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TORY the Robot and Other Highlights From the IALL Conference in Luxembourg

Adama Kone, TORY the Robot, Lyonette Louis-Jacques, Johannes Trabert at the 2018 IALL Pre-Conference Workshop on “Robots Usage in Law Libraries”

The IALL conference is one of my favorite meetings to attend. The International Association of Law Libraries’ 37th Annual Course on International Law and Legal Information took place in Luxembourg, from Sunday, September 30, to Wednesday, October 3. I’d never been to Luxembourg before, but will make up any excuse to go again! The theme was “Law in Luxembourg – Where Local Tradition Meets European and International Innovation.” The programme for the 2018 IALL meeting was wonderful as usual – educational, enlightening, and entertaining. I met a robot, TORY! I encourage everyone, even though you do not specialize in or work with foreign, comparative, and international law (FCIL) materials, to try to attend the IALL conference. Below, I provide some general background information about the IALL annual course, and highlights from the 2018 one.

The IALL conference takes place in a different country each year (it’ll be in Sydney, Australia in 2019, Toulouse, France in 2020, and somewhere in the Western Hemisphere in 2021). It’s usually about four days long with a pre-conference workshop, substantive law sessions broken up by half hour social/networking breaks and hour-long meals, an Annual General Meeting (AGM), sponsoring vendor presentations, visits to local libraries, law-related institutions, and tourist spots, and a concluding final dinner. This year’s programme is pretty typical of an IALL annual course agenda.

The IALL conference is usually small, with about 80-100 attendees each year. These delegates tend to be mostly from the U.S. and Europe, with a few attendees from Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. The delegates comprise library directors, law library association presidents, FCIL librarians, and other information professionals with overlapping/mixed subject specialties including law, catalogers and other metadata specialists, parliamentary, court, and private law firm librarians, as well as law professors, lawyers, government officials, publishers, everyone involved in, or interested in legal information.

This year, there were almost 170 attendees at IALL in Luxembourg! This includes the Local Arrangements Committee members, and IALL Board Liaison, Michel Fraysse. There were 24 countries represented: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Italy, Ivory Coast, Korea, Latvia, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Saint Lucia, Singapore, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, and the USA.

The main venues for this year’s IALL course were the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for International, European, and Regulatory Procedural Law (2012- )(the main host institution, with directors Hélène Ruiz Fabri and Burkhard Hess, and head librarian, Juja Chakarova), the Chambre des Métiers (Chamber of Trades of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg), the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), and its Library, the Bibliothèque Nationale de Luxembourg (BNL, National Library of Luxembourg)(Monique Kieffer, Director), and Neumünster Abbey.

English is the official IALL annual course language (only in Buenos Aires, Argentina did they do simultaneous interpretation). So, although Luxembourg’s languages are French, German, and Luxembourgish, the presentations were in English.

Highlights & Takeaways

  • I attended the pre-conference workshop on “Robots Usage in Law Libraries” and met TORY, the robot there. TORY was one of the panelists (with MPI LUX Head of Library, Juja Chakarova, MetraLabs’ Johannes Trabert, and IALL’s Michel Fraysse), but did not speak. TORY does not have that functionality…yet.

TORY inventoried the MPI LUX Library and located lost books as part of a trial run for one of the projects of LIKE, the Lab for Innovation, Knowledge and Exchange, that Juja Chakarova launched at the Library in 2016.

Here is a video of Johannes Trabert demoing TORY in action that was posted on Twitter by Adama Kone (@adams225):

Some questions that arose about TORY and use of robots in libraries generally (answers detailed in Mike McArthur’s IALL report linked to at the end of this article):

  1. Is TORY male or female? From the curvy body-shape, the presumption is that TORY is female, but, in Germany, robots are male because the word for robot is male. But robots can be made according to customer specifications.
  2. What other (law) library tasks could robots do?
  3. How can we avoid having robots take on stereotypical gender roles/be gendered? A female-shaped robot takes on service roles?
  4. What about insurance, maintenance, costs of robot?
  5. What about students’ interactions with robots – safety, harm to robot, defacing robot, etc.?
  6. How much does TORY weigh (how heavy)?

I was quite fascinated by TORY the Robot and the possibilities and challenges they represented. I contacted Johannes Trabert after the conference and he answered an additional question about whether TORY can ride elevators by themselves:

Our robots, including TORY can drive (maneuver) fully on their own. They don’t need RFID tags for driving.

However, they can make use of the gained position of large population of RFID tags (areas of high tag densities) while driving to analyze these areas more thoroughly by driving slower and with added rotations to “illuminate” the tags from different angles. The goal of this behavior is to read as much tags as possible (highest possible “read accuracy”).

