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Want to be a fugitive hunter?

(Editor’s note: I originally posted this to the GODORT ALA Connect site. I’m not sure if that is publicly available so I’m reposting here on FGI. We’ll be discussing this and other issues of digital collection development next wednesday February 11, 2015 at 9am PST/12 Noon EST on IRC (irc.freenode.net) channel #FDLP.)

How would you like to help find fugitive government documents? Fugitives are Federal documents that fall within scope of the FDLP but for whatever reason have not made it to GPO for cataloging into the CGP and distributed to FDLP libraries. In the born-digital era, where federal agencies and Congressional Committees can publish on their own Websites, the problem of fugitives is growing exponentially. If you’d like to help with the small project using Zotero bibliographic citation software to collect fugitives (described below), please contact me at jrjacobs AT stanford DOT edu.

1) Install the bibliographic management software called Zotero (either the firefox plugin or stand-alone client). Join the zotero group “everyday electronic materials.” This is a collaborative group citation library. Anyone can join the group, they just need to have installed zotero and have a zotero.org acct (which is free). btw, if you’ve never used zotero, I’ve got a handy outline for a class I teach on it at http://bit.ly/zotero-workshop. The outline will walk you through the install steps and give some pointers for using zotero.

2) Track on the new publications of your favorite government entity. For each new publication, check the Catalog of Government Publications (CGP) to see if the publication has been cataloged by GPO.

3) For any document that HASN’T been cataloged, save the fugitive to the zotero group “everyday electronic materials.” This is a collaborative group citation library. Anyone can join the group, they just need to have installed zotero (either the firefox plugin or stand-alone client) and have a zotero.org acct (which is free).

4) we’ve got a script running which checks the zotero group feed once per day. When the script finds new items, it automatically posts each item to the lostdocs blog under the category “fugitives.” GPO LSCM staff are tracking on the zotero group and will put any new fugitives through their cataloging workflow.

The lostdocs form on fdlp.gov is still the official way to submit to GPO, but I’ve contacted them and they’re interested in tracking this workflow rather than (or in addition to) their current cumbersome lostdocs form.

I think this new workflow will be much easier for folks as zotero does much of the metadata work and it’s in the user’s browser meaning they don’t need to remember to go to fdlp.gov to get to the lostdocs form. My goal with using zotero is to greatly expand the number of librarians doing fugitive hunting, perhaps even getting people to track on specific agencies (or local/regional offices of specific agencies). In other words, I want fugitive hunting to be part of every docs librarian’s regular workflow, not simply random and serendipitous.


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