On November 1946, Viola Desmond, an African-Nova Scotian businesswoman, challenged racial discrimination when she refused to leave the segregated whites-only section of the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. After being forcibly removed from the theatre by police, arrested and charged, she refuses to accept the charges against her and takes her case to Nova Scotia’s Supreme Court, where she loses her appeal. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of Viola Desmond challenging racial segregation, the Nahum Gelber Law Library presents an exhibition on her life and her struggle for rights in Canada. The exhibition was curated by Sonia Smith. On display until December 2021.
Canadian Copyright Act Anniversary
By Riley Klassen-Molyneaux, étudiant à la Faculté de droit de l’Université McGill, assistant de référence à la Bibliothèque Gelber.
On June 4th, 2021, the Canadian Copyright Act will be turning 100. While the modern Copyright Act can be traced back to the British Statute of Anne (1709), it wasn’t until 1921 that Canada created its own statute, the statute that we are celebrating this year.
La Loi sur le droit d’auteur canadien est intéressante parce que, même si elle est de compétence fédérale sous l’article 91(23) de la Loi constitutionnelle de 1867 — et en principe une loi anglaise — elle s’inspire à la fois des traditions britanniques et continentales. Elle est une loi proprement transsystémique.
D’une part, la Loi Loi sur le droit d’auteur s’inspire de la tradition anglaise — austère et utilitariste — pour accorder à l’auteure des droits économiques, les droits classiques qui récompensent son talent et son jugement (CCH c. Barreau du Haut-Canada). D’autre part, la Loi s’inspire du droit continental pour lui accorder des droits moraux. Ces droits sont de nature extrapatrimoniale et permettent à l’auteure de contrôler comment on emploie son œuvre (Snow v. The Eaton Centre Ltd).
The Copyright Act is designed to protect and inspire creativity. And it protects creativity in its most organic form without any kind of formality or registration requirement. But the creativity of artists and performers is precisely what challenges the Act’s definition of a work, constantly pushing the boundaries of what copyright protects, of what amounts to a product of skill and judgment.
Here’s to hoping that the Copyright Act can keep up with artists and performers for another 100 years!
New Wellness Libguide
Working from home on this Wellness Wednesday, and with all the stress and news about the COVID19 virus around the world and in my own neighborhood, I decided to focus my attention on creating a new Libguide on Wellness.
This Wellness Libguide is designed to foster the development of healthy habits and lay the groundwork for students to lead a balanced and healthy lifestyle. The goal is to promote student wellness and to assist them in finding the resources they need to help cope with the stresses of law school. It points to topics relating to mental health & wellness within the legal profession.
Wellness Wednesdays have become a symbol of support for mental health awareness and advocacy, and we can do that even from our homes. Please see this new guide here.
Legal dictionaries through the centuries
A new exhibition is on display at the Nahum Gelber Law Library. Legal dictionaries through the centuries.
It presents items from its Wainwright and Canadiana Rare Books collections published between 1616 and 1882.
A very unique dictionary is the Vocabvlarivm ivrisprvdentiae romanae from 1718, a handwritten small book that provides a quick and simple reference guide to the principle terms and concepts of Roman civil law. Aspects covered are from inheritance and property rights through to contracts and martial law. A section also deals with “Iuris Primordia”, detailing the structure and development of the Corpus Iuris Civilis.
Another interesting work is the Dictionnaire de cas de conscience : ou, Décisions des plus considérables dificultez touchant la morale et la discipline ecclesiastique. Tirées de l’Ecriture, des Conciles, des Decretales des papes, des peres, et des plus célebres théologiens et canonistes. A three volumes set published in Paris in 1730 donated to the Library by Paul-André Crépeau.
A work dedicated to the French King and dealing with feudal Law in France is the Dictionnaire des fiefs et des droits seigneuriaux utiles et honorifiques : contenant les définitions des termes, & un ample recueil des décisions choisies, fondées sur la jurisprudence des arrêts, la disposition des différentes coutumes, & la doctrine des meilleures feudistes … by Joseph Renauldon, published in Paris, in 1788.
A recent donation to our Rare Books also presented in this exhibition is the New law-dictionary: containing the interpretation and definition of words and terms used in law… by Giles Jacob, published in London, in 1782. It was donated and restored thanks to the generosity of Penny Polk and Gordon Echenberg.
The exhibition was curated by Sonia Smith.
New Exhibition: The Unfinished Path to Reconciliation
“Reconciliation is not an Indigenous problem – it is a Canadian problem. It involves all of us,” said Justice Murray Sinclair, chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which was tasked with investigating and commemorating the residential school system.
As Justice Sinclair and many others have said, education is key to reconciliation. As institutions that are both repositories for knowledge and natural gathering places, libraries can play an important role in reconciliation. With this goal, the Nahum Gelber Law Library offers to its visitors a new exhibition: The Unfinished Path to Reconciliation.
The blended-media exhibition features primary documents, books, reproductions of archival documents and memorabilia and highlight important cases on native’s rights. The exhibition includes digital materials presented on an interactive touch-table.
The use of touch-table for this Law Library exhibition is a part of the McGill Library Innovation in Service project. The exhibition was curated by Sonia Smith.
New “Well-being Collection” at the Law Library
In 2016, we started a “de-stress zone” at the Law Library, where we provide puzzles for students to help them relax. This initiative has been very successful with a great majority of our students. A few weeks ago, we received a suggestion by some law students to add some reading material to this area: “to read things other than cases and doctrine”.
