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Honk if you love e-Government

One of the presentations I was able to attend at ALA was Libraries & Government: Issues, Services and Strategies. Notes and handouts to this session should eventually be available on ALA’s 2008 Conference materials site at

The presenters were John Carlo Bertot, Mary Alice Baish, Suzanne Sears and Pat Ball. The presentation was a good mix of policy level and library level ideas on egovernment as it affects libraries. All libraries, not just Federal Depository Libraries.

John Bertot introduced the session and suggested people look at his college’s E-Government for Public Librarians site at

Suzanne Sears’ part included tips on how to assist people looking to use egovernment services while respect most libraries time limits on Internet computers. The tip that most stood out to me was to have worksheets (like the ones for student aid FAFSA forms) available in the library. Encourage patrons to complete the worksheet prior to getting on the computer. This seems like it would decrease frustration for everyone.

Mary Alice Baish provided an overview of the E-Government Services Act of 2002 and of efforts to renew this expiring Act. Among other things, this is the Act that brought us If the Act ultimately expires, a lot of things could go away, including That would be bad.

There is a good chance that the Act will be renewed, since a recent OMB report said that while e-government initiatives cost agencies $121 million/year, the federal government is collecting $340 million in fees from egovernment sites. So it’s a great deal for the government, if not for taxpayers. That’s why Mary Alice’s organization, the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) is working with ALA and other stakeholders for improvements in the legislation. She asked librarians to help in the reauthorization movement and offered several suggestions including:

  • Contact your Senator, especially if they serve on the Senate Homeland Security Committee and tell them you support S. 2321
  • Assess government web sites and services and publish your findings.

Pat Ball gave an overview of ALA’s efforts regarding the egovernment issue. Among other things, an association-wide committee on e-government has been formed. You can learn more about its work at

This isn’t a complete summary of the session, but hopefully it is interesting enough to inspire. Please keep an eye out for presentation materials at the ALA conference site listed above.

If you were at the e-gov session and would like to add stuff, please leave a comment.

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