On November 17, 1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6433-A and created the National Emergency Council (NEC), sing an appropriation authorized by Section 220 of the National Industrial Recovery Act of June 16, 1933, in response to the declaration by the Congress of the United States of the existence of an acute national economic emergency which affects the national public interest and welfare.
The NEC was deemed created for the purpose of coordinating and making more efficient and productive the work of the numerous field agencies of the Government established under, and for the purpose of carrying into, effect, the provisions of the National Industrial Recovery Act, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, and the Federal Emergency Relief Act that were all signed into law in 1933 in response to the Great Depression.
Six months later, Clara M. Edmunds, head librarian of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s public information service, opened the U.S. Information Services library, which was designed to be the comprehensive collection of relevant government documents, updated regularly to record every development in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the government. This library, which centralized information about federal rules, regulations, and administrative orders for the public, was the first one-stop-shop for government information until 1948. In 1945, Truman, who had no interest in funding it, took office. In 1946, the USIS was put under the state department and had its funding reduced. And in 1948, the Smith-Mundt Act, which focussed on the creation of an information service to disseminate information abroad about the United States (instead of to its own citizens) put the final nail in the USIS coffin. (One account of the United States Information Service Libraries can be found in the online archive of the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library Science. Information can also be found in A Timeline of Events in the History of Libraries.)
It may have only lasted 15 years, but it was a revolution in government information management and deserves to be remembered.