Wade Oral History

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Oral History: Dan Wade

*Teresa Stanton, Reference/Foreign and International Law Librarian,
University of North Carolina, conducted the oral history.

I entered the profession in 1982, and I came to it after library school at the University of Illinois. I had taken a course in international law at DePaul Law School and worked with Cherif Bassiouni . Then in library school I did an independent study research paper with Edward Kolodziej, now Director of Global Studies here, on the disarmament program. So this gave me a bit of a background in international law.

I had been a professional student, and I currently work in six languages. I don’t have Slavic languages, but I do collection development work in six languages. They were gained just as a result of my education—religious studies, for the most part. It’s reading knowledge, and I just gained them over the course of my graduate studies and undergraduate school as well.

I had an indulgent wife, so I basically didn’t go to work until quite, quite late in life—I think I was about age 34. So having had the relationship with Professor Bassiouni, and the package of languages, and the law degree, and library degree, I think gave me at least a resume which I could put out, seeking a position in foreign and international law.

My first position was at Vanderbilt. I worked with Igor Kvass for a year, as the government documents librarian and international law librarian--but much more as a government documents librarian. But in the course of the year I became his research assistant, and he gave me a great deal of training in the course of doing that research and working on his writing. I learned a great deal about foreign and international legal bibliography. That was a wonderful opportunity.

I then spent four years at the University of Houston, working as the international law librarian, and I also kind of worked specifically in building their Mexican collection. They were interested in building up Mexican law. So I would make book-buying trips to Mexico and we would bring the books back. The library director, Jon Schultz, would meet me at the airport, and we would throw the boxes of books which would number in the hundreds onto the pickup truck, and carry them off to the library. So that was a great education too.

Then I came to Yale, where I’ve been for seventeen years. I’m just starting my eighteenth. Here I’m primarily responsible for collection development. I do a little reference, also some teaching.

And I really would hold out for anyone who is bookish or a bibliophile that this is a wonderful profession. While there are years where one must struggle—when you’re putting your kids through college-- that could be said for a lot of professions. That is, we could certainly be reimbursed better, but it’s certainly adequate and provides for the “good life.”

I co-teach a course on legal issues in Africa, and I also have –well, I administer a course more than I teach or lecture per se—in international legal research. So those have been my two opportunities to teach.

I entered the profession the year that the SIS came into being. And I don’t know whether that was 1982 or 1983, but the first meeting was in Detroit that I attended--or in Windsor, Canada. As a matter of fact I’m not even sure where it was sited. So I remember the proposal for the SIS and I remember that there was a report by Francisco Avalos, who’s been at the University of Arizona all this time. And [it was] kind of proposing the SIS. I don’t remember if it was voted on at the meeting, but at least it was discussed, and it would’ve been voted on either at that meeting or the next one.

I think what drew me to the SIS was that I was interested in foreign and international law. While the membership of the SIS is tremendous now, I think it numbers in the hundreds, there were very few people who did a significant amount of work in the area, so it was a good way of coming together and collaborating in the missions or goals of the SIS. One thing I want to be sure to reference is Judith Wright’s work for AALL called Training the Future Generation of Foreign and International Law Librarians in 1991. So this was really the first call that there was a need to do more to find other foreign and international law librarians. And I would say that initially –well, I don’t remember the missions or goals per se; I guess you’d find those in the bylaws- it was really a bringing together of specialists who were working in foreign and international law.

My sense is that now there are a lot more librarians who are expected to know something about foreign and international law. It has become much more of an interest, or something that Anglo-American reference librarians need to know about. And I think there’s a trend that reference librarians are to be expected to handle these sources and questions. I’m not so sure that was true in the early 80s but that has been something that has changed over the decades. And I would think that would bring in a much larger number of people who are interested in the SIS.

Interestingly, I was just looking at my contribution to the Wright book, and I had counted foreign and international law librarians in 1991 and there were about 40. And I recently did that this summer, and I think it was in the low 50s. So, you know, we’ve grown by 20% perhaps.

So I think there is more interest from the generalized librarians. Something that the SIS has never been very successful at, although there are notable exceptions – I think of Janet Zagorin—is really encountering, engaging the private law librarian. I notice in the 1991 list there were several private law librarians who had titles like foreign and international law librarian; I don’t remember the people. But it strikes me that law firms--- major New York law firms-- have to worry about international issues and as their librarians develop expertise in international law, one challenge for the SIS is to find the way of inviting those librarians to participate.

I think a lot of the purpose of the SIS as I remember it initially was so that we could meet each other, so that we could collaborate, and so that we could begin understanding what was going on at our respective institutions. A lot of the things that were subsequently picked up in the Interest Groups are some of the things that motivated us initially.

I remember there being a kind of an international law research instruction [session] being done by Simone Kleckner, who was the librarian for the United Nations, and Blanka Kudej, who was the foreign and international law librarian at NYU. And that was one of the earliest programs. It would be interesting ---I believe Frank Houdek compiled a list of programs at AALL--to go back and see what those earliest FCIL-SIS sponsored programs were. But that’s one that stands out in my mind.

I’d like to list a few librarians that were influential in my development, and people that I would encourage you to talk with.

I think it’s interesting that the person who kind of developed the draft plan for educating the next generation of foreign and international law librarians is now the president of AALL. That was mainly Claire Germain, so I would certainly think that she’s someone who should be engaged in a conversation such as this.

And another early librarian who was influential in my work because of where he was working, the University of Illinois Law Library, is Tim Kearley, who is the director at the University of Wyoming library.

There was a generation prior to mine of European �migr�s: Dr. Sprudzs from the University of Chicago, who has passed away; Marta Tarnowsky, who was at University of Pennsylvania, Blanca Kudej from NYU, Simone Kleckner –all from Eastern Europe and a substantial group of the generation prior to mine –librarians of the 70s, shall we say. And also I think another person who influenced me was Kent McKeever, who’s now the library director at Columbia, who held a position as a foreign/international law librarian.

And I think of Ellen Shaffer, who was a year or two ahead of me in the profession--she is probably one of the people who over the years, has contributed most to my professional development. So I think that’s a good set.

And somebody else who might know a lot about the formation of the SIS is Francisco Avalos. Unfortunately I believe his institution doesn’t pay for his coming to AALL, to the AALL annual meeting, but he’s the author of the response I remember hearing way back in Detroit—the initial meeting. He wasn’t able to make the meeting, but he had written something.