Your main difficulty is that the library director does not have
the authority to bind the federal government. Thus, any formal agreements
between libraries have to be passed through lawyers and spelled out pretty
completely, much as a contract to access to a commercial database is spelled
out in detail. While the library director may initiate, negotiate and monitor
a contract, it is the financial officer who signs off on the contract and
pays the check.

            So, if the state library agrees to a Farmington Plan to collect
materials on caves, the federal library agrees to collect materials on
tunnels with the purpose of reducing costs and sharing resources, what
happens when Congress suspends the budget of the federal library? Or the
federal agency's mission changes, and they no longer need information on
tunnels, but now have an increased need for info on caves? Or is this happens
to the state library? What happens if the library is contracted out- does the
contractor have an obligation to maintain a collection agreement with another
non-federal library? If so, that will need to be spelled out in the contract
proposal so the costs can be factored in. Is there a financial liability to
continue to collect information that isn't mission supported in order to
fulfill an older agreement?

Since these actions are beyond the control of the library director, any
commitments should be binding on the agency or departmental level. Remember
also that the primary mission of federal libraries is to support their
agency. The public access is secondary. Thus, I can go to the Library of
Congress and use their collection, but I can't take out books and walk home
with them. The mission of the Library of Congress is to serve the Congress-
all else, including service to other federal libraries, is secondary.

When public access is permitted, it also must be non-discriminatory. Thus, a
federal library that offers a library card or checkout privileges to the
public, must make it available to all the public. It would be difficult to
justify giving checkout privileges to the students of one local school or
university, and not to others. Thus, federal libraries exchange inter-library
loans with other libraries, and not to individuals.

Informal agreements and policy exceptions are common, but they are also
dependent upon certain people on the staff. When those people leave, retire,
transfer or are RIFfed, many times those informal agreements fall apart. The
consequences can then be hurt feelings ("You always did it this way when John
was there.") and resentment.

And finally, any agreements should be to the advantage of the federal
library. They should not be done to increase the stature of one person, or
for personal reasons of friendliness to individual non-federal employees.
They should always demonstrate some sort of advantage to the federal library
or its mission, and should not show a loss. 

Gift and exchange agreements between federal libraries and other
organizations can be informal or formal. If there was a document exchange
agreement between a federal agency and another state government agency, such
as between an EPA library and a state EPA organization, then someone should
actually monitor the agreement to insure that other agency fulfills their
side of the agreement. This may not be an equitable agreement, in that often
the federal organization gives out more documents and higher value documents
than they receive in exchange, or vice versa, but it is important that the
agreement be monitored to show that the federal library at least gets the
basic benefit of the exchange of the state EPA documents. This means that
some of the library staff, as part of their duties taken away from other jobs
that need to be done, are needed to check on these obligations, and force the
decision by management to suspend the agreement if the principles aren't
observed by the other party.

Also, check of the Handbook of Federal Librarianship at:

Good luck in your research. Actually, this is a good subject for a journal
review article for federal libraries.




R. Lee Hadden

Geospatial Information Library (GIL)

Topographic Engineering Center


7701 Telegraph Road

Alexandria, VA 22315-3864

(703) 428-9206

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From: FEDLIB: Federal Librarians Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
Behalf Of Cindy Rankin
Sent: Wednesday, May 17, 2006 5:28 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Question: federal to state/ local relations


Could anyone recommend training or location of information regarding public
relations between federal and state governments?  e.g. Fed libraries and
State libraries.  Or just in general. 
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