One of many themes I see developing from each of our library visits includes how federal libraries are providing knowledge and information to both federal employees and the general American public. While each library has different options and limitations to meet these information needs, all take seriously their roles as both civil servant and librarian. For the Department of Interior librarians, the importance of giving access to the American public is at the forefront of their programming. For the Federal Reserve Board librarians, a sense of “coming out of the shadows” to explain what the Board does, affected what information their users were seeking and how the library could contribute to Chairman’s directive for greater transparency.
The Department of the Interior (DOI) librarians presented a very open way of sharing government information and serving the American public. It was encouraging to hear the librarians speak about his service to both federal employees and the American public. I also appreciated how library staff take on the role of educator – and again, not just for DOI employees, but through the library’s “open to all” training sessions. In addition, these sessions expand instruction on digital literacy and online searching techniques.
After listening to the many innovative library programs the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) librarians lead, it is unsurprising that they were recognized as the small federal library of the year. Of the many library initiatives they are involved in, the data acquisitions librarians represented how librarians are expanding their roles as analysts and consultants. They have to speak the language of many groups, including economists, vendors, contract specialists, lawyers, and information technicians. I also thought their work on taxonomy and knowledge management represented a further outgrowth into how librarians are doing many exciting and diverse tasks. Perhaps just as poignant, is the example of pulling together regularly released newsletters into a searchable and accessible SharePoint site for FRB staff. While individuals are able to receive these free newsletters, they weren’t being organized, stored, shared, or retrieved in any simple or straightforward way. By simply knowing your users and their needs, the FRB library provided a much improved and appreciated service and making a “grey source” much more discoverable.
For me, DOI’s unofficial motto as the “department of everything else” is a macrocosm of librarianship. As FRB’s Kris Vajs noted, change is the only constant and librarians must be ready to provide services their users need, but no one else is providing.
This blog post fulfills an assignment for a library school course and includes readings related to information systems.