News Library News Online

25th Anniversary 1978-2003

Vol. 25, No.2/Winter 2003

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New Member Profile: Debora Cheney
Foster Librarian
Pennsylvania State University

Debora Cheney, right, with Ellen and Larry Foster.

Debora Cheney, right, with Ellen and Larry Foster.

Like many of the academic librarians who are members of the News Division, I am interested in how students learn to use and gather information, so that someday, just someday, they will be able to produce the types of stories and commentary we expect of today's news professionals. It's an interesting challenge to work closely with the faculty and students in the College of Communications here at The Pennsylvania State University to ensure that we stress and teach information gathering skills from the very First-Year Seminar all the way through to the last seminar, not to mention supporting the research needs of a growing faculty and student body. I'm grateful, indeed, to have the support of Larry and Ellen Foster, who have endowed two positions - The Foster Professor in the College of Communications, held by Gene Forman (Managing Editor, The Philadelphia Inquirer) and my own position as the Foster Librarian, in the University Libraries. Larry and Ellen are committed to ensuring that people understand how to manage and use information and have provided a unique opportunity to support that effort.

My own expertise is in government information - how to locate it and how to use it. Specifically, I am interested in how news professionals use and locate government information. I spent my sabbatical year last year living in Oxford, England. During that year, I was aware of significant differences in the amount of government information that is sourced in British newspapers. There are a lot of reasons for that, of course, but the accessibility of government information is certainly one factor. U.S. government information is so widely available that the former President of Harvard, Neil Rudenstine once described it as the "garbage of the Web." His caricature of government information always makes me think of that old adage--one person's garbage is another person's treasure.

I joined the News Division to have an opportunity to learn from and work with the best - those librarians working in the universities and colleges and those working in news libraries. The News Division provides a unique opportunity to meet with librarians from both "worlds" within the same professional organization. I look forward to meeting and working with many of you.

Last Updated: 2/4/03
Ron Larson