Saturday, October 06, 2007

Gina Martorella, Federal Depository Librarian

Gina Martorella started as a news librarian. She worked on Newsday's "Long Island: Our Story" project as an intern, which is reported in News Library News Online, Vol. 20, No.3/Spring 1998, excerpted here:
Georgina Martorella, who has an MBA and an MLS, is the editorial researcher on the project. Gina came to Newsday's Editorial Library as an intern several years ago, and has worked on special assignments ever since. Her first task was to organize a system for the vast paper files and over 600 books that would eventually accumulate. Gina worked one-on-one with reporters and editors to assemble a first rate collection of sources. Using ACCESS and MSWord software, she developed systems to keep track of contact names, books owned and borrowed, local experts, and profiles of area historic collections. Gina often had to trek to obscure local collections to pore over dusty and fragile documents. Her most valuable assets in this undertaking have been the connections she has made with over 250 history experts, librarians and teachers. Gina's experience with the project has been rewarding. She enjoyed, working closely with writers, becoming deeply involved with and gaining an understanding of the challenging process of writing.

Today she is an energetic government documents librarian at the Federal Depository library at Hofstra University. There are 1,250 to 1,300 depository libraries, one for every congressional district. To participate in a democracy, the people must be knowledgeable so that they can hold the government accountable for their actions. The main users of a depository library are the free press and scholars.

The 50 regional libraries of the Federal Depository Library Program get everything that the federal government publishes so every state has every document published. There is a Federal Depository Library Manual that discusses all the topics of federal depository librarianship (library programs services, collection development, maps, electronic publications, bibliographic control, maintenance, depository promotion, inspections, suggested core collection, maps available for selection, minimum standards, index). Gina usually selects 50% of the available information for her library. Title 44 of the US code, policies and procedures, says that we must adhere to the SuDoc system of classification.

Since the eGovernment Act of 2002 (Library of Congress Thomas entry), about 90% of government publications are distributed via the Internet.

Gina introduced us to PURLs or Permanent (Persistent) URLs, which were invented to solve the problem of web sites migrating to another location. By registering a PURL, then later if you move the site, people can still find it using the PURL because the PURL does not change. When the location of the site the PURL points to changes, then the PURL resolver, a server similar to a name domain server, looks up the current URL that is associated with the persistent one. The PURL is listed in the source code of a web page. PURL is a project of OCLC. [Note: The Library of Congress has a web site for Teaching with Primary Sources that uses PURLs.]

Gina also introduced us to, which I personally never heard of before and I think it is fantastic! It should be taught in every high school!! Americans can comment on policy in progress! allows the public to communicate with a broad spectrum of government agencies whose regulations touch countless aspects of their daily lives. More than 35 partner Departments and Agencies participate in the eRulemaking Initiative, one of the most far-reaching Federal E-Government programs.
It is worth repeating some text from the Introduction of the help pages: is the U.S. Government website that makes it easier for you to participate in Federal rulemaking - an essential part of the American democratic process.

On this site, you can find, review, and submit comments on Federal documents that are open for comment and published in the Federal Register. You may also search for and view all regulations from all Federal Agencies. As a member of the public, you can submit comments on these regulations and have the Government take your views into account. is a major component of the eRulemaking Initiative. The eRulemaking Initiative is one of 25 e-Government initiatives associated with the President’s Management Agenda. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is the managing partner for this initiative.

Gina spoke of the searchable database of all organizations that receive government money that is to become available on January 1, 2008 pursuant to P.L. 109-282, Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006. The following is quoted from page 3:
(1) WEBSITE.—Not later than January 1, 2008, the Office of Management and Budget shall, in accordance with this section, section 204 of the E-Government Act of 2002 (Public Law 107–347; 44 U.S.C. 3501 note), and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy Act (41 U.S.C. 403 et seq.), ensure the existence and operation of a single searchable website, accessible by the public at no cost to access, that includes for each Federal award . . .
Gina next spoke of the Toxic Release Inventory where you put in a zip code to get data for your area. The New York State data for 2005 is reported. For the 2006 data, the web site has TRI-ME desktop version software available for download. The software appears to be for companies reporting data. New York is not listed as one of the states that participates. There is a Scorecard review of the TRI.

Federal Deposit Libraries prepare a Monthly Catalog of print publications and have been doing this since 1895. The print version of the Monthly Catalog was discontinued with the December 2004 editon when the online Catalog of US Government Publications (CGP) replaced it (the CGP was started in January 1994). When you use the CGP, you will see the PURL addresses for publications and the SuDoc numbers. If a government publication is not available online, then there is a link to the Federal Depository Librarys that would have the document. The purpose of the Monthly Catalog was to help users find documents near them. Hofstra Library began as a Federal Depository Library in 1964, so Hofstra is listed in the print version of the Monthly Catalog for the years 1964 through 2004.

Some additional information that Gina gave:
  • Today, some government documents are "born" as digital documents having never been put on paper.
  • An archive in Texas, called CyberCemetary (North Texas State University), lists documents of agencies that no longer exist.
  • Integrated Library System (ILS) - see the chart of various ILS over time that have merged; ILSR (R for Record) is a publication about ILS; interesting article on dismantling ILS; Koha, open source ILS from New Zealand.
  • Listserv for Federal Documents Librarians is called GOVDOC-L.
  • Useful web sites for a documents librarian.
  • Presidential Records Act of 1978 (Library of Congress Thomas entry) had its genesis in Watergate. Presidential papers, speeches, records, and emails are to be released 12 years after the Presidency ended. Reagan has had 68,000 pages released with 74 pages on the subject of Iran Contra not released. Executive Order (EO# 13233 of November 2001) claims executive privilege so the records have not been released. A representative of a former President can withhold the records. Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007 (Library of Congress Thomas entry) is an effort to overturn EO# 13233. The bill passed the House. According to LOC Thomas, the bill has not passed the Senate.
  • Gina also spoke of Tom Blanton, National Security Archive, University of Georgetown, Washington, DC., who gave testimony at a hearing on the Presidential Records Act. Blanton has asked for papers from George H. W. Bush's Library on the December 1989 Summit Meeting at Malta. Those records are being reviewed in accordance with EO# 13233 and have not been released. The video of the hearing is available (panel I is the first third with the rest being panel II, when Tom Blanton is one of the speakers).
  • The Patriot Act, section 215 is also cause for concern, especially for libraries. The FBI can order records without showing "probable cause" and those served with a Section 215 order cannot tell anyone. The Bridgeport library case was published in the New York Times on August 26, 2005. Judge Hall in Bridgeport, CT issued her opinion in ACLU v. Gonzales October 4, 2005, holding that the gag order associated with the National Security Letter received by an anonymous ALA member violated the First Amendment. The government has until September 20th to appeal. You can view the decision (PDF).
  • There is also concern that Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (see the Electronic Frontier Foundation - EFF's FAQ on FISA by their senior counsel) might issue orders similar to the National Security Letter to confiscate records.
  • Greta Marlatt's role as an expert in defense department information was also mentioned. It was pointed out that in addition to public, university, and federal depository libraries, agencies also have libraries.
Gina certainly dispels all thoughts of a quiet librarian shushing patrons. Gina is energetic, bright, and deeply concerned about our American way of life. She values the Federal Depository Libraries as part of that American way of life. Our responsibility is to be informed and to participate in our government.

[This entry is based on notes taken when Gina was a guest speaker in Carol Simon's class in the summer of 2007 at Queens College's Graduate School of Library and Information Science.]

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