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2020 Western States Government Information Virtual Conference

The Western States Government Information Virtual Conference is a free, biennial conference hosted by Government Information Librarians in the Western States and open to all. The 2020 theme was Trusted to Serve: Promoting Quality Government Services in Libraries. This year's conference was held on August 5-6, 2020. The next conference will take place in Summer 2022. Recordings, slides, and handouts are available in the Conference Archive

2020 Conference Program

10:00-11:00am (MDT)

  • Title: The Wild West in 2020: The Census, COVID-19 and Elections (with Redistricting Just Months Away)
  • Speaker: Wendy Underhill, Director of Elections & Redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures
  • Description: Join Wendy Underhill, director of elections & redistricting at the National Conference of State Legislatures, as she discusses challenges associated with voting, the census and redistricting in western states. With COVID-19 setting the schedule and partisanship scuttling norms right and left, what can we expect, when nothing unfolds this year as expected? We’ll look at trends in how we vote, the latest census plans, changes in redistricting processes and fears and hopes around November 3rd’s elections. A hint: Wendy says that it’s the “wild west” throughout the nation this year, with eastern states taking their cues from western ones on the mechanics of democracy

11:15-11:45am (MDT)

  • Title: Serving Veterans: Library and Fraternal Organization Partnership
  • Speaker: Tom Adamich, Professor and Technical Services/Reference Librarian, Monroe County Community College (Monroe, Ml)
  • Description: Fraternal organizations are key members of almost every community large and small in the U.S. These organizations perform many good charitable works of service to help those in need. A number of fraternal organizations focus either all or portions of their charity specifically to serving veterans. Often, the challenge veterans face is knowing which fraternal organizations support which veterans' need areas. Conversely, some fraternal organization members have challenges in identifying and locating veterans in their communities who can benefit from the philanthropy their particular organization offers. Libraries are in a great position to help both veterans and fraternal organizations benefit from fraternalcentric veterans assistance efforts The purpose of this session is to-- using use cases and best practices -- guide libraries to act as support agents for fraternal organizations helping veterans and for veterans seeking help from fraternal organizations.

11:45-1:00pm (MDT)

Lunch Break

1:00-1:30pm (MDT)

  • Title: Everyone can Learn To Love Government Documents
  • Speakers: Lara Flint & Jaime Hays, Outreach Librarians, U.S. Government Publishing Office
  • Description: U.S. Government Publishing Office Outreach Librarians will discuss and give examples of how to get library staff more interested in and comfortable with government documents. Examples will cover Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) promotion, government information reference, and common myths to debunk. The session will also include tips and ideas for training library staff beyond those who work directly with the FDLP so that everyone can do basic reference and referrals.

1:45-2:15pm (MDT)

  • Title: This Traveling Exhibit is a Disaster!

Watch the Pre-Recorded Conference Presentation

Presentation Survey

Conference Recording

  • Speakers:
    • Susanne Caro, Government Information Librarian, North Dakota State University
    • Ben Chiewphasa, Government Information Librarian, University of Montana
    • Jen Kirk, Government Information Librarian, Utah State University
  • Description: Traveling exhibits provide libraries with high-quality, pre-packaged materials on a subject. These require only setup making them an easy way to bring attractive content to library spaces. These exhibits support outreach to communities, but lack any opportunity for collaboration and incorporation of local content into the physical exhibit. Presenters are proposing a pilot project to create a traveling exhibit, resources, and an online exhibit on the broad subject of disasters where prepared content is augmented with local resources. The purpose is to create a model where libraries are encouraged to promote local government, services, collections and perspectives, resulting in a broader incorporation of geography and diverse perspectives. Questions asked will include, but are not limited to:
    • What style of exhibit best suits libraries' spaces?
    • What levels of participation will libraries be comfortable with contributing?
    • What level of guidance should be provided for libraries?
    • What resources are available for libraries?
    • What level of interest is there in contributing content to an exhibit?

2:30-3:00pm (MDT)

  • Title: Conquering the world of state documents: a panel discussion
  • Speakers: 
    • Samantha Hager, Outreach and Digital Repository Librarian, Colorado State Publications Library
    • Denise Jones, State Publications Clearinghouse Liaison, State Library of North Carolina
    • Alicia Kubas, Government Publications and Data Librarian, University of Minnesota
  • Description: Join us in an interactive session discussing the challenges we face when working with state government information.

10:00-10:30am (MDT)

  • Title: Open Data in the Time of COVID-19
  • Speaker: Kathleen Sullivan, Open Data Literacy Consultant and data.wa.gov Curator, Washington State Library, OSOS
  • Description: The COVID-19 pandemic struck only a few months after the Washington State Library began providing curation services for Washington State's open government data portal (data.wa.gov). The partnership between the Library and the Washington Office of the Chief Information Officer was already groundbreaking, but was expected to involve mostly weeding and clean-up at first. Instead the Library almost immediately found itself scrambling to add and promote new data capturing the pandemic's widespread effects and state agencies' roles in responding. This lecture/Q&A presentation will describe how a pioneering library/government collaboration helped showcase essential government services and demonstrate the value of collection development expertise in the open data world.

