Introducing…Melissa Abernathy as the November 2018 FCIL Librarian of the Month

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1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Monterey Park, CA, a suburb about 10 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.  Monterey Park is known for having a vibrant Chinese-American community, producing several Chinese-American mayors and one U.S. House Representative (Judy Chu).  It’s also home to the best dim sum, hands down.

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

As a second year law student at Lewis & Clark I worked as a faculty RA, Westlaw student rep, circulation desk worker, and was very involved in law review.  Between those four positions I spent a LOT of time in the law library.  One day, a reference librarian and I waded through the CIS index and down into the bowels of the microfiche collection, on the hunt for some legislative history I needed for cite-checking.  I have to admit I shot her a few dubious glances as we dug deeper and deeper, dutifully writing down SuDoc numbers.  Like magic, she unearthed the item we needed and loaded it onto the microform machine.  Color me impressed! By my third year I was hanging around the reference desk enough that the librarians began mentioning the possibility of library school.  Many of them had matriculated through Penny Hazelton’s program at the University of Washington so I applied straight away and was accepted.  As they say, the rest is history.

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

I got my first taste of international law working with the International Environmental Law Project during law school.  One research assignment involved endangered gorillas crossing protected areas in three countries: Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Treaties, domestic legislation, and Virunga mountain gorillas, oh my! You could say I was hooked. Several international law courses and papers later, I ended up applying to an FCIL librarianship position at the University of San Diego straight out of library school.

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

I have been with the University of San Diego, Legal Research Center since 2007.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

Sadly, I do not.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I’m most proud of the inroads I’ve made with FCIL teaching at USD since starting here over a decade ago.  We now teach several classes in the LLM in Comparative Law Program and U.S. Law and Policy Program (foreign scholars mainly from Korea), as well as provide FCIL training for our Vis International Moot Court team and International Law Journal students. Most recently we added a 1-credit, 7-week course on International Legal Research for which I am the instructor of record.  We’ve only offered the course twice so far but the response has been very positive.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Pizza!

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

Wagon Wheel by Darius Rucker, or really any version.

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

Like many FCIL librarians, I would love the ability to speak one or more foreign languages.

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

A good belly rub for my sweet 17-year-old pup, Shadow.

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

My husband and I are expecting our first baby (a boy!) this December.

Introducing…Sarah Reis as the October 2018 FCIL Librarian of the Month

1. Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in central Maryland, about halfway between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., in an old farmhouse built in 1912 in a very rural area. One good thing about the AALL Annual Meeting being in roughly the same location this year and next year is that it makes it easy for me to visit my parents!

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

Prior to law school, I worked as a paralegal for three years at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C., and that experience helped me realize, going in to law school, that I did not want to become a litigator. My favorite class during 1L year was Communication & Legal Reasoning, which is a two-semester legal research and writing course. My professor for that class was a former director of the law library (James W. McMasters), so I learned about this career path from him.

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

I developed an interest in foreign, comparative, and international law when I was working at Stanford Law School as a general reference librarian. The foreign and international law research requests were always were the most challenging, and thus the most interesting.

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

I work at the Pritzker Legal Research Center at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. I started working here about six months ago, but I attended law school here and worked at the law library while I was a student. I love how I now get to work alongside many people who were mentors to me when I was a student.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages? 

I do not. During high school, the Spanish and French classes conflicted with my math classes, so I got stuck on the Latin track and waived out of the foreign language requirement in college due to AP Latin credits. I have so many regrets. However, I am currently learning Spanish and am grateful for how technology has made it so easy and convenient to learn a new foreign language today.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I am still early in my career as a librarian, so I hope the best is yet to come. One of the articles I wrote while earning my MLIS degree was published in Law Library Journal last year.

7. What is your biggest food weakness? 

Haribo gummy bears. “Haribo macht Kinder froh – und Erwachsene ebenso” is so very true. My family traveled to Germany almost every year when I was a kid, and one of the highlights of my childhood was visiting the Haribo gummy bear factory.

