An aspect of the job that I enjoy doing is public service. I really like the one-on-one contact that I have with my patrons. At times, you developed friendships with some of them. It has gotten to the point when they will stop by my office, the reference desk, or the gov. docs. desk to talk about what’s going on in their lives or just have someone who will listen. There is this one patron whom I believe may have saved a great deal of money in pyschiatric services just because he stops by once a week to vent with me.
One of the biggest attractions of working at a library for me is the wonderful mix of research, history, and public service that is involved in the position. I am constantly learning something new everyday. Since my B.A. is in American history, I really am proud of the fact that I use my degree every day as a government documents coordinator. But, one of the aspects of the job that really makes it all worthwhile for me is the need to nurture. Being there for someone who might be in distress because they cannot find the resources they need or coming to you shyly because they need help using the online catalog. Yes, this is the part of the job I enjoy the most.
I guess, for me as a single male, that is the outlet for my nurturing tendencies. I imagine that for those of you who are married with children and grandchildren, having to nurture patrons as well might be more than you are willing to do. What I do know, though, is how appreciative they are after you have helped them. That usually makes my day and it also makes up for the times when I really don’t want to be at work…its what motivates me to get up in the morning and head happily to work.
I am proud of the service the library community provides for its patrons and, for the most part, most patrons are grateful for the service you provide them. I really am very proud to serve my community as a librarian and for the opportunity to help meet their needs.
This is my last blog entry as guest blogger for FreeGovInfo. I am thankful for the opportunity to talk about life in the library.
I also would like to wish you:
I hope everyone had a nice and restful holiday. May all the turkey you ate gave you the opportunity for some nice long naps and re-energized you for this week.
Since we are all feeling restful and sharp-minded, why don’t we take some time to think about how the depository system could reinvent itself. Let’s throw in some ideas that will help the folks at GPO to do sme great things for us and them. When thinking of these ideas, begin by creating in your mind your ideal depository. Also, think about what could GPO do for us that would help you with your work.
Just some things off the top of my head.
Since the FDLP Desktop is still in beta, this is a good time to make suggestions that will make it ideal for our work.
- I would like to see the ability to tailor some tasks according to a depository’s profile. For example, have the New Electronic Titles be tailored to your profile. I would like to login, click on the NET link and it show me all the online publications that are part of our profile. This way, we wouldn’t have to print the list, then scan through each one and compare it to our profile before being able to download it onto the online catalog.
- The ability to download bib. records from the CGP.
- Would like to see the manual dealing with Inactive/Discontinued lists of item numbers improved so you can differentiate between inactive and discontinued. To me, these are two different things. Inactive implies that it may return at some point in the future while discontinued means it has ceased and there is no hope of its return. Separating the lists within the same manual would be good or creating a column for status detailing if it is inactive or discontinued would be helpful.
I do like the new look of the beta site of the FDLP Desktop. You will be able to instant message, email, and create buddy lists from within the depository community. Seems to be better organized than the old Desktop website. I like the calendar feature and the ability to order promotional items online is a great tool as well.
New Services Suggestions:
- Creating a full-text database of government publication periodicals/serials. The government offers a variety of interesting articles through its periodicals/serials and most people are missing out because most of them are not indexed by commercial publishers. The great thing about this would be that depositories would have free access to this database while non-depositories would have to pay a subscription fee. This would allow GPO to actually make money and, at the same time, provide a service that would be attractive to non-depository libraries. The database could eventually become something like JSTOR which would include articles going as far back as possible. Make sure there is a way to search for peer-reviewed articles as well.
- A GPO Gift Shop that would allow you to promote the depository better like good cotton t-shirts with the GPO logo on it and customizing it with the name of the depository and the name of the employee so it can be worn at work. Such t-shirts would also be bought by the general public just for the nifty GPO logo alone. The handbags that were recently distributed at the Fall conference for attendees is a great idea as well. I didn’t attend the conference but noticed at a recent depository meeting for WA State librarians that someone had one. I admired it and one of the librarians at the meeting told me I could have theirs. Ever since then, I have been using it for work. Again, its promtoing the depository library and is quite an attention catcher….ah, remember the washable GPO tattoo that someone created for an event at their library?