With this in mind, we decided to offer a small collection of titles that students can use to balance their school/well-being life. Books on time management, cooking for college students, coping with stress and tools for succeeding at Law School are now available. Take a look at this new section on the main floor, next to the puzzle corner. All the books are on regular loan so take advantage of it, and check out a book to relax a bit.
Five Puzzles and Counting
Having attended some presentations at conferences about the stress and mental health of university students, we decided on a new initiative at the Law Library. This fall semester we created a de-stress corner.
Our first puzzle of 500 pieces was done in a week! We are posting the finished puzzle images on the Law Library FaceBook page, where it has created a lot of interest.
We are already on our fifth puzzle and students are loving it! Some students shared with us their questions and comments:
- Where do you get this puzzles from?
- The nice staff at the Gelber Law Library brings these from home or go to a thrift shop to buy these.
- What do you do with them after these are done? Do you frame these?
- We don’t frame the puzzles. We put them back in their boxes. We are also sharing the puzzles with an older man in his 80’s that lives in an Old Age Home Residence who loves to do puzzles and exercise his brain.
- “I’m a puzzle person and it is such a good idea to have this at the Library. This last puzzle is difficult and fun!”
- I spent an hour doing the sky and I enjoyed it very much!
- This is becoming a social activity and bringing us to the Library. Thank you for doing this!
Our new puzzle has 1000 pieces. We all enjoyed seeing students working at it, and taking a well-deserved few minutes break from their studies.
New Exhibition: “Justice, justice shall you pursue”: Jewish Law from Biblical Times to the Present”
Jewish Law has a history of more than three thousand years. This extended time, can be divided in two main periods: The first broad period begins with the written Torah and ends with the completion of the Talmud. The second broad period is the post-Talmudic period, from the completion of the Talmud until our own day (Elon, Menachem. Jewish law: history, sources, principles).
The Hebrew word “halakhah” is usually translated as “Jewish Law”, although a more literal translation might be “the path that one walks”. The word is derived from the Hebrew root Heh-Lamed-Kaf, meaning to go, to walk, or to travel (Encyclopaedia Judaica).
The principles and rules of Jewish Law are based on the Bible. While some rules are mentioned quite explicitly, others are only implied. All are elucidated in the teachings of the Tanna’im and Amora’im – the Rabbis of the Mishnah and Talmud – and presented systematically in the codes. Thus, over the generations, a comprehensive legal system has developed.
Jewish tradition compares Jewish law to a living tree. As the Torah, the sacred scroll of the Five Books of Moses, is returned to the ark after being read in synagogue services, the liturgy quotes from the biblical book of Proverbs (4:2, 3: 18, 17): I give you good instruction; never forsake My Torah. It is a tree of life for those who hold fast to it, and those who uphold it are happy. Its ways are pleasant, and all its paths are peace. (A Living Tree. Roots and Growth of Jewish Law)
The books for this exhibition come from the holdings of the Rare Books and Special Collections, the Nahum Gelber Law Library Special Collections, and the Humanities and Social Science Library.
Among the books presented we find a volume of the Ḥamishah ḥumshe Torah: ketav yad Temani. This is a facsimile edition of 390 copies of a manuscript of the Pentateuch, in accordance with the Yemenite tradition, with the Targum, Tafsir of Saʼadya Gaon and the Collecteana of R. Yaḥya Siani.
A miniature Shulchan Aruch, printed in Venice, in 1574. The Shulchan Aruch, or “Set Table” is a codification of Jewish law composed by Rabbi Joseph Karo in the 16th century. Together with its commentaries, it is considered the most authoritative compilation of halakha since the Talmud.
The book Sefer ha-hinukh: yavo’u vo ha-613 mitsvot, yesod Torat Moshe u-nevuato, was also printed in Venice in the Jewish year 361 [1600 or 1601]. This is an anonymous work on the 613 precepts in the order of their appearance in Scripture, giving their reasons and their laws in detail. The book is mainly based on the Sefer ha-Mitzvot and the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides.
One of the centerpieces is The Codex Maimuni: Moses Maimonides’ Code of law: the illuminated pages of the Kaufmann Mishneh Torah. This book, published in 1984 reprints sixty-eight of the most beautiful pages from the illuminated codex of the Kaufmann Mishneh Torah, one of the most outstanding surviving exemplars of mediaeval Hebrew book production.
A surviving example of Das talmudische Recht : auf den verschiedenen Stufen seiner Entwicklung mit dem römischen verglichen und systematisch dargestellt. Sachenrecht by S. Rubin (Wien: Druckerei-und Verlags-A.-G. Ig. Steinmann. 1938). This copy was printed in Viena, in 1938. According to a review written by W. R. Taylor, the author has planned a study of Talmudic law to be embraced in three volumes. The purpose of the project, according to Taylor, was to bring the Talmudic legislation into a scientific arrangement in harmony with modern methods and to institute a comparison of the Talmudic material with the relative parts of Roman law. At the end of each chapter there are extensive notes inclusive of references, citations, and expositions of maxims from the Talmud and the later codes of Maimonides, Asher, and Karo, and from Roman law.
Ioannis Seldeni, De synedriis & praefecturis juridicis veterum Ebraeorum. Londini: Typis Jacobi Flesher: Prostant apud Cornelium Bee …, 1650-1655. John Selden, 1584-1654, was an English jurist and a scholar of England’s ancient laws and constitution and a scholar of Jewish law. In 1650 Selden began to print the trilogy he planned on the Sanhedrin, the assembly of sages that constituted the highest political magistracy of the country.
This exhibition was planned and organized by Sonia Smith and Svetlana Kochkina, librarians at the Nahum Gelber law Library.