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.

Check out the @RadReference anti-surveillance zine

Hey, check out the new, hot-off-the-presses Radical Reference anti-surveillance zine! It’s chock full of information to keep individuals and libraries safe in our ubiquitous surveillance world. It’s under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA license so feel free to print and hand them out in your library.

Ever since the events of September 11th, something has been happening to our privacy rights. The aftermath of this national tragedy has been an unprecedented expansion of mass surveillance in the name of “national security.” Technological progress has enabled surveillance to be both ubiquitous and ultra-pervasive, seeping into all aspects of the public and private spheres. Recent revelations about dragnet surveillance prove that we are having our data collected, stored and analyzed, even if we’ve been charged with no crime. In this world of mass surveillance, we are all suspects.

Librarians have always been fierce defenders of privacy. As a profession, we’ve opposed undemocratic and illegal threats to 1st and 4th amendment rights from McCarthyism to the USA PATRIOT Act. It’s unsurprising that these issues are of paramount importance to us; as information professionals, we know that privacy is fundamental to freedom. Even more importantly, privacy is vital to human dignity, recognized by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Our freedoms of association, speech, and thought all depend on our privacy.

That’s why we’ve created this anti-surveillance, pro-privacy publication. Information and action is critical to the fight against surveillance. We hope that this publication will help.


Your anti-surveillance Radical Reference Librarians

2 upcoming events for docs librarians: CRL’s Leviathan & GODORT panel @ #GPODLC14

We just wanted to give everyone a heads-up about two upcoming events of import for documents librarians.

This thursday and friday (april 24-25, 2014) in Chicago is “Leviathan,” the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) Spring forum on government information. There will be much discussion and agenda-setting for CRL member libraries about how to continue to collect govt information in the age of big data. Our FGI colleague JIM Jacobs (James A. Jacobs :-)) will be speaking at the forum, helping members think laterally about collecting and preserving born-digital government information. I’m told the panels will be videotaped and made available after the event.

Even if you can’t make it to Chicago, I would highly recommend reading Jim Jacobs’ report prepared for Leviathan as it maps out the lay of the land and the issues at hand:

James A. Jacobs, Born-Digital U.S. Federal Government Information: Preservation and Access, March 2014. Prepared for Leviathan, the Center for Research Libraries Global Resources Collections Forum.

NEXT week (April 30 – May 2, 2014) is the 2014 Depository Library Council meeting and FDLP conference held at GPO’s big red building in Washington DC. You can get Conference updates by following the twitter hashtag #GPODLC14.

And if you ARE attending DLC, please be sure to join yours truly and others for the GODORT panel “Digitization and preservation of government documents” held during the DLC meeting. It’s sure to be a lively discussion!

GODORT Panel Discussion
Depository Library Council meeting in D.C. April 30, 2014 from noon until 1 pm
GPO, 710 North Capitol St. NW, Washington, D. C.

Moderator: GODORT Legislation Committee: Bernadine Abbott Hoduski, Chair


  • Library of Congress: Mark Sweeney, Director for Preservation
  • National Library of Medicine: Walter Cybulski, Preservation Librarian
  • Stanford University Library: James R. Jacobs, Federal Government Information Librarian
  • University of North Texas Libraries: Suzanne Sears, Assistant Dean for Public Services and Chair of GODORT

Here’s the blurb for Leviathan:

Research libraries have always played an important role in ensuring the survival and integrity of government information. In the print era research libraries acquired and preserved the publications and historical archives of U.S. and foreign governments. CRL, for one, preserves the records as diverse as the files of the notorious Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia and the archives of the French colonial government in Senegal.  

The digital revolution, however, radically changed the ways in which government information is produced and distributed, upending longstanding library models of preservation and scholarly access. Therefore new ways must be found to ensure that the information governments gather and provide to their constituents—and the records of the workings of governments—remain available to researchers for the long term. 

CRL’s 2014 Global Resources Collections Forum will bring together representatives of national archives, government agencies, publishers, historians, and members of the research library community, to explore what role  libraries, collectively and individually, can play today in ensuring the long-term integrity and accessibility of the electronic records, data and publications of domestic and foreign governments.

via Center for Research Libraries – Global Resources Collections Forum.

State Agency Databases Activity Report 4/20/2014

It was a slow week for the volunteers at the State Agency Databases Project at http://wikis.ala.org/godort/index.php/State_Agency_Databases.


While not in scope for our project, we wanted to note the presence of a States section at data.gov. This page links to state produced data sets, apps, state data policies and current programming challenges. It is far from comprehensive but still interesting to look through. You can find a link to this section on our main project page after the listing of state pages.


Today’s featured database is from Annie Moots, who maintains the Missouri page:

Consumer Confidence Reports

This database contains yearly reports of community public water systems in each county of Missouri. Information in the reports includes assessment of the water source, contaminants and their ranges found in the water, violations of drinking water regulations, and much more. The database is searchable by county then by water system. It is maintained by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Public Drinking Water Branch.


This week the only significant change was that Mark Rozmarynowski updated a few links on the Wisconsin page.

#nlw14 FLDP Edition Day 7: New Mexico State Library

We conclude our Federal Depository Library themed celebration of National Library Week with the 2005 winner of the Government Printing Office’s Library of the Year Award. Here’s the citation from the award page:

New Mexico State Library Named 2005 Federal Depository Library of the Year

Winner of the 2005 Library of the Year.The U.S. Government Printing Office is proud to present to New Mexico State Library the 2005 Library of the Year Award. The library won the award for going the extra mile to promote the goals of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) in creative and innovative ways.

