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The AALL Spectrum® Blog is published by the American Association of Law Libraries. Submissions from AALL members and other members of the legal community are highly encouraged. Opinions and editorial views expressed are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of AALL. AALL does not assume any responsibility for statements advanced by contributors. The previous Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.
8/5/2014 4:09:12 PM

Book Review - Renmin Chinese Law Review: Selected Papers of "The Jurist," Volume 2

Renmin Chinese Law Review: Selected Papers of "The Jurist," Volume 2. Jichun Shi, ed. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2014. 360p. Hardcover. $130.50. (Also available as an eBook for subscribing libraries.)

This is the second volume of selected papers from The Jurist, a law review edited by the Renmin University of China Law School. Although The Jurist has been in publication for over 25 years, it was only in 2013 that selected papers from the review first became available in English translation. That 2013 selection (Volume 1 of this series) covered a wide range of subjects—including finance, criminal law, civil procedure, and international trade—and the selection in Volume 2 is equally wide-ranging. Topics covered here include the use of non-binding “judicial suggestions” by the Chinese Supreme People’s Court, confiscation of property under Chinese criminal law, attribution of authorship for copyright purposes, the international-law principle of non-intervention, and China’s withdrawal of its reservation to Article 1(b) of the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods. There are also two articles on China’s Anti-Monopoly Law, a hot topic in the U.S. now that China is investigating Microsoft for alleged violations of the statute.

China is in a transitional phase of its history, and the book’s preface acknowledges the difficulty of adapting the current legal system to the needs of “an increasingly ‘modern’ and complicated economic and social reality.” This theme is reflected throughout the book. In search of new legal models to suit the new reality, many of the authors draw on foreign and international sources to support their arguments. Wang Qian, for example, in her article on the attribution of authorship, cites both the UCC and the United States Copyright Act in order to clarify the meaning of the “©” symbol, an issue that has caused some confusion in Chinese courts. In the articles by Meng Yanbei and Jiang Yanbo (chapters 7 and 8, respectively), we find that antitrust law is another area in which U.S. jurisprudence has had a significant influence in China.

Not being a scholar of Chinese law, I am unable to comment on the significance of these articles as scholarship. As a general reader, however, I felt like I learned a few things about the Chinese legal system, even though I probably could have gotten much of that information elsewhere, and in a more digestible form. If there is one overarching problem with this book, it is the poor quality of the translation, which is likely to test the endurance of even the most determined reader. Chinese-to-English translations are notoriously difficult, and here that difficulty is apparent on nearly every page. In some passages, the prose is so opaque that you almost have to diagram the sentences in order to figure out what the author is trying to say. To take a particularly egregious example, here is the sentence that opens the second chapter: "Article 12, Section 1 of the Criminal Law establishes the principle of ‘applying the old law with exception of less punishment in the new law’ in terms of the application of old and new law, but Section 2 of this article, which states that ‘the effective judgments made in accordance with the laws in force at the time before the entry into force of this Law shall continue to be effective,’ embeds an exception in this principle."

Feeling dizzy yet? Another problem, though less pervasive than the garbled translation, is that some of the authors assume highly specialized knowledge in the reader. Jiang Yanbo, for example, uses economic terms like “cross-elasticity of demand” and “transfer ratio analysis” without bothering to explain what they mean.

Overall, this book will be of interest primarily to specialists in Chinese, foreign, and comparative law. The stilted prose and specialized nature of the articles make it a poor choice for the general reader.

Reviewed by Robert Clark, 2014. Reference/Research Librarian, O’Quinn Law Library, University of Houston Law Center. rnclark@central.uh.edu

Posted By Robert Clark at 8/5/2014 4:09:12 PM  0 Comments
8/1/2014 1:42:19 PM

AALL Session Review: Libguide Guidance: Innovative Uses for Libguides (B5)

Shannon Roddy and Amy Taylor, both from American University Washington College of Law, gave an energetic and engaging presentation on the many uses of libguides.

(First, we must deal with the question of pronunciation: are they LIB-guides or LIBE-guides?  Our presenters fall squarely on the side of LIBE-guides, while I am more of a LIB-guide person.  And so the debate continues…)

Focused more on the creative side than the technical side, this presentation was filled with imaginative ways to use libguides: from the more common uses of subject research guides and course materials, to “survival guides” (surviving your first year of law school or your summer clerkship) and highlights of specific programs and events at your school or firm.  From basic information centers on circulation policies to showcases of rare books.  One libguide idea that I found especially interesting was having a libguide for each faculty member, with one tab for publications, one for the CV, one for teaching materials, and so on.

The advantages of libguides are many: they can generally be created without the help of IT, so content is entirely in the hands of librarians.  They can be enhanced by branding, as well as multiple medias—embedded documents, pictures, and videos.  As such, they can appeal to several different types of learners, including visual and auditory.

The session closed with tips for librarians using libguides (monitor the libguides regularly to make sure they’re still current, and bear in mind that there is only so much customization that can be done), and then we broke into small groups at our tables to share our own experiences with libguides.

A really excellent session—I left with several ideas about libguides at my own library.  

Posted By Stephanie Ziegler at 8/1/2014 1:42:19 PM  0 Comments
7/30/2014 2:59:50 PM

June 2014 Issue of Technical Services Law Librarian Out Now

The June 2014 edition of Technical Services Law Librarian is now available! In this issue Ashley Moye will introduce you to library metrics.  Dan Blackaby talks about Net Neutrality.  And, Hollie White discusses what she learned from being part of a writing group.  You’ll also get important updates on serials titles and OCLC, meet the recipient of the Renee D. Chapman Award, and much more.   

Posted By Kristen Moore at 7/30/2014 2:59:50 PM  0 Comments