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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Steal This Idea, Please!

After reading the book

Jacoby, Susan. 2008. The age of American unreason. New York: Pantheon Books.

and reading this about our beloved Constitution:

“More than a third were unable to list any First Amendment rights; 42 percent think that the Constitution explicitly states that “the first language of the United States is English”; and 25 percent believe that Christianity was established by the Constitution as the official government religion. The young are even more ignorant than their parents and grandparents. About half of adults–but just 41 percent of teenagers–can name the three branches of government.”

I decided to devote Mondays on my personal blog to exposing people to the Constitution one article at a time. I’m using official text from the National Archives and I’m trying not to do a lot of commentary. I think this might be a good thing to do for librarians around the country. If you do add commentary, try to customize it for your audience.

Maybe if our nation understood its Constitution better, it would be more interested in defending it. Call me quixotic, but it is worth a try. If you decide to join me on Constitution Mondays, please leave a comment here or on my introductory post.

Call to Action: Document Good Ideas at Change.gov

Throughout his “75 Days to Government Information Liberation”, John Shuler has been exhorting documents librarians to look for ways to inject themselves into the transition-fueled interest in civics and citizen participation.

I think one opportunity is upon us and I call on you to join me. Change.gov has established a Citizen’s Briefing Book to give President Obama ideas from America at large. This site allows you to submit ideas, vote on others ideas and make comments.

What I think we could be doing in a non-partisan way is to provide comments on ideas that point out studies and reports (especially govdocs!) that either support or detract from the proposed idea. For example, one idea is titled School Libraries need Librarians which requests federal funding for school libraries. I did a quick search in ERIC at http://www.eric.ed.gov and found two studies that appear to show the presence of school librarians is associated with academic achievement. I then posted a comment linking to the two studies and mentioning ERIC.

So here is your mission, should you decide to accept it:

  1. Decide a subject that is important to you and that you have subject expertise in.
  2. Visit http://citizensbriefingbook.change.gov and use the search box to find an idea in your area of passion.
  3. Vote the idea up or down and leave a short comment pointing to at least one resource that supports your vote.
  4. Tell at least one other librarian friend what you have done.

Do it now. Or after work, but let’s bring some librarian and/or information activist expertise to these ideas.