The Circumlocution Office

Happy Spring! Although I don’t post so often to my LIS site at the moment since I’ve recently drawn some of my time to creative writing pursuits, I do have some news to share, and this space is as good as any.

This past February, I took on a new limited term position as Government Information Librarian at Wilfrid Laurier University, in Waterloo, Ontario. As well as being the liaison librarian and subject selector for Political Science, I’m responsible for maintaining and promoting the Government Publications collection, as well as handling requests for socio-economic data from organizations such as Statistics Canada and ICPSR.  When the position was posted in the fall, I jumped at the opportunity to take on the role: even as far away as Halifax, Laurier had a name for itself in terms of GovDocs, thanks to the efforts of their people at the helm. I expect this year to be a great experience for me to really get behind the wheel with government documents and help drive the role they can play in the academic library. Electronic publishing and permanent URLs have radically altered our understanding of a government documents “collection,” which is why I believe that it’s as imperative today as it was X, Y, or Z years ago to have a government documents librarian maintaining the file. Selection has in many ways been simplified over the years, but the acquisition of government publications (fugitive or otherwise) is a less exact and more murkier science today than it was in the past.

Homard the Lobster

So, if ever you’re in Waterloo (e.g., at CAIS during Congress this summer), stop in and say hello. My office is on the 3rd floor of the library, and it’s hard to miss since I brought along a lobster from the east coast to keep me company.  Homard is a good guy: since he’s a bobble-head, he tends to agree with everything I say.

And finally, in case you’re wondering, “The Circumlocution Office” is a reference to Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit.  It was Dickens’ satiric jab at the stifling bureaucracy that was the 19th century British public service. Dickens was no fan of government paperwork and disorganized public departments; he may have appreciated a good GovDocs librarian..

Welcome to the Circumlocution Office