[Editor's note: the following is a guest post by Emily Feltren, Director of Government Relations for the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL). This post grew out of a conversation we had about "advocacy tips" sent out to the listserv of the Northern CA chapter of AALL (NOCALL) to which I subscribe. This is a great example of how a community can advocate successfully about the important work that FDLP libraries do to collect, describe, preserve, give access to government information. Emily can be reached at efeltren AT aall DOT org.]
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.
Law Libraries and the FDLP: An Interview with Sally Holterhoff, American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Washington Blawg (June 3rd, 2013).
AALL past president Sarah (Sally) G. Holterhoff is the Associate Professor of Law Librarianship and Government Information/Reference Librarian at Valparaiso University Law School Library. Sally has chaired AALL's Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) Task Force since its creation in 2012. The Government Relations Office recently sent Sally a number of questions about the mission of the task force, it's past and present work, and the role of law librarians in the FDLP.
Jim and I had a great time last week talking with Thomas Hill about FGI, the FDLP, and the future of government information. Tom is a librarian at Vassar College and hosts the Library Café, a "weekly program of table talk with scholars, artists, publishers and librarians about books, ideas, and the formation and circulation of knowledge." Thanks Tom for the opportunity to talk about the future of the FDLP and government information and for allowing us to upload a copy of the audio file to the Internet Archive.
Congratulations to Greta Bever, Roberta Brooker, Elizabeth Cowell, Kate Irwin-Smiler, and Hallie Pritchett for being named as this year's cohort to the Depository Library Council to the Public Printer! Looking forward to seeing you all on the dais at the fall 2013 DLC conference.
The five new DLC members for the June 1, 2013 – May 31, 2016 term are:
Greta Bever is the Assistant Commissioner for Central Library Services at the Chicago Public Library, which has been a Federal depository library since 1876. In that capacity, she oversees the Government Publications department. From 2003 to 2008, Ms. Bever served as a member of the Illinois State Historical Records Advisory Board/Illinois State Archive Advisory Board that makes recommendations to the State Archivist and provides advice and assistance to the Illinois State Archives. She has been a member of the Cook County Local Records Board from 2003 to the present.
Roberta Brooker is the State Librarian at the Indiana State Library, a regional Federal depository library that began collecting Federal laws and other Federal materials when it was established in 1824. She brings to Council a government documents background as well as experience as a coordinator for the Indiana State Data Center. Ms. Brooker has an extensive background in training, including teaching government information courses at the Indiana University, School of Library and Information Science. She is a member of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) and the Indiana Library Foundation.
Elizabeth Cowell is the Associate University Librarian for Public Services at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she provides strategic leadership for public service activities locally and UC systemwide. She has extensive government documents experience in several academic libraries and was an active participant in the LOCKSS Alliance. Ms. Cowell also served as one of two regional librarians at the Wisconsin Historical Society. She has contributed numerous presentations and publications to the field and actively participates in professional associations.
Kate Irwin-Smiler is a reference librarian at the Wake Forest University School of Law’s Professional Center Library in Winston-Salem, N.C., where she also serves as coordinator of the depository library collection. She brings to Council expertise on legal information and legal training. Ms. Irwin-Smiler is a member of the American???? ?Association of Law Libraries (AALL) and serves on the association’s Federal Depository Library Program Task Force. She is also a member of AALL’s Academic Law Libraries, Government Document and Social Responsibility Special Interest Sections.
Hallie Pritchett is head of the Map and Government Information Library at the University of Georgia, the state’s regional Federal depository library. Ms. Pritchett participates in numerous library associations, including the American Library Association (ALA) and the Georgia Library Association (GLA). She is permanent executive secretary of GLA's Government Information Interest Group (GIIG), immediate past chair of ALA’s Map and Geospatial Information Round Table (MAGIRT), and current chair of the Regional Government Information Librarians (REGIL).
NASA took its Technical Report Server (http://ntrs.nasa.gov/) offline this week, saying :
The NASA technical reports server will be unavailable for public access while the agency conducts a review of the site's content to ensure that it does not contain technical information that is subject to U.S. export control laws and regulations and that the appropriate reviews were performed. The site will return to service when the review is complete. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
As Steven Aftergood reported at Secrecy News [emphasis added]:
In other words, all NASA technical documents, no matter how voluminous and valuable they are, should cease to be publicly available in order to prevent the continued disclosure of any restricted documents, no matter how limited or insignificant they may be.
"There is a HUGE amount of material on NTRS," said space policy analyst Dwayne Day. "If NASA is forced to review it all, it will never go back online."
-- "NASA Technical Reports Database Goes Dark" by Steven Aftergood (March 21st, 2013).
Michael L. Nelson of the Department of Computer Science at Old Dominion University investigated the availability of some of the NASA reports at other archives and reports his findings on his blog:
- NTRS, Web Archives, and Why We Should Build Collections, by Michael L. Nelson, Web Science and Digital Libraries (March 23, 2013).
