This e-mail from govdoc-l is being reposted with the permission of Doug Way.
Subject: Depository Concerns in Michigan
From: Doug Way
Reply-To: Discussion of Government Document Issues
Date: Tue, 21 Jul 2009 21:23:12 -0400
On behalf of the Government Documents Roundtable of Michigan I wanted to make a posting to inform you of an executive order recently made by Gov. Granholm. This order calls for, among other things, the elimination of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries and for the elimination or transfer of the library's Federal Depository collection. As the state's regional library, this obviously has dramatic implications for the state's depository community and for public access to government
For the complete executive order, please see: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/gov/EO36_285881_7.pdf. For a thorough summary of the executive order and the Michigan Library Association's position (as of last week), please GODORT of MI's Red Tape blog, which is maintained by Jon Harrison
(http://blogpublic.lib.msu.edu/index.php/2009/07/14/governor-granholm-iss...). Jon has been posting different details as they emerge, so if you are interested in following this situation I would encourage you to read the Red Tape blog (http://blogpublic.lib.msu.edu/index.php?blog=5).
Needless to say this is a difficult and challenging time for the library community in Michigan. The governor's executive order and other proposals floating around Lansing impact not only the depository program, but a wide range of library services that the residents of the state take advantage of on a daily basis. Unfortunately, just at the time when the residents of our state need libraries the most they are the ones who will suffer the most as they lose access to information
(government and otherwise).
President, GODORT of MI
I'd like to take note of the fact that Governor Granholm is a Democrat. It's important to remember that friends and adversaries of libraries come from across the political spectrum. You can never class one party or group of people as wholly bad and another party/group as wholly good.
We at FGI would welcome discussion of any aspect of the closure/reassignment of the Library of Michigan in this space. A wound to one library is a wound to all.
Today I’m happy to announce Sunlight Labs is stealing an idea from our government. Data.gov is an incredible concept, and the implementation of it has been remarkable. We’re going to steal that idea and make it better. Because of politics and scale there’s only so much the government is going to be able to do. There are legal hurdles and boundaries the government can’t cross that we can. For instance: there’s no legislative or judicial branch data inside Data.gov and while Data.gov links off to state data catalogs, entries aren’t in the same place or format as the rest of the catalog. Community documentation and collaboration are virtual impossibilities because of the regulations that impact the way Government interacts with people on the web.
We think we can add value on top of things like Data.gov and the municipal data catalogs by autonomously bringing them into one system, manually curating and adding other data sources and providing features that, well, Government just can’t do. There’ll be community participation so that people can submit their own data sources, and we’ll also catalog non-commercial data that is derivative of government data like OpenSecrets. We’ll make it so that people can create their own documentation for much of the undocumented data that government puts out and link to external projects that work with the data being provided.
If you're interested in helping out on this effort, please join the National Data Catalog Google Group at http://groups.google.com/group/datacatalog?lnk=gcamv.
Our friends at Open Congress recently provided a concrete example of the benefit of being able to work with government provided data. In a July 1, 2009 blog posting titled See all the Last-Minute Changes to the Climate Change Bill blogger Donny Shaw notes:
We may never get the details of the back-room negotiating that took place leading up to the bill’s passage in the House on Friday, but with OpenCongress’s legislative versioning tool we can see exactly what was changed in the bill in the process and then start to figure out why. Just go to the text of the bill as passed by the House and select “Show Changes.” You can scan the entire bill and see, with color-coded text, exactly what was changed – red, stuck-out text denoting changed or removed sections in the bill, and green text denoting sections that were inserted or modified.
Donny spent about 30 minutes scanning through the bill's changes and documented what he found. What can you find?
This sort of quick work at finding rush changes is only possible because copyright-free federal legislation is available to transparency organizations like OpenCongress to put into their change revision software. This gives regular citizens specialized access to legislation that was formerly only available to subscribers to expensive premium services. This is a good thing. The Government Printing Office's talks with the Library of Congress about bulk distribution of legislative data will only make things easier.
A Happy Independence Day to all of our US readers! May we live out the values enshrined in our founding document, including a sincere belief that all people are created equal and have inalienable rights no state can take away. Not even the United States.
This is going to be the last regular installment of "Guide of the Week" because I have hit two milestones. With this guide highlight, I will have hit every subject page at least once. With this week, I have done roughly a year's worth of guide highlights as I started on July 12, 2008. I would end with July 11, 2009, except that I will be in Chicago attending the annual conference of the American Library Association. So it seems good to end this regular column today.
This isn't the total end of highlighting materials from the ALA GODORT Handout Exchange, which you better have bookmarked by now. As I notice new guides being added, I will try and highlight them here. Additionally, if there seems to be an all consuming news topic that I can identify a relevant guide for, I'll highlight it. We have created an archives page for past Guide of the Week features at http://freegovinfo.info/node/2654.
