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


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?


[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!