Librarians in the 21st Century: Why Law Libraries Are More Important Than Ever by D.M. Moehrle, Literary Hub (February 22, 2017).
In a Nation of Laws, the Right of Access is Fundamental.
It is hard to keep up with everything even just in the world of government information. FGI provides a list of recommendations in its “blogroll” (look in the right column just below the list of recent comments). These are people, and blogs, and organizations that we find useful if you want to keep up with government information issues.
Today we add a link to the RSS feed for the University of Washington Gov Pubs Finds tumblr. I have been following it every day for some time and find it just wonderful. It provides a wonderful mix of interesting finds, historic documents, and just plain inspiration. It started with an examination of discarded federal documents. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Enjoy!
The description of the U.WA. tumblr:
This site originates from a final project for a Government Publications course taught at the University of Washington in the Fall of 2013. The students, both in the MLIS program, were given access to over 2,000 boxes containing discarded federal documents donated to the UW by the Seattle Public Library. In browsing through the boxes during the quarter, items were found that fit a theme of government research, policies, and programs investigating youth and family advocacy, health, and safety.
After the conclusion of the course this site will continue to be updated with items from the above-mentioned SPL gift collection, as well as other areas within the government publications holdings of the UW Libraries, that speak to the history of Seattle, the Pacific Northwest, and of the unique and oftentimes overlooked qualities of government information.
Gizmodo and TechCrunch are reporting that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has put a mirror of its own website online — a “snapshot” from January 19, the day before Trump was sworn in as president.
- The EPA posted a backup of its website dated just before inauguration day, by Devin Coldewey techcrunch (Feb 16, 2017).
“It’s still technically an EPA website, and so could be removed through executive action, but the fact that it was much-requested via FOIA should make it pretty robust against takedown.”
- The EPA Just Posted A Mirror Website Of The One Trump Plans To Censor by Matt Novak, Gizmodo (Feb 17, 2017).
“… after individual efforts to backup the website, along with plenty of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, the EPA just posted a snapshot of the site as it existed on 19 January 2017, the day before Trump was sworn in.
“‘The genius of this approach is that, because they were required by federal law to post the mirror site (because it’s a frequently requested record), it’s harder now to force it down,’ writer and anthologist Russ Kick told Gizmodo over email.”
“This is not the current EPA website. To navigate to the current EPA website, please go to www.epa.gov. This website is historical material reflecting the EPA website as it existed on January 19, 2017. This website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work.”
Gizmodo reports that “there are elements of the website that aren’t backed up because of size constraints” and provides links to those sections of the current epa.gov website.
The trump administration seems to be systematically making it more difficult for the public to communicate with the government.
Last week the White House closed its telephone comment line (202-456-1111) and suggested that people make comments on the White House’s website at or on Facebook Messenger although there is currently no way to leave a message on the White House’s Facebook page: Rep. Speier demands reopening of White House phone comment line, by Bay City News Service, Palo Alto Almanac (Feb 6, 2017).
Also last week, the FBI stopped accepting FOIA requests by email.
Yesterday, Mashable reported that the Department of Energy has taken down its public-facing employee directory, making it far more difficult for journalists and members of the public to locate email addresses and phone numbers for agency personnel. It just got a whole lot harder for you to contact Energy Department employees, By Andrew Freedman (2017-02-16).
NPR reports that Trump administration transition officials ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to cut in half its staff attending the Alaska Forum on the Environment.
- EPA Halves Staff Attending Environmental Conference In Alaska, by Rachel Waldholz and Bill Chappell, NPR (February 10, 2017).
NPR reports that EPA transition official Doug Ericksen blamed the cutback on excessive travel costs even though some of the attendees cut work just blocks away from the meeting site.
The Alaska Dispatch News said that the cuts came just three days before the Forum, which has met for at least 19 years. The meeting agenda included the effects of climate change on subsistence fishing and how to help coastal communities threatened by erosion and sea-level rise decide whether, and when, to relocate.
- EPA officials pulled from Anchorage conference after Trump team weighs in by Christopher Flavelle, Jennifer A. Dlouhy, Alaska Dispatch News (Feb. 9, 2017)
The news quotes Melinda Pierce, legislative director for the Sierra Club:
This raises important questions about government transparency and public access to important information.