Biblionews-participant-lacey-mamak

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Lacey Mamak
LIS grad student
Employed: Minnesota Legislative Reference Library 612-655-0266 lamamak@uwm.edu Minneapolis MN http://www.leg.state.mn.us/lrl/about.aspx

I am a graduate student in library and information science as well as a library worker at the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library. I can contribute a government-library perspective especially on the issues of non-partisanship and the preservation of a digital information commons.I have worked in libraries for nine years, the last four of which have been in the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library (LRL). In that time, I have also been pursuing my Masters in Library and Information Science (MLIS). In my studies, I have always been passionate about LIS ethics, and it is my firm belief in the principle of open access to information that drew me to the field and that keeps me there.


In 2009, I attended the National Freedom of Information Coalition's Freedom of Information Summit in Minneapolis. The Summit focused on the issues of journalism business models, information access, and the positive disruption of new media and technologies. I would like to continue my exploration of these topics.


"In the coming years, libraries will continue to be important as both physical and digital spaces. Public libraries will continue to become the main delivery setting for many social services, particularly as state and local government social services budgets are cut and more government forms become online only. The student bodies of academic institutions will continue to increase in both number and diversity and academic libraries will need to become more diverse, particularly in service delivery, to meet the challenge. Like libraries, journalism faces the challenge of increasing service delivery (content production) volume with decreasing funding. As more and more people are becoming formally educated and/or interacting with government systems, it becomes the jobs of both librarians and journalists to help people make sense of the information they encounter, the community they are in, and the choices available to them."

I have worked in libraries for nine years, the last four of which have been in the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library (LRL). In that time, I have also been pursuing my Masters in Library and Information Science (MLIS). In my studies, I have always been passionate about LIS ethics, and it is my firm belief in the principle of open access to information that drew me to the field and that keeps me there. In 2009, I attended the National Freedom of Information Coalition's Freedom of Information Summit in Minneapolis. The Summit focused on the issues of journalism business models, information access, and the positive disruption of new media and technologies. I would like to continue my exploration of these topics.

In considering the list of confirmed participants in light of the convening questions, I am surprised by the relative lack of not only government librarians but "government 2.0" thought leaders as well. Any discussion of long-term access to public information needs to consider the voices of those who work every day to bring government information to a wider audience. In my work at LRL, much of my time is spent digitally archiving government documents and posting them online. While the Librarys mission is to serve the information needs of the Legislature, we are open to the public, and much of what we do--historical lists, document databases, public policy issue guides--is accessible to and benefits the public at large. So, for me at least, an additional question arises: how can the work that government already does be harnessed to facilitate information sharing and civic engagement?

As an explicitly nonpartisan library worker, I can offer a unique perspective on the value of neutrality in librarianship. If public and government libraries were to become (more) partisan, I fear the chilling effect that would have on open inquiry and public trust in the authority of the information libraries provide. Library neutrality holds open a "space" (in many senses of the word) for the free exchange of ideas in the public sphere. And the holding of that space may be libraries' greatest social value.