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

Come Together by The Beatles.

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

I wish I were fluent in many languages, like this Icelandic footballer. But if we are talking superpowers, then I’d say the ability to teleport. Or, in Harry Potter speak, the ability to Apparate.

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

My black cat, Pepper. But she probably actually qualifies as a basic necessity. Like any cat, her hobbies include eating and sleeping, fitting herself into any box or bag, and knocking things off tables. But unlike most cats, she is an excellent traveler—cars, trains, planes—it doesn’t matter. We have not gone on a boat trip together. Yet.

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

I am really looking forward to getting to know and working with everyone in this community!

2019 AALL Program Proposals due Oct. 1

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There is only one week left to submit your program proposals for the 2019 AALL Conference in Washington, D.C. (see here for the call for proposals, which includes resources for creating a proposal and the AMPC’s timeline).   If you are interested in proposing a FCIL-related program for the conference or in joining someone else’s program as a consultant or speaker, please contact Dennis Sears and Loren Turner. They will help you develop your ideas, recruit speakers, and edit your proposals before submission.  There is no time to waste!

Introducing…Paul Moorman as the September 2018 FCIL Librarian of the Month

Paul Moorman

1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska.  No, not on a farm, but I have detasseled corn.

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

I remember first thinking about law librarianship as a career while still in law school after a particularly helpful reference librarian steered me in the right direction for a paper I was writing.  However, it wasn’t until about a decade after practicing law that I started to seriously consider making a career change.

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

I’m going to blame it on my stunning diplomatic victory as the representative of the Byelorussian SSR at the 1985 Omaha Area High School Model UN.   They hook you when you’re young.

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

I work for the USC Gould School of Law and I’ve been here for 13 years.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

German was one of my majors in college.  I used to consider myself conversationally fluent, but I’m very rusty. I’ve also taken classes in Spanish and Russian.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

Achieving continuing appointment (our equivalent of tenure).

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Maybe you should ask what isn’t?  I indulge in salty snacks a lot more than is healthy.

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

I don’t do much dancing anymore except at weddings and if you look at my typical play lists you’ll see that I’m still stuck in the 80s, however, if I’m on the treadmill, I like to play Alors on Danse by Stromae, a Belgian who sings in French.  That song always makes me go a little faster.

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

I occasionally have dreams that I can fly and when I do they make me happy so I’ll say flying.

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

Coffee and the New York Times.

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

I am so lucky to have joined a profession that I love and that is filled with wonderful, smart, and generous people.   Life is fantastic when you love what you do.

Introducing…Lora Johns as the August 2018 FCIL Librarian of the Month

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1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, where I developed my first love of all things multicultural thanks to the city’s German, Slovak, Polish, and other immigrant communities.

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

Law librarianship lets me research, write, and be creative – all the things I love about the law without having to go to court.

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

I have been learning world languages from the age of four and I have a degree in linguistics. My obsession with foreign languages naturally fed into my curiosity about comparative and international law.

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

I have been working at Yale Law School since 2017.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I speak German, Spanish, and some Czech. I have in the past studied siSwati, Swahili, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and Bahasa Melayu. I am currently working on improving my French.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I am very proud to be the incoming editor of the RIPS Law Librarian Blog and to be profiled for DipLawMatic Dialogues!

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Nutella. I am powerless before it.

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

Je ne parle pas français by Namika.

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

 Someday, I aspire to be able to do a handstand walk.

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

Dancing! I am an avid social dancer—blues, tango, west coast swing, and salsa are some of my favorites.

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

It is both weird and wonderful to be a librarian at the same law school that I attended.