Under certain circumstances, TORY can ride in an elevator unassisted: when there are means to remote control the elevator (modern ones have such capabilities). Or if she/ he kindly asks a person which is nearby the elevator to touch the button to call the elevator (obviously not totally unassisted anymore) and she/he will enter autonomously.

  • The MPI LUX Library’s cataloging and classification/systematic scheme is internally created. It was influenced by the schemes of the Institut de droit comparé at Dorigny, Lausanne, Switzerland, the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) Heidelberg (comparative public law and international law), and the European Court of Justice libraries. Researchers catalog/class the books.
  • The Library collection consists currently of 57,000 volumes in 30 languages and 5,700 bound journals. The Library subscribes to 141 journals in print and provides access to major law databases, 24,000 electronic journals, and 500 eBooks. Subject foci include International Dispute Resolution, and International, European, and Comparative Procedural Law.
  • The Library has framed photos all along the hallways of law libraries from all over the world that were sent to help them celebrate when they opened in 2012.
  • The Max Planck Encyclopedia of International Procedural Law (Ei-Pro) is in the works.
  • Fascinating IALL Annual Course presentations:
    • Lily Martinet’s presentation on “Traditional Cultural Expressions and International Intellectual Property Law” featured legal issues with Maori, Pe’a, and Samoan tattoos, Nike tattoo tech leggings, Lace works/knitting, a Japanese foot bridge and water lily pool painting. There was an interesting Q&A question if artists whose dance moves are copied in video games should be compensated. Apparently artists’ rights are protected by France’s parasitisme
    • Martyna Fałkowska-Clarys’ presentation on “The Variable Landscape of International Criminal Justice” [PDF] used law and popular culture/cinema images.
    • Edoardo Stoppioni’s presentation on “A Critical Introduction to International Investment Arbitration” focused on crit, Marxist, feminist, etc. perspectives. I asked him afterwards about bringing in Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL).
    • Jeroen Vervliet interviewed Jaap Hoeksma on “What Is the European Union, a Union of Citizens and States, a New Constitutional Topos?”(see link to Caitlin Hunter’s full report below). Mr. Hoeksma’s sense of humor shone through. I also loved his use of philosophy in daily life, but the highlight for me was Mr. Hoeksma showed us how to play the EU EUROCRACY board game he created!

Amtliche sammlung der stellungnahmen des präsidenten der Gemischten kommission für Oberschlesien auf dem gebiete des minderheitenrechtes auf grund der vorschriften des III. teils des deutsch-polnischen Genfer abkommens vom 15. mai 1922 in der zeit vom 15. juni 1922 bis 15. juli 1937 (Berlin Leipzig: W. de Gruyter & Co., 1937). 2v. Includes opinions of the President of the Mixed Commission for Upper Silesia, Felix Calonder.

Schiedsgericht für Oberschlesien: Amtliche sammlung von entscheidungen des schiedsgerichts für Oberschlesien, veröffentlicht gemäss der bestimmung des art. 592 des Genfer abkommens vom 15. mai 1922. = Trybunal Rozjemczy dla Górnego Slask (Berlin; Leipzig: W. de Gruyter & Co., 1930-1938). 7v. Arbitration Tribunal of Upper Silesia. Georges Kaeckenbeeck wrote on the arbitral tribunal decisions and the Upper Silesian “experiment”.

  • The National Library of Luxembourg’s Michèle Wallenborn gave us a fascinating presentation and exhibit of “Artists’ Books”. There was a “Wind” book (set up outdoors, pages opened to wind, snow, sleet, hail, and hot sun). There was a torn up/shredded bible hung together by red string (strips of words cut out for bible study/teaching?). There was a burnt book. There were cut out books. Pop-up books. It was marvelous!

You can find out more details at the IALL Conference Website and also from the IALL Blog on Luxembourg. There are links to selected presentation slides in the IALL brief conference programme. And various delegates have posted tweets, videos, and photos on Twitter under the hashtag #IALL2018. Attendees have also reported on and summarized the IALL Annual Course. Recaps are available under the “IALL Conferences” tag at the AALL FCIL-SIS DipLawMatic Dialogues Blog:

See also Julienne Grant’s Law Librarians Convene in Luxembourg: IALL Plus One (the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU)’s Oct. 4 program on ““Challenges Facing Modern Law Libraries”), the IALL bursary/scholarship winners’ reports on attending the annual course in Luxembourg, Luxembourgeois Echoes, Eveline van Trigt’s report on IALL 2018 on the Peace Palace Library Blog as well as IALL President, Jeroen Vervliet’s great IALL Blog post, “Thank you, LUXEMBOURG!” Like Jeroen, I also say thank you to Luxembourg and to the IALL Local Arrangements Committee. The conference was a success! Merci beaucoup! Vielen Dank! Villmools Merci!

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