The Sunlight Foundation is compiling a list of "transparency advocates" (CSOs, groups, networks, government projects) from all around the world. They are making their findings public as a spreadsheet available as a google doc ( https://docs.google.com/a/sunlightfoundation.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ao... ). In addition to name and URL, the list includes focus areas and social media links and much more.
So far they have a list of over 500 opengov groups across the globe. If you don't see your transparency organization in the list, submit information about it to Sunlight Foundation here: http://snlg.ht/19tUoCS
- International Transparency Organizations, Sunlight Foundation.
Law Libraries and the FDLP: An Interview with Sally Holterhoff, American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Washington Blawg (June 3rd, 2013).
AALL past president Sarah (Sally) G. Holterhoff is the Associate Professor of Law Librarianship and Government Information/Reference Librarian at Valparaiso University Law School Library. Sally has chaired AALL's Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) Task Force since its creation in 2012. The Government Relations Office recently sent Sally a number of questions about the mission of the task force, it's past and present work, and the role of law librarians in the FDLP.
Activity continues at the State Agency Databases Project at http://wikis.ala.org/godort/index.php/State_Agency_Databases. For a full listing of all activity during the past two weeks visit http://tinyurl.com/statedbs14d. Here are some highlights:
MARYLAND (Siu Min Yu)
Maryland Vital Records -- Search for death records in the State of Maryland. Please read the Vital Records Indexing Project information before starating your search. To search, click the link "Search MD Vital Records" from the upper left hand side of the page.
WASHINGTON (Marilyn Von Seggern)
Search Case Records - Search for a case by court date, case number, or personal or business names associated with a case. A separate Name Search looks across court levels, and an Attorney Search finds district and municipal court proceedings associated with a Bar Number.
WYOMING (Karen Kitchens)
Wyoming Legislation - This library of legislative materials contains journals, or digests of the journals, from the first territorial legislature that convened in 1869 up to the present. It also contains digitized bills from 1873 to 2000, in addition to bill actions—a record of actions done on each introduced bill—from 1957-2000.
LET US KNOW ABOUT PRESENTATIONS OR DERIVATIVE PROJECTS
If you have used information from the State Agency Databases Project in a presentation or in a derivative project, we would love to hear from you! Send an e-mail to the project coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will note and/or link your talk/project from our page.
Clifford Lynch's new article in American Libraries examines how e-books have failed to deliver on much of their promise. He says that, worse than just failing to provide us cheaper, better, greener reading experience, e-books have become "a weapon capable of considerable social damage" and "a Faustian technology that seduces with convenience." He says e-books are "extracting a corrosive toll on our social institutions and norms" and notes that the failures of e-books are not primarily technological.
Here at FGI we agree strongly with many of his conclusions about digital preservation. For example, he says that "it is neither reasonable nor wise to place all our hopes for preservation of the cultural record on any single library" and we have long advocated digital collections of digital depository information in FDLP libraries because we believe it is unwise to rely on GPO alone to preserve this information for us. He also notes that "The survival and the stability of ebooks are also tethered to the survival, continued interest, and good behavior of the providers." We worry that for FDLP libraries to rely on the "good behavior" of Congress in providing continuing, long-term preservation and free access is a huge mistake. The only way that FDLP libraries will be able to guarantee free access to government information is if FDLP libraries select, acquire, preserve, and control that information that they wish to guarantee.
By examining the promises and failures of e-books, Lynch provides us an analogy to the promises and failures of library practices and policies with regard the preservation of digital government information. He notes that digital preservation must be a concern of all libraries: "Responsible libraries of all types must consider the preservation issues thoughtfully, even if they ultimately conclude (as many public libraries may well) that preservation isn't the library's mission."
- Ebooks in 2013: Promises Broken, Promises Kept, and Faustian Bargains, by Clifford Lynch, [PDF extract of the article from the American Libraries e-content supplement, "Digital Content: What's Next?" (June 2013)]. The complete supplement with other articles is also available.
Here is an entertaining and informative 52 minute podcast that gives an historical overview of patents and copyright and other "intellectual property" issues from an American perspective. Although they do not discuss government information issues specifically, the history they do discuss provides the context for the public good of public information and the attempts to privatize or commodify public information.
This is definitely informative, but The American History Guys of Backstory (Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh) are more like the Car Guys than your high school history teacher. They discuss everyone from Mark Twain to Phyllis Diller and guests include Ananda Chakrabarty, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Kembrew McLeod, University of Iowa, Doron Ben-Atar, Fordham University. Siva Vaidhyanathan, University of Virginia, and Chris Sprigman, University of Virginia School of Law.
Listen and enjoy.
- Patent Pending: A History of Intellectual Property, The American History Guys, Backstory (May 20, 2013).
