Activity continues at the State Agency Databases Across the Fifty States project. See a blow by blow list of changes from the previous seven days at http://tinyurl.com/statedbs. Some highlights from this week are:
Licensed Athletic Trainer Search - Searchable database of licensed athletic trainers, by first name and last name.
Arthropod (i.e. bugs) Management Database - Intended for commercial plant growers, this database "allows you to search for insects and mites that are pests on trees, shrubs and other plants in the landscape, the nursery or Christmas tree farm." Searchable by damage type, pest and plant. One of each, plus a "profession" must be selected to ensure a successful search.
Confederate Pension Applications Index Database - This database consists of alphabetically arranged pensions granted from 1898 for veterans and widows. The pensions may include service information, occupation, place of residence, and number of children. The collection also contains a few applications for individuals other than veterans or widows that were not granted.
This particular database was also added to our Official Records Databases page.
Orders - The database of Orders of the Public Service Commission is being expanded to cover orders and rate requests from 1990 to present. Searches can be by keyword, with filtering by industry.
Classics in Washington History - A searchable database of more than 160 scanned Washington history publications in 14 subject categories such as geography, territorial and state government, exploration and early travel, and women's stories.
Parenting Program Directory - Basic information about existing parent education programs in Arkansas. Directory is searchable by county and keyword.
In addition to the changes above, the SADATFS Volunteer Guide was updated with some style guidelines and a clarification was made to the "What is a Database?" page.
We continue to need people to adopt the following orphan state pages:
Connecticut - Links fixed this week through govdoc-l crowdsourcing!
District of Columbia
Readers of FGI are well acquainted with link rot, where internet links break over time.
Today I'd like to talk about something more subtle with no obvious way to detect the problem.
On the Alaska page of the State Agency Databases Across the Fifty States project, I had a link to APOC InfoQuick, a database of disclosure information for public officials and lobbyists from the Alaska Public Offices Commission. Today I visited the link at https://webapp.state.ak.us/apoc/index.jsp and chose the "lobbyist reporting" menu item because I thought it would be fun to list BP lobbyists in a personal blog entry I was drafting.
The lobbyist reporting section had a Search Lobbyist Registrations link. I clicked on it, searched for BP and got some listings. But only from 2007, the first year that Sarah Palin was Governor.
Searches in other parts of the lobbyist reporting system confirmed that NO information was available after 2007. I started to wonder if I'd missed the session law that repealed lobbying reporting requirements.
Then I noticed that the URL started with "webapp" and thought that it might be good to see if this database was still linked from the APOC home page.
It wasn't. Now they had a link called "search reports" at http://doa.alaska.gov/apoc/SearchReports/index.html. The page features two reporting systems for public officials - An "interim reporting system" for reports filed 2010 and later and "searchable campaign reporting" which is the public official/candidate portion of APOC InfoQuick. This explains why APOC InfoQuick wasn't taken off the live web.
Current information on lobbyists in Alaska is still available, just not database searchable. You can access various PDF lobbyist reports from 2005 forward at http://doa.alaska.gov/apoc/TrainingReports/lobbyist.html.
I have no information on why lobbyist information is no longer database searchable and speculating why would take me out of my comfort zone of not discussing policy choices made by the level of government I work for.
The main point I'm making is that most librarians and other information specialists are pretty comfortable with link checking and fixing broken links when we find them. But what can we do when a site remains on the web but has stopped being updated? Especially when there's no note on the old site about the change?
Activity continues at the State Agency Databases Across the Fifty States Project.
Marlena Crenshaw of the Arkansas State Library publicly claimed the Arkansas page. Welcome Marlena!
Next Sunday we should have definitive lists of who is continuing with the project and what pages remain orphans.
We are currently studying ways to ensure that orphan pages have updated links while we recruit for documents specialists for them.
You can find a blow by blow listing of this week's wiki activity by visiting http://tinyurl.com/3npd96f. Here are a few highlights:
Arkansas Resource Information CyberCenter - Searchable database of community service information. Searchable by organization, city, county, status, hours of operation, and service offered.
Civil War Treasury Vouchers, 1861-1865 - "Includes 15,770 payment receipts for military expenditures and wartime purchases made by the State of New Jersey from 1861 through 1866. It includes soldiers' discharge certificates for final pay, affidavits of family members for pay due to deceased soldiers, and quarterly returns of the counties and cities listing the names of soldiers’ families and dependent mothers who received subsistence pay during their service."
Department of Agriculture Photographs - Indexes more than 7,000 photographs, and displays more than 2,000, showing all aspects of farming, including events and celebrations, organizations, people, corporations, and more. These Department of Agriculture public information photographs range in date from the 1930s to the 1970s with a few items from as early as the 1880s.
We continue to have busy weeks at the State Agency Databases Across the Fifty States project.
You can find a blow by blow list of activity by visiting the project's related changes page.
Highlights from the past week include:
NEW PROJECT VOLUNTEERS
The following people volunteered to adopt a page and have publicly claimed them:
Rita Franks - LA
Karen Kitchens - WY
Chris Sharpe - GA
Other people have volunteered but haven't put their names to pages yet.
Addictive Disorders and Prevention and Licensing Database - Search by last name, credential number, or city for any certified substance abuse counselor,
compulsive gambling counselor, prevention specialist, counselor in training, or counselor supervisor.
Procedural Risk Database - This database describes risks and hazards related to medical care and surgical procedures. It was developed by the Louisiana Medical Disclosure Panel in accordance with Louisiana Revised Statutes 40:1299.40. Search by the entire database or search for risks by procedure category.
Since last week, project volunteers have been busy at the State Agency Databases Across the Fifty States project on the GODORT wiki:
Volunteer Rich Gause updated many links on one of the most comprehensive project pages.
