So You Want to Be a Foreign Law Librarian


I grew to become a Foreign Law Librarian accidentally. I didn’t plan on being one. But right here I’m. How did it occur? How did I come to focus on overseas, comparative, and worldwide legislation librarianship? What’s it like to be an FCIL librarian? What are the profession paths of FCIL librarians usually? Do you have to change into a Foreign Law Librarian?

My common plan after I made a decision I wished to be a legislation librarian was to work as a common authorized reference librarian in an instructional legislation library. So as to do this, I wanted a library science diploma and a legislation diploma. So I utilized to library college and legislation faculties on the identical time, bought accepted at each, however determined to go to library college first (I used to be assured I may end library college, however was petrified of legislation college, and didn’t need to presumably fail first). I bought my A.M.L.S. (MLS/MLIS) on the College of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1983, then instantly began legislation college on the College of Chicago (J.D. 1986).

Since I used to be working all all through legislation college, I didn’t have a lot of time to search for post-law college jobs. So I used to be very blissful to uncover that the College of Minnesota Law Library had a couple of starting reference librarian positions open once I really had time to look. One of many openings was for somebody with overseas language abilities. I didn’t notice on the time, however Kathie Value, who was the legislation library director then, was making an attempt to develop a Subsequent Era Foreign Law Librarian. Since I had French and German, I had a part of the necessities she wished to make me into an FCIL librarian. I began my profession because the Foreign and Worldwide Authorized Reference Librarian on the College of Minnesota in 1986 proper after I graduated from legislation college. And the remaining is historical past!

Each FCIL librarian has their very own origin story, so how we bought right here varies.[1] What FCIL librarians do additionally varies. Usually, inside tutorial libraries, you could be a specialist who fields all of the overseas, comparative, and worldwide legislation reference questions, or who fields solely the exhausting FCIL reference questions, otherwise you could be a generalist with FCIL reference duties. I believe the development is extra in the direction of generalization, however haven’t researched it. For positive, if you are interested in doing FCIL-related work, you’ll be able to normally get a possibility to achieve this in tutorial legislation libraries. You can do FCIL work in different library/institutional settings as effectively. There are FCIL librarians working in non-public legislation agency libraries, courtroom libraries, county legislation libraries, federal and state authorities, worldwide organizations, analysis establishments.

FCIL librarians may also be bibliographers. We are able to choose books, overseas and worldwide authorities paperwork, journals, and databases for our legislation library collections. We are able to educate FCIL analysis courses. We could be FCIL uncommon e book specialists. We are able to focus on cataloging FCIL supplies. We could be overseas nation legislation specialists. We are able to focus on worldwide human rights paperwork. We could be specialists inside the specialty of overseas legislation librarianship.

As a result of what we do varies, abilities wanted to get into the occupation fluctuate. Nonetheless, for causes which I believe want to be re-thought, FCIL job postings normally require overseas languages – primarily, French, German, Spanish, or Italian. Typically different languages, like Latin, Chinese language, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, however the default is one or two of those 4 if it’s a common FCIL librarian place. In actuality, an FCIL librarian is normally anticipated to subject all language questions, so figuring out how to navigate unfamiliar languages to successfully do your work or assist others looks as if the ability you really want.

It’s normally good to have taken an FCIL-related legislation college course (public worldwide legislation or comparative authorized strategies/traditions) or participated in worldwide legislation moots, however expertise, associated jobs, journey, different training, curiosity in FCIL subjects, could be proxies for the substantive legislation data that is perhaps required. And a part of the on-the-job coaching for FCIL librarians can fill in gaps. You can take legislation and language programs.[2] You can attend legislation and library conferences and workshops.[3] You can do apprenticeships, internships, fellowships, practicums. You can be a part of associations and organizations that assist improve your abilities. You can community with and study from FCIL librarian colleagues through listservs, social media, and in particular person. Being an FCIL librarian is an ongoing studying course of. Difficult, rewarding, and enjoyable!

A few of us spend our total careers as FCIL librarians. My sense is that it’s a legislation librarianship specialty that usually pays very effectively? It undoubtedly supplies a lot of alternatives to journey overseas. A few of us have moved into FCIL librarianship from being generalist legislation librarians. And a few of us have moved out of FCIL librarianship to change into generalist legislation librarians, center managers, senior administration, legislation library administrators. You can transfer laterally, up, down, do no matter you need to do with FCIL librarian abilities. Nonetheless, to ensure you are versatile sufficient to transfer, you want to retain and domesticate your primary legislation librarianship competencies and abilities. So, in order for you to be a Foreign Law Librarian, go for it! You won’t ever remorse it. You will discover you might be in an endlessly fulfilling occupation with fantastic colleagues to go on the journey with you.


[1] To learn the way a few of us bought right here and common info on careers in FCIL librarianship, try the American Affiliation of Law Libraries (AALL) Foreign, Comparative, and Worldwide Law Particular Curiosity Part (FCIL-SIS) Schooling Committee web page. See additionally the FCIL-SIS Oral Histories web page. The FCIL-SIS DipLawMatic Dialogues weblog options a Foreign Law Librarian and their origin story every month – Member Profiles. I used to be profiled in October 2015 so you’ll be able to learn extra of my origin story there. I’ve an FCIL careers web page that hyperlinks to paperwork on the 1990s initiative on Coaching the Future Era of Worldwide and Foreign Law Librarians. It was added for an AALL program on FCIL librarianship core competencies.

[2] The DipLawMatic Dialogues weblog has common “Buying a Foreign Language” posts. It additionally has common “From the Reference Desk” and “New FCIL Librarian” posts.

[3] The core conferences I’m going to are AALL, American Society of Worldwide Law (ASIL), and Worldwide Affiliation of Law Libraries (IALL). I additionally attempt to go to CALL/ACBD once I can. I as soon as went to the Canadian Council on Worldwide Law (CCIL)/Conseil canadien de droit worldwide (CCDI) assembly and introduced on researching worldwide legislation through the Web, so I like to recommend going to associated Canadian conferences and workshops. I’m going to conferences of the American Bar Affiliation Part of Worldwide Law. I attend the Affiliation of American Law Colleges conferences after they have fascinating FCIL applications.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

1 × 1 =