- Instruction on how to maintain a collection that soon will become archival. How to do some basic repairs of tangible documents and how to preserve online documents.
New Digital Project Suggestions:
- Would like to see the Congressional Record from 1876 – 1993 digitized. Pre-1876 has been digitized by the Library of Congress via their American Memory collection and, of course, we have it available since 1994 via GPO Access.
- Find ways to provide community services at the local level. Oregon State University took a giant step at their library by providing limited day care at their library.
- Some depositories are providing services as passport centers.
What ideas do you have?
Last year, Linda Zellmer from the University of Indiana, sent out an update to a Thanksgiving poster that details statistics for the various crops served during a Thanksgiving meal. I immediately printed it out and it is currently on a wall iin the Maps Area. The information comes from the Economic Census and it arose a great deal of curiosity from patrons. I am sure Linda will update it once the 2007 Economic Census statistics are available in a couple of years.
The Census Bureau also publishes annually statistics about Thanksgiving Day. Here’s the information for 2007.
Nov. 22, 2007
In the fall of 1621, the religious separatist Pilgrims held a three-day feast to celebrate a bountiful harvest, an event many regard as the nation’s first Thanksgiving. It eventually became a national holiday in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national day of thanksgiving. Later, President Franklin Roosevelt clarified that Thanksgiving should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to encourage earlier holiday shopping, never on the occasional fifth Thursday.
The preliminary estimate of turkeys raised in the United States in 2007. That’s up 4 percent from 2006. The turkeys produced in 2005 together weighed 7.2 billion pounds and were valued at $3.2 billion.
Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service
Weighing in With a Menu of Culinary Delights
The preliminary estimate of turkeys Minnesota expects to raise in 2007. The Gopher State is tops in turkey production. It is followed by North Carolina (39 million), Arkansas (31 million), Virginia (21.5 million), Missouri (21 million) and California (16.8 million). These six states together will probably account for about two-thirds of U.S. turkeys produced in 2007.
690 million pounds
The forecast for U.S. cranberry production in 2007, essentially unchanged from 2006 and 11 percent more than 2005. Wisconsin is expected to lead all states in the production of cranberries, with 390 million pounds, followed by Massachusetts (180 million). New Jersey, Oregon and Washington are also expected to have substantial production, ranging from 18 million to 52 million pounds.
1.6 billion pounds
The total weight of sweet potatoes — another popular Thanksgiving side dish — produced by major sweet potato producing states in 2006. North Carolina (702 million pounds) produced more sweet potatoes than any other state. It was followed by California (381 million pounds). Mississippi and Louisiana also produced large amounts: at least 200 million pounds each.
1 billion pounds
Total pumpkin production of major pumpkin-producing states in 2006. Illinois led the country by producing 492 million pounds of the vined orange gourd. Pumpkin patches in California, Ohio and Pennsylvania also provided plenty of pumpkins: Each state produced at least 100 million pounds. The value of all the pumpkins produced by major pumpkin-producing states was $101 million.
If you prefer cherry pie, you will be pleased to learn that the nation’s forecasted tart cherry production for 2007 totals 294 million pounds. Of this total, the overwhelming majority (230 million) will be produced in Michigan.
1.8 billion bushels
The total volume of wheat — the essential ingredient of bread, rolls and pie crust — produced in the United States in 2006. Kansas and North Dakota accounted for 30 percent of the nation’s wheat production.
The 2007 contracted production of snap (green) beans in major snap (green) bean-producing states. Of this total, Wisconsin led all states (310,200 tons). Many Americans consider green bean casserole a traditional Thanksgiving dish.
Source: The previous data come from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service http://www.nass.usda.gov/
The value of U.S. imports of live turkeys during the first half of 2007 — 99.5 percent from Canada. Our northern neighbor accounted for all of the cranberries the United States imported ($2.2 million). When it comes to sweet potatoes, however, the Dominican Republic was the source of 63 percent ($1.7 million) of total imports ($2.7 million). The United States ran a $4.9 million trade deficit in live turkeys during the period but had surpluses of $9.4 million in cranberries and $15.3 million in sweet potatoes.
