Thanks for All the Fish

When the late Simon Fodden (RIP) asked me to write a column for Slaw, “Canada’s online legal magazine,” I welcomed the opportunity. I could write for a Canadian and global legal audience about foreign, comparative, and international law (FCIL) information resources and about FCIL librarianship as a career. I could help fill in an information gap for this very special law librarian career path. I joined Slaw in 2010, its fifth year in existence, as a “Legal Information” columnist. My first column was on “The State of Digitization of United Nations Documents” (June 29, 2010), wherein I bemoaned the lack of a “central hub” for online UN documents and publications.

But, it’s been almost a decade, and almost 50 columns, since this first Slaw article and my gap-filling efforts. I’ve written about FCIL careers, good FCIL email lists, FCIL research, locating English translations of foreign cases and legislation, using ILL to obtain FCIL materials, and so much more for Slaw.[1] I am more seasoned than ever, and realize information evolves and changes and diversifies. New players, new voices have entered the field to fill in the international legal information gaps, and I must move with the flow. Seeking out new resources to write about and telling y’all about them has been my “fish”. But I must move on to other exploits and information adventures. Thus, this will be my last Slaw column.

“So long and thanks for all the fish” = “Salut et merci bien pour le poisson”[2]

Unlike the dolphins in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I’m not leaving a dire situation. The sharing of information about international legal research resources is in very good hands. The Foreign Law Guide, GlobaLex, and Guide to Law Online resources continue to provide everyone with tools for researching foreign law. INT-LAW, IALLmembers, Juriconnexion, CALL-L, OSALL-L, and other discussion fora and ecommunities continue to thrive. We have CanLII which is adding new features each month, it seems, AustLII, BAILII, WorldLII, SAfLII, and many other Free Access to Law/Legal Information Institute websites. We have other free, open access resources such as Constitute (texts of constitutions, with comparison tools) and commercial ones such as World Constitutions Illustrated and Oxford Constitutions of the World. We have the Peace Palace Library catalogue and research guides on international law and international relations topics. While the UNBISnet catalog index of UN documents is no more (RIP), we have most of the UN law-related resources I discussed in my first Slaw piece, and the new UN iLibrary. We have the wonderful subscription database, HeinOnline. We have Oxford, Brill, Kluwer, vLex, Westlaw, Lexis, etc. I’ve always had a fondness for the IGO legislative databases such as

Pepper Robot giving a library tour: You can ask it questions in several different languages by touching its chest. Can answer basic library frequently asked questions like where is the bathroom in English or German.

WIPOLEX, FAOLEX, and NATLEX (ILO). We have Twitter for keeping up to the minute on international law news and resources. We have FCIL Ask-a-Law-Librarian services, the UN Library’s Ask DAG, chatbots, and robots that are set to take over some of our FCIL jobs.[3] On and on.[4] We have new FCIL librarians coming into the profession and energized, enthusiastic veteran FCIL librarians. We have so many other great FCIL print, electronic, and people resources.

I am especially excited about the DipLawMatic Dialogues Blog – a publication of the Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Special Interest Section (FCIL-SIS) of the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL). The FCIL-SIS blog also has a Twitter presence as @DipLawMat. The blog was started in 2014 by FCIL-SIS Publicity Committee co-chairs Susan Gaultier and Loren Turner “as a way to promote the FCIL-SIS worldwide.”[5] About a year after it launched, the DipLawMatic Dialogues Blog had “13,830 views from readers in over 110 nation-states”. Five years later, in 2019, Jessica Pierucci reports that the blog had “nearly 21,000 views” and readership from all over the world.[6]

The DipLawMatic Dialogues Blog “About” page asserts its intent to be an international legal information resource:

The FCIL-SIS serves as a forum for the exchange of ideas and information on foreign, comparative and international law and legal research. This blog is intended to be a fun and educational resource for FCIL-SIS members, other law librarians, and anyone interested in foreign, comparative, and international law or law librarianship.

Since its inception, the DipLawMatic Dialogues Blog has had posts on regular aspects of FCIL librarianship. It has posts on fielding reference desk questions, teaching FCIL research, selecting FCIL resources, developing FCIL collections. It has tips for new FCIL librarians and for non-FCIL librarians. It has a featured FCIL librarian each month so that we get to know each other, have a central place for biographical information, and find out more information about FCIL careers. It has reports and recaps from professional development conferences and webinars such as from meetings of the International Association of Law Libraries (IALL), the American Society of International Law (ASIL), IFLA, and AALL. It has GlobaLex announcements of new FCIL research guides and legal system articles. It has book reviews. It provides publication opportunities for FCIL librarians interested in writing and scholarship.