AALL 2018 Recap: Education Committee Meeting – Program Planning for DC

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By: Loren Turner

The FCIL-SIS Education Committee met at the crack of dawn (7:00 am) on Tuesday, July 17th to begin brainstorming and strategizing for the AALL 2019 conference in Washington, D.C.  We were joined by two members of the Annual Meeting Program Committee (AMPC), Sabrina Sondhi (our official FCIL liaison to the AMPC) and Alyson Drake.  Sabrina and Alyson shared the AMPC’s timeline for gathering program ideas and proposals.  Alyson will be writing a separate DipLawMatic blog post that covers the AMPC’s timeline and goals in more detail, but in a nutshell, there is a two-step process for us to get some FCIL-related programming into the DC conference: (1) submit and up-vote your undeveloped, wild and crazy ideas to the Ideascale platform (from now until August 17th) and (2) submit your developed, professional program proposals to the AMPC (Labor Day-ish until October 1).

We have an excellent location for the next conference and the Georgetown folks who joined our meeting are already on-the-ball with fab ideas on international taxation, international trade, and international human rights.  What about you?!  What programming do you want to see in D.C. for your professional development?

Dennis Sears (searsd@law.byu.edu) and I (lturner@umn.edu) would L.O.V.E. to hear from you!  Tell us what you want to learn.  Tell us what you want to teach. Tell us who you know and what they might offer.  We will do your cold-calls.  We will help craft your wild and crazy ideas into fully-developed programs (or pre-conference workshops). We need you to help us create substantive FCIL programming for the AALL 2019 conference.  Let’s do this.

Introducing…Mariana Newman as the July 2018 FCIL Librarian of the Month

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1.Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Los Angeles, CA. I bleed Dodger blue!

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

When I was at UCLA Law, I was a research assistant for two+ years in their library research assistant program. I was fortunate to have the guidance of library director Kevin Gerson and librarian Jenny Lentz after law school during a time when I was questioning my path. They suggested law librarianship, and I felt like it might be the perfect fit. I’m also grateful for the mentorship of Richard Jost at the UW law librarianship program who helped mold me into a law librarian.

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

Here at Columbia I’ve learned more about foreign, comparative, and international law librarianship through our administrative rotation system. I’ve been working with our International, Comparative, and Foreign Law Librarian, Silke Sahl, since January. I felt so lucky to be able to attend the ASIL Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. in April, and listen to some fascinating speakers and meet many FCIL librarians.

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

I’m currently employed at the Arthur W. Diamond Law Library at Columbia Law School, and I’ve worked here for just under a year.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I took French in high school and was an Italian minor in college, but both languages are pretty rusty now. I’d love to find more opportunities to practice speaking both!

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I’ve only been a law librarian for a year and am in my first post-MLIS job, so right now I’d say my biggest professional achievement is making it to the other side of the first year happy that I am in this career!

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Guacamole. I could eat my cousin Mimi’s guacamole and chips until I exploded. My coworker (and FCIL-SIS Secretary-Treasurer) Sabrina Sondhi recently shared with me some avocados her parents picked from the tree in their yard in Southern California and mailed all the way to New York. I was in heaven!

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

I am really not a dancer, but I do love to sing at the top of my lungs while driving (something I miss since moving to New York City, since singing on the subway is generally not appreciated. ;)) Paul Simon’s Graceland album is an old favorite for car singing.

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

I would love to be able to sing beautifully or play the piano past my “quit lessons at age 11” level. I so admire people with natural singing talent!

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

This is perhaps a little odd, but I couldn’t live without hand lotion. Even if my hands don’t “feel” dry, they feel dry to me. I was just on a glorious short vacation on Prince Edward Island with two of my library school friends, and I picked up a bottle of “Island Potato Face & Hand Cream.” We learned that Islanders are very proud of their potato industry, and this lotion is made with 70% potato juice. I must say, my hands smell like I’ve been slicing raw potatoes after I use it, but they are feeling very soft!

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

Just that I’m grateful to be a member of such a friendly and generous professional community, and I look forward to meeting more of you at the AALL Annual Meeting this month.