If you are a govdocs blogger, I hope you will use the Handout Exchange as a source of posts. And like I've been saying almost every week in the past year, if you are a docs librarian with a handout, I expect you to share it on the Exchange.
Housekeeping done, let's move on to our last Guide of the Week:
Gender Equality (University of Colorado at Boulder Government Publications Library, 2008)
This annotated guide is divided into three sections: U.S. Information, International Information and Nongovernmental Sources. Some of the resources include:
- Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 this the Department of Education's page on Title IX, it contains the law, along with guidance and publications on the law.
- United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Women and Gender Equality (IANWGE) or WomenWatch, is "a central gateway to information and resources on the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women throughout the United Nations system, including the United Nations Secretariat, regional commissions, funds, programmes, specialized agencies and academic and research institutions."
- Women Working, 1800-1930 is a collection of digitized historical, manuscript, and image collections on working women from the Harvard Library collection.
In addition to this guide on Gender Equality, there are three other guides on women's issues on the Exchange. They date from the late 1990s. Think that is too few from too long ago? Then link to your more current guide or handout on women-related government information resources!
Although I've now hit all of the guide subject pages from A to Z, there is much more to explore in the Handout Exchange Wiki. So go forth and explore. And if you're a docs librarian, please link your favorite handout (or 12) to the Handout Exchange.
By now, most FGI readers should know about the coup in Honduras.
You may not know that the ALA GODORT Handout Exchange has some resources to help people learn more about Honduras:
- Honduras Country Guide from the University of Colorado at Boulder Government Publications Library
- State Department microfilm documents on Latin America from the University of California at Berkeley.
While not a handout nor in the Exchange, people interested in historic interactions between the United States and Honduras should check out the cross-agency Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Search put together by Stanford University's Social Sciences Research Group and hosted by Archive-It.
Librarians - If you want to use library/govdoc resources in highlighting news stories or themes important to your audience, you don't need to work alone. The Handout Exchange is there to help.
Treaties exist between many nations on many subjects. From mutual defense to copyright to exchanging meteorological data, chances are there is at least one treaty between at least two nations on almost any subject you can think of. This week's Guide of the Week will help you navigate this crowded field:
Treaty Research: Sources and Tips (Debbi Schaubman, Michigan State University, 1999) Last updated 10/27/2006 by Terri Miller.
This guide aims to be a starting point for the most important sources to treaty finding. It is divided into five sections:
- General Bibliographies and Indexes: World Coverage
- General Bibliographies and Indexes: Regional/National Coverage
- Treaty Texts
- Treaties between Native Americans and the United States or Canada
- Tips for Tracking Recent Treaties and Treaty Actions
Some of the resources include:
- Treaties and Alliances of the World
- Canado-American Treaties
- United States Treaties and Other International Agreements
- Avalon Project: Treaties between the U.S. and Native Americans
- Texts of Recently Deposited Multilateral Treaties
In addition to Terri's guide, there are currently at least six other guides on international treaties. Explore them all at http://wikis.ala.org/godort/index.php/Exchange_Subject_T#Treaties.
Anecdotes are not data. If you want data, you should turn to today's Guide of the Week from the ALA GODORT Handout Exchange Wiki:
Finding Statistical Resources (Sherry Engle Moeller, Ohio State University, 2005) CC Last updated 9/6/2006
I especially like this guide because it is more than a list of statistical resources. Sherry Moeller has a whole set of questions to help guide people to the right resource. She starts out with:
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the subject of interest? (Topic)
Examples: Crime, Economics, Education, Health
- Who or what is being counted? (Unit of Analysis)
Examples: Individuals, Families, Households, Businesses, Farms, States, Countries
- What level of geography is desired?
Examples: World, Country, State, County, City, Census Tract, MSA, Zip Code
- Do you want data for a single location or multiple locations?
Examples: Ohio, Great Lakes Region by State, All U.S. States
- What time period should the data cover?
Examples: Most recent available, 1870, 1900-1950
- What frequency of data do you need? (Are you looking for figures for a specific point in time or are you comparing data over a period of time?)
Examples: One time, decennially, annually, monthly, daily
- What variables are of interest?
Examples: Race, Sex, Acreage, Gross National Product
Sherry also gives this practical suggestion:
If you don't know who collected or produced the data, can you make an educated guess? (Who would need this kind of information?)
Examples: Number of airplane crashes in the U.S. - U.S. Department of Transportation?; Number of AIDS cases by country - World Health Organization?
