FCIL-SIS Electronic Issues Interest Group
(July 19, 2005) Submitted by Marylin J. Raisch, Chair, International and Foreign Law Librarian, John Wolff International and Comparative Law Library, Georgetown Law Library
Over a dozen colleagues came to our early morning meeting this year. Thanks go to Mirela Roznovschi for arranging our speaker, Emily Allbon, Law Librarian, City University, London U.K. It was good to be meeting on a regular day of the conference as well, and no doubt both factors contributed to our good turnout.
The meeting opened with a brief presentation by myself as Chair of the Electronic Issues Interest Group. Entitled "Of Patrons, Portals, Partners and Pedagogues: What Might a true Law Sources Portal look like?," [and linked on the FCIL-SIS web site at: http://www.aallnet.org/sis/fcilsis/committees.html] the presentation surveyed the best of what is available in the many versions of the concept of a portal: "super-tutorials" that provide both links and interactive learning opportunities, hypertext guides, metadata for texts, intelligent (annotated) links, catalogues, aggregators, gateways, and "my.library." These many types of guides and services were briefly defined and reviewed and examples shown, and most of the free examples are linked in the presentation at the web site, as indicated above.
Emily Allbon presented the web portal she created for the students at her University of London. It is called Lawbore, http://www.lawbore.net . With a lively and student-friendly approach, Emily gladly explained the choice of title to us Statesiders as indicating a source of expertise in a subject, but with a tongue-in-cheek suggestion of the student mind-set over the course of study required to prepare for the legal profession. You know, as in someone's being an opera bore, either by reputation or self-described. In any case, her presentation was anything but a bore, with her site taking a Google-generation approach to put the students in touch with academic and practical information for their studies, using graphics and segmented "cut-to-the-chase" information balanced by more in-depth course related materials for use when time is less pressing. Emily answered several questions about the nature of law study at a practice-oriented, urban university, and so the presentation was informative in the area of comparative legal study as well.
Other sites for guidance on U.K. law were mentioned. Those familiar with the excellent project of Sarah Carter at the University of Kent, Canterbury, U.K. called LAWLINKS, http://library.kent.ac.uk/library/lawlinks/default.htm were interested to learn of another site at the same institution which aims to collect tutorials and research guides as well as curriculum-based teaching materials for the U.K. as a central resource. Called LAWPATHS, http://library.kent.ac.uk/library/lawpaths/default.htm, it is in development but already populated with a wealth of resources from institutions all across the U.K. where legal courses are taught.
Among U.S. institutions, a personal favorite of this reporter is the cluster of guides at the University of Texas, Austin, Tarlton Law Library in its Virtual Library, http://tarlton.law.utexas.edu/vlibrary/ . Guides for case law, primary legislation, and delegated legislation are extremely useful as guides to sources and to the court structure that accompanies a fairly complex legal reporting system that has changed over the centuries.
Closer to home for FCIL librarians is of course the new Foreign Collection Development Blog, http://foreignlawcollections.blogspot.com/ spearheaded by Dan Wade and Heidi Kuehl. With the increasing trend to "quicklinks" in one section of a web site and "in depth" or longer guides in another, finding information on primary sources or establishing publications can be much easier than finding out about publishers and vendors with a proven "track record" for jurisdictions of the world; so we should all get used to visiting the blog as part of our professional work, and remember to contribute our discoveries as well.
For next year, what with a call for performers and other creative contributions, I would like to pose a "challenge" to FCIL librarians as animators and film directors: make an animated tutorial or guide, or film a tour of the library or a virtual orientation session, and submit it to be shown at the Electronic Issues meeting in St. Louis! We may be able to offer an "Oscar" or some other appropriate award (name? An "Oppenheim"?). We hope to see you there.