an FCIL class for the first time, I had the opportunity to spend time familiarizing myself with our collection and electronic resources.

At Northwestern, I am a member of the selection committee. Collection development was a new responsibility for me because I was not a member of the collection development committee at the library where I previously worked. Here, the selection committee decides as a group whether our library will purchase certain monographs and whether we should subscribe to or cancel certain electronic databases and print subscriptions. In print, we collect various international law materials, but not as many foreign law materials, and the materials tend to be in English. We provide our law school community with access to numerous e-resources that would be helpful in conducting foreign and international legal research, but generally do not subscribe to databases that are geared toward researching the law of a specific foreign country, with the exception of Westlaw China. For instance, we do not subscribe to databases such as Beck-Online (German law) or Kodeks (Russian law).

Over the summer, I conducted a survey comparing the FCIL databases that our library subscribed to with the databases our peer law libraries subscribed to, based on what I could glean from their database pages and research guides available on their law library websites.* The purpose was to identify whether our library was missing any key FCIL resources or if we were subscribing to any resources that we could consider canceling.

I would recommend any new FCIL librarian to take on a similar task because this turned out to be an excellent way to acquaint myself with the range of resources useful for conducting foreign and international legal research. I spent time browsing, running test searches, and exploring the content for all of the databases we subscribed to, and also looked into what I could expect to find in resources for which we did not have subscriptions.

Taking a close look at the database pages and research guides of various other law library websites also provided insight into how to effectively organize and highlight resources. Most law library websites, including ours, have an A-to-Z list of legal databases. Some libraries make it easy for users to filter all of the e-resources to view only those that specifically pertain to foreign and international law, other libraries list all of their e-resources in one alphabetical list, and still other libraries organize e-resources into very specific categories (e.g., e-resources pertaining to a particular jurisdiction or international law topic). Our library organizes e-resources pertaining to foreign and international law under a category of “Foreign and International” to make it easy for users to pull up a list of just these resources filed under this category.

Law libraries differ in whether they integrate free resources, such as the UN Official Document System, EUR-Lex, or GlobaLex, alongside their subscription resources on their database pages. Our library opts to include primarily subscription databases on our A-to-Z database list because we do not want our database list to become too overwhelming for students. However, we highlight both subscription resources and free resources in our research guides, which are intended to provide more in-depth coverage on how to research specific topics.

Conducting this survey afforded our library the opportunity to update our list of databases on our law library website. I uncovered a few e-resources that our main campus library subscribed to that would also be of interest for law students conducting international legal research, so we added these resources to the law library’s database list to improve access to them. But more importantly, participating in the selection committee helped me feel much better prepared for the first few weeks of the fall semester when I provided various in-class research sessions aimed at giving the students an overview of foreign and international law resources available through the library.

* I would be happy to share a copy of my spreadsheet with anyone who is interested in looking at it, with the caveat that libraries may have subscribed to or canceled subscriptions since I compiled it or may subscribe to additional databases that are not listed on their law library websites.

New FCIL Librarian Series: Resources for New or Aspiring FCIL Librarians

By Jessica Pierucci

This is the sixth and final post 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.

My final post in this series reflects on this past year and shares some general FCIL background sources that I found particularly helpful for familiarizing myself with the universe of resources available for FCIL-focused researchers.

Reflection

First, some reflection. One aspect librarianship that drew me to this profession is the requirement to always be curious. I feel fortunate that in the past year I’ve had the opportunity to indulge my curiosity in foreign and international legal resources. I’ve tried to absorb as much as possible from each opportunity I’ve had to engage in FCIL research topics. There’s no substitute for practice, and I can really see how my ability to more quickly hone in on the best ways to tackle certain FCIL research problems has developed over the course of the year in particular when assisting law school faculty with their research needs. As we all experience, there are never enough hours in the day to do it all, so there’s still so much more I want to learn that I just haven’t been able to fit in between all my other responsibilities outside of FCIL-focused work, but I look forward to continuing to be curious and always learning in the years ahead.

In addition, as I head into my second school year in this position, I’m excited to do some things a second time with the opportunity to incorporate knowledge gained from experience. For example, I can share what I learned from attending the Jessup Moot Court finals at the conclusion of the ASIL Annual Meeting with the UCI Law Jessup team to guide their research process. I look forward to sharing additional international legal research ideas I’ve picked up throughout the year with the team as well.

FCIL Background Resources

Second, the list. I hope this list will provide a beginning checklist for anyone looking to increase their familiarity with FCIL research or considering becoming an FCIL librarian. I would also encourage comments on this post from anyone who has additional resources to share. As is the nature of research, these resources point to tons of other helpful resources, so this is only the tip of the iceberg.

fcil_textbooks.jpgBooks

FCIL research books published since 2011 provide innumerable valuable research tips and resources to consider. Each book has its own approach and has added to my conception of FCIL research in different ways as I’ve perused different chapters and books while working on various projects. If you plan to teach an FCIL research course you can consider using one of these books, although you can also teach without a textbook.

