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Congratulations CLOCKSS!! The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) just released the findings of their TRAC audit of CLOCKSS (Controlled Lots of Copies Keep Stuff Safe (LOCKSS)). The CLOCKSS Archive is a private LOCKSS network, much like the LOCKSS-USDOCS archive. And what’s more, according to David Rosenthal’s blog post announcing the successful audit, CLOCKSS received the “first ever perfect score in the “Technologies, Technical Infrastructure, Security” category.” W00t! David also noted that “In the interests of transparency the LOCKSS team have released all the non-confidential documentation submitted during the audit process.”
This follows an announcement earlier this year that Victoria Reich and David Rosenthal, the co-founders of the LOCKSS technology, were named the winners of the 2014 LITA/Library Hi Tech Award for Outstanding Communication in Library and Information Technology. Quite a year for the LOCKSS team!
“Nuclear weapons are dangerous, mmmkay?” According to a recent CRS Report “U.S. Strategic Nuclear Forces: Background, Developments, and Issues” (RL33640) — Thanks Steven Aftergood for posting this and many other reports from the Congressional Research Service! — the United States has about 2000 deployed nuclear warheads (I forgive John Oliver for his incited number of 4800). Over the years, there have been several potentially catastrophic accidents with nuclear warheads. The Associated Press has recently documented a huge list of massive dereliction of duty in the US nuclear missile corps. John Oliver goes over the terrifying issues surrounding the US nuclear forces — in an admittedly hilarious way:
- Nuclear weapons are the most dangerous things on earth
- The United States has a lot of them
- Some are controlled by floppy disks … literal, actual floppy disks
- You probably wouldn’t trust the people in charge of them to watch your dog for a weekend
- We’ve kind of, sort of, accidentally, nearly dropped them on ourselves a few times
- No one seems to care about any of those facts
- And, once again, they are the most dangerous things on earth
Things seem to be coming to a slow boil with the National Technical Information Service (NTIS). We wrote about Senate Bill 2206 the “Let Me Google That For You” Act on April 11, 2014, and again earlier this month to report about how the American Library Association and its Government Documents Round Table (GODORT) were dealing with NTIS’ proposed demise. On July 23, 2014, the Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight held a hearing “A More Efficient and Effective Government: The National Technical Information Service” (video and testimony included).
This morning, a docs librarian friend sent me the letter he was writing to his Senator. He graciously agreed to let me print it on FGI, which I’ve done below. Please feel free to copy/paste all or portions of this letter when you contact your Senator about supporting and maintaining the NTIS. I know all of our readers are going to do that asap right?!
Dear Senator ________________,
I am writing to urge you to oppose S. 2206, the Let Me Google That For You Act, which would abolish the National Technical Information Service (NTIS). As a librarian and a government information specialist who serves the government information needs of your constituents every day, I have concluded that the intent of this bill grossly undervalues the role NTIS plays in providing researchers, businesses, and the American public with access to technical research conducted at public expense.
The text of the bill observes that many reports available from NTIS can also be found through publicly searchable websites, such as Google and usa.gov, but fails to appreciate that this availability is often precisely because NTIS had a hand in collecting and publicly distributing them. In fact, many of the federal agencies which publish through NTIS have neither statutory responsibility nor the resources to provide permanent access to their own reports, and depend upon NTIS to provide them to other government agencies and the public. The availability of a technical report on an agency website today therefore provides no assurance that it will still be there tomorrow. A 2013 survey by the Chesapeake Digital Preservation Group, which collects and preserves selected online publications of federal, state, and local governments, found that 51 percent of the dot-gov URLs from their earliest survey in 2007-08 broke over the ensuing six years.
Furthermore, many of the agencies which published reports in the NTIS collection no longer exist, leaving NTIS as their only surviving source. In fact, over two million of its reports exist only in paper or microform, and are not available in digital form from any source. Alarmingly, this bill makes no provision for the preservation of these reports or the cataloging data which facilitates access to them.
Rather than elimination of the agency which serves these critical functions, transparency would be better served by legislation to:
• Fund NTIS so it does not have to operate on a cost-recovery basis
• Place NTIS under the umbrella of the Office of Science and Technology Policy directive on “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research,” announced by the White House on February 22, 2013
• Institute a digital preservation plan for NTIS reports so that NTIS not only streamlines access, but assures their long-term preservation and availability.
Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.
[Thanks Infodocket for keeping track of this issue as well!]
Document of the day: Army researchers develop Cargo Pocket ISR, By Jeffrey Sisto, Natick Soldier RD&E Center, Public Affairs (July 21, 2014).
Researchers at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center are developing a pocket-sized aerial surveillance device for Soldiers and small units operating in challenging ground environments.
Read the CRS Report “Records in the Digital Environment” in conjunction with this recent report from the Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia “A Failure to Archive: Recommendations to Modernize Government Information Management”. The report outlines the huge and growing problem that the BC government has on their hands. There was a policy change 10 years ago in which records responsibility was shifted to the Royal British Columbia Museum complete w an expensive fee schedule for transfer. This has resulted in 33,000 boxes of records accumulating in a warehouse rather than be deposited in the BC Archives.
Long and short of it is that governments at all levels around the world are not keeping up with their archival responsibilities to the detriment of the public’s right to know.
Archiving is a public good. Records about key actions and decisions of government must be preserved in a lasting historical record for future generations. Without a comprehensive public archive, access to information and the ‘right to know’ is significantly and severely impaired.