Department of Justice and the National Archives & Records Administration

From the many great Department of Justice (DOJ) librarians’ presentations, I was most drawn to their more technical-based projects. Including their knowledge management efforts, acquisitions processes (particularly as it compared to the FRB’s data acquisitions work; and plans for catalog merging and a single discovery layer for all DOJ library records. This last effort reminded me of similar efforts by the Department of Transportation.

With each of these challenges, the librarians were always looking at ways to creatively and resourcefully get to what they – and their users – needed, aligning well with trend 7. It was good to hear how projects that may appear on the surface to be technically-based, actually require a good amount of creativity.

Legal research training is the most obvious in terms of librarians as educators. Their efforts to be able to offer training on demand reminded me of USIP (U.S. Institute of Peace) training on demand modules that their library set-up for staff working abroad. Because the library is trying and testing new ways to provide services and breakdown division stovepipes, they have become leaders and de facto consultants within the department for new training methods and beta testers with regards to information systems changes.

The Open Government initiative is an area that have particular interest in and hope to learn how the other federal libraries are supporting this administration-wide effort. This initiative appears to be exactly the type of work librarians support and practice and learning how and what types of government information is now more discoverable. It runs parallel – and is also affected by –  the information policy movements Open Access and FOIA (Freedom of Information Act). It was most interesting to hear about the Presidential Libraries’ processes and responsibilities to both FOIA and privacy and how these archivists put into effect these two information policies. I am considering elaborating on this theme in my final paper.

As it relates to working with the general public, the DOJ and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) provided a similar dichotomy that was found between the DOI and FRB libraries. While the DOJ is limited in their direct work with the public, the NARA library is able to provide access to their collections and records, as well as present public exhibitions. NARA staff are very much educators in the most traditional and significantly important sense. I enjoyed learning more about the presidential libraries work and NARA’s varied, yet specialized, collection and will most definitely be investigating the John Taylor collection on intelligence and the Red Cross collection!

This is a revised post of a daily report prepared for a Federal Library Resources Institute course and is part of a series of posts on federal libraries.