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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.
8/11/2014 4:58:38 PM

Book Review - Law Librarianship in the 21st Century, 2d. Edition

Law Librarianship in the Twenty-First Century 2d. Edition, edited by Roy Balleste, Sonia Luna-Lamas, Lisa Smith-Butler, 2014, Scarecrow Press, 331 pages. $45.00. 


Law Librarianship in the Twenty-First Century 2d edition is a great introduction to Library and Information Science students interested in law librarianship.  Editors Roy Balleste, Sonia Luna-Lamas and Lisa Smith-Butler have revised the previous edition to be more reflective of the “new age of librarianship.” The book offers a basic and thorough introduction to law librarianship; and according to the editors it is a “small part of the all-encompassing effort to promote access to and delivery of information throughout the world (p. xi).” The editors suggest that their book is intended to be used as a textbook for students enrolled in library and information science programs.   

The book is organized into fourteen chapters and each chapter is concisely and methodically written by a leading expert in the legal profession. Contributors have a broad spectrum of experience working in diverse legal environments. Chapters cover standard topics ranging from the history of law librarianship to law librarianship in the technology age. Each chapter uses a well-chosen blend of content to enhance the discussion and there’s a nice scholarly tone and intelligence in development. At the conclusion of each chapter are endnotes, which lend credibility to the authors’ scholarship. The book closes with appendices of the core competencies for law librarianship, a top-ten list for new depository staff, a list of contributors and a substantial bibliography and index.  

Robert Berring leads off with “A Brief History of Law Librarianship” detailing the evolution of law librarianship from the classic era to modern day. He argues that amid the myriad of issues, law librarians are confronted with today, law librarians can continue to have a unique position “by combining the intellectual power and contacts of academic law librarians and the financial power of law librarians and the influential position of court and county law librarians” (p. 12). Karl Gruben follows with a chapter, “Working at the Law Library: A Practical Guide, a good overview and guide to working in a variety of law libraries. The next chapter is entitled,       

“The Administration of the Academic Law Library: The Glue that Binds by Lisa Smith-Butler, provides a basic description of the role of the director and the importance of managing departments both in and outside the academic law library. Chapter four, “Public Services by Anne Klinefelter and Sara Sampson, not only detail the departments within public services; Circulation and Reference but they offer an interesting discussion on specialized knowledge required for reference librarians in various settings.

Steven P. Anderson’s State Law Libraries in the Twenty-First Century describes challenges facing state law libraries in today’s information age – which is “to find a balance between print and digital publications that is the most resource efficient and useful for the library’s customers” (p. 91). “The Curious Case of County Law Libraries” by Robert Riger clarifies what county law libraries are amid what the author perceived confusion between county law libraries and public law libraries. He argues that although some states have mandated a board of law library trustees to govern for the county, other state laws such as New York, provides that each county have a court law library accessible to the public. Chapter 7, “Law Firm Librarianship: Money, Dashboards, Strategic Planning, and a Dash of Patience Are What It Is All About” by Abigail Ross details the unique for law librarians. She provides a general overview of law firm librarianship along with practical tips that she has acquired over the years. “Collection Development, Acquisitions, and Licensing by Frederick W. Dingledy, Benjamin J. Keele, and Jennifer E. Sekula describes in detail guidelines for developing a collection development policy as well as practical tools for selecting materials.

Mary Rumsey’s, “Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Librarianship” offers a three-fold description of what it means to be a Foreign, Comparative and International Law Librarian (FCIL).  Sonia Luna-Lamas discusses what it means to be a technical services librarian and argues that although technology has changed how the work is done, it has not changed the need for technical services librarians. Similarly, Jennifer Bryan Morgan concludes in “The Evolution of Government Documents” that the Federal Depository Library Program must continue to reinvent itself in order to keep pace with the change in government information products. In “The Future of Law Libraries: Technology in the Age of Information” authors, Roy Balleste and Billie Jo Kaufman posit the question, what is the future role of technology in law libraries in the information age? They address the question by exploring such topics as wireless technologies, artificial intelligence, Internet governance, quantum computing and the role the librarian plays in the implementation of these technologies. The penultimate chapter is “The Law Library of Congress,” by Christine Sellers, who provides a nice snapshot of the history of the nation’s law library as well as a discussion on recent services and products. Tracy L. Thompson-Przylucki concludes the book with a chapter on “Library Consortia in the New Economy: Collaboration to Scale.  She emphasizes the importance of library collaboration and argues that institutions such as libraries and higher education can leverage resources in order to have future success.  

Those new to or contemplating entering the field of law librarianship will find this book especially valuable. The text is a smorgasbord of topics that are relevant to legal information professionals in today’s 21st century age of information. Although it is written more for emerging law librarians, it is also very useful for students interested in any specialized area of librarianship because of its excellent treatment of legal topics.

The major strengths of this piece lie in the simplicity, clarity, and the ease of which authors discuss each topic. This book is a welcome addition to the field and as the editors suggest, it can be used as a textbook or supplementary text for an introductory Law Librarianship course.

Reviewed by Dr. Renate Chancellor, 2014. Assistant Professor, Department of Library and Information Science, Catholic Unversity, chancellor@cua.edu

Posted By Renate Chancellor at 8/11/2014 4:58:38 PM  0 Comments
8/11/2014 10:00:54 AM

Summer 2014 SCCLL News Out Now

The Summer 2014 issue of SCCLL News is out now.  In this issue Kathleen Bransford talks about her experience at the DALL 2014 Spring Institute.  Maryruth Storer discusses her experience as a newbie at the Equal Justice Conference.  And, Joesph Lawson and Diane Roberts write about the importance of collaborating with local organizations in their article, “Briefing the Case: Case Studies in Collaboration.”  You’ll also find a lot of member news and section updates. 

Posted By Kristen Moore at 8/11/2014 10:00:54 AM  0 Comments
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