Month of August, 2011
It's been a few months since we had our last blogger of the month. But I'd like to introduce Peggy Jarrett to the podium for the month of September. Peggy comes to us from the University of Washington's Gallagher Law Library. I was able to twist Peggy's arm even as she so kindly hosted me at the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) 2011 annual conference -- which I highly recommend our readers attend, especially those in the Boston area where the 2012 conference will be held. Take it away Peggy! And as always, if you're interested in taking a turn at the FGI podium, please contact us at freegovinfo AT gmail DOT com. That is all.
The city of New Orleans announces a new site for open data from the city:
- Data.NOLA.gov | Enabling New Orleans
Aug 20, 2011 | This site is a catalog of public data sets produced by the City of New Orleans. We're starting small, with data sets that are found within the Department of Information Technology & Innovation, and will be adding data sets from other departments over time.
Categories include: Administrative Data, Demographic Data, Geographic Reference. Types include: Datasets, External Datasets, Files and Documents, Filtered Views, Charts, Maps, Calendars, and Forms.
New Performance.gov website faces performance problems of its own, By Joseph Marks, NextGov (08/26/2011).
A last-minute deal between the Obama administration and House Republicans to avert a government shutdown in April cut fiscal 2011 funding for online open government initiatives by more than three quarters to just $8 million.
[An] OMB official said Thursday the administration does not consider the current version of Performance.gov to be compliant with the 2010 Government Performance and Results Modernization Act...
...The current version of Performance.gov does have a search bar, but it is only minimally functional. Searches for the names of federal agencies, such as "defense," "agriculture" and "transportation" for instance did not turn up any results.
When the funding deal with lawmakers was reached, then-federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra told Congress he would cut two planned open government initiatives and suspend planned improvements to others, including Performance.gov.
This isn't new information, but I don't think we've mentioned it here before. UNT, one of the participants in the End-of-Term Web Archive project (EOT), which aimed to capture the entirety of the federal government's public Web presence before and after the 2009 change in presidential administrations, is hosting a project to investigate innovative solutions to issues around web archives. The issues include being able to to identify and select materials in accord with collection development policies and being able to characterize archived materials using common metrics in order to communicate the scope and value of these materials to administrators.
The project will use 10 librarian Subject Matter Experts who will classify the EOT collection according to the Superintendent of Documents (SuDocs) Classification System. The project will also develop a set of metrics to enable characterization of materials in Web archives in units of measurement familiar to libraries and their administrations.
- Classification of the End-of-Term Archive: Extending Collection Development to Web Archives, University of North Texas Libraries (21 April 2011).
- End-of-Term Web Archive
This week was relatively quiet at the State Agency Databases Across the Fifty States project.
The list of orphan states in need of adoption is unchanged from last week:
It would be particularly nice to have Texas adopted out as an accurate annotated list of Texas databases would likely be used by people evaluating Governor Rick Perry's record now that he's running for President.
If you're interested in one of the above states, check out our volunteer guide at http://wikis.ala.org/godort/index.php/SADATFS_Volunteer_Guide and then send me an e-mail if you'd like to adopt one of the above states. If you adopt a state, be prepared to put your name and contact information on the main project page AND your state page within two weeks of receiving your wiki login. See the Volunteer guide for more details.
See our last seven days of activity at http://tinyurl.com/statedbs for a blow by blow description of changes to the page. Here are a few highlights:
NEW MEXICO (Adrienne Walker)
Licensed Professional Engineers and Professional Surveyors - Search for licensed professional engineers and licensed professional surveyors by license number, last name, first name, city, state, zip, license type, branch or status (there is a key available on the search page to assist in the selection of license type, status or branch).
New Mexico Coal Mines Query - This database displays information from the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. This site includes general data and statistics about active mines, notices of violation and water quality samples.
LOUISIANA (Rita Franks)
Restaurant Inspections - This state website provides access to restaurant inspections that include critical and non-critical violations, along with corrective actions that have been taken or are pending.