Source: Foreign Trade Statistics http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/www
The quantity of turkeys consumed by the typical American in 2005, with a hearty helping devoured at Thanksgiving time. Per capita sweet potato consumption was 4.5 pounds.
Source: Upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2008, Tables 205-206 http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/
An Organic Feast
Number of certified organic turkeys on the nation’s farmland, as of 2005. Most of these turkeys were in Michigan (56,729) or Pennsylvania (48,815).
Source: USDA Economic Research Service
The Turkey Industry
The value of turkeys shipped in 2002. Arkansas led the way in turkey shipments, with $581.5 million, followed by Virginia ($544.2 million) and North Carolina ($453 million). In 2002, poultry businesses whose primary product was turkey totaled 35 establishments, employing about 17,000 people.
Source: Poultry Processing: 2002 http://www.census.gov/prod/ec02/ec0231i311615.pdf
Forecast 2007 receipts to farmers from turkey sales. This exceeds the total receipts from sales of products such as rice, peanuts and tobacco.
Source: USDA Economic Research Service http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/farmincome/finfidmu.htm
The Price is Right
Cost per pound of a frozen whole turkey in December 2006.
Source: Upcoming Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2008, Table 709 http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/
Where to Feast
Number of places in the United States named after the holiday’s traditional main course. Turkey, Texas, was the most populous in 2006, with 489 residents; followed by Turkey Creek, La. (363); and Turkey, N.C. (270). There also are nine townships around the country named Turkey, three in Kansas.
Source: Population estimates http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/010315.html, http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/BasicFactsServlet
Number of places and townships in the United States that are named Cranberry or some spelling variation of the red, acidic berry (e.g., Cranbury, N.J.), a popular side dish at Thanksgiving. Cranberry township (Butler County), Pa., was the most populous of these places in 2006, with 27,509 residents. Cranberry township (Venango County), Pa., was next (6,900).
Source: Population estimates http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/BasicFactsServlet
Number of places in the United States named Plymouth, as in Plymouth Rock, the landing site of the first Pilgrims. Plymouth, Minn., is the most populous, with 70,102 residents in 2006; Plymouth, Mass., had 55,516. Speaking of Plymouth Rock, there is just one township in the United States named “Pilgrim.” Located in Dade County, Mo., its population was 135.
Source: Population estimates http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/population/010315.html, http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/BasicFactsServlet
Number of households across the nation — all potential gathering places for people to celebrate the holiday.
Source: Families and Living Arrangements: 2006 http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/families_households/009842.html
Editor’s note: The preceding data were collected from a variety of sources and may be subject to sampling variability and other sources of error. Facts for Features are customarily released about two months before an observance in order to accommodate magazine production timelines. Questions or comments should be directed to the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office: telephone: 301-763-3030; fax: 301-763-3762; or e-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
A few weeks ago, I attended a one-day library conference for Northwest gov. docs. folks. The day long meeting was hosted by one of our community college depositories. Part of the day included a tour of the library’s gov. docs. collection.
You must know that this particular depository is very diligent about their 5-year retention of documents for their collection. When the fifth year arrives, they discard all those items except for those they want to retain. As I have worked there before as an adjunct faculty, I remember how full of titles the gov. docs. stacks were. Nowadays, the shelves are getting a lot emptier…very stark indeed.
This got me thinking about what our role iis n a government document world that is primarily online. How are selective depositories that don’t need to retain that much research-oriented material in their collections are able to survive as a fully functional depository? How are depositories who do maintain a research-oriented collection handle their collection as more and more documents arrive as online only? Will the tangible collection become an archive instead of an active up to date collection? How can depositories make a case for staying in the system and insure their survivability?
Let’s first take a look at the differences between a main stacks collection and a depository collection.