Nelson found that some reports are available at http://naca.central.cranfield.ac.uk/ which is an archive of some NASA information that Nelson helped establish after NASA websites were taken down after September 11, 2001. He notes that the removal of information from NASA servers at that time "made it clear to me that NASA information was too important to be left on *.nasa.gov computers." He found more data at the Internet Archive's "NASA Technical Documents" collection: http://archive.org/details/nasa_techdocs and in Mark Phillips NACA collection at http://digital.library.unt.edu/explore/collections/NACA/ .
Nelson draws some conclusions from all this [emphasis added]:
...it is events like this that demonstrate the value of copying by-value and not just by-reference.
In other words, pointing to web sites is much less valuable and much more fragile than acquiring copies of digital information and building digital collections that you control. The OAIS reference model for long term preservation makes this a requirement, saying that an organization that intends to provide information to its user community for the long-term, must "Obtain sufficient control of the information provided to the level needed to ensure Long-Term Preservation." Pointing to a web page or PDF at nasa.gov is not obtaining any control.
He also makes a distinction between those things that are saved because of their popularity and things that will not be saved unless special care is taken to preserve them:
I'm not concerned about popular culture artifacts disappearing (e.g., see our TPDL 2011 paper about music redundancy in YouTube), but it is not clear that long tail content like NASA reports will enjoy that same level of uncoordinated refreshing and migration. The moral of the story: make copies of the content...
And he notes the importance of multiple copies:
...a 1994 NASA TM of mine is on at least six different hosts, none of which are *.nasa.gov.
...If NTRS was a LOCKSS participant then access would be uninterrupted...
And Aftergood concludes [emphasis added]:
The upshot is that the government is not an altogether reliable repository of official records. Members of the public who depend on access to such records should endeavor to make and preserve their own copies whenever possible.
Here at FGI, we have repeatedly argued that identifying important information that warrants explicit preservation is the age-old role of libraries in society and that it still is (or should be) the key value of libraries in the digital age. Many government agencies, including NASA and the Government Printing Office have good intentions and good programs for preservation and access, but those agencies cannot guarantee that they will always provide preservation and access. In the case of the NTRS web site, Aftergood and others speculate that the take down was a response to a demand by a single Congressman who said in a press conference on March 18 [emphasis added]:
NASA should immediately take down all publicly available technical data sources until all documents that have not been subjected to export control review have received such a review and all controlled documents are removed from the system.
The NTRS web site was taken offline on March 19.
Government agencies are subject to political activities like this and budgetary limitations. Very bad things can happen which, in cases like this can remove from access, "all NASA technical documents, no matter how voluminous and valuable they are" in a single moment.
Libraries should still be selecting, acquiring, organizing, and preserving information for their user-communities, and providing access to and services for those collections. Libraries do no one a long-term service by simply pointing to resources over which they have no control and which someone else can simply make unavailable literally at the flick of a switch.
FDLP libraries should demand digital deposit from GPO and should actively select and acquire that digital public government information that is of value to their user communities that GPO cannot deposit because it is outside the scope of Title 44.
Gregorio Sablan (D), rep of the Northern Mariana Islands has introduced into the House H.R.429, Northern Mariana Islands Federal Depository Library Act of 2013 which would amend Section 1905 of title 44 to permit the Delegate from the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to designate Federal depository libraries.
The National Academy Of Public Administration has released its report on the Government Printing Office.
- Rebooting The Government Printing Office: Keeping America Informed in the Digital Age, A Report by a Panel of the National Academy Of Public Administration for the U.S. Congress, Congressional Research Service, and the Government Printing Office. National Academy Of Public Administration, Washington, DC (January 2013).
Congress mandated that the National Academy of Public Administration (the Academy) conduct a broad operational review of GPO. The Academy formed a five-member Panel of Fellows to conduct a ten-month study of the agency’s current role, its operations, and its future direction.
The report contains 27 finding and 15 recommendations. Depository libraries will be particularly interested in three findings:
- III-3: Preservation of the Legacy (Tangible) Government Collection
- III-4: Preservation of the Digital Government Collection
- III-5: Government Information Dissemination and Access
The report repeats many of the tropes about the digital government information that have become familiar over the years. Some of these bear repeating and others are more questionable.
Perhaps the most troubling suggestion in the report is GPO should consider "cost recovery" for access to FDsys:
Now may be the time for GPO to revisit charging the public for access to FDsys content. The Academy convened a forum of experts on printing and publishing where this topic was discussed extensively. Participants noted that technologies for online payments have progressed to the point that they cost very little to administer. Also, the public is becoming accustomed to paying fees for government services that used to be free (such as admittance to National Parks). Rather than charge a publication price, GPO could explore charging a small user fee to recoup the cost of providing access to government information on FDsys, or allowing users to view documents for free, and charging for document downloads. Forum participants also discussed the possibility of GPO exploring opportunities for repackaging files and content in different ways and making them available for sale to the public.
