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.

 

Introducing…Caitlin Hunter as the June 2018 FCIL Librarian of the Month

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1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Davis, a college town in northern California known for its bikes and mild hippy-dippyness. Every fall, a new crop of college students learn the hard way that you can get tickets for speeding on a bicycle and for bicycling under the influence. Davis has been in the news occasionally for its toad tunnel and experiments in squirrel birth control.

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

I was a political science major as an undergraduate and, like many political science majors who don’t know what to do after college, I went to law school. Fortunately, it turned out that I loved law and especially legal research. I was excited to learn that there was an actual career focused on legal research, especially since I’d had such positive experiences working at my school library in junior high.

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

I have dual U.S./U.K. citizenship and I grew up making occasional visits to my Dad’s family in Scotland and spent a couple of quarters in the U.K. in college. My first exposure to lawyers growing up was reading Sarah Caudwell’s wonderful Hilary Tamar murder mysteries, starring a cast of British barristers. As a result, foreign and international law was always what interested me, even before I became interested in law librarianship.

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

I’ve been at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles for almost 5 years and in the role of Foreign and International Law Librarian for almost a year. I’m fortunate that my boss, Laura Cadra, is extremely supportive of her staff and, knowing that I was interested in FCIL, transferred the FCIL title from herself to me.

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

I don’t speak any foreign languages but I can read Spanish and I’m working on my French and German. I’ve also been trying to learn Hebrew and Arabic but, for now, my abilities are limited to slowly deciphering names of countries. Trying to learn new alphabets has definitely given me an even higher level respect for all of our Middle Eastern and Chinese LLMs.

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

I feel like I’m still new to this career and I have a lot to accomplish! However, I’m proud of my work locating court documents and compiling legislative histories dating back to the 1800s for Professor Jennifer Rothman’s book The Right of Publicity. I’m also proud of my work writing human rights histories of countries for Loyola’s Inter-American Court of Human Rights Project.

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

I’m a huge fan of fried plantains. I like to kid myself that, because it’s a fruit, it’s sort of healthy.

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

Anything cheesy and top 10.

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

Like many previous librarians of the month, I would love to improve my foreign language skills. I also have to agree with Alyson’s wish for teleportation. It would be nice to zap myself to foreign countries without a twelve hour flight!

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

I’m tragically addicted to Diet Pepsi and, after many attempts to quit, I’ve only succeeded in switching to decaf.

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

I’m very excited to have joined such a welcoming and active community and I look forward to meeting more FCIL librarians at future conferences. Please feel free to reach out if there’s anything I can do for you!

Also, one of the many good things law librarianship has brought me is my cat (pictured), who was found hiding in the bushes by the library. Today, she spends most of her time lounging around the house and trying to eat any book within reach.

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

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1. Where did you grow up?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

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

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

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

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

Really good pastry.

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

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

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

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

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

I’m a hopeless caffeine addict.

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

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

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

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1. Where did you grow up?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

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

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

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

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

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

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

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

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

Speak Spanish.

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

Smiling

[editor’s note: awww!]

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

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

 

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

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1. Where did you grow up?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

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

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

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

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keys?

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

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

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

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1. Where did you grow up?

Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Do you speak any foreign languages?

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

6. What is your most significant professional achievement?

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

7. What is your biggest food weakness?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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