From the Chair

Susanne Caro

It is an honor to serve as the chair of GODORT. For those of you who do not know me, I first worked with state and federal information while at the New Mexico State Library. I left the Land of Enchantment for Big Sky Country in 2011. At the University of Montana I took on the role of regional for the first time, and fell in love with that fabulous collection. I eventually learned that the state nickname did not apply to Missoula with an inversion layer during a nasty fire season. I moved to Fargo in the middle of winter to start at North Dakota State University in 2018, just a few months before our Past Chair started.

During my time working with government information I have fallen in love with the strange and fascinating histories that are bound in some of the most benign covers. Personal favorites include the 1980 “Operation Animal Mutilation” by the New Mexico Attorney General, the Roswell Report, the Congressional hearings on the Brownville Affray, and the massive amount of material from Civil Defense and the Atomic Energy Commission. I am a government information geek, and it is one of my great joys in life to be a member of a community that also appreciates these wonderful resources. I look forward to this year and the opportunity to work with our talented volunteers to grow our organization.

There is a great deal currently happening in GODORT, ALA, and the country. We hear that our skills are needed now more than ever, but what action can we take? We can be active in GODORT. The Education Committee is working with the State Database Project volunteers on Librarians’ Elections and Voting Toolkits for each state. This project was developed by our very talented emerging leaders: Azalea Ebbay, Shelly Guerrero, Megan Hamlin-Black, and Leslie Purdie.

Government Information Online (https://godort.libguides.com/GIO) has volunteers answering questions from around the country and the world. We are developing programs for ALA’s Annual Conference. The new editions of DTTP are now immediately available online for all to read, and the editors are looking at providing a peer-review option for authors. Peer reviewers will be needed. We have a new technology committee to maintain our website and social media accounts.

We need to decide our path forward as ALA looks to adjust and modernize its structure. The Midwinter Meeting will be changing, with ALA promoting virtual options for meetings. This year GODORT is taking advantage of technology by having the meetings, which are traditionally held at Midwinter, online. Now, those who previously were unable to fully participate at Midwinter due to scheduling or limited budgets will be able to take part in all of the meetings.

ALA is also exploring structural changes. The Steering Committee on Organizational Effectiveness (SCOE) has been investigating significant alterations to the structure of the whole organization, including Round Tables. There have been very few details released, but we know change is coming and a more comprehensive plan should be released at Midwinter.

Nationally the information climate has been . . . heated. Misinformation has always been with us, from pseudoscientific treatments to income tax protesters. Over the last few years there has been an obvious shift, and the presence of misinformation has become ubiquitous. We must continue to hone our skepticism, check our sources, and help our patrons tune their critical-thinking skills. We work with agencies in constant states of flux as heads of departments depart, missions shift, regulations are struck, and there is a sense of uncertainty. Our membership is rising to the occasion; every eye that spots questionable content and every reference interaction is part of our fight to provide the public with good information. Now is the time to show what we can and are doing for our libraries and our communities.

My invitation to you all is to continue to engage. Find a GODORT project to participate in, join the conversation on restructuring, and share the projects you are working on in your own institution. Are you teaching users how to evaluate sources? Are you presenting at your state library conference? Are you creating exhibits or involved with helping voters? Let us know so we can share and celebrate your work.

Susanne Caro (susanne.caro@ndsu.edu), Government Information Librarian


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