Our mission

Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Senator demands US courts recover 10 years of online public PACER records

This is an update to our post a few weeks ago PACER Removes Court Case Documents. It seems now that PACER has angered Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) to the point that he’s written a letter to US District Judge John D. Bates, the director of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AO) *demanding* that the thousands of court documents deleted when PACER was “upgraded” be restored. Thanks Senator Leahy.

How many examples of lost digital govt information hosted on .gov servers do we have to document before the library and govt documents communities come to the realization that the *only* way to assure long-term access and preservation of govt publications — both physical and born-digital — is to have redundancy and to have that redundancy off of .gov servers?! Come on people!

The head of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee is urging the federal bureaucracy to restore a decade’s worth of electronic court documents that were deleted last month from online viewing because of an upgrade to a computer database known as PACER. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) said the removal of the thousands of cases from online review is essentially erasing history.

“Wholesale removal of thousands of cases from PACER, particularly from four of our federal courts of appeals, will severely limit access to information not only for legal practitioners, but also for legal scholars, historians, journalists, and private litigants for whom PACER has become the go-to source for most court filings,” Leahy wrote Friday to US District Judge John D. Bates, the director of the Administrative Office of the Courts (AO).

The letter, obtained by The Washington Post, blasted the August 10 decision commencing “without any warning to the public, and without prior notification or consultation with Congress.” The letter said that “Given the potential impact of the AO’s recent decision, I urge the AO take immediate steps to restore access to these documents.”

via Senator demands US courts recover 10 years of online public records | Ars Technica.

Contact the FCC and Congress. Tell them we need net neutrality for an equitable Internet

“The chairman’s defenders — the cable and phone companies themselves — would likely respond that the “slow” lanes would be pretty fast while the “fast” lanes could offer governments even more benefits. But don’t believe it. Our nation is already in the global slow lane.” — Slate.com

See the spinning wheel of death? September 10 is Internet slowdown day when sites across the web will display an alert with a symbolic “loading” symbol (the proverbial “spinning wheel of death”) and promote a call to action for users to push comments to the FCC, Congress, and the White House. Please help by contacting the FCC and your Congressional representatives to tell them to support Net Neutrality and an open Internet. None of us can live with an Internet slow lane and a fast lane.

Here’s some additional reading to get yourself up to speed. Please post and forward widely!

Library of Congress racing to preserve vast CD collection

Here’s a short piece from a recent CBS news broadcast about preserving the CD collection at the Library of Congress. It was so sad to see the example CD they showed was from the Census Bureau US Exports of Merchandise.

Welcome Sitting Bull College Library to the FDLP!

Last week, GPO announced that Sitting Bull College Library had joined the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) and would be the first digital-only member of the FDLP. Welcome Sitting Bull College to the FDLP!

But one sentence piqued my interest in GPO’s press release: “…opting to meet their community’s needs by developing an online Government information collection.” I haven’t been able to find any information about *how* GPO is helping Sitting Bull College to develop an “online government information collection.” To me, a library collection is one that the library actually manages, preserves and makes accessible to their local community. GPO is not offering digital deposit to Sitting Bull College (or any FDLP library for that matter).

I think for the FDLP program to continue to flourish, there’s got to be more than PR. There’s so much to be done to ensure the preservation and access of born-digital government information. There need to be ways for depositories to help collect, preserve, describe and give access (e.g. digital deposit, fugitive hunting, collaborative cataloging, building an FDLP knowledge base etc). Otherwise, they’re “depositories” in name only.

The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) designates Sitting Bull College Library as the first digital-only member of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). The library is opting to meet their community’s needs by developing an online Government information collection. In choosing this format, the library will not receive print materials from GPO. Sitting Bull College is a Native American tribally-managed college that was granted land-grant status under an act of Congress with the mission to serve their community through higher education programs. Sitting Bull College Library serves the information needs of its students, faculty, and staff, the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation community, and the American public in North Dakota and South Dakota. Through the FDLP, GPO works with approximately 1,200 libraries nationwide to provide the public with access to authentic, published information from all three branches of the Federal Government in print and electronic formats.

“Libraries have always been the cornerstone in helping GPO carry out its mission of Keeping America Informed on the three branches of the Federal Government,” said Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks. “GPO welcomes Sitting Bull College Library into the FDLP. As GPO continues to transform by providing information in digital formats, we are pleased to partner with the library community to expand access to Government information in their communities.”