Editorial: The Public Library as the new Public Records Steward

There is a continuing and growing friction between the public and public institutions surrounding the public’s right (by law) to access information generated by their government and the reality to actually access that information. The friction centers on governments’ lack of resources, training or motivation to perform their legal duties as public records stewards.

NFOIC would like to lead an effort whose objective is to bring together a public library or libraries, a government entity and a group of stakeholders to collaborate on an initiative that leads to a successful transition of public records management from one or more government agencies to the public library as a more suitable and capable entity to administer public records and open records petitions.

This could be a partnership between a state designated library working with state government, or a local library system working with a municipal or county government. In the case of the local library/government, this would be less about a physical transfer and more about shifting internal practices, policies and responsibilities. Government use of libraries as central information repositories can already be found at the national level where the federal government designates one library in each SMSA as a Federal Depository Library. Continue…