Info Life with the Feds

Although not as popular as the mashup or the privacy/security issues sharing the same time slot, Roberta Shaffer’s discussion this afternoon of the competencies for federal librarians drew a respectable audience, perhaps because the conference is here in the heart of the US federal government agencies. Roberta is the executive directory of the Federal Library Information Center Committee.

Roberta admitted to once missing her Metro stop on her way home from work because she was so engrossed in her favorite government document, a 2005 GAO report called 21st Century Challenges: Reexaming the Base of the Federal Government ( It says, "Absent significant changes on the spending and/or revenue sides of the federal budget, long term deficits will encumber a growing share of federal resources and test the capacity of current and future generations to afford both today’s and tomorrow’s commitments. Continuing on this unsustainable path will gradually erode, if not suddenly damage, our economy, our standard of living and ultimately our national security. Incremental approaches to budgeting will need to give way to more fundamental and periodic reexaminations of the base of government, ultimately covering discretionary and mandatory programs as well as the revenue side of the budget. "

A goal of FLICC, in figuring out competencies for federal librarians, is to be a force to create consortia and harmony among federal libraries. She hopes FLICC will be a catalyst for cooperation among different levels of libraries. Today their work is limited to federal libraries, but it would be wonderful if this could be extended to other types of libraries as well. Realistically, there are so many encumbrances built in, that it’s a slow problem to change legislation to lift these restrictions. She urged attendees to join non-library associations to see how their goals align with those of librarians and pointed out that other associations frequently have more sophisticated lobbying mechanisms than library associations. FLICC is involved in setting up degree programs, mostly on the masters level. Ther first one will be with Clarion University, which will offer a graduate certificate on information intelligence and security. We need to look at the soft skills of leadership, being able to follow, results-driven management, technology understanding, and how to cope with a changing environment. Roberta believes that the GS system of job ranking and job descriptions should disappear.

Marydee Ojala

Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals

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