by Mila Rush
University of Minnesota Law Library
Two of our personalities this time are very new to the profession: Rebecca Alexander and Xinh Luu both started at their respective jobs last fall. While Susan Van Syckel had been in FCI law since 1994, circumstances didn't allow me to profile her last year. I am very pleased to be able to tell you now about Susan.
Rebecca Alexander says she is new to law librarianship, but she comes to foreign and international law librarianship with international exposure and with specific interest in Africana. She was a graduate research assistant to the Africana bibliographer while she was working on her library degree at the University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign. Her interest in Africa led her to a summer stint in Nigeria in 1994 on a Fulbright/Hays Group Project Abroad studying the Hausa language. She was also the Slavic cataloger at the University of Kansas from September 1993 to April 1995.
Rebecca started at Washburn University of Topeka School of Law Library last October as catalog/reference librarian. As such she divides her time equally between technical and public services. She is also responsible for maintaining the foreign and international law portion of WashLaw Web. (Something for FCIL members to take note of: Washburn director Professor John Christensen tells me that he really wants this particular resource very well developed, I would presume in coverage, organization, and design.)
She was a catalog/reference librarian at the University of the Virgin Islands, St. Croix campus, where she worked before coming to Washburn. Still prior to that, she was at the University of Kansas cataloging the library's Slavic materials. She prepared for her first library job with a B.A. in Slavic Languages and Literature from the University of Kansas in 1984. She bolstered her library credentials with a library degree from the University of Illinois, which she received in 1993.
Rebecca says she is learning a lot, especially since this school year is her introduction to law librarianship. She signed on to INT-LAW this month. She expects to join AALL and FCIL, but is not sure whether or not she will make it to Baltimore.
AALL in Indianapolis, IALL in Vancouver. Xinh (as in Sing) Luu was doing the professional conference circuit even before she formally joined the profession. She reminded me that we had actually met at the Indianapolis airport when she conveyed compliments on the Hong Kong program. She was however brought to the newsletter's attention by our Chair, Margareta Horiba, who met her at Xinh's first IALL conference. Xinh found the IALL experience enlightening, rewarding, and a marvelous introduction to international law librarianship. She particularly enjoyed meeting with INT-LAW colleagues, many of whom had come a long way to share information, exchange ideas, and rekindle friendships.
Xinh joined the University of Virginia Law Library in November 1996 as the International Law Librarian. She is a 1996 graduate of the master's program in law librarianship at the University of Washington. She also holds a J.D. from the University of Utah and degrees in chemistry and chemical engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Xinh has practiced law in Colorado, including two years devoted exclusively to patent law. She is a member of the Colorado Bar and is registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Before law school, she worked as a petroleum engineer with Amoco Corporation.
Susan Van Syckel is one of those people who was engaged in multi-tasking in school and is still doing it. In 1990, Susan concurrently completed a master's in education at California State University at Sacramento (CSUS) and an MLIS at University of California (Berkeley). Today she is the Foreign and International Law Librarian (more about this later) at McGeorge School of Law, as well as a partner in a family business that markets energy conservation products (Susan maintains its website). She also teaches Legal Research and Advanced Legal Research at MTI Business College (also in Sacramento) as part of an ABA accredited paralegal program, is pursuing a master's in international relations at CSUS, and takes paralegal and computer courses as continuing education activities.
Her previous job experience includes fifteen years as grants administrator for cities, counties and school districts involved in community-based programs for pre-school and school-age youngsters with special needs. She went through a seven-month internship at California State Law Library, then settled into a reference librarian position at McGeorge in 1990.
In 1994 a new position was created at McGeorge, that of Foreign and International Law Librarian. Susan landed this new position. In addition to regular reference duties, she also lectures to the Legal Process and Survey of American Law classes, prepares library publications/research guides (primarily in areas of foreign and international law), assists in the development of the Law Library homepage; assists with collection development in areas of foreign/international law; assists Transnational Lawyer writers, LL.M. students, and visiting scholars with research in foreign and international law; and assists faculty (primarily instructors in international/transnational law courses) with scholarly research. She appreciates the commitment of those doing legal research (having a son in law school) and finds a lot of pleasure working with McGeorge's distinguished faculty.
Susan has been a member of AALL for seven years and its two local chapters for six. She joined FCIL even before she became Foreign and International Law Librarian—she has been a member for five years. From 1992/93 to 1993/94, she chaired a special committee of FCIL that looked into developing an AALL coordinated response to overseas requests for American legal materials; I can attest to the work and commitment she put into this committee. This special committee's reports during Susan's tenure as chair can be found in the FCIL Newsletter, v. 8:1, October 1993, p. 16-19 and v. 9:1, October 1994, p. 11-13, respectively.
Susan has high praises for her colleagues in FCIL. She says she is especially grateful for their work in educating new foreign and international law librarians (translation: her) and for the generous "mentoring" posture of the more established members who have so often provided her personal research assistance and so often contributed to INT-LAW. She attended three of the five international law institutes and strongly encourages the decision-makers to offer these institutes again. And remember this, Institute organizers: Susan offers to help, even with "grunt work."
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