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Libraries Keep a Resourceful Eye on the President
by
Posted On June 6, 2017
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Mount Holyoke College’s multipart Trump Presidency: Election, Transition, and Administration takes a deeper dive. The eight continuously updated topics seek to “provide information, answers, and resources” about the election and the administration. It has questions from the Mount Holyoke community, with answers provided by a librarian who adds an accompanying citation of authority. It also takes a look at the election, the transition process, executive orders and legislation, media and social media, censorship and privacy, and civil and human rights as well as offers resources for getting involved. Again, the goal is to not advocate for or against a particular position, but to provide links to resources so that patrons have the information they need to make an informed decision.

The Travel Ban

In many respects, the efforts of the librarian community as a whole were kick-started by the Jan. 27, 2017, executive order on immigration, officially called Executive Order 13769, Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States. Known more widely as the Travel Ban, it was quickly denounced by a wide range of academic and library organizations, including ACRL, the Association of Research Libraries, and the Association for Library and Information Science Education. Petitions containing more than 30,000 signatures from librarians and academics were presented to the administration protesting the order and its negative impact on the academic and library community.

Within hours of the order, librarians and academics began collecting information related to it, as well as to its legal challenges. The University of Michigan Law School’s Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse provides a comprehensive collection of materials on both the initial and follow-up executive orders, the litigation documents for all of the various lawsuits that challenged the orders, and related Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) cases against the administration.

The Pence Library at American University’s Washington College of Law offers Resources Related to Trump Immigration/Refugee Orders: Resources & Tools. It includes the text of the orders, the legal challenges, and links to op-eds and other analytical news articles. It has a focus on advocacy, with organizations to contact and ways to take action, and includes a chart of the stances of various senators and representatives as well as resources for contacting them. New York Law School’s research guide, President Trump’s January 29th, 2017 Executive Order on Immigration, has links to other research guides, legislative resources, and social media commentary, particularly from Twitter.

Speeches and Public Papers

Other LibGuides are more broadly focused on information and resources about the presidency in general. Princeton University Library has a guide, U.S. Government Documents: The President of the United States, that includes presidential speeches and public papers, directives and orders, and other documents. The University of Washington School of Law’s Gallagher Law Library has a guide, Presidential Power, that offers information about the president’s relationships with the branches of government, limitations on presidential power, and the president and the Constitution. Bennington College’s Crossett Library provides The Words of Donald Trump, which includes his current and archived Twitter feeds, official speeches and addresses, and other White House content.

There are a large number of other related sources as well. Interestingly, the FBI Library has a sizable collection of LibGuides on criminal issues such as domestic violence, cybercrime, gangs, intelligence analysis, and terrorism. Several LibGuides explore fake news, including those from libraries at Indiana University East, Cornell University, and the College of Marin. Political science and politics—including recent developments in U.S.-Russia relations—are the subjects of guides from libraries at the University of Wisconsin–Waukesha, Truckee Meadows Community College, and the University of North Florida.

Institute for Museum and Library Services

All of this is occurring in a climate of deep suspicion and strong divisiveness as well as in the shadow of the administration’s FY2018 budget proposal, which calls for the elimination of the $230 million Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). IMLS provides funding to support underserved populations, including the rural and inner-city poor, children, and the elderly, as well as the maintenance and extension of technology. It is the largest source of direct federal funding of libraries. The same budget proposal also calls for eliminating funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. While IMLS’ budget is secure through the end of this fiscal year, its future is uncertain.

It’s hard to tell what the future might bring, but libraries and LibGuides may still be leading the way. Rockhurst University has a research guide that covers the 2018 midterm elections. And the Rowan University’s Campbell Library has a guide that discusses the impeachment process.

-ENDS-


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George H. Pike is the director of the Pritzker Legal Research Center and a senior lecturer at the Northwestern University School of Law. He teaches legal research, intellectual property, and privacy courses at the School of Law in both the J.D. and Northwestern’s innovative Master of Science in Law program. Prof. Pike is a frequent lecturer on issues of First Amendment, copyright, and Internet law for library and information professionals. He is also a regular columnist and writer for Information Today, publishing a monthly column on legal issues confronting information producers and consumers. Previously, Prof. Pike was director of the Law Library at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and held professional positions at the Lewis and Clark Law School and at the University of Idaho School of Law, and was a practicing attorney in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Prof. Pike received his B.A. degree from the College of Idaho, his law degree from the University of Idaho, and his Masters in Library Science from the University of Washington. He is a member of the American and Idaho State Bar Associations, the American Association of Law Libraries, and the American Intellectual Property Lawyers Association.

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