GODORT (Government Documents Round Table)

 View Only
last person joined: yesterday 

The mission of the Government Documents Round Table (GODORT) is to (1) To provide a forum for discussion of problems, concerns, and for exchange of ideas by librarians working with government documents; (2) to provide a force for initiating and supporting programs to increase availability, use, and bibliographic control of documents; (3) to increase communication between documents librarians and other librarians; (4) to contribute to the extension and improvement of education and training of documents librarians.

Learn more about GODORT on the ALA website.

  • 1.  Update on GODORT's membership

    Posted Sep 17, 2018 02:15 PM

    According to ALA, a round table's personal membership must be at least 1% of ALA's personal membership as of August 31st in any given year to have a dedicated Councilor.  As of July, 2018, ALA has 52,379 personal members and GODORT has 456.  Based on these numbers, GODORT needed to have at least 524 members to retain its Councilor position after Bill Sudduth's term expires at Annual 2019; as of August 31st, we are 68 members short.  Unfortunately, there is no grace period; after Annual 2019, GODORT will not have its own Councilor until our membership reaches at least 1% of ALA's personal membership.

    However, the impending loss of our Councilor is a merely a symptom of a much larger issue:  over the past decade, GODORT's decline in membership has greatly outpaced ALA's decline in membership.  Since 2007, GODORT has gone from a high of 1120 members to 456 as of last month, a decline of 59.3%.  Over the same time period, ALA went from 64,729 members to 59,379, a decline of 8.3%.  Further information about ALA's membership statistics can be found here:  http://www.ala.org/membership/membershipstats_files/annual_memb_stats.

    Over the past month, the Steering Committee has had numerous online discussions about what lead to the decline in membership and what we can do to address the issue.  Based on these discussions, Steering has identified several actions we plan to take in the coming months:

    • Restructure how we handle our online presence, including finishing the website migration and establishing a new committee charged with website maintenance and overseeing GODORT's social media outlets,
    • Plan our in-person meeting schedules around meetings, programs, and activities designed to demonstrate GODORT's value and attract new members,
    • Start a membership drive to recruit new members,
    • Explore the possibility of merging with another round table or division.

    I encourage all GODORT members to offer their thoughts on our membership issue on ALA Connect (https://connect.ala.org/godort/home).  GODORT members are also encouraged to attend the upcoming Steering Committee meeting on September 24th, where our membership issue will be the main agenda item; details about that meeting will be posted in a separate message.    

    One final point to emphasize:  although the loss of our Councilor was the catalyst for this discussion, regaining that position is NOT our primary goal.  Our goal is to make GODORT stronger and more attractive to new members; increasing our membership and getting our Councilor back are one of several outcomes that will be achieved by meeting that goal.  Working together, we can ensure that GODORT remains a vital and vibrant organization for all current and future information professionals that work with government information.

    Hallie Pritchett
    GODORT Chair 2018/19

  • 2.  RE: Update on GODORT's membership

    Posted Sep 18, 2018 12:38 PM
    Hi All,
    I would guess a significant issue relates to the declining number of specialized government information librarians. Most FDLP coordinators have other duties, and in many cases their government information responsibility are an increasingly-minor aspect of their position. When Gov Info is only 10-25% of your responsibilities, the [inaccurate] perception is that it isn't necessary to become involved in GODORT. Conversely, full time govinfo librarians - if such a thing still exists - may not see the value of purchasing a full ALA membership just to join GODORT. Similarly, colleagues in public libraries or small academic libraries may not have the funds to pay ALA dues.  In all of these cases, they can join active [and inexpensive] local Docs organizations instead.
    At the same time, govdoc-L provided a free support system for government information librarians, through which they can ask for help from the community of ~3,000 subscribers (these are all active accounts - inactive email address are routinely removed ). Their sister list, doctech-L, provides similar support for docs processing/technical issues.   In addition to the listservs, the FDLP Academy webinars provide yet another source of free support and training for gov information librarians. These important services are mistakenly seen as "free alternatives" to GODORT membership. For this reason in particular, it is necessary to articulate the importance and benefits of GODORT membership.
    Given the mission of the FDLP and the free-access ethos of Government Information, it makes sense that these services be free and independent of the ALA. Unless the FDLP starts paying ALA/GODORT membership fees for coordinators - which would be delightful but unrealistic- it is vital that these support services for govinfo librarians remain free. The key, therefore, is to highlight the important and unique services GODORT provides, demonstrating that GODORT does not compete with these services, but rather fills unique profession needs that benefit both full-time docs librarians and whose for whom docs is only one of many daily duties.
    FDLP Academe provides training; Govdoc-L is a forum for research questions, announcements, and N&Os.  GODORT, as the professional association for the profession, is uniquely situated to assist librarians in networking and professional development. Perhaps most importantly, it also serves as a venue for discussion, debate, and conversation. The lively and interesting debates on ACRL Connect are an excellent example of the important debates and discussions the GODORT discussion forums could host.  Govdoc-L is well-suited to questions, announcements, and N&Os, but as a [literal] Listserv it cannot fascinate multi-response discussion threads as well as the ALA Connect platform.  
    Speaking in broader terms still, GODORT provides govinfo librarians with a voice in the ALA and the wider profession. As we face new changes/challenges - revisions to T44, depositories leaving the FDLP, privatization of GPO printing, issues of access to digital born government documents - it is vital that we've a mechanism through which we can communicate with colleagues across the entire profession to raise aware of these significant issues.
    That is all a wordy way of saying: it would not be a bad idea to draft a statement outlining the distinct benefits of GODORT membership for full-time and part-time govinfo librarians. The statement could be circulated through govdoc-l and all the regional documents organizations. GODORT's professional development opportunities, combined with the ability to engage in profession-wide discussions through the GODORT Connect portal, should be enticing incentives.  A number of ALA round tables and interest groups have also offered discounts to LIS students who may not otherwise join, which could be another way to introduce librarians to the field early in their careers.

