Table of Contents

  1. Fall 1995 Program Highlights : Local and Regional Documents
  2. Challenges of and Advanges to Using Government Documents CD-ROMs

(1) Fall Program Highlights:
Local and Regional Documents

GODORT of Michigan's fall program on "Local and Regional Documents" was held on Friday, September 29th, in Livonia. Introductions were made by Sandra Calemme, GODORT of Michigan President Elect and Program Chair. "Thank yous" were also extended to GODORT member Janet Schneider for her assistance in planning and hosting the program at Schoolcraft College. Welcoming remarks were given by Jean Bonner, acting Associate Dean of Learning Resources at Schoolcraft College.

Featured presenters were a group of librarians --Richard Maciejewski of the Municipal Reference Library, a separate department of the Detroit Public Library (MRL); Colleen Layton and Lois Thibault of the Michigan Municipal League (MML) Library; and Pam Lazar of the Southeastern Michian Council of Governments (SEMCOG) Library -- who all gave ample evidence that for many government information users, local government is very much where the action is.


Richard Maciejewski started out by noting that the Municipal Reference Library is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary! The MRL was established by ordinance in April 1945.

Another landmark year was 1982 when the MRL received a "distinguished service" recognition award by the Detroit City Council. In the following year, the City of Detroit agreed to provide fifty percent of its operating budget. (Although Wayne County has been asked, they have never followed suit.) The Detroit Public Library provides the balance.

Anyone can come in to the library (located in Room 1004 of the City/County Building) since it is a part of the Detroit Public Library, but only City and County employees can actually check items out. Hours are currently set at 8 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. These short hours are necessary because of the limiting staffing; in all there are only 2 librarians, 2 clerks, and 1 student.

For the most part, the library functions as a special library. City and county officials receive assistance to help them complete work assignments and special projects. Requests can range from the very specific such as when the Belle Isle Bridge was built and who was the original contractor to more extensive ones such as how much does it cost to construct a domed stadium. Richard also mentioned the Library's involvement in helping the Detroit Twenty- First Century Task Force gather information and explore ideas on how to save the city money supplying essential services, a three month long project.

The MRL has been an authorized depository for all City of Detroit documents since 1945; Wayne County made the library an official depository in 1952. Due to space contraints, the MRL only keeps Detroit and Wayne County documents for 25 years. Older items are transferred to the Detroit Public Library. Important exceptions include City of Detroit Charters, from 1818 to the present, and City Council Journals, dating back to 1824.

The MRL has also been collecting documents from other city governments on an exchange basis since the 1950s. They currently receive 21 copies of city and county documents as a result: 17 to send to other metropolitan city libraries, 2 for their own library, and 2 for the Detroit Public Library.

Other special collections include a legal collection (covering codes, ordinances, the MCLA, the USCA, the CFR, the FR, etc.), a grants and proposal center, a newspaper clipping file (also kept for 25 years and then transferred to the Detroit Public Library), a collection of documents from groups and associations like SEMCOG, directories of municipal and county officials covering the nation, and over 300 serial titles (50% of which are unique in the Detroit metropolitan area).

In addition to circulating documents to City and County employees, the MRL staff select and route journal articles of relevance to these patrons. Each journal title that arrives is scanned for materials of particular interest such as items on the building of urban sports stadiums or airport expansions. The Library also publishes its own MRL Bulletin, a bimonthly publication of recently acquired titles, which it mails to all City and County departments. City and County employees can request to to have items from this bulletin routed to them.

Patrons may also obtain online or CD-ROM database search services via the MRL from such vendors as DIALOG, Statenet, Local Exchange/Local Government Solutions, and the Detroit News and Free Press. The Municipal Reference Library can also access the holdings of other metropolitan and statewide libraries through LUIS, the Library User Information System. Interlibrary loan service is available via the Detroit Public Library. The MRL also has access to the Internet; Richard's e-mail address is (rmaciej@cms.cc.wayne.edu).

In summary, Richard remarked that the MRL tries to maintain close contacts with Detroit officials. He has conducted special orientations for Mayor Archer and his staff, new City Council staff members, and members of the charter commission. These orientations are conducted either in the library or in the departmental offices depending on the number of people involved.


Lois Thibault and Colleen Layton, representing the Michigan Municipal League (MML) Library, next filled us in on the services and activities provided by the Michigan Municipal League. Although the MML is not celebrating an anniversary year, the organization will be 100 years old in 1999. And like the Municipal Reference Library, their operations qualify them as a Special Library.

The Michigan Municipal League is a non-partisan, nonprofit association, working cooperatively to bring city and villages together for the exchange of ideas and information, and to advocate for home rule. In all, it has over 500 members, primarily city and villages. It has a $4.5 million budget and around 57 staff members split between the Lansing and Ann Arbor offices.