“New Mexico State Library is a shining example of what can happen when conscientious dedication and technological advances meet. This combination has ensured that access to authentic Federal Government documents is among the top priorities at this now award-winning state library,” said Bruce James, Public Printer of the United States. “The New Mexico community is served by some of the most resourceful, innovative, and knowledgeable librarians in the country and GPO salutes their achievements.”

New Mexico State Library’s programs have helped provide access to Government information to people whether living in a city or on an isolated mountaintop. Deputy Public Printer Bill Turri presented the award to library staff during a ceremony on October 16th, as part of this year’s Fall Federal Depository Library Conference. Achievements such as New Mexico News Plus, the New Mexico State Library Digital Archive Project, and Docs on Wheels provide access to Government information to the people of New Mexico.

New Mexico News Plus is a web-based information research service designed to serve as an access tool for New Mexico’s libraries, students, teachers, citizen activists, and federal/state government policy makers. Updated each morning in response to the news of the day, New Mexico News Plus provides the user with links to Government documents and agency contacts behind each story.

The New Mexico State Library Digital Archive Project provides a mechanism for the library to capture “fugitive” electronic documents from regional Federal agencies that have been identified on the New Mexico News Plus service or through local agency contacts. Many documents produced by regional offices of Federal agencies would never find their way into the program without this project.

The library also provides an excellent bookmobile service. Docs on Wheels serves four geographic regions, serving 10,000 registered customers. Many of the library’s rural patrons lack Internet access and rely on this service to participate in the regulatory process. The service gives them the ability to comment on proposed rules and regulations that impact their lives and communities.

“I commend New Mexico State Library for its pioneering work in managing public and Federal information which is reflected by this prestigious award. The Library’s approach, to make data of particular relevance to New Mexico available, is unique and highly innovative. It is an exciting and precise educational tool that can empower citizens to participate even more fully in the public policy processes that impact all of our lives,” said U.S. Senator Pete Domenici.

Library director Richard Akeroyd, regional Federal documents librarian Laurie Canepa, and their staff have shown passion and dedication to these projects and other efforts that have made the New Mexico State Library a recognized national leader in disseminating Government information.

“It is a great honor to receive this recognition from the U.S. Government Printing Office. All of us at the New Mexico State Library are extremely gratified and proud to be recognized for the dedication and commitment of our depository library staff to making government information freely and readily available to the people of New Mexico,” said Library Director Richard Akeroyd.“ We look forward to continuing our close work with the Government Printing Office, and our federal documents depository colleagues, in contributing to the on-going maintenance of a strong depository library system in New Mexico and throughout the nation.”

For more information about the New Mexico State Library, visit their Web site.

Have a story about the New Mexico State Library? Please share in comments!

We hope you have enjoyed this quick peek at nine of over 1,200 Federal Depository Libraries (FDLs). There is at least one FDL in every Congressional district, so you ought to find one near you. And if that’s not near enough, most of them have web sites. We hope you will take some time this month to visit your local Federal Depository Library either in person or over the web. They all have a lot to offer you. Much like libraries in general.


#nlw14 FDLP Edition Day 6: Benton Harbor Public Library

Today our Federal Depository Library themed celebration of National Library Week focuses on the 2006 winner of the Government Printing Office’s Library of the Year Award. Here’s the citation from the award page:

Benton Harbor Public Library Named 2006 Federal Depository Library of the Year

Winner of the 2006 Library of the Year.The U.S. Government Printing Office has selected Michigan’s Benton Harbor Public Library as the 2006 Federal Depository Library of the Year. Public Printer Bruce James presented the award to library officials October 22 at the annual Federal Depository Library Conference. In presenting the award, James commended the library for providing the residents of its community with online access to authentic published Government information. “I am honored to present this award to the Benton Harbor Public Library. Our partnership with the Federal Depository Library is an example of how GPO and local libraries can help communities across the country access authentic published Government information,” said James.

“I am especially glad to see the library using the far-reaching benefits of the Web to post Federal Government documents that residents can download electronically.”

Benton Harbor Public Library is in an economically challenged area and used limited funds to ensure Federal Government resources are used to their full potential. Michigan’s United States Senators are proud of what a library in their home state was able to accomplish.

“I commend the Benton Harbor Public Library staff not only for its commitment to providing citizens with access to a wide range of Government resources, but also for presenting these resources in a manner that so directly meets the needs of the community,” said U.S. Senator Carl Levin.

Attendees enjoying cake in celebration of the Library of the Year award.“Great things are happening because of great people in Benton Harbor. I’m so proud to represent them,” said U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. “This award is very special and very well deserved. I want to congratulate Fred Kirby, our great director of the library, and his staff.”

Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm, in a letter congratulating the library on the award, noted that “the staff at Benton Harbor Public Library are showing your community how to navigate, use and ultimately leverage primary source materials where they can arguably do the most good and where — without the commitment of the library to offer such materials — they would otherwise be unavailable to many people. This award is a testament to your library staff’s passion for information and commitment to your community. On behalf of the people of Michigan, whom you serve so very well, please accept my congratulations and best wishes as you celebrate this much deserved recognition.”

Do you have a story about the Benton Harbor Public Library? Share it in comments!