November 17, 2017

Rebecca M. Blakeley | Movers & Shakers 2009 – Activists

Rebecca M. Blakeley, McNeese State University, Lake Charles, LAGov Docs Forever

When Rebecca Blakeley started working as a reference librarian at McNeese State University, she was keenly aware of the obstacles ahead. The government documents collection had been devastated by water and mold following Hurricane Rita. Blakeley rolled up her sleeves.

After she and colleagues disposed of over 2000 damaged government documents and withdrew records of those unaccounted for, she used a 00 disaster relief grant to replace damaged records and equipment. She also sought free duplicates from the Library of Congress and electronic replacements. “Dealing with the aftermath of Rita is the most challenging yet rewarding aspect of my job,” she says.

These tireless efforts illuminate Blakeley’s passion: making government information universally available. She began championing open access after taking an online government documents librarianship course taught by Brown University librarian Daniel O’Mahony. The unstoppable Blakeley now creates “fun and innovative ways to bring gov docs to the people,” she says.

After retrospectively importing 6000-plus new records into the catalog and barcoding them for circulation, Blakeley brought McNeese’s documents webpage into the 21st century with wikis, blogs, and Meebo. Now, finding info is easier for her patrons, who seek material ranging from tax forms to disaster assistance from fema.gov, to ammunition for legal cases—like the one cancer survivors and patients are developing against petroleum plants in southwestern Louisiana.

In her free time, Blakeley blogs for the organization Free Government Information web site. As she once told a colleague, “I don’t want to be anything but a government documents librarian for the rest of my life!”

Vitals

McNeese State University, Lake Charles, LA

POSITION Government Documents Librarian/Department Head, Assistant Professor, Frazar Memorial Library

DEGREE MLIS, University of Rhode Island, 2005

IN HER OFFICE A bumper sticker with Laurel Thatcher Ulrich quote: “Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History”

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