MISSOURI (Annie Moots)
Local Telephone Exchange Companies - Searchable by town/city.
Hurricane Irene: Listen to Live Online Stream 24x7 From First Responders From Throughout Region + FEMA Daily UpdateSubmitted by garyprice on Fri, 2011-08-26 11:06.
Here's a post we just put up that offers a brief overview to a directory where you can listen live to first responders (police, fire, ems). The directory is free to use and the streams are free to access.
Of course, not every county or city has a feed but, for the most part the I-95 corridor is well represented.
Also, the directory is always online (not just a storm resource) and is national in scope. From the Juneau Police Dept. to the Pinellas County Fire and EMS and many other locations.
A second post points out the fact that the FEMA National Situation Daily update is available online (can also be of use after the event) as well as a number of mobile tools from the National Hurricane Center including an option to be alerted to new updates via email or text.
You can always listen live to most major airport towers and centers in the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere.
In addition to our usual monthly report, we at the Lost Docs Project Blog will from time to time revisit, check, and update posted document receipts that at the time of their corresponding monthly reports were still classed as fugitives. The following report focuses on the receipts posted from November-December 2009.
Of the 149 fugitive document receipts posted November-December 2009, 49 (33%) of the titles have had records added to the Catalog of Government Publications (CGP), 26 of these have been added since the November and December 2009 monthly reports. Three of the cataloged titles had not been assigned a PURL (Persistent Uniform Resource Locator) so we also marked these as "Preservation Needed". While the low percentage of items cataloged is disappointing, we are appreciative of those records that have been created and added to the CGP. A list of cataloged items, based on the posted receipts, can be viewed at https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AjA1ChZ8rDu5dGw0VllsRHpqSk1HcXc... or visit the Lost Docs Project Blog and view the "found" items with November-December 2009 dates. We have highlighted a few of the document titles cataloged since the 2009 monthly reports, they are listed below.
If you like the concept of a public listing of fugitive documents reported to GPO, there are a number of easy ways to help us:
1.If you report a fugitive document to GPO, send your e-mailed receipt to email@example.com. We welcome any item reported to GPO in the past month. It is best if you can send us the receipt the same day you get it from GPO. Some e-mail programs will support auto-forwarding. If so, please consider autoforwarding items where the subject contains "lostdocs submission."
2.Visit the blog at lostdocs.freegovinfo.info and comment on the listed items. Comments can include -- Did your library receive the item? Did you find it in the CGP? Do you think the item is out of scope for the CGP? Did you report the item as well and so on.
3.Post the blog link to your website or share it on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media.
4.Subscribe to the blog feed at lostdocs.freegovinfo.info/feed/ or better yet incorporate the feed into your website or blog.
Lost Docs Project Blog Team
National Journal's "Tech Daily Dose" has a list of links useful for for staying up to date on Hurricane Irene. These include resources from FEMA, The National Hurricane Center, and the National Weather Service, as well as state, local, and commercial resources.
As reported here earlier, GPO rejected the Ithaka S+R report on the future of the Federal Depository Library Program (Modeling a Sustainable Future for the United States Federal Depository Library Program's Network of Libraries in the 21st Century: Final Report of Ithaka S+R to the Government Printing Office, by Ross Housewright & Roger C. Schonfeld, Ithaka S+R, May 16, 2011).
Here is coverage by Information Today of that rejection :
- GPO Disapproves of Report on the Future of Federal Depository Libraries, by Barbie E. Keiser, Information Today, (August 25, 2011).
Although this article mentions that GPO might ask Ithaka S+R to "fix" the report, I didn't find anything in the statement by Mary Alice Baish attached to the report that indicates that GPO will ask anything more from Ithaka S+R. Rather, Baish says GPO will use the report, and comments submitted during the writing of the report, and new comments that it hopes to get now to build practical and sustainable models for the FDLP.