Learn more about many of these textbooks from DipLawMatic Dialogues:

The AALL/Oceana Institute publications, while from the 1990s, provide valuable background information. These books were the result of an initiative to train future FCIL librarians.

  • Introduction to Foreign Legal Systems (Richard A. Danner & Marie-Louise H. Bernal eds., 1994).
  • Introduction to Transnational Legal Transactions (Marylin J. Raisch & Roberta I. Shaffer eds., 1995).
  • Introduction to International Organizations (Lyonette Louis-Jacques & Jeanne S. Korman eds., 1996).
  • Introduction to International Business Law: Legal Transactions in a Global Economy (Gitelle Seer & Maria I. Smolka-Day eds., 1996).
  • Contemporary Practice of Public International Law (Ellen G. Schaffer & Randall J. Snyder eds., 1997).

Articles

The FCIL-SIS Education Committee created a fantastic list: Articles Considering a Career in FCIL Law Librarianship. And many of these articles include further awesome lists and helpful footnotes themselves.

Journals

Subscribing to alerts for each of these publications allows me to review the table of contents for each issue and pick out articles to read and others to save for future reference as needed.

Core Groups/Lists to Join

After attending a few conferences throughout the past year, I’ve been able to put faces to names for many of my FCIL-focused colleagues who share valuable resources and information with one another through the digital forums created by the lists associated with these groups.

Also look for specialized groups of potential interest, such as Chinese and American Forum on Legal Information and Law Libraries (CAFLL).

In Conclusion

While I’m sure much of the list above is old hat to my FCIL colleagues who have been doing this wonderful work for some time and many of them have authored or spearheaded the publications and organizations listed, I hope listing this information all in one place on DipLawMatic Dialogues will help my future colleagues find starting points for entering this exciting world of FCIL librarianship. I’ve truly enjoyed my first year as an FCIL librarian and hope these posts have inspired others to consider pursing this path with their library careers too.

AALL 2018 Recap: CONELL (Conference of Newer Law Librarians)

By Tarica LaBossiere

I had been forewarned by my colleagues that the Conference of Newer Law Librarians (CONELL) was where I would make new friends with my librarian peers that would last throughout the rest of our library careers (“Just bring lots of business cards–you’ll be fine”). How right they were! It was fascinating. Speaking as a newer law librarian (in the profession less than one year), and as a newer law librarian in academia, it is rare to see other new law librarians. Just being able to network with other newly minted peers was an amazing experience in and of itself.

After a light breakfast, the newest librarianship recruits were rounded up, and ushered into Key Ballrooms 9-10. Greg Lambert’s opening speech–motivational, yet directional– served as a call to those seated at the podium before him to bring new ideas and inspiration to the profession. He advised us to use the services and guidance offered by AALL to blossom in our careers.

CONELL1

Q&A with the AALL Executive Board. Image via aallnet.org.

Following Lambert’s speech was a Q&A with the AALL Executive Board. The Q&A featured questions on avoiding burnout, successful networking for the fake extrovert or low-key introvert (like me!), mentor/mentee relationships, finding leadership roles in the profession, and overall general tips on turning our new careers into lifelong professions. Knowing that almost every speaker experienced what we were going through today acted as a soothing balm to the rash of anxieties faced by newer law librarians at the beginning of their careers.

After the Q&A, there were several speakers who discussed getting more involved with the AALL Community. This included information on how to become more involved with AALL online, submitting proposals for the Annual Meeting, as well as submitting proposals to the Law Library Journal and AALL Spectrum. This was beneficial not only because we were given information about publication opportunities, but Tom Gaylord and Kris Niedringhaus, the respective speakers for the Law Library Journal and AALL Spectrum, were able to provide a clear distinction between the goals of each publication and details on what each publication was looking for when reviewing submitted proposals. This was a helpful tidbit for those considering submitting proposals to either wide-reaching publication.

We were also given details about the AALL Leadership Academy. The Academy is a weekend-long, intensive program designed to cultivate leadership skills and techniques in newer law librarians. Although the Academy was just hosted this year, the next will be available in 2020. This information is good to know for those planning to seek leadership opportunities and those considering submitting an application to the Academy.

Finally, we discussed available mentorship opportunities. I have already been gifted with great mentors through various channels, but for those who had yet to find guidance during their professional journey, there will be several opportunities available via AALL’s updated mentoring program. The program aims to match mentors with mentees through shared interests listed by each applicant when applying for the Mentorship Program.

After discussing all that AALL had to offer, we were separated by last name into two groups to attend the CONELL Marketplace and participate in CONELL’s Speed Networking.

CONELL2

Speed Networking at AALL 2018.  Image via aallnet.org.

Speed Dating Networking, as its namesake implies, was where groups of two participants sat face-to-face in two rows, creating an awkward assembly line of getting-to-know-you’s. We were given two minutes to answer one of eight questions appearing on cards that were sat on the chairs of the inner most rows. After the two minutes, the whistle would blew, and the outer rows would shimmy over one seat to begin introductions all over again.

