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.

Turning the Torture Report Into a Book

It takes care to turn a good paper book into a good digital book. But it also takes care to turn a lousy digital book into a good paper book! The New Yorker has a story about how Melville House is doing just that, publishing the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture. But remember fine readers, GPO will be distributing it digitally and in print(!) to FDLP libraries around the country too!

The text of the report, as released two days earlier by the Intelligence Committee, is a five-hundred-and-twenty-eight-page PDF with the slanted margins and blurred resolution of a Xerox made by a myopic high-school Latin teacher. It’s pocked with black redaction lines and crammed with footnotes of David Foster Wallace-ian scope. The report is in the public domain and freely available online, but, for reasons of form as well as of content, it’s hell to read.

… A tangible, legible edition of the torture report seemed exactly the kind of thing that the press exists to publish…

…A dozen full-time employees, plus a smattering of freelance proofreaders, copy-editors, interns, and volunteers sat at computers, retyping the government PDF’s tangle of text into Microsoft Word files.

via Turning the Torture Report Into a Book – The New Yorker.

Increasing the Reach of Census Bureau Data

A reminder of some of the ways the Census Bureau is using to promote and facilitate use of its wealth of data.

  • Increasing the Reach of Census Bureau Data. By Raul Cisneros, director, Center for New Media and Promotion and Rebecca Blash, chief, Center for Enterprise Dissemination Services and Consumer Innovation (CEDSCI), U.S. Census Bureau. The Commerce Blog (December 19, 2014).

Some of the things mentioned:

  • APIs and newsletter for developers.
  • dwellr. An app that helps users discover cities and towns that fit their lifestyle
  • America’s Economy. App provides real-time updates of 20 key economic indicators
  • Quickfacts. fully interactive, customized tables that let users compare statistics for up to six locations side by side, and to share those statistics in social media

State Agency Databases Activity Report: 12/21/2014

With the quarterly link check ongoing, we continue to see changes to the following pages at the State Agency Databases Project at http://wikis.ala.org/godort/index.php/State_Agency_Databases .  (links are to revisions page, click on “page” tab to see regular page):

You can always view ALL changes made in the past seven days by visiting http://tinyurl.com/statedbs.

As a reminder, all of the links and text in the State Agency Databases Project is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license. We strongly encourage the use of our links and annotations in projects of your own.

Senate to publish bulk data in XML

Big News!

Senate Joins House In Publishing Legislative Information In Modern Formats, by Daniel Schuman. Congressional Data Coalition (December 18, 2014).

There’s big news from today’s Legislative Branch Bulk Data Task Force meeting. The United States Senate announced it would begin publishing text and summary information for Senate legislation, going back to the 113th Congress, in bulk XML. It would join the House of Representatives, which already does this. Both chambers also expect to have bill status information available online in XML format as well, but a little later on in the year.

There is more good news, too. Read Daniel’s complete report at the link above.

What makes a “fugitive document” a fugitive?

First off, I’d like to thank GPO (now the Government Publishing Office!) for posting about this Historic Fugitive Document Available through the CGP. I’d like to give a little context and parse out what makes a fugitive document — a document that is within scope of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) but for whatever reason is not distributed by GPO to depository libraries — a fugitive?

Fugitives are a rapidly growing problem as, according to GPO, 97% of all US documents are now born-digital, and most federal agencies are now publishing born-digital documents on their own .gov sites, thus cutting GPO out of the publishing process — and eroding the national bibliography that is the Catalog of Government Publications (CGP) (BTW, my colleague Jim Jacobs (yes there are two of us!) and I will be giving a “Help! I’m an Accidental Government Information Librarian” webinar on fugitives next month so stay tuned for the announcement!).

In the case of the 1991 “Report on Semiconductors, Fiber Optics, Superconducting Materials, and Advanced Manufacturing”, an emeritus professor gifted this document to my colleague Stella Ota, our physics and astronomy bibliographer, who passed it along to me. I thought for sure we’d have this stand-alone or in the [United States Congressional Serial Set], the long-standing official collection of Congressional reports and documents near and dear to many govt information librarians’ hearts — and if you’re particularly nerdy, there’s a great book recently published about the Serial Set by Andrea Sevetson and Mary Lou Cumberpatch!

But the more I looked, the less I found. It was announced as transmitted to Congress in the Congressional Record (137 Cong Rec S 4449) and in the Public Papers of the President. But it didn’t show up in the Serial Set or in my wider net of the CGP, FDsys, or Monthly Catalog (another gem, the precursor to the CGP published since 1895). It shows up as a stub in Google Books, but nothing in Hathitrust. No libraries are listed in the WorldCat record. It simply hadn’t been published, though it was announced that it had. (pro tip: don’t always believe the Congressional Record when they say something has been published, check all the sources to make sure!).

I don’t know how this Stanford emeritus professor came to have the document in his possession, but it had clearly fallen through the FDLP cracks. Thanks to Astrid Smith, one of our fine staff that work in the Stanford Library digitization lab in Digital Library Systems and Services (DLSS), it was quickly and expertly digitized, OCR’d, and stored in our Stanford Digital Repository, and also made physically available in the library.

So there you have it, a day in the life of 1 fugitive US publication.

Historic Fugitive Document Available through the CGP

Details
Last Updated: December 18 2014
Published: December 18 2014
The 1991 report prepared by the Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, “Report of the President to the Congress on Federal Policies, Budgets, and Technical Activities in Semiconductors, Fiber Optics, Superconducting Materials & Advanced Manufacturing,” is now available through GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

OCLC Number: 898189404
CGP System Number: 000938821
SuDoc Class: C 1.202:SE 5
Item Number: 0129-B (EL)
PURL: http://purl.fdlp.gov/GPO/gpo53991

GPO thanks James Jacobs and the staff at Stanford University for collaborating with GPO to provide the public with access to this historic fugitive document.

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