Library at University of Colorado Boulder

Innovative ways of promoting and making Government information accessible are a challenge for all depository libraries. Library staff at the University in Colorado Boulder has a knack for integrating resources into numerous finding aids, and when appropriate, doing so in humorous ways.

The University of Colorado Boulder is the regional depository library for the state of Colorado. Margaret (Peggy) Jobe and Jennie Gerke are a few of the library’s names you may recognize from their participation in national associations and at depository library conferences. As the regional depository for the state of Colorado, they compile information and tools for their selectives on library Web pages. Some of the coordinated activities include the 6 State Virtual Documents Conference held in 2010 and the monthly Government Publications Interest Group (GoPIG) meetings held around the state. According to their “About GoPIG” Web page, “GoPIG is a group of Government publications librarians and other interested parties organized to provide a local pool of knowledge and experience for other librarians, as well as a general lifesaver for those of us forced to swim the waters of Government documents.”

In addition to being a Federal depository, the Library also serves as a depository for European Union, United Nations, and Colorado State collections. Extensive subject guides to online and print government information resources accompany all these collections. When we say that they have developed extensive subject guides, we mean that there were almost too many to count!

The library staff has worked hard to ensure that the library catalog meets users’ growing expectations. They increased the functionality of their Chinook catalog by adding faceted searching. This permits users to filter their search results by format, collection, publish date, tags, and more, making it much more flexible in how it can be used. In addition, the University of Colorado Boulder participates in the Prospector catalog, which is a unified catalog of academic, public, and special libraries in Colorado and Wyoming. Prospector makes it possible to quickly and efficiently share resources throughout the area.

Library staff has a sense of humor too. For example, they have produced some very fun and informative YouTube videos on topics like GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys), the Federal Register, and other Government information resources. Striking a balance between education and entertainment is difficult to manage but well-executed in the videos. To them, it is critical that information professionals put out content where their media savvy users are likely to find it and to put it out in a professional manner.  For those considering reaching out to users in a new outlet, we recommend taking a look at William Cuthbertson’s presentation at the 2011 fall Depository Library Council Meeting and Federal Depository Library Conference, “Reaching Out in Creative Ways: Demystifying Documents Via YouTube.” William is the Government Information Education & Outreach Librarian at the Library.

Engaging information seekers in a medium they are familiar with is important to staff at the Library at the University of Colorado Boulder. William Cuthbertson said, “...[T]alking to the patron on her terms – letting her in on the joke, if you will, while connecting these sources to media she’s already familiar with – allows librarians to take on a more collaborative role. We know what’s cool at the library the way our patrons know what’s cool in other media, and we should meet them in the middle – the creative space where one random idea about a news item you’ve read reminds you of an SNL skit that reminds you of a recent political debate which in turn takes you to transcripts of something up before Congress. Being more creative and less didactic in how we present materials to patrons allows libraries to get back into that realm of influence where ideas are generated – not just where they are searched for on a screen.”

Library staff also maintains a Government Information Blog, dating back to 2005. Typically the informative entries are of timely topics that are in the news; however, a few venture into the realm of amusement. Check out a December 21 posting entitled, “Patrolling the Skies for Dangerous Reindeer” to get a taste of how they blend interesting Government information topics with humor.

Thank you to the depository library staff for working with the wider library community and also daring to demystify Government information by presenting it appealingly and in popular venues!