To get more of an idea of the type of information that gets posted on the DipLawMatic Dialogues Blog, check posts from the past year, and this list of the top 19 posts from 2019 compiled by Jessica Pierucci:

  1. AALL 2019 Recap: Growing Out, Not Climbing Up, by Jennifer Allison
  2. From the Reference Desk: On Having to Say No, by Jonathan Pratter
  3. Go-To Resources for the Non-FCIL Librarian, by Janet Kearney & Michelle Penn
  4. From the Reference Desk: Is There An Annotated European Union Code?, by Amy Flick
  5. Creating Training Resources for GOALI, by Latia Ward
  6. New FCIL Librarian Series: Evaluating Databases, by Janet Kearney
  7. AALL 2019 Recap: Polishing Your Public Speaking: Beyond Picturing People in Their Underpants, by Christopher Galeczka
  8. From the Reference Desk: I Need a Topic for My Paper!, by Amy Flick
  9. Despatches on Brexit from BIALL 2019, by Alison Shea
  10. Locating UK and EU Guidance on Brexit, by Alison Shea
  11. Teaching FCIL as a Non-FCIL Librarian: Go-To Resources, by Janet Kearney & Michelle Penn
  12. Library of Congress and LLMC Announce Availability of the Indigenous Law Portal on LLMC Digital
  13. New FCIL Librarian Series: Spring Cleaning: Weeding the International Reference Print Collection, by Sarah Reis
  14. New FCIL Librarian Series: Advice to Prospective FCIL Librarians from a (Still) New FCIL Librarian, by Sarah Reis
  15. Collection Spotlight: Fordham Law, by Janet Kearney
  16. Food and the Intangible Cultural Heritage: A Mini-Research Guide, by Jonathan Pratter
  17. From the Reference Desk: Using Treaty Body Websites to Find Implementing Legislation, by Amy Flick
  18. AALL 2019 Recap: FCIL-SIS Schaffer Grant Presentation – African Law for Everyone: AfricanLII and Laws.Africa, by Loren Turner
  19. From the Reference Desk: U.S. Acquisition of Pacific Island Territories, by Amy Flick

So long, and thanks for all the fish! It has been a pleasure to write for Slaw. Thanks to Simon Fodden and Steve Matthews, his successor as Slaw Publisher, for the opportunity to hone my librarian scholarship skills and share my knowledge of foreign, comparative, and international legal information sources and the FCIL librarianship profession with the world.


[1] I’ve written on some serious and some not so serious topics. My favorite Slaw pieces include “Hockey and Law Librarianship,” “Homebrewing Laws Worldwide,” “À La Recherche Des Livres Perdus, or 50 Ways to Lose Your Books,” and “Don’t Dumpster That Book! A Life as Art Awaits It.”

[2] (YouTube video posted October 7, 2010 by Thomas Rabe – Intro song to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

[3] Not yet! But see Mike McArthur, “IALL 2018 Preconference Workshop on Library Innovation & Robot Usage,” DipLawMatic Dialogues Blog, Oct. 15, 2018.

[4] I apologize for any major FCIL resource I’m forgetting to mention here. Let me know what I missed in the Comments section!

[5] FCIL Newsletter, October 2015, at 11 [PDF].

[6]Top 19 Posts of ’19,” DipLawMatic Dialogues Blog, Jan. 16, 2020.


  1. Thank you for your informative and entertaining articles over the years, and for this great summary of foreign and international legal information sources, Lyonette.

  2. Hi Lyo,

    I’ve enjoyed reading your column on Slaw over the years, sorry to see it come to an end! I just wanted to add that the catalog of indexed UN documents does live on, not in UNBISnet, but in the UN Digital Library ( The UN iLibrary, different from the UN Digital Library, is a good source for UN Sales Publications but if you are looking for what used to be in UNBISnet, I’d encourage everyone to give the UN Digital Library a try. And thanks for the shout-out for Ask DAG! Good luck with your future projects :)

  3. Lyo,

    Best wishes on your next ventures. Thanks for your very interesting articles.

  4. Thank YOU, Lyo, for all the posts, tips, questions, musings, ideas, and more. You have not only educated your readers, you’ve encouraged many more law librarians to take an interest in FCIL work. Enjoy your new adventures!

  5. Thanks Lyo for all your information over the years!

  6. Good luck with your future plans Lyonette! I have enjoyed reading your columns over the years.

  7. Lyo, thank you for all you have done for us. It has always been with enthusiasm, diligence, positivity and good humour. We’re going to miss you!

    Your hockey and law librarianship column is my favourite, too.

    Cheers! :)

  8. You paid very generously for ‘all the fish’ with all the FCIL we could want, and extra treats. Thanks so much for your cheerful professionalism, taking us where many of us never thought we wanted to go, but it turned out we did!

    It has always been a pleasure to come across your name on a text, from the days of Lyo’s Lists to today.

    Best of success in your post-Slawian ventures.

  9. Lyonette Louis-Jacques

    Thanks, Rosalie, Susan, Yasmin, Margie, Alistair, Sarah, Connie, and John! Glad y’all liked my Slaw posts. It means a lot to me…:-)

    A special thanks to Connie for the Hockey Hall of Fame visit! And to John for the editing and the special support and encouragement.

    Off to new adventures! :-) “So long, and thanks for all the fish!”