AALL 2017 Recaps: FCIL-SIS Book Club Discussion

By Gabriela Femenia

Book coverNow an FCIL-SIS standing tradition, the book club coordinated by Dan Wade met in Austin at 12:15pm on July 17 to discuss this year’s title: Richard Haass, A World in Disarray (Penguin Press, 2017). In attendance were Dan Wade (Yale), Dan Donahue (Houston), Alice Izumo (Columbia), Loren Turner (Minnesota), Susan Gualtier (Penn), and Gabriela Femenia (Penn).

Dan Wade opened the discussion by sharing an email from John Wilson (UCLA), who could not attend. The group appreciated and largely agreed with his review, concluding that it provides a good summary of 20th and 21st century U.S. foreign policy, offers apt critiques of our approach to the national debt, and advances an interesting concept of “sovereign obligation” as a framework for post-Cold War foreign relations, although the attendees also expressed some skepticism about the effectiveness of such a concept. In particular, the participants questioned whether the concept was sufficiently defined apart from being contrasted with traditional sovereignty on the one hand and “responsibility to protect” on the other, and thought that more illustrative examples would have been helpful in solidifying the distinctions. Haass’s failure to suggest an enforcement mechanism for sovereign obligation was also pointed out. The group also noted the lesser depth in treatment of the final third of the book compared with the first two thirds, which reflects the book’s origin as a series of lectures given at Cambridge.

The discussion then turned to the implications of the Trump administration’s policies, which were not discussed in the book as it was completed before the transition. For example, Haass favorably cites the Paris Accords as a model for foreign policy approach in a post-Cold War world, but the administration’s decision to withdraw from the climate accords casts some doubts on Haass’s predictions. Similarly, Haass’s favorable positions toward the Trans Pacific Partnership, a path to citizenship, and the importance of predictability in foreign policy, appear to clash with the administration’s practices and positions thus far.

The participants also offered a few additional critiques of Haass’s analysis, including whether the current moment is really as new and unprecedented as he claims, whether his view is too Western-centered, and whether it sufficiently addresses the role of international law vs. soft law. The discussion concluded with thanks to Dan Wade for establishing this useful annual discussion, and coordinating the meeting.

The book club is open to all interested participants! If you would be interested in participating in the discussion next year, keep an eye out for the call for title suggestions about a month before the AALL annual meeting, over the FCIL-SIS’s My Communities board and email.

Calling All Potential Bloggers: We Want You!

We are working on cultivating more regular blog content. This is your chance to get your exchangesname out there and to share what you’re up to.  You don’t have to be a member of the FCIL-SIS to contribute!

We have a few regular features we’re looking for bloggers for:

1) Teaching FCIL series: We’re starting a new series centered on teaching FCIL research courses. Do you have great ideas for the classroom? Did you come up with a solution for teaching something difficult? Are you using videos or some other kind of technology in your classroom? This is a great chance to share it with your colleagues.  We have a couple of people interested in doing a post on this, so it doesn’t need to be more than a one-off commitment.

2) Book and Film Reviews: Are you interested in doing a book or film review for us? We can help you find titles to review!

3) New FCIL Librarian series: Are you a newer FCIL librarian? Would you be willing to share some of the lessons you’re learning in your first year or two as an FCIL librarian? We have one fabulous newer FCIL librarian contributing to this, but would love to add another.

4) Anything else that interests you for a regular columb. A few ideas I’ve had: a series on how to use FCIL electronic resources; a series on how you handled an interesting FCIL research question; a series on researching materials from a particular international organization. But we’re open to anything; if you have an idea, please share it!

5) Guest posts.  We are also interested in guest posts at any time, so if you’ve visited a foreign country lately and want to share anything you’ve learned/seen while there, saw an interesting presentation that you’d like to recap for us, or recently came across an interesting resource, or have any other ideas of things to share, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

If you’re interested in any of these or something different, please contact Alyson Drake at alyson.drake@ttu.edu by Friday, August 18th. I look forward to hearing your great ideas!

You can also contact us at any time over the course of the year if you’re interested in a guest post.

