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57 Days to Government Information Liberation
We are eight weeks from a new national executive regime and about five weeks from a new national legislative branch. How can government information librarians best take advantage of the teaching moments these next two months make possible? People are actually talking about how their government works! Yesterday, driving home on the Eisenhower Expressway I listened to a National Public Radio host and reporter talk about the difference between the National Economic Council and Council of Economic Advisors. This is really the the kind of stuff we do as government information librarians. I just love the part where the refer to the 1947 law that created the former, and executive order that created the latter.
Let me emphasize again that I think this is the most critical time for government information librarians to ban together, bridge their policy and institutional differences, and ride this wave of civic conversation. FGI guides on transition issues is an excellent effort, but it is an effort that will shine much more brightly if we can get some national collaboration going. I have suggested book discussions around impotant government publications.
Might I suggest a more coordinated response — that librarians sponsor discussions in their libraries days before or shortly after the President’s inaguration, state of the union speech, introduction of the first budget, etc. — a national movement to sponsor at least one of these conversations in each state organize that focus on these important democratic government information sources.
We can call it — Talking Back to Democracy Night! ALA and other library associations can post the idea on the web sites, and working with government information librarian groups, quickly produce a series of talking points, list of sources, who to talk to in the local media to encourage publicity and promotion.
Think about it — the news media and citizens are making our arguments for a place in the bibliographic ecosystem for us — some one needs to talk about how government works through the distribution of public information beyond this very limited transition period. After January 20, the news media can’t (or won’t) do it. Local politicians will slant it to their agendas. Special interest groups will make it special (both profits and nonproits.) Poltical parties will continue to spin the partisan webs.
To speak to the special values of government information librarians, we appear to be the best group to talk about the foundational aspects of teaching and showing people how their civic lives depend on understanding and using civic information.
Who will work with me on this? Can we declare the start of Talk Back to Democracy Night during the first week in December? Any brave librarians, willing to put their activism where their rhetoric might be — who wants to take a risk and offer a session or two? Can we build on this to offer something once a month (twice a week) for the next year? Can we take advantage of the FGI guides to prime the pump?
Life beyond the day of liberation?
Am I in the wilderness here?
See you on Day 56 — maybe with a couple of brave pioneers ready to push the agenda and street activism forward?