OUR MISSION. Free Government Information (FGI) — ISSN 2377-0910 — 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. FGI received the 2015 GODORT “Documents to the People (DttP)” award, a tribute “to an individual, library, institution, or other non-commercial group that has most effectively encouraged the use of government documents in support of library service.”
Seeing that the future of government information was in peril from many economic and political forces, a group of like-minded librarians created Free Government Information in 2004. Jim A. Jacobs, James R. Jacobs, Shinjoung Yeo, three librarians at University of California San Diego, along with Daniel Cornwall, librarian at the Alaska State Library, and James Staub, librarian at the Tennessee State Library, created FGI in order to raise public awareness of the importance of government information and create a community with various stakeholders to facilitate an open and critical dialogue. James R. Jacobs and Shinjoung Yeo moved to Stanford University Library in December, 2005 as International Documents Librarian and Communications-Bibliographer/Reference-Coordinator respectively. Shinjoung is currently (as of September, 2008) a PhD student in the Information in Society program at University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
In October, 2008, we expanded the number of FGI volunteers with the inclusion of Rebecca Troy-Horton. Rebecca was the head of the Government Information Department at the McNeese State University Library in Lake Charles, Louisiana until 2011. She is currently a Reference Librarian at the New Hampshire State Library.
FGI Library is a list of our presentations, white papers, published papers, and major commentaries and analyses.
Less Access to Less Information By and About the U.S. Government. We maintain this page as a tribute to Anne Heanue and the fine folks at the Washington Office of the American Library Association (ALA), who published an amazing series of books that detailed and annotated efforts to restrict and privatize government information from 1981-1998. There, you will find links to the original publications, similar on-going projects, and our own posts of a similar nature here on FGI.
Lost Docs Project. The of purpose of the Lost Docs blog is to provide a public listing of documents submitted to the Government Printing Office (GPO)’s Lost Docs Reporting Form for what are called fugitive documents. Fugitive documents are federal publications which have NOT been cataloged and/or disseminated through the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). Reporting fugitive documents to GPO allows them to be cataloged and archived so their contents are not lost to history. Not all federal documents are within the scope of the FDLP, but nearly any published federal document qualifies for GPO’s national bibliography. The blog provides instructions in how to identify and report lost docs.
Free State Government Information. Bernadette Bartlett, Library of Michigan, and Kris Kasianovitz, Stanford University, have embarked on a project to demonstrate the constraints that copyright law places upon citizens, researchers, academic institutions and digital repositories, like HathiTrust, to release scanned post-1923 state government publications into the public domain as well as chart a paths forward to bring about change to this little discussed but major issue. This project focuses on publications NOT records, which are governed and managed in a very different way.
Writer’s Guide to Government Information: Creative Promotion. Daniel has created this site to help fiction writers find government information resources that will help add realistic details to the their stories.
BEST.TITLES.EVER.. FGI Friend Aimee Slater, a government documents reference assistant with the Brooklyn College Library, manages this new, updated, Tumblr version of a list we started on FGI in 2006. It is an exploration of government sources, particularly ones with titles that are funny, intriguing, interesting, convoluted or clever, or any combination of the above. You can submit suggestions here.
We believe that it is important to garner support for government information not just within our own community of federal depository libraries but with those organizations and citizens that actually need to know about the activities of our government in order to participate fully in the democratic process. This includes non-profit organizations, government watchdogs, academics and researchers, journalists, the business community, and individual citizens. By creating this nexus, we hope to facilitate collaboration among the various stakeholders and participate in the design of a truly robust system for the digital age where government information is freely accessible, fully functional and usable, and preserved in a distributed system of libraries.
Ceding responsibility and control of such information to those who must be held accountable with that information is unwise. While governments will continue to fulfill their role of creating and disseminating information, there is another continuing essential role for preserving and organizing that information for users and providing long-term access to and service for that information. In America, we are blessed with laws that help us ensure this, but these laws bring with them a responsibility. Libraries will abrogate that responsibility to others at the peril, not just to their own continued relevance, but to democracy itself. –Jacobs, Jacobs, Yeo. “Government Information in the Digital Age: The Once and Future Federal Depository Library Program.” Journal of Academic Librarianship, Volume 31, Issue 3, May 2005, Pages 198–208.
Please contact us with the form below if you would like to join in the effort to make government information a continuing reality or if you have ideas, suggestions, or comments about the site. We are available for panels and presentations at conferences, workshops, etc. Please see the FGI Library for more information.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.