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GPO/GODORT Conf Call Minutes Posted

Bill Sleeman, chair of the ALA Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT), recently posted the minutes to the GPO / GODORT Steering Conference Call of March 12, 2008. These conference calls take place from time to time and often have news of value. The minutes can be found (may have to scroll) at and covered the following topics, among others:

  • Request for Information for Mass Digitization Opportunities
  • Status of EPA Web Harvesting
  • Status of the Federal Digital System (FDSys)
  • Addition of pre-1976 cataloging to the Catalog of Government Publications – in progress.
  • Continued distance ed through OPAL
  • Current stats on the newish Government Information Online reference service.

If I were you, I’d look over the entire set of minutes as it was all interesting. I’d like to highlight two issues, both of which cry out for the documents community to do more to support GPO in some of its efforts:

EPA Web Harvest Project

Here are the notes on this subject (full names available from minutes page):

LH & RHM: Status of EPA harvesting project: GPO worked through 300 of the documents to gather information on what it will take for GPO to provide access to harvested materials (process, workflow and staffing implications). So far: the back end automation of meta-data extraction is not ready; parameters for metadata that accompanies the files needs improvement to automate de-duping; and the rules, methods and mechanisms for harvesting need to be refined (approximately 28% of material was not in scope). Basically, it is still taking more staff time to make these available than GPO can afford. BS asked about the FGI taxonomy experiment and if GPO would be investigating the results of that effort. GPO may incorporate that information into the project as the project moves forward.

GPO’s results of automated harvesting finding a lot of out of scope material and difficult automated extraction of metadata are about what I expected based on my own experience and from my reading of the literature. Whether or not GPO builds on our modest taxonomy experiment (Thanks Bill!), I think that a GPO – community/citizen collaboration will be needed to begin getting a handle on web-based agency documents. They could start simply by publishing their spidering logs and see what happens. Or perhaps they can obtain some of the $2 Billion/week currently being spent elsewhere. If GPO choose to take the mass collaboration route, I hope the documents community is in the forefront of helping them.

If you’re interested in taking part in our tagging experiment, please see We will be running the project through April 18, 2008. To see what has been tagged so far, please visit

OPAL Training

Here are the notes on this subject:

LC: OPAL, GPO continues to use OPAL for online training and demos. At present, technical capabilities limit presentations to slide shows, such as PowerPoint presentations. Interactive web functions will be added in the future. January call for participation in creation of tutorials netted one submission; hoping to generate interest at DLC.

The FDLP has over 1200 libraries and GPO got ONE SUBMISSION? A majority of FDLP libraries are teaching oriented academic libraries and GPO got ONE SUBMISSION?

Hello! I know I’m not the only one who has insisted that GPO provide training between conferences for those of us who don’t get out much. The documents community has a great reservoir of government information expertise. We should be actively aiding GPO in their efforts to spread that expertise.

I admit that GPO’s one submission wasn’t from my library. I have a pretty new docs staff that’s still getting up to speed. But that can’t be the case everywhere. If only 10% of FDLP libraries could step up with a program, that would still be 120 programs — twice a week for a whole year.

Just so I can at least pretend to put my money (or staff time) where my mouth is, I will spend some time next month looking at our library’s gov info information strengths, our customer needs and patron interests. And then sometime during the summer I or someone else from our library will submit a program. If you run a depository, will you commit to doing the same? Not only does GPO need our help, so do our colleagues.

FGI thanks the GODORT and GPO personnel who participated, Jill Vassilakos-Long for taking the minutes and Bill for posting them to the ALA GODORT Wiki.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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