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Tough Government Documents Make Librarians Tougher

A coworker tipped me off to a law-lib posting by Brent Johnson about a panel at the American Association of Law Librarians annual meeting that sounds like it was a riot:

GD-SIS Program: Tough Librarians Rise to the Challenge with Tough Government Documents

Andrew P. Evans gave a talk on Combative and Military Government Documents that offered these citizen benefits to reading military docs:

  • The military’s ability to evolve combat techniques.
  • Real world application
  • Gun and knife safety.
  • Question the techniques- it’s your civic duty

He illustrates the last point with a number of critiques on a hand-to-hand combat manual from civilian martial arts experts. Their advice – some things shouldn’t be tried on the battlefield, much less at home!

SaraJean Petite shared on Dangers of Open Water Swimming that One Can Avoid, which among other things offered advice to people who row themselves to work as a friend of mine does.

Brent Johnson himself presented on National and State Park Government Documents, which he suggested could be of interest to the “Sierra Club, hiking clubs, mountain bikers, rafting groups, and anyone looking for “active rest.””

His presentation started off with finding a park, mapping it, and then showing the different things you can do at a park with each use illustrated with a presumably public domain park photo.

What all three presentations had in common is that they brought government documents within the sphere of everyday interest. People these days want to defend themselves, often swim, and usually need somewhere to get away from it all. All three of the librarians figured out to take the eye-glazing subject of govdocs and make it relevant to an audience. Let’s give them a hand and think about how we can do the same. Because if we can’t make documents relevant, no one will care.

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