Over the last several years, the US Census (including the American Community Survey and the Statistical Abstract of the US) have been under attack -- see "Fear, uncertainty, or doubt? Why the Census and ACS are critical to a well-functioning democracy" and "OMB Watch on Census Cuts" for more context. Budgets and funding, only part of the problem mind you, have been the cause of closing down the Census Bureau's Statistical Compendia unit and ostensibly of the Census Bureau's recent plan to drop the question on "number of times married" from the American Community Survey (see the single sentence at the end of an otherwise harmless Federal Register notice of request for comments).
Social conservatives and others on the right/libertarian political spectrum have long worried about -- if not outright feared -- the collection of demographic and other statistics by the US government. So it should come as no surprise that there's a new bill working its way through the US House of Representatives. H.R. 1638: Census Reform Act of 2013: The bill would eliminate the Census of Agriculture, the Economic Census, Census of Government, any mid-decade Census surveys, and any survey (including the American Community Survey) using survey sampling that does not tie directly to the decennial census of population. The Bill was introduced in the House by Jeff Duncan of South Carolina.
Great news: now there's a digital archive to access the historically important "Freedom Summer", a seminal moment in the US civil rights movement. The Wisconsin Historical Society has just released the 1964 Freedom Summer Project. Not only are there 25,000 manuscripts and key documents, but there are finding aids to help users access the information and instructional materials for teachers.
We've just released an online collection of 25,000 manuscripts related to the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer project. It's free and open to anyone for non-profit educational purposes at
Besides thousands of archival documents from COFO, CORE and SNCC and papers from dozens of individual activists, the site includes a downloadable Powerpoint about Freedom Summer and a PDF Sourcebook of key documents for teachers.
I'd be grateful if you'd forward this note to colleagues and educators who might be interested. As the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer approaches, we want teachers, students, historians, librarians, museum curators, the media, and anyone else to use these primary sources in their 50th anniversary programming.
We'll be adding a few thousand more pages this year, so please "like" us on Facebook and follow along:
Wisconsin Historical Society
For those of you that willl be in Washington DC next week, please consider attending the 2013 Legislative Data and Transparency Conference (RSVP required). There will be several interesting panels with House and external stakeholders like the Sunlight Foundation and the Cornell Legal Information Institute -- including a panel on electronic archiving and one on "missing data" and what to do about it ("missing" meaning not effectively on-line and digital, etc.).
The 2013 Legislative Data and Transparency Conference will take place on Wednesday, May 22, 2013, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Capitol Visitor Center Auditorium. The conference brings together legislative branch agencies with data users and transparency advocates to discuss the use and future of legislative data. Topics include:
--Electronic legislative archiving
--XML and metadata standards
--Updates on beta.congress.gov
Here's a reminder that we all have to be constantly diligent to make sure govt information continues to be freely available for the long term!
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released the latest census data for free under a Creative Commons license but appears to be steering people towards a $250 mailed out DVD rather than making it easy to download the information directly over the internet.
I had a good time yesterday on a panel about Web archiving and digital preservation at the Society of California Archivists General meeting 2013 (slides to be posted there soon). The panel was organized by Scott Reed at the Internet Archive, and included Scott, Claude Zachary (University of Southern California), myself and my Stanford colleague Henry Lowood.
One of the coolest things -- other than the fascinating keynote by Dr. Michael Cohen, who talked about "Culture Wars: Engaging Undergraduates in Documenting the Crisis in California Through the Historian's Eye Project" -- was learning about the site archiveready.com. This is a handy little tool to test your Website's archivability. Paste in your url, and it goes through and checks things like standards compliance, accessibility, CSS, site maps, external media and proprietary objects like flash or quicktime, and lastly whether or not your site is already being collected by the Internet Archive's Wayback machine. Freegovinfo did pretty well in the test with an overall rating of 78%. We lost points for having some external images and external scripts (google analytics and a facebook badge), but I don't consider those things critical to the site for the long-term. How does your site do? Are you ready to be archived?!
Jim and I had a great time last week talking with Thomas Hill about FGI, the FDLP, and the future of government information. Tom is a librarian at Vassar College and hosts the Library Café, a "weekly program of table talk with scholars, artists, publishers and librarians about books, ideas, and the formation and circulation of knowledge." Thanks Tom for the opportunity to talk about the future of the FDLP and government information and for allowing us to upload a copy of the audio file to the Internet Archive.
Sunlight Foundation's OpenGov Champion of the month is Sandra Moscoso. Sandra is a mom of two public school students in Washington DC, and a member of the Capitol Hill Public School Parent Organization (CHPSPO) -- oh and she just happens to manage an open data portal at the World Bank’s financial sector.
...she and other CHPSPO members were able to collect data to show how the schools that had a full time librarian had better test score results than those who had lost theirs due to budget cuts. The group was able to use that figure as an effective basis for their request to the city to restore funding for librarians.
Wikileaks opens Public Library of US Diplomacy (PLUSD) with large cache of 1970s US diplomatic and intel documentsSubmitted by jrjacobs on Mon, 2013-04-08 14:18.
Wikileaks today announced the launch of the Public Library of US Diplomacy (PlusD), a searchable database with the release of Special Project K: the Kissinger cables -- ostensibly, PlusD will include other records in the future. WikiLeaks has published more than 1.7 million U.S. diplomatic records -- including cables from previously released Cablegate cables, intelligence reports, and congressional correspondence -- from January 1, 1973 to December 31, 1976, the period during which Henry Kissinger was secretary of state and national security advisor. The documents were formerly confidential, classified, or labeled "NODIS" ("no distribution") or "Eyes Only". The database can be accessed at http://search.wikileaks.org/plusd/.
