For the first time, the Federal Depository Library Council Meeting and Conference was held in the Government Printing Office buildings. The annual conference was held April 30 to May 2, having been postponed from last October because of the government shutdown.
You can download Conference Proceedings (slides from most presentations) and webinar recordings (using i-cohere software) from GPO. I’ll highlight some of the presentations I found most interesting later this month. Right now, I’m going to share a few impressions (and photos) related to meeting within GPO.
If you haven’t been to GPO’s facility in Washington DC, it’s HUGE. By the end of the 1930s, GPO occupied three buildings in downtown Washington DC, with a total of 31.5 acres of effective floor space. Back then it had its own hospital, cafeteria, and sports team, musical groups, bowling alley and credit union. (It still has the cafeteria and credit union.) It does have its own police (note the car below). At its peak, in the 1970s, GPO had nearly 8000 employees.
You can read more about GPO’s history in the exhibit brochure Keeping America Informed: The United States Government Printing Office, 150 Years of Service to the Nation or in the book of the same title, which was distributed to all depository libraries.
I imagine the musical groups performed occasionally in Harding Hall, the room where the Council sessions were held. I know it also hosted dances, and fundraisers for war bonds. They do not make public spaces like this any more.
Here’s the back of the hall…
And some wall molding (ventilation cover?) detail…
I wish I could say that the bookstore had as interesting architecture as Harding Hall has, whether the style was classical or modern. But the bookstore is a neutral-colored, large office room with plain walls with some stand-up book shelves. It is well-lit, I can say that, and roomy, roomy enough to hold the conference poster session comfortably. The entrance to the bookstore is more impressive…
GPO really is in the heart of Washington DC, about three blocks from the Capitol Grounds (it’s three more blocks to the Capitol building itself)…all the easier to print and deliver the Congressional Record. I think the following photo demonstrates that information dissemination, through the GPO and FDLP, is at the heart of our democracy.
Wonder where the eagle in the FDLP logo comes from? Maybe it was inspired by this:
I found the GPO crest in Harding Hall interesting, but not very readable. I’m glad this logo is not used today.
Security at GPO was tight. We had to go through a metal detector each morning, show a photo ID, and have our names checked off a list of conference attendees before we could take an escorted elevator ride to Harding Hall. We could only move between the four rooms that hosted sessions, and the cafeteria. GPO staff were posted at corners and elevators to help us find our way through the maze of the building.
As kind of a grammar nut (I like diagramming sentences; the college class I took where that’s all we did was one of my favorite classes ever), unnecessary quotation marks bother me. I especially don’t like seeing them outside of the Government Printing Office (but other agencies are responsible for the editorial content of what GPO prints, right?).
To end this post on a positive note, the GPO staff that we ran into throughout the conference, whether those tasked with guiding us through the building, the staff that work directly with the depository program, or people going about their regular work in the building (or getting food in the cafeteria) were cheerful and gracious about 280 guests invading their place of employment! GPO put on a great conference!