Alyson Drake & Susan Gualtier
Co-Chairs, FCIL-SIS Publicity Committee

Introducing…Tove Klovning as the August 2017 FCIL Librarian of the Month


1.Where did you grow up?

I grew up in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Norway. I am Norwegian, but spent my childhood years in Asia due to my father’s work in the United Nations. I am thankful for having been given an opportunity at a young age to discover new countries and languages, while also learning to accept various cultures and differences.

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

Good question. I did not. It chose me! I am going to blame this career choice on my mentor, Paul D. Callister, who encouraged me to pursue a career in FCIL law librarianship.

Thanks to my mentor I ended up applying to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s M.S. degree in library and information science after graduating with an LL.M. degree from the University of Illinois College of Law in 2001. I was awarded a full merit scholarship which contributed to my interested in learning more about this profession.

I love all aspects of my job and have never had a boring day at work since I started working at Washington University. I am a research facilitator, lecturer in law, a mentor, a speaker, supervisor and colleague. I feel fortunate that my job includes both administrative duties as well as teaching duties.

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

I developed an interest at a very young age because of my father’s professional career with the United Nations.

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

My current employer is Washington University School of Law. I have worked here since June of 2002. I was first I hired as Access Services/Government Documents Librarian & Lecturer in Law. In 2009, I transitioned into the position as the law school’s FCIL Law Librarian & Lecturer in Law.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

Give me a couple of days in any country in the world and I can guarantee that I will be able to have a meaningful conversation with the people around me! I have always loved learning languages and love traveling.  In my early twenties I was a solo globetrotter. I am bilingual in English and Norwegian, fluent in Swedish and Danish and have limited proficiency in Icelandic. However written Icelandic is easier to understand than spoken Icelandic. Having lived in the US for many years I will need a couple of days in France and Germany to brush-up both my French and German language skills. I can understand and use familiar everyday expressions in Turkish and Arabic. When I was a little girl I was able to communicate in Hindi, Malay and Urdu.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

My ability to multi-task and take on new responsibilities when called for!

As the law school’s foreign, comparative, and international law subject specialist, I oversee collection development, purchases and library services for these collections. However, I also oversee two separate Federal and State Government Depository Collections as the both their coordinator and subject specialist. (I recently assumed responsibility as the university wide Federal and State Depository coordination in addition to my recent responsibilities as the law school’s Federal and State Depository collection coordinator and specialist).

Over the years I have published several legal research guides on both American, international, and foreign legal research methodology and had speaker opportunities both in the US and abroad. I have a law degree and a post specialization in American law from the University of Bergen in Norway and a Master of Law and Master of Science from University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.

My job also includes teaching responsibilities. I am a lecturer in law at the law school and in this capacity I teach a one year American Legal Research Methodology class to first year law students and offer an eight hour legal workshop to JSD students (doctoral students) and visiting scholars. I also give legal research talks in law school seminar classes and recently started supervising Ph.D. dissertations.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

I cannot live without fruits! At home we always have multiple types of fruits available for anyone to grab. Sometimes you will find me turn some of these goodies into delicious a jam, juice, snack or dessert.

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

Bruno Mars – That’s What I Like

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

I would love to be able to play a musical instrument and compose songs. Fortunately, my daughter has this ability. She currently has 4 songs on iTunes and on Spotify, and has released 2 music videos on YouTube thanks to a music producer in Texas who encouraged her to pursue this field as singer, songwriter and composer Sema Elin.

I am currently reading many books on artist management and the music industry.  I must admit that I have enjoyed learning about the music industry from a potential music management perspective. A new song and music video is in the works.

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

Getting up early in the morning! I am totally a morning person.

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

The ASIL Midyear Meeting will be at Washington University School of Law October 26- 28 (2017). Make sure to save the date and swing by my neck of the woods!



AALL 2017 Recap: Global Energy Law: Perspectives from North America and Africa

By Susan Gualtier

Energy Law Program.jpgOn Sunday, July 16, I attended the Global Energy Law program curated by Yemisi Dina and featuring guest speaker Emeka Duruigbo.  Professor Duruigbo is an internationally recognized Energy Law, Business Law, and Economic Law scholar and has taught at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University since 2006.  He has made a number of media appearances and was featured in the documentary film, Crude Impact, which explores our global dependency on fossil fuel energy and examines the future implications of “peak oil.”  He is licensed to practice law in Nigeria and California.

