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University of Iowa News Release

Release: April 23, 2003

UI Law Library Hires International Collection Librarian

The UI College of Law library has hired its first specialist librarian to oversee its ever-growing collection of international and comparative law documents.

Mary Sexton, a native of Chicago, will oversee the approximately 300,000 books, periodicals, treaties, papers, court decisions, and other legal materials relating to international and comparative law, including a microform collection of every United Nations document ever produced and one of the best collections available in the United States of materials from British Commonwealth countries. She will select which documents to buy in the future and help faculty and students from other parts of the university locate materials they need in their research. In addition, she will teach classes in international legal research.

As the law library's first comparative and international librarian, Sexton found her services were quickly needed.

"My first day on the job, I was still being shown around the library, and students were already asking for my assistance," she said.

Arthur Bonfield, associate dean of the law school for research and head of the law library, said Sexton's first-day experience is evidence of the greatly increasing demand by students and faculty in all parts of the university for international and comparative law materials and the need for a specialized librarian to help them.

"Because of rapidly changing political and economic circumstances, the practice of law has become increasingly internationalized," Bonfield said. "Traditional political boundaries no longer limit business transactions or human affairs. As a result, lawyers must increasingly involve themselves on an everyday basis in legal problems with an international or comparative law dimension."

And because the effects of globalization are not confined to law, Bonfield said the law library's international and comparative collection is becoming a vital resource for students and faculty from disciplines across the university. A full-time specialist was needed to help select new foreign and international materials for the collection and to help users find the information they need, he said.

Sexton had previously worked as a law librarian at the University of Maine School of Law in Portland, Maine, and the University of San Diego School of Law. She received her undergraduate degree from Barat College in Lake Forest, Ill., her law degrees from the University of Michigan and New York University, a master's degree in English and linguistics from Northwestern University and a master's in library science from Rosary College in River Forest, Ill.

What impressed Sexton most about the UI College of Law's comparative and international collection was not only its unusually large size and breadth, but also the number of documents available in their primary languages.

"Any good law school library has the basics, but most don't collect as extensively from non-U.S. jurisdictions," she said. "It's also very helpful to understand a document to be able to read it in its primary language.

"It's a wonderful library with a splendid comparative and international collection that presented me with a great opportunity," she said.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT(S): Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,