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Selective-deposit and the technical requirements of a digital-deposit FDLP

There was one issue that evidently came up in the discussions of digital deposit at the Fall 2006 Depository Library Council meeting that we at FGI think deserves highlighting and clarification from Council or GPO or both.

This issue relates to “general assumption 5″

Libraries receiving FDLP digital publications would be responsible for providing sufficient infrastructure, including bandwidth and storage, to provide timely and effective public access.

In the notes about the proceedings that we have read (here and here), there were questions about “streaming video” and other bandwidth-intensive infrastructure needs.

Our concern is that a library might assume from this discussion that if it wants digital deposit, it will be required to support things like streaming video.

We don’t believe that is the intent of the GPO or Council even in these early discussions, but it would be useful to have GPO or Council or both clarify that selectivity in a digital-FDLP is still a valued concept and that there is no intention to develop a one-size-fits-all technical infrastructure requirement.

To elaborate on this just a bit and state what is probably obvious to most of us, what we are thinking about here is analogous to what FDLP has always had in the paper world. In the paper world, not everyone had the physical infrastructure or resources to deal with the serial set or Y4′s from every little committee. We might think of those as the streaming media of the paper world. But the availability of those large sets in the depository program did not mean that every library had to select them; it did not mean that every depository library had to have the infrastructure to deal with them. But availability of those materials in a selective-depository program did mean that some libraries could select them.

And so it should be, we believe, in a digital-depository FDLP. Selective depositories would still be able to select what information content and types they would want. That would mean that a small library and a large library with vastly different technical infrastructures could both participate in a digital-deposit FDLP.

That still leaves the issue of regional depositories and how the community will define them in the digital age. But that is a different question that should be dealt with separately. We shouldn’t confuse the issue of technical requirements for most FDLP libraries with the technical requirements for a future regional-depository model.

We can foresee, for example, one selective depository library hosting databases and multimedia files, another having a large collection of PDF and HTML files on a topic or subject area gathered together from several agencies along with commercial information into a digital subject collection, and another library having a few PDF files and CD-ROMs and DVDs available to users on a library workstation or library local area network. There should be room in a digital-deposit FDLP for all these scenarios and more.

One of the advantages we will gain in a digital FDLP is the ability for each library to select what it wants with great precision. Selection by media-type, subject, agency and pre-coordinated item-numbers will just be the beginning. Selecting based on content as determined by keywords or authors, on technical requirements for delivery, on popularity, on availability (or lack of availability) of the content in other formats, and more should all be possible.

A digital FDLP can have more flexibility than we ever had in the paper world and GPO and Council can and should make that point now by affirming that the technical infrastructure requirements will be flexible.

We encourage everyone to participate in this important discussion that will determine the future FDLP. We’d like to remind you to check out the notes and audio of Fall DLC and by all means please give us your thoughts on digital deposit.

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1 Comment

  1. jrjacobs says:

    Thanks Jim for the cogent overview of this important issue. Digital deposit offers a way for libraries to continue to build collections that best serve their local communities. Two points come to mind:

    1) The idea of flexibility resonates with me. Imagine being able to select an item not on the library’s profile on the fly with the click of a radio button — file, metadata and all! Now that’s public service!! Streaming video may or may not be selected depending on the library’s infrastructure and/or local need, but digital will allow that same library to add a specific item to the collection quickly and easily.

    2) GPO has set minimum technological requirements for depository libraries. I would hope that GPO would continue to set those requirements and to help libraries attain and maintain those minimum standards. This is an area where GODORT could be a real help as well in training and information sharing on new technologies.

    In the paper world, libraries have always had an active support network in the form of GPO staff, fellow librarians in GODORT and GOVDOC-L and the library literature to deal with the many issues surrounding the processing, shelving, accessing and preserving of government documents. There’s no reason to think that this would be any different in the digital world.

    Thanks again. I hope this generates some good discussion from the community.

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