According to Wikileaks:
...Most of the records were reviewed by the United States Department of State's systematic 25-year declassification process. At review, the records were assessed and either declassified or kept classified with some or all of the metadata records declassified. Both sets of records were then subject to an additional review by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Once believed to be releasable, they were placed as individual PDFs at the National Archives as part of their Central Foreign Policy Files collection. Despite the review process supposedly assessing documents after 25 years there are no diplomatic records later than 1976. The formal declassification and review process of these extremely valuable historical documents is therefore currently running 12 years late.
The data, which has not been leaked, comprises diplomatic records from the beginning of 1973 to the end of 1976, covering a variety of diplomatic traffic including cables, intelligence reports and congressional correspondence.
Julian Assange said WikiLeaks had been working for the past year to analyse and assess a vast amount of data held at the US national archives before releasing it in a searchable form.
WikiLeaks has called the collection the Public Library of US Diplomacy (PlusD), describing it as the world's largest searchable collection of US confidential, or formerly confidential, diplomatic communications.
Assange told Press Association the information showed the vast range and scope of US diplomatic and intelligence activity around the world.
Henry Kissinger was US secretary of state and national security adviser during the period covered by the collection, and many of the reports were written by him or were sent to him. Thousands of the documents are marked NODIS (no distribution) or Eyes Only, as well as cables originally classed as secret or confidential.
Assange said WikiLeaks had undertaken a detailed analysis of the communications, adding that the information eclipsed Cablegate, a set of more than 250,000 US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks from November 2010 and over the following year. He said WikiLeaks had developed sophisticated technical systems to deal with complex and voluminous data.
Top secret documents were not available, while some others were lost or irreversibly corrupted for periods including December 1975 and March and June 1976, said Assange.
There's a new digital archive in town, from the Wilson Center's Cold War International History Project and its new Digital Archive of declassified official documents called www.digitalarchive.org.
Digital collections include: the Berlin Wall, Chinese nuclear history, Cuban foreign relations, Geneva Conference of 1954, Mitrokhin archive, and much more.
From the Wilson Center Web Site:
The Wilson Center [recently] launched a new Digital Archive of declassified official documents from nearly 100 different archives in dozens of different countries that provide fresh, unprecedented insights into the history of international relations and diplomacy.
The new website – www.digitalarchive.org – features uniquely powerful new search tools, an intuitive user-interface, and new educational resources such as timelines, analysis from leading experts, and biographies of significant historical figures. The Digital Archive will continually expand with new documents, translations, and analysis as they become available.
The new Digital Archive has been designed from the ground-up to make these historical document collections available to the broadest possible audience, from high school students through world-renowned scholars. Thousands of official documents from dozens of governments are now accessible through intuitive searching with filters such as location, date, subject, or language. Users can also browse topics by exploring themes or collections like the Database on Inter-Korea Relations and popular subjects such as the Warsaw Pact or the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Congratulations to Greta Bever, Roberta Brooker, Elizabeth Cowell, Kate Irwin-Smiler, and Hallie Pritchett for being named as this year's cohort to the Depository Library Council to the Public Printer! Looking forward to seeing you all on the dais at the fall 2013 DLC conference.
The five new DLC members for the June 1, 2013 – May 31, 2016 term are:
Greta Bever is the Assistant Commissioner for Central Library Services at the Chicago Public Library, which has been a Federal depository library since 1876. In that capacity, she oversees the Government Publications department. From 2003 to 2008, Ms. Bever served as a member of the Illinois State Historical Records Advisory Board/Illinois State Archive Advisory Board that makes recommendations to the State Archivist and provides advice and assistance to the Illinois State Archives. She has been a member of the Cook County Local Records Board from 2003 to the present.
Roberta Brooker is the State Librarian at the Indiana State Library, a regional Federal depository library that began collecting Federal laws and other Federal materials when it was established in 1824. She brings to Council a government documents background as well as experience as a coordinator for the Indiana State Data Center. Ms. Brooker has an extensive background in training, including teaching government information courses at the Indiana University, School of Library and Information Science. She is a member of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) and the Indiana Library Foundation.
Elizabeth Cowell is the Associate University Librarian for Public Services at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she provides strategic leadership for public service activities locally and UC systemwide. She has extensive government documents experience in several academic libraries and was an active participant in the LOCKSS Alliance. Ms. Cowell also served as one of two regional librarians at the Wisconsin Historical Society. She has contributed numerous presentations and publications to the field and actively participates in professional associations.
Kate Irwin-Smiler is a reference librarian at the Wake Forest University School of Law’s Professional Center Library in Winston-Salem, N.C., where she also serves as coordinator of the depository library collection. She brings to Council expertise on legal information and legal training. Ms. Irwin-Smiler is a member of the American???? ?Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and serves on the association’s Federal Depository Library Program Task Force. She is also a member of AALL’s Academic Law Libraries, Government Document and Social Responsibility Special Interest Sections.
Hallie Pritchett is head of the Map and Government Information Library at the University of Georgia, the state’s regional Federal depository library. Ms. Pritchett participates in numerous library associations, including the American Library Association (ALA) and the Georgia Library Association (GLA). She is permanent executive secretary of GLA's Government Information Interest Group (GIIG), immediate past chair of ALA’s Map and Geospatial Information Round Table (MAGIRT), and current chair of the Regional Government Information Librarians (REGIL).