Dear all,

Having worked at the World Bank for more than 20 years, I feel that one must have some grounding in a language other than English to be successful. This is not to say one must be fluent, but a firm understanding of how languages work and the legal terminology used in various languages is a must. I have studied Spanish extensively, but have some knowledge of Latin, Russian, Italian, French, and Portuguese. Using this knowledge, I have been successful in searching for legislation in such countries as Romania and Serbia, and CIS countries. I admit that my weak points are Asian and Arabic languages, but we do have other staff at the World Bank that we can consult when needed.

I also credit the support garnered through listservs and colleagues who have greater expertise than I could ever have. With more legislation available online, navigating websites in different languages can be quite challenging, even with some knowledge of other languages.

Laura Lalime Mowry
World Bank Law Library
Washington, DC

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On Mar 5, 2015, at 5:27 AM, Daniel Zwaagstra <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Hi all, I can’t resist sharing my thoughts on this. I work as an international law reference librarian in the Peace Palace Library in the Hague (The Netherlands). Marilyn cited a former boss Kent McKeever who said “My job is to put the user in touch with the document or information he or she is seeking. It is not my job to interpret it for them”, but one of my ‘duties’ is adding keywords to books, bookitems (edited books), journals, journal articles etc. so interpreting them is necessary. As we have a huge collection of English, French, Spanish and Italian materials besides other European and non-European materials (one collegue of mine handles the Islamic law, another the Russian, Polish languages etc.) I need to have some understanding of the legal jargon and legal system of these countries otherwise I can’t do my work (you need a law degree to work here). In addition we serve the institutions that reside in the Peace Palace (The International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and the Hague Academy of International Law) as well as scholars and students of international law, so at least French and English language skills are necessary to be able to communicate with them. So it depends also on the type of work you do I think.




Best regards


Daniel Zwaagstra

Reference Librarian

International Law

Peace Palace Library

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From: International Law Librarians List (Int-Law) [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Gualtier, Susan
Sent: donderdag