Can genes be patented? Are downloaders inhibiting musical creativity -- or enhancing it? This week's BackStory explores how Americans have viewed "intellectual property" over time. What exactly is intellectual property? And what are protections for these kinds of rights supposed to achieve? The American History Guys look to the past for answers.
- Download the mp3 file.
- Subscribe to the Backstory podcast.
The House Assembly today passed the California Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act (AB 609). The act is now set to be heard in the Senate later this summer. If AB 609 becomes law, it will unlock access to the results of more than $200 million in annual, state-funded scientific research.
- California Open Access Legislation Clears Latest Hurdle, By David Knutson, PLOS blog (May 30, 2013)
Big Hat Tip to Gary at InfoDocket where you can see more links.
Rachel Maddow had some examples of how the sequester -- or as she so elegantly put it, the "nearly universally agreed-upon to be stupid self-inflicted problem we made for ourselves in Washington" -- has negatively effected the US, with last friday being a mandatory furlough day for 115,000 federal employees. Maddow pointed out that this was the "largest govt shutdown since the '90s."
GPO's Government Book Talk blog posted an item yesterday about the Sourcebook of the United States Executive Agencies with links to the GPO online bookstore and a suggestion to search for hardcopies of the book in FDLP libraries, using WorldCat. The Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt University has a digital copy (pdf) available online.
- All the President’s Men and Women: Sourcebook of the US Executive Agencies, Government Printing Office, Government Book Talk blog (May 24, 2013).
...a first-of-its-kind publication by the Administrative Conference of the United States.
This first edition of the Sourcebook of the United States Executive Agencies was published in December 2012 to break down information and numbers by what they refer to as the "executive establishment," which is the executive branch and all the other Federal agencies, offices, bureaus, and boards that serve the President that do not fall neatly under any of the three branches of the Federal government.
- Sourcebook of United States Executive Agencies, [announcement] Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, Vanderbilt University.
- Sourcebook of the United States Executive Agencies, [pdf] David E. Lewis and Jennifer L. Selin, Administrative Conference of the United States, Vanderbilt University, First Edition, 2012.
- ACUS Sourcebook Codebook/Appendix. [pdf] This document describes the data collected for theh ACUS Sourcebook of the United States Executive Agencies. It includes the codebook describing the variables and their coding and the statutory provisions justifying the coding.
- ACUS Sourcebook Data. This Microsoft Excel spreadsheet includes data on 55 statutory characteristics for 10 agencies in the Executive Office of the President, 15 executive departments, and 81 independent agencies. The data was collected by a team of researchers during the summer of 2012. Data collection details are included in the accompanying Sourcebook Codebook and Appendix.
The Congressional War on the Social Sciences, by Kenneth Prewitt, Pacific Standard (May 24, 2013).
"There’s nothing wrong with requiring accountability from government-sponsored science. But when policymakers’ questions misjudge the role that science plays, we have a problem."
Oh come on! ProPublica has a story out today "As Need for New Flood Maps Rises, Congress and Obama Cut Funding". This shows the absolute -- not to mention dangerous -- idiocy of our Federal legislators' feverish obsession with cutting the US budget. People, please, the US budget deficit is under control and shrinking faster than the CBO originally estimated. Meanwhile, our public infrastructure is crumbling before our eyes -- another bridge collapsed a few days ago, this time in WA -- and our emergency preparedness is in dire need of being updated. This is not the time for austerity (see Krugman, "How the Case for Austerity Has Crumbled.").
The maps, drawn by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, dictate the monthly premiums millions of American households pay for flood insurance. They are also designed to give homeowners and buyers the latest understanding of how likely their communities are to flood.
The government’s response to the rising need for accurate maps? It’s slashed funding for them.
Congress has cut funding for updating flood maps by more than half since 2010, from $221 million down to $100 million this year. And the president’s latest budget request would slash funding for mapping even further to $84 million — a drop of 62 percent over the last four years.
In a little-noticed written response to questions from a congressional hearing, FEMA estimated the cuts would delay its map program by three to five years. The program “will continue to make progress, but more homeowners will rely on flood hazard maps that are not current,” FEMA wrote.
The cuts have slowed efforts to update flood maps across the country.
In New England, for instance, FEMA is updating coastal maps but has put off updating many flood maps along the region’s rivers, said Kerry Bogdan, a senior engineer with FEMA’s floodplain mapping program in Boston.
“Unfortunately, without the money to do it, we’re limited and our hands are kind of tied,” she said.
Many of the flood maps in Vermont — including areas near Lake Champlain that have recently flooded — are decades out of date. “There are definitely communities that really need that data,” said Ned Swanberg, the flood hazard mapping coordinator with Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation.