University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) Ottenheimer Library

This month’s spotlight library, UALR’s Ottenheimer Library, excels in promotion of U.S. Government information resources and in networking with other libraries. The library makes vital connections with students, the public, and staff at other libraries that promote depository usage and help explain the value of the library’s participation in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) and its depository resources. This ultimately enhances access and services within Ottenheimer Library as well as in the state and beyond

Ottenheimer Library serves the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, which is a public, metropolitan university with over 13,000 full and part-time students in the state's capital city. Ottenheimer Library exemplifies a successful Federal depository library, providing many types of services for its library patrons and local community since it joined the FDLP in 1973.

Highlights of just some of these are:

  • Comprehensive cataloging, providing bibliographic access.
  • Reference assistance by appointment with the Government publications librarian and other subject specialists.
  • Easily-accessible online information describing the library's depository resources, linked directly from the library's homepage.
  • Guides, such as Government Information and the American Presidency, used in instruction sessions as handouts and also available online for all researchers.
  • Publication displays.
  • Assistive technologies and other services for persons with disabilities.

Course-related instruction to UALR students by librarians is frequent and incorporates U.S. Government information. An instruction session about American Indians, for example, involves extensive discussion of publications from the Smithsonian Institution, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Congress, Department of Justice, and others. A freshman composition class with a subject focus on the Holocaust introduces many students to U.S. Government publications beyond statistics and laws. Print publications from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum prove so popular for this class that they regularly need rebinding.

Even in Little Rock, a city with a wealth of Government information as it is home to the state's regional Federal depository library, two other Federal depositories, and the William H. Clinton Presidential Library, the Ottenheimer Library staff reach out beyond the campus through promotional activities, training, and information sharing. Their goal is to reach those who may benefit from the use of Federal depository resources. Karen Russ, the depository coordinator, performs much of this outreach, building upon the successful activities that take place within the library and collaborating with other library staff to accomplish this.

With enthusiasm, Karen Russ presents to general public audiences at local and statewide community group meetings about the use of many different types of resources. Recent presentations about genealogy have included the Library of Congress' American Memory, the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, and other depository resources. Another recurring presentation topic has been Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids, a GPO resource, which she has presented to school media specialists and classroom teachers, demonstrating how the resource may be incorporated into curriculum and reference work.

Karen is a frequent contributor and editor in Arkansas Libraries and has a journal column with the catchy title of "What's Up? Docs: Government [email protected] Library." Her Arkansas Library Association award-winning article entitled "Start Your Travels Prepared!" describes the usefulness, in an entertaining manner, of 32 U.S. Government Web sites important for travel by plane, train, or automobile in the U.S. and internationally. She has authored book chapters and other journal articles that describe the use and value of U.S. Government information resources. These primarily reach non-depository library staff, who gain a better sense of the usefulness of Government information resources, the scope of depository collections, and the staff expertise that supports them.

Collaboration with other Federal depository libraries within the state and region takes place on an ongoing basis, not only to develop efficiencies but also to reach more potential user groups for the library's depository collection. Ottenheimer Library participates in the traditional collaborative activities of publication interlibrary loan and patron referrals to other libraries as needed. Karen Russ is very knowledgeable of the other depositories in the city and state, which certainly helps facilitate these processes and provides the highest level of service to Ottenheimer Library's patrons. She keeps up-to-date with her knowledge in a variety of ways, including participation in state, regional, and national depository library meetings, presenting occasionally about the value of collaboration. To help facilitate communication within the state, she helped lead an effort that started about 10 years ago to rejuvenate and expand the Arkansas Documents Consortium, a depository staff interest group. The Consortium still meets at least biannually and focuses on activities such as training, cooperative collection development, cooperative promotion, and general information sharing. To facilitate information sharing within the geographic region, Karen started the fivestatedocs-l listserv in 2004 for depository staff in Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and northeastern Texas. Today, there are 58 subscribers who use the listserv to help stay connected.

So, what are the degrees of separation between the UALR Ottenheimer Library and many community researchers, non-depository library staff, and other Federal depositories in the state and region? It's not six, as in the game about connections to Kevin Bacon. It's also not 4.74, as Facebook recently announced. For Ottenheimer Library, the magical number to make these valuable and beneficial connections is one. UALR students, staff, and faculty and other Government information users from the community and at nearby libraries already know of the value of Ottenheimer Library because of this outreach and continuing collaboration. The depository coordinator and library staff exhibit such enthusiasm and leadership in their efforts to provide access to U.S. Government information resources; GPO congratulates the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's Library for their excellence in promotion, education, and service to the public.