There are several draft ALA resolutions having to do with government information kicking around ALA 2013 annual conference. While there's still a way to go before these resolutions are passed by ALA Council, I thought folks might be interested enough in these to grab their nearest ALA Councilor and tell them to vote for these resolutions in support of free government information, open government and transparency. They're important to both libraries AND the public!!
I've heard that the Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT) has 2 resolutions dealing with Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and the importance of whistleblowers to open government and the democratic process. But I haven't yet seen the text for these two.
[UPDATE 6/27: COL's final report is now available online. We've added a link to it below along with the draft report]
We here at FGI are all for greater access to government information and have long supported and worked toward a fully digital FDLP. When discussing the future of the FDLP, we believe it is important to create policy based on thorough fact-based analysis, to learn from FDLP history and not repeat mistakes which in the past led to benign neglect of documents collections -- many of which were borne out of trying to handle government documents collections on the cheap. For example, lack of adequate cataloging, one of our biggest current problems today, is a direct result of libraries not investing sufficiently in describing FDLP collections.
[Update 3/15/13: Here's the ALA announcement.]
It was just announced that Aaron Swartz will be awarded the American Library Association's James Madison Award awarded annually to "honor individuals or groups who have championed, protected and promoted public access to government information and the public’s “right to know” on the national level." It is fitting that Aaron win the award -- and be presented by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), a strong advocate for digital rights in Congress who won the award last year and who introduced Aaron's Law to try and amend the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
The ceremony will be webcast live tomorrow (Friday March 15, 2013) at 8:30am eastern time. We'll post the video as soon as its made available.
Some of you may remember that we nominated Aaron Swartz for the ALA Madison award a few weeks ago and asked folks to write in letters of support to the Washington Office. Last week, there was a memorial for Aaron in Washington DC -- Rick Perlstein covered it well for The Nation, "Aaron Swartz's DC Memorial: Radical Brings Bipartisanship to Washington". Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, the 2012 Madison award honoree(!) and one of a number of Congressional members who attended Aaron's memorial, caught wind of the campaign to nominate Aaron for the Madison Award and sent in her own letter in support. She kindly allowed us to post the letter here.
Even before we learned of Aaron Swartz's passing last friday, several colleagues and I were in the midst of writing letters nominating Aaron for the ALA James Madison Award which was established by the ALA in 1986 to "honor individuals or groups who have championed, protected and promoted public access to government information and the public’s “right to know” on the national level."
We write now to ask all of our readers to also submit letters in support. The deadline for letter submission is January 16, 2013, so get a move on!
Send e-mail nominations to Jessica McGilvray, Assistant Director for the ALA Office of Government Relations, at email@example.com. Submissions can also be mailed to:
James Madison Award / Eileen Cooke Award
American Library Association
1615 New Hampshire Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20009-2520
To help you in your letter writing, below are the nominating and seconding letters we submitted. Feel free to copy/paste for your own letter of support.
Many thanks go to Bruce Sanders, librarian at DePauw University, and Kelsey Kauffman, the mother of Aaron's partner Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, for putting the idea of nominating Aaron for the Madison Award out in the universe and doing much of the work that went into the nomination.
To: Jessica McGilvray
Re: Nomination of Aaron Swartz for ALA James Madison Award
Dear Ms. McGilvray:
I am writing to nominate Aaron Swartz for the 2013 American Library Association James Madison Award. Aaron was the computer programmer who in 2008 downloaded nearly 20 million pages of text from the Public Access to Court Electronic Records System (PACER), and then donated the pages of public domain US Court documents to public.resource.org in order to make those documents truly open access. This act was the epitome of promoting open access of government documents.
Like many earlier Madison honorees, Aaron has been an outspoken advocate and practitioner of open access. In fact, it is fair to say that much of his life was devoted to open access. Through his online organization DemandProgress.org, now a million members strong, Aaron educated a large segment of the population about the dangers of PIPA and SOPA and led highly effective campaigns in opposition. As a result, he engaged millions of ordinary citizens in the political process and put Congress on notice that Internet censorship will be vigorously opposed by large swaths of the voting (and soon-to-be-voting) public. In 2007, at the age of 20, he founded Open Library, an ongoing project to provide information free-of-charge on every book ever published. In 2008 he penned “Guerilla Open Access Manifesto.”
Aaron also conducted a study on “Who Writes Wikipedia” that exploded the myth that a small core of Wikipedians is responsible for most of the content (though they are responsible for most of the edits). The reality --- that Wikipedia is, in fact, the creation of millions of mostly one-time contributors --- has provided us with one of the best examples of the power and quality of open source collaboration.
Past recipients of the Madison Award, such as Senator Patrick Leahy, Steven Garfinkel, Thomas Susman and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, have usually been established and highly effective advocates either within government or organizations close to seats of power. But in many ways the driving force today behind the open access movement is a younger generation raised with the understanding that knowledge can and should be shared not just nationally, but also globally, and without paywalls.
