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The Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) has launched a set of videos on the FDLP Desktop, “What Does the Public Know About the FDLP? GPO Takes to the Streets“. Staff members of GPO “took to the streets” of D.C. to ask the public what they know about the FDLP and Government Publications. What do they know? Not much, as evidenced by these videos! These videos can be embedded on your website, so let’s take a look at them here, shall we?
The marketing plan website states that “As evidenced by the Person on the Street videos, promoting the FDLP to the public is essential and necessary”.
I agree. However, is the FDLP Marketing Plan as it stands now, up to the job? Feedback was requested and the results of these findings were published. I think they need to ask for more feedback and publish more results soon, especially for those that did not get to take part in this feedback opportunity before.
One problem I have with the marketing plan is the slogan itself, “Easy as FDL: Free Dedicated Limitless” which I believe means absolutely nothing to the average person, which they proved in these videos! They don’t know what a FDL stands for. They don’t know what a Federal Depository Library is. So why use Easy as FDL as one’s slogan to market itself?
Case in point: A couple of months ago, I left a bunch of the most recent “Easy as FDL” marketing promotional materials on our library brochure table for patrons to take, but I also left a bunch of the older GPO/FDLP promotional materials on the table as well (i.e. the brochures that have images of our nation’s capitol building, stating “Make the Connection for Government Information”, etc). Which ones were completely gone by the end of the week? The older materials. Which were left still sitting on the table? The newer “Easy as FDL” materials. From what I can deduce, patrons grabbed the visuals that had the “government information” phrase on it and the visual of a capitol building or an American flag because those images and phrases “spoke to them” more and they knew exactly what the brochure was about. Hopefully they took the time to read the brochure and learn more about what an FDL is, but I feel the term “government information” grabs their attention a whole lot more!
The marketing plan website also states that “GPO designed The FDLP Marketing Plan to empower Federal depository libraries with the tools they need to market their valuable services to all audiences in the most effective way possible.”
I disagree. I don’t think they designed the marketing plan to empower Federal depository libraries in the most effective way possible and I don’t think we did a very good job of giving them enough feedback. I think that we (“we” meaning librarians, patrons, GPO, FDLP, etc) still need to improve and redesign the marketing plan in a more effective way. What do you think? Let’s give GPO our feedback and ideas! A lot of work was put into this but lets make this a labor of love and really work to improve it even more.
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?