Some Differences Between Main Stacks & Depository Collections:
* Main Stacks Collections:
- Main stacks collections continue to be active and updated collections because commercial publishers don’t see a financial benefit in publishing their books online. Commercial publishers’ success are determined by the number of sales. The more they sell, the likeliness they will end up on a best-selling list and the more money they can make. 100,000 clicks does not make a best-seller…maybe 1 billioin clicks? Were those clicks meaningful clicks or were they just look and see and then leave the site?
- Most people still want the tangible book. They want to cuddle up to it, they want to feel turning the pages themselves, they want to form an emotional bond with it…a bond that makes them cry, laugh, chuckle, or scare them.
- The ability to come to it any time. The words remain static on the page, they don’t change. You can retrieve the information over and over again. If the book was produced with good paper, it can last a very long time.
- Books are immovable unless someone decides to weed them out of the collection. Once weeded out of the collection, they can be sold on ebay or Half-price.com or any other online sellers service; they can acquire value and be considered rare; and they can even be sent to the recycling bin and become a brand new thing in its new life.
- Books have very nice and artistic dust jackets that help attract book lovers to buy them.
- Books have varied topics from the latest celebrity biography to the secrets of the universe. You can find more recreational reading in the main stacks than you can in a depository collection.
- Keeping up with the latest technology is not as big a priority insofar as access to books.
* Depository Collections:
- Government publications focuses on free access as a result of an openly democratic philosophy. The right to access publications paid by our tax dollars is fundamental to the system of checks and balances. Though some government publications are available for sale, the cost is usually much less than commercial publications. Some titles like the 9/11 Commission Report do very well commercially, this is usually not the norm. Government is not (usually) in the business to make money.
- Documents, like commercial publications, have varied topics but most tend to be more utilitarian in nature. You won’t find a lot of recreational reading in gov. docs. collections and I don’t know of many people who would actually cuddle up in bed or in front of the tv reading an environmental impact statement on Mount Rainier .
- Government keeps up to date with technology to see if there is a way that will help them save money. Creating publications online instead of tangible saves them a great deal of money. Costs are passed on to the end-user.
- Online pubilcations are movable and even removable. They are maintained by the government agency who published it and neither GPO or the depository coordinators have any control whatsoever. If the agency decides to remove them one day, you are just out of luck unless you carry a big stick and knock them outside their heads to bring back the information.
- Online publications are even more susceptible to changes when the agency maintains it. They can redact a document any time without the knowledge of most people unless you are one of the very few who sees the document on a daily basis and know what is right and what is wrong. GPO is working on the authentication problem but it will be a very long time before authentication is included in every government publication.
- Government publications are viewed as biased and untrustworthy. A veil of suspicion surrounds the credibility of government publications. Citizen activists prefer to use sources they feel are above repproach (nevermind they have their own biases as well). Yet, the public cannot possibly avoid using government information. Basic information like the census and health statistics are needed in order to facilitate the public’s need for information.
- Now, though you are more likely to find information about unlocking the secrets of the universe via the myriad publications published by NASA and the U.S Naval Observatory, you certainly won’t find a bio on Keanu Reeves unless he made an appearance before Congress like Michale J. Fox and Muhammad Ali did when they testified in favor of Parkinson’s Disease Research funding. The closest thing to recreational literature for the masses might be the countless hearings pertaining to scandal and national tragedy (JFK and MLK assassination hearings, ENRON, Watergate, President Clinton’s impeachment, etc.). This type of literature does gain a great deal of attention from the public. But, even this type of reading can be very technical at times.
- Statistics for online publications are hard to determine. Since most opac software publishers have not come up with a way to count the clicks you make on a link you’ve created on the online catalog, it is very hard to determine what is the usage for onlne titles. GPO’s PURL referrals are a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t tell you which particular titles were being used. Without any statistics on online publications, government documents depositories are in danger of disappearing. Library administrators want numbers and if we don’t have any to produce, you can say goodbye to the hard work you’ve put into the depository collection.
In the past few years or so, I have found myself downloading a lot of online government publications and placing them on our server for assured access to these titles. I have also spent a lot of time digitizing some titles that are in danger of disappearing or are not available online at this time. I also spend some time discarding paper versions that are now superseded by the online version. A few months ago, I managed to get rid of a bunch of IRS publications because they were more current and easier to find online and because they were taking a lot of space on the shelves.
