Monday, June 22, 2009

Meet Joan Policastri, Foreign, Comparative & International Law Librarian

Potential students often ask about the types of resources that will be available to them if they attend our program. Consequently, over the next few months I will be writing about several of the key -- and talented -- individuals who are part of our program.

Today I would like to introduce Joan Policastri, Foreign, Comparative & International Law Librarian for the Westminster Law Library (this is another great resource available to students) at DU. After 10 years as a paralegal, Joan began her law library career in 2005, in the acquisitions department of the Westminster Law Library. Subsequently, she has provided classroom instruction in legal research for many areas of foreign, comparative and international law. She has also played a key role in creating (along with Sergio Stone, the foreign, comparative and international law librarian at Stanford Law School and a former librarian at DU) an electronic research guide on International Humanitarian Law for the American Society of International Law.

Joan received her BA and MA degrees (political science) from the University of Colorado; a paralegal certificate from the Denver Paralegal Institute; and a Masters of Library and Information Science from DU. In addition, she had previously served as a Research Assistant at CU Denver’s Fourth World Center for the Study of Indigenous Law and Politics, and she has also spent a year doing graduate work at the University of British Columbia where she took classes in political science and at the law school.

Research for her Master’s thesis took her to Nicaragua for 2 weeks in 1989/1990, and in Fall 2000, she had the privilege of working on Semester at Sea, visiting Japan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, India, Kenya, South Africa, Brazil, and Cuba, an experience that has proven useful in her new position. She has also traveled to England, France, and the Netherlands. Having studied French in high school and college, she is now learning Spanish. She has also dabbled in German and Tibetan.

As the Foreign, Comparative & International Law Librarian, Joan provides:
  • Research assistance to students, faculty, and the public;
  • Is responsible for the library’s Natural Resources Web Links web page;
  • Provides classroom instruction in all facets of foreign, comparative and international law;
  • Creates and updates research guides;
  • Keeps faculty and students apprised of new materials and resources;
  • Assists faculty with materials for their syllabi;
  • Provides lectures, workshops, and library tours;
  • Serves as the library’s liaison to the Josef Korbel School of International Studies; and
  • Belongs to the American Association of Law Libraries, the American Society of International Law, and the International Association of Law Libraries.
Take it from me, Joan is a great asset to the graduate program. Just today, for example, I was intending to show a student from the DU business school what resources the library had on a specific topic. Well the "show" didn't go quite as I had expected. The student and I spent 20 minutes or so looking around (mostly unsuccessfully) for materials only to be helped by Joan at the last minute. She did in 60 seconds, what I had been unable to do in 20 minutes!

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