Aaron Swartz embodied this younger generation’s passionate commitment to open government, free and universal access to knowledge, and an informed civil society. He is truly deserving of receiving this award posthumously.
Head of Cataloging and Processing
Roy O. West Library
To: Jessica McGilvray
Re: Nomination of Aaron Swartz for ALA James Madison Award
Dear Ms McGilvray,
The nominating letter by our colleague Bruce Sanders discusses reasons why Aaron Swartz should be nominated for the 2013 James Madison Award for his articulate and passionate leadership against SOPA and for devoting his life to promoting open access to scholarly and government information. As the New York Times described him in a 2011 front-page article, Aaron was “an Internet folk hero … a civil liberties activist who crusades for open access to data.” Aaron, in the spirit of the ALA Library Bill of Rights, believed that academic work and government information should not be commodified but instead distributed freely. He devoted his short but unimaginably prodigious life to his ideals. We wholeheartedly second Aaron’s posthumous nomination.
As noted in the nominating letter, Aaron was a pioneer in the new academic research methods of large-scale data collection and analysis. Aaron had extensive experience downloading and analyzing massive data sets, and in the process greatly enhanced our understanding of who controls access to knowledge—from correcting erroneous assumptions about who in fact authors most material on Wikipedia to raising alarms about undue corporate influence over legal scholarship. Aaron was studying the corrupting influence of money on a wide range of institutions including academia and government when his JSTOR troubles began.
His act of downloading articles from JSTOR for intellectual pursuit should have been encouraged and supported. Instead, it led the US government to indict and threaten him with 35 years in prison and a million dollar fine for wire- and computer fraud even after JSTOR refused to pursue criminal charges. Yet, until the end, Aaron never wavered from his ideals nor gave up his integrity.
The world and Libraries need more Aaron Swartz’s. We hope that the ALA will join us in honoring Aaron’s leadership in protecting the Internet from censorship and corporate interests and his life-long commitment to open access to scholarship and government information for every person on the planet. Aaron’s passing this week has motivated many people around the world to carry on his torch by uploading and freely sharing their writings on the Internet in his memory. We hope that ALA will honor Aaron by not only giving him the 2013 Madison Award, but also fostering his ideals and forwarding his work.
PhD candidate and co-founder of Radical Reference and Free government Information
Government Information Librarian and co-founder of Radical Reference and Free government Information
Brief Biography of Aaron Swartz:
Aaron Swartz’s, brief biography:
• Born 1986, Chicago, Illinois
• 1999 at the age of 13 creates a program for an open source encyclopedia, theinfo.org
• 2000 co-authored the RSS 1.0 standard for news aggregation
o joined the founding team of Creative Commons and developed their metadata system
o joined the RDF Core Working Group, the standards body for the Web
o worked on the semantic web writing popular guides as well as specifications and co-wrote the article, “The Semantic Web: a Network of Content for the Digital City,” Proceedings Second Annual Digital Cities Workshop, Kyoto, Japan, October, 2001.
• 2002 wrote, “MusicBrainz: a Semantic Web Service,” IEEE Intelligent Systems, Jan./Feb., 2002 pp. 76-77.
• 2004 attended Stanford University for one year.
• 2005-2006 works for Reddit and develops the Python web framework, web.py, and releases it as an open-source project and also conducts study “Who Writes Wikipedia”
• 2007 developed Open Library, an open access project to collect metadata about every book ever published
• 2008 downloaded 20 million pages from PACER and made them truly public access
o founds Demand Progress and begins activism that eventually defeats COICA, SOPA and PIPA bills
o fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics
o charged for crimes in relation to downloading 4 million JSTOR articles
• Dies January 2013
From the ACRL Insider Blog:
ALA has created a community within ALA Connect so that ALA members from any interested unit or division can discuss the issues surrounding the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). This is a way toward aiding the ALA in reaching consensus on the future of the FDLP or at the very least, having a better understanding of the various perspectives held by members on these topics.
Additionally, ALA has created a webpage where various information related to this topic and the recent happenings surrounding this issue are available. If you feel that there are any items missing from this list, please let us know! We want this compilation to be as inclusive as possible of official communication. If you have questions or commnets, please contact Jessica McGilvray, Assistant Director of the ALA Washington Office.
There's a lot happening in Washington DC these days surrounding the federal budget. And many of the items slated for cutting greatly effect the work that libraries do. So PLEASE contact your representatives today (or better yet go to DC if you're in the area!!). See the ALA action alert for more background and go here to look up your representatives.
