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!

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

2018.08 lora johns

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.

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

mnewmanphoto

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

anne

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

policastri

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

Sherry Xin Chen_Cropped

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.