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Kian Flynn and Cass Hartnett have just published a solid article in Reference & User Services Quarterly, 57(3) called “Cutting through the Fog: Government Information, Librarians, and the Forty-Fifth Presidency” (full citation below!). In it, they broadly highlight the current govt information landscape — kindly mention several projects including LOCKSS-USDOCS! — and then come to a very positive conclusion:
Going forward, librarians must face the present—and the future—state of government information in order to cut through this fog. We need to work together to pursue collaborative partnerships to safeguard past, present, and future government information for the public’s long-term access and consumption, and to promote services that encourage our users to critically evaluate and interrogate all information. Our collaborations must move in two directions at once: (1) We need to ensure that official legal processes are in place to best manage government information (the hoped-for outcome of Title 44 reform). And (2) we need to create nongovernmental solutions to preserve secondary “use copies” of government information as well (read: backups), holding the information in trust together. The solutions we create today need to be adaptable for the government information landscape of the future.
One thing I thought I should mention. In their section on highlighting collections, they helpfully point the reader to publications from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and Congressional Research Service (CRS) as particularly valuable and relevant for their “dispassionate, scholarly, ‘just the facts’ approach.” I think it should be noted that none of these are hosted on GPO’s govinfo.gov platform, only the GAO has a partnership in place w GPO to permanently preserve their documents, the CBO has been under an unprecedented attack on its legitimacy by the GOP, and CRS reports, until recently — and after a 20 year grassroots effort! — were never made publicly available or distributed via the FDLP. It takes a village of libraries to assure permanent public access!
Please read and forward to others who may be interested. Thanks Kian and Cass!
Flynn, K., & Hartnett, C. (2018). Cutting through the Fog: Government Information, Librarians, and the Forty-Fifth Presidency. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 57(3), 208-216. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5860/rusq.57.3.6608
Happy friday! Here’s something to think about on this last day of the week.
I’d like to think that computers are neutral, a tool like any other, a hammer that can build a house or smash a skull. But there is something in the system itself, in the formal logic of programs and data, that recreates the world in its own image…. We think we are creating the system for our own purposes. We believe we are making it in our own image…. But the computer is not really like us. It is a projection of a very slim part of ourselves: that portion devoted to logic, order, rule, and clarity. It is as if we took the game of chess and declared it the highest order of human existence. We place this small projection of ourselves all around us, and we make ourselves reliant on it. To keep information, buy gas, save money, write a letter — we can’t live without it any longer. The only problem is this: the more we surround ourselves with a narrowed notion of existence, the more narrow existence becomes. We conform to the range of motion the system allows. We must be more orderly, more logical. Answer the question, Yes or No, OK or Cancel.
— Ellen Ullman. Close to the Machine. (1997)
Barbara Fister starts out her keynote — at a library technology conference no less — by saying “it’s not about technology…the work you do really is about understanding people and how they connect to one another and how they share ideas. The way we think about our purpose shapes what we do.” and she was off!
Fister touched on so many issues effecting libraries in the 21st century. The overarching themes of her talk were the universality of libraries — love the slide of the people’s library in Istanbul’s [[Taksim Gezi Park]] — the economics of information, Ranganathan’s 5 laws — which she helpfully updated! — open access publishing, core library values, and pushing back against the corporatization and commodification of information and libraries. Watch the whole way through because she drops knowledge bombs throughout!
“We’ve enabled this mass appropriation of our culture. collectively we need to find ways not just to negotiate better terms of service for ourselves but to provide an alternative to the market-driven philosophies that are distorting and corrupting our information ecosystem.”
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Barbara Fister has coordinated instruction at the Gustavus Adolphus College library in St. Peter, Minnesota, for over 25 years, but is still learning how to help students (and faculty) learn. She has studied students’ research processes, examined the relationship between writing and research, and teaches an upper division course on how information works.
She has written widely on open access to scholarship and is interested in the future of publishing of all kinds. Popular literacy practices and the ways reading communities form online is the subject of her upcoming sabbatical research. She also is a writer of fiction, having published three mysteries. She is on the board of the non-profit organization, Sisters in Crime, and coordinates a project to monitor gender patterns in reviews and awards within the crime genre.
You can follow Barbara’s generalist tendencies on Twitter (@bfister) and through Library Journal’s Peer to Peer Review or the Library Babel Fish blog at Inside Higher Ed.
Quote of the day: Barbara Fister:
In an age of austerity, survival is the name of the game, but it’s a rigged game and a distraction from what we’re here for. It’s how we ended up with a precarious faculty, a rented library, and indentured students. We need to focus further out, more broadly on what all of this is for, and see how to align what we have to do to survive for one more day with what we want the world to look like five years from now, or ten. Because working toward a healthy future – which may mean sacrificing immediate local need for a longer-term good – is the only way we’ll have one.
— Barbara Fister, Taking a Longer View, Inside Higher Ed Library Babel Fish blog, (January 30, 2014)
Quote of the day:
“The ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of our jobs remain the same: We must still select, acquire, organize, provide access and preserve our collections. But ‘how’ we do that changes.”
— Richard Pearce-Moses, currently director of College of Information & Mathematical Sciences at Clayton State University, formerly deputy director for technology and information resources at the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. He directed a project to capture state agencies’ publications from those agencies’ Web site. Richard Pearce-Moses: Digital Preservation Pioneer The Library of Congress, Digital Preservation Pioneers.