I've heard that librarians are beginning to receive canned responses to letters to Senator Feinstein and they have not been good. Feinstein's response to concerns about the shutting down of the Census Bureau's Statistical Compendia Branch and killing of the Statistical Abstract have been thus:
Dear Mr. ________________:
Thank you for writing me to express your support for the U.S. Census Bureau's Statistical Abstract of the United States. I appreciate hearing from you and apologize for the delay in my response.
As you may know, the Statistical Abstract is data on the social, political, and economic organization of the Nation released by the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau publishes the information as well as making it available online for the public.
In February 2011, the U.S. Census Bureau released its tentative fiscal year 2012 budget breakdown, which includes a provision to terminate the Statistical Abstract. I understand your concerns with the Census Bureau's proposal. According to the Census Bureau, in order to fund higher priority programs within the agency, it is recommending that certain programs be terminated or have their budgets reduced. You might be interested to know that much of the information available in the Statistical Abstract is available at university and library resources, particularly the Federal Depository Library.
Please know that I recognize your concerns and appreciate the information you have provided about what this cut could mean. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind during the 2012 fiscal year appropriations process. If you have not done so already, I encourage you to share your concerns directly with the Census Bureau at: 1-800-923-8282.
Again, thank you for writing. If you have any additional questions or comments, please feel free to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841. Best regards.
United States Senator
Particularly disheartening is that she references libraries, ignoring the fact that it is LIBRARIANS who are writing to her! We KNOW that much -- but not all! -- of the data are out there and in our stacks. But we also KNOW that the Statistical Abstract, because it is the aggregation of many data sources and data points across the .gov domain and beyond, is one of the most useful tools that librarians have to serve the public. The Statistical Abstract is the defacto Google for .gov statistical information. THAT'S why we're so concerned that the Statistical Compendia Branch is being cut. Feinstein's statement misses the point completely.
Thanks to a tip from Kevin McClure, a librarian at Chicago-Kent College of Law, I contacted Jean Mullin, section chief at the Statistical Abstract. Ms. Mullin's quick and helpful response confirmed the amount of copyrighted material in the Statistical Abstract. She noted:
"100 of the Abstract's private sector sources contribute roughly 179 tables to the book, meaning that almost 13 percent of what's published in the book is copyrighted. All but a few of those tables are approved for the on-line and CD-ROM versions. There are also several tables in the Abstract, which are special tabulations produced by government agencies for the Abstract and can not be found anywhere else on-line. If one were to reproduce them, they would have to send a request to that agency for the data."
Kevin, in this thread on govdoc-l and working off the same information Ms Mullin gave him, extrapolated the information and stated:
"... I think assurances that we can rely on other data sources are even more off the mark than they sound at first. The Preface to Stat Abstract says that both government and private sources contribute to its mix of data. I checked on what that would mean if we lost the publication, and found out that about 100 of those private sources, which contribute to 179 tables in the book, require copyright permission, meaning that almost 13 percent of the tables in the book are copyrighted. All but a few of those tables are approved for the online and CD-ROM versions.
So the suggestion in Sen. Feinstein's response that we could reassemble much of the data in Stat Abstract with things in our SuDocs stacks and online, on top of being daft and irrelevant in so many irritating ways, also fails to account for that large chunk of data that will no longer be publicly accessible by any means. The resource is literally irreplaceable, because no one outside the Statistical Compendia Branch is capable of collecting it all without re establishing all those arrangements -- that is, without doing what the Statistical Compendia Branch already does, and does so much better and more efficiently than anyone else could. I think that is a point worth emphasizing as we continue to talk to our representatives about preserving the Statistical Compendia Branch."
I hope that readers will use this information as added context in their responses (really just shrugs of their shoulders :-| ) to their Senators and Representatives.
As Paul Krugman recently wrote, “Killing the publication for the sake of a tiny saving would be a truly gratuitous step toward a dumbed-down country. And believe me, that’s not something we need more of.” Google will not and cannot help the public and librarians access that copyrighted data. Without the Statistical Abstract, NONE of that data will be available to the public and the finding by citizens of .gov statistics will be unnecessarily obfuscated beyond reason.