Volunteer Bill Sowers updated a number of legislative database links.
Volunteer Kathryn Thomas updated links on the North Dakota page and added a number of new databases, including:
Company Profiles - A database of "new wealth creators" like manufacturers, food processors and various information technology businesses. New wealth creators are businesses that bring new money into the state by selling a significant portion of their products outside the state. Search by city, company name, NAICS, or product.
Search Available Property - Cities and Counties with currently available properties for sale or lease.
Volunteer Nathan Verilla updated page links and added two databases:
Burned Jurisdiction Database - This database contains a growing collection of records originally recorded in courts or jurisdictions that subsequently suffered record losses. These records are from higher or appeal courts, most of which do not presently exist. Among the jurisdictions included in this database are the General Court, the [Supreme] Court of Appeals, the High Court of Chancery, the various Superior Courts of Chancery, and the various District Courts. These records were found while processing chancery causes and other locality materials. The database contains records from collections housed and processed at the Library of Virginia as well as those processed in localities.
Virginia Military Dead Database - The primary purpose of the Virginia Military Dead Database is to honor those Virginians that have given their lives in defense of freedom. It pulls together information from a wide variety of sources and makes that information more accessible. For more information consult the Introduction to the Virginia Military Dead Database and the Source Guides.
Volunteer Marilyn Von Seggern updated links on the Washington page and added new resources including the Environmental Information Management system.
In addition to the activity above, project coordinator Daniel Cornwall undertook the following actions:
- Established a draft guide for volunteers
- Created a volunteers mail discussion list as part of an effort to bolster communication and community among project volunteers.
- Did some fixes to the Wyoming page as a result of user e-mail
- Continued to contact project volunteers who had not updated their pages since January 1, 2011.
While not specifically about government maps, this five minute video from the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library is a nice overview of the different uses of maps and why old maps remain important. It also makes a decent case for why at least some maps ought to continue in a physical format.
State Agency Databases Report 6/29/2011
There's been new activity for the State Agency Databases Across the Fifty States project on the ALA GODORT wiki. I've decided to start making occasional reports when it seems like there is enough activity to justify a report.
Databases removed from project pages due to dead and apparently unrecoverable links:
- Who's Who in Arizona GIS
- WRA/WRITE Project Database
- Brownfields Search Utility
- Brownfields SiteMart
- Bike project database
For details on the above, click on the "history" tab of the state page and click on a previous version.
If you know of a new link for one of the above items, please let me know.
Databases ADDED to project pages:
- Doctor Search (Arizona Medical Board)
- ADWR Image Records Database (Water Resources)
- AZURITE License Application Query Utility
- Project volunteers who have not updated their pages since January 2010 are being contacted about their continued participation in the project.
- Project pages without volunteers are in the process of being link checked.
If you have questions or comments about this project, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
While working on the State Agency Databases Across the Fifty States project updating Arizona databases, I ran across this resource:
I don't think this is a deliberate attempt on Arizona's part to discourage access to records, but it does illustrate that there is much more to providing access to public records than simply putting them online. Ideally an agency considers the formats that citizens are likely to use and uses technologies that require low levels of involvement from users. Or, failing that, posting the data in an easy to manipulate format (spreadsheets, xml, pdf, etc) that other people and organizations can use to provide better access.
On behalf of Free Government Information (FGI), I am pleased to announce that a three member team of volunteers is taking over the posting and management of the Lost Docs Blog at lostdocs.freegovinfo.info. Your new maintainers are:
Meredith Johnston - Self described independent scholar with an MLIS and a MA. GODORT member since 2007.
Jeffrey Hartsell-Gundy - Government Information & Law Librarian of the Miami University Libraries. He blogs documents for the University at www.lib.muohio.edu/blog/71.
John Cash - Catalog specialist at Wells Library, Indiana University with over 10 years worth of documents experience.
We at FGI are pleased that these three documents community members are stepping forward to continue the process of illuminating the fugitive document submissions to GPO. How the blog works will remain the same. Keep sending your fugitive documents receipts from GPO to email@example.com.
I am still in the process of training the new team in posting, tagging and reporting on new fugitive reports. Thanks in advance for your continuing patience during this transition time.
As part of the search to save federal dollars, Senator Tom Coburn has introduced S 674, the Congressional Record Printing Savings Act of 2011.
This act may save up to $8 million a year by reducing "unnecessary" printing of the Congressional Record. You can find the text through Open Congress.
We at FGI are not opposed in principle to printing fewer copies of government publications as long as permanant public access and preservation issues are adequately addressed.
We don't believe this particular bill does so. We see three main problems with the "Congressional Record Printing Savings Act of 2011":
- The bill only gives gpo 45 days to determine the appropriate number of printed archival copies. - There is little published research on the appropriate number of printed copies for preservation purposes, and most of the available research deals with periodicals. Some original research needs to be done specifically for government publications and this couldn't be completed in 45 days.
- The bill is silent on where these copies should be stored. - This legislation directs GPO to determine a number of preservation copies, but doesn't state where these copies would be stored. Will the copies provided to Congress count? Will geographic distribution be taken into account? Will some be mandated to be stored in libraries? We the public don't know and we should before accepting a diminished number of copies.
- It misses an opportunity to deposit the electronic CR to depository libraries as an additional anti-tampering safeguard. - If the printed copy of the Congressional Record is going to be diminished, then assuring the authencity and permanent public access to the electronic Congressional Record will gain in importance. Keeping multiple electronic copies in non-federal hands would be an important safeguard against future alterations of the Congressional Record and ought to be considered by Congress.
If the Congressional Record is an interest of yours and you agree with our concerns, consider contacting your Members of Congress.