Professor Duruigbo began the program with a few statistics, followed by an overview of the geology of petroleum drilling and of the petroleum industry for those of us unfamiliar with the processes.  Energy use evolves over time, with oil and gas dominating modern energy use.  Texas is considered the energy capital of the world, encompassing not only oil and gas, but also wind and solar energy.  Professor Duruigbo predicts that by 2040, oil, gas, and coal will still make up approximately 80% of the world’s energy demands, with gas usage growing the most over the next several decades.  The use of nuclear energy and renewables will also grow, while the use of wood, dung, and other biomass will decline slightly.

Crude oil and natural gas occur naturally in rock formations and can be drilled either horizontally or vertically.   The oil and gas industry consists of upstream, downstream, and midstream components. The largest and most lucrative oil and gas companies are engaged in upstream activities, which include exploration, field development, and production operations (referred to as “E&P.”)  E&P companies in turn hire midstream companies – those engaged in the transportation, processing, storage, and distribution of fuels – to drill their wells and to maintain and service them afterward. Downstream companies are those engaged in manufacturing, wholesale, and marketing.  The industry also includes companies providing supporting services to the upstream, midstream, and downstream operations.

Moving on to the legal portion of the presentation, Professor Duruigbo focused primarily on the human rights and environmental issues arising from the oil and gas industry.  Problems in the U.S. appear to be largely environmental.  The U.S. currently accounts for about 18% of the world’s energy consumption, despite making up only 4.5% of the world’s population.  One of the primary concerns in the U.S. oil and gas industry right now is that of fracking, which is a process for making shale more permeable to allow for drilling, and which may damage water, cause earthquakes, or have other environmental implications. Horizontal drilling is also at issue, as it allows for drilling underneath residential areas without the necessity of drilling a well nearby.  The U.S. oil and gas industry is governed by federal and state statutes, agency regulations, common law (which dominates areas such as trespass, strict liability, nuisance, and negligence), international law, and soft law.

In Nigeria, by contrast, the industry is not well-regulated.  Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and is one of the largest oil and gas producers; however, despite its rich natural resources and successful oil and gas industry, poverty levels have not improved much over time. Natural disasters, gas flares, and human rights abuses are common, and there is little redress for the victims through the Nigerian court system.  This has led victims to seek alternative venues in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.  It has also exposed U.S. and Canadian companies to lawsuits arising out of their alleged role in human rights abuses abroad.  Professor Duruigbo believes that Nigeria and other developing countries need to better embrace a “culture of legality,” in which the law matters and there are consequences for disobedience.  He also believes that in countries that suffer from government corruption, it may be better for natural resources to be owned by private companies, as they are in the U.S.

Professor Duruigbo finished the presentation by stressing the need for international cooperation on environmental and human rights issues, as well as the need to develop alternative energy policies and sustainable development models.  Overall, this program was a helpful introduction to the oil and gas industry and the current legal issues surrounding it.

AALL 2017 Recap: Social Media Use in Law Libraries: Learn from Our Successes and Failures

By Caitlin Hunter

panel photoI began my current job fresh from an online course in social media for libraries and enthusiastic about all the possibilities. I carefully identified target patron groups, then crafted goals and selected appropriate platforms for each. I made detailed Twitter and Facebook schedules in Word, Google Calendars, and Excel. Today, the library’s Twitter has three posts in the past three months, none of them by me. The library’s Facebook is long gone, courtesy of marketing’s suggestion that the law school would be better served by a single, unified Facebook that was actually updated.

Accordingly, I was excited to learn from librarians who are making social media work. Mari Cheney (Digital Resources & Reference Librarian, Lewis and Clark Law School; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and Nickholas Harrell (Student Services & Outreach Librarian, University of Colorado Law School; Facebook, Twitter) are academic librarians who are personally responsible for updating their libraries’ social media accounts. Cathryn Bowie (State Law Librarian, State of Oregon Law Library; Facebook, Twitter, Blog) is a public law library director who guides and supports her library’s social media program.

