GovInfoDay: Cynthia Etkin from U.S. GPO

Posted by Lisa Strand on Friday, May 29, 2009 in WLA Blog Archive


Library Roles in Facilitating Open Access to Government Information
  • Federal Depository Library Program
  • NIH Public Access Policy
  • Transparency and Open Government Initiative - Pres. Obama's memorandum 1/21/09 - http://www.whitehouse.gov/open - http://recovery.gov/ - http://data.gov/
  • Letter from Public Printer to Pres. Obama 3/9/09 - support for initiative, offering assistance to carry out through FDLP and Public Law 103-40
  • Goals: FDsys as official federal govpub repository, Web2.0 functionality, public input into pending legislation, etc.

Marketing Government Information in Libraries

  • Librarians are not generally good at marketing - we think statistics are marketing
  • What is marketing?
  • "...an organizational function and a set of processes for creating, communicating and delivering value to customers and for manageing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders." - American Marketing Association, http://www.marketingpower.com
  • ... NOT just promoting
  • ... a strategy that ensures user needs continue to be met, and provides value to library users
  • ... Product (what we provide or COULD provide) + position (what we want users to believe about libraries and staff) + promotion (increase awareness)
  • Think about saying... "Members" and "Guests" instead of "users" or "patrons" or "customers" or "visitors"
  • Environment: we're competing for funding, space & resources
  • OCLC report 2008: "From Awareness to Funding":
  • ... perceptions of vs. support of libraries
  • ... "transformational" libraries more likely to get tax increase support than "informational" l ibraries
  • ... should target marketing messages to different segments of voting public
  • GPO Data Gathering for Marketing: 2007 Biennial Survey:
  • ... 67% of FDLP libraries hadn't surveyed users about quality of depository services
  • ... Though library staff are informed of new fedgov resources in many ways, the public is mainly informed through handouts and displays, some via events and articles.
  • FDLP provides:
  • ... materials to promote services and collections (posters, bookmarks, pamphlets, letterhead, graphics, PSAs)
  • ... pocket cards in Spanish
  • ... Vision/Values statement
  • ... Feedback form "button" you can put on your website
  • ... Marketing plan
  • ... Radio spots to share with campus stations
  • ... Videos - up on YouTube: "Easy as FDL: Free information, dedicated service, and limitless possibilities," "GPO takes to the streets" (asked people if they knew what a federal depository library was, what their favorite government publication was, and what they think of when they hear "library")
  • Image: pyramid of collections, services, & communications = collaboration/flexibility to provide access to depository materials
  • We want:
  • ... your success stories
  • ... tips about what works and doesn't work
  • ... quantitative data (website usage, materials dispersed, collection usage changes)
  • ... you to use AskGPO
  • Developing a Library Partner Relations Program, will collect data for benchmarking success - working with OutSell consulting firm

Comment: It would be nice if the videos were customizable to our local libraries.

Comment: We can't fix all the ignorance that U.S. citizens have about their government :)

Question: Are the radio spots only suitable for campus stations, or also community radio? A: I haven't listened to them yet, but community stations would be fine.

Question: How does GPO foresee changing, in this changing library environment? A: Many of our policies are actually written as laws, so slow to change. Picking low-hanging fruit. Streamlining needs & offers (disposition).

Comment: I see a danger of libraries dropping out of the program, if GPO doesn't make radical changes. A: We've all been thinking about it - our hands are tied, and unfortunately it may take a mass dropout to change things. I can't tell you to lobby.

Comment: There would need to be a library consensus on needed changes. Last time (1998), the photocopier lobby nixed it. There are always some people in Congress who say we don't need the Congressional Record at all. A: At Tampa meeting, we asked "If you could change 1 or 2 things about Title 44, what would you change?"

Comment: If it's all online, what is left? Provide internet access to the public, and staff who understand the landscape/organization of government information. Unfortunately, libraries will probably stop hiring people to provide that expertise. In Wisconsin, the universities have a long tradition of serving the entire state. But northern Wisconsin does not have high-speed internet.

Cynthia: We're told "our collection isn't getting used." So we ask them, "are you promoting it?" But not always enough staff to do so.

Cynthia: We're waiting for a report on the minimum number of documents recommended per state, under various conditions.

Comment: I'm happy that I'm not needed to answer the simple questions anymore, but to still be there to help with the in-depth research questions.

Comment: There's still a role for trustworthy, .gov information. Though patrons don't always know where the information is from - they think it's from Google.

Cynthia: The courts are starting to accept documents beyond just the media and government.

Cynthia: Version control is going to be built into the online repository system. The URL will go to the agency website, unless it changes, when it will revert to the archived copy.

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