Next week, I will be representing government information librarians at a career fair for graduate students in library science here in northeast Ohio. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the message I want to bring to my booth. Many of the reasons I decided to become a librarian are related directly to government information. While I can’t expect that everyone is as instinctively thrilled about USDA research products, Congressional hearings, and old War Department railroad surveys as I am, it seems likely that most government information issues have some inherent appeal to librarians, even those who may not yet have been bitten by the government information bug.
My incomplete list of librarians and related specialists who have some investment in government information includes: librarians at institutions that perform policy, political science, or historical research; public services librarians who help users find information about government services, activities, and priorities; librarians at institutions specializing in the health sciences (or any other discipline for which the government funds research); archivists and digital collections librarians; records managers; book conservators; publishers who reprint works in the public domain; programmers and database administrators who might want to work for the government; and school media specialists looking for resources to support civics education.
Beyond this, I would include librarians who are bloggers, librarians who are politics junkies, and every librarian who is, on principle, an advocate of openness and transparency, or who would benefit as a voter or citizen or member of a community from more open information from the government – and that, as we know, is everyone.
So I will highlight resources that might hook different members of this eclectic community of future librarians. Of course, as an FDLP librarian, I want to make information available about the program and what it’s like to work with documents, as well as the breadth and depth of information available from all flavors of government. But I will also highlight government information accessibility and preservation initiatives, public interest issues (such as access to taxpayer-supported research and the link between public libraries and e-government services), and projects and issues that tie into emerging technologies and other hot topics in librarianship. The more librarians are invested in government information issues, the more they will join our conversations with government entities – and the more they will support our work at our libraries and institutions.
If you have tips and tricks for hooking new librarians, or a great success story, please share in the comments!
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