Shipment boxes get fewer and fewer each day. Now that we have MARCIVE downloads, the way we process government documents has changed. Of course that changes the work flow as well. Now, instead of downloading the NETs and inputting those titles ourselves (though I will not miss having to go through pages circling those items that belong to our profile), it does mean having to download a list and see what is actually coming in and compare it to our profile.
How can we reinvent ourselves? How can we demonstrate to library administrators the usefulness of depository collection and their importance to an open government?
On the January 15, 2004 issue of Administrative Notes, there was an article on becoming a passport acceptance faclity. The idea of providing such a service is definitely an interesting one since it does provide a service for people who may not be available during the normal 9 am – 5 pm slot. The library receives a$ 30.00 commission for each application for providing the service. Such a service does provide the opportunity to bring in new people to the library and to the depository collection.
Over a week ago or so, I found an article written by Thomas Frey from the DaVinci Institute who was thinking about the future of libraries. He mentions a bit about the history of libraries and denotes some trends that is causing libraries to change due to technology. One of the recommendations he made about libraries:
Trend #10 – Libraries will transition from a center of information to a center of culture
With the emergence of distributed forms of information the central role of the library as a repository of facts and information is changing. While it is still important to have this kind of resource, it has proven to be a diminishing draw in terms of library traffic.
The notion of becoming a cultural center is an expansive role for the future library. It will not only serve as an information resource, but much more, with the exact mission and goals evolving and changing over time.
A culture-based library is one that taps into the spirit of the community, assessing priorities and providing resources to support the things deemed most important. Modern day cultural centers include museums, theaters, parks, and educational institutions. The library of the future could include all of these, but individual communities will be charged with developing an overall strategy that reflects the identity and personality of its own constituency.
One of Frey’s reccommendations for libraries includes:
4) Experiment with creative spaces so the future role of the library can define itself. Since the role of the library 20 years from now is still a mystery, we recommend that libraries put together creative spaces so staff members, library users, and the community at large can experiment and determine what ideas are drawing attention and getting traction. Some possible uses for these creative spaces include:
a. Band practice rooms
b. Podcasting stations
c. Blogger stations
d. Art studios
e. Recording studios
f. Video studios
g. Imagination rooms
h. Theater-drama practice rooms
We have come a long ways from the time of da Vinci and the time when books were chained to lecterns. But we’ve only scratched the surface of many more changes to come. Writing the definitive history of modern libraries is a work in progress. Our best advice is to enjoy the journey and relish in the wonderment of what tomorrow may bring.
Of course Frey, as a computer engineer and designer does have a bias towards technology being the guiding force in replacing the functions of libraries. Many libraries with media services are already providing spaces like video studios or at the very least terminals with multimedia software and functions. The idea of a library providing band practice rooms, art studios and theater-drama practice rooms is more of a fine arts function that many places already provide for the community. Seems like Frey is trying to dilute the functions of libraries thinking that technology will do everything that a library does.
An interesting article popped up as a forward on my inbox today. The article was about Oregon State University’s Library providing short-term childcare space for children (from age 6 months to 10 years old) of students. While mom and dad are trying to get some work done in the library, the kids participate in age appropriate programs. This is definitely an interesting idea since most young parents cannot find someone readily to look after their child or may not be able to afford it. Campus daycare is only available during the daytime and may be quite full as it is. Its hard for mom and dad to do their homework when the kids are vying for their attention. Having short-term childcare in the library does provide a community service that could possibly increase the literacy rate if the programs include reading (I would hope so) and other library-related activities. I would be curious to know if the literacy rate of children on the campus would go up as a result of the service. I hope OSU will be able to provide data on the effects such a service to library patrons and its effect on literacy, cognitive skills, and schooling.
I wonder what other new ideas are on the verge for the 21st century library?
