The future of government information is in peril from many economic and political forces. Free Government Information was initiated by Jim A. Jacobs, James R. Jacobs, Shinjoung Yeo, three librarians at University of California San Diego, along with Daniel Cornwall, librarian at the Alaska State Library, and James Staub, librarian at the Tennessee State Library, in order to raise public awareness of the importance of government information and create a community with various stakeholders to facilitate an open and critical dialogue. James R. Jacobs and Shinjoung Yeo moved to Stanford University Library in December, 2005 as International Documents Librarian and Communications Bibliographer/Reference Coordinator respectively. Shinjoung is currently (as of September, 2008) a PhD student in the Information in Society program at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
In October, 2008, we expanded the number of FGI volunteers with the inclusion of Rebecca Troy-Horton. Rebecca was the head of the Government Information Department at the McNeese State University Library in Lake Charles, Louisiana until 2011. She is currently a Reference Librarian at the New Hampshire State Library.
We believe that it is important to garner support for government information not just within our own community of federal depository libraries but with those organizations and citizens that actually need to know about the activities of our government in order to participate fully in the democratic process. This includes non-profit organizations, government watchdogs, academics and researchers, journalists, the business community, and individual citizens. By creating this nexus, we hope to facilitate collaboration among the various stakeholders and participate in the design of a truly robust system for the digital age where government information is freely accessible, fully functional and usable, and preserved in a distributed system of libraries.
Ceding responsibility and control of such information to those who must be held accountable with that information is unwise. While governments will continue to fulfill their role of creating and disseminating information, there is another continuing essential role for preserving and organizing that information for users and providing long-term access to and service for that information. In America, we are blessed with laws that help us ensure this, but these laws bring with them a responsibility. Libraries will abrogate that responsibility to others at the peril, not just to their own continued relevance, but to democracy itself. --Jacobs, Jacobs, Yeo. "Government Information in the Digital Age: The Once and Future Federal Depository Library Program." (to be published in the May, 2005 issue of Journal of Academic Librarianship).
Please contact us if you would like to join in the effort to make government information a continuing reality or if you have ideas, suggestions, or comments about the site. We are available for panels and presentations at conferences, workshops, etc. Please see FGI's list of papers and presentations for more information.