In early 2001, I was asked to represent the iSchool as a member of the Library and Information Technology Working Group. This group is charged with recommending technology oriented projects for funding using federal Library Services and Technology Act monies. It acts as a technology consultant to the Library Council of Washington. At its meetings, it considers initiative proposals from the state's library community and monitors grants given in support of these initiatives. LITWG, as part of its mission, also presents daylong technology seminars on topics of interest to librarians across the state twice a year.
During the fall of 2001 and winter of 2002, this position took on more urgency as the State Library was slated for closure due to current budget shortfalls. In the end it was made a department of the Secretary of State's office, a policy shift which is currently being implemented. Latest reports indicate that LITWG will continue its work, and that its advice is highly valued by the Library Council.
One of my priorities as a member of LITWG was to report back to the iSchool details regarding the discussions at these meetings. As a rather low-profile group, I feel that it needs as much exposure as possible. Indeed, representatives from the Secretary of State's office and the State Library itself admitted that the Library's effort at making its work transparent to its users may have succeeded in making it invisible to the governor-hence its threatened closure. Additionally, the LSTA grants are for a significant amount of money (some $3 million per year), and are a mostly invisible source of revenue for the state's library community. The more that information professionals and professionals-in-training know about these programs, the more likely it is that the funds will be requested, granted, and used for productive purposes. Finally, informing iSchool students about the grant funding process covers a topic not frequently discussed in the classroom.
This January, the chair of LITWG requested that the iSchool continue to send a student representative, and that I recruit and select a volunteer. Anne Murphy stepped up and I announced her membership to the committee at its April Meeting.
It was a pleasure to volunteer my time to this work, and hope that Washington LSTA projects continue to deliver important services to the libraries and people of the state.