Our mission

Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

CHA Hearing on tuesday about Title 44 and “Transforming GPO for the 21st Century and Beyond”

Be sure to tune in this coming Tuesday for the Committee on House Administration’s hearing on Title 44 and the FDLP. It looks like it’ll be streaming from CHA’s Website. And if you haven’t yet done so, please sign our petition “Protect the public right to government information: help preserve and expand Title 44.” We’re at 779 signatures, which is pretty amazing considering the wonky nature of this petition. Keep it going!!

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COMMITTEE HEARING

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

10:15 a.m. (eastern)

1310 Longworth House Office Building

Transforming GPO for the 21st Century and Beyond: Part 3 – Federal Depository Library Program

First Panel:

  • Ms. Laurie Hall, Acting Superintendent of Documents, Government Publishing Office

Second Panel:

  • Mr. Mike Furlough, Executive Director, HathiTrust Digital Library
  • Ms. Celina McDonald, Government Documents & Criminology Librarian, University of Maryland
  • Ms. Beth Williams, Library Director, Stanford Law School
  • Mr. Stephen Parks, State Librarian of Mississippi

via Hearing: Transforming GPO for the 21st Century and Beyond: Part 3 – Federal Depository Library Program | Committee on House Administration.

Threats and opportunities re Title 44. FGI audio & DLF, Harvard, MIT libraries’ letters in support of FGI recommendations

The Digital Library Federation’s Records Transparency and Accountability Group hosted FGI’er Jim Jacobs on August 18, 2017 to present about the threats to Title 44. They just posted the audio of Jim’s session on the DLF blog. Jim outlines the issues clearly and concisely, and makes an outstanding case for positive substantive changes to Title 44 based on the following 4 principles:

  • The law should ensure the privacy of users of government info.
  • The law should address the long-term preservation challenges posed by born-digital government information.
  • The law should protect free access and free use.
  • The law should modernize the scope of government information covered by chapter 19 for the digital age.

I was also pleased to read that the DLF was about to send a letter in support of Title 44 based on Stanford UL Michael Keller’s letter. Along with Stanford, several other large academic libraries have now weighed in: The University librarians at the 11 University of California campuses, Harvard University and MIT Libraries are now on record in support of title 44 changes based on these same principles!

I hope these letters show how much the library community supports the FDLP and helps our library associations make the case for the need for better access to and preservation of govt information via a positive update of Title 44. We still need many more library directors to write letters in support to the Committee on house Administration and the Joint Committee on Printing.

BTW, our petition “Protect the public right to government information: help preserve and expand Title 44” is at 695 signatures and still climbing! Help us get to 1000 signatures!!

USGS Library Cuts faces 52% budget cut for FY18 harming research and extremely rare collections

Oh come on?! The Trump administration really thinks it can balance the budget by cutting a measly $3 million from the US Geological Survey (USGS) library?! This budget cut would barely cause a blip to the federal budget, but would be truly devastating to the library and it’s extremely rare collections — I didn’t know this, but “much of the USGS Library’s content is unique or available from fewer than 10 libraries around the world, the agency reported in a 2014 blog post about digitization of its library holdings.”

Read the June 16, 2017 letter from twenty-three science organizations to several members of Congress urging continued library funding in 2018 and contact your representatives today! This cannot stand!

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Library, home to one of the largest Earth and natural science collections in the world, faces a 52% funding decrease in the fiscal year (FY) 2018 federal budget proposed by President Donald Trump.

The potential funding loss of $3 million would close at least three of the library’s four branches, eliminate three quarters of the supporting staff, and end public and researcher access to USGS Library collections, according to the FY 2018 USGS budget justification.

This rollback of librarian services and other impacts would damage geoscience research and education, said Earth scientists, educators, and scientific society leaders interviewed by Eos. The harm would also ripple through libraries and other institutions that rely on the USGS Library for materials and guidance not available elsewhere, said librarians and others from outside USGS.

“Defunding the USGS Library has the potential to be devastating,” said Aaron Johnson, executive director of the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) in Thornton, Colo., referring to the possible effect on research projects of AIPG members.

“If these resources are rendered inaccessible, the nation will lose an invaluable scientific asset and the opportunity for continued commercial return from the information housed in the Library,” wrote 23 science organizations in a 16 June letter to several members of Congress urging continued library funding in 2018 at the level of $5.8 million that USGS currently receives. If that doesn’t occur, the nation “would also lose the federal investment that has already been made in the Library’s collections,” they warned. (The publisher of Eos, the American Geophysical Union, is a signatory of the letter).

via USGS Library Cuts Would Harm Research, Education, Say Scientists – Eos.

These Advocates Want to Make Sure Our Data Doesn’t Disappear

Here’s another story about data rescue and the preservation of government information, this time from PC Magazine UK. Though the last data refuge event was in Denton, TX in May and the 2016 End of Term crawl has finished its collection work and will soon have its 200TB of data publicly accessible, there still remains much interest — and not a little bit of worry — about the collection and preservation of govt information and data. And with stories continuing to come out — eg this one from the Guardian entitled “Another US agency deletes references to climate change on government website” — about the US government agencies scrubbing or significantly altering their Websites, this issue will not be going away any time soon.

“Somewhere around 20 percent of government info is web-accessible,” said Jim (sic.) Jacobs, the Federal Government Information Librarian at Stanford University Library. “That’s a fairly large chunk of stuff that’s not available. Though agencies have their own wikis and content management systems, the only time you find out about some of it is if someone FOIAs it.”

To be sure, a great deal of information was indeed captured and now resides on non-government servers. Between Data Refuge events and projects such as the 2016 End-of-Term Crawl, over 200TB of government websites and data were archived. But rescue organizers began to realize that piecemeal efforts to make complete copies of terabytes of government agency science data could not realistically be sustained over the long term—it would be like bailing out the Titanic with a thimble.

So although Data Rescue Denton ended up being one of the final organized events of its kind, the collective effort has spurred a wider community to work in concert toward making more government data discoverable, understandable, and usable, Jacobs wrote in a blog post.

via Feature: These Advocates Want to Make Sure Our Data Doesn’t Disappear.

Sign the petition “Protect the public right to govt information: help preserve and expand Title 44”

As many of our readers know, there has recently been a lot of activity surrounding efforts to modify title 44 of the US Code. YOU can make your voice heard by signing the petition “Protect the public right to govt information: help preserve and expand Title 44”.

Signatures will go directly to staffers on the House Committee on Administration and Joint Committee on Printing, as well as to GPO and ALA Washington Office. Please share widely on your social media.

We need lots of support in order to assure that any changes to Title 44 support and expand preservation of and access to government information. For more background on what’s at stake, please see our post Strengthening the Discussions about Title 44.

The public’s right to information by and about its government is critical to the workings of a democracy. Title 44 of the US Code, which codifies the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) into law, is the *only* legal guarantee that the US government will provide its information for free to the General Public, the citizens of the USA. It also directly affects thousands of non-Federal Depository Library Program libraries by defining free public access to the essential information and records of our democracy.

A push to revise Title 44 is in the works led by the Government Publishing Office and the Committee on House Administration. Government Publishing Office Director Davita Vance-Cooks has asked the Depository Library Council (DLC) to gather recommendations from the depository community for changes to Chapter 19 of Title 44 of the U.S. Code.

We the undersigned write today to assure that any changes to the law strengthen the FDLP and free public access to and preservation of government information regardless of physical or digital format.

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