FCIL Newsletter / October 1997
Message from the Chair
University of Washington Law Library
For the benefit of you who were unable to attend the Baltimore Convention or who could not make it to our annual business meeting, I will repeat a small portion of the remarks I made there. When I agreed a year and a half ago to accept your nomination as Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect of the SIS, I overcame my reluctance only after reflecting on the tremendous amount of talent, dedication, and commitment I have observed in so many of you, my colleagues. I knew that, in accepting, I would have the experience and the knowledge of many wise people to rely on. Though it is a clich‚ that a small number of people have done most of the work in the SIS, the reality is that the number of individuals who have held office, led working groups, organized programs, taught workshops, edited publications, spoken on panels, written for the newsletter, contributed to INT-LAW, or maintained our website is nothing short of amazing. Looking back on the eight years that I have been a part of our group, overall I believe that we have learned from each other, and, though we have faced frustrations at times, that we have definitely left our imprint upon the Association. I am proud to be associated with the FCIL SIS!
Reflecting on the Baltimore meeting, I would like to express my thanks to all who worked so tirelessly to make our part of it a success. Though we didn't have as many programs selected as we might have liked, members of our SIS were quite visible as speakers and coordinators of several programs and, as usual, did an excellent job. The 1998 annual meeting in Anaheim will have the theme New Horizons, and much is already happening in preparation. The Annual Meeting Program Selection Committee (AMPSC) of AALL has reworked the daily schedule and structured the programs under four sub-topics: Management, Information, Technology, and Law. For more on this, see Marci Hoffmann and Gail Partin's Education Subcommittee Report in this newsletter or check out AALLNET at www.aallnet.org.
As an aside, while you're at it, take a look at our SIS webpage, skillfully maintained by Anne Burnett at www.lawsch.uga.edu/fcil/fcil.html. And if you're ever trying to get hold of colleagues (for example, me), you had better first check the online AALL Directory and Handbook accessible from the AALLNET homepage. In my case, that is the only place you will find my correct (direct) phone number and job title!
Returning to the topic of the Anaheim meeting, I am very much tempted to usurp Gail and Marci's report and comment on the numerous excellent program proposals submitted by our membership. Suffice it to say that half of our ten excellent proposals were accepted, which unfortunately means that an equal number (which some of us thought were sure to be selected) were rejected by the AMPSC. Having something you have worked hard on and cared about rejected is never easy, particularly if you suspect that those making the decision may not really understand the need for or the importance of "your" (or "our") program. Some of our members were understandably upset as a result. It has been suggested that there is an insufficient understanding of the needs of our SIS on the part of the Association as a whole. How do we balance a need to educate our own members with intermediate or advanced programs (or programs of a narrower focus) with the other role (more obvious, perhaps, to the AMPSC and others) of educating non-specialists in the Association by providing introductory-level programs or programs of broader mass appeal? I confess that I myself do not have a clear answer to this dilemma. Some have suggested having our own conference or leaving the Association altogether and participating in the American Society of International Law or the International Association of Law Libraries. For practical and financial reasons as well as loyalty to AALL, I cannot personally support a separate conference for FCIL. And though ASIL or IALL may be a valid alternative for some members, clearly they do not meet the needs of all.
I would like to invite our membership to seriously consider ways to address these concerns in a constructive and effective manner. Communicate with each other about this and give me your feedback. If you, the members of the SIS, feel it would be productive, I would consider appointing a task force to consider these issues and make recommendations for action. One member has written me: " The Association is less and less representing my needs and my goals . . . . " Perhaps it would be useful to survey our membership as to just what our needs and goals are and whether they coincide enough to provide a clear direction in which to move.
It is my sincere desire that we continue to build on our strengths and work out a way to be an even stronger and more positive presence within AALL while at the same time becoming increasingly aware of and responsive to the specialized needs of our membership. I look forward to working with all of you to meet this challenge.
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