As most of you that work in academia may know, the Fall quarter/semester is often the busiest of the academic year. The incoming freshmen need lots of help getting their way around campus and the library. They are often overwhelmed by everything they see around them. Then there are the requests to do a workshop for their program/course, the training of new students workers and welcoming back the returning student workers. All of a sudden the library is alive again with smiling faces ending the slowness and boredom of the summer.
All the activity spurred by the first few weeks of school makes you feel like your mind is zooming at the speed of light. Usually that means setting aside certain things in order to get other things done. I tend to put things in piles (this is a trait that I have noticed in others who have been trained as historians). For some reason, I just have to put things in a pile. Of course, at some point that pile is going to topple. A while back someone gave me a copy of an article called In Praise of Cluttered Desks which made me feel much better about my unique style. I have it taped to the door of my office.
Evergreen has a unique way of doing things. Instead of separate courses, you have interdisciplinary programs where several topics are merged to create a unit. For example, a program on Mt. Rainier could possibly tackle geography, geology, anthropology, and art. You will have 2 – 3 faculty teaching the program and most programs last 2 quarters. You stay with the same students throughout those quarters. On the administrative level, the consensus form is the one that is encouraged the most. Faculty and staff meet together and everyone is included in the decision-making. Everyone has the opportunity to voice their opinions and, hopefully, come up wth solutions.
Since I am the only permanent staff in GovDocs/Maps, I depend heavily on my five student workers to help me maintain the colletion. We just had a meeting yesterday where I reminded them of some tasks that needed to be done but I also asked them if there were any challenges. Nothing of major consequence was brought up which is good but I did have to alert them to a couple of things that are quirks to our collection and due to the success of the use of a couple of webpages on our website.
The first quirk is our Coloring Books hot topics page. When the idea of this page was created a couple of years ago, I never imagined how popular it was going to be. The page has managed to find itself linked to a number of freebie message boards, homeschooling sites, and, of course, library sites. It is the number one page on our site according to our StatsCounter account. I really never imagined how popular this page would be. Well, as a result, we get phone calls from all over the country asking us to provide them with a 1,000 coloring books or 2,500 coloring books. Of course, I have to explain to them that we are not the publishers of the coloring books but that they can download them since they are already on .pdf and print them out themselves. Of course, that means, they would have to spend a lot of money to do so. Then I refer them to the agency that published the coloring book and hopefully they will receive tangible editions of the coloring books. Who would’ve thought it?
The second quirk has to do with our webpage on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. When the law was passed pertaining to the creation of this new cabinet-level department, I immediately created page that would trace the transfers from other departments. Not long after this page was created, we began receiving calls asking us if we were the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Mostly, they were calls for the department’s phone number since at the time of their creation they didn’t include a phone number on their website only an email form. I also received some calls and letters from people who wanted to report someone to DHS who may have illegal aliens hiding. Well, I managed to find the phone number by using the U.S. Government Manual. I also had to redesign the page in order to add a disclaimer at the top of the page so folks would know that we weren’t DHS. Since then, the number of calls have gone down some but every once in a while we still get calls from people who think we are DHS. I have to warn my student workers of this so they don’t hang up on them thinking they are crank calls. I always tell them to be attentive and find out what they really need to see if we can find the information they need.
Of course, these sort of things bring a smile to your face and makes the work environment a lot more fun. It balances out all the meetings you have to attend and figuring out what needs to get done, where to put what and a ton of other decisions that come our way.
I am really appreciative of my student workers. I don’t know what I would do without them. In the almost nine years I have been working at the library, there have only been a couple that didn’t quite workout well. Most of them manage to stay two or three years…until they finally graduate. So, to them, I would like to say "Thank You" (of course I make sure to tell them as often as possible). I really value their input and their hard work. Without them, I don’t think I could’ve gotten the space arrangement of our collection for the library remodel, or gotten one of them to coordinate the shift of the collection, or have another one help create a gov. docs. display that was on a window at the college’s student union.
We can learn so much from each other. Our varied experiences gives us an opportunity to learn from each other and, hopefully, in the process create better service fo our patrons and an opportunity to grow professionally. I would consider myself a failure if my student workers left my tutelage without learning anything new in the process. My wish for them is they leave me with more than what they came in.