Contest – help me with a guest blogger spot (closed)

No, not here. For the last tumultuous month I have been a guest blogger over at, that great site dedicated to maintaining and preserving free access to government information. I’ll be the guest there this month as well. I’ve made a few posts that I’m really proud of, about ALA resolutions, food recovery, identity document policy and, of course, the EPA library debacle. However, the area of government information, while very interesting to me, is not my specialty. Also, I am cleaning my room, like really cleaning it.

The way these two things are connected is like this: I am getting rid of some of the accumulated librarian schwag I have gotten over the past year. You can see the annotated schwag here. I would like some suggestions for good things to write about on FreeGovInfo as I am looking in my own usual places. I know that people around here are generally friendly and helpful anyhow, but I thought a few Read rings might sweeten the pot… or not. In any case, leave a comment with your suggestions — doesn’t have to be overtly political but should have some relevance to freegovinfo’s mission, needs to be about government information, not just goverment or just information — and I’ll pick a winner over the next few days. Winner gets mailed all that great schwag (I’ll email you for your mailing address) and gets a link to their blog/site/whatever in any post I eventually write. I may use more than one topic, but I’ll pick one winner just to not be mushy and equivocal.

Thanks for helping, and say hi to the FreeGovInfo people, they run a great site.

Posted in me!

10 thoughts on “Contest – help me with a guest blogger spot (closed)

  1. Jessamyn,

    I wonder if the privacy of personal information in government records is a good topic for a posting. I had a client today ask me if I could search through library records for an old friend of his. I told him that I could not as library records are confidential according to state law and only the subject and library staff can look at those records. He asked if it mattered that the friend had died. He was trying to trace where his friend had been. I told him it did not matter because privacy extended for members of the family. He then asked how long the records would be kept private. I said that we do not actually maintain old library card records, so there will never be a time we are giving old library records to genealogists.

    I wonder if we did keep them, how long would we keep them private. I don’t see anything in Illinois law about it. Maybe I am not good enough with the Illinois Revised Statutes.

    Census records are kept private 72 years. Are there laws for other records?


  2. Jessamyn, This sounds like a great contest and thank you for all that you’ve done for us. Hope things are getting calmer for you.

    Rick – How long to keep records, especially at the state and local levels is often not set by statute, but by your jurisdication’s records management center (if you have one). They set “retention schedules” for various kinds of documents and the time scale varies by department. You can find an excellent example of what I’m talking about by looking at the Alaska State Archives program retention schedules. If you look at the the schedule which includes the state library, you’ll see that their circulation records are discarded as soon as “the administrative need is met” which in this case means when the patron becomes inactive.

    I’m not sure who you would contact to see if your library has a retention schedule, but maybe the IL State Records Center can point you to someone.

    I’m a librarian who has learned it pays to hang out with archivists once in awhile.

  3. If government-*funded* info is kosher, then perhaps something on the CURES Act and/or FRPAA?

  4. Or what about FOIA? It’s a ripe 40 years old this year, and it’s pretty scary to think what we’d do without it. Alec at Librarians at the Gate points out the Pentagon is trying to find out how to get around it. This is certainly an interesting era for the government and how it treats information. (In brief, “We want it from you, all of it – but we don’t want you to have any from us.”)

  5. Jessmyn:
    I think you should cover the impact of the Open Access movement on government information – I find this talk interesting because according to Title 44 it should be OA anyway, and yet it is often not….

  6. Yes, thanks for running this contest, Jessamyn! We at FGI look forward to the results of your blog meld contest!! One of our FGI volunteers just posted two days ago about FOIA and a search brings up quite a few blog posts. Of course, there can never be enough news about FOIA and we’d welcome more.

  7. You might make a *gov-info swicki*, train it, unleash it on other librarians and data pushing bureaucrats… let the ‘small pieces loosely joined’ of us strengthen it by training it. That’d be something. (This ain’t spam.)

  8. This isn’t really government information, but it would be interesting to hear people’s thoughts on the federal governent’s policy of hiring people who do not have an MLS or MLIS and giving them the librarian title. Just a thought.

  9. Thank you everyone for your great suggestions, I feel blessed with such a thoughtful set of readers. I decided, after some thinking about what was practical for me to write about, to do a post about the Open Access Movement, more of a general essay than just a few links but I think it worked out okay. Libwitch, if you’d like to email me a mailing address, I will send you a small box of loot.

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