The Michigan Municipal League's services and programs are supported in part by membership dues and in part by "cost recovery" activities such as consultative services and programs. Additional services provided for members include : the Michigan Municipal Review, various other publications, regional meetings, an annual League convention, seminars and specialized training programs, various benefit packages, and a variety of services related to human resources, risk management, and information and research. The division assists patrons in three broad ways : 1) providing referrals to other agencies, 2) "talking through" an issue with a patron by phone, and 3) delivering "hand-tailored" responses to inquiries in the form of printed materials. Six staff members are on hand to respond to phone inquiries, and two attorneys are available for legal consultations.

Lois stated that over half of the phone inquiries deal with municipal councils, meetings, charters, roles/responsibilities, finances, and human resources. The patron community comprises city/village managers, clerks, attorneys, elected officials, financial offices, and police/fire employees. The Information and Research Division also provides service to the print and broadcast media, to students, and to other libraries.

Colleen Layton provided an overview of the MML Information and Research Division's collections. This library collects and maintains a vertical file of over 2500 ordinance documents, over 1500 monographs, and 160 plus serials. In addition, the division maintains a collection of "biographical sketches" of municipal officials, city and home rule village charters, historical information on charter activity in Michigan, and numerous legislative materials.

Colleen identified the MML's special patron community as : 1) members of the League, 2) consultants employed by municipalities, 3) libraries assisting citizens, 4) students working on research projects, and 5) all others as determined by MML staff.

Colleen explained that answers are usually located from back issues of the Michigan Municipal Review, newspaper clippings, formal requests to outside sources, and unsolicited mailings of materials received from Michigan cities and villages. Like other special libraries, the staff do most of the searching themselves to answer questions. Visiting college students however are referred to reference works and told to dig in.

Some of the automated information resources include a Charter Database with over 160 searchable fields (indexing both city and home rule village charters and ordinances) and Questor (which indexes Michigan House/Senate bills and Michigan Compiled Laws). The division's library utilizes Inmagic to access OCLC records, circulation, serial records, acquisitions, vertical file holdings, and more.

The MML also hopes to have a Municipal Finance Database covering the years 1982 to 1994 up and running by October 1995. If you have Paradox/Quattro Pro, you will be able to take advantage of the tremendous amount of data collected and retrievable from this new database created by the MML.

A copy of the 1995 Michigan Municipal Library Index was distributed identifying special resources available to members and available for sale to nonmembers.


After lunch, Pam Lazar, librarian at the Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) presented an overview of this regional body's organization, features/functions, membership, and library collections and services.

Before diving in however, Pam quizzed the audience on various acronyms such as BOOMERS, YUPPIES, BUPPIES, DINKS, PODWOGS, DUKES, GRUMPIES, SKIPPIES, FLYERS, AND WOOPIES to make sure they were awake. She also shared some other phrases bandied about by regional and urban planners such as NIMBY (not in my back yard), NIMFY (not in my front yard), NOPE (not on planet earth, and NIMTOO (not in my term of office).

On a more serious note, Pam explained the concept of "regional bodies" and offered generic examples of such: "RPCs" or regional planning commissions, "EDDs" or economic development districts, and "COGs" or councils of governments. These bodies may be multi- jurisdictional, multi-purpose, and they may cross state lines. Regional bodies may also be funded in part or in total by member local governments. Their governing bodies include government officials or appointed representatives of the state and local communities.

SEMCOG is a regional planning partnership accountable to member local governments in Southeastern Michigan. Its membership includes cities, villages, townships, counties, intermediate school districts and community colleges in Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw, and Wayne Counties.

SEMCOG's planning activities deal with advocacy and adoption of plans/policies concerning community and economic development, transportation, environmental quality, public safety, and land use. Its mission, in part, is a partnership which "strengthens efficient and effective local government, supporting local planning through its technical, data and intergovernmental resources".

SEMCOG subscribes to the LOGIN (Local Government Information Network) database, a comprehensive source for planning concerns which provides specific information on how local governments have addressed these problems. SEMCOG archives the data generated from past planning activities. It also is a depository for U.S. census data.

SEMCOG maintains an extensive internal database, the Ordinance Index, covering the text of actual ordinances, plus articles and publications about ordinances. It currently contains over 2500 records on 450 topics of concern such as cat ownership or beach apparel regulations. Pam noted that this database is popular with local government members as a regular source of information; non- members can also request searches for a fee.

Pam next enumerated some of the documents that SEMCOG produces: regional plans (the 2015 Regional Transportation Plan for Southeast Michigan, for example), policy documents (Revitalizing Urban Communities), technical and demographic reports (TravelCount '94), work programs/budgets, maps, and environmental assessments. It also publishes the SEMSCOPE newsletter (distributed to over 11,000 people and institutions) which highlights organizational activities and study findings, as well as profiling various SEMCOG members.

