February 16, 2018

Cathy Hartman | Movers & Shakers 2004


Government Accounting


After 15 years alone in her studio, working as an artist, Cathy Hartman wanted to get out into the world. Career testing suggested librarianship (also military officer because of her penchant for taking charge). Her strong belief that citizens had a right to know what their government was up to made government documents a natural fit, and shortly after receiving her degree she became head of the Government Documents Department at the University of North Texas (UNT) Libraries.

She grasped earlier than most that government information in digital form offered both opportunities and perils. It meant that government documents librarians could now ‘serve the world,’ but it also meant their duty to preserve information would be challenged as never before.

Hartman realized that the disappearance of entire government agencies represented a unique preservation problem and formed a partnership with the Government Printing Office to capture and preserve the contents of their web sites on her library’s servers. Her CyberCemetery project originally housed the documents of short-lived commissions, but over the summer of 2003 it began to receive the files of agencies that have been melded into the Department of Homeland Security.

Now head of the Digital Projects Department at UNT Libraries, Hartman has formed similar partnerships with Texas agencies to preserve state publications, including a searchable full-text archive of the Texas Register
(the state’s equivalent of the Federal Register).

There are now governmentwide rules about adding and removing information from web sites, partly because of Hartman’s urging. But she is less concerned about the inadvertent removal of documents and more concerned about distortion of information when web sites ‘are changed regularly to reflect an updated view.’ Like when the original press release that announced the ‘end of combat operations in Iraq’ was revised to say ‘major combat operations.’

One of Hartman’s favorite activities is zipping across the landscape in a sports car that goes from zero to 60 in under ten seconds. It’s also how she lives: get a good idea and go with it, zero to 60.




Current Position: Head, Digital Projects Department, University of North Texas Libraries, Denton
Education: M.S. in Library Science, University of North Texas, 1991
Web sites: CyberCemetery (govinfo.library.unt.edu/default.html)
Awards: Knowledge Is Power Award for Outstanding Government Documents Librarianship, Texas Library Association, 2003; ALA GODORT Catherine J. Reynolds Award, 2003