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From the Chair

The fiftieth anniversary of GODORT will be marked in 2022, which allows me the privilege of serving as GODORT chair through much of our organization’s golden year. Some in our membership are intimately connected to the origins and history of our round table while even more are new to our membership and are unfamiliar with our beginnings. I do not plan to recount the origin story in this column—I’m sure others will do that in these pages over the coming year. Instead I would like to highlight one piece of the origin story that I think still holds true to our current membership and their commitment to getting the word out about government information.

In “A History of the Government Documents Round Table of the American Library Association,” a founding member of GODORT, Joyce Ball, noted that “documents should be a concern of members of all divisions” (pg. 2). I see this value embodied in our current leadership and membership. The work that our committees do to build LibGuides, develop programs, and teach the next generation of government information library professionals communicates the importance of government information to the broader ALA community and library profession.

In the same GODORT History, it was noted “members no longer want to sit around and listen to speeches, they want to do” (pg. 2). Round tables are still the units within ALA that get the work done. I recently attended the ALA Round Table Fair during which an ALA staff member said that only 17 percent of ALA membership belongs to a round table. She went on to say that round tables allow members to explore areas of interest that may not be directly related to their careers. GODORT is just such a round table. It is true that many of our members work directly with government information collections. However, our programs and outreach efforts illustrate to a much broader community the impact government has on the communities served by their libraries and how an understanding of government and the information it produces (both good and bad) can impact their lives directly and indirectly.

As we embark on our fiftieth year, I encourage you to think about how we can spread the word that documents, or their born digital counterparts, are a concern to all ALA members. I also encourage you to think about your history with GODORT, whether it’s fifty years or five months. Past chair Susanne Caro is coordinating efforts for the GODORT fiftieth anniversary celebration. If you have memories, photos, or the long-lost GODORT gavel, please send these to Susanne. We plan to share these memories over the coming year through social media, perhaps in the pages of DttP, and hopefully at an in person gathering in Washington, DC, in 2022. GODORT’s success to this point is due to the commitment of its membership. As I see it, we are in a good place to carry on for another fifty years.

Robbie Sittel (roberta.sittel@unt.edu), Department Head, Government Information Connection

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