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A COOPERATIVE CLEARING HOUSE
FIRST ANNUAL CUMULATION
THE H. W. WILSON COMPANY
A little group of special librarians meeting at Kaaterskill in June, 1913, discussed a plan for keeping themselves informed systematically in regard to publications and movements of interest to them in their work. As the result, Public Affairs Information Service was organized on a cooperative basis, with Mr. John A. Lapp, director of the Indiana Bureau of Legislative Information, in charge. During the first year the Service was conducted from Indiana, mimeographed sheets being issued each week listing by subjects notices of important publications and movements relating to public affairs. In addition to this, typewritten material, such as bibliographies and digests of legislation, prepared by the various libraries, was sent to the Indianapolis Bureau, copied, and sold to cooperators for the cost of copying.
It was found, however, that it was desirable to have these entries cumulated, so at the end of the first year an arrangement was made with The H. W. Wilson Company to take over the management of the Service and print the information in the form of weekly bulletins, to be cumulated every two months, each cumulation being complete for the year. The Indiana Bureau has continued to be a very active cooperator and adviser. Too much credit cannot be given to Mr. Lapp for his initiative in starting the Service and for his continued interest in its welfare. His desire to turn the Service over to the Wilson Company was prompted only by his interest and anxiety to see the enterprise succeed. Moreover, copy for all of the special bulletins issued during the past year, consisting of bulletins relating to Proposed legislation, Constitutional amendments and Governors' messages, has been prepared under his direction at the Indiana Bureau and he has continued to furnish notes on constitutional decisions.
In publishing this first Annual Cumulation, an attempt has been made to include as many as possible of the entries issued in mimeographed form during the first year of the Service. Since a great many of these were published as announcements, considerable correspondence had to be carried on to find out if the publications mentioned had been issued and to obtain exact information in regard to them. It was also necessary to find out whether or not movements begun were being carried forward or were finished, and whether reports had been made of investigations, conferences, etc. The task proved so much greater than was anticipated that not only was the publication of the Annual delayed, but some of the items had to be omitted. Work on these will be continued during the coming year, and the remaining entries will be included from time to time in the Bi-monthly Cumulations.
The same thing holds true of the printed Bulletins. It was impossible to check up all of the incomplete entries and to obtain the additional information needed without delaying the Annual indefinitely. Letters were not always answered promptly, second and even third letters were sometimes necessary before the information was obtained, so it was decided to include complete
information in as many cases as possible and to let the other entries stand. Information in regard to these will be published in the regular Bulletins, as soon as it is received.
Although it was not proposed to include any new material in the Annual, this checking of incomplete information often necessitated the substitution of new editions for old and the listing of the publication instead of the announcement. This is especially true in the case of reports of investigations, and proceedings of conventions. In a very few instances where a 1913 or 1914 report was listed, the later report was added.
During the past year, the duplicate copies of the typewritten material listed for sale during 1914, were forwarded to White Plains and a list was published in the back of the Bulletins. Entries for these have been included in the Annual, but no attempt has been made to list typewritten material
not forwarded. The check-lists of typewritten material which appeared thruout the year have also been omitted from the Annual. New lists will, however, be published frequently in current issues.
Many problems in organization, style of publication and care of material have had to be met with this first year, mailing lists have had to be established and the system of obtaining material to list had to be built up almost from the bottom. Lack of sufficient assistance has been a great drawback. With the record of this year as a guide, it is expected that many of these difficulties will be overcome and the Service will be greatly improved. It is also expected that the new method of ordering material will prove much more satisfactory.
The editor desires to express her appreciation to the institutions which have cooperated effectively in furnishing information and in supplying publications on request. She also acknowledges her indebtedness to Miss Marion E. Potter, Miss Bertha Tannehill and the other members of the staff of The H. W. Wilson Company who so cheerfully assisted with early numbers of the Bulletins, and are always willing to advise upon matters connected with its publication.
ORRENA LOUISE EVANS,
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