Report from the IALL Annual Course 2002
By Mark Engsberg, Yale Law School Library
From October 20 to 24, 2002 Yale Law Library hosted the twenty-first Annual Course on International Law Librarianship. The International Association of Law Libraries (IALL) sponsored the event. The IALL Annual Meeting convenes in a different venue every year, and this is the first time it has been in the United States for about a decade. The theme of the meeting was "Order from Chaos: Context for Global Legal Information." The conference focused on the knowledge international law librarians need to do their jobs well.
Nearly 130 librarians attended the conference. They came from all over the world--Australia, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, former Soviet republics, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, the United States, and Western Europe. Although primarily focused on aspects of international law and librarianship, the IALL course traditionally allots conference time to some aspect of the host jurisdiction. Accordingly, the events on Monday, October 21 included discussions of American legal publishing and education, as well as an excursion to the Litchfield Law School, the first law school in the U.S.
In the first panel of the week, Morris Cohen, professor emeritus of law and former librarian of Yale Law School, outlined the history of American legal publishing. Cohen described the transition of British common law sources to colonial America and the subsequent development of a domestic legal publishing industry. He concluded his narrative at the present day, with its proprietary databases and huge, multinational corporate publishers. Richard A. Danner, Senior Associate Dean for Information Services and Research Professor of Law at Duke University School of Law, followed with an analysis of the impact of digital technologies on present modalities of legal research and forecast their role into the foreseeable future.
On Tuesday, October 22, the group of librarians visited the United Nations in New York City to consider the role of international organizations, particularly in terms of publishing. At the UN, the conferees also learned more about the role and resources of the UN library. Wednesday, the venue returned to New Haven for further discussions of trends in international law, focusing on international tribunals and the activities of human rights organizations in the context of the War on Terror. The final day of the course was an optional trip to Harvard Law School to tour the Harvard Law Library and hear speakers outline the structure of the law of the Islamic world.
Beyond the tours and talks,
we international law librarians benefit from meeting each other and discussing
the common challenges we face, such as finding ways to bridge print and electronic
collections and keeping up with the rapidly evolving legal publishing industry.
The IALL Annual Meeting at Yale provided many opportunities for these discussions.
The Yale conference web site is still live at http://library.law.yale.edu/library/iall2002/, and it contains links to the full program of speakers and topics. For those interested in learning more about the IALL, you can visit the IALL home page at http://www.iall.org/. And for those curious about this year’s meeting, the 2003 IALL conference will be held in Cape Town, South Africa. The local planning committee has just posted a web site for the conference at http://www.iall.org/iall2003/.