They offered the following tips for social media success:

  1. Avoid Facebook. All three panelists have Facebooks but this was misleading. Both Cheney and Harrell said their biggest Facebook failure was not deleting Facebook. (I was pleased to learn that my library was ahead of the curve on this one.) Cheney described Facebook as “a failure I continue to update.” Generally, the panelists felt that Facebook was geared towards the personal, rather than the professional, and had limited reach because of Facebook’s pay-for-views policy. Unless a library has the budget and willingness to pay, only about 10% of the library’s followers will see each post they make.
  2. Twitter is a must-have.  All three panelists had Twitter and agreed that Twitter is a good fit for libraries. Law students and attorneys use Twitter to promote themselves professionally, rather than to share their personal life. This means more retweets of legal research tips and fewer awkward encounters with photos of students partying.twitter
  3. Consider blogs and Instagram, but skip Snapchat. Bowie’s library also maintained a blog and Cheney maintained an Instagram. Cheney had investigated the possibility of having a Snapchat but students advised her that Snapchat was even more personal and less professional than Facebook.
  4. Retweet, repost, reblog- especially from vendors and other university departments. My biggest struggle with social media is generating content. How do successful social media users generate original content day after day? The answer is they don’t. A key part of effective social media use is engaging with the social media community by reposting others’ content. All of the panelists drew from a long list of sources, including AALL’s KnowItALL, SLAW, Lawyerist, Above the Law, Tech Dirt, Real Lawyers have Blogs, Boing Boing, In Custodia Legalis, and blogs by Hein and other vendors. Many vendors will retweet you if you retweet or mention them, pushing library content out to a much broader audience than the library could reach on its own. Likewise, engaging with other departments within the law school or university helps the law library reach audiences they otherwise wouldn’t and posting new books encourages the authors and their fans to repost your content and follow you.
  5. Enlist help. Harrell said he couldn’t do it without the help of a co-worker who rounded up her own list of content each morning. Another co-worker had a master’s in poetry and pitched in by selecting legally themed poems that were a hit with followers. Cheney reported great success asking student workers with high follower counts to like or retweet library posts. An audience member reported that her library’s trick to push out Facebook content without paying for the privilege was to have the librarians like and reblog library posts using their own accounts.
  6. Automate with tools. Feedly streamlines browsing blog posts, while TweetDeck streamlines browsing Twitter mentions and hashtags. Repost automatically reposts others’ Instagram content with appropriate credit. HootSuite automatically reposts the library’s own content to all of the services the library uses, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
  7. Post what patrons like–but expect surprises.  Paradoxically, both big trends and highly local content are popular. Popular trendy content included Pokemon Go at the library, ProQuest’s guide to Supreme Court nominations, the Law of Library of Congress’ guide to Olympics law, and portraits of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Popular local content included a mariachi band celebrating graduation weekend outside the library, a post identifying the library floors where alumni could find their class pictures, oddball library lost and found items, and Bacon, the Lewis & Clark library’s bronze pig. Bowie observed that the courts were “not allowed to do fun things” but nevertheless found social media success by providing practical tips on topics their patrons cared about, like finding legislative histories, using PACER, and downloading and printing from library computers. However, don’t expect to accurately predict everything patrons will like. Students were shockingly uninterested in Cheney’s gift card give-away and I was surprised to learn that one of the Oregon Law Library’s most popular blog posts was about dictionaries.instagram wins
  8. Engage with students– cautiously. Both Harrell and Cheney followed, retweeted, and replied to students on Twitter. Cheney initially made the mistake of following students on Instagram, too, only to find her Instagram feed inundated with photos of partying students she would rather not have seen. Audience members suggested approaching these encounters as learning opportunities for students who, after all, would soon be expected by law firms to keep their public social media accounts clean of partying photos and controversial opinions.
  9. Have clear policies for dealing with questionable comments–especially if you work for the government. If the library uses a social media platform that allows public comments, eventually the library will receive hostile or inappropriate comments. Be prepared beforehand with clear policies on what can stay and what crosses the line. This is especially key for court libraries, which must take into account their patrons’ free speech rights before removing comments.
  10. Make social media part of your daily workflow–but don’t be an addict. All three librarians set aside half an hour to forty-five minutes when they first arrived at work to review blogs and repost content. For those of us who struggle to post regularly, making social media part of our daily workflow can help maintain the consistent posting schedule necessary to get and keep followers. What about those rare souls who have the opposite problem, like the self-described “social media addict” who asked for advice during question and answer? Harrell’s advice was succinct: Don’t be an addict. Review your feed, make your posts, and then move on to the rest of your day. As Bowie observed, social media comes second- the patron in front of you always comes first.