Please contact your elected officials with the following requests:
Fund the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) at $232 million, the level last authorized in December 2010;
Preserve the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries program with its own budget line and appropriate the program at its FY2010 level of $19.1 million;
Maintain funding for the U.S. Census Bureau’s Statistical Compendia Branch at $2.9 million in order to preserve publication of “Statistical Abstracts” and other publications;
Fund the Salaries and Expenses work of the Government Printing Office (GPO) at $42,173,000 to preserve public access through the FDLP and FedSYS.
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) (School Libraries):
Support student performance by including an effective school library program as part of ESEA through the LEARN Act to include:
A school library staffed by a state-certified school librarian;
A school library with up-to-date books, materials, equipment, and technology, including broadband connectivity; and
Instruction by librarians for students and staff on digital and computer literacy skills, including collaboration between classroom teachers and school librarians to develop and implement the curriculum and other school reforms.
While these issues are the most urgent at this time, there are many other critical pieces of legislation impacting libraries. For full list of key issues that will be discussed at National Library Legislative Day, click here. ALA has also drafted issue briefs on the following areas: Access, Appropriations for Libraries, Broadband & Telecommunications, Copyright, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Government Services & Information, Surveillance & Privacy and the WILL Act.
From 1981 until 1998, Anne Heanue and the fine folks at the Washington Office of the American Library Association (ALA) published an amazing series called Less Access to Less Information by and about the U.S. Government, a chronology of efforts to restrict and privatize government information.
Readers may remember that the Internet Archive was kind enough to digitize the series from 1981 to 1996 for FGI, but that I had not been able to get my hands on 1997-98 issues. Well now, thanks to Bernadine Abbott Hoduski who sent me the 1997-98 volumes, the complete chronology from 1981 - 98 is now digitized and hosted at the Internet Archive.
Please check out the entire series of Less Access to Less Information by and about the U.S. Government available in the FGI library.
Many thanks again to Ginger Bisharat and Robert Miller at the Internet Archive for their effort. Also thanks to Bernadine Abbott Hoduski for sending me her copies of the series and Emily Sheketoff, Associate Executive Director of ALA and manager of the Washington Office who graciously gave me permission to digitize the series.
If anyone's going to be in Chicago July 9-13, you might consider heading over to the American Library Association's Annual Conference '09 for their grassroots program. All of the FGI gang will be there. Jim Jacobs, Shinjoung Yeo, and friend of FGI Gabriela Schneider will be on a panel called "Libraries and Obama’s Information Policy" on Saturday, 3:30–5 p.m. Hope you can make it!!
Libraries and Obama’s Information Policy
Saturday, July 11, 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.
Hilton, Lake Ontario room
The nation’s information policy is a major concern for the library community. We are facing a critical historical juncture, where libraries can raise our voices and provide a vision of information policy. This panel will provide an opportunity to identify key issues in the new administration’s information policies and discuss ways the library community can participate in forming that policy.
Moderator: Caroline Nappo, Doctoral Student, Information in Society Fellow, University of Illinois, Graduate School of Library & Information Science
Panelists: Jim Jacobs, Data Services Librarian Emeritus, University of California San Diego, Co-creator of FreeGovInfo.info; Gabriela Schneider, Communications Director, Sunlight Foundation; ShinJoung Yeo, Information in Society Fellow Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
There's also a panel on Monday July 13 from 8-10am called "From Legacy Data to Linked Data: Preparing Libraries for Web 3.0." None of the FGIers are on the panel, but we're sure to be there as data is very important!!
[UPDATE 3/25/10: Thanks to Bernadine Abbott Hoduski for sending me 1997-98 volumes, the complete chronology from 1981 - 98 is now digitized and hosted at the Internet Archive!]
From 1981 until 1998, Anne Heanue and the fine folks at the Washington Office of the American Library Association (ALA) published an amazing series called Less Access to Less Information by and about the U.S. Government, a chronology of efforts to restrict and privatize government information. In 1986, the publication was listed in Project Censored's annual review, Top 25 censored stories for 1986.
I recently had a nice email exchange with Emily Sheketoff, Associate Executive Director of ALA and manager of the Washington Office in which I suggested that Less Access to Less Information ought to be online for the world to see, read, share etc. Emily graciously gave me permission to digitize the series. So, with the help of Rick and Megan Prelinger, Robert Miller and others at the Internet Archive, I give you Less Access to Less information by and about the U.S. government in several formats including text, flip book, PDF, and DjVu.
- 1981-1987 chronology
- 1988-1991 chronology
- 1990-1996 chronology
- 1997 chronology: January – June
- 1997 chronology: June – December
- 1998 chronology: january – June
- 1998 chronology: June – December
I'm still on the hunt for the last 2 years of the series, but haven't come across them yet. If anyone's got them hanging around their bookshelves and would lend them to me, drop me an email (freegovinfo AT gmail DOT com) and I'll tell you where to send them.
[This is a repost of my original blog post about Less Access. I reposted it to the library so it wouldn't get lost. JRJ]