10:45-11:15am (MDT)

  • Title: Improve Access to Online Government Documents During COVID-19: A Collaborative Approach
  • Speakers:  
    • Michael Howser, Social Sciences & Data Librarian, San Diego State University
    • Kate Holvoet, Electronic Resources Librarian & Assistant Head of Content Organization and Management
  • Description: As the COVID-19 stay at home order was unfolding we began to think of projects which would improve the discoverability of content while also providing us the opportunity to have students and staff from across the library participate in this effort. Within just a few days, a project plan was devised which would enable students and staff working remotely to begin verifying the accuracy of government information records included within our integrated library system (ILS) and to begin searching for online versions of documents which will be added to the ILS records after librarian review. This moment provides a unique opportunity for Libraries to conduct much needed work to enhance our ILS records to include more links to state and federal documents and to review records to ensure facets within the ILS are effective in helping our users whether in the library or remotely to gain access to information

 11:30-12:00pm (MDT)

  • Title: Tracking Federal Regulations: With COVID 19 as a Case Study
  • Speaker: Christopher C. Brown,  Reference Librarian and Coordinator of Government Documents, University of Denver
  • Description: Learn how regulations are promulgated, what services provide what information, and how to personally interact with your government. We will look at the background of the regulatory process with focus on the Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, List of CFR Sections Affected and will demonstrate the traditional way of tracking regulations. Then we will show how new government websites have transformed regs into modern e-government. We will demonstrate the features of Refinfo.gov, Regulations.gov, and Govinfo.gov in relation to federal regulations. COVID-19 will be used as a case study throughout the presentation.

12:00-1:00pm (MDT)

Lunch Break

 1:00-1:30pm (MDT)

  • Title: Social Justice and Civil Engagement in Government Information Reference Practice
  • Speaker:  Amy Brunvand, Librarian, University of Utah
  • Description: Librarians can promote civic engagement by helping patrons cut through the complexity of government information and by identifying entry points for patrons to get involved in the system. An overly sunny view of civic engagement glosses over the messy reality that government actions can marginalize and silence some citizen voices. This presentation discusses issues of objectivity and outlines practical strategies for librarians to identify and include marginalized voices in government information reference work based on a concept of stakeholders borrowed from the NEPA process. Citizen activism offers a key to understanding the implications of complex government documents and suggests a direction for government documents collections to support community resilience. Reference strategies are based on the presenter's experience as a librarian and citizen journalist and are related to this recently published article: Brunvand, Amy. "Researching Bears Ears: Reference Practice for Civic Engagement." Reference Services Review (2020)

1:45-2:15pm (MDT)

  • Title: Civic Engagement Efforts and the Academic Library
  • Speaker: Alicia Kubas, Government Publications & Data Librarian; Regional Depository Coordinator, University of Minnesota
  • Description: Academic libraries have an obvious role in connecting students, faculty, staff, researchers, and the broader community with timely, accurate and thorough information, and this is no different when it comes to voting, elections, and other civic opportunities like the decennial Census. In this session, attendees will learn about the newly formed Civic Engagement Committee at the University of Minnesota, why civic engagement is important on academic campuses and in the library, and ways this particular library committee is expanding outreach and engagement to encourage and facilitate meaningful participation in the democratic process across campus.

2:30-3:00pm (MDT)

  • Title: Partnering to Start the Celebration: Academic Librarians Partner with Local Groups to Promote Census 2020 Participation
  • Speaker: Latanya N Jenkins, Reference Librarian for government information, Temple University
  • Description: Everyone enjoys a good party! In this session, learn about how academic libraries partner to improve community response to being counted in the US Census. In light of the COVID-19 crisis, learn about the mitigation strategies and migration for serving the community through face-to-face trainings to become Census Champs (and training the trainer) to moving to online Community Response Captains to help dispell misinformation and fear. The more the merrier describes the working partnerships between the government information librarian and other librarians, who were then trained by local government sponsored groups and offered trainings in English and Spanish to create opportunities for community inclusion, education, and empowerment. Let's join in the virtual party and discuss in this brief lecture and breakout discussion style session using various strategies to engage the community with care and compassion.

Thank You GODORT!

Thanks to our sponsor GODORT for promoting the conference and hosting us in their Zoom meeting space! Please become a member of GODORT today!

Thanks to the Conference Planning Committee







GODORT Representative

Special thanks to Shay Larsen from Utah State University for our conference logo and promotional designs!!

Conference Archive

View recordings, slides, and schedules from past conferences. See our Conference Archive for more.