Library DrawingThe CONNector

JULY 2000Volume 2 Number 3

State Documents Librarians' Conference

Al Palko, Library Specialist

From left to right: Mary Martin; Connecticut's State Librarian, Kendall F. Wiggin; Margaret Lane displaying her award; Al Palko; Mary Redmond; and Deborah Hollis
From left to right: Mary Martin; Connecticut's State Librarian, Kendall F. Wiggin; Margaret Lane displaying her award; Al Palko; Mary Redmond; and Deborah Hollis

On May 11th and 12th , the Connecticut State Library hosted a conference for State Documents Librarians from states east of the Mississippi River. The State Documents Depository Program Coordinators from twenty-three of those states, as well as an equal number of others responsible for, and interested in, the dissemination of state generated information, met for two days in Hartford, for a first-time-ever meeting with their peers. Funded largely by contributions from a private donor and several vendors, and sponsored by COSLINE (Council of State Library Agencies in the Northeast), the meeting provided an unprecedented opportunity for these participants to meet as a collective professional group with shared interests, problems and programs. Conference sessions created an open forum wherein State Documents Librarians could meet, network, and participate in an information exchange that brought the group's creative problem solving to bear on issues central to the collection and dissemination of state documents. The conference fostered an interactive learning environment: its interplay of panel leadership and question-and-answer sessions allowed the participants to be both instructors and instructed, presenters and audience. All capitalized on this opportunity to find a voice during sessions devoted to acquiring, processing, organizing and disseminating state publications. The diversity of voices did, ironically, give focus to the current challenges, innovations and solutions facing local documents librarians, particularly since access to new formats was of special interest. Additionally, the camaraderie of shared meals and a warm reception in Memorial Hall of the Connecticut State Library's Museum of Connecticut History supplemented business sessions with a chance to meet on a less formal footing and to befriend colleagues from across the Eastern half of the United States (and a few from the Western half, as well).

After a welcome by Connecticut's State Librarian, Kendall Wiggin, the conference explored the nuts and bolts of enacting or changing state legislation designed to create and/or support State Documents Depository Programs. Other sessions featured the difficulties of acquiring publications of state agencies that almost demand some degree of sleuthing before they see the "public" light of day, and demonstrations of already operational systems which, it is hoped, will not only create but perpetuate access to electronic versions of state generated information. Late afternoon saw the conference goers recessing to attend the Connecticut State Library's reception for them, which included tours of the library portion of the building; special attention was paid, of course, to the Connecticut Documents collection in the government documents area.

Michael DiMario, United States Public Printer, was keynote speaker and addressed the group as the dinner session concluded the first day of the conference. The grave concerns he expressed regarding the proposed cuts to the Government Printing Offices' budget elicited a sympathetic response from a group who often see local legislatures follow the lead of Congress, and who often witness the disappearance of government information funding in the name of economy. Concern ran so deep that on its second day the conference made the time to draft a resolution calling for the full restoration of, and encouraging augmentation of, the Government Printing Office budget; a copy of the resolution was forwarded to key members of Congress.

The second day of the conference further explored issues important to the collection of state documents, such as depository library network coordination and essentials of doing checklists and adapting their format to meet the needs of electronic information systems. The last business of the day called upon past and present coordinators of the ALA/GODORT's State and Local Documents Task Force to summarize the task force's activities and highlights of state documents librarianship on the national scene. The conference fittingly concluded with the reading of Governor John G. Rowland's Official Statement designating May 12, 2000 as Margaret T. Lane Day in Connecticut in recognition of Margaret Lane's many, many contributions to the development of state documents librarianship in the United States.

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