April 19, 2018

Paula Webb | Movers & Shakers 2011 – Community Builders

Library Journal March 15, 2011: Paula Webb, Mover & Shaker

Information Spill

When the BP oil spill threatened Gulf of Mexico communities during the summer of 2010, Paula Webb knew immediately that “it would come to our Alabama shores.” So she got working on developing the University of South Alabama (USA) Library’s Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill website, “a place people could go to find true information, not the flurry of newsfeeds and commentators.”

Within a few days of following links, verifying quality resources, and deciding how the information would be arranged, Webb made the page live on the library’s government documents page and forwarded it to other Federal Depository Libraries.

The site hit its target, attracting hundreds of hits daily when it first appeared; the Government Printing Office made it a Depository Library Spotlight for August 2010. Even BP realized the website’s potential, asking if the library would develop a site for community resources.

Speeding the information flow through social networking—which Webb teaches while promoting the depository library program—and Delicious tagging via USAGovDoc, the library used 222 tags linked to OilSpill2010 to identify relevant documents and portals. Webb is now working on Libguide pages for USA’s government documents department.

Webb credits her undergraduate background in mass communications and journalism with helping to achieve perhaps an even more important goal. She was on the committee that petitioned for, raised funds, and brought a branch of the Mobile Public Library to Semmes, AL, population 17,710 in 2007.

The library has paved the way for economic redevelopment in an area of the state that was unincorporated until August 2010, spurring the construction of two new neighboring shopping centers. Webb’s appreciation of the power of libraries spills over wherever it can do the most good.


Paula Webb, University of South Alabama, Mobile

CURRENT POSITION Reference and Electronic Resources Government Documents Librarian

DEGREE MLIS, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, 2002

FLDP SPOTLIGHT www.fdlp.gov/outreach/spotlight/748-univofsouthalabama

FOLLOW twitter.com/usagovdoc; www.southalabama.edu/univlib/govdocs/gd