Report from AALL Annual Meeting: Teaching Foreign, Comparative & International Legal Research Committee
Submitted by Patricia Kasting, Co-Chair
Like many of the FCIL committees a different approach was taken to the committee's business meeting. We were fortunate to have Amy Burchfield (Georgetown University Law Center), David Merkin (Shearman & Sterling LLP, NYC office) and Lee Peoples (Oklahoma City University Law Library) as panelists to discuss their activities as FCIL librarians. The meeting was very well attended by librarians ranging in experience from those who have none in the field to those who have been specialists in the field for many, many years.
We started the panel discussion by asking what an FCIL librarian does, and then opened the panel to questions from attendees. There were many questions and at some points the experienced attendees added their own wisdom to the give and take of the conversation. The focus of the discussion evolved into novice attendees asking how one gets started as an FCIL librarian and what one needs to know. The panelists agreed that the primary qualification is interest and a willingness to learn. Foreign language skills were an issue for many. The panelists expressed the opinion that language skills helped but were not necessary. There was some disagreement about this from experienced librarians in the audience who felt that the ability to work in other languages is important. An in-depth knowledge is not required, but recognition of basic legal terms is essential. Everyone agreed that a lack of foreign language skills should not stop on from pursuing FCIL librarianship, as it can be learned on the job.
All in all, the panel discussion was a success and requests for more information on FCIL librarianship were made. In response, Lee Peoples solicited established FCIL librarians to write down their thoughts for those considering a career in FCIL librarianship. Keep an eye out for these articles!