New Member Profiles
Submitted by Mary Rumsey
Note: To help introduce newer FCIL-SIS members to the SIS, the Newsletter will run occasional profiles. If you would like to submit a profile of a new FCIL librarian, please contact editor Amy Burchfield at firstname.lastname@example.org
New Member Profile: Tom Kimbrough
Tom Kimbrough couldn't be much newer. He officially became an FCIL law librarian on August 14, when he started his first professional library job as the Foreign & International Law Reference Librarian at Southern Methodist University's Underwood Law Library. His earlier career, however, has prepared him well.
Before entering the University of Washington's law librarianship program, Tom was a senior associate attorney at Baker & McKenzie's Hong Kong office. Before that, he was variously an associate attorney at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Beijing, a foreign law consultant at Kim & Chang (Seoul), and an associate attorney at Cole, Corette & Abrutyn in Washington D.C. Among his other work, Tom represented major Korean conglomerates in establishing joint ventures and wholly-owned subsidiaries in China, Indonesia and Singapore. He is fluent in Korean, which he speaks at home with his wife. He describes his Chinese as "rusty," but hopes to audit an intermediate or advanced class at SMU.
Tom received his law degree at Boalt Hall, where he was an Associate Editor of the International Tax and Business Lawyer. His undergraduate degree, in international political science, is from Georgetown's School of Foreign Service.
During library school, Tom interned in the Gallagher Law Library; he also worked as a volunteer, and later for pay, at the Snohomish County Law Library. Earlier, he taught English as a second language, as well as prep classes for the SAT and TOEFL exams.
In short, Tom has law practice experience, knowledge of foreign languages, exposure to foreign legal cultures, and teaching and library experience. He has even volunteered for glamorous professional development work such as the Local Arrangements Committee for WestPac's annual meeting last year. Even better, he's already hard at work on the FCIL Schaffer Foreign Librarian Grant Committee. Looks like he's ready to rock!
When Tom isn't working, he likes to travel, and to spend time with his two children (ages three and six). He also enjoys running and soccer, so perhaps there's some volunteer coaching in his future. Look for Tom in New Orleans next summer.
New Member Profile: Rachael Smith
Where are you from originally?
I was born in Guatemala, but grew up mostly in the U.S., where I split my childhood between California and North Carolina. I completed high school and college in California.
I have worked security at an auditorium, various retail jobs, interned at a music club, Legal Aid and at a public policy consulting firm. However, I think the job which gave me various tools to work effectively with all kinds of library patrons was when I was an In-Home-Visitor as a social worker. I worked with a team of other social service providers (family and drug/alcohol counselors, RNs and other social workers). I had to learn to rely on my own judgment when I was out in the field but also know when I needed further advice or information. It was very intense work, but it was what first sparked my interest in the law, as most of my cases were the result of a court order.
Are you the first FCIL librarian at Ohio State?
I am not the first FCIL librarian at the Moritz Law Library at Ohio State University.
How did you prepare or train to be an FCIL librarian? (Don't be afraid to say you're just learning on the job--that's what most people do.)
I am learning on the job for the most part. I have found the only way for me to become familiar with a library's collection strengths, organization and emphasis is to work with the collections. Essentially, one must go to the stacks for a given jurisdiction or subject area and get a three dimensional view of what is available as well as review the online catalog.
It helped getting my M.L.I.S. from the University of Washington due to their foreign law collection, especially their Asian law collection (an area I did not know much about and have no language proficiency in). I have also found my undergraduate major, World History, to be particularly useful, for example asking if said country was still part of a colony or newly created, or when an international organization came into being (e.g., why 1922 is important when looking at Irish legislation, The League of Nations is the predecessor to the U.N., the E.C. is the predecessor to the E.U.).
What are your responsibilities in the library and the law school?
I provide reference on U.S. and foreign, comparative and international law. I also select resources and materials for the FCIL collection. I co-teach, with Carole Hinchcliff, Foreign, Comparative and International Legal Research in the spring semester. This fall for the first time I will be teaching Introduction to Legal Research. I also monitor the Needs-Offers list for FCIL materials, as well as any reported missing materials the library would like replaced.
Anything interesting or unique about FCIL work at Ohio State, or its collection, or whatever?
The Moritz Law Library at Ohio State University has a fairly extensive FCIL collection which many people do not know about. In particular we have in our U.K. materials 1800s reprints of materials from the 1500s as well as some original 1600s materials. These materials can sometimes be found in electronic format but if you are unfamiliar with who was king or queen at a certain date the ability to look at the print is invaluable. This is true because many reprints of earlier material chose to edit the original materials leaving out what may be key information (e.g., the case refers to the maiden name of said person who is now litigating using a name from a current second marriage).
