vol. 15, no. 1
You have been given a research project which doesn’t come under your own area of expertise. In fact, you may never have had any prior need or opportunity to do any research in this area. Faced with starting at square one, you feel that if you could contact someone with expertise in that area of law and ask a relatively simple question or two you might be pointed in the right direction and perhaps save yourself hours, if not days, wasted in false starts. The problem is how do you find the right person to ask? Especially if the question deals with Estate Law in Ghana, NAFTA or a Finnish legal phrase?
While your own personal network of contacts will still usually be the first place to start, there is now a viable alternative. Visit Oceana Online (www.oceanalaw.com). Access “Sources of Assistance.” There you will find a list of Foreign and International Law Librarians Willing to Help Non-Experts (“the List”).
Originally compiled by Daniel L. Wade for the 1992 AALL Annual Meeting Program: “Share the Word, Share the World: Foreign, Comparative and International Law for the Non-Expert,” the List then appeared in chapter 20 of Richard Danner’s and Marie-Louise Bernal’s “Introduction to Foreign Legal Systems,” Oceana Publications (1994). Now being updated by members of the American Association of Law Librarians’ (AALL’s) Foreign, Comparative and International Law Special Interest Section (FCIL-SIS), the list will be more useful than ever before.
To find a librarian who is an expert in researching the law of a particular country, use the Search by Jurisdiction feature. To find one who is an expert in a particular area of International Law, choose the Subject Expertise feature. To find that individual who can help you with that Finnish phrase, select the Languages feature.
Contact information is provided for everyone on the List.
No one can be an expert in everything. There is no need to constantly re-invent the wheel. The List was originally produced, is being updated by FCIL-SIS and will find a home on Oceana Online because everyone involved understands that one of the most powerful research tools available to the professional librarian is the ability to tap into and access the combined knowledge of other members of the profession.
Contact the people on the list. More than likely they may be able to point you in the right direction or tell you something that keeps you from starting down a blind alley. If you are a librarian who specializes in Foreign or International Law and are willing to help other librarians who have questions involving your areas of expertise, please access Oceana Publications, Inc. http://www.oceanalaw.com/default.asp “For the FCIL SIS Experts Project, Click Here.”