    All Best,

    Richard M. Mikulski
    Assistant Professor; Soc. Sci. & Gov. Info. Librarian
    Portland State University

  • 3.  RE: Update on GODORT's membership

    Posted Sep 19, 2018 09:22 PM
    All Good Points.
    There are a lot of users of Federal, State, and Local government information still in ALA.  They may not work in depositories, but they might be happy to join GODORT for the extra $20 to show their support and learn more about these gov Info sources. Like I did. I think it's time for GODORT to rebrand themselves.



    Jennifer C. Boettcher

    MLS and MBA

    Business Information Consultant

    Georgetown University

    Special Hours in Lauinger: Sunday 1-5 on Sept 16 & 30

    Office hours: 4:30-6:00 Monday and 11:30-1:00 Friday at Reference Desk in Lauinger Library and by appointment


    202 687-7495

    Twitter: @jenny.wombat

    Website / Blog Page

    ORCID: 0000-0003-4058-244X

    Co-Author of "Industry Research Using the Economic Census," (Greenwood Press, 2004)

    Honored with Vicennial Medal and 2010 BRASS Award for Excellence in Business Librarianship

  • 4.  RE: Update on GODORT's membership

    Posted Sep 19, 2018 09:11 AM
    I'm a new member of GODORT, and I'm not a documents librarian, per se. But, I do work with government information as part of my job. I've also noticed the decline of government documents librarians in the state that I live in . I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't the same elsewhere. Anyway, maybe GODORT needs to expand its focus to those that are not just documents librarians, to those who deal with government information, in general. I'm not saying that they should abandon what they have done well in the past, just try to reach more people. I realize that there are a lot of larger issues that affect this decline whether it is cost of travel, declining budgets, cost of overall ALA membership, etc. There are probably no easy answers. Just a thought.

    Ronald Russ
    Electronic & Public Services Librarian
    Arkansas State University-Beebe

  • 5.  RE: Update on GODORT's membership

    Posted Sep 20, 2018 09:52 AM
    I would just like to say that as a long time member of GODORT I strongly urge people to continue their membership, even if they have been given other responsibilities .  I now am retired but I will continue my division and roundtable  memberships because I want to participate and to help those areas .  Also, GODORT deals with resources that are so important and  will be so helpful to patrons.  Bernadette Hoduski's comments are very good and I think our shared ideas will give us strength and also remind us that we need roundtables in general, and especially GODORT.  Pat Hogan, Councilor to the Smaller Roundtables, retired public librarry administrator, and STRONG supporter of Roundtalbes.  P.S.  And the memberhip fees for roundtables are very reasonable; I think we need to keep in touch and keep sharing information and comments.

    Patricia Hogan

  • 6.  RE: Update on GODORT's membership

    Posted Sep 19, 2018 04:42 PM
    Amy Brunvand here,

    I'm the current chair of the Sustainabilty Round Table (SustainRT) and also a GODORT member. 

    It seems to me that GODORT has  largely  defined itself around the  FDLP  and that creates an image problem, making documents librarianship sound more like cataloging than like public service, reference, information literacy, and  community engagement.

    I believe that GODORT could boost membership by focusing on civic engagement and how it intersects with the interests of other ALA Round Tables.  

    As a docs librarian myself, it seems to me that many of the questions people have about their local communities are actually policy questions.  In a reference context they can be answered by answering the questions,  Who are the stakeholders? Why do they care?  What government agency is responsible to manage it?   (Common ground with the Library Instruction Round Table?).

    For many years (not in my librarian role) I have written an environmental news digest for "Catalyst," a community non-profit magazine that serves the Salt Lake City Area.  Astute documents librarians will notice that my digest is nearly all government information-- federal, state and local. The amazing thing is, when Catalyst polled readers, this government documents-intensive information turned out to be a major reason why people pick up the magazine. People are confused by government information, but at the same time  they actually want to know what's going on in their community.  :  Environews Archives | Catalyst Magazine   

    As local newspapers fold this becomes even more important. I think there is a big role for libraries in doing something similar to my news digest to highlight government information that affects the local community.

    I wrote about this idea for sustainability and civic engagement in DTTP:

    Brunvand, Amy, and Ambra Gagliardi. "Sustainability, Relocalization, Citizen Activism, and Government Information." DttP 43 (2015): 10.

    Civic engagement is also key to the UN Sustainable Development Goals; IFLA -- Libraries, Development and the United Nations 2030 Agenda   

    GODORT could be central to this kind of trendsetting librarianship.  

    Amy Brunvand
    Associate Librarian
    University of Utah