Wednesday, May 21, 2008


The 21st Annual Minnesota-South Dakota Government Publications Information Forum
From Local to International: Government Information Everywhere
University of Minnesota, Andersen Library and Legislative Reference Library
May 15-16, 2008

This forum is a chance for representatives of depository libraries in Minnesota and South Dakota to meet and discuss issues. Depository libraries are libraries designated by Congress or by law to receive government information products without charge provided the libraries meet certain conditions. Saint Paul Public Library is a partial depository, receiving 39% of the documents produced by the Government Printing Office (GPO) and Melissa Gray and I, under Phyllis Kendig’s guidance and with the help of Sue Betz and Pat Johnson, manage this collection. We recently attended this two day forum to keep up to date with what’s happening with gov docs.

On the first day we listened to several interesting presentations. The first “Promoting Government Information: Library 2.0 Style” was presented by Sarah Gewirtz, a Reference/Government Documents Librarian at the College of St. Benedict’s/St. John’s University. Ms. Gewirtz first talked about the need to develop a plan for promoting one’s collection. This involves defining the primary objective/s, determining what to promote, and choosing an audience. Promoting collections can be done in a traditional style: bookmarks, displays, bibliographies, posters or in Library 2.0 styles. Ms. Gewirtz showed us some examples of traditional displays and promotional pieces and then demonstrated how they can be promoted using 2.0 tools. Ms. Gewirtz does a Gov Doc of the Month display which she then photographs and posts in a Flickr account along with examples of other Gov Docs displays she has done. In her Flickr entries, she notes the SuDoc number of the item, what formats it’s available in, and has it linked to the University’s catalog so that when you put your cursor on the photo it brings up a message that tells you to click here to see if it’s available in the library. Ms. Gewirtz has also created slide shows of government documents using either PowerPoint or Windows Movie Maker and then loads them on to YouTube. Other 2.0 tools mentioned were blogs,, and RSS Feeds and Feed Readers as a way to alert customers of updates.

Steve Dornfield and Jan Price presented on the Metropolitan Council and Regional Progress, talking about the Metropolitan Council’s work and ways to access information on its website. The website has pull-down menus based on the areas it focuses on: transit and transportation, water, parks, planning and development, and housing. Reports and data contains publications and statistics for each area of focus. The website also has meeting minutes and live video of Council meetings. The right hand side of the homepage has links for frequently requested information like maps and this section has an interactive map tool that will bring up city names and a city profile including data and reports. Other useful features of the map section are the map gallery where you can select maps by topic and community and the make-a-map section where you can create a customized map.

Jan Price, the Metropolitan Council’s librarian, reported that they try to keep copies of every Metropolitan Council document in their library as well as collecting additional materials on urban planning, design, and related topics. She also works on the website, which focuses on current information. Older reports can be found at the library which is open to the public from 8:30-4:30, M-F (651-602-1412). The library’s catalog should be available online sometime in the future.

We next went to the Legislative Reference Library where we heard a talk on International Government Documents given by Mary Ann Archer of William Mitchell College of Law. Ms. Archer defines government documents as “primary resources published by national or supra-national entities” like treaties, diplomatic correspondence, administrative regulations, reports from executive organizations, statutes, and judicial documents. Ms. Archer mentioned several portals for finding international government documents listing “Foreign Government Resources on the Web” from the University of Michigan as a premier source. We also looked at different portals for finding international law and government sites for other countries.

David Schmidtke of the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library spoke to us about state documents and the library’s work to make them available online. The library now archives all mandated reports by scanning or downloading them and most of the non-mandated reports. They have also scanned documents from before 2003. The library offers two listservs that people can sign up for to receive alerts of new books, reports, and documents. Scanned items are being run with OCR to make the text searchable. A highly anticipated report is the consultant’s report on the 1-35 W bridge collapse.

Robbie LaFleur, Director of the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library, talked about historical resources available through their library like Legislators Past and Present which contains information on legislators back to territorial times. Issue guides are another tool offered by the library to help direct legislators to library and online resources on topics of interest

Melissa will report on the 2nd day of the Spring Forum.


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