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FCIL Newsletter, October 1998
v. 13, no. 1

From the Chair
Maria Smolka-Day

The FCIL-SIS has been very busy since the last issue of the Newsletter. Fortunately, this Newsletter, although very important, is not the only form of communication with members who cannot attend the Annual Conference. Last Spring we started our own Internet listserve moderated by Mila Rush. In combination with our Web Page (http://www.lawsch.uga.edu/fcil/fcil.html), edited skillfully (together with this Newsletter) by Anne Burnett, it has served us well in preparing for our Special Meeting in Anaheim. Both the Special Meeting and the regular Business Meeting were quite productive this year (see Minutes inside this Newsletter). In addition to our regular activities we discussed broader issues relating mainly to our position in the Association and the relations between Special Interest Sections generally and FCIL in particular and various bodies of the AALL. This discussion resulted in the FCIL Statement on Programming and Scheduling, which we addressed to Jim Heller, this year's President, and sent to other AALL officials. The Statement, reprinted in this Newsletter, has been available on our Web Page since early August. The publication was then announced on the listserve. If any of you haven't received any mailings from the list, please make sure that your name is on the membership list, and that your e-mail address is correct. We hope not to clog your mailbox with unnecessary mail (and subscribers to INT-LAW know Mila's abilities to keep discipline), but the listserve will increase our ability to communicate between issues of the Newsletter.

Those members who did not attend the Anaheim conference will find in this issue a lot of information about it in the minutes of both the Special and Business meetings, reports from working groups and committees, and in the Statement. I would like to stress here just a few issues.

As mentioned above there was a lot of dissatisfaction, expressed both before and during the Conference, about our inability to influence effectively programming and scheduling of events addressing our special interests during the annual meeting. Due to intensive communication within the SIS Council, as well as with representatives of the Annual Meeting Program Selection Committee, with the AALL President and the Board, we hope that next year's programs and schedules will meet our needs better than last year's did. The AMPSC has selected six FCIL SIS-sponsored programs for the next Conference in Washington, D.C., including one all-day workshop. Please see the report of the Education Subcommittee in this issue for details about the selected programs. We also hope that committee and working group meetings will be closer to our traditional schedule. Looking farther ahead we felt that our SIS should plan its activities with a perspective longer than one year. We might also think about new forms of actions in addition to what we traditionally do. We felt that the section needs a strategic plan. A group of volunteers enthusiastically responded to this idea, and I was able to create the Strategic Planning Committee, consisting of Charlotte Bynum, Gail Partin, Jack McNeill, Amber Lee Smith, Tracy Thompson, Dan Wade, Stefanie Weigman and chaired by Margareta Horiba of Tulane Law School. The Committee's mandate is to prepare for next year's Business Meeting a draft of a five-year strategic plan for discussion and adoption at this Meeting. The Committee's work will succeed if it has plenty of input from as many members as possible. Therefore, I want to encourage you to share with them your thoughts and ideas about our future directions, our place in the Association and our specific needs as a group. Contact Margareta (phone 504-892-8866) or any other member of the Committee. If you still want to join them, they will welcome your help.

There were many initiatives and ideas coming from various committees and working groups in Anaheim. I hope that many of them will be pursued during this year. The proposal of potentially general interest for many of us came from the Electronic Issues Working Group. You might already know about the AALL/Law Library of Congress Digital Law Task Force. Its concerns, articulated at the last Convention during the program, "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: The Archivability of Electronic Records," deal with the permanency of electronic records, especially those documents and publications which are distributed only electronically. Our Electronic Issues Working Group discussed these problems and came up with an initiative to compile a list of documents (or their categories) of permanent importance for international law research. Preservation of such documents should be treated as a first priority. By preparing such a list we would use our expertise and directly contribute to the general AALL Task Force of great importance. Let's make sure that this initiative is not forgotten. Each of us working with international documents can add something to this project. During the next few month we will start preparing for this project. Let me know if you would like to get involved!

The initiatives of our working groups lead me to the last issue I would like to discuss, namely, making these groups more "permanent" or "structured" by maintaining a membership list of some sort. The groups (maybe just some of them) would keep a list of "core members" who would be interested in maintaining some contact, conducting some activity, or just exchanging information and help during the year. Working group meetings would still be open to everybody, since some people might want just to participate in an annual exchange of ideas without further commitment. It would, however, give a better chance of working on projects put forward at the annual meetings. Let me know if there is any interest in pursuing this idea, or if you think this is not a good idea, and why. Let me know if you are a person interested in joining in a particular working group.

If you want to contact me over the phone, please note that my listing in the 1997/98 AALL Directory is wrong. My correct phone number is 215-898-7442. I hope to hear from you soon.

FORWARD to the next article: "Review of New Global Legal Research Guide"
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