Introducing…Jonathan Pratter as the March 2017 FCIL Librarian of the Month

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1. Where did you grow up?

Bloomington, Indiana, where I got into more than my fair share of trouble.

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

After five years as a public defender, I got tired of seeing my clients go to jail.  I knew it was time for a change.

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

I suggested the possibility to Roy Mersky, the director here at Texas after the retirement of my predecessor, Guido Olivera.  Mersky snapped up the idea and sent me to train with Tom Reynolds at Berkeley.  From then on, I was hooked.

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

The University of Texas, Tarlton Law Library.  I hesitate to say that I have been at my post since 1985.  I’m just now hitting my stride.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I can honestly say that I can speak Spanish and French.  I read German, and with a good grammar reference and a big dictionary, can write it, too.  In light of all the effort I put in to achieve just that much, I’m suspicious of claims sometimes made of fluency in six languages or something absurd like that.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

Receiving the recognition of my peers, which in several respects I don’t deserve – FCIL librarianship is quintessentially a collaborative project.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Authentic tapas and Valor chocolate, both from Spain, of course.

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

Just about anything by Ray Charles.

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

Musical talent (see 8 above).

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

Reading a good book and NPR (I know, that’s two).

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

I look forward to seeing readers of DipLawMatic Dialogues in Austin for the AALL annual meeting.  FYI, I know where the good BBQ is, and it’s not Franklin’s.

 

Introducing…Sarah Jaramillo as the February 2017 FCIL Librarian of the Month

1.  Wsarah-jaramillohere did you grow up?

I grew up in Southern California and the Dallas area, and have lived in many places since then.

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

As fortune would have it, I stumbled upon law librarianship when I found myself living in Bloomington, Indiana in 2002. I recently graduated from college and was looking for a job. I found one at the Indiana University School of Law Library as a serials and bindery clerk. From that point on, I’ve been working in law libraries in various capacities. I saw what the reference librarians did at the law library at IU, and I found what they did very interesting and, more importantly, could see myself doing it in the long term. I applied for the joint law and library science program at IU and became a professional law librarian in 2008 at Rutgers-Newark School of Law Library.

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

I’ve had an interest in foreign, comparative and international law ever since I went to law school. I am one of those people who think all legal subjects could have a FCIL hook at some point. In all honesty, though, I found FCIL legal research intimidating, but I started picking it up over the years. My knowledge of foreign, comparative, and international law became more comprehensive when I because the tax research specialist at Fordham Law Library in 2011. As the tax specialist, I needed to have an in-depth knowledge of how to research international and foreign tax law. In January 2016, I started my position as one of the two reference librarians for international and foreign law at New York University School of Law. I love that I now have an official excuse to completely immerse myself in foreign and international law.

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

My current employer is New York University School of Law. I started there as a reference librarian for international and foreign law in January 2016.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I have basic reading knowledge of Spanish and French. I’m aiming for that knowledge to become more advanced in the course of my employment at NYU.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

My most significant professional achievements came during my work with the Social Responsibilities SIS (SR-SIS). In 2010/11 and 2011/12, I ran the SR-SIS’s annual book drive. In 2012/13, I was the vice-chair/chair-elect of the SR-SIS. That year, we worked with Emily Feltren in AALL Government Relations to protest and formally comment on New York state’s gutting of some prison libraries. As chair in 2013/14, the SR-SIS lobbied AALL to formally support the passage of San Antonio’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance and led the charge to amend AALL’s antidiscrimination bylaws provision to include protection on the basis of gender identity.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Any baked good really.

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

There are so many. The first one to come to mind is “Crazy in Love” by Beyonce, but I could list so many others from various genres and time periods. I love music!

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

Well, this is certainly an open-ended question. I assume you don’t mean superpowers, so I’ll stay more grounded in my answers. In terms of general skills, I wish I knew how to model risk using Matlab or Python. In terms of law librarian skills, I wish I instantaneously knew the nuts and bolts of the law of international trade.

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

Conversation with friends or family.

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

I’m looking forward to getting to know the FCIL community in AALL better. Cheers!

Information Literacy Instruction May Not Be Enough

Here’s an interesting and timely post from AALL’s RIPS-SIS blog. If “fake news” is here to stay, what can librarians do?

RIPS Law Librarian Blog

by Margaret Ambrose

news Photo by Dimitris Kalogeropoylos on Flickr CC

Fake news is here to stay. Information professionals need to factor this reality into their strategic vision for the future because there is no turning back the clock on this one – Pandora’s Box is officially open.

Putting questions of how we reached this point aside – fellow RIPS Blogger, Paul Gatz, recently wrote a piece entitled Information Literacy Outside the Walls of the Library. It is an excellent piece and has actionable tips information literacy professionals can take to combat fake news through social media.

I agree with Gatz completely, but I also think more needs to be done. In this moment, more than just a principle of the profession hangs in the balance. The fake news phenomena represents a watershed moment for information professionals. The public needs information professionals in a way they never have before. We can either…

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

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1.Where did you grow up?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

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

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

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

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1. Where did you grow up?

Peoria, Illinois

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

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

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

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

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Without a doubt, vanilla ice cream!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not unless we could have a two way conversation.

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

By: Julienne Grant

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Flag of Italy

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

The Referendum

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Implications

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

The Vote

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

Beppe’s Words of Wisdom

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

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Italian Senate

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

1. Where did you grow up?alysondrake1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

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

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

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

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Puppy snuggles.

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

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