Community, Unity

Mary Alice Baish Assistant Public Printer, Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO).

In each issue of FDLP Connection, we have included timely articles about our most recent collaborative efforts, such as new agreements with our Federal depository library partners, the Library of Congress, and the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. We also focus on the exciting and creative ways in which depository librarians collaborate with each other, our staff, and their patrons. The theme of this month’s issue, which should come as no surprise if you've taken a moment to browse through the informative articles below, is collaboration. Our FDLP Connection team, led by co-editors Kelly Seifert and Cynthia Etkin, chose this month’s theme to highlight many different types of collaborations which the Library Services and Content Management (LSCM) staff engage in, both internal and external to the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO).

Like other Federal agencies, GPO staff have been challenged this past year with having to do much, much more with less. I know you’ll enjoy getting to know more about Linda Resler and the terrific accomplishments of the four members of the Integrated Library System team in the Library Technical Services Support unit. Don’t miss reading about the new FDsys curriculum development and training initiatives by LSCM this past year. What the article does not tell you is that our dedicated staff have provided, since October 2011, 24 FDsys training sessions at various conferences, for Congressional committees and staff, for staff at other Federal agencies, and for GPO employees, including those on our two night shifts. I know you’ll also enjoy learning about the creative training and marketing efforts at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the University of Colorado at Boulder, and Rice University.

“What is more important in a library than anything else — than everything else — is the fact that it exists.”

Archibald MacLeish, Librarian of Congress (1939-1944)

One of the intrinsic attributes and strengths of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) is that we are a very close-knit community, bonded by our strong commitment to the principles of the Program, whose antecedents date back to 1813. Today we face the challenges and opportunities of the digital age and the need to build upon our community strengths to develop a more robust Program. Recognizing the strengths of our strong community and the varying needs of participating libraries and public users, we have launched an important collaborative initiative to gather both quantitative and qualitative information on the state of each depository library. We are just about ready to launch the individual library questionnaire, which will lead to a state and/or multi-state action plan.

Before you read the feature article, “From Collaborative to Discussion to Questionnaire,” which details the project and its importance, I’d like to highlight plans that two states have already made to develop their State Focused Action Plan by the deadline of June 30, 2012. The project is being organized in Washington by four volunteers affiliated with the state documents group, the Northwest Government Information Network (NGIN) in consultation with the regional, the Washington State Library. Special thanks go to Cass Hartnett (University of Washington), Peggy Roebuck Jarrett (University of Washington School of Law), Jan Jorgensen (Central Washington University), and Marilyn Von Seggern (Washington State University). They plan to ask depository libraries to submit their individual forecasts by March 15th so that they can draft the FDLP State Forecast for discussion at the April NGIN state-wide meeting and develop the Washington State Action Plan by the June 30th deadline.

California is planning a very similar process. Last Friday, thanks to the leadership of James Jacobs, chair of the Depository Library Council, the Bay Area Documents Network (BADnet) held a very successful first discussion in San Francisco. David Cismowski was able to attend in person, and two LSCM staff participated via conference call to respond to any questions that came up. As in Washington State, they are going to ask all depository libraries to complete their individual questionnaires by early March. Cismowski plans to name five or more individuals to help libraries meet that deadline and then assist with developing the CA State Action Plan. They also agreed on the need to reach out to all the selectives through small group conference calls and discussions via CalDoc-L.

Paraphrasing Archibald MacLeish, let me leave you with this thought:

What is more important to the Federal Depository Library Program than anything else – than everything else – is the fact that it exists to serve the American public and hold Government accountable, and it is relevant and robust in the 21st Century.

We must all work together to achieve this goal through our shared values and commitment to the permanent public access of Federal Government information. With the participation of the entire depository library community in the State Forecast Project, GPO will identify and document the most pressing needs of our partner libraries, as well as new leadership opportunities and roles libraries would like to see in the next five years. We will examine the data you provide and map it to the laws and regulations governing the Program today. Our final challenge will be working together to reach consensus and have a unified voice on a national strategy for the future of the FDLP. Thank you, in advance, for your energy and your enthusiasm for this very important initiative. Your participation will be crucial to its success.