Magazine article American Libraries

Librarian Francis Buckley Named Superintendent of Documents

Magazine article American Libraries

Librarian Francis Buckley Named Superintendent of Documents

Article excerpt

Francis J. Buckley Jr. has been named Superintendent of Documents of the United States, the first time a librarian has ever held the position. As superintendent, Buckley will be responsible for oversight of the public distribution and sale of millions of government publications in both print and electronic formats. He will manage a budget of more than $100 million and a workforce of approximately 700.

In making the appointment, Public Printer Michael F. DiMario said Buckley "will bring to this position strong management skills and a lifelong commitment to ensuring public access to federal government information."

To accept the post, Buckley resigned from the Shaker Heights (Ohio) Public Library, where he has been director since 1994, following 27 years at the Detroit Public Library. His MLS is from the University of Michigan, and he brings to the post extensive experience in the documents field, including service on the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee on the Revision of Title 44, U.S.C., the law controlling dissemination of federal publications.

Buckley begins the assignment December 1 at the Government Printing Office in Washington, D.C. American Libraries Editor Leonard Kniffel interviewed him by telephone October 28.

AL: Since this is the first time a librarian has ever been appointed to this position, can you tell us how it happened?

BUCKLEY: The philosophy that the current public printer, Mike DiMario, has is that we need to emphasize more the philosophy of the mission of the program, which is to guarantee public access to government information. Looking to fill the position, he wanted to change the emphasis of the program and asked if I would be interested in doing this. There's got to be more emphasis on promoting public access to information as an overall program goal.

Another goal is to look at the sales program in terms of its "collection development policies," if you will, to look at what should be included in the sales program on the basis of public needs, in addition to just the economics of what's being sold. There've been very vigorous economic considerations applied in terms of whether a publication is sold or whether it's retained in the sales program, and there needs to be a balancing of factors, as we do in the library world, in terms of evaluating information and deciding what to retain in a collection.

AL: And how will having a librarian as Superintendent of Documents make a difference?

BUCKLEY: There are some library principles that need to be applied to the sales program, as well as the library principles that have traditionally been applied to the depository program. Mr. DiMario has asked me to take a visible role and a strong role in terms of promoting access to government information. And that is the change, a shift in emphasis from previous superintendents who have promoted the program but not quite as visibly and not as much. Because of being a librarian, I already have entrees into many of the user community libraries and other users, so that I will be able to work more closely with those groups to promote that access to government information.

AL: To what extent will this position enable you to influence government policy in these areas?

BUCKLEY: As a manager within the program, I will be working with the whole GPO staff to provide information on our program to the legislative oversight committees of Congress. Government employees cannot lobby, but they can inform and report to Congress in terms of the operation of their programs. I believe that often they do recommend changes in the law that they see as appropriate to run the programs effectively.

AL: What can you say about your agenda for this office?

BUCKLEY: My initial agenda is to promote the program within agencies of government to more effectively make their publications available through depository libraries and in the sales program and to get their publications into the program so that we reduce the numbers of fugitive documents or databases that are not being made available to libraries and the public in a widespread fashion. …

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