AALL 2017 Recap: Yemisi Dina & Thomas Mills win Spirit of the FCIL-SIS Awards!

The Spirit of the FCIL-SIS Award is presented each year to members whose work furthers our mission, serves the entire FCIL-SIS, and inspires other to act. This year during the AALL 2017 Annual Meeting, Yemisi Dina and Thomas Mills received Spirit of the FCIL-SIS Awards.

yemisi 2

Yemisi Dina is an Associate Librarian and Head of Public Services at Osgoode Hall Law School Library in Toronto, Canada.  Yemisi currently serves as Chair of the African Law Interest Group and was responsible for proposing, coordinating, and moderating the FCIL-SIS sponsored program at this year’s Annual Meeting: Global Energy Law: Perspectives from North America and Africa.  Yemisi has published two research guides on the Globalex platform: one on Nigerian law and one on Caribbean law , based on her prior experience as a librarian in both Nigeria and the Bahamas. Additionally, Yemisi developed a project that digitizes and summarizes customary court decisions from Ibadan and Abeokuta, two major cities in South Western Nigeria.  These court decisions are not published in an official record, so Yemisi’s summaries provide one of the few means of access.  As many members may remember, Yemisi shared the results of her project at the jurisdictions IG joint meeting held during last year’s Annual Meeting in Chicago. Thank you, Yemisi!  Congratulations!

millsThomas Mills, now the Director of the University of Notre Dame Law School Library, served with a team of consultants for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in the summer of 2009, providing advice on how to archive materials on the genocide trials.  He has also served as Chair of the FCIL-SIS Strategic Planning Committee; Chair of the FCIL-SIS Pre-Conference Summit Task Force; a member of the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals committee; and a member of the indexing of periodical literature committee.  More recently he has worked as a member of the project team of Global Online Access to Legal Information(GOALI).  Congratulations, Thomas!

AALL 2017 Recap: Authors of the Mexican Law and Legal Research Guide win the Reynolds & Flores Publication Award!

The Reynolds and Flores Publication Award is named after the authors of the Foreign Law Guide, a source that we all gratefully consult on daily basis. This award recognizes FCIL-SIS member(s) who have created a publication that enhances the professional knowledge and capabilities of law librarians. Winning publications may be print, digital, or electronic initiatives. Thus, journal articles, treatises, symposia papers, digitization projects, websites, databases, and ebooks are all eligible for consideration. This year, all authors of the Mexican Law and Legal Research Guide won the Reynolds & Flores Publication Award: Bianca T. Anderson, Marisol Floren-Romero, Julienne E. Grant, Jootaek Lee, Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Teresa M. Miguel-Stearns, Jonathan Pratter, and Sergio Stone. Julienne and Jonathan, as co-editors of the Guide, accepted the award on behalf of the group.

The Guide was most recently published in March of  2016 in Volume 35, Issue 1, of the Legal Reference Services Quarterly.  It covers all types of  primary sources of law and secondary legal literature, including international agreements, state gazettes, law journals, textbooks, and monographs.  Additionally, it filled a gap in the literature: it contains an extensive bibliography of secondary literature in English on Mexican law and legal research, which is not found in other research guides or treatises on Mexican law and legal research. Since its publication, it has received approximately 500 views (on the Taylor & Francis platform that hosts Legal Reference Services Quarterly) and over 200 SSRN downloads.  

The Guide is a significant contribution to our field in terms of its content, but it is also a fantastic example of the quality of work we can achieve when we collaborate with each other for the benefit of our profession.  Congratulations to all!