This post is LLAM’s Maiden Voyage into the blogosphere and there is one hot topic boiling in the hearts of all Americans. Whichever side of the political fence we fall on, we are all faced with a disturbing reality – the United States Federal Government has shuttered all “non-essential” doors and shut down. We each recognize that on some level this affects everyone; some more than others.
As law librarians, this situation threatens to have a colossal impact on how we perform our jobs. Some of our colleagues have been furloughed and aren’t even able to go to work. Those of us that are still standing face a number of frustrations because the government resources we use have been suspended. Many of the government websites that we access daily to perform reference services are already shut down. If the situation continues much longer, there will be more that go dark.
Some of our most essential databases, like FDsys, aren’t being updated. When we visit many government webpages, we are met with glaring messages about budget appropriations and lapses in funding. How long will it be before the Federal Courts close? And PACER shuts down?
Some of the less-essential (but still important) services are also closed. For example, there is no one at National Library of Medicine to pull the medical articles that my patent attorneys need.
This situation should motivate us all to step up to the hypothetical plate and provide some clarity in this crisis of uncertainty. We Librarians need to provide stability. We need to use this state of affairs to our advantage and demonstrate our VALUE to our user communities. In this time of confusion we must emerge as the knowledge experts. We should know the alternate sources that are available and be prepared to guide our patrons to them. Dig deep in your bag of Librarian tricks and think of every clever way you can prove your Library to be the authoritative resource. This is the moment that we Librarians must to seize to show our continued need and importance.
I certainly hope this shut down doesn’t last much longer. I hope our lawmakers can come together and do what needs to be done to get up and running again. In the meantime, let’s be the best information providers we can be, use this as an opportunity to show our ingenuity and in the words of Tim Gunn, “Make it work!”
This is also the time that we come to realize how important those who work in “tech services” are to libraries.
Here are some ideas for where to find or contribute information…