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CIA to post millions of CIA declassified documents online

The Central Intelligence Agency said this week that it will post its “CREST” (CIA Records Search Tool) database of more than 11 million pages of historical Agency records that have already been declassified and approved for public release online, making them broadly accessible to all interested users.

Debunking the Patriot Act as It Turns 15

“The Patriot Act turns 15 today, but that’s nothing to celebrate.”

Number 4:

Surveillance under the Patriot Act goes far beyond your phone company – Section 215 dramatically expanded the “business records” provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Although it was most notoriously used for the NSA’s call record program and was reformed by the USA FREEDOM Act, despite those reforms, the provision still allows the FBI to obtain records from any type of business, including your car rental company, your school, or your employer.

… or your library.

Curating Web-Based Information

Our friend Gary Price, who produces the excellent InfoDocket and Full Text Reports, has a new presentation online about selecting and curating and preserving information on the open web.

  • Maximizing Use Of The Open Web by Gary Price, MIT Brown Bag: “Issues in Curating the Open Web at Scale” (September 20, 2016).

    Much of the web remains invisible: resources are undescribed, unindexed or simply buried — as many people rarely look past the first page of Google searches or are unavailable from traditional library resources. At the same time many traditional library databases pay little attention to quality content from credible sources accessible on the open web. How do we build collections of quality open-web resources (i.e. documents, specialty databases, and multimedia) and make them accessible to individuals and user groups when and where they need it? This talk reflects on the emerging tools for systematic programmatic curation; the legal challenges to open-web curation; long term access issues, and the historical challenges to building sustainable communities of curation.

Gary highlights some key government information resources that could benefit from library attention. These include Disaster Lit: the Resource Guide for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, and Data-Rich Reports and Documents, and historical Federal Reserve documents, and international documents.

He provides some specific tools to help librarians select and curate (see slide 11).

Micah Altman provides a nice summary of some of the points Gary made:

Micah notes that Gary makes the point that “much of the web remains invisible: Many databases and structure information sources are not indexed by Google. And although increasing amounts of structured information is indexed — most is behaviorally invisible — since the vast majority of people do not look beyond the first page of Google results.”

FDLP libraries (including, but not limited to so-called “all digital depositories”) that wish to really add value to online government information and provide real value for their communities should carefully consider Gary’s recommendations! launches. Public cheers. Congressional privilege intact

OMG I am so excited. This morning, Daniel Schuman and the fine folks at DemandProgress announced the launch of, a new website with 8,200 CRS reports from the Library of Congress’ Congressional Research Service (CRS), and more coming.

This is so awesome because CRS reports, written by experts in “Congress’ Think Tank,” have long been NOT available to the public unless a person contacted her member of Congress and *asked* for a report. See the problem here? Government reports — which are legally in the PUBLIC DOMAIN! — NOT available to the public, and one would need to know about the existence of a report in order to ask for the report. CRAZY!

This has been a long time in coming. Librarians and open government groups have been advocating for the public release of CRS reports for at least as long as I’ve been a librarian (15+ years) and likely longer. Change *does* come, but sometimes it happens in a geological timeframe.

For more, see Daniel’s post “Why I Came To Believe CRS Reports Should be Publicly Available (and Built a Website to Make it….” Congratulations and THANK YOU Daniel!

Here are the highlights:

On the website:

  • 8,200 reports
  • Search + the ability to filter reports by topic
  • Automatic updates through RSS feeds
  • Freshness ratings, which say how much a report changed when it was updated
  • The ability to view reports on your mobile device
  • Bulk download of all the reports
  • All the code behind the site (build your own!)
  • For each report, we:
    • Redacted the author’s name, email, and phone number, except in a tiny subset of reports
    • Explained the report is not copyrighted and its purpose is to inform Congress

oday my organization, in concert with others, is published 8,200 CRS reports on a new
website, We are not the first organization to publish CRS reports. Many others have done so. Nor are we the first to advocate for public access. We’re part of a huge coalition including other former CRS employees. But I think we are the first to publish just about all the (non-confidential) reports currently available to members of Congress, in concert with a bipartisan pair of members who are providing the reports to us, and with a method to keep on doing so.We have tried to address CRS’s concerns. We redacted the contact information for the people who wrote the reports. We added information about why the reports are written and that they’re not subject to copyright. And we added a few nice bells and whistles to the website, such as letting you know how much a report has changed when it’s been revised.We think Congress as an institution should publish the reports. We support bicameral, bipartisan legislation to do so. And we hope that our website will help show the way forward.

via Why I Came To Believe CRS Reports Should be Publicly Available (and Built a Website to Make it… – Medium.

Feedback Needed by November 18th: FDLP Public Libraries Retention Study

The Government Publishing Office (GPO) has published a draft report asked for by the Depository Library Council (DLC) in response to learning that public libraries appear to be dropping from the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) at a faster rate than other libraries. The DLC asked GPO to:

  • Identify the reasons why libraries left the FDLP;
  • Ask remaining public library staff and directors to identify the most important
    challenges for them as FDLP members;
  • Ask remaining public library staff and directors to identify the most important
    advantages as well as needed enhancements or benefits for them as FDLP members;
  • Analyze and report on the collected information; and
  • Identify possible changes in policies and procedures to encourage existing public
    libraries to remain in the FDLP, but also provide incentives for non‐depository public
    libraries to join the FDLP.

The result was:

To Better Serve and Support Public Libraries: GPO’s Analysis and Findings on Public Libraries Leaving the Federal Depository Library Program Between 2007-2015 (October 2016)

GPO is asking for feedback on this report by November 18th. We encourage all of our readers, especially those working in public libraries, to read the report and provide feedback by e-mailing skmiller “AT”


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