This model (as the report notes) was tried before with GPO Access and failed. We would argue that it failed not because the "technologies of online payments" were inadequate at the time, but because attempting to charge fees for information that was also available without fees was a fundamentally flawed approach. (We have written about this issue many times. See for example: Government Information in the Digital Age: The Once and Future Federal Depository Library Program and Privatization of GPO, Defunding of FDsys, and the Future of the FDLP.)
There is much more in the report and it deserves careful scrutiny.
For those that missed the fall 2012 Depository Library Conference -- and for those who want to go back and check their notes -- you'll be happy to know that the DLC conference proceedings are now online! There were many informative and interesting sessions of course. But one in particular I'd like to highlight was Chris Brown's presentation, "Fiche Online: A Vision for Digitizing All Documents Fiche" (PDF). I'm excited to see that Chris Brown is moving ahead with this project as I've been thinking of a project similar to this for a long time -- and have been requesting purchase of a scanner able to do batch scanning for a few years in order to work on this (one of these days, that proposal will get funded!). But what really piqued my interest was when Chris mentioned that he'd like to change the mindset on digitization projects. He called for not only digitization, but the public sharing of metadata (he called it a "record distribution model"). In this model, digitizing libraries would make their records available via harvest/FTP or some other method and other libraries would then be able to ingest those records into their own discovery environments. I wholeheartedly agree!!
Chris' presentation and mind-shift proposal are connected to the following FREE O'Reilly webinar in which Pilar Wyman, the President of the American Society for Indexing (ASI), will discuss the very idea that Chris has proposed. Hope you can "attend"!
Adding Value with Metadata: Open up the Index
Friday, November 9, 2012
10AM PT, San Francisco
6pm - London | 1pm - New York | Sat, Nov 10th at 5am - Sydney | Sat, Nov 10th at 3am - Tokyo | Sat, Nov 10th at 2am - Beijing | 11:30pm - Mumbai
Presented by: Pilar Wyman
Duration: Approximately 60 minutes.
In this webcast presentation we'll explore new paths for reusing content metadata for discovery and recommendations. Indexes are one of the most detailed metadata sets available for your content, and can be used to search, recommend, explore, and create buyers for your publications.
We'll talk about:
- baseline metadata
- semantic markup
- whether you need controlled vocabularies across multiple publications
- displaying mashups of multiple indexes
- incorporating social input
About Pilar Wyman
Pilar Wyman is the President of the American Society for Indexing (ASI), the voice of excellence in indexing. A veteran freelance indexer with her own successful business, she is also an active member of the ASI Digital Trends Task Force, which was formed in 2011 to address the continuing and rapidly increasing evolution of book publishing from traditional print to eBook formats. The DTTF was a key player in the recent International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) inclusion of indexes in the EPUB standard, and continues to work with the IDPF Indexes Working Group. Within her own indexing and via the DTTF, Pilar and ASI are currently engaged with publishers, hardware manufacturers, and software developers to design and create smart indexes for the digital age.
Congratulations Newark Public Library, Washington University in St Louis Library, and University of Buffalo Library for being named 2012 FDLP depositories of the year!
For the first time, the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) honored three extraordinary Federal Depository Libraries of the Year at the 2012 Depository Library Council Meeting and Federal Depository Library Conference.
One regional depository and two selective depositories received special recognition for going above and beyond to further the Federal Depository Library Program's (FDLP's) mission of ensuring the American public has free access to its Government's information.
The three libraries chosen this year have demonstrated extraordinary levels of service to expand access to Federal Government collections and services.
GPO is proud to honor:
* Newark Public Library (Newark, New Jersey)
* The Olin Library at Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri)
* The University at Buffalo Libraries (Buffalo, New York)
Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks presented the awards to the esteemed recipients, on behalf of GPO and the FDLP.
The Newark Public Library has served as the regional library for the other Federal depository libraries in the state of New Jersey for nearly 50 years. It was selected for making the best use of limited resources and continuing to provide excellent public services.
The Olin Library is being honored for providing training opportunities to other depository librarians in the area and for collaborating with their regional depository to ensure the needs of the populous St. Louis metro area are served.
GPO is recognizing the University at Buffalo Libraries for maintaining several services which provide Federal depository libraries valuable assistance in processing U.S. Government publications received through the FDLP.
"I commend the Newark Public Library, the Olin Library, and the University at Buffalo Libraries for their contributions to the FDLP and outstanding commitment to serving their communities," said Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks. "GPO thanks all of the Federal depository libraries for playing a critical role in providing and expanding public access to Government information."