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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. Previously, the AALL Spectrum Blog was located at aallspectrum.wordpress.com.
9/25/2013 4:23:17 PM

Book Review: Dictionary of Environmental and Climate Change Law

Robinson, Nicholas, Xi, Wang, Harmon, Li, & Wegmueller, Sarah. Dictionary of Environmental and Climate Change Law. Massachusetts: Edward Elgar, 2013. 293 p. Hardcover. $165.00. 

This dictionary is the result of a two-year research program involving scholars and post-graduate students at Pace Law School with the cooperation of faculty of law at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China.  Professor Nicholas Robinson of Pace Law School and Professor Wang Xi of Shanghai Jiao Tao spearheaded the work on this dictionary.  Inconsistencies in the usage of environmental law terminology, the rapid development of this field of law, and the difficulty understanding some of the complex terminology used in environmental law formed some of the justification for producing a dictionary in this specific area of law.  If you have attorneys who practice environmental law, or offer classes in environmental law, I would recommend purchasing a copy. 

The editors used several sources of law to compile the terms provided in the dictionary.  Professors and academics at Shanghai Jiao Tao identified terms in Mandarin with no readily available definition.  Terms defined in agreements ratified by the United States and China were also compiled.  Official definitions used by the Environmental Protection Agency and other U.S. agencies, which could be compared to enacted Chinese regulations were also noted.  Finally, terms normally used by United Nations Environment Programme or expert bodies were also noted. 

The dictionary provides the definitions of terms in English as well as the comparable Chinese Mandarin word and the Pinyin anglicized version of the word.  The dictionary ranges from A Horizon (A céng, fǔ zhí duī jī céng) to Zoning Map (qū yù huà fēn tú).  Most terms use and are derived from American English.  However, terms gathered from official organizations that use British English maintain the British spellings. Many definitions also contain a short citation to the source used to define that term.  These short citations, along with the full citation, are also included in the back of the book for purposes of further study.  Many of these resources are websites, and understanding the changeability of the internet, the editors provided the date of access to the website.  Most of these websites were last accessed in May 2012. 

The addition of the Chinese equivalent of the terms as well as the pinyin translation makes this dictionary extremely valuable.  Over the past few years I have seen an increase in the number of Chinese students enrolled at the law school where I work (particularly in the LL.M. program).  There are many different ways to define terms because there are so many different dialects of Chinese.  The fact that this book provides the term in Mandarin as well as in Pinyin at least provides Chinese speakers with the ability to look up the correct term in a Chinese-English dictionary if he/she cannot read and comprehend English.

The highly technical and scientific nature of environmental law makes some aspects of it confusing to grasp to those without a scientific background.  This dictionary allows a layman to parse through those hard to understand concepts in environmental law.  It also serves as a great resource for those who practice or study environmental law and need a single, easy-to-use ready reference tool.

Deborah Heller is a reference librarian and lecturer-in-law at Arthur W. Diamond Law Library, Columbia Law School.

Posted By Deborah Heller at 9/25/2013 4:23:17 PM  0 Comments
TOPICS: book review
9/9/2013 11:22:49 AM

Book Review - The Illustrated Guide to Criminal Law

The Illustrated Guide to Criminal Law, by Nathaniel Burney.  Jones McClure Publishing; 2012, 260 pages.  Paperback, $24.95, ISBN 9781598391831.

 Are you interested in criminal law?  Are you taking criminal law?  If yes, then The Illustrated Guide to Criminal Law is the book for you. 

The author, Nathaniel Burney, is a defense attorney and former prosecutor.  Burney first started this project in blog format as a way to debunk the myths surrounding criminal law (“You know, an undercover cop has to tell you if he’s a cop.  Otherwise, it’s entrapment.  NO.”)  The blog was well-received, and Burney turned his project into a full-length graphic novel.

The Illustrated Guide to Criminal Law is broken down into six sections: introduction on crime and punishment, the purposes of punishment, guilt, inchoate crimes, defenses, and concluding thoughts and examples.  Burney uses plain language, wit, and illustrations to break down some of the more complicated pieces of criminal law. In addition to explaining terms and concepts, Burney creates fact patterns (similar to something one might find on a criminal law exam) to explain the interplay between each concept.   Burney purposely avoids citing or discussing case law to make the book more accessible to the general reader.

This book is a must-have for law libraries as well as university libraries and public libraries.  For law students, this book makes an excellent study aid, and for the general public, it is an easily read introduction to criminal law.

Rebecca Mattson is the Collection Development Librarian at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

Posted By Rebecca Mattson at 9/9/2013 11:22:49 AM  0 Comments
TOPICS: book reviews
8/26/2013 4:23:47 PM

Chapter Newsletter Highlights: ALLUNY and MAALL

This post describes some articles in AALL chapter newsletters that are likely to be interesting to librarians outside those chapters.

The June 2013 issue of MAALL Markings, the newsletter of the Mid-America Association of Law Libraries, contains an article detailing a print inventory project at Oklahoma City University''s law library. The piece gives a concise but thorough look at what was clearly an ambitious undertaking. The issue also has a short, colorful piece on art exhibits in law libraries.

The July 2013 issue of ALLUNY Newsletter, the publication of the Association of Law Libraries of Upstate New York, has a fun article on an exhibit and poll on the best lawyers portrayed in film. It was enjoyable to read about law librarians creatively integrating law into new contexts.

Posted By Benjamin Keele at 8/26/2013 4:23:47 PM  0 Comments