Once she has given you some focus, Sherry's guide moves into the following sections: General Sources, International Resources, Foreign Government Resources, U.S. Government Resources, State and Local Government Resources and Other Resources. Among the many annotated resources listed are:
- Statistical Abstract of the United States
- World Development Indicators (World Bank)
- Statistical Agencies [By Country]
- Energy Information Administration (DOE)
- Statistics at the State and Local Level
The full guide is well worth your time if you have any interest in statistics whatsoever.
Aside from this guide, there are about three dozen other guides to various kinds of statistics available from the ALA GODORT Handout Exchange. Go check them out at http://wikis.ala.org/godort/index.php/Exchange_Subject_S#Statistics
Did you know that today (June 6, 2009), asteroid Asteroid 2004 FY15 is flying by the earth at 35 times the distance to the Moon? Or that the 52nd Session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space is going on this week? You would have if you had spent some time exploring this week's Guide of the Week from the ALA GODORT Handout Exchange Wiki:
Space and Astronomy (University of Colorado at Boulder Government Publications Library, 2008)
The events above came from the Space Calendar listed in the "US Government Information" section of the guide. This is also the section to pay close attention to if you're at all interested in highlighting Apollo Program resources in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing.
Other sections in UCB's guide include: International Information, Nongovernmental Sources, Resources in the Catalog and Related Topics. Some of the resources highlighted in these sections include:
- Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
- Hubble Space Telescope Images
- Electronic resources on space exploration or astronomy from UCB Library's Chinook catalog
- Image Databases
There is a lot to explore. I hope you will boldly go and explore the rest of this guide. And if you are a documents librarians with a handout or guide, I urge you to confidently go and link it to the ALA GODORT Handout Exchange Wiki.
With North Korea once again pushing its way to the front of the headlines, this is a good time to show off a librarian produced resource guide from the ALA GODORT Handout Exchange Wiki on this pariah nation:
North Korea Country Guide (University of Colorado at Boulder Government Publications Library, 2008)
Like the other excellent country guides produced by the UCB govpubs library, this guide is broken into the following sections:
- Government Information
- Country Profiles
- Articles & Databases
- Diplomatic Relations
- Peacekeeping & Military Information
- Resources in the Catalog
- Related Topics
The Government Information section indicates that the main official page for North Korea is a dot com and appears to be linked to an organization called the Korea Friendship Association. In addition there are two unlabeled portraits on the North Korea home page. I suppose they are current leader Kim Jon Il and his father Kim Il Sung. But I guess the North Korea web authors feel that only people who know that for sure will be visiting the North Korea web site.
As mentioned in other highlights of UCB country guides, the Country Profiles section features profiles of North Korea from many international organizations and a number of individual countries. If you question the impartiality of US assessments of North Korea, this section may give you a more well rounded view.
One of the resources featured under "articles and databases" is the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Declassified Documents database at http://www.foia.ucia.gov/. Typing in North Korea yields 1,154 results. Some of them serious and some of them light-hearted like "Agency hosts movie premier and sneak preview" which talked about a showing of the movie In the Company of Spies at CIA headquarters. This particular document also shows the ridiculous secrecy practice by the CIA as this movie press release has a number of redactions, including this bizarre one in the following paragraph:
No visit to the agency would be complete without a trip to the [REDACTED] reports that between 9:30 and 10:55pm, guests spent 2/3 of an average day's sales, carting away cart-loads of t-shirts, caps, and infants/children's outfits.
The secret's out. The CIA has a gift shop. The redaction would look somewhat less silly and pointless if they had just redacted the gift shop manager's name.
But I digress. The good librarians at the University of Colorado at Boulder have provided a wealth of resources for anyone who wants to take a peak behind the screaming headlines of this deeply insular and often confusion producing country.
Are you a librarian with a handout or guide to an issue in the news? Then link it to the ALA GODORT Handout Exchange Wiki.
A recent event shows why free access to the federal courts' Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) is important.
That event is Chrysler's bankruptcy. This is an event of high enough interest that PACER itself chose to highlight their holdings of the Chrysler bankruptcy docket.
Perhaps highlight is too strong a word. To see anything you need a PACER account and be prepared to pay fees under these conditions (bolding mine):
Access to web based PACER systems will generate an $.08 per page charge. The per page charge applies to the number of pages that results from any search, including a search that yields no matches (one page for no matches.) The charge applies whether or not pages are printed, viewed, or downloaded.
If PACER access were free, any interested citizen could monitor the bankruptcy case for themselves instead of getting a filtered view from media. They could see how the company, the shareholders and the union were being treated in the process.
PACER will continue to generate documents of national interest as GM follows Chrysler into bankruptcy court. Congress ought to mandate free access to all of PACER. The cost to do is an infinitesimal portion of the money paid for auto industry bailouts.