Whose FCIL research questions/needs do you address (e.g., students, profs, local attorneys, pro se patrons)?
Professors' research questions/needs come first in an academic setting. I do work with students a lot, especially with students who are writing seminar papers. Part of what I do is help them limit their topic to something which can be realistically done in a given time period (e.g., "comparing history of suffrage codes for Europe, the U.S. and Caribbean", to "suffrage for women in France, New Mexico and Belize in the 20th century").
Since we are the only large university in Columbus we do get some local attorneys who are looking for various materials, such as how to serve someone in Thailand or which regulation governs architects' licenses in Panama. I have yet to get a pro se patron who is looking for international materials; they generally want U.S. materials which keeps me up on my U.S. and Ohio law. (I did have one pro se who was contesting his grades at OSU and wondered if there were any U.N. regulations which would govern. I suggested that the student handbook might be the better place to start; the patron indicated he had already looked there and had found nothing to help his case. I then suggested that maybe Ohio law would be a better place to start, he seemed a little happier with that suggestion.)
What are the aspects of your job you like the most?
I like new questions where I am unfamiliar with the jurisdiction or area of the law. As nerdy as it sounds, I really love learning something new every day. Since I have to work outside of my comfort zone I constantly have to learn new search techniques and be willing to ask for help once I have hit a wall. I think this helps all my library duties as it is easy to get stuck in a rut sometimes and with FCIL I have to be creative, which translates into new ways of thinking how to approach some of my non-FCIL librarian duties.
What do you like the least?
Right now I find it difficult doing long-term planning for projects. I think there is a myth that librarians sit in their offices surrounded by a completely organized and sequential world. This has not been my experience so far: I never know when a big faculty project will come in, when the next large batch of slips in print or electronic format will need to be reviewed, or when a student will come in with that desperate look after having tried various research strategies to find something which may or may not be findable (e.g. an official translation). I am hopeful as I gain more experience I will get better at figuring out how to stay on focus for long term projects.
What do you find the most difficult part of FCIL research?
Since many of the FCIL materials (especially the older/rarer materials) are not online or not very complete in an online catalog, sometimes I have to obtain interlibrary loan materials and hope I have asked for the right materials. This can be thrilling when my investigative work was on target. But when my deductions are not correct it generally means I have to go back to square one. I try to avoid these failures by asking/begging/pleading/promising my first born, a law librarian elsewhere to pull the materials and see if the information I am looking for is in what I will request.
Translations are a constant issue, especially if the materials are hot off the press, such as the recent rulings on the Mexican elections. I could find the cases but not translations, and could only hope that maybe someone would translate these materials sooner rather than later.
Finally, having to provide a short and concise background for the research I have completed can be difficult, especially if one does not know if the person who requested the material is familiar with the subject/jurisdiction/organization. How do I present all of Mexico's revolutionary history in a paragraph or indicate that the use of particular geographic terms (like Eastern Europe) can be very political. What does one include in Eastern Europe (at a given date, geo-political affiliation, or for a coherent survey)?
Do you read/speak any foreign languages?
I am fluent in Spanish and can read and write it. I can read Italian and can get through French with the help of a good legal dictionary. I could once read Hindi and speak it at a very basic level. I have lost most of my Hindi (which I learned when I spent nine months on an education abroad program in India), as I never use it.
What are your research interests (if any)?
I am interested in pretty much everything. I find intellectual property and copyright issues to be really interesting as they impact so many areas of law, such as art law and cultural property. I am also interested in human rights and indigenous rights and how they complement and conflict with each other. There are now major debates centering on these issues, and I am interested in finding compromises or solutions that would help both sides. Finally, I am interested in how the digital divide impacts all parts of information (i.e. access, ownership, preservation, how to creatively deal with changes in technology), what librarians can do about it, and what are some ways to really utilize changes in the availability of resources.
I love to travel. I have been to the U.K., Western Europe, Central America, and India. However, there are still so many parts of the world I would love to see. I also like to paint, which I have let lapse. I love music and would like to pick up my guitar again and go to more concerts, both at large and small vanues. Oddly, since I started librarian education and the profession I have stopped reading, but I want to get back to reading, especially fiction and murder mysteries. I have started to write my own murder mysteries, just because one of us should start the urban myth of someone getting squished in the compact shelving, and expand on the mystery of how reference librarians really do know everything!
Anything else you think might interest other FCIL members or give them a sense of who you are?
As I am so new to the field I am very open to advice and receptive to guidance. I have learned so much from my interviews with fellow law librarians and other FCIL librarians. As silly as it sounds I really do love this work, but I still have a lot of questions and would like guidance from more experienced FCIL librarians on available opportunities for gaining more knowledge and ways I can contribute to the field.