GODORT of Michigan President Cass Hartnett thanked the program speakers for sharing their considerable knowledge about local and regional documents. She also thanked the audience for their attendance and continued interest in the remarkable variety of government information sources available.

Special thanks to Maria Danna, Godort of Michigan Secretary, for providing most of this information; errors should be assessed to the RED TAPE Editor.

(2) Challenges of and Advantages to
Using Government Documents CD-ROMs*

     "To cope with many electronic publications, many depository 
     librarians have initiated an unwritten policy--ignore them, 
     find a deep drawer, don't even load them on microcomputer 
                              Duncan Aldrich, Documents Librarian
                                   University of Nevada, Reno
                                 Administrative Notes, July 1991

In 1995, depository librarians are still dealing with the logistical nightmare of integrating these new electronic format products into our documents collections.

Our discussion will focus on some of the challenges, and some of the advantages to implementing government document CD-ROM technology. We will outline a number of important points to consider for developing and maintaining an electronic format resources. We will also touch briefly on our present situation at the University of Detroit Mercy. Since we are not high-tech experts, we won't be covering specific hardware/software needs, nor citing vendors and their products.

We would like to point out that we prefer the use of the more positive term, "challenges" rather than the term "cons" (as in pros and cons), when discussing areas of concern for CD-ROM implementation. Some of these challenges are:

On the brighter side of this issue are some advantages:

Having outlined many challenges and advantages to government CD- ROMS, we are now going to outline other considerations that should be part of the implementation process for most libraries.

A) Collection Development Policy

It is essential for all libraries to start with a collection development statement which answers the following questions:

Is the content CD-ROM product appropriate for your users? Does it meet community needs, support academic curricula, and is it easy to use?

Does the product replace or supplement existing information sources? Will hard copy be retained? Does the CD-ROM product provide retrospective data? Is the CD-ROM or hardcopy format better for preservation?

How will the technical services department catalog the product? Will the CD-ROMs circulate?

B) Product Selection Criteria

Is the product user-friendly? How difficult are the search commands? Is there a controlled vocabulary? Are there a variety of search strategies?

Does the product come with instruction manuals? Does it discuss installation and troubleshooting? Does it provide user manuals and thesauri?

Who is responsible for product installation? Are there restrictions for networking? How does one deal with a faulty CD- ROM? It is important to remember that G.P.O. only retains a small supply of CD-ROM products for replacements due to claims or manufacturer's defects. G.P.O. does not replace CD-ROMs due to losses, thefts or library damages.

C) Personnel Considerations

To use the product effectively, how much time is needed to train librarians and support staff? How much time is needed to train patrons? Who coordinates training?

Who will be responsible for CD-ROM maintenance, such as installation, networking, upgrading, breakdowns and servicing equipment?

How will CD-ROM products impact other departments or services such as interlibrary loan and photocopying? Consider the implications for interloan and photocopier traffic if the library offers CD-ROM products with or without full-text document retrieval.

D) Networking and Multiple Access Considerations

Do government document CD-ROMs need licensing for multiple sites or LANs?

E) Need for Policies

Circulation--the library may wish to permit some CD-ROMs to circulate. Since home use of personal computers with CD-ROM drives is increasing, libraries may anticipate more patron requests for CD-ROM products available. For example, small business persons may have a special interest in NTDB, and other government products. The library needs to decide which discs to circulate, if any, and create a written policy for them.

Printing and downloading--since most government CD-ROMs permit printing in various formats, the workstation should be attached to a printer. Some of the discs contain lengthy files, and may print off twenty or more pages for a single reference. The library needs to decide, therefore, whether to limit the number of pages a patron may print off, and/or offer the patron downloading capabilities.

Most of the government CD-ROMs permit data to be transferred or downloaded to a floppy disk. That is why workstations should have two floppy drives: 3 1/2 and 5 1/4. Downloading permits patrons to take data home and manipulate it on their own time with the software of their choice. Libraries may wish to consider selling disks for the convenience of their patrons.

It is clear that government documents in electronic format are no longer the "wave of the future--" they are here, and they are NOW. The G.P.O. and the Depository Library Program are as yet rather unclear on how we will cope with implementation of an ever- increasing volume of CD-ROM sources. In spite of this disturbing Federal indifference, documents librarians must continue to expand user access to government information (as mandated by Washington, D.C.), regardless of the formats delivered in those customary brown boxes. If our patrons can embrace this new electronic product technology--many patrons already own sophisticated CD ROM interface equipment--then we have no choice but to persevere, and commit the financial, logistical and intellectual resources to meet their needs. This requires most of us to become stronger advocates of documents CD-ROM technology with our library administrators, and with our library communities at large.

*A Presentation by Sandy Calemme and Maria Danna, University of Detroit Mercy, Made at the Spring Meeting of GODORT of Michigan and the Michigan Council of Depository Libraries, Livonia Civic Center Library, June 5, 1995

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