Unfortunately, the room we were in absorbed just as much sound as it did cool air, and we very quickly found ourselves shouting to perspiration how we came to be in the law library profession and where we would live if we could live anywhere in the world and why. Business cards flew like blackjack at the casino; but, I must admit, here is where I would meet new–and now familiar–friends with whom I would spend my entire conference weekend.

After leaving the Key Ballroom sized oven, we were directed over to the CONELL Marketplace, where we mingled with members of regional AALL chapters and AALL Committees. Although we received a lot of information in the Marketplace, the setting was easily navigable, all the volunteers were informational and engaging, and it was easy to gain more insight into the AALL chapters and committees we would consider joining. Depending on one’s professional goals or current position, there was a committee dedicated to gathering similarly situated professionals to promote the exchange of ideas and enable newer librarians to be successful in their librarianship positions.

CONELL2.png

The USCGC Taney at the Baltimore Inner Harbor.

After a quick lunch and break, we headed to the front of the Hilton for the annual CONELL Tour. The tour was amazing! We saw all that Baltimore had to offer. We started by passing the USCGC Taney, the last warship floating after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and continued through little Italy and little Poland, all while our vibrant tour guide pointed out the brickwork of new and historic houses and churches, like the Baltimore Basilica–the oldest Catholic Cathedral in the country! Also, she was sure to point out the history of the Baltimore Screen Paintings (“a Baltimore tradition!”). We journeyed down and around the Inner Harbor, where we gazed at the Under Armor Corporate headquarters from both sides of the lively docks, and up and around The Walters Art Museum–where a handy billboard gleefully informed us that the Museum currently housed a Faberge Egg! We passed both the Battle Monument and the Washington Monument, and we even made a brief stop at Fort McHenry, arriving just in time to catch the engaging Star-Spangled Banner mini-documentary and light show.

 

The Tour concluded back at the Baltimore Convention Center Hilton. Thus, we ended our CONELL 2018 adventure. Our novice introduction to the Conference via AALL’s CONELL was complete, and it was on to the big leagues–one floor down, at the AALL Opening Reception.

Overall, I felt my CONELL experience to be a successful and exhilarating start to my first AALL Conference. I thank all those who put in the work to make our 2018 Baltimore CONELL experience a great one. I can guarantee–just as my colleagues and mentors before me–that I’ll be sharing these stories with the friends I made for years to come.

Teaching FCIL Research Series: Teaching FCIL Research? Consider Not Requiring a Textbook

AJ-Books-2By Mary Rumsey

After years of teaching, I’m convinced legal research instructors shouldn’t make students buy textbooks.

We all know the tremendous financial strain affecting most law students; they accrue appalling debt. We shouldn’t impose any costs on students unless the benefits greatly outweigh those costs. Unfortunately, the benefits of textbooks don’t outweigh the costs.

Researchers can use an FCIL research text in two different ways. First, they can look up specific tasks or questions as needed. Second, they can read assigned sections before doing research.

The latter practice doesn’t work for most students. The information isn’t “sticky,” because it’s arbitrary and—let’s face it—boring. Students find nothing interesting in instructions for finding treaties on the OAS site, for example. Unlike other subjects in law school, legal research techniques have no human interest or policy implications to help students remember them.

Well, how about using textbooks as needed? That will help sometimes, but the lifespan of an FCIL research textbook is short. Websites, the primary tool for FCIL research, change often. For example, the Council of Europe’s HUDOC site, the UN Treaties database, and the EU’s legal research site have been completely overhauled at least once in the last several years. Databases such as GLIN (which had thousands of foreign laws), EISIL, and the WHO Health Law database have disappeared. Foreign government websites, particularly from developing countries, flicker on and off. New websites, such as the UN’s Women’s Family Law database (a work in progress) arrive without warning. Moreover, reading about a research process will never implant it as firmly as using that process.

For these reasons, teachers should focus on helping students navigate the legal information landscape. In my experience teaching and observing students over the past twenty years, the most effective method for learning legal research techniques is doing legal research; the least effective is reading about it. In practice, lawyers will be jumping into unfamiliar databases and figuring out how they work, so it makes sense to have them practice doing that.

Better than reading:

  • Use research problems for practice and to assess their learning
  • Show students how to find and use “about this site” information, FAQs, search tips, help pages, and updated research guides
  • Push them to think about what organizations might collect information on topics—literacy rates, patents, or denials of asylum—and to test their ideas
  • Provide a target case in a foreign language and ask them to use online translation tools to find it on a court website
  • Use brief demonstrations (live, or on video) to show how to find information on complex databases (e.g., EUR-LEX), or how to do things like use Google site-searching instead of a site’s own search engine
  • Let students work together rather than read alone
  • Ask them to write descriptions of how they found information, or to teach other students
  • Instead of reading assignments, give them problems to research outside of class

Lots of practice along these lines will be more effective than teaching from a mandatory textbook. Granted, if we could pour the contents of a recently published textbook into students’ brains, they’d learn a lot about FCIL research. But since we can’t, consider making textbooks optional and placing one on reserve. Your class can be just as effective and you’ll have done your small part in reducing the crushing debts many of your students are accruing.