April 23, 2018

Julia Wallace | Movers & Shakers 2003

Let’s Not Be Quiet


Who would have thought a government documents librarian would be leading a political battle? Certainly not Julia Wallace. But in June 2002, after OMB Director Mitch Daniels told government agencies to ignore the century-old requirement that the Government Printing Office (GPO) print their documents, Wallace was chosen by a coalition of library organizations to tell the Joint Committee on Printing why this was an outstandingly bad idea.

The GPO distributes copies of each document to depository libraries, Wallace explains, and the effect of this circumvention would be “to further exacerbate a problem that already is indefensible – it will result in more fugitive documents and less access to government information for the American public.”

She told the committee that depository libraries, which offer access to government publications, are vital tools “to hold government accountable for its actions, to educate and inform the citizenry, and to provide the public with information it has paid for with its tax dollars.”

Realizing early on the challenges electronic formats would present for access and preservation, Wallace worked with numerous library organizations to create a 1993 discussion document on the future of federal government information. She was then asked by the GPO to participate in a team to identify how to transition to a more electronic federal depository library program.

Given the other serious threat to public information, the post – September 11 removal of data from government web sites, Wallace says, “Librarians must be vigilant in monitoring these threats. We need to articulate what difference they make to our society. We need to speak up in public forums and…alert others.”

It’s a time for librarians to get loud. And Julia Wallace is right out front.




Current Position: Head, Government Publications Library and Regional Depository Librarian, University of Minnesota Libraries, Minneapolis

Degree: MA, Library Science, University of Minnesota, 1961

Award: Recipient, James Bennett Childs Award, 1996