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Technology and the GovDocs World


First, I would like to thank the folks at FreeGovInfo for this opportunity to serve as guest blogger.  I have attempted many times to create blogs without much success.  Usually, I only post a couple of things and then forget about it.  This is an opportunity for me to do much better than my blog history has given me.

Writing what constitutes as an online journal that all may read is a little different from what the original purpose of a diary/journal was…to write down your own personal thoughts that were not meant to be shared with anyone else.  The world of literature has given us some wonderful insights due to the publishing of diaries such as Pepys and Anne Franks just to name a couple.  I wonder if they would’ve been bloggers?  Would they have been so willing to share their thoughts online for the rest of the world to see?

The late 20th and early 21st century has allowed us to progress at an alarming rate technologically speaking.  What once was science Fiction (Star Trek) became science fact in the past 30 years.  Star Trek’s communicator is the present day cellular phone. 

Captain Kirk's communicator

Cell phone


Star Trek’s PADD (Personal Access Display Device) is today’s Blackberry.


Star Trek: Next Generation PADD




So, how can we make all this great technology work for us in the gov. docs. world?  Is this technology helping us or working against us?

 Already, libraries out there believe that they can find everything on the web including gov. docs.  Last month’s blogger Barrett mentioned in his last post how he came in one day and realized he didn’t have a job any more.  Everett Public Library in Everett, WA went through something similar, though now they are primarily an electronic depository.

Last week, I was checking some links on our extensive website when I went to the NASS website for the State of Washington.  Our link was old and it was linked to the Washington Annual Statistical Bulletin from 1995/96 – Present.  Well, the new link in the NASS’ recently redesigned page only had five years of it (2003 – Present).  I sent an email to NASS about it and they told me they will only retain the current five years online.  Trying to convince them to retain all issues will be a chore but I made sure that Robin Haun-Mohammed receive a copy to my response to their email.  I don’t know if anything can be done or at the very least have GPO store the old ones on their server.  I did find some of the old urls in the Internet Archive but most of the links on each page did not have the .pdf files. 

Yes, the technology has made some things easier for us but at the same time it has also made it harder for us.  Now, there is public perception that everything is online and that kind of attitude also comes from library administrators!  How do we prove our worthiness when there aren’t any physical titles to checkout any more?  How do we gather statistics for online only publications and let administrators know that they are being used?  GPO’s PURL referral page is a good start but I would like to see OPAC companies do the same at the item level so we can have statistics that would show actual usage to library administrators.

I would like to know how many depositories are downloading online documents on their servers.  What criteria are you using to do so?  How are you meeting the challenges of accessibility to online documents?

Looking forward to your comments.

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