The Chinese and American Forum on Legal Information and Law Libraries (CAFLL)

As every IALL member knows, there is great value in exchanging views and information with law librarians from other countries.  It’s why IALL exists and it’s why the Chinese and American Forum on Legal Information and Law Libraries (CAFLL) was established in 2009.  Starting in 2006 a group of U.S. and Chinese legal educators and law librarians began discussing ways in which stronger ties between the two countries could be beneficial.  Both sides worked diligently to organize the China – United States Conference on Legal Information and Law Libraries held at the Fragrant Hills Hotel in Beijing, China on May 27 – 30, 2009. Approximately, 140 Chinese and 60 American librarians, legal information professionals, scholars, education officials, and deans attended this historic conference.

At the conclusion of the first conference in Beijing CAFLL was formed with the goal of furthering mutual understanding and exchanges between Chinese and American legal information professionals.  In 2011 the second CAFLL conference was held in Philadelphia in conjunction with the AALL Annual Meeting and Conference.  Again nearly 200 attended with 38 participating from China.  And in June 2013, CAFFL will be back in China for another conference this time in Shanghai, but more about that later.

CAFLL is important for U.S. law librarians because it provides a rare educational opportunity to learn about the Chinese legal system and law library development as well as to connect with legal information professionals in China.  For the Chinese, CAFLL provides similar information about the U.S., but also assists the Chinese in their rapid expansion of legal education.  At the end of the Cultural Revolution (1976) China had only two university law departments and one law college.  Today, the number of law departments/colleges has grown to around 600 with most of the growth happening during the last fifteen years.  Developing law collections and training legal information professionals has been challenging.  But through the programming offered by CAFLL, both the Chinese and American participants have been able to learn from one another and to explore solutions to problems faced by law libraries in both countries.

And now for Shanghai, June 10-12, 2013!  The theme of the conference is Collaboration: Information, Access, and Partnership.  Topics will include public access to legal information, digital technology in libraries, internationalization of shared legal information, and more.  Eastern China University of Political Science and Law will be our hosts in Shanghai and the conference will be held in the Renaissance Shanghai Zhongshan Park Hotel.  For more information see

CAFLL Conferences aren’t just for Chinese and American law librarians, everyone is welcome.  And IALL hopes to hold a joint